Now that I’ve been back in New Zealand for nearly two weeks, my slight holiday tan having all but disappeared (despite Wellington’s decent crack at having a summer), it’s time I started on my ‘MUST do on holiday’ list. Number 1 is “Write blog post”, so here goes:
I’m happy to say that ALL OUR SECRETS is continuing to do well, thanks to many fabulous friends spreading the word and a few generous reviews in national media.
Andrew Laxon of the New Zealand Herald reviewed the novel alongside books by Stephen King, Jennifer Egan, Robert Harris and John Le Carre, describing it as “a hugely enjoyable mash-up of small town horror and coming-of-age story, with plenty of quirky and sometimes downright weird humour thrown in.” He says some OK stuff about the other books too!
In the NZ Listener, Catherine Robertson says, “Lane pulls off two ambitious feats: creating a child narrator who is authentically pre-teen but who can hold adult reader interest and integrating a well-plotted mystery that keeps tension high and readers guessing…Highly recommended.” Thank you, Catherine!
Bookseller NZ’s Sarah Forster also highly recommends ALL OUR SECRETS “as a summer read for age 13+” and Karen Chisholm of AustCrimeFiction calls it “an absolute gem”. I couldn’t ask for more.
The Sapling published an extract (Gracie’s “unmerry Christmas”), and my voice assaulted the ears of listeners nationwide via interviews with Lynn Freeman on Radio NZ and Morrin Rout on Plains FM. No one arrested me after I was on air though, so perhaps I didn’t torment everyone else’s ears as much as I did mine.
Just as encouraging as the reviews were the many messages I received from readers. (By the way, I’m amazed by the number of people who only find time to read during the holidays. Am I the only one who prioritises reading over housework/sleep/life 365 days a year?) It’s hugely rewarding to hear that so many of my friends and family enjoyed ALL OUR SECRETS (the rest of the world would just be a bonus), so thanks to those who have said so. And if you thought the book was a load of crap and kept that to yourself, I appreciate that too!
But, sadly, the news hasn’t all been good. Two people who played a part in helping me bring ALL OUR SECRETS into the world passed away in December.
Firstly, Paul Greenberg. Paul took on the job of getting ALL OUR SECRETS into shops around New Zealand, a challenging task (I discovered) for a novel written by an unknown “New Zealand” author, especially a novel set in Australia. Paul worked in the industry for 50 years and was described as the “greatest salesman in the history of New Zealand publishing”. I never met or worked with him directly, but Penelope Todd (ALL OUR SECRETS’ publisher) says he was a delight to deal with. ALL OUR SECRETS was possibly the last book he represented.
Then there was the death of my friend and fellow writer, Sarah Anderson. During the more than ten years we were in a writing group together, we read and critiqued many of each other’s stories, including the first draft of ALL OUR SECRETS. Sarah was the most prolific writer in our group, having published a number of fiction and non-fiction collections as well as a magazine, VIOLA BEADLETON’S COMPENDIUM OF SERIOUSLY SILLY AND AMAZINGLY ASTOUNDING STORIES. She was also a talented artist and my daughter Tess was lucky enough to be tutored by her in art last year. We will miss Sarah greatly, and we’re lucky she left behind many stories, poems and artworks to remember her by. Here’s a poem she wrote about summer:
Hot so hot
I used to love you
Sirus the cat would sit on my lap
In the summer
My girlfriend and I would seek the sun
when we lived in cold dark Vivian Street
and got no afternoon sun
but we could see it shine on the hills at Mt Vic
In the summer
We would play as children
by rivers and run through the woods while the men
played cricket in the backyard
The sky was so blue and the cicadas sang so loud,
everything was alright because it was