Tuesday, October 12, 2010

At Last ... My Book Has a Home!

I probably mentioned some time ago that I've been working on a book.  It's called The Reading List and it's a memoir about my miserable career as an English professor and search for a new career, which pushed me to the brink of a breakdown three summers ago, and all the while I was seeking distraction from my career blues by looking for love in all the wrong places, drowning in the Grey Goose.  My father, grappling with his own demons, decided to take up reading as his new hobby and who better to recommend a reading list than his erudite daughter?  Except I wasn't feeling very erudite at the time. 

Still, we bond over literature in other - unexpected - ways and this opens a whole new dimension to our relationship....  (More on this later).

Anyway, a few months ago, I sent my book proposal around to a few publishers and then waited.... and waited.... and faced some perfectly diplomatic rejection emails, which pointed out its merits and drawbacks, but no matter how many times I read them amounted to the same thing.  I pretended that I was fine with it - really, I was, I wasn't grinding my teeth at night more than usual, despite my throbbing jaw - and I could accept that my memoir (half written) might never see the light of day.  At the urging of a friend, I began work on another project, an historical novel, and half convinced myself that I'm a novelist at heart, not a memoirist after all.   

All this changed the other night, when I was at a friend's birthday party (my agent actually) and he introduced me to a lovely young woman, Sandra, who turned out to be a publisher.  She runs a small press that focuses on next generation multicultural literature. 

"She wants to publish your book," my agent whispered to me. 

I blinked and the room began to spin gently, even though I hadn't had a drop of wine (I was on cold medication, feeling very uncool to be at a party not drinking), but yes, my cheeks were getting hot, as if I might have quaffed an entire bottle.

"I've read your manuscript and I love it," Sandra said, smiling warmly.  "Let's do it!  Let's publish your book."

Sandra and I stood by the wall chatting in our high heels for the next four-and-a-half hours and we exchanged many giddy emails last week and this morning we signed a contract.  She and her father, who founded the press, shook my hand and hugged me and the room was filled with good karma, if I may say so myself, and I'm not the kind of person who usually says things like "karma."

Ever since I was six years old, you see, I've wanted to be a writer.  Much more than I ever wanted to be a professor.  That first godawful career was just a detour (which, ironically, has given me something to write about).

So now the clock is ticking.  I have until April to complete the second half of the book.

Photo from: here


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I so enjoy your blog, and I love the concept for your book. Can't wait to get my hands on it!

Naomi said...

Wonderful news about your book! I'm looking forward to reading it. What is the name of the publisher?

Hannah said...

AMAZING LESLIE! Congratulations! To the first of MANY books!

Leslie Shimotakahara said...

Thanks for all your encouragement! The publisher is Variety Crossing Press.

Deana said...

How awesome is that! Congrats to you!!!!!


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About Me

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Toronto, ON, Canada
Leslie Shimotakahara is a writer and recovering academic, who wanted to be simply a writer from before the time she could read. Hard-pressed to answer her parents’ question of how she would support herself as a writer, Leslie got drawn into the labyrinthine study of literature, completing her B.A. in Honours English from McGill in 2000, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern American Literature from Brown in 2006. After graduation, she taught English at St. Francis Xavier University for two years. Leslie woke up one morning and realized that she’d had enough of the Ivory Tower. The fact that she wasn’t doing what she wanted to do with her life loomed over her, and the realization was startling. It was time to stop studying and passively observing life and do something real instead. She needed to discover herself and tell her own story. This blog and the book she has written under the same title (Variety Crossing Press, spring 2012) are her foray. Leslie's writing has been published in WRITE, TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and GENRE.