The Serpent has Landed

In my head that’s a great concept. The serpent in question is an enormous beast; I imagine it dropping from the sky, slithery and shiny, landing in a neat coil like an Indian snake charmer’s lunch ticket. The answer to where it came from is either fresh air or the inside of my head, although the two could be the same thing according to my children, who believe that gas fills the space between my ears.

The landing in question is printed copies of my book The Serpent of Eridor. The book production process is thus a little like Zeus producing Minerva but luckily with keyboard applied to skull, rather than an axe.


The books have only  just arrived, so I’m running around like a cat with two tails and springs for paws. Having them in my hand is a bit of sensuous experience; I’m loving the smell and feel of them and regularly hug one up to me. I’ve not got quite as far as bathing in them yet, but watch this space. You’ll be the first to know.

Having an incomplete grasp of physics (or is it mechanics, or architecture, or engineering?) I wasn’t entirely sure what a stack of 250 books would look like: half a room or a small neat stack? It turns out that 250 takes up most of a pallet: one metre square and some upness, but with wood to spare at the edges. Presumably the reason they sent them flat on a pallet is to avoid side-tip induced squishing or crumpledness; but the average doorway is not a metre and a half wide…

Serendipitous then that I’d had them sent to work which has vast doorways, perfect for getting moribund bodies, wheelchairs or large flat pieces of wood through. Normally as things come through the hospital doors they undergo radical positive transformation: from got problems to safe now. The energy flow reversed with my delivery; it went from long awaited treasure into fire hazard in seconds.

The urgent, delicate operation of scissors and rippage commenced, scything into the bowels of the parcel, thrusting aside yards of voluminous plastic, revealing stacklettes of 18 books each; almost as cute as delivering kittens (clearly in this case by caesarean)(so maybe not quite as  terrifically cute). This made me overwhelmingly happy, mainly that the health and safety mavens would no longer come and arrest me or poke a hole in my fun (which they would do carefully, leaving no bruises nor sharp edges.)

Earlier in my quest to get my books published, I had decided to set up my own publishing company, but have not done it yet. I’d love to claim credit for setting up my publisher Matador, but that could be considered to be marginally untruthful because it is… well… untrue. Completely, entirely, totally, utterly, wholly untrue (there is a reason that list is alphabetical; I just love thesauruses) (thesauri). Although if you check the thesaurus for the word thesaurus you get a list of stuff that is not at all the same, like phrase book. Certain poetic irony.

The tricky bit about setting up a company turns out to be choosing a name. We rejected dull stuff like Hawthorne Books or Westminster Print, preferring something fun like Flying Folios, Purple Aardvark or Tomestone. Thinking that we’d need to create an accompanying logo, we avoided names like Big End Publishing or an ironic Bottom of the Market. Ali’s Pub would be easy enough to logo up, using the picture of a hostelry or a glass of wine… which has got me thinking…if only I had something to drink to. A recently terrestrialised serpent? Perfect!


About alisongardiner1

Writer of YA series of books. Broadcaster/podcaster Litopia After Dark.
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