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.


“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 7

I took a detour in Part 6 of this journey, talking about an alternate reality game which we are trying to make to emulate the world of Mr Middleton. But I still haven’t told you about how I finally found the illustrator of my dreams…

In Part 5, I at last realised that the answer to my prayers had been right in front of me the whole time – I had to find the artist who had drawn the print I had bought at the Paddington markets.

My mission was this: go to the Paddington markets, and try to find the same stall. This was not as easy as it sounds. Market stall holders change all the time, and the markets themselves are a riot of colour and confusion, each laneway lined with noise and objects and distractions, to the point where you could easily spend half a day, walking up and down, never finding the place you had last been just ten minutes ago, every again.

I geared up. Saturday arrived. I donned comfortable walking shoes. I limited the amount of discretionary spending money in my wallet to $20. I checked and re-checked that I had my ten-trip bus pass. On my way out the door, I slathered a dollop of sunscreen on my permanently sun-damaged nose (a product of a childhood spent in Queensland, back in the days when the local radio station would broadcast at twenty minutes intervals a little dinging sound to remind sunbathing girls to turn over for an even tan). Then, halfway down the stairs, I ran back up again, grabbed the copy of the story from my desk, and ran back down, the door slamming shut behind me and echoing down the stairwell.

My friend D met me at the North Bondi bus stop. She was dressed in summery singlet and jeans and on her feet, carefree flipflops in place of sensible shoes. I wondered if she understood the situation. But then I remembered that it was of utmost importance to the gods of destiny that I had to act carefree and open to grace. I wished I had worn flipflops too.

We chatted on the bus, D skilfully keeping me relaxed, as if this was just a regular, girly excursion to the markets. “They have that delicious thai food, yum,” D chatted. “Maybe we can buy a stick of fishballs.” I nodded. Fishballs as a reward. That was good motivation.

Finally, the bus pulled up. I made a bee-line through the sauntering, loitering crowds, past the faces of relaxed and happy Sydney-siders doing what they love best – shopping outdoors. D’s flipflops flipflopped behind me, trying to keep up.

Down one alley, past the red handbags, the smell of incompletely treated leather…past the jewelry shop where we had considered and dismissed gifts for jLo only six weeks ago…past the shop full of mirrors, past the shiatsu, past the plants, past the hand-made lamp shades….

And there they were! Neat and clean frames of professional quality, and in them, those lovely, wistful faces…elephants, and lovers, and my solemn little man, my apple-offering pixie…

OK, now Jackie, I told myself Be cool.

“Hello, I bought a print here about six weeks ago…”

“I remember. Cherry blossom, wasn’t it?”

The young Australian-Vietnamese fellow remembered me! And the girl with the beautiful long dark hair who worked with him smiled encouragingly! These people were nice! They didn’t think I was crazy!

Yet, I cautioned myself. Take-it-easy…

“Yes, that’s right,” I smiled. “I was just wondering. I have written a story, it’s a fairy-tale really, and major publisher X is interested. I would like to present it as an illustrated book. Do you think you might be interested in taking a look at the story?”

The young fellow did not shake his head dismissively, or pull away. He…nodded! “Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “My brother does the illustrations, but it’s funny, we were just thinking of branching into books. People are always asking us for them. He’s over at the Surry Hills Festival today, but I can call him and let him know you dropeed by?”

I turned to D. “Or maybe, we can go to the Fesitval? I asked her.

D agreed immediately. Turned out she wanted to go the Festival all along, couldn’t think of anything better to do than trek another forty minutes across Sydney to catch the tail end of the Festival festivities. Bless her.

“I’ll tell him you’re coming,” he said, pulling out his phone.

“Thanks!” I called, trotting back down the laneway. It was already 3.30 pm, getting close to closing time, and we had a bus to catch.

To be continued.

Self-publishing Mr Middleton’s Teleporter, Part 3

So, as I left my last post, I was looking for an illustrator.  I didn’t have much of a clue where to begin.  My clever buddy illustrator whom I mentioned suggested a few people, but their styles weren’t quite what I was looking for.  Which begged the question: what was I looking for?  I seemed to know what I didn’t want anyway.

