Sunday, 30 December 2012

Hand on the Stove

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes...” – Neil Gaiman

Done, Neil.  In fact I predict I’ll make at least three new mistakes tomorrow.  I made a big one yesterday which only proves that I’m living my life fully right up to the end of the old year.  Let’s celebrate mistakes for a couple of hundred words, and look at the fallout a bit more closely.

We’re a mistake prone species.  And we don’t like them.  There’s great judgment awaiting anyone who makes mistakes.  We don’t like them in others and we don’t like them in ourselves.  Some mistakes are so glaringly obvious we might as well print up the sandwich board for ourselves and wear it with pride.  If everyone knows about your mistake then no amount of self-effacing humility and best effort to move on as quickly as possible can diminish the consequences: a public mistake can hang in the air like a fart in a lift for years.  Then there’s the private mistake, the one only you know about.  The one that you can distract yourself from for as long as it takes to follow a dress pattern or build a bridge, some activity that engages enough of your analytical brain to muffle recent memory.  But eventually mortification sneaks up and plants a wet nose in your crotch and then it’s only a matter of time before your mistake is barking at you incessantly enough to wake the neighbours.

Of course mistakes come in all shapes and sizes, so defining the mistake on the fallout scale is probably useful.  There’s the mistake that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme (“I really shouldn’t have gotten this hair cut”) verses the mistake that is definable by law (“I really shouldn’t have set fire to the neighbours car”).  I’m talking about something in between, obviously: something really, really bad that can hurt you or others like a bastard, but won’t get you arrested (“I really shouldn’t have voted for Tony Abbott”).  And if we’re on this road of classification then surely the real test of any mistake is how we feel about it afterwards, and how other people make us feel.

Mistakes are certainly motivating and sometimes the best response to them is to own them.  (I caused this, I set this up, and it’s going to hurt me, and you.  Now buggar off and enjoy the show).  And we should be hurt by our mistakes, shouldn’t we?  People run around all-consumed with a self-preservation inspired avoidance of any sort of pain when pain is the great teacher, isn’t it?  Bollocks.  When we put our hand on the stove and learn never to do so again through the pain caused, we don’t then put our hand on the stove again the following week just to make sure.  But some mistakes we make over and over and oftentimes because of our irrational belief in our right to be happy (is that a right?) and our desire to be understood and validated.

Are we, therefore, actually defined by our mistakes?  And would that be so bad?  Here’s to another twelve months of fucking things up.  Happy New Year.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Why is everyone so sensitive about the Right Wing?

“To admit you want to have a comeback means you have to admit you weren’t what you were supposed to be.  You dropped below your own standard.” – Marilyn Manson

I found myself in a situation recently where the conversation got really good.  You know those situations when everyone at the table is suddenly engaged, even when the topics scud about with merciless speed and then out of the blue there’ll be two, maybe three, different topics floating about at once and everyone is following everything?  The sort of conversation where people can disagree but still value each other and people talk over the top of one another but with enthusiasm for the discourse rather than recourse to bullying?  Good conversation that reminds an anti-social divorcee that people are great fun? 

Well, that didn’t last long.

One of the guests made a statement.  That’s ok.  It was racist, xenophobic bullshit but I am not one to judge (stop laughing...).  Keeping with the wonderful spirit of the occasion I countered with an alternative view and expected the tête-à-tête to continue with aforementioned enjoyment.  But something strange happened.  Everyone went quiet.  It wasn’t what I said or how I said it.  As far as I can deduce, it was the simple fact that I had disagreed with this one particular person.  The person next to me actually “shooshed” me.  Being a guest, as was this gentleman, I complied.  I shooshed.  For a time.

You see, they then gave him the floor.  I knew there were people present as uncomfortable with what he was saying as I was, but still the floor was his.  He was offensive, belligerent, and spoke with the sort of authority that only comes from a frightened person reverting to the kill-switch for fear: anger.  And somehow his fear was creating an even greater fear in everyone else.

Everyone just sat there.  I engaged with this man a couple of times and found that the angst of the table was directed at me!  So I shut the fuck up.  All of my comebacks are still festering in me.  Later I was told that this man was very sensitive and had strong views.  I was asked (told) not to respond.  Just let it go, for everyone’s sake!  It doesn’t matter!  He’s old fashioned!  Let it go!  Right...ok.  And more right.  And some more.  So much right I walked in fucking circles for a week.

