Just before it hits

Small Wonders is due in Australian bookshops on the 1st of September. I’m excited (“Go get ’em, book dude! You rule”) and apprehensive (“But don’t forget to dress warm! It could get chilly on the shelves at night!”) as one may expect.

I’m also trying to relish the moment. I attended a meet-the-writer talk given by good guy Max Barry, and he said that the best time in an author’s life is just before the first book comes out. At that point, he explained, you just might be the Next Big Thing, the next Hornby or Bridget Jones who makes a lot of money for the publisher, so there’s a tingle of excitement in the air; anything can happen and it might be that it’s you it will happen through. Afterwards, for 99.99% of us, you’re a known quantity; even if you sold a bit, everybody knows you’re not going to be spectacular phenomenon anytime in the future.

So says Barry, successful author with lovely international sales and possible film adaptations to his books being heavily discussed in Hollywood. In pop science nobody’s going to be the Next Big Thing anyway, because the market’s not that big in the first place and it helps if you’re a highly acclaimed scientist (and I really can’t see the film thing happening; Tom Cruise as a ravishing mitochondrion? very difficult casting and we haven’t even started on the plot). So I’m not allowed even the dream of limousine-filled premiers, the dreams that keep many a fiction writer at their post by the storm-tossed keyboards. But still, even the modest illusions of a non-fiction writer are a nice thing to fall asleep to.

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