Never is a book more loved than on its launch in the author’s home town surrounded by friends and family. And Day Boy was well loved. And never is an author reminded more that writing is rarely a solitary endeavour but something buoyed by friends and family and those dearest to their heart.
I’ve never a had a drink named after a book before, but the people at my favourite bar the End (and my wonderful workmates at Avid) organised this beauty. I had two of them before my launch – which calmed the nerves, let me tell you.
Isobelle Carmody’s send off for my book was wonderful. Not only did I feel honoured that she’d said yes in the first place (particularly with Red Queen so close to release) but she spoke so beautifully and eloquently about the book and about launches in general.
Krissy Kneen was the host and she was wonderful (and her new book – the second for the year – Eating My Grandmother is absolutely divine).
And then I got to thank all the people I could remember to thank, and to read a chapter from my book that I have been dreaming about reading for nearly three years. I signed for about an hour catching up (all too briefly) with so many dear friends, students, and readers.
My friend and colleague, the fabulous Kylie Chan once said that the cliched television version of a book launch doesn’t exist – except at Avid Reader. And it’s true. I was so happy to share that launch with so many people I love – and so pleased that Mum and Dad, and Dad’s partner Lee could make it. You get to my age and you realise that your parents aren’t getting any younger.
Thank you to everyone that could make it. Thank you to my second home and second family Avid Reader. Books and writing are my life. But so are my friends and family.
I’m just going to post the launch speech here – sans the rather large amount of ad libbing.
You know I was a bit nervous about this launch. It’s been a while between drinks. (not literally). But then I got a check in the mail today from my bank for $13.00 refunded on a credit card I closed years ago, and I thought, well, that is a good omen.
Also, author Gary Kemble (check out his new novel Skin Deep!) sent me this from Scotland in his stead. It is haunted, and it is also very appropriate for the piece I will be reading. Actually, I think it’s revenge for me forgetting his name when I did my first ever signing (and I’ve known Gary for years – Gary, I’m sorry, I was absolutely horrified at the time, and I’m horrified now. I’m also sorry if I forget anyone’s name at the signing: really I am)
But, let’s start at the beginning.
Book Launches are like rocket launches. Not real rocket launches more like the one in Armageddon – without the singing – they’re a goodbye. You know that Bruce Willis is never going to see Liv Tyler again, but he’s going to save the world because he’s the best damn driller there is – and while, at that stage, there might be doubt because it’s Bruce Willis not Sean Bean and Bruce Willis doesn’t always die in his movies: it’s a definite farewell.
I am not overly fond of farewells. I hate them, in fact, if I could I’d save all the farewells up and do them all at once, maybe on my deathbed, and that would be that.
(Actually, I thought that was good idea for a story so I stopped this and went and started that, then came back to this.)
But you can’t save them up (and the horse has kind of bolted on this book) so before I say goodbye to something that has taken up a considerable part of my mental life for a considerable number of years (between other books) I would like to thank people.
Firstly to Isobelle Carmody for agreeing to launch the book.
And thank you all for coming.
This book or any of the others wouldn’t have been written without Diana who gave me the space to write. Who convinced me to take time off work and chase those books for a while. And this book started as a short story that I wrote in that time. Thank you, my love.
It wouldn’t have been written without Sophie Hamley my then agent, who convinced me it was worth finishing when I was full of doubt.
It wouldn’t have been written without Fiona Stager and Kev Guy, who let me have a job that means I can pay my bills, and still have some time to write.
And it wouldn’t have been written without the writers that I work with and who inspire me. Particularly Krissy Kneen and Chris Currie. Or the rest of the staff here who are wonderful. I’ve worked with some great booksellers over the years but the guys feel like family – and not one of those bickering families – there’s a reason why there’s such a low staff turnover. Honestly, these guys are the giants of bookselling and one day I will look back and think of my time here and think I can’t believe I got to work with such talented, wonderful people.
This book is about fathers and sons, thanks Dad for your faith in me, and your pride, and for being a good man. And thanks to my family, and Diana’s family too, who put up with the vague writer who works Sundays.
And thanks to all the people who’ve supported me, listened to me, nodded over the years as I rambled on, or critiqued my work.
Finally, thanks to everyone at Text and in particular Mandy Brett who was my editor and who had faith in this book and me, and who let me find the logic in the fever dream that was the first draft I sent her.
Now, for one last moment, sorta, kinda, this book and I are still connected — Think of the Odd Couple (I’m Jack Lemon, of course) — We’ve bickered and fought, we’ve shaped each other a bit, but it’s time that we let each other go.
So I’ve written it a letter. Not a very formal one. But still, letters have a formality, I guess, like book launches.
I loved you heartily, and made you a little in my image, and what flaws you have you may set at my feet.
Please don’t be bitter.
I hope you find your readers, and that they find you, and that you get to hang out and do stuff.
I also hope that you send me the occasional picture. I know that you don’t like selfies all that much, and you contain the odd hard word about social media, but I would appreciate it if you indulged me. I am fond of pictures from buses, or of cranes (mechanical or animal), and the odd cityscape, and I don’t mind artfully framed shots of beer … or the other alcohols.
So, farewell, dear book.
I will miss you.
But I guess we’re both a little sick of each other.
And yes, I will be seeing other books. But you will be seeing other readers (some of whom might write sternly in your margins).
Look after yourself. Go and be read and delighted in, and despised and all the things that books endure because they are much harder and sleeker than their writers and they can handle it.
Dear book, I loved you, really, unambiguously, and without irony. Think of me sometimes.
Thank you. I will miss you.
well, you know who it is.