A member of the University’s Failed Novelist Society is to have her novella, Lizard, published. Leonore Schick of Jesus College is the first member of the society to cease adherence to the group’s raison d’etre after getting a publishing deal for her Kafkaesque story.
The plot follows the adventures of a girl who wakes up one day to find that part of her calf has become lizard-like. Schick’s story made her a winner in the Roastbooks competition earlier this year. Roastbooks Limited, established by Oxbridge graduates, is a new publishing organisation specialising in short novels and novellas.
Schick states that the key themes of her novella are “selective memory, imaginary relationships, anti-coming of age”. She had been writing creatively since she was a child, including for Jesus’ JCR magazine Anonymous and The OxStu, but this is the first work she has submitted for publication. When asked whether following her recent success she intends to pursue the life of a novelist, she replied that, since a writer might have to cope with financial difficulty, “[I’m] not sure what the life of a novelist is, but I’ve heard it is all about being very poor. It depends how poor. I’d draw the line at having to grow my own potatoes.”
Lizard will be one of six titles coming out in Roast Books’ first series Great Little Reads. Director of Roastbooks, Faye Dayan, says the series is “ideal for our busy modern lifestyles”. Her advice to any ‘failed novelists’ trying to get their work published is “just don’t give up and don’t be afraid to share your writing… Like Sylvia Plath said, the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
She commented on Lizard, saying, “The immediate attraction to Lizard was the protagonist, Eliza, who is a vehicle for these wonderful and unique dialogues between thought and speech, reality and make-believe, the magic of childhood and the sobriety of growing up. In Lizard, the idea of loss is something I think many readers will relate to.”
The Oxford University Failed Novelist Society is far from a defeatist or gloomy group. Selena Wisnom, president of the Society, explained that the group’s name “is not pessimistic” but “a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously. All novelists are failed novelists, because no novel you write is as good as the one you want to write!” One member of the society reported that everyone had been delighted with Schick’s success which has “made us all more excited about writing”.