Some Thoughts on US Publication Day – 19 January 2016
There’s something very surreal about writing a book. These characters, their stories, come entirely out of your head. They are nudged into existence by the outside world of course, but essentially they develop and grow in your mind and come out onto the page with graft and time.
Often you write and you don’t even know if your words will ever be read. Will anyone meet these people? Hear their stories? And yet somehow it doesn’t stop you. You keep writing, thinking about writing, writing again. Your characters live and breathe with you. Sometimes it’s like that for years.
And then, if timing and luck and all those who nurture and support your work allow, your story comes out into the world. There is a book! And it sounds almost stupid to say it, because it is so obvious, but it is a physical thing. It is an object, separate to you, and you can hold it and touch it and feel it, and when you see your book for the first time it’s surreal. No – it’s more than that. It’s surreal, nerve-racking and utterly brilliant.
Every time I go into a bookshop or a library and see my My Second Life on the shelves it honestly feels like a little bit of a miracle that the story in my head has turned into this. In the print, the black and white of the pages, there are my characters, and they are there for whoever happens to pick up my book and read. They are now most definitely out of my head and in the world.
And today my book is published in the USA and Canada, and quite frankly the level of surrealism feels like it has stepped up a gear. My story has the potential to be read by teenagers who live in places like Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado. Places I have never been. Places I can only imagine. And until I walk into a bookshop in Vancouver or Saskatoon and see my book there, I’m not sure I’ll actually comprehend the enormity of today. But until then I’m going to enjoy putting my copy of the US publication of My Second Life alongside the UK publication on my bookshelf at home, and be glad that I kept putting those words on the page at the start – when my book was just a fleeting idea, an unconfident opening paragraph, the beginnings of something that so easily might never have been.