August 18, 2008
So. The Order of Odd-Fish is out at last!
We’re going to have a release party tonight, 8 o’clock, at the Hideout. My friend Zach Dodson also will read from his new book, boring boring boring boring boring boring boring. And there will be improv by Bella. And music! Brilliant Pebbles and Art School Band will play!
Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen.
My wife Heather first, of course; she has nurtured this project from its beginning.
My parents too, always loving and enthusiastic, and all my family.
My teachers, of course.
And not least to my friends who read Odd-Fish from the beginning stages and took the time to offer their astute criticism. I have some smart and tasteful friends! (Except for Dark Yellow. He has his own thing going on, God bless him.)
I also want to thank my agents, Tina Wexler and Lisa Bankoff. I was sitting in the staff room of Yoshino High School in Nara, Japan when I first read Lisa’s email offering to represent Odd-Fish. I leaped out of my seat, shaking. It had happened at last! I ran around the room, telling the principal and my fellow teachers what had happened, but many of them didn’t know I had written a book (it wasn’t my usual school) and they were befuddled. It was like that scene in That Thing You Do! in which the kids in the band ecstatically run around town, whooping as their song is playing on the radio, except it was just me trying to explain the idea of “literary agent” in broken Japanese to my indulgent and increasingly distracted co-workers. (I finally found Toda-sensei, one of my best friends in Nara, and told him. He was jubilant. Then I went outside and called Heather. Then I treated myself to a Coffee Boss. Ah, Coffee Boss, balm of my youth, comfort in my old age! And yet, if I never drank one again, that would be fine.)
Anyway — I’ll never forget that morning. Thanks, Lisa and Tina, for plucking me out of your slush pile and making this all come true. Thanks too for fantastic editorial advice, and for finding a wonderful place for it at Delacorte.
Thanks to Stephanie Lane, my editor at Delacorte, and her erstwhile assistant Amalia Ellison. Working with Stephanie was an education and a privilege. She shrewdly rooted out inconsistencies and longueurs from the manuscript that I’d never even suspected. She asked perceptive questions that inspired me to rewrite and improve entire sections. Stephanie was easy to trust because she understood what the heart of Odd-Fish was about, behind all its frantic romping. It’s a blessing to have an editor like that.
Thanks also to my publicist, Dominique Cimina; the book designer, Angela Carlino; and John Meyers, the genius behind the cover illustration. He captured the spirit of Odd-Fish so well! Writers generally don’t have control of what their book cover looks like, but when I saw Meyers’ first sketch, I knew I didn’t have to worry. His cover is packed with so many loving details and in-jokes from the book, and so wittily done! I can find not only Jo, Sefino, and Aunt Lily, but also an Apology Gun, Dame Isabel’s apparatus for collecting smells, Colonel Korsakov’s digestion, the Odd-Fish lodge, ostriches, Eldritch City, the Eldritch Snitch, the Appendix, an Odd-Fish ring, a biscuit-sword, the fish that vomits out the lodge, even the jar of brains . . . it’s just inspired. I’m proud to have a cover like this.
And thanks to Stephanie Morris for putting together this website for me. Pretty classy, eh? All Stephanie’s doing. I appreciate it!
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone tonight. It’s going to be fun. You should come!