I myself am sensitive.  It helps to be when you are creating people to inhabit a made up world you want your readers to believe in for just a little while.  Of course Creepy also came up in the tirade.  He could understand why I was so “bleeding-heart liberal” (liberal in the American sense) – that was made very clear in the “shit I was peddling”.   No response.  We don’t want to upset the sensitive Right Wing nor those who are sensitive about it.  And bringing up the Bible on top of everything else – well! Screw rational, evidentiary thought!  Screw conversation – let’s just move onto the chicken wings...(“How are they coming along, darling?...)

Here’s what I’ve noticed:  the Right Wing seems very sensitive to me.  And even those who are not Right Wing are terribly sensitive about that sensitivity.  My son said to me: “The only argument the right wing seems to have is that you can’t argue with them.” 

So much for discourse. 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Writing the Sex Scene

…like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her” – Rowan Somerville – The Shape of Her (Literary Reviews “Bad Sex Award” 2010)
I’m reminded of a scene in a highly underestimated movie, “She-Devil”, and the delightfully appalling ruminations of romance writer Mary Fisher (played by Meryl Streep) as she struggles to find new descriptions for the oldest past-time in the world.  She does use the term “love button”, but we are left mercifully unaware of what part of a woman’s anatomy she is referring to.  I read a few of the under-the-counter Mills & Boon when I was a virginal adolescent and found it all very exciting.  However since then I have mostly been left cringing at sex scenes in literature.  And there are a lot of badly written sex scenes out there.

The problem with badly written sex scenes is that they become the focus of the entire book.  I remember having a conversation with a publisher (not mine) about a newly released teen novel in which she described the sex scene as “powerful and confronting”.  I smiled and nodded but was left wondering if we had read the same book.  I found that same sex scene shocking.  (And those of you who know me or read my stuff know full well I am not easily shocked).  I also found this particular sex scene unnecessary.  I kept imagining how this young girl’s first time might have been alluded to in a far more powerful way; a way that respected her more and acknowledged the necessary awkward humour of such an event (or am I just channeling my first time here?). 

The sex scene can so easily turn into teeny-porn.  That’s great if you want to be controversial and have the most thumbed library copies in the state.  The only pages of “Flowers in the Attic” I ever read were the couple in which the brother and sister get it on, and that’s because someone slipped it to me in science class whilst I was in real danger of burning it down with my Bunsen burner.  And believe me, the book fucking fell open at the pages in question.  Here’s the rub: how to write the sex scene that doesn’t become the focus but becomes a part of the tapestry.  Or are we just not culturally ready for sex scenes to sit comfortably and noncontentiously beside the rest of a narrative in YA literature?

I am also aware that there is an enormous amount of criticism awaiting anyone who approaches that bridge.  Bridgekeeper: the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?”  There are a number of correct answers to the question.  So many approaches.  And it is very rare for the critic to be the one catapulted into space.  
So.  The sex scene.  Clothes on or clothes off?  Both first time or one experienced?  Planned or unplanned?  Mutual or rough persuasion?  Orgasm? – who the fuck am I kidding (hard enough to locate one now! – no offence fellas).  The problem is that no matter what choices a writer makes in her head, there is the unenviable task of translating that onto the page in a way that respects the characters and the readers.  One must blur the line, like a smudge of charcoal, between the leading up to, the event itself, and the immediate aftermath.  If a sex scene stands out like sore fucking thumb (no pun intended) it’s just not working for me.
So far, none of my sex scenes are working for me.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Then The Boys Light Up...

“The best way to get kids to read a book is to say: 'This book is not appropriate for your age, and it has all sorts of horrible things in it like sex and death and some really big and complicated ideas, and you’re better off not touching it until you’re all grown up. I’m going to put it on this shelf and leave the room for a while. Don’t open it.’ “

