A Tale of Two Publishers (and 'Excepots') by Enid Richemont

My illustrator and colleague, the amazingly talented Jan Ormerod, died recently. We'd been out of touch for some time, not deliberately, but in the way that these things happen, so, sadly, I learnt of her demise via FACEBOOK - not my favourite means of communication.

Jan illustrated just one of my children's books  - 'THE MAGIC SKATEBOARD', and I was enchanted by her work. The story is about a black kid - Danny - who, in trying to perfect his skateboarding skills, encounters a very old lady who can perform so much better than him that she can skateboard up the sides of nearby houses and across the roofs. Danny's now magic skateboard will take him on an amazing journey up Nelson's Column in London and then across  night and day skies to a beach in Australia, and finally into Buckingham Palace because Danny really needs a pee. Jan did wonderful (I think) scraperboard, black and white illustrations for the text, and also silhouettes of a boy skateboarding. The cover image she did went through several small changes, one to please the American market, and the back image was a joy - the Queen's loo roll!

I'm thinking of re-publishing 'THE MAGIC SKATEBOARD' as an ebook, using one of Jan's cover images which is out there on Amazon anyway.  She was happy for me to use her work for this, but the inside drawings are part of a layout which my 'then' publisher owns, so they will never be seen, and neither will the back cover image which won't appear on Amazon. If you can get hold of a secondhand copy, please do. Jan had a recent obituary in The Times - do Google. She was a lovely person, and a great illustrator.

And now to my Tale of Two Publishers - a cautionary tale (apologies to Beatrix Potter). Once upon a time there were two publishers. Each one fell in love with a Mouse, but not the same Mouse. After, maybe, three years, the First Publisher said: 'I will bring this Mouse to life, but he requires major surgery'. A contract was signed and surgery was performed. A year and a half went by. There was talk of earwax and candle wax, of cabbages and kings, but still the Mouse lay dormant. He lies dormant right now, awaiting a Frankenstein lightning strike, but will they deliver it?

The Second Publisher said, joyfully: 'I will bring this Mouse to life, because I totally love this Mouse.' And he did, and in the Kingdom of the Mouse, there was great rejoicing.

Take whatever moral you will from this story, indie authors, with my blessing.

I am currently playing with the idea of turning some of my Young Adult novels into film scripts. I've already converted 'THE TIME TREE', which is being marketed by Wild Thyme Productions, but film deals take a long time to come to fruition (and can I live so long?) Many years ago, 'THE GAME' was optioned by David Wood. It was based in and around Camden Town, London, which would have made location very easy, but the project ran out of money - as so many other creative projects do - so it never happened. The exercise of converting a novel for film has been very valuable, though - not time wasted.

And lastly, typos. I've recently become fascinated by them, and am considering making a personal collection. Mine tend towards Middle English and, possibly, Serbo-Croat. The verb:     ' woulked', which seems to crop up regularly, seems to suggest an activity we no longer indulge in, but I like its sound (when did you last 'woulke?') Definitions would be welcome. And what about: 'excepot'? Is it a word for an urinal? Or maybe the emergence from a drug-induced euphoric state? Suggestions please. I have a theory that, if I collected enough of them, I could use them in a poem.



glitter noir said…
Delightful tale of two publishers. Anyone who's been around the block can relate to that one. I have an addition for your collection of typos. Some time ago, before I'd learned that I--like everybody else--had to proof and proof again, I sent out a ms. with this typo on page one: 'The neckline of her red dress plunged and I stared in delight at her beautiful beasts.'
CallyPhillips said…
Good luck with the film adaptations. I'm working the other way. So many projects that 'nearly' got there can now BE something through indie publishing.
And typos are natures way of showing us we're not perfect!
madwippitt said…
Nicholas Stuart Gray (anyone remember him or is it just me?) adapted several of his books to play-format so they could be perfor,ed in schools. Another way perhaps, of increasing your profile amongst those who you write for, and at least it's done the way you want it!
julia jones said…
Your story of the publishers is good and true but melancholy. It's too much like life. The magic moment when you know you've found The One is just that, a MAGIC moment and what of all the sad and lonely people or books for whom that moment never happens? They weren't in the right place at the right time but as they get sadder and lonelier they might begin to think that somehow it's all their fault. That they are missing some indefinable quality that their lucky friends with the lovers and the readers and the tender nurturing publishers all somehow possess. They're right. of course, they are missing something. And that something's not beauty or talent or hard work - it's just called Luck.

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