Three weeks post-launch, I chirp that writing The Dread Crew was EASY! and A JOY WITH EVERY PAGE! and NOT REMOTELY AN ACTIVITY THAT HAD ME WISHING MY BRAIN WERE MADE OF SQUEAKY RUBBER SO IT COULD GET CHEWED ON BY A PACK OF FERAL DOGS!
Such is my current declaration of what it is to write a novel. Anything but hermitude and word-wrestling agony. Fish in a barrel, in fact. Ironic. For now, aspiring to the second one, I am that squinty-eyed crone who never showers and shoos her kids away and lusts for seclusion and rarely eats anything in one sitting other than nine triscuits or a bowl of brussels sprouts or crusts off the playroom floor. My husband calls the laptop 'The Camilla Parker Bowles Of Our Marriage'. Which means he gets to be Princess Diana. Our neighbours are starting to wonder if I am somebody's figment. I’ve never seen her. Have you ever seen her? I know someone who said they saw her once. They said she was really… white.
It's true that writing the Dread Crew was flowy and natural. And it’s not until now—having begun the continuation of the story a couple of weeks ago—that I realize why.
I was playing. I had no idea I was writing a book.
Yesterday I sat in a most hallowed studio overlooking Citadel Hill for an interview on CBC’s Mainstreet, the public radio show that pretty much every Nova Scotian listens to while making supper or driving home. I talked about pirates and publishing and Liam and the path from the NICU to rosy cheeks to bound pages. I stumbled through the ten-cent tour of what led to incubation. I read an excerpt. I explained why I ran away and landed on the front porch of Grampa Joe's woodland cabin. I trash-talked philosophers and priests. Listen to the whole interview here.
Sitting at that round table as the 'live' light went red, I hardly breathed, convinced that I’d be the first person in Maritime history to have my head swallowed whole by a microphone.
It’s a theme, this whole Will Somebody Go Ahead And Please Eat My Head thing. It’s about all I can muster. It’s not that I’m not calm, or grateful, or relieved, or excited. I am all that and frozen, too. I fret for every page, every eye.
My family waits. The report I’ve got due for a client waits. The next book waits. The girl with her shitkicker boots, a lost queen of whales, a skyborne pirate rebel named Rasmus. Her father found me first, urgent to frame the fatherlessness of the girl who would become Missy Bullseye. I hear him whisper to her by firelight from the bed that pulled him beaming into another world. Can you?
You are not to be lost, sweet girl. No! Whenever you get sad at your wandering mother or your all-gone father all you need do is look down. And there you’ll see not one but two strong legs, lean and braided with muscle, ready to help make you fly. You will fly, sweet girl, by all your blood and your bone and the wind in your strawberry hair. And I will be your go go go. I won’t be just your daddy anymore. I will be your joy. When your heart thumps in your chest, I will be all the stars that thump along with you and tug at their pins, wishing for to chase. I will be there forever and you’ll feel my smile through the darkest pitch black, loving you.
Illustration by Sydney Smith, the Dread Crew's own. Thank you, Sydney. Because of you, people reach for my book and are instantly bewitched. The magic of that first beholding has very little to do with me.