In which the author has to pick his jaw up from the floor

Every year at the All Saints festival, there’s a group of “Meet the Author” tables; my godfather has written a book, and a few other people have published some things as well. This year, presumably because of a shortage of participants, having heard that I’d written some magazine articles, the organizer of the tables asked if I wanted to be involved. My initial impulse was to say no; since all I’ve published have been magazine articles, and to the best of my knowledge nobody outside of my immediate circle of friends at the parish has read any of them (or at least mentioned to me that they’ve read any of them), it seemed as though it would be rather pretentious on my part to lay claim to the title of “author”. Yes, fine, I’ve written a book, but it isn’t published yet, and I’m still waiting for John to finish his sketches before I start trying to market it…

Oh, right. I’m still waiting for John to finish his sketches.

I dropped John an e-mail, asking if there would be any possibility of any of the images being done by the day of the Festival. If so, let’s have them up at the table — it might potentially be a good way to generate interest.

Good idea, John replied. I’ll have some done by then.

So, this last Saturday, I showed up at All Saints, an hour and a half before the start of the Festival, with my portfolio of contributor’s copies of magazine articles and a fresh copy of the typescript of Pascha at the Singing School. A small crowd was gathered around my table.

Here’s why:

To describe this as far above and beyond any expectation I may have had doesn’t even really begin to cover it. Among other things, there’s a bit of an Edward Gorey vibe, which reminded me that The House With a Clock In Its Walls was a huge influence on me which I had all but forgotten. I mentioned that to John in the midst of my inarticulate slobbering over his works of beauty, who instantly nodded and said, “Yes, actually, you’re right, come to think of it. That’s definitely there.”

Anyway, the trick was definitely done of stirring up some interest. Once John has his illustrations done, there will be another pass on the text itself while I make sure that it lives up to the artwork (and I can already tell you that these two examples alone have sparked some thoughts about things I should tweak), and then we’ll go from there. I’m not certain exactly what that will mean, since I haven’t done this before; I don’t want to go the route of vanity presses or self-publishing; that seems to be a one-way path to making sure nobody ever, anywhere sees the book. On the other hand, I don’t know that there’s a “real” publisher out there that’s just falling all over itself to publish a short book with black and white illustrations, text and pictures by total unknowns, set at a choir school at the very end of Holy Week. We’ll see what happens.

(By the way — illustrations are copyright 2009 John Berry, and Pascha at the Singing School is copyright 2009 Richard Barrett. Come to think of it, the whole contents of this blog are copyright Richard Barrett except where otherwise indicated.)

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2 Responses to “In which the author has to pick his jaw up from the floor”


  1. 1 Polprav 23 October 2009 at 2:18 am

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?


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