The proofs for The English Monster?started to go out a few weeks ago. What an odd moment that is. For the first time your book is being read by significant numbers of people at once. Some of them you know, many of them you don’t. Your publisher and your agent have come up with a list of people they want to send the book to, in the hope that someone FAMOUS will say something AMAZING about your book so it can stand out a little on those crowded bookshop tables (and believe me some of the names on the list they were sending my book to were extraordinary).
They ask you for a list of people you want to send proofs to, and you agonise over that, because really giving them your novel is asking an awful?lot of them. Not only do they have to read it, but then they have to frame a response to it which isn’t going to end with you climbing up to the roof to end it all.
And then the book goes out. And tumbleweed rolls around for a few days. And then a week or two. You find yourself trying to work out how long it takes the average person to read the average novel. You start resenting your friends and family who haven’t got their finger out. You tend to forget that the rest of the world doesn’t revolve around you; that people don’t drop everything just to read your book.
Then, some time around the end of week two and the beginning of week three, the messages start to come in. Your family like it. A friend drops you an email. Twitter becomes an essential?companion, as friends and acquaintances leave you messages. The slightest compliments become emotional epics. Enthusiasm for your book, when it appears, turns into the most potent of drugs. Anyone you respect who hasn’t said anything becomes a source of gnawing, intense anxiety.
And this isn’t even publication. It isn’t even pre-publication. It’s a rehearsal for those things. How do first-time authors deal with the full thing when it happens? I’m likely to be in a box by then.
The English Monster is atmospheric, gruesome and gripping. With Shepherd as their quartermaster, readers who enjoyed ?Perfume? by Patrick Suskind will find plenty on this voyage to appal and intrigue them.
Yes. I think I’ll take that. Oh my, yes I will.
Excellent picture of Anxiety Personified is by amber10_79 on Flickr.