Earlier this month, my agent deemed my manuscript polished enough to pitch to publishing houses. “I think we’re ready for primetime,” Brettne said. I agreed reluctantly—even after our latest round of revisions, I still felt the pressing need to tinker, to make it better. But it was time, Brettne assured me, to let it go.
Brettne pitched The Eternal Ones to over a dozen editors at houses and imprints with names that sounded outrageously unattainable, among them: St. Martin’s Press, Simon & Schuster, Riverhead, Random House, HarperCollins, Crown, Knopf, and Viking. “Fingers crossed,” Brettne said once the manuscript had been circulated. “Most editors read over the weekend. I’ll let you know if anyone bites.” It was a Thursday afternoon.
For the next 24 hours I reminded myself often to breathe, and tried to think about other things. On Friday, Brettne reported she’d heard back from three editors (already!). They loved the manuscript. One had stayed up all night reading. One had cried. I was in shock.
Phone interviews were set up for Tuesday and I loved all three editors at the other end of the line.
By Wednesday, I hadn’t slept in days. I was in my Rowayton office when my phone rang; it was Brettne. “I’m calling with your first official offer,” she said, her voice laced with excitement. My heart drummed in my chest and I pressed a hand to my mouth, too stunned for a moment to speak. “No way,” I finally breathed, grateful for the chair beneath me. “Yes way. It’s from Viking.” I couldn’t believe it. My eyes filled with tears and my voice cracked as I asked, “are you serious?”
It was a preemptive offer. We accepted.
And so—it is my surreal and thrilling honor to announce that The Eternal Ones now has a new home—with none other than Viking Press! The countdown to publication is finally, officially, on.
Last Thursday, Brettne and I sat down with my new editor at Viking, Sarah Stein—we met at The Book Group’s Manhattan office, where we gathered around a glossy red table in a gorgeous conference room hemmed in by books (all represented by The Book Group!) and talked for hours. Sarah gave me loads of great feedback; her enthusiasm for the book, for my research, and for the topic of the Holocaust is unbridled. I knew right away that she, Brettne, and I would make a great team.
Now, with the adrenaline of the past couple of weeks beginning ever so slightly to wear off, it’s back to earth, and to another round of revisions…the book will go through many, with Sarah and with a cohort of detail-oriented copy editors at Viking. I will deliver a final manuscript this fall. You’ll see it on shelves in hardcover winter 2016/2017, and in paperback a year from then (Viking’s parent company, Penguin, will publish the paperback).
With my amazing new editor at Viking, Sarah Stein (left), and my agent, Brettne Bloom (right), at The Book Group in NYC
Thank you, Brettne, for finding what I know is the absolute perfect home for my manuscript. Thank you, Sarah, for believing in my story—I couldn’t be more excited to work together! And thank you, dear family, friends, and followers, for your support over the years…this is one milestone I could never have reached without your constant encouragement.
Since setting off eight years ago for my first round of interviews in Paris, the driving force behind this project has been to preserve the stories of my ancestral past. In all honestly I haven’t yet wrapped my head around the reality of publication (I probably won’t until I’m holding a copy of the book in my hands!)…but what I have come to understand (and to cherish) is the thought of my son Wyatt, along with his children and great-great-grandchildren, reading The Eternal Ones. There’s nothing more gratifying than knowing future generations will have the chance to understand the struggles and triumphs through which their ancestors once lived. Perhaps the book will even teach them, as it’s taught me, a little something about themselves.
My mother sent me this photo of a rainbow in front of the Cambridge library on the eve of what will forever in my mind be remembered as the day I got THE CALL from Brettne. “Maybe it’s a good omen,” my mother wrote. A good omen, indeed!