Melbourne writer Jane Harper cannot believe her good fortune. Just 18 months ago, the 35-year-old St Kilda resident and business journalist was toying with the idea of writing a novel.
Fast forward 12 months and Jane’s crime thriller, The Dry, will be published in Australia next year after a bidding war between seven publishers.
What’s the buzz?
Jane has not only secured an enviable three-book deal with Pan Macmillan, but the rights have been sold in the US, the UK and 16 foreign-language markets.
Most promisingly, the film rights to The Dry have been secured by Reese Witherspoon’s film production company, Pacific Standard. “They are working on pulling a package together for it to be developed into a film,” Jane says.
In the beginning
Jane has long dreamed of writing a book, but it wasn’t until late last year that she actually committed pen to paper.
“I was worried how I would fit it in around my journalism. But I realised that unless I wanted to dramatically change my life, I just had to sit down and do it with the time I had.”
The big break
Jane first came to the attention of the publishing industry when she took out first prize at this year’s Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for an unpublished manuscript.
She was signed up with an agent at Curtis Brown, and a bidding war erupted for the Australian and New Zealand rights. “All up, the rights deals have been six figures,” Jane says. “I would have been happy with just one publisher wanting to buy it from me.”
Where to now?
Jane has written the first two chapters of her second novel, another crime thriller, for Pan Macmillan. “My ambition is just to keep turning out the books,” she says. “Maybe write a book a year until I have a full shelf of them.”
The best part about success
“The realisation that I may be able to do this for a living full-time, that I could make money off my novels.”
If I could do it all again
Jane has had a “dream” run for a first-time author and wouldn’t change a thing. “I have been incredibly lucky in that everything came together,” she says.