Saturday, 2 November 2019
It's Saturday, but every day seems like Friday, and I have travelled so many miles that I don't know what day of the week it is. I've been talking about The House Without Windows, signing books, being home for a brief time painting the secret thing and then away to London. And The House Without Windows is on the Waterstone's Book of the Year shortlist! How very amazing is that! Alongside the gorgeous Lanny by Max Porter and Underland by Rob Macfarlane, both books that stopped me in my tracks so I could do nothing but read until I had finished them. I think Barbara would be so thrilled to see her book alongside the other ten shortlisted books.
In London I signed stock for Waterstones, Hatchards and Daunts, after a wonderful meeting with Lizzie from Unbound. I've finished writing the book now, and it is being edited and almost about to be designed. In the meeting we talked about my vision for the cover. Usually a book cover carries the title and the author's name. Because the pledged books are already sold there is no need for this to happen. So, the cover will be an image, a wrap around dust jacket.
Dust jackets haven't been around that long in the publishing industry. They were introduced in the 1820's or 30's. Before that many books were sold with a temporary binding and the purchaser would commission their own book binder. Books were a luxury, available only to the very wealthy. Dust jackets were there to protect the pages, often thrown away once purchased. What I wish to do, for those who pledge for a copy, is to have a dust jacket with a difference.
Eventually The Unwinding will be available through bookshops, because of those who helped to fund it, to the 100% mark. Without you the book would never be published. You are such a huge part of this process. And so I want to make it as beautiful as possible, to say thank you in the best way that I can, by offering the gift of beauty. This is the front of the jacket. It will wrap around the book, with cover flaps.
On the reverse of this will be the story, the 'Unwinding', the dream, that goes with this image. It will be available ONLY to those who pledge, or to bookshops who pledge, in advance of publication. This is the idea I was pitching to Unbound, for the special pledged editions.
But how to write it? I had thought it would be good for Alison to use the space to design the story, but speaking to Lizzie she said she loved my handwriting and perhaps that might seem more of a personal 'thank you'. I wondered if perhaps as I had written this book in certain notebooks, and on my typrewriter it might be interesting to use this.
Back home I started working on it. The text is written, and will only be available like this, on the reverse of the dust jacket of the pledged editions.
Handwriting is such a personal thing. I'm not fond of hearing my voice recorded, and although I wouldn't say that I don't like my handwriting I am not convinced that this is the way to go. That said I love writing with a pen. It is simply drawing words. And handwriting is slipping out of fashion as we all sit tapping away at keyboards, so, maybe...... maybe..... it's going to be a lost art soon, trapped somewhere between typed words and the elegance of calligraphy. Gone. Forgotten.
First I found my lovely pen, bought from the stationary shop in Hay, a Twisby, and filled with a beautuiful graphite ink that looks like pencil, dark silver. Then I tried some different papers.I would like some texture I think, though I am still not convinced about the hand writing.
Next I looked again at the paper I had typed the story onto first. It is a Chinese paper with gold flecks in it, beautiful. The typed words sit wonderfully on it, but notthose written in ink with the pen. All of the stories in The Unwinding moved from notebook and pen to typewriter, to computer. I have each of them, and with each move words changed. It is a process I enjoy, editing.
Below is the completed text for The Unwinding, before its third edit.
Then I thought to go back to the original. It was written in an 'Observor's Notebook' and I wondered if we could replicate this, so I wrote it out again trying not to make it look like I wasn't trying to do my 'very best' handwriting. The notebook has lots of different types of paper in it, and I love them, the size and shape and the contrast. It's too neat. I need to do it again if this is the avenue we choose to travel down.
Still don't know which is best, but now wondering whether to rework and add doodles as I would usually while I work........ and so the questions and answers and ideas and shapes continue.
The books close soon for pledging and getting names of supporters in the back of the books. People will still be able to pledge for the special edition, but names won't be added as supporters in the index at the back of the book. Hoping for news of publication dates soon, soon, and also something else that I have fingers crossed for, but the logistics and economics are being worked on first to see if it can get the greenlight. So watch this space......maybe I am crazy, but I think it is something people might enjoy.
And the publication date for these 'special editions' will be before the standard edition is published, before the likes of Amazon can get hold of it.... so if you are a bookshop and wish to have stock early, and special editions at that, there's still time to pledge on the 'bookshop' level and get the shop's name in the back as a supporter.
One of the other things I was doing in London was recording a spell or two ( well, it was Halloween) and the introduction for The House Without Windows. This has given me Unwinding ideas of lullabies and Bookshop Bands...... so, again, watch this space.
It is good to be home, with creatures now, working on the secret thing, thinking on how to make The Unwinding as beautiful and special as possible.
I am away again on Thursday- to Crickhowell where I will be talking of The House Without Windows.Crickhowell Lit fest Jackie Morris The House Without Windows.
And on 30th November I will be at Hay Festival with Mererid Hopwood talking about The Lost Words and The House Without Windows. If you look carefully at the programming you can see a little of The Unwinding has crept in in the form of the Winter Queen and Her Fox Lover.
The Unwinding hardback
- Narrated by Bethany Porter
- Music by The Bookshop Band
- 18 tracks (including two new songs)