Saturday, June 1, 2013

Vale Kevin

It’s horrible when your publisher decides to put one of your books out of print, especially if it’s one that you like. (I really wasn’t terribly upset when Con’s Bewdiful Australia was put out of print.)

Kevin the Troll is officially out of print, and has been for a year.  There are about two thousand copies in schools and libraries so I hope you are lucky enough to find a copy. It was fun to write about a main character who wasn’t terribly nice, even though he has his reasons for being nasty. I finished writing this book on the day of the second-last Federal election. I always vote. I like to think I can make a difference. And I don’t mind queueing at the St Kilda school to do it. You meet interesting people in queues, especially in StT Kilda queues. But on the day I was finishing off the manuscript for Kevin the Troll, I was so thrilled with how easily the story seemed to come that I completely forgot  about voting and I didn’t care! I happily paid the fine (and writers on the whole are not happy to pay for anything.) I did try to say in my defence that I was writing a very good book at the time and couldn’t be disturbed. (Smarty-pants excuses like this don’t  go down well with the electoral office. Not that I’ve used smart-pants excuses before . I’ve always voted and happily paid two dollars for a charred sausage on Home Pride bread with White Crow tomato sauce.)  The one hundred and sixty page manuscript was delivered to Penguin on the following Monday. I was slightly nervous, because what I wrote on my website is true. Penguin wanted me to write another book like I’m Being Stalked by a Moonshadow, a sort of romcom for boys. Trolls had never been mentioned in the deal. But I got writer’s-blocked, as usual. Although I have now finished the romcom and am editing it with Amy Thomas at Penguin. (New editor! How exciting! Though I think I’ll miss my old editor, Dmetri Kakmi. Kevin the Troll is dedicated to him. One of the trolls is named after him. He hangs around a lot with the troll call Barberastreisand.

 Writing Kevin the Troll was my rest and relaxation from the romcom.  It gave me an excuse to surf the Net for cool sites about Scadinavian mythology. It also gave me the opportunity of doing the talking book version. I’ve not actually listened to it, but I’m told that my Swedish language skills are borderline at best, even though I did get a brief language lesson from the kind people at the Swedish church in Toorak.

Kevin the Troll also gave me the opportunity of writing things that were funny but not particularly relevant to the plot. The book sort of wanders along and takes to very occasional diversion from the plot, which is what Nordic sagas are supposed to do.

But now Kevin is off to Walhalla. Penguin has come up with the absurd excuse that the book isn't making a profit for them. Most unprofessional of them.

There will be something visually amusing here as well, when I've fixed the glitch. Kevin fan Emma Hancox has written Kevin's Epitaph in the form of a poem. Thank you, Emma, I'm sure Kevin would have loved it. It's got that delicate balance of niceness and creepiness, which is difficult to achieve, bt you've puled it off nicely. There are no awkward lines that have been tucked in, just to make a rhyme. Thanks again, Emma, for your good work, and shame on your teacher for not believing you wrote it.

The Ballad Of Kevin The Troll
By Emma Hancox - Aged 9 years

When bones go crunch,
and flesh is ripped, 
Kevin The Troll is near.

When you can feel cool
mist about,
Kevin The Troll is near.

If you can hear groans
and shouts, 
Kevin The Troll is near.

When you can see black
mould and slime,
Kevin The Troll is near.

If you can taste him,
that would not be true,
For Kevin The Troll would
be eating YOU!

This wonderful picture of a troll skulking under a bridge and no doubt contemplating his next meal, was done by Dogstar artist Scott Vanden Bosch. I am using it without his permission, but I think he'll be okay about it because it just shows how highly I rate his work.


Sue Bursztynski said...

I believe we have a copy of Kevin The Troll in my library. Hopefully you will still get lending rights on it. Perhaps you should get the rights back and either self publish in ebook or print or try a small press publisher. There are plenty in Australia who'd be delighted to have it. I'm sorry. But I know how you feel. Most of my books have gone out of print, though usually when the print run was sold out. One of them, Your Cat Could Be A Spy, is still available as POD, but who will order it if they don't know it's there? And I never got any royalties on it, because although it sold out, most copies were sold through Book Club. So I do know, especially when it's a favourite. But you now have other options. And you have another book coming out.

Thinking of you!

KiwiFirst said...

Loved this book. One of my top favourites for reading aloud to my daughter. The book has many funny moments that had us both laughing often. I had to develop a troll voice for each Troll, I learnt quickly that my Troll accent was much easier than my Boysenbergan Swedish accent.

Wonderful book, recommend you read this aloud to your kids.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Kevin the Troll! I can't believe they're putting it out of print o_o Kevin was so... charming in a completely uncharming way (don't know how else to explain it). I'll miss him :/