‘Raising Readers’: Five Weeks Until Publication
This Tuesday marks 5 weeks until my book, ‘Raising Readers’ is officially out in the world. This realisation is exciting and terrifying in equal measure; somehow I have written a book, an actual book with a cover and endpapers and an ISBN. I’ve always wanted an ISBN.
‘How Did ‘Raising Readers’ Come to Be?’ I hear you ask
(look perhaps you didn’t ask that, but this is my blog and I’m interviewing myself)
I regularly speak about reading development in kindergartens, schools and libraries around the place. I haven’t ever had a totally disastrous experience, but probably the worst event I have even done was at a venue which shall remain nameless, but lets just say that the venue forgot to advertise the event. That week I had back to back sold out events with 30-50 people…this event had approximately 5 people. One of these 5 people was Kristina Schulz, Children’s Publisher at University of Qld Press (UQP). I’ve rarely met a UQP book I’ve not deeply loved and their books often pick up the most prestigious awards in the country so I have always been slightly in awe of Kristina; her list is spectacular and she is incredibly well respected in the Australian publishing industry.
So, Kristina is at *worst event ever* and I’m panicked because Kristina is at *worst event ever* and I’ve no idea why Kristina is there to hear me speak because surely she knows all that I am about to say. At the end of *worst event ever* Kristina very kindly says that the event was not the *worst event ever* and then casually asks if I’ve ever thought about writing my own book. NO. Not ever. My reply to her was as it always was when people ask this, ‘I review books, not write them…I leave the writing to the experts’. Kristina pointed out that in fact my blog was me writing and that we should catch up over coffee about the idea of a book. I left *worst event ever* and while I was deeply flattered, I pondered her idea for approximately two minutes.
Kristina continued to mention her idea over the next six months or so and we eventually caught up for a coffee at the State Library of Qld, where she really did pin me down on the idea of a book based on my blog and my knowledge as a teacher librarian. I discussed this with Dan, my parents and Rebecca Sparrow – also a UQP author. Dan thought it a far better idea than the PhD idea I had been throwing into the mix for several years, my parents were somewhat amused by the idea (tis a well known fact in my family that my grammatical ability is…lacking) and Rebecca Sparrow thought it was a sterling idea and immediately starting gently pushing me towards the project with comments like, ‘but of course you’re the perfect person to write a book about raising readers! Who on earth else would do this!’ and ‘oh for goodness sake woman, of course you can write, you write on your blog daily’.
A contract was signed (nervously by me) and Dan witnessed it. I tentatively started writing ideas in the evenings and on weekends while Dan parented. I wrote two chapters of ‘Raising Readers’ before Dan died in April 2017 and I’m so incredibly grateful he was here for the start of this journey. Dan was an avid reader and he devoured the YA novels I had given him since we were 18 years old – we didn’t always agree on genres and I was acutely embarrassed by some of his reading choices. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I asked him to not ask for his stupid fantasy novels at the Avid Reader counter…he always ignored me and Trent always found exactly what he was after. It was Dan’s support that enabled me to write my blog while working, parenting and living through the anguish of my brothers death in 2012. To know that Dan had a small part to play in ‘Raising Readers’ is immensely comforting to me. Dan will not have a part in what it to come in my life and the lives of his adored children and this is one of the hardest parts of my grief for him and for us a family. But he was here for the start of this book and he will always be a part of this book. He features in ‘Raising Readers’, he read parts of it before he died and now it is dedicated to him and to my brother Simon. They were the best of friends in life and now their names sit together on the dedication page.
You can pre-order ‘Raising Readers’ here. If you are in Brisbane, you are warmly welcome to attend the official launch of my book. Tickets are selling insanely fast (sending my anxiety levels sky high!), so if you did want to come along I’d purchase now – ticket price includes food and wine! I’ll outline all the other events in a future blog post or keep checking out my events page, where the lovely Justine is putting up each event as information is put online.