Tadaa! Drum roll! Glitter descending! Champagne ! (well, prosecco). Huzzah!
This is the first of what will become a ceaseless stream of self-promotion, as I prepare the world for the self-publication of my book, Treading Water.
What used to be dodgy Vanity publishing has become cool! It’s now Independent (or Indie) publishing and is all the rage, so I’m about to add my offering to the deluge of print spewed out from Macs and PCs all over the world. It was hard enough writing the thing, but now I have to promote it non-stop on Facebook and twitter and every other outlet I can find. Hubby has even volunteered to dress up as a town crier, so if you hear some loud bell-ringing in your local shopping centre, it could be him! (Jokes)
So, what’s my book about? I was once told by a very wise fellow, that every book needs a bastard in it, so I’ve got a doozy in mine. Feel free to hate the handsome, rich and selfish David Connolly, who leaves his wife and family with such casual cruelty, that his two little girls become collateral damage. It’s not immediately obvious in the relatively privileged circles in which they move – they still have good clothes, good schools and plenty of friends. But Lucy, the youngest, is so deeply affected by the loss of her beloved father, she finds herself Treading Water through her childhood and teenage years.
I’ve made the dad the villain of the piece, partly for dramatic effect, and partly because I’ve seen (and read, in students’ poems and stories) how the loss of a dad’s attention at a crucial age can have a devastating effect on a daughter. It’s not always so. Loads of parents who can no longer manage to stay together, handle it all fantastically well, with patience and decency and love. Step-parents and step-siblings often become the new version of the extended family with really great outcomes for everyone. But Treading Water is a shout of protest for those little gals so hurt by their loss, that it threatens to blight their whole lives. But please don’t think it’s a man-hating diatribe. I have a few flawed women in the mix, and plenty of very nice men in there too. Hopefully I’ve achieved a gender balance not evident in the current parliament!
(Update: Friday 11th September Malcolm Turnbull replaces Tony Abbott as Prime Minister and wastes no time in adjusting the gender balance in his ministry. Who knew he was reading my bog!)
However a couple of good men really stand out. They’re not actually in the book, but they have been absolute champs in the long and fraught process of getting the book out there.
The first is that most accomplished Brisbane novelist, and generous mentor of fellow writers – Nick Earls. There he was minding his own business one Saturday morning in the deodorant aisle of the local supermarket, when a certain deranged woman recognized him from his many school visits and writers’ festivals, and accosted him with an extremely cheeky request. Could he give her a line of endorsement for her soon to be published masterpiece? Mr. Earls, to his eternal credit, smiled uncertainly, gave me his email, and didn’t call security. He was probably hoping that the loony lady would forget the email, but no, three chapters and a synopsis thundered into his inbox, and elicited from him a fantastic line:
“Treading Water gets beneath the surface of lives that look suburban and safe. We need to see stories like this being told.”
It’s now emblazoned on the front of my book… such a famous name to lure the punters in! I did write back, to make sure I was authorized to put it on the cover, and received a very nice reply to the effect of: put it wherever you like! He didn’t actually say stick it up your bottom for all I care, but I wouldn’t have blamed him if he did. All praise to the decent, generous and talented Mr. Earls.*
And a hemisphere away, a Glaswegian photographer by the name of Gary Ross,** demonstrated a similar mix of generosity and talent. In looking for the right image for my cover, I came across his beautiful image of a young girl… my Lucy! It was on a site freely accessible, but the publishers needed more, so I tracked him down and rang him. Not only did he give permission, he sent a special high-res version of the picture, and refused payment, asking instead that I send a copy of the published book to his daughter Skye (the girl in the picture) with a personal message. What a legend! Faith in humanity officially restored!
And never fear, amid the struggles of the characters, there is still plenty of hope and humanity in my book. Here’s the blurb:
“Life seems good for Lucy – she’s so pretty and popular at her exclusive girls’ school. But under that smiling facade is a dark secret that draws her back to the bridge where a young man died.
Paul has always been there when she needed him – so grown up and capable and kind. But as they grow ever closer, what he knows about the tragedy at the bridge threatens to destroy her faith in him forever.
Two young people struggling in families fractured by divorce and bereavement. Can they ever be free of the past?”
Intrigued? I hope so! I’m planning lots more shameless promotion, a launch and a bit of razzamatazz – any excuse for some cheap plonk and nibblies. The launch will be in Brisbane, but you can all be there in spirit.
It is available as Print on Demand, or as an eBook on Amazon, Smashwords and many of the usual outlets, so we’re on our way. This is just the start!
*Nick Earls is the author of novels including The Fix, Zigzag Street, Bachelor Kisses, The True Story of Butterfish and Perfect Skin and the collection of short stories Welcome To Normal. His work has been published internationally in English and in translation.
***”Villainc” by Caricature by J.J., SVG file by Gustavb – Moved to current name from Image:Villianc.svg (see original file history below). Move approved by User:Superm401. This vector image was created with Inkscape.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Villainc.svg#/media/File:Villainc.svg