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Author Makes it into Print

29 April 2002

Writing recently in the London Sunday Times, columnist Godfrey Smith tells a wonderful story of an author's success against all the odds. Carl Tighe was a young writer who had done everything from gutting fish to cleaning mental hospital toilets. Offered a job teaching English in Poland, he couldn't believe his luck and, during the years from the birth of Solidarity to the imposition of martial law in Poland, he recorded everything he saw around him, every joke, hardship and anecdote

All this rich raw material later went into a first novel, which he sent out to over 30 publishers, all of whom rejected it as too uncommercial. It seemed like the end of the line for his manuscript, but Tighe was lucky in that his landlady Madeleine Rose believed in the book and put up £1,000 to publish it under her own imprint. Out of a tiny initial print of 300 copies, 50 went to reviewers, but not a single review appeared. She sent one copy to the Whitbread review panel and they shortlisted it. Another copy went to the Authors' Club for their best first novel award and Godfrey Smith gave it the prize. Against all the odds, Carl Tighe's Burning Worm, now written up in Smith's highly influential Sunday Times column, is going to make it.