Publication Day! by Dani Atkins
2017/03/23  |  By:   |  Features  |  

Dani packshot23rd March is a very special day.  I know that because there’s been a big red ring around that date on my kitchen calendar for many months.

I know that because – even though it hasn’t happened yet – I probably won’t sleep well the night before.

I know that because I feel a teeny bit sick from excitement and nerves. When I was five years old I threw up at my own birthday party, and right before I did, it felt a little like this.

Because 23rd March is the publication day for my latest novel, This Love.

From that first blank page on the screen, to the moment when I type “The End” and then burst into tears (don’t ask me why I do that – it happens every single time) this was always where we were heading. And yet while this is the end of the journey for me, it’s strangely also only the beginning.

Books are funny things. They start with an idea circling in your head, which you eventually find the courage to share with other people. First for me are family and friends (they tend to be favourably biased). Next my agent and editor (a slightly tougher crowd to please). And finally, one hundred thousand words later, it’s ready to be shared with the people who matter most of all . . . that’s you, the readers, in case you hadn’t already guessed.

‘Write the book you want to write.’ ‘Write the book you want to read.’ While they’re both invaluable pieces of advice, there’s another that’s equally important: ‘Write the book your readers want to read.’ Any author who says they ‘never read reviews’ or aren’t glued to Amazon, Goodreads or iBooks waiting for reader feedback is probably telling porkies.

When you write a book, you become a lot like a landlady to the characters you create. Suddenly your home fills up with a whole group of strangers who take up residence. Admittedly they don’t take up much physical space, but they sure do fill your head. They don’t eat much, but they’re a frequent topic of conversation at mealtimes. They don’t have a bedroom, but they pop into yours frequently in the middle of the night, saying something that you have to get out of bed to scribble down in case you forget it by morning. They even follow you into the shower (some of my best ideas happen in there, bizarrely).

Sophie and Ben and the rest of the characters in This Love moved in with my husband and me around a year or so ago, and felt as real – and at times as annoying – as actual family members. They drove me crazy on occasion, particularly when they refused to do what I wanted, or say what I wanted them to say. Because sometimes these literary squatters insist on taking you off down a path you hadn’t even known you were going down. That’s what happened to me with This Love and I honestly think the book you will now get to read is so much stronger because of the new direction it took.

There’s a question that frequently pops up in many author Q &A’s. What are the best and the worst bits about your job? The answer is simple. Today is the best bit, because now you get to read my book; and today is the worst bit, because now you get to read my book.

I’m excited and nervous that This Love’s publication day is finally here, and it doesn’t matter one little bit that this is now my fifth book, and that I’m old enough to know better. Inside I’m still that hyped-up five-year-old, dancing frantically around the room and trying her very best not to throw up.