My fiance led me through a series of questions, designed to get to the bottom of what I actually did want.  We sat on his rickety dining table chairs in his then-apartment in Pyrmont, me scraping the skin from around my nails and wondering how on earth I was going to find someone, and soon, to do exactly what I wanted, when I didn’t know what I wanted.  My fiance, meanwhile, took a break from his frantic film production work as it was clear that I was otherwise going to keep roaming around the kitchen and living room/study, silently pervading the entire apartment with angst.  He, the picture of calmness, asked me to take a seat.  

“I’m going to ask you a few questions,” he said.  “Hopefully we should find out what it is that you are looking for.”

“OK.”  I was ready for the magic.  

“OK.  What is it that you want?”

“That’s the whole…issue, the whole point!  I don’t know what I want!”  I started up off the chair, which proceeded to fall to the ground and risk permanent dismemberment.  

“I mean, what other illustrators’ work do you like?”  He asked, picking up the chair, still Mr Serenity, gesturing for me to sit back down.

“I guess I like…” I was embarrassed, but there was no other way to do it.  “Well,  I like the illustrations for Winnie the Pooh.  E.H. Shepard.”  I honestly wasn’t that familiar with much other work, not really.  But I tried to make it sound like I had at least some idea of the illustration world and wasn’t setting off into the land of illustrated books without a clue as to what was happening out there. “And Shaun Tan.  And maybe that guy who wrote the Sad Book.  Blake?”  

My fiance nodded, a model of non-judgment any Buddhist could be proud of.  Feeling a little encouraged, I went on.  “I want it to be olde worlde style, like, Victorian, but wistful, and pencil drawings.  And a sombre palette.”  I liked that.  ‘Sombre palette.’  I started to give my nails a second chance at survival.

He nodded more and typed in “E.H Shepard” into google.  There they were – simple  drawings giving a sense of movement, magic and a world of their own that was still familiar to me, so familiar I could practically taste the hot Milo before bedtime.

“Yes!” I exclaimed.  “That sort of thing.  Wait, here.”  I typed in “Shaun Tan.”  Up popped his gorgeous, magical world, all steam punk and whimsy.  “Isn’t it fantastic,” I breathed.  My betrothed nodded.

“All right then.  So why don’t you call Shaun Tan?” he asked.  

“What?  No way.”  My nails were not going to survive the day.  He was now talking loco.

To be continued.

Self-publishing Mr Middleton’s Teleporter, Part 2

In my last post on Self-publishing Mr Middleton’s Teleporter, I left off at me waiting to hear back from the editor at one of Australia’s big publishing houses.  

Normally, you have to wait about three to six months to hear back.  I heard from the editor about two weeks later.  Prompted by my buddy’s enthusiastic response to the story, the editor had taken it home to read over the weekend.  

She…loved it!  She made several suggestions for ways I could consider improving parts of the story, but nothing too major.  It was a truly lovely experience: being taken seriously by someone in a position of power, and getting her feedback as an equal, rather than the somewhat bossy criticisms from university lecturers or work managers, which had been my only past experience of the feedback process for my writing or other work.  The editor, however, clearly enjoyed reading new ideas, and taking part.  It was not a stand-offish type of feedback, but more like the suggestions of someone who wanted to play, too.  

The editor suggested that I submit the to the head editor, to make a decision about publishing, and asked if I might consider submitting other stories at the same time for a collection.  Another, less likely option, might be to publish as an illustrated, stand-alone book.

This latter idea consumed my imagination, as the saying goes.  I reviewed my other short stories and came to the realisation that they weren’t anything like Mr Middleton and would not suit a collection.  I had a few ideas for other stories, and I toyed with the idea of writing them up.  More than toyed: I really tried to convince myself that this is what I should do.  But a vision of Mr Middleton, illustrated, the teleporter not just a set of words on a page, filled my head.  It was a riskier path, far less likely to gain traction with a publisher.  But it was a beautiful, tantalising possibility.  Ah, I love the word possibility.  Full of so much….possibility.

Where to find an illustrator to complete my vision, and fast, before I lost their interest?  

To be continued.