Friday, 20 March 2009

Guest Blogger: Corinne Souza - Picnic Publishing

Lauren Parsons of Legend Press, and kindly funded by the Arts Council, has organised this fantastic initiative allowing small publishers to promote their books - but oh boy has she left this particular small publisher with a headache. I am a hundred years old, embarrassingly dull and a blog virgin. So, what does Lauren ‘invite’ me to do? Only to write a post about EARTH INC – one of the funniest, freshest novels you are ever likely to read – explaining how Picnic came to publishing it. ‘Oh yes,’ she added, ‘Perhaps you might also tell us something about its author Michael Bollen. He will be blogging too in due course…’

Now, Michael is not a blog virgin. Nor is he dull. This is reasonably scary in itself. Scarier in the fact that he is one of the country’s most brilliant, edgy, and wittiest young writers. Going head-to-head with him via a blog post is not a good place to be.

A quasi-similar situation arose prior to EARTH INC’s launch. Deciding that having a publisher around with creaking bones could ruin my author’s street cred, I spent hours working out a plausible apology for not being at the party: Dear Mike: a chap called Professor Ruck telephoned to say he is a character in EARTH INC. He says you describe him as an ‘evil dictator’ when all he is, is a normal run-of-the-mill sort of dictator trying to make a positive difference to young people’s lives. I thought it best I investigate his story, because, if true, it could ruin the book. Sorry to miss the party. PS: Would you PLEASE delete the word ‘heroin’ from the banner on your publicity shots and insert the word ‘food’ instead, so it now writes ‘I write for food’, NOT as you have, ‘I write for heroin’. Thank you.’

To return to the present and this post. Problem Number One: Mike, in hilarious horror, has written a novel depicting the future. In his book, his coporates are called Softcom, Okay Cola and O’Connels. But can I get Microsoft, Coca Cola or McDonalds to sue? Nope. I cannot tell you how many letters drawing EARTH INC to their attention and suggesting they might like to contact their lawyers…

Problem Number Two: Mike’s enormous street-cred. Do I run the risk of ruining it if I say he: a) turned out fabulous copy; b) met every deadline; c) is utterly professional; d) wanted EARTH INC.’s cover illustration for his Mum? (Regarding ‘d’ above – there is worse. As many reading this will know, it is mandatory for publishers to send copies of their titles to the British Library. The latter – staffed by some brilliant characters – then send a note back naming the title and acknowledging it has been lodged for posterity. EARTH INC.’s British Library accreditation is now with Mike’s Mum too. See what I mean about my potential to ruin his street-cred?)

Problem Number Three: do I tell the truth and admit that I read EARTH INC initially because I thought it was about a satyr. Thinking EARTH INC’s editor Rena Valeh might advice, I telephoned her. ‘Don’t put that,’ she ordered crisply. ‘Blog readers will know you thought ‘satyr’ was spelled ‘satire’ and ‘satire’ was spelled ‘satyr’. We do not want everybody to know you cannot spell. We are publishers, after all.’ Before replacing the receiver she added ‘Actually, your spelling is probably worse than Darren’s.’

Darren is in EARTH INC too. He is a brain in a jar. A teenage brain.

Thank you for reading this post. I have no doubt you will enjoy this wonderfully funny, timely novel. It is the ideal companion for the ghastly economic months ahead. And far too brilliant a book for idiot mainstream publishers to have spotted – which is how Picnic got lucky.

Corinne Souza

1 comment:

Mike French said...

Well Corinne if it is half as good as this post, it's got to be worth a look at!