You write a book and send it off. Sometime later the typescript comes back from the editor decorated with blue pencil marks, with a page of two of notes with issues and questions to please address. You make some changes, fix some errors, and send it back. Again, sometime later, page proofs show up for a last proofread and an last chance to fix gaffes. When you slip the proofs into a mailer and send them off this time, your work on the manuscript is finished. By that time you are or should be well into the next book, and the completed book moves to the back of your mind.
Then one day, half a year or so later, a package arrives in the mail. You open it and find a BOOK, your book, with—one hopes—a beautiful cover and enticing blurbs from some of your good friends on the back. For those of us who have had lifelong affairs with books, there is no feeling quite like holding the new book for the first time, seeing those words that you recognize as your own filling pages bound between covers, your name on the spine.
When my very first copy of my very first book, No Harm, arrived in the mail—can it really be twenty-five years ago?—it was my daughter, a third grader then, who opened it. She actually cried with excitement. For two days, she hardly let go of the book except to show it off. First she called her grandparents and told them they had to come straight over because she had a big surprise. She walked the book around the neighborhood and took it to school the next day; the teacher was forewarned that the content was strictly NC-17, for “show” only. Already there was foxing on the edges of the cover from handling, so the teacher put a plastic Brodart cover on it to protect it from sticky little fingers. Before Aly went to soccer practice we took the cover over to the copy store and had the image transferred to a tee-shirt for her to wear—she had to put down the book at some point.
I knew exactly how she felt. If she hadn’t been carrying the book around and sleeping with it on the nightstand beside her bed, I would have.
It happened again this week, for the tenth time, and I felt that same thrill. An envelope arrived with a couple of advanced reader copies of The Hanging, the new book that Perseverance Press John Daniel & Company will release early in September. After Paul and I looked over it and through it, exclaimed over the cover, read the blurbs again, admired Eric Larsen’s design work, recognized all those words tapped out by these very fingers, I put a copy on the desk in our entry so that I can see it, pick it up, every time I pass by. And where I can ever so casually show it off to anyone who drops by.
The cover by artist Robin Gowen is exceptionally wonderful and perfectly suits the story. It would be lovely on a tee-shirt.
At this point, all is expectation, a perfect moment to enjoy before the book is released to the marketplace, that is, into the hands of strangers. And after it is? Talk about cliff hangers. As Paul says, “We’ll see.”
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