Today is the first book birthday for This Has Nothing To Do With You.
By which I mean: as of today, September 7th, my second novel is officially out in the world!
You can walk into your favourite book store and (hopefully) find it on a shelf.
If it isn’t there, you can ask for it to be ordered, or you can buy it online. There are options.
And if you do any of these things – and/or review it on Amazon or elsewhere, stick it on your Goodreads page, pass it on to a friend, request it at your library and especially, fundamentally, if you read it – you will earn my deepest appreciation!
After all, I spent four years working on this thing; I really want to share it!
This past week, the 2019 longlist for Canada’s biggest literary award, the Giller Prize, came out. There are some amazing books on it by writers I deeply respect but – sad-face – This Has Nothing To Do With You was nominated but didn’t make the cut.
This is, of course, difficult for me – and for many other writers – not just because of the status that getting on a big prize list denotes. But also, fundamentally, because of reach.
These days, loads of readers rely solely on lists to figure out what to read.
Most of us are reading less (me, included!) so we lean towards somebody else, the experts, to tell us what’s good, what’s worth our time.
But because of this a lot of great books get ignored.
Books that (in the words of Wolsak & Wynn publisher Noelle Allan) “I know … are good, fascinating and well-written because some publisher, or editor, believed in them and worked on them with an author for months if not years. They hired designers, picked covers, praised the books to their sales force, filled out spreadsheets of arcane data to encourage Amazon to get the listing up (hopefully with all the correct information). They sent copies to anyone they could think of for publicity and review, hit up those festival directors, set up launches, and pushed the books into the world.”
The truth is that the more we seek out, discover, experience, hopefully fall in love with and rave about books by lesser know writers, often published by smaller publishers (who are all largely doing this work for the love rather than the money, ha!), the richer, more diverse, and more vibrant our literary culture will be.
And, of course, I’m not just talking about my book! Off the top of my head, here are a few novels I’ve loved that largely fell off the awards’ radar: Sue Sorensen’s A Large Harmonium (quiet, tender, full of depth, and occasionally hilarious), Sarah Selecky’s Radiant Shimmering Light (compulsively readable and smartly reflective of our times), Erna Buffie’s Let Us Be True, (a complex weave of past and present), Terri Favro’s Sputnik’s Children (gripping and highly original: time travel!)
So, in the wise words of Jael Richardson:
Now, back to celebrating.
Because it’s not like This Has Nothing To Do With You isn’t being noticed. Recently it got on a list of new books with great reviews (alongside a new offering from one of my literary heroes, Lynn Coady).
Plus I’ve had so many lovely notes and likes and comments and messages from people eager to read my new story, all of which I value.
This evening, I’m going to carry my killer Heart of Darkness chocolate-zucchini-hemp-heart brownies to a writers’ potluck, with a copy of my new book tucked in my purse. I’m going to celebrate my success and that of others committed to this thing of making books and telling stories and sharing ourselves with the world.
It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway: happy, happy birthday, This Has Nothing To Do With You. May you – Mel, Matt, Grommet, Josie, Lara, Sophie, Ted, Angie, Ellie, Owain, Bernadette, Daisy, Liv, and everyone else within the world of the story – worm your way into a few readers’ hearts and minds.