Lives of the dead and other stories was launched last month by writer and spiritual tourist Walter Mason, and is out there in the world.
The book was launched at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, as part of the Sydney Writers Festival, as well as at Berkelouw Books in Newtown. See photos, below.
Walter had the audience laughing at both launches, with tales of secretly reading the book during a Buddhist retreat. I talked about the book’s title, how it was inspired by a quote from Sylvia Plath’s poem The Rabbit Catcher, and the connection between memory and landscape.
The lead-up to the book being published, and finally released has been a long road. The collection was first accepted by Spineless Wonders in March 2012, fifteen months before the book’s release. Editing began in September last year, and continued until about December. And then came the final proofreading, decisions about the internal photographs and the cover and whether to have endorsements or not, and numerous other decisions about the look and feel of the book. Spineless were fabulous, and checked in with me all the way, about everything about the book. A fifteen month turn-around from manuscript to book is really quick. A larger, established publisher may hold a manuscript it’s trying to decide on for many months – even a year, before making a decision. And then, if accepted, the turn-around-time could take another 12 months, depending on the publishing schedule, and where you are on the list.
Lives of the dead was many many years in the making, before it was ever submitted to a publisher. Some of the stories took years to write. Most were previously published in literary journals and anthologies, some accepted immediately and others rejected many times and revised, before finding a magazine editor who would accept them. Although a first collection, these stories are a selection that seemed to go well together – and are part of a much larger body of work, a lifetime in the making.
Now this collection of stories is published, and out there in the world, what happens next? I’m experiencing a lull, a quiet time after the long build-up. I’m gazing out at the garden, at the fine-powder rain, at the cockatoos sitting like sad, puffed-up chooks in the winter trees. The rollar coaster ride is over, and this is the quiet after the storm, and the beginning of another period of hard work.
Thank you to everyone who has been emailing me with your comments about the book. I love getting your feedback and knowing that someone, out there, is reading it and hopefully enjoying it, and maybe identifying with it in some way.
In answer to what happens next – this is my first blog post, the first in a series. I’m working on the next topic – a secret at present. I hope that you might like to join with me in a conversation – about nostalgia, nature, dogs, books, writing, reading, food and…who knows. I’ll keep you posted!