Becoming a Period Piece in Just 20 Years -- Andrew Crofts


Time is speeding up. A novel I wrote twenty years ago is being republished by Lume Books. It is called “Pretty Little Packages”, (although it started life as “Maisie’s Amazing Maids”). The main character is a ghostwriter, (no surprise there), and the plot is about modern slavery, which was a subject I was writing about a lot at the time.

Re-reading it now, nothing much has changed about the modern slavery business – if anything it has grown worse, but perhaps we are just more aware of it than we were at the turn of the Millennium. A lot of other things, however, have changed.

 In the year 2000 mobile phones still had a certain novelty value for many of us. Most of us certainly didn’t use them for anything other than phoning one another in the age-old manner. Letters still came through the post, we bought street maps when we had to navigate around unfamiliar cities, and fax machines were commonplace.

 Full body tattoos were highly unusual and when one of the characters in the book dyes her hair metallic pink it makes her stand out from the crowd in a way it would not now. People also thought it normal to smoke in public places.

 From the point of view of a ghostwriter, I am struck by how normal I thought it was in 2000 for books to receive six-figure advances from editors, and for newspapers to pay similar amounts for serialisation rights. The options of self-publishing or independent publishing were seldom mentioned; everything hinged on getting deals through the traditional publishing model.

It is only twenty years ago, but the book has become a period-piece in a way that I don’t think a book written in 1950 would have seemed in 1970. Like I say, time is speeding up.  




Reb MacRath said…
The things that are dead giveaways to the passage of time can be, as you point out, either huge or tiny. Other things may slip right by us. Two nights ago, rewatching Die Hard, I was jarred by the sight of John McLane smoking in the airport. Then again, it's hard for a young viewer today to appreciate things that were groundbreaking at the time: e.g., the sleek, elegant 'Euro trash' villains...Alan Rickman's then-unique Hans Gruber...a black actor playing a brilliant hacker...Today everything's moving so quickly that almost anything we can imagine may come into being before a books see print. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Umberto Tosi said…
You said it. Our publishing world has aged in dog years. Make that mayfly years! Good luck with your re-issue. A tale well told withstands the test of time, regardless of changes.
Eden Baylee said…
Hi Andrew,

Time is definitely speeding up!
But change is inevitable and I choose to believe it's a good thing.
We can't stop it anyway, as much as we might want to try.

Popular posts

Be True to Your Inner Imposter --- Reb MacRath

Twelve hours and several lifetimes: a day sail on the Deben with books


Move Your Tired Old Ass Like a Writer -- Reb MacRath

Misogyny and Bengali Children’s Poetry by Dipika Mukherjee