It was just over a year ago when Deborah Serravalle hosted a book launch for her first novel, How We Danced. The novel focuses on a mother-daughter relationship while exploring a family’s pursuit to resolve a lifetime of bewildering love. The book launch was over in just one night, however, the writing and the planning took much longer and changed Serravalle’s life.
The initial thought to write a novel came to Serravalle after someone from her past died.
Serravalle said: “To mitigate the grief, I started to journal, it was the only thing that would release the intense emotions I had. I started to write poetry, then I started to like the writing for itself as the grief started subsiding the writing took over. I’m the type of person that likes long-term goals and then I thought, stupidly, ‘I’ll write a novel’.”
When it came to the writing, editing, and publishing of How We Danced, Serravalle compared the process to an apprenticeship. She had to write, throw out, and rewrite multiple times.
Serravalle said: “I sent the first completed draft to Gail Anderson-Dargatz, she’s a well-known Canadian author and she read the first draft and really gave me such kind feedback when I think of what I sent her. But basically [she] told me to start again, which I did. The last thing I did [was] I sent it to an independent editor who gave a substantial review. I feel the feedback he gave me, in the end, was critical to getting published.”
On a practical level, in the last year since the release and launch party Serravalle’s life has not changed at all.
“Believe it or not I’m not stopped in the street for my autograph,” Serravalle said.
However, the biggest change for her is being able to answer what she calls “the dreaded question” in the way she wants.
“That dreaded question for every writer is ‘Are you published?’ I can say ‘Yes I am,'” Serravalle said.