A Stack of Books
A stack of books sits in my office awaiting delivery to new homes. My third book on puppy farming in three years. My first children’s book. ‘Saving Maya’ has been made possible through the support of many individuals, not least the backers of our Kickstarter campaign. This has enabled us to get it published this summer.
This was ahead of our original autumn timetable. Last Sunday, Annabel Wilson and I spent a few hours together signing this stack of books. Each one is destined to land on the doormat of one of our generous backers. If you’re one of them, you’ll be the first to receive a signed copy. Look out for it this weekend. We’ve coincided delivery with the official launch on Sunday at the Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre Fun Day.
When I asked Annabel to work with me on a children’s book on puppy farming, I had no idea what a great collaboration it would be. It’s been productive both personally and creatively. I first met Annabel three years ago at DBARC’S fun day. I’d forgotten this detail till Annabel posted about it the other day on Facebook…
One week away from our book launch, I’ve spent a good part of the day at Janetta’s signing and doodling a stack of books to send to our wonderful Kickstarter backers. Susie-Belle’s name was mentioned frequently with fondness, and our task was pleasantly interrupted by the little bright faces of Twinkle and Cerise peering up at us as we signed books and talked.
These beautiful little dogs are the reason behind this book. I met Janetta, Twinkle and Susie-Belle 3 years ago at the DBARC fun day and was greatly moved by the stories of her dogs rescued from puppy farms. Our journey from there has led to creative partnership, a great friendship and a shared wish to use our creativity to spread awareness that will hopefully one day contribute to the end of puppy farming.
It’s been a journey for us both. Along the way we’ve discovered how to work together effectively and support each other through the various hard phases and creative hurdles that are inevitable in any project like this. Writers are by nature happy in their own worlds. We spend our days immersed in an isolated place of words, preferring solitary space for working. This is me through and through. Aside from my writing life, I’ve worked independently for myself, on my terms for a couple of decades. I like doing things on my own, my way.
In the early stage of working on Saving Maya with Annabel, I had to grapple with my instinctive reluctance to share any of my early drafts with her. It took a lot of patient coaxing from Annabel – here her skills as primary school teacher surfaced – to get me to overcome my reticence. It’s always scary showing someone something you’ve written for the first time. It’s exposing. But working with an illustrator means this is not only essential but it happens early on in the process. I had to show Annabel what I felt were shoddy examples of my rough writing which no-one but me would ever normally see. Thankfully she was patient and let me work through my painfully slow realisation of what I’d have to do!
Once I stopped navel gazing and dithering about sharing my untidy sentences I started sending my drafts. It was then that the beauty of collaborating with a like-minded, skilled and sensitive person became crystal clear. I found that I liked bouncing wild ideas around. Oddly long discussions would ensue about the use of a particular word I favoured. And when it came to editing, the pros and cons of a comma insertion, or use of an exclamation mark would take up an evening. For Annabel is not only a great illustrator, she’s a lover of words and children’s literature. I shamelessly roped her in beyond her initial brief and she helped me with the final editing. This can be a tricky role and relationship for writers and editors to manage. But fortunately, by the time we’d got to that late stage we knew we could do anything if we put our minds to it and still remain friends.
To find that I’ve enjoyed sharing my creative space and know that what I’ve written in ‘Saving Maya’ is an awful lot better because of doing so, has been a personal revelation. It’s resulted in this large stack of books sitting in my office which is a work of art in its own right. It’s been an enriching process and one that will continue as Annabel and I begin early preparatory work on our next project. Of which I’ll write more, just as soon as I can overcome my reluctance to share early drafts of anything I’m doing!
You can pre-order Saving Maya now and it’ll be widely available from 4 July (ignore the timetables given on book sellers sites, they’ll be updated as soon as its officially released on the 4th). Here are some of the best deals at the moment:
10% discount from the Book Depository and FREE worldwide shipping
For UK orders (they do ship worldwide but its not free) 20% discount from Matador Publishing
Order from Watersones and collect in your local store
Order from Hive & get free home delivery or collect at your local bookshop
ebook from Itunes