O! M! Golly! Gosh! My book is out today. Actually, factually today! On real shelves, in real bookshops. Beautiful shiny copies of ‘We Can be Heroes’ with nice foily bits on the covers and the most fabulous manga cartoon artwork inside and lots and lots of words written by me.
I’m on holiday, in deepest darkest Cornwall but I am going to drag the family off the beach and over to Truro later so I can stare at the foil-covered beauteousness of it in Waterstones. I contemplated camping outside last night like they do when Harry Potter comes out, but decided it was too cold and I don’t do cold – or camping really.
So instead I’ve been training my kids to do a spot of improv’ ankle-biter publicity. Child no. 1 (aged six, code name Moozle) has been practising saying loudly, ‘Mummy, isn’t that your book?’ and pointing in wide-eyed wonder at the amazing techni-colour loveliness that is my masterpiece on the shelves, whilst Child no 2 (aged eight, code named Pookin but if you call him that he’ll have to kill you) declares in his loudest (but cutest) voice, ‘Yes, and didn’t it get described as an ‘outstanding debut’ in ‘The Bookseller’? And didn’t that nice man, Alan Gibbons, say it was a ‘remarkable, important book’ in ‘Books for Keeps’?’
Meanwhile long-suffering hubbie (who wishes to be code-named Golden Eagle for reasons unknown but probably related to James Bond/Alex Rider obsession) hums the tune to David Bowie’s ‘We Can be Heroes’ in a subliminal way so that shoppers find themselves magnetically drawn towards masterpiece on the shelves. I’ve negotiated a Hello Kitty Pez and a packet of Pokemon Level X Inferno cards as bribes, which is a total bargain, I reckon. Oh and Golden Eagle can have a lie-in and a packet of M and S hankies! Sorted.
Oh, and the book is buying them pressies. Did you know books could do that? You know like new baby brothers and sisters do, when they bring pressies from the womb for their elder siblings (how do they do that? are there shopping malls in there?). My baby brother bought me a copy of ‘My Naughty Little Sister’ when he was born. I was too young to be offended at the time but I’m getting the hump in retrospect – and how did he source that, huh? Amniotic Amazon? I tell you, it’s a fix and I’m onto it!
Anyway, ‘We Can be Heroes’ has robbed my kiddywinkles of any semblance of decent mothering for the last few months, so I figure it owes them big time. So the masterpiece is buying Moozle a pair of wheelie shoes – because they are the footwear of choice of my main character Priti whose mad-bonkers dress sense was inspired by the Moozle herself (she once went out with a pair of tights on her head but not on her legs, ‘Because that would have looked weird, Mummy!’) Meanwhile, Pookin (sorry, Joe – baby names are so not cool when you are eight) is getting a proper artist’s sketch book for drawing his cartoons in cos he’s a bit of a manga fan, just like Ben my other main character who doodles his way through the book and whose cartoon actually appears in the back (and is my absolute favourite ever bit of the whole thing!).
Just had a horrible thought. Book has not bought gift for the Golden Eagle who has been v supportive spouse and pedantic proof-reader (lawyers really are very pernickety, it turns out!) and is already less than delighted at being the inspiration for the main character’s dad who died in the 9/11 attacks ten years before the story starts. ‘How could you kill me off in print?’ he wailed when he found out. ‘Why couldn’t I be the hero and do a car chase and kill some baddies and stuff?’ I tried to explain that Ben spends most of the book trying to connect with the father he never knew – and that there are baddies, and bomb-plots and kidnapping and stuff and they are all sort of a result of his character dying. But Golden Eagle is unconvinced and still sulking about literary husbicide (is that the word for killing your husband? If not, what is? Please help). And choice of gift is proving a little tricky in light of his character’s untimely demise. Will have to go for garden vouchers and hope for the best!
So, publicity is covered, the book has nearly finished its publication day gift shopping, book gazing is scheduled and then what? I guess then I just have to sit around twiddling my thumbs waiting for people to read it and tell me what they think of it…..Which is the only bad thing about this whole publication day extravaganza! ….. People might actually read it!!! I mean, this should be a good thing, right? But when you’ve stolen bits of family legend (like the pooing in the bath incident – sorry Tricksy!) and the odd clearly recognisable character trait (Nuffty, Jed may have borrowed your wardrobe and your passion for The Reds but you are way nicer than he is – honestly, promisedly!) Basically, I figure half my family and friends might not be be talking to me after they’ve read it.
And then what if people don’t like it? It could be like when you tell people what your new baby is called and you can tell right away that they hate the name cos they put on this expression of polite horror and then come out with loads of euphemisms, like, ‘Oh! What an unusual choice!’ (believe me, I know, I plumped for an old lady name for my daughter – sorry, kid!). What if it’s like that? What if everyone hates it. No, wait, the nice lady from Chicklish said ‘Bruton is brilliant’ and that lovely man from the Bookbag called it, ‘ An important book: brave, honest, funny and very tense…’ so if everyone else hates it and my family disown me, I figure they can be my new BFFs.
OK. I’ve got all my ducks in a row (I have ALWAYS wanted to say that cos my management consultant bro in law says it and I’ve never really known what it meant!) the kids are drilled, the pressies are wrapped and the sparkling grape juice is on ice (can’t do real shampoo – might get too giddy and do cartwheels in Cornish Waterstones and nobody wants to see me doing gymnastics – not at my age) So all that remains is for me to deliver my closing line.
So, when I’m standing in Waterstones later and Moozle declares in finely drilled prose ‘Mummy, isn’t that your novel? The one that was described by the reviewers as a ‘big brave book’ and ‘a remarkable debut’?’ I shall simply blush modestly and declare with touching humility (and a nod to Andy McDowell in ‘Four Weddings’), ‘Is it? I hadn’t noticed!’
And then break out into Riverdance/break-dance routine up and down the aisle!