Thanks so much for those kind words, Sue. I have just loved working with you.
Finally, the big day is here – Letters to Leonardo is being released into both the real world and the cyber world TODAY, July 1st 2009 – RIGHT NOW!
So it’s with great pleasure that I introduce you to Margaret Hamilton, who has made this day even more special by agreeing to Cyber Launch my book, Letters to Leonardo.
I was thrilled when Margaret agreed to launch my book because she has played such an important role in setting it on the road to publication. Margaret was the expert assigned to assess my manuscript at the 2008 SCBWI conference in Sydney. She read my manuscript and told me it was good enough to be published. She gave me the confidence to believe in my work, take the risk, and dare to show it to the publishing world.
Being invited to do a ‘cyber launch’ of a book brings me kicking and screaming into the 21st Century! I’ve never been known to knock back a challenge, so here I am looking another one in the face.
I’ve met Dee White only once – at the SCBWI conference in Sydney. I had been asked to do a program of half-hour publishing consultations and was allotted a very pleasant corner on the rooftop of the Hughenden, sitting in the sun on some comfortable outdoor furniture. Thank goodness it was warm and sunny and not minus four degrees as it is in Blackheath today as I write this!
Half an hour is not long to talk to an author about their work but I quickly became intrigued by Dee’s story. From the snippets that I read I was able to see that she can write – convincingly, smoothly, with feeling. I was a little concerned that her story of a teenage boy with serious issues to deal with – so serious that he couldn’t face them head on, he had to write to a dead artist to ease the burden – might be bleak, sad and lacking a hopeful resolution. Books about teenagers have often been too serious, too bleak and have been criticised for their ‘dirty realism’ and lack of direction. Throughout my publishing career I resolved never to publish a book that did not offer the characters a way out of their predicament, however serious it was. Everybody must find someone to talk to.
So I asked Dee to tell me the rest of the story and I listened intently to her passionate retelling. By the time she had finished I knew that here was an authentic character, a believable teenage boy who would be readily recognisable to young readers. I identified with him and his family, just from Dee’s short retelling, so I knew instinctively that here was a serious publishing possibility. Matt’s story is told with an authentic voice, a real insight into his world and the issues he is fighting to come to terms with. It doesn’t shy away from the seriousness of his situation, neither does it sugar coat them. It’s realistic, gritty and life affirming. So I urged her to send it to publishers (suggesting a shortlist of some I knew).
The rest is now history, because Walker Books Australia snapped up the book and I received an excited email from Dee telling me that it was going to be published. And here it is. Nothing is so satisfying to an author (or indeed a publisher, as I have never tired of it) than opening a parcel and finding finished copies of a book you’ve sweated over, lost sleep over, had panic attacks about. You hug it, turn it over and look at the back, at the front again, smell it, flip through the pages and hug it again!
But the work is not yet finished. The promotion and selling of a new author’s book is hard work. I feel confident that Letters to Leonardo will find many readers, will be well reviewed and will lead to other books from Dee White. As a first book, this is an impressive debut and she should be very proud and encouraged to write more.
So I am excited and honoured to be asked to launch Letters to Leonardo (cyber or not!). As she begins her journey as a published writer on the sea of readers, I wish Dee smooth sailing and many more successes to come.
Margaret Hamilton AM
Thanks so much Margaret for your very kind words and for findng time in your hectic schedule to launch my book. Even though we’ve only met once, I was wondering if you were in my lounge room when I opened the parcel with my book inside – when I hugged it, turned it over and look ed at the back, at the front again, smelled it, flipped through the pages and hugged it again
After spending more than ten years writing “Letters to Leonardo”, it’s hard to believe that today it goes on bookshelves in stores all over the country – today my book is not just piles of paper stuck away in a filing cabinet drawer – it is a real book available for readers to buy and enjoy.
So as we continue the Cyber Launch, it’s time to fill up your glass with cyber bubbles and cross to Robyn Opie’s blog http://robynopie.blogspot.com where you’ll find out where the ideas and characters for Letters to Leonardo came from – and obstacles on the road to publication.
See you there at 10.15 (oz time) – oops, that’s now! Gotta fly. Catch up with you at Robyn’s place.