A Mentee’s Journey 3: Voyage’s End

A year’s mentoring with Cinnamon Press has concluded. My novel, The Tears of Boabdil, went through three new drafts. It transformed, in large part through the critiques from the scheme. This is the work of which I’m most proud.


This is what my mentor, Adam Craig, had to say about the final draft.

This is a very effective, absorbing literary novel and Neil’s to be commended for his dedication and hard work—Tears of Boabdil is a much improved MS and Neil has dug very deeply into the narrative and managed to bring out aspects and ideas that were not present in the original draft.”

Adam also noted,

Tears of Boabdil is a thematically ambitious novel, interweaving multiple narrative lines around a central character who does not have a fixed identity. The manuscript in the form originally submitted for mentoring had several drawbacks in terms of structure, narrative pace and voice, and in the evolution of its central character, Zami/Vince. Neil’s dealt very ably with restructuring such a complex narrative, streamlining it while adding a great deal of pace and tension. The evolution of the psychotic nature of the central character is convincingly portrayed in this draft, not only through the device of mirroring the main narrative in various tales and stories (which was present in the original mentoring draft) but also creating a new thread based around the character’s parents that is extremely well integrated into this draft and is also both disturbing and arresting.”

All very encouraging. And they considered it publishable. More disappointing was that they decided not to publish it.  They preferred the voice of two other mentees’ works, and felt it was a hard genre, being both literary and a thriller.


My task now is to make that complication a selling point. I had intended that the thriller/ romance frame story would make the more literary content accessible. One of my readers had this to say about it, proving the fusion of the genres worked for her.

I’m really enjoying your form of storytelling. It’s different than anything else I’ve read and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to follow. But it really works for me. Your story is very complex and layered, and you’re doing a really good job of balancing those layers. Most of the books I read simply hand me the story and don’t make me think, but you are and I like that. You’ve got me guessing as to what will happen and I very rarely even attempt to do that!  I don’t normally read anything remotely like this, but it’s been amazing, and a good exercise in the value of stepping outside our usual genres every once in a while.”


4 thoughts on “A Mentee’s Journey 3: Voyage’s End

  1. Wow! It is a significant achievement to have completed a novel. And judging by the quality of your writing I can only imagine that it is extremely well written. This is a path I want to take but laziness and fear keeps holding me back.

    Liked by 1 person

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