My agent hated it. My publisher refused to read it. I had a book that I couldn’t even give away. And yet there was something about this story, this character, which had begun as a forgotten manuscript fifteen years before, that I couldn’t let go of. I didn’t want Judith Rashleigh to be ignored.

Returning from a history festival on a raw London winter evening, I bought a depressing little volume entitled How to Publish Your Own Ebook. I had been a published writer all my working life; this felt like more than a comedown. But still, if that was what it took. I showed the book shamefacedly to a close friend, who owns a restaurant near where I live in the city centre.

“Wait”, she told me, “I have an idea.”

One of her regular customers is a well-known and powerful publisher. When he next came in to eat, he found the manuscript on his dinner plate. The next morning, when my friend went to open the restaurant, there he was, waiting outside on the pavement. He told her he had to meet the author.

And so the book found a publisher, and then, a short, astonishing time later, the still-unpublished manuscript was sold to a Hollywood studio. The deal took seven days. But, like many writers, I still didn’t feel I could rely entirely on books for financial security. I did various odd jobs, including freelancing at a national newspaper, and had recently applied for a job teaching creative writing at a London university. The day I received a letter telling me that I wasn’t even good enough to be considered for interview was one of my shifts on the newsdesk. I was researching a story on Prince Charles’s use of Weetabix breakfast cereal as a slug repellant. My publisher called and told me that the book had just sold to America. “Wonderful”, I said, typing away at the slugs. Then he told me the amount. I asked him to repeat it. Then I had to run to the ladies’ lavatory to be ill.

I finished the slug story. Six weeks later, my publisher and I were on a plane to Hollywood.




Publishers Weekly: Book Fair 2015: After Film Deal, ‘Maestra’ Set as Launch for Bonnier’s Zaffre.

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The Australian: Maestra is an all-nighter dripping with blood and glamour and every kind of bodily juice.

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The Bookseller: Hilton's Maestra gets film deal.

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The Morning Show: Lisa Hilton talks Maestra

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Sydney Morning Herald: L.S. Hilton's Maestra is hailed as the new Fifty Shades of Grey

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The Newtown Review of Books: Maestra is a gritty, unpredictable, erotic tour de force that leaves us gasping for the next instalment of the trilogy.

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