Monday, 29 October 2007

Words from a Glass Bubble: Update

The collection is coming together. I have to say that working with Jen Hamilton-Emery at Salt Publishing is great.


It's like having a friend who emails you and is putting together your precious first book, who really cares about getting it right, who isn’t shy of saying ‘I think these bits don’t go’, and who is happy to flex initial ideas.

The contents list is now twenty two stories, a real cross-section. Some are long, a few are shorter. One is truly flash length. Some are prize winners, some not. Most have been published before. What holds them together are the themes and the tone, I think. A muted palette, with the occasional vermillion spike.

(It’s interesting to see work in colour. I always look at each piece to find the ‘colour wash’ it inhabits.)

I have created the dedication page. I am dedicating it to a friend who died just before Christmas last year. I was trawling about for quotes. Should I, shouldn’t I have a quotation to say something about Jan, or would that be schmaltzy? I flicked onto some place or other and found a wonderful quote that really chimed… by Sir Winston Churchill. So I have the great man hovering around at the start. Terrific!

The acknowledgements page came next. Golly that is tough. My instinct was to name everyone I felt had been touched in any way by this obsession with writing. (Because writing is like a love affair for this writer. It takes you away from friends, turns you into a more intense being. Makes you high one minute and low the next. And it is impossible to explain to anyone who isn’t also in love…)

My acknowledgement page drafts were like bad Oscar acceptance speeches. I’d like to thank my agent, my granny, my local greengrocer and my bus conductor…
In the end, I named only those individuals who have really played a part in growing this writer, and mentioned others by group tags. Most of the page is taken up with ‘First Published In’ detail and so on. But I also wanted to acknowledge the influence great writers have had and always will. So I do that. I wonder if anyone reads that page?

Jen has all the files and the stories are now off to the typesetters for proofs.

I am on tenterhooks about the cover. I know how vital good covers are. (Hey, it was the cover that made me buy Austerlitz by W G Sebald, starting the process of turning me into a writer.) I have sourced a wonderful photograph and have agreed with Jen that we will go for it. It is so ‘right’ for the book, I can’t imagine anything else fitting. But of course, it will. The problem with the photograph is that it is with a top agency, and the photographer must have final say if it is to be used for the cover of a book. It’s also expensive.

But what the hell. I may only do this once, and I want to be as proud of it as I can be.


BLUE said...

hi Vanessa:

thanks for sharing your behind-the-scenes process with us. i am just beginning and have been working mostly with Chris. i love that Salt *listens* to its writers. next comes the other work: marketing.

best light to you!

Vanessa G said...

Hi Blue

How great to 'meet' you. I love the title of your forthcoming Salt anthology... 'Exquisite Heat' just resonates and resonates and resonates.

Have great fun working with Chris...enjoy. Two things Salt are: quality and fun. One thing they are not is 'up themselves'.

Look forward to meeting your work, although wow. Sounds like you have a few libraries worth already out there!

all best