So, we spent January through mid-March working down south (San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, then northern California) to cleverly dodge the worst of winter and come home to spring – and it is freezing! My car is covered with snow. People lied to us. This is weather to stay inside and write a journal post…
The ever-changing online culture means that Twitter and now Facebook become my quick ways of sharing things, and if you want to see what I am saying regularly on subjects from baseball to puns to single malt to, well, my books, chase me down there. But this remains where I can come to go ‘longform’ and update things.
We are in full-on pre-release mode now, all publishers. My inbox overfloweth. I do count this as part of being a writer, though when I was younger I begrudged the extreme distraction from research and writing. Now, it is essentially part of what a writer owes his or her publishers (and family, and whatever bank has the mortgage!).
The earliest pre-publication reviews have been wonderful. I say this drawing a breath of pleased relief. It is simply the case that one never knows. The fact that readers and reviewers have liked earlier work does not mean they’ll like a new book. And as you build a body of work, to a degree you are competing with yourself. ‘Better than his last one!’ ‘I really like it, but I loved his X more years ago!’ There is no real way around this, for any artist, much as you might wish a book (or film, painting, piece of music) to be judged for itself. There are many overlapping contexts for assessments. As readers we bring – obviously – ourselves to a book and what we are, our needs in art, will change, year to year, even day to day.
One reviewer half-worried readers might find the ‘history’ as compelling as the characters. I don’t find that a worry! I love that effect. I was taken with a similar line in a review of Annie Proulx (great writer!) and her new book, meant there as high praise: ‘it becomes clear that history and time are the main characters here.’
I like that! Not necessarily the ‘main’ characters (they aren’t, in mine) but definitely an awareness shaped in the reader of them. One reader’s worry is another’s catnip. Something we all need to be aware of, as writers and readers.
Publishers’ Weekly today (April 4) released a starred review for Children. They are probably the most influential of the advance review organizations, they affect what bookstores and libraries order, and how many copies, so a starred review is really good news. The last lines are: ‘He wields plots and all-too-human characters brilliantly…This big, powerful fantasy offers an intricately detailed setting, marvelously believable characters, and an international stew of cultural and religious conflict writ larger than large.‘
Yes, everyone is happy about that. If you ever find me at a reading and buy me a drink I’ll tell you something ironic about it.
As to that, the tour is just about ready to be posted. Another new thing these days: some of the bookstores and venues have already announced my upcoming appearances on their own websites. That never used to happen. But the publicists coordinating (primarily Trish Bunnett at PRH Canada, who is doing heroic work on this) prefer to lock in and nail down (and other phrases!) as many dates as possible before posting an almost-full tour schedule. There are always later add-ons, nature of the game.
We’ll have finished books in the warehouse in 2-3 weeks. Always, always a ‘moment’ when a writer first sees the book. Publication date is May 10th Canada and United States – May 12th in UK – though it may be in some stores a few days ahead. The worldwide launch event (I can reveal this) will be here in Toronto the evening of May 11th, in the big Appel Salon of the main Reference Library.
The audiobook, narrated by the wonderful Simon Vance is finished, and will be out at the same time. He wrote me a beautiful note about needing to pause at times to control emotion as he read. (We met him and his wife in California last month – genuinely lovely people.)
There will be more from me here this month. Possibly the next post will be that link to the tour gigs when Trish is ready. Here’s something cool, meanwhile. Elizabeth Cameron, who handles online publicity/marketing for PRH Canada, had animated cover images made. Fun.