Last week—Thursday 19th to be exact—marked the one-year anniversary of Spear‘s publication. I forgot because I had a lot of other stuff to think about. But I’m proud of my Little Book That Could. And given that Menewood’s publication in less than six months will inevitably push Spear to one side, I thought I’d do a series (3? 5? I don’t know, let’s see where this takes us) of posts to both celebrate what I enjoyed about Spear‘s publication—these might be a little eccentric and certainly all about what *I* liked, not necessarily what the rest of the world might consider important (y’know, to the extent that the world thins about my book at all) and to thank those who made the book and its success possible.
If there’s anything in particular you’d like me to talk about—about the writing, editing, publishing, supporting, narrating, tools and process, or publicising of Spear—let me know in the comments.
I’ll start with what I was doing last spring, a month or so before Spear came out, which was indulging myself making pictures and videos using stacks of ARCs. Getting the ARCs is always a thrilling moment—the first time I really know my chunk of words will be a book, a real book that exists outside my own imagination, that other people will hold in their hands. It’s the moment I understand that soon the world I made and the people I populated it with will no longer belong to me but to readers. It’s a weird mix of exciting and wistful. Creating things peripheral to that world feels good. I had such a good time making them, in fact, that I could post an example every day for a year and not repeat myself. The amount of time spend on each was hugely variable. So, for example, this first video took less than ten minutes, including editing.
Whereas the one below took dozens of hours. First I had to take and edit the photo of the ARCs. Then take a separate photo of the shield-and-spear pin and edit that. Then draw the picture of the horse. Then build the composite image with shadows in the right places, a certain colour coherence, etc. Why spend so long on something that makes no difference to sales, no difference to anyone or anything? Because it was fun. Because I liked doing it. Because it’s a good way to learn Photoshop and Procreate. But mainly because when I’ve finished writing a book it can be hard to let the people and places go, and this way I get to stay connected, working in its world, for a little while longer.
This next picture for example, is the direct result of my affection for Bony, the gelding that Peretur rescues, and who in turn teaches Peretur how to ride, and through his bravery—facing a horse much bigger than him—saved her life.
Bony was a warrior…
Some of the stuff I did did have purpose. Here for example is the Zoom background I made for the virtual book tour, designed for good colour balance and with a space in the middle for my talking head. (I ended up not using it very often because setting up the greenscreen was such a hassle. But it was interesting to make.)
And here’s a selection quote tiles I built as both clues for the adjective competition and adverts for the book on Instagram.
I could keep adding things all day but I’ll stop here. Tomorrow perhaps I’ll talk about the book itself—the physical object, the design and illustrations (none of the work here would have been possible without the marvellous illustrations by Rovina Cai), and perhaps a bit about how I wrote it, and why, and how it all felt..
If there’s anything about Spear you want me to talk about this week, drop a comment
3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Spear!”
Congrats on Spear winning a Los Angeles Book Prize,
Replied over at Goodreads. Complete with a SoCal book reco!
Wow, you did get some good blurbs for Spear. Well deserved, too!
Something I found very special about Spear was listening to you voice the audiobook.
I seem to remember you saying in an interview or maybe here on your website that you pushed hard to be the audiobook narrator. To my ears at least, you were wonderful to listen to, and your thoughts on reading to your audience would be great to hear
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