Self-publishing Mr Middleton’s Teleporter, Part 11

Once upon a time there was a city called Sydney. 

I met Hoang back at Berkelouw’s two weeks later, to see the character drawings and the first of the scenes.  We had agreed to do this to check that we were on the right track.  

Hoang brought his wife, Cat, with him this time, and I brought Y (my fiance).  Cat was the girl with the beautiful hair whom I had met at the Paddington markets.  She and Hoang seemed a perfectly matched pair, complementing each other’s creative and business strengths and weaknesses, the type of couple you always hope will like you and, more importantly, that you will some day be like.

Hoang was excited.  I was excited.  Y and Cat were supportively boisterous.  

Hoang drew out from his satchel…

the perfect Mr Middleton.  He had the alcoholic red nose, the disconsolate slouch, and the round belly of middle-age that I had imagined without actually  imagining it quite as perfectly as this!

Mr Middleton was closely followed by Mr Richards.  Again, perfect.  Hoang had achieved his angularity, his moonish dissatisfaction, his quiet desperation, and made him look likeable at the same time.

The crowning glory…the first scene, to go with the opening words:

Once upon a time there was a city called Sydney, in a country called Australia, built like an old-fashioned beehive across a flurry of sprawling, sparkling, rudely alive water.  Tall buildings sprouted out of the city’s conical centre, around which clustered thousands of winding roads and terraced houses.  Homes jostled with offices and buildings inside of which people lifted weights squeezed next to places where they put them down again.  All around, streets spread like lines of hardened honey for hundreds of miles, people buzzing to and fro, some filled with music, others with rage, others with forgotten shopping lists that in turn concealed memories of loved ones, of regret; all of them keeping the veins of the city alive.  

It was glorious.  Hoang had given so many little details which revealed themselves only on closer inspection, and had taken the essence of the scene and the entire story and captured it.  He got it, and he had translated it into a look, feel and masterful illustration.

I almost wept into my LSD.

“So you like them?” Hoang asked, grinning.  

We spent the next twenty minutes being excited together, before agreeing to come and see him at his home and office in the Blue Mountains in two weeks time to see the final two drawings for the pitch package.  

Hoang had already made me see the possible wonder of the book.  Now we just had to show these pictures to the publisher and give them a moment of wistfulness in their days, and see how they responded.  

To be continued.

Self-publishing Mr Middleton’s Teleporter, Part 10

In which I am asked the question, what does a teleporter actually look like?

It was 10.06 pm when the phone rang, about three days since the events of my last self-publishing post.

“Jackie?”  

“Yep, Hoang, how’s it going?”  Trepidation..he’s going to say it’s too hard..

“Good, good.  I was just wondering, if you can tell me because I can’t really find it in the story: what does the teleporter look like?”

“Look like?”  

“Yeah, look like.”

“Umm…”  I racked my brain for a memory.  Surely I had imagined what the teleporter would look like…”Um,” I improvised.  “I guess it might look sort of like, there is something coming from the ceiling…actually Hoang, what do you think it would look like?”

Nice save.  

“Well, it could look all industrial, so with like, red lights and big metal doors and things.”

“Oh yeah, that sounds cool.”

“Or, it could be more minimalist, like, just a light from the ceiling, with a few hooks.”

“Oh, yeah, that too.”

“So which do you prefer?”

I paused.  The thing was, both sounded cool.  But I had never really pictured the teleporter before.  I kicked myself for this oversight.

“Can I call you back?  I just need to think about it for a bit.”

“No worries!”

I lay on the bed (my favourite thinking position, after he baththub) and tried to imagine the teleporter.  Both of Hoang’s options sounded good, and I wanted to give him full latitude as the visual creative on this project.  This situation demonstrated to me how much of a word person I was, and not an image person.  It also made me feel like a bit of a nob, really.  Not knowing what the third word in the title of the book even looked like?  Dear oh dear, Jackie, I berated myself (in somewhat harsher thought-words).  

I thought, and I thought.  I eventually put the (metaphorical) baseball bat that I was whacking myself with down, and let myself realise something that had been nagging at me.  

The story was not about the teleporter.  It was about the experience of being teleported.  I had spent ages and ages, imagining what it would feel like to be teleported.  What it would do to a person.  How they would lose part of themselves in the process of becoming what the person at the other end of the journey “expected” of them (the teleporter, as everyone knows, works on the principle of expectation energy.  The downside, or upside, depending on your proclivities, is that you become what the person who is waiting for you expects.)

I hesitantly explained myself to my betrothed, who immediately made me feel like I wasn’t an avisual loser.  “You wrote about what mattered to you,” he encouraged me.  

“So, I was thinking, do you think you could illustrate Mr Middleton being teleported, rather than the teleporter itself?”  I had called Hoang back and now waited to hear his response.

“Yeah, I think so, absolutely.  Can you explain to me what it feels like to be teleported?”

This, I could do.  “It’s like, your whole body disintegrates, and you are a million atoms but you are none of them, and you could be tugged in a hundred directions, but the person expecting you applies their expectation energy which gathers you into the person they expect.  But before that moment, you are ego-less whilst still having self, distributed across all the different particles which are all the particles of the Universe.”

“OK…I think I have an idea.”

To be continued.

