Our Child of the Stars
by Stephen Cox
Stephen Cox was born in the USA and now lives in London with his partner of twenty years. Our Child in the Stars is his debut novel, published by Jo Fletcher Books, part of the Quercus group. A father to two children, Stephen has worked for various not-for-profits, most notably for twelve years with Great Ormond Street Hospital.

In August 2012, Stephen was in a caravan in a field, up a mountainous rocky track in Wales. In the rainiest summer fortnight he can remember, he sat and started his first novel.

'It was a lot of work and a lot of fun and I had a first draft in four months.  That book has yet to find its home in the world, but it made me sure I would write other books.

Our Child of the Stars began as a short story I wrote for Halloween in 2013.  I became obsessed with Gene and Molly, and Cory, the little boy they adopt, under such challenging circumstances.'


Our Child of the Stars will be published by Jo Fletcher Books as part of a two book deal on 24 January.

A lost child, the family that tries to hide him, and the secret that refuses to stay hidden...

Stephen's agent Robert Dinsdale sold the book after approaching a range of editors. Stephen says his agent is terrific editorially, gives great advice, with spot on market judgement.  

'We approached over twenty editors, some who whom were general and some in the Science Fiction field.  A good number expressed a lot of love for the book but they faltered at how they would market it.  Most editors loved it but many passed because they didn’t know what to do with it.'

The average first novel advance is £10k and Stephen says that he was very happy with his two-book deal!

​The book will be Jo Fletcher's lead debut for 2019.



Extract from the book

As a child, the Jack-o-lantern was a familiar friend, and yet
it still brought a shiver as night fell. Little Molly had loved
dressing up as someone else, staying up late to hear scary stories,
eating more candy than was good for her and running
through the back streets at dusk, kicking up dry papery leaves.
She could pretend twisting shadows were real horrors. The
years passed and for a while it became more knowing, a game
between friends who were hovering at the doors of adulthood.
Then Molly put Halloween away, like a favourite toy in an attic
box, though she still loved fall when the year ran downhill to
the dark. In time, adult joys and adult fears came instead: her
first job, a wedding song, the house. And a death.
 
She shook off a cold shudder. There were things to do.

Childhood was a lost country, something well known but
now too distant – but then Cory came: their son, their miracle,
and Gene and Molly had found so many things again.
Snow angels and Christmas stockings, birthday surprises and
fireworks on the Fourth of July. Cory would squat to look at
some tiny green flower or stand entranced by the song of a
single bird. He adored the day of disguises; he was made for
Halloween and it was made for him.

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Stephen celebrated his book deal by buying his writing group a drink.  'They have been great support, cheerleaders, and where needed, challengers.' 

 Stephen says that the worst piece of advice he's ever been given is that you have to plot a novel paragraph by paragraph before you write it. 'You don't,' he says, 'although if that works for you, knock yourself out. Different authors have different processes, and that process would never work for me' 

As to the best piece of advice:  ‘To succeed in writing you need three things – some talent, the ability to take feedback and know what to do with it, and tenacity.  Tenacity is probably the most important.’ Kim Curran.   
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More information about the book from the publisher can be found here .