From Amarillo, Texas, to London Literati.
Arcadia, an international literary publisher in the UK, likes my work well enough to invest in it and me. Arcadia is an independent company, a hold-out in a business dominated by corporations, so grandly and stubbornly old-school that its staff wanted to see paper copies. In 2014 Arcadia was named the Sunday Times Small Publisher of the Year. It has twice won the Independent Publishers Guild Diversity Award, and it publishes award-winning writers from sixty countries.
It’s flattering to have the term “literary” applied to my writing. It makes me feel erudite, as though I plan ahead, deliberately employing devices such as foreshadowing and symbolism, anthropomorphism and imagery, when what I really do is simpler and more organic: I tell stories. And I don’t mean to make light of this—telling a story well, which is my goal, is a painful and laborious process.
And where else would my writing find a home, other than with a discerning publisher whose aim is to put in print original quality writing from around the globe? Until this time, genre-less, my work has been adrift, a sad orphan, ignored because it couldn’t be categorized. Not mystery or suspense. Not Romance. Not Adventure. Not Horror. When people ask what I write, the closest I can come to defining it is disaster and humor holding hands.
Now that my books have been selected for publication, the editing process will begin. My agent, Helen Mangham, with the Jacaranda Literary Agency, anticipates that much work will be needed. My hackles rise when she tells me this, and I smooth them down. Contrary to the common metaphor, my work is not my baby, and it is not perfect. My goal here is to produce the best product possible. On the other hand—what re-writing could possibly be required? I’m a brutal self-editor. Editing, a process I once respected, now causes me to cower. I fear for my plots and characters, descriptions and titles; and most of all, I fear for my endings.
I share my anxieties with friends over brunch.
“Is there sex? They’ll want sex,” Anna says.
“Also, there should be violence,” Travis adds.
“This is a literary publisher.” I stress the word because they don’t seem to have grasped the intellectual implication, the highbrow level to which I have risen. Literary means no sex or violence required.
The manuscripts Arcadia has chosen are two of my favorites:
Old Buildings in North Texas, wherein a recovering cocaine addict moves back to her hometown and explores abandoned buildings as she attempts to reclaim her life.
Why Stuff Matters, the story of a grieving widow and her stepdaughter as they deal with the elderly, eccentric, and avaricious vendors in an antique mall.
My one-sentence summaries don’t do justice to the completed works, which contain quirky characters and hilarious plot turns, and are dedicated to the sequence of personal disintegration, salvaging, rising up, and moving forward.
So anyway, I'm thrilled. Good thing we recently moved to this house, which has ceilings high enough to accommodate my big head.