- Philip Pullman

Last week I had my first public speaking engagement as a published writer.  I had the enormous privilege of speaking to a Year 9 Creative Writing class at Christ Church Grammar School in Claremont, Western Australia.  I almost made myself sick with anxiety in the preparation for it.  I almost made myself sick with anxiety on the morning of the class.  Here’s something people won’t say out loud: “I feel like a fraud and don’t think I’m good enough.”  Being appallingly honest and abysmally unfamiliar with Writer’s Blog etiquette, I will say it out loud though: “I feel like a fraud and don’t think I’m good enough”.  Turns out being fraught works in a girl’s favour!
Quaking, sweat in my ears, glass of water white-knuckled, trying to conjure my happy place, I stepped up after my introduction and began.  And it fell into place.  How?- well, I prepared as if I were stepping up to argue for my own stay of execution; but it was the young men in the class who turned my fraught into fascination into delight.  They were genuinely interested, in that subdued, polite way young men are with a guest speaker.  I spoke about my own journey as a writer and the importance to me of character over plot.  I read aloud from Creepy & Maud to illustrate the two distinct character voices (nothing grabs an audience’s attention like alcohol, pubic hair grooming and the odd “fuck”).  But it was the activity I had them do which really kick started things.  I don’t know exactly what their teacher (Mr. Tom Spurling) does on a regular basis in that class, but these boys can write!
Based on the observational drollness of Creepy I asked these young men to write a description of someone – someone in the room, or someone from memory.  I then asked for volunteers to read what they had written aloud.  The silence at this point was terrifying.  The class teacher, Mr Tom Spurling, came to my rescue and jollied someone up to go first.  After that the hands went up and boys wanted to read.  I was staggered by the result.
Every single boy who read aloud had something quirky, honest and entertaining to say.  Many of them described others in the room which made for some moments of piss-myself comedy.  “He thought he had a six pack, but then he’d always had double vision” will stay with me forever.  Likewise, one young man chose a more serious topic and wrote about asking a girl out and being rejected.  His description of the girl, himself, and the heart breaking understatement of the pain involved, led to applause from me, and the class.  There were descriptions of fictional characters and descriptions of people well known.  The language used, the pithiness, the effort, were absolutely delightful to me.  I actually lost myself in my audience.
So thank you, Christ Church Grammar School Year 9 Creative Writing class.  Thank you Ms Teresa Scott and Mr Tom Spurling, for inviting me to enjoy a moment with some very talented young men who, even though they may not realize it, have extraordinary skills with language. 
How lovely.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Creepy & Maud Set Sail

Well, it’s done, sans author having to break into Singin’ in the Rain.
Creepy & Maud was officially launched by Norman Jorgensen on September 27th 2012 at Kulcha Arts in Fremantle.  It was a great night, beautifully MC-ed by Cate Sutherland from Fremantle Press and amazingly...attended by people other than my immediate family!
Kulcha has to be one of my favourite venues for absolutely anything (I momentarily considered combining my launch with their free Salsa class but thought my mother might break a hip and subsequently make the evening all about her...).  The staff are friendly and organized and well informed about obscenity laws (“Author: Am I in breach of any laws if one of the songs on my playlist for the signing session has the word “Fuck” in it?  Sound Technician: Fuck no!”).  I also love the colour of their walls.  It’s a happy space.
It was an occasion to genuinely thank everyone responsible for getting Creepy & Maud onto the shelves: Cate Sutherland, Amanda Curtin, Claire Miller, Tracey Gibbs and peripherally (though no less importantly) Joscelyn Leatt-Hayter and Chenelle Davies.  Clive Klicker from Dymocks Fremantle set up against one of Kulcha’s bright red walls and sold on the night (as soon as I moved away and stopped stroking the display...) and the signing table, to my surprise, was festooned with liliums, irises, and roses from my friend Tom Jacobson who used the inconvenience of intercontinental travel as an excuse not to attend.  Also unexpectedly in attendance was a group from Perth YA Fans Unite.  This is a fairly young organization doing great things for this genre so we need to get behind them.
Norman Jorgensen was inimitable, demonstrating his usual caustic wit with his suspicion that Maud might, just might, be loosely based on Zelda Fitzgerald.  (Makes me wish I had have set Maud alight at some stage during the narrative).  He also let me in on a little piece of successful, award-winning writer’s lore: “Don’t sign your books the way you sign your cheques”.  Oh dear.  Why didn’t I think of that?  The first few books I signed have completely different signatures because that’s where I practiced, and perfected, my author signature.  Sorry about that people.
It was the end of a crazy couple of weeks.  There were photo shoots, interviews on 6EBA 95.3FM, Radio Fremantle (Dita Jevons and I almost fell off our chairs laughing), Goolarri Radio, and RTR FM 92.1 as well as an interview with Helen Crompton from The West Australian.   I’ve had so much time off from my day job I’m sure they are beginning to question my commitment to the construction industry... (And the next few months are looking to be just as busy).
So Creepy & Maud is on the shelves now, on Amazon, downloadable, the whole kit and caboodle.  Don’t waste valuable purchasing time reading this! – (I’ve heard it’s a good read...)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

If You Wee Yourself Just Bust a Move and Break into “Singin’ in the Rain”...