Self-publishing Mr Middleton’s Teleporter, Part 8

In the last post about my quest for self-publication, I recounted my trip to Paddington markets to find the man who had done the drawing which now hangs in my study, who I knew in my heart was the person to illustrate Mr Middleton.  

It was 3.30 pm and my friend D and I had just discovered that the artist was working at the Surry Hills festival at a stall selling his prints.  We dashed off to grab the next bus.  

Surry Hills was aswarm with too many groovy people.  I looked down at my comfortable shoes and tried to look defiantly nonchalant next to the red-booted, high-booted, platform-booted around me.  D, noticing my anxious face and dwindling blood sugar, led me without further ado to the foodstalls serving Thai noodles and Japanese balls of rice.  That girl knows the right thing to take me out of my worries.  Soon, fed and refreshed, I was ready to seek the artist and be my charming, relaxed self.  

We sauntered towards the area where the bands were playing, scanning the stalls nearby in as non-stalkerish a fashion as possible.  There he was!  The stall was perched on the edge of the line of wares, and was doing a roaring trade.  They seemed somewhat inundated with funky young things, palming their way through the boxes of prints and treating themselves to the artist’s personal version of whimsy, just as I had done.  

“Why don’t you go over?” D asked as I stood, staring from about 50 metres away.  

“Oh, he looks too busy.  How about we wait awhile and listen to some music, and then go over?”

D nodded, because she is an understanding saint, and we took a seat on a patch of vacant grass.  A band playing plugged in electric guitars was on stage, but they weren’t obnoxiously rock, instead creating a lovely, late afternoon relaxed vibe with their slightly reggae beats.  I bobbed my head obediently to the music, D genuinely enjoying it as she reclined next to me, kicking off her flip-flops.  Occasionally I would look over and notice with a mix of relief and increasing anxiety that the traffic to the stall had not slowed down.  What if they pack up and leave while I am sitting here, pretending to have fun?  I thought.  But the idea of going over and standing around awkwardly was too much for me.  I stayed put.   

After about 20 minutes of becoming increasing cognitive dissonance between what I actually felt and how I wanted to look like I felt, I stood up.  

“I think I better go over now, before they leave.”  D hopped up obligingly and came with me for moral support.

When we got to the stall, there were only two or three people looking through the pictures, and the stall-holders were indeed starting to pack up.  

“Um, hello?”  I mustered my introverted self into a posture of courage.  “I’m Jackie.  I think your brother might have called to let you know we were coming?”

“Oh yeah, Jackie.”  The artist, an Australian-Vietnamese man who could have been any age between 20 and 30, held out his hand.  I shook it.  

“I’m Hoang, and this is my brother Hieu,” a smaller fellow with a big, friendly grin waved.  I smiled back and started to relax.  These guys were genuine, nice people, not too cool for a conversation.  They didn’t look at my comfortable shoes once.  I had a good feeling about this.

“Yeah, I’ve got a story I was wondering if you would be interested in taking a look at.  I have the interest of publisher X, and I want to present them with an illustrated version to see if they will go for it.  I bought one of your pictures and I really love your work.  I think it would really go well with the story.”

“OK, yeah, I’ll take a look at it.”  Hoang held out his hand and I handed over the masterpiece, which now looked ridiculously small, and I felt ridiculously self-important, all of a sudden, asking someone to illustrate my story, as if I had some sort of right to do that sort of thing.

“Thanks!” I said.  “I mean, there is nothing certain with the publisher, but if you like the story,we’ll take it from there.”

 “Yeah no worries.  Yeah I was approached at another time by another lady who wrote a story, but it just wasn’t the right time, you know?  But now, we’ve been thinking about doing a story, so it’s funny that you should have come up right now, you know?  It’s almost like it all fits together.” 

“Yes!  I know what you mean!” I felt exactly the same way.  “It was like that when I bought your picture, and then only a couple of weeks later this opportunity came up, and I was wondering, who can I get to illustrate this?  And then I saw your picture!”  I nodded vigorously, then tried to slow my neck down and calm my excitement.  You’re an author, Jackie, not a crazy lady,  I told myself.  

“Ok cool,” Hoang said.”I’ll read the story, and then maybe we can talk about it in a week’s time?”

“OK.  Maybe we can meet after your markets close next weekend?”

“Sounds good.  I’ll be in touch.”

“Great!  And if you have any questions about the story at all, just give me a call.  My number is on the front there.” I pointed at the manuscript, which so far had only been read by me, my fiance, the editor and my friend who had given it to her.  It was a funny moment, handing it over wilfully to a stranger.  Almost like it was a real book, and I was a real author, and it was going to take on a life of its own, and this was the first step in it becoming something beyond my reach or control…

OK, I was over-thinking things again.  D and I left them to it, me smiling and waving as we departed.  I owed D a drink.  It was time to go and get it.  I had the whole of the next week in which to worry and wonder, but mostly, I felt pretty good, as if this was really meant to be…then of course my brow furrowed in concern.  Hopefully, when he actually read the story, he would like it and not, for example, decide I was an odd-ball who was too old to believe in the power of fairy-tales. 

To be continued.

To see Hoang’s work, go to www.studiooat.com.au.  It’s pretty ace stuff.  You won’t regret the click.