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?