Book Launch preparations for the uninitiated:  Is there a handbook? 
1.       What if people aren’t interested?
We’ve all been to them: the particularly dull public event that initially arouses a toddler style boredom whereby your focus just continually drifts towards all the shiny things in the room.  This then morphs into an unabashed crowd surveillance (“Wonder where she got that dress?”; “Is he actually picking his nose?”)  Then slowly a sort of hobbled animal anxiety begins to build (“There’s no air in here!”; “Where’s the fucking bar?!”).  Followed by the upright, alcohol-induced semi-comatose state which at least offers you the subterfuge of attention and interest and a reason to spend half the event in the loo.  I am aware of all of these stages of public event disinterest (ever been to a construction industry sundowner?) which makes planning my own public event particularly distressing.
2.       The Guest Speakers.
Even more stressful is the knowledge that I’ve managed to rope in people far more interesting and respected than me to speak before me.  WHAT was I thinking?  If I wanted to ensure I wasn’t going to be looking out on faces clearly resenting the fact that they were missing an episode of Home and Away I should have booked, as speakers, my mother off her blood pressure medication and my brother-in-law after a few beers.  But no – I have Cate Sutherland and Norman Jorgensen speaking.   (On the run sheet I’m considering asking them to be ridiculously brief and not use their best material).  How to recover successfully from this? – I have considered busting out my balloon animals or performing my rhythm and blues version of “Rhinestone Cowboy”.  Opinions welcome.    On the 1 to 10 Fret Scale I think I’ve hit a 73 thinking ‘What the hell am I going to say and how do I say it without wetting my pants?’
3.       What if Something Goes Wrong?
At my sister’s wedding I walked from the toilets back to my table, through a myriad of guests, beautifully coiffed and made up, with my dress artfully tucked into the back of my pantyhose.  Didn’t notice until I sat down and the chair felt cold.  I shared my anxiety recently with someone inimitably familiar with public events and she told me about a similar event where someone had fainted and projectile vomited.     I am in preparation already.  I will cease all fluids from September 27th.  And curry.  I believe curry is unnecessary at this point.  If the lighting or sound fails the event will be tailor made for my parents who probably won’t wear their hearing aids and could possibly suffer a stroke with any light stimulation.  So there’s an upside.
4.       What if no one turns up?
Bring board games for the family.
5.       No one talks about this.
No one talks about the bladder control issues associated with book launch anxiety.  They just don’t.  There’s plenty of highfaluting stuff out there about “successful public image” but no one talks about how to hide your Depends under a little black dress.  So I’m going to.  As a writer you imagine your life to be comfortably confined to the darkened room where you do your thing (I recently had a Vitamin D blood test that read close to Rickets.  I’m taking supplements...).  When you just don’t want to disappoint anyone, you’re at your most vulnerable.  So how do you be truly and honestly you, sans persona, when the anxiety brought on by performance is both your best intellectual stimulant and your best chance of sphincter failure? 
If only Creepy and Maud could run this thing. 
And if you’re going down the Depends route, a loose slack is probably a better wardrobe option.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

