Hot Off the Press: The Arrival of Death of a Schoolgirl
Every time I open a package containing hot-off-the-press copies of a book I’ve written, my mind flashes back to a similar scene in Back to the Future. The McFly family is gathered around the breakfast table and Biff, the bully turned car washer, delivers a box. “Mr. McFly! Mr. McFly! This just arrived. I think it’s your new book!” George McFly (the father of Marty, played by Michael J. Fox) opens the box, holds up one of his books, and basks in the adoration of his family and his former nemesis. Proudly showing off his publication, George tells his children, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything!”
In real life, the arrival of the books at my house goes something like this:
I open the door to find the UPS guy in his cute brown shorts. “Sign here,” he says without looking up and handing me a package.
I examine the label and shiver. “Do you know what this is?”
“No, lady. I just deliver them. I don’t open them. Your autograph?” and he points to the stylus and electronic pad in his hand.
“It’s my book!” My voice sounds breathless and excited even to me.
“No, MY book.”
“Uh-huh. Now you can sign for it.”
“I wrote this.”
He levels his hazel eyes at me, willing me to understand that I’m holding up the process. “You order it, we deliver it.”
“No, I mean I wrote this book.” I scribble my name on his pad. “I’ll open this so you can see.”
He glances at his watch. “I’m sort of in a hurry.”
“Hang on.” I grip the plastic bubble wrap and tug. And tug. And tug. Finally the package yields a small hole. I wiggle my fingers inside and pull with all my might. The plastic rips and three books go flying. I dive for one. Holding it up and waving it, I say, “See? My name! On the front!”
He squints at it.
I wait. For some strange reason, I want his approval. Sounds petty and childish, but it’s true. So I stand there like a kid who made a special picture in kindergarten and who desperately wants her parents to oooh and aaaah over it.
My own parents are long gone. My husband won’t be home for six more hours. The dogs, mildly aroused at the knock on the door, have tumbled back onto their beds and are fast asleep. My sister and aunt, my personal cheering section, are 18 hours away in Florida. Call me a pitiful specimen, but after living with this book, loving it, laboring over it for nearly three years, I really, really want someone to notice that I’ve brought it to fruition.
The man in brown reaches for the copy in my hand. He’s tan with a bit of stubble on his cheeks and freckles across his nose. His teeth are slightly crooked, but on him, it’s cute.
“That’s nice, ma’am. Really nice. You must be very proud,” he says as he examines the book more carefully. His fingers trace the title. “DEATH OF A…?”
“DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL.” I am grinning so hard my face hurts. “It’s a mystery and Jane Eyre becomes an amateur detective to solve it. Takes place in London in 1820.”
“Cool,” he says, handing it back. “Congratulations. Good luck with it.”
And with that benediction, we part. I close the door, turn the lock, and I hold tight to my trio of books.
“Good luck,” I repeat to myself. Because he’s right. After the writing, the work, and the publication, it all comes down to luck. But first I need to take a minute to celebrate. So I crack open a new box of dog yummies and share them with my pups, as I sit on my sofa and stare at my newest book.
Joanna Campbell Slan’s newest series—The Jane Eyre Chronicles—begins with DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL, a mystery featuring Jane Eyre as an amateur sleuth. DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL is a Mystery Guild Featured Alternate Selection. Slan is also the author of the Kiki Lowenstein MysterySeries , including the Agatha-Award Finalist, PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH. Visit her at www.JoannaSlan.com