Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Book Expo America

Just back from four wonderful days spent with friends who've got a summer place at Rehobeth Beach in Delaware. The weather and seafood were excellent, and I didn't go online once. Not once. Nor did I feel compelled to check my emails. I've learned a valuable lesson this weekend and said so to Larry, who couldn't believe the remark came out of my mouth. I said, 'I didn't miss the computer.' (He thinks it controls my life.) I think we've all become a tad obsessed about being online almost all the time. It's as if our lives are controlled by the all-powerful, invisible web and we can't do without it, as if it too is oxygen. Well, this weekend proved that's just not true. It's easy to unplug for a few days and miss nothing earth-shattering; and even if we do, we can just resume where we left off.

This coming week is busy for me. Book Expo America is the largest national book show in the United States and takes place in NYC between June 3rd and June 6th and I'll be visiting it. Often, during those long nights when I was sitting at my computer 'beavering away' on my first cut-your-teeth novel--it's now bits and bytes on some floppy disk that I've got to copy into my hard disk and start to rewrite--I used to dream of a future agent (who'd read said massive, cut-your teeth novel in one sitting and fell madly in love with it) rushing into the BEA rights center with it in hand and flogging it to a publisher for millions of dollars. It wasn't the money I craved, though that would have been lovely; it was the recognition I was at last a 'real author.'

"Look Mum, your son's a real writer now...so no more, 'aha, but how's your real job going', please," I imagined saying this on visits to Ireland. I think every writer dreams of that wonderful day when a publisher takes on their project for publication--that's what it's called in the book business, a 'project.' One's beloved manuscript becomes a mere project.

Anyway, my literary career didn't start at all like that--no millions, no Moet, no mad rush through the BEA hall with a manuscript in hand--but this year I am going to feature at BEA and I am dead excited. This year, I have been asked to read with a few other writers as part of Book Expo America's Emerging Voices program. I get to read from A Son Called Gabriel for five whole minutes at the Javit's Center in NYC on Friday June 3rd, the very day the paperback releases.

Another author, Gayle Brandeis, who wrote the excellent The Book of Dead Birds which won Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for fiction, assures me I shall have a wonderful time because she read there a few years ago. What's more, the previous evening I shall also be in NYC for the Lambda Literary Awards gala where 'Gabriel' is a finalist. And on top of all this, at BEA, the winners of ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards and Independent Publishers Book Awards will be announced, and 'Gabriel' has been nominated for those, too. Such a cornucopia!

Now I will say that winning one of the awards would be great, but it's by no means essential to my pleasure because I've enjoyed the process and I believe that's what is more important. One should have fun doing what one does and the rest is gravy.

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3 comments:

gayle said...

Hi Damian!

It was fun to find my name on your blog! I'm so glad you had a great time at BEA. I wish I could have been there this year! The TIME reading sounds fabulous--I'm so glad you'll get to be part of it.

xo
gayle

Damian McNicholl said...

Good to hear from you, Gayle...and, yes, I'm very excited about the event at TIME.

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