This is the week when my family and friends gather to celebrate the publication of my mystery, Where Privacy Dies. It is a celebration of the community support it takes for a book to come forth from an author’s hand, and there’s nothing like the feeling of holding the actual thing in hand—joy. And the tremendous relief that the project, with its attendant hair-pulling, excessive coffee consumption, and procrastination spells, is finished. The hardest thing about writing a book is finishing it. Or is starting the hardest? Sorting out the middle? It’s all hard, and fun, and hence the party.
Not that authors regard their offspring with unmixed pride.
“Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,” Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet wrote of her poetry collection. While Anne stayed busy with her family duties in colonial Massachusetts, her brother-in-law saw that in 1650 her book was published in England under the title, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America. Anne endeavored to write while mothering many children and struggling with the conflict between her love of life and Puritan teaching to forswear earthly pleasures for immortal redemption. She wrote poems that praised Queen Elizabeth while she also had to demonstrate that her writing did not lead to neglect of her husband. (My husband cooks for me and I have the servant of the internet.) Despite her witty protestations, Bradstreet’s brain was far from feeble.
Even authors strong of brain fret about their offspring. Maybe that stops when the books multiply like lab rats. Agatha Christie and Georges Simenon produced massive litters, books that begot books. Here’s where gestation metaphors should end, because for the writer of mystery series, that would mean a constant state of pregnancy. Morning sickness without end. This brings us back to Anne Bradstreet and her real children: “eight birds hatcht in one nest”:
I nurst them up with pain and care,
No cost nor labour did I spare
Till at last they felt their wing. . .
“In Reference to her Children, 23 June 1659
It’s exciting and nerve-racking when books are released to the public. What kind of lives will they lead in the imagination of readers? That’s the wonder of books. They live and breathe when read. I wish for Where Privacy Dies and its detectives Erik Jansson and Deb Metzger a long exciting life. Skol to Erik and Deb.
I am grateful to my family and friends for their support of my own feeble brain. I owe much to the inspiration and assistance of these organizations: The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis; Mystery Writers of America; Sisters in Crime; and the Twin Cities Chapter of Sisters in Crime. I am grateful for the crucial guidance and opportunity to create the Twin Cities Mystery series provided by Coffeetown Press.
Back to the party: the photos provide some suggested pairing of book and beverage, from the coffee favored by Scandinavian Noir, the wine of the elegant amateur sleuths, and the bourbon of the hard-boiled. Drink responsibly to solve the crime.
Next time I’ll remember the Aquavit.