James Earl Jones and Water in My Head

“These teens are useless.  They come to us with a reading age of five.  Their only hope is to improve themselves just enough to marry into the middle class.”
Someone said this to me recently and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.  I hate it when something gets stuck in my head (water’s the worst...).  And when things replay in my head it’s like a frigging James Earl Jones voice over, saturating the replay with all the significance of God clearing his throat.  In an effort to exorcize God’s phlegm I’m going to briefly bore anyone foolish enough to venture onto this blog with my views on this statement.
Firstly, we all know these sorts of teens (or think we do by appearance).  You know the ones – bad haircuts, bad language, bad dress sense, mooching about in shopping centre car parks wearing T-shirts with slogans so offensive that I wonder how their mothers actually let them out of their cages that day.  I’ve been as enraged as the next person when some 15 year old with the Rock of Gibraltar on his shoulder loosens a grolly at my feet as I’m passing.  (If you spit on my shoes I will vomit on yours).  So what is it about?
I’m no social anthropologist - I’m not even a teacher - so I am ridiculously unqualified to offer an opinion as definitive as that given to me during a discussion about connecting with teenagers.  And I know that I am probably in the minority in having an opinion about these sorts of teens which does not involve them either ending up in prison or marrying “up”.  But the truth is someone failed these kids multiple times.  As soon as invalidation meets adolescent hormones, we’re in trouble.  And I do mean “we”.  It’s not just that these are the people who will be running the aged care facilities we’re all in someday so let’s not piss them off anymore – it’s that somewhere around their young adulthood, when we’re bleating at these teens about taking personal responsibility, we conveniently forget that we were accountable for them up until yesterday so if their reading age is five, we bloody failed!
And are we abandoning the marginalized too quickly?  If the adults in their lives have decided there’s no point, why should the objects of this apathy decide any differently?  And let’s look seriously at the option of marrying “up”, if that’s their “only hope”.  What does that mean?  We stop concentrating on engaging with kids who are failing our expectations and simply concentrate on teaching them not to wipe their mouths on the tablecloth or fart in church?  Strike me purple.  I can hear James Earl again...
I think teenagers from lower socio-economic areas are in danger of being ghetto-ed by the very people entrusted to inspire them.  I understand being jaded – however the longer I’ve been in this world I’ve found that the demographic who has most inspired my cynicism has been grown-ups.   

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly know how far one can go.” - T.S. Eliot

How far is too far?

I ask myself this question after being questioned myself, about the subject matter I choose to explore Creepy & Maud.  After being questioned by someone I thought would simply celebrate the fact that I was being published.  After being questioned by someone who shrunk into themselves even further when I mentioned what I was working on now.

So, how far is too far in the YA genre?  I’m not talking about the superficial stuff such as: how often can I use the word “fuck”?; can my characters do a line of cocaine?; can my characters have sex?; can my characters be raped?; can my characters hold up a bottle shop, collide with another car during the get-away, kill an innocent in the other vehicle, blah blah blah?... Ironically all of this seems kosher.   Pick an issue, get the moral in, and make sure the didactic conclusion satisfies the expectations of every adult who reads it. 

But what if you write without the filter of “will-the-adult-audience-be-comfortable-with-this?”  What if you lost that filter somewhere in your own young a gay nightclub...on a school a borrowed bra...getting drunk when your mum thinks you’re at a study sleepover with responsible adults supervising?  (I’m just saying, you know, that that could happen...)  And what if you never re-claimed that filter?

I’m not talking about shock for shock’s sake.  Plenty of things that have been labeled “confronting and authentic” have left me going “Ewwwww”.  Nor am I advocating personal irresponsibility.  However when ‘responsible’ becomes cipher for bowdlerization, I get a bit itchy.  We underestimate our young adults.  I’m guilty of it myself.  I had the most ungenerous thoughts about the gang of obnoxious criminals-in-waiting harassing elderly shoppers at my local recently.  But what if those young men had been cut off at the pass with books which asked, with genuine interest: “What is your secret life?”  We can go there in picture books for Christ’s sake; what’s the big deal when we’re using words with more than two syllables?   Could uncensored, won’t-make-grown-ups-comfortable literature have made a difference?  (Of course it’s too late for those little illiterate wankers...)

I once heard Noni Hazlehurst in interview about her time on Play School.  She said it was one of the hardest gigs she ever did because kids have the greatest bullshit detectors on the planet.  If they suspect you are patronizing them, they immediately tune out.  We lose out bullshit detectors as adults – our bullshit detectors are lost within the stupor of political correctness, civility, doubt in ourselves, hesitation to offend, and desperation to please. 

I love the YA genre because the audience isn’t cooked yet.  They think they are, but they’re not.  There is so much fervor, faith, ire and conviction in our young adults, and I want to grab them there, where they are.  I don’t want to teach them anything.  I want to hold a mirror up.  There are so many exquisite YA writers doing this: Scott Gardner, Melina Marchetta, Julia Lawrinson, Nick Earls, Sonya Hartnett, and of course Margo Lanagan - where and when do people get the time and audacity to be offended by anything written with heed and poise when there are things like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey out there...

