Now and again, I’m rather pleased that the Atlantic Ocean separates me and the Mom. Not because I am upset that she’s hand-selling my book to all and sundry, but rather because it’s going to take me a bit of time to get my head round the whole thing.
The Mom is right: she has always been our biggest promoter. Agent par excellence. Which is wonderful, and I am nothing but grateful. It’s just that I find this sort of thing… overwhelming. So it’s nice to watch it happen from afar for now, so I can get used to it.
There have been moments when The Mom has decided that I need to do better PR for myself and has then gone on to show me how it’s done. The Mom’s ideas around this sort of thing are different from mine because I’m still sort of shy about all this. I’ve no problem speaking about my book, or talking about my writing process, or any of that, but that’s fairly far removed from being stood next to her as she lists off my various degrees and awards. I don’t know if I’ve always been like this or if living in the UK has somehow infiltrated my psyche, but the thought of watching her do this to a receptive audience is just cringe-worthy.
Because what do you say after she’s done speaking? What is an appropriate follow-up remark? True dat? Or would I be better off just grabbing the copy from her, selecting a random page, and start reading aloud? I’m sure she’d be pleased as punch, frankly.
That said, I love that The Mom is out there, hand-selling my book. I mean, you can count on your mom to do certain things for you – hold your hair back when you’re throwing up, listen to you as you moan down the phone to her about whatever life has thrown at you, field angry calls from the student loan people – but promoting your first book to all and sundry is on another level.
In fact, this is one of the many reasons I’m thrilled to bits that House of Anansi will be publishing the book back home and in the States. Because I can imagine The Mom’s glee at going into our local book shop and asking for the book.
“Yes, I’d like a copy of The Last Wave please.”
“Do you know the author?”
“Do I? I raised her. It’s my daughter, Gillian.” At this point her hand would shark over the counter demanding a handshake. “I’m Laurie. Proud mother.”
“Right,” the clerk would say. “Lemme check.”
As the clerk goes looking through the omputer to see if they have any in stock, The Mom would continue. “Yes, it’s about swimming. Gillian is a swimmer you see, though the lady in the book is a Channel swimmer, and because of her many illnesses – arthritis, Crohn’s, osteoporosis – she’s unable to swim that far in such cold water.”
Let me add here that I’m unclear as to why The Mom feels it necessary to give everyone my full medical history, let alone mention osteoporosis as it’s the one that runs mainly in the background and is only pertinent when I fall and break something, which has only happened once, knock wood.
The clerk might nod or indicate the he or she is still listening.
“Yes, there’s a lot about us in here, though obviously it’s fiction. I’m not saying it’s a family autobiography – that’s my book. As of yet unpublished, but one does live in hope. But I see a lot of us in there, and I know that coming from a quirky family is a boon to any writer.”
At this point, if I were the clerk in question, even if the results had come up on the computer screen, I would pretend they’ve not because it would feel to me that this lady has a lot to get out. This is also a reason why I am not a bookseller.
“Strong female characters in spades! And it touches on so many topics that affect us all, cancer, dementia. Gill’s Grammy had dementia, I don’t suppose it says that there, does it?” At this point, she’d be trying to lean over the counter to see the screen, but thankfully she is tiny and probably couldn’t reach. Probably.
The clerk would, at this juncture, decide the time is right and lead The Mom over to the area where they keep the fiction. The Mom would spot the book immediately and snatch if off the shelf. “Yes! That’s the one!” She would hold it aloft like a trophy and if there were any other customers in the shop just then she would probably do something like shout, “ If anyone’s looking for a great new voice in fiction, this is the book you’re looking for! My daughter wrote it! My daughter!!”
When she went to purchase the book, she would probably also pull the copy I’ve already sent her from her bag and display it proudly, begging the question why is she in the shop buying more copies?
Well, I suppose you really can’t have too many if you’re the proud Mom.