Author Pamela Korgemagi discusses how the editorial process helped her debut novel, The Hunter and the Old Woman, become the best version of itself.

Pamela Korgemagi is a graduate of York University’s creative writing program. The Hunter and the Old Woman is her debut novel. She lives and works in Toronto.

In this post, Pamela discusses the importance asking for feedback, how she trusted the editorial process, and more!

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Name: Pamela Korgemagi
Literary agent: Transatlantic Agency
Book title: The Hunter and the Old Woman
Publisher: House of Anansi Press
Expected release date: August 3. 2021
Genre/category: Literary Fiction
Elevator pitch for the book: The intertwined story of a mountain lion and a hunter united by a shared destiny. Joseph Brandt has been captivated by stories of the Old Woman since childhood, and one day he steps into the forest to seek her out.

The Hunter and the Old Woman by Pamela Korgemagi

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What prompted you to write this book?

I was granted a vision! But I guess what happened was, I was watching an episode of “Planet Earth” and the image of a female cougar leading her four full-grown cubs down to the river to drink was shown on the screen. David Attenborough’s narration commented that this must be a formidable cougar, indeed, if she was able to provide enough meat to sustain four full-grown cubs. It was like those words triggered a flood of story that flowed into my brain over the next 24 hours. I started writing down the narrative that was fresh in my mind, and eventually it turned into the novel we have now.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

Quite a while, which I was and was not prepared for. I wrote a number of drafts before I showed the novel to anyone, which amounted to about seven years. I guess I was shy about showing people my work and I didn’t want any feedback until the novel was “ready” (a classic novice mistake, I realize now).

So I was prepared for the writing process to be a long one because I’m not of the mind that great writing can be done in a day. But at the same time, I was not prepared for how truly long it took to write, and rewrite the novel. The length of the novel contributed to this because any draft of the novel took months to complete!

The events in the novel did change from inception to completion, but the over-arching story remained the same.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

Oh, absolutely! This is my first time publishing, so I discovered that being accepted to be published is really just the beginning. There’s so much more work to be done once you’ve been accepted for publication.

But I am so thankful that my novel landed in the hands of enthusiastic editors interested in helping it become the best version of itself it could possibly be. I found I really enjoyed the editorial process, having that dialogue with editors. It was a bit overwhelming at times, a bit humbling, but honestly it was a blessing to have this work to do, especially during this past year.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

I learned that I don’t always know what’s best. This might sound like a rather mundane revelation. But it was definitely a new experience for me, to trust the advice of my editor. I may know the best way to write something, but it seems I may not know the best way to read something. So trusting my editor, who is focused on the reader’s experience, was something new for me, and much appreciated. Ultimately, it only made the novel better.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope readers really are convinced, even just for a moment, of what the life of a mountain lion might be like. I hope the reader might end up having dreams, or at least daydreams, that they are a mountain lion, wandering around the forest.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Get feedback as soon as you can, while things are still rough. Don’t be shy about things not being totally “there” or “finished”. The sooner you figure out what does and doesn’t work, the sooner your novel will solidify and begin to live a life of its own.

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