I want young adults to know that everyone feels like they’re not good enough; that everyone makes colossal mistakes; that everyone regrets something ; that doing something monstrous doesn’t make you a monster; and that fully-cooked adult human beings often behave in really fucked up ways too.  So I take all of that uncooked stuff still in me and find that even in its tempered form it is still offensive to some people?  Reality is often the most offensive thing, isn’t it?

“Mum and Dad started fighting around the time Dad trimmed his pubes.  I wasn’t supposed to know that but I heard it all.  It seems Dad had never been much into the whole grooming thing down there throughout the marriage, so Mum found his sudden desire to mow the lawn, so to speak, somewhat suspicious.  Rightly so, I reckon.  Dad made out Mum was paranoid and said he didn’t chuck a wobbly when Mum shaved her pits, so what’s the problem?  Mum reminded Dad about the time Dave down the street wanted to borrow Dad’s chainsaw and how Dad had spent two hours cleaning and oiling it for him first.  Dad had never been much into his chainsaw until he found someone else wanted to use it.”
- Creepy & Maud ( Fremantle Press, 2012)

Offended?  I hope so.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Nose Picking and Book Selling

Just like the men who sit in their cars at traffic lights picking their noses believing they cannot be seen, I venture into the world of blogging under the spurious hope that no one will read this whilst bound to become egregiously offended if that actually turns out to be true.
With fingers well away from my olfactory orifices I ask “Can I be seen?” And the answer is now a tentative yes, as I approach the release of my first novel – Creepy & Maud – published by Fremantle Press (October 2012).  The process has been a tonne of fun.  Cate Sutherland (“This book is very loud – can people shout less please?”), Amanda Curtin (“I don’t think anyone uses fly-paper anymore”) and Tracey Gibbs (who hasn’t said anything to me...yet – she just kept sending glorious cover graphics to satisfy every fetish I had) have all helped me birth this thing.  And now Claire Miller (“Don’t blog unless you have something to say...”) is helping me slap it on the arse and send it out there.  Just like any other birth it has involved some gentle reassurance, some enthusiastic coaching and some seriously late nights.  I now look at the finished product and feel much the same as I did after giving birth to my son and sending him forth into the world: “Please don’t shame your mother, and don’t pick your nose at traffic lights.”
Having been a bookseller for so many years it is somewhat confronting (and exciting) to be on the other side of the table, so to speak.  No amount of self-promotion can equal the power a bookseller has to either run with your baby or Tontine it.  I can still remember the excitement of First-Of-The-Month when those trucks backed up and pumped the warehouse full of toxic fumes, the New Release excitement sending a shudder of hushed anticipation through the building on a miasma of exhaust.  There’s nothing like it.  The hovering about “goods-in”, waiting to get your hands on the-one-you’ve-been-waiting-for, getting yelled at for poking about boxes you’re not supposed to be opening, marvelling at frontispieces and getting light headed just from the smell of that delicious polished paper.  It’s like Church. 
And, like Church, booksellers can be swift to point out the shortcomings of their flock.  The opinion as to what has legs and what doesn’t can see some titles scuttled within mere minutes of being pulled from the safety of their Styrofoam noodles. All of a sudden someone’s baby can be shunted to the boondocks of a gondola, spine-out, somewhere between volume 17 of the latest teeny-porn vampire-werewolf saga and the autobiography of a teenage pop star with the maturity of a zygote.  Now I want to go back and rescue those legless, embarrassing little tomes and at least give them one day of face-out-eye-level out of respect for the time it took some poor bastard to write the thing!
It’s an interesting and necessary collaboration, that of bookseller and writer.  There are so many dedicated, intuitive booksellers out there.  They read, they are passionate about getting kids and young adults to read, and they hang about at the delivery dock once a month as if it were a wedding.  (And then of course there’s Big W.  Let’s just admit here and now that we’d all like to be big enough one day to qualify as a loss-leader). 
Symbiotically connected here for the children’s/young adult’s writers is, of course, the teacher and the librarian. They too rely on the bookseller, for advice and guidance and reviews and enthusiasm.  I’m so accustomed to being in that driver’s seat that sitting back and trusting my baby to others is...a very good lesson in self-control.  Because therein lies the rub, doesn’t it? All anxiety is about a self-perceived loss of control.  Which brings me back to Creepy & Maud.
Creepy & Maud is about acceptance of loss of control.  Perhaps I should take a lesson.  But that is not our instinct as adults.  Is it?