Kristen Ciccarelli had a long history of trial and tribulation before she finally found success in a three-book publishing deal with HarperCollins.
Ciccarelli’s first book in the series, The Last Namsara, is a work she first began developing as a teenager.
“It was a long, long process,” said Ciccarelli. “With a lot of rejection and failure.”
She sent out the first version of The Last Namsara, a fantasy novel about a dragon slayer, to a variety of agents when she was 23. While Ciccarelli got some positive feedback, the manuscript was ultimately rejected.
She put that story aside and began working on a novel based around her own experiences growing up on a grape farm in southern Ontario.
With that work, she signed on with an agent and revised her manuscript three times over a year and half with a publisher. Despite this long process of re-working her novel, the publisher eventually turned down the work and her agent got out of the business.
“That was when I began questioning that maybe this wasn’t for me,” Ciccarelli said. “I thought, ‘What am I doing, I don’t know how to write.’”
While Ciccarelli struggled with this career path identity crisis, she began rethinking the novel she began as a teenager. She began reworking it under the direction of some mentors, and decided she would make one last attempt at success before giving up on her dream of becoming a writer.
This last-ditch effort was a literary contest that would bring Ciccarelli a variety of agents offering her representation.
Within a week of her new agent shopping the book around to publishers, she made her three-book deal with HarperCollins.
“I almost gave up on that book,” she said. “If I had, who knows, I probably wouldn’t be a published author.”
A new home in Hay Cove
Currently residing on a scenic property in Quirpon, Ciccarelli is awaiting a variety of renovations needed to her new home in Hay Cove. At the same time, she is adding some final touches before she sends off her manuscript for the second book in her series in early October.
Moving to the western shore of Newfoundland had been a goal of Ciccarelli and her husband, Joe Bauman, for over a year. Since first coming to the island on a pre-wedding honeymoon, Ciccarelli says they’ve always been drawn to that area.
After looking around for houses in Gros Morne, Ciccarelli and Bauman travelled to the upper reaches of the Northern Peninsula to meet with realtor Cheryl McCarron.
McCarron mentioned in passing that she was looking to also sell Hay Cove’s former Café in the Cove, once a popular coffee destination for the region. Although McCarron owned the café, it was not the home she was initially hoping to sell the pair.
“Soon as we walked in, there was a leak in the roof,” said Ciccarelli. “There were all these buckets collecting water, it was just a total disaster.”
But there was a presence to the place that made Ciccarelli could not turn away from.
“It was right in the spot that I really loved,” she said. “Between two hiking trails, the view of L’Anse aux Meadows there, we could hear the ocean.
“We had seen a lot of houses, but I was waiting for that moment that said this was the house I wanted. And this was that moment.”
After convincing McCarron the house was for them, it was signed over. Now, work is being done to prepare the home, including changing its commercial electrical wiring from the house’s days as a café into residential wiring for its new role as a shelter for writing fantasy novels.
The plan for the pair is to live in the home year-round, and Ciccarelli’s husband hopes to work at his blacksmithing on the property.
“It’s always been in my mind to move to Newfoundland,” she said. “But the fact that I can now work from home as a writer makes it much easier.”
Now with the new home being readied, her second manuscript being finalized and her debut book hitting the shelves on Oct. 3, it’s already been a plentiful autumn for Ciccarelli.
Because her third instalment in the series centers around pirates, Ciccarelli may look to get some first-hand experience of life on the water by tagging along with some Newfoundland fishermen before the water freezes over.