Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cheekyfella Dreaming

It looks as if I might publish seven books this year, which is ridiculous even for me. The seventh, 'Cheekyfella Dreaming', is to be brought out by Halcyon Press (Ireland) in time for Christmas. It has an interesting background.

Several years ago I wrote a children's book called 'Kookaburra Dreaming' which was published by Scholastic in Britain, but fell foul of political correctness in Australia, where the book was set.

A white Australian editor decided the book's hero, an Aborigine boy, should not have been called 'Cheekyfella' even though the character was based on a real Aborigine with a similar name. (Similar, but not identical. The original was named Cheekybugger, which I thought might be a bit extreme for a children's book.) As a consequence, Scholastic declined the sequel.

I wasn't altogether unhappy. I'd objected strenuously to the cover of 'Kookaburra Dreaming' but lost the fight. (Few people realise that the standard publishing contract expressly debars an author from any input into decisions about the price, marketing, advertising, physical appearance or cover of his book. Most publishers will let you see a cover in advance as a courtesy, but if you don't like it, that's tough. And some don't even go that far. The first sight I had of the cover for 'Ruler of the Realm' -- due for publication in October -- was in a Bloomsbury catalogue.)

But Cheekyfella haunted me to such an extent that he popped back into my head when I was asked to contribute to an anthology of Christmas stories. The result was 'Kookaburra Christmas', a short fable about Cheekyfella that I think is probably one of the very finest stories I've ever written. The anthology came and went and while the story proved popular enough to be taken up and reprinted, I always regretted that it was never published as a stand-alone book.

Then Halcyon came on the scene, founded by two old friends of mine, Rita Kelly and Edel Connolly. Rita read a manuscript copy of 'Kookaburra Christmas' and took fire on it at once. The outcome was an offer to publish; and in time for sale next Christmas if physically possible. The name of the book will be 'Cheekyfella Dreaming' to avoid confusion with the anthology version.

8 comments:

kevin said...

Wow... I never knew authors couldn't have opinions as to the publishing... Well, I look forward to reading your books!

Anonymous said...

Seven...books.... WOW!!! That's impressive! Well, i am so...hugely...excited....FOR RULER OF THE REALM!!! I'm going to have to reread Faerie Wars and Purple Emperor before it comes out....

john said...

I fell in love with Cheekybugga as an image in the interface between british bulldog & 'aborigine'. I adapted it to my book ....
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hows-the-House-worth-reading/261018869610 where along with one Albert Galopilong and one Global Pale I address the the impact of dwelling contraptions across nomadism and capitalist gluk.

john said...

I came across Cheekybugger via Robert Dessaix.

Herbie Brennan said...

Your book sounds interesting, John. (With or without Cheekybugga.) I’m afraid at the end of the day mine — the one I blogged — was never published, due to problems with the illustrations.

john said...

Lots of unpublished splendor around Herbie. If you want you can help get mine into Ireland. In good faith I'd pay the wholesale profits on the retail sales your sold-to outlets might make. this is passion talking more than business. On that principle we could be variably reasonable with each other and only break loose when we start arguing. I want to get it moving at this stage; not make money.

Herbie Brennan said...

Ah, John, I’ve enough trouble getting my own stuff into print without taking on somebody else’s...

john said...

I guess you're onto print on demand & self publishing on the web Herbie. That's what I've done so far. It provides an excellent manuscript for potential publishers, if nothing else.