February 8, 2022. This is publication day for my new book, Loyalty (Clarion).
Publication Day is often a day for some (mild) celebration, though I recall news stories of various Harry Potter Books having massive midnight parties for the new books as they were published.
Not quite for me.
My favorite account of a publication day may be found in Edward Gorey’s The Unstrung Harp, as funny as it is truthful about a writer’s life—and a publication day.
In 1984 I published Devil’s Race, a ghost story of sorts. It was set in a place with a wonderful name, St. Anthony’s Wilderness, a Pennsylvania state park through which the Appalachian Trail runs. It is a strange place, a forest with black earth, and the ruins of 18th century villages. I had hiked through it with a hiking group a number of times. The name of my protagonist was John Proud which I took from a tomb stone in a long abandoned cemetery I came upon in that park.
When my hiking group learned of my book they suggested a publishing party in the park. That’s what we did, each of us carrying tiny bottle of champagne in our backpacks as we hiked into the Wilderness. And so, that night, sitting around John Proud’s ancient grave we drank (warm champagne) to the success of the book.
Regarding Loyalty, because of all sorts of supply chain issues so common these days, I had yet to see a copy of the book. As far as I know not even my editor has seen it.
This morning, my last day in the rehab hospital, my doctor walked into my room—to give me my discharge papers—and said, “Look what I found at Barnes and Noble.” And he handed me a copy of Loyalty.
I looked through it quickly, taking note in particular of the end-paper maps which had taken so much effort to make and mark correctly.
“Can you sign it for my girlfriend?” the doctor asked.
Did so, (misspelling “Kelli’s” name—with a Y) and a note that this was the first copy I had ever seen—and off it went.
Publication day. And I get to go home.
A good day, so far.