There should have been a new dress, wine, speeches, towers of shiny, new books waiting to be signed, but thanks to the pandemic, I’ll be launching my next book, Who took Eden Mulligan? from the confines of my home office.
Instead of visiting book shops like Dubray in person, I have begged friends from all around Ireland to share photographs of their copies when they arrive. I will enjoy seeing every single book in its new home, in the hands of an eager reader.
While the pandemic is killing off physical, in-person book launches, the good news is that the arts in general are saving humanity. Where else could we turn during lockdown but for books, television, film and music?
The truth is that writers are shy creatures.
And yes, I may yearn for the crush of a literary crowd around the book table, the impromptu discussions and the sharing of stories, but I’ve made do with online festivals and discovered that there is something quite nice about sitting in your pyjamas listening to readings. Who knew?
The truth is that writers are shy creatures. We don’t really enjoy the big launching event until after it’s safely over, so I will happily sit this one out with my laptop on my knee and a glass of something nice to celebrate. But don’t be fooled, I’m still full of the ‘close to publication day’ anxiety. What if no one buys it? What if no one reads it? What if they buy and read it, and then don’t like it?
But shush inner critic, my job is to tell the story. Write the best book I can possibly write and then send it on its merry way. My wonderful publishers at Avon take that story and turn it into a real live book. Then, it finds its place on a book shelf or two. Someone picks it up. Likes the look of its cover. Reads the blurb on the back and thinks, yeah, sounds good. They take it to the counter, and this is the thing that blows my mind –they hand over their hard-earned money for it – take it home and hopefully lose themselves between the pages. If they feel invested in my characters, keep turning the pages, and want to know what is going to happen next, then I have succeeded. Hurrah! My job is done. So, really the fancy book launch party is just a bit of extra glitter. The real magic happens between the pages. Storytelling is a two-way street. There is no story, if there’s no reader. My imagined story only takes form when the reader’s imagination engages with it.
So, dear reader, on publication day, I shall raise my glass to you. Thank you for buying my book and taking Who Took Eden Mulligan? into your hands, your imagination and hopefully your heart.
Sharon Dempsey is a crime writer and academic researcher. Who Took Eden Mulligan? is the first book in her new Belfast based crime series and is published by Avon Harper Collins. She is a PhD candidate at Queen’s University, exploring class and gender in Northern Irish crime fiction.