blank'/> 66 Square Feet (Plus): The Book

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Book


So. About the book. I have muttered about it coyly a couple of times but now that the contract with Abrams is signed I think it's fair to explain the process and then to shut up about it until its release date nears, which is Fall 2013. I know! That's forever!

The manuscript - known as the MS in writing circles - is due this fall. And not only the manuscript, but all the images, too, as this will be a hardcover with lots of my own pictures. I am taking thousands of pictures. I already have thousands. Suppressed eek.

So here's how it happened (and if you are thinking about writing a book and have questions, ask me. I knew nothing in the beginning and asked a lot of what seemed like very dumb questions - of writers, authors, editors. People were very patient, and very kind):

The idea for a book based on 66 Square Feet has been percolating for a while. I wanted to write something about New York and food and flowers, and about living well in this small space; a book that was also beautiful to look at. People have many preconceptions about New York City, and I really wanted to share the intimate and domestic and green side of living in the impersonal steel and concrete jungle. We will not be in 66 Square Feet forever, and this will be, I hope, a love letter to living in a small space in an enormous city.

I did not want to write a How To. I think there are plenty of very good How To garden books out there. If anything this will be about living well, wherever you are, by paying attention to the details around you. While I read a lot of novels, some of my most treasured books have glossy, thick pages whose photographs I want to lick. I am hoping to write that kind of book. They are useful as resources,  but they are beautiful as objects in their own right. Our tiny apartment would not be the same without them. As paper books become marginalised by digital readers, I think that books as objects are becoming more important. A thing we can touch and turn and look at for pure pleasure, forever. So I wrote some sample chapters. A highly seasonal approach to living, gardening and cooking in this big bad city.

Fast forward about a year, with much waiting around for another publisher to make an offer, which I eventually turned down (very nice people people but other issues involved). Then the lovely Stephen Orr, author of Tomorrow's Gardens, and the garden director of Martha Stewart Living, introduced me to his agent, Carla Glasser. Carla really got the ball rolling. Early this year I found myself in some meetings with the big boys; except, they were all girls! Big conferenceroomsful of editors and directors. Heady stuff. I received two offers from two very good houses, a position I had hardly imagined being in, and had to choose. At the same time yet another publisher asked me to write a book about container gardening and a fourth was talking seriously about another book idea I had. I was, for a spell, overwhelmed. Then I slapped myself and calmed down. One thing at a time.


Stewart, Tabori and Chang is a division of Abrams Books, and talking with them felt very natural. We seemed to be - pardon me - on the same page about what the book could and should be, and how it should look, and how to get there. Sitting at the same table was a director who, as an editor, had worked on the book I would save if this apartment were to go up in flames: Roger Verge's Entertaining in the French Style. A gorgeous book of menus and drinks and flowers (I would also save Elizabeth David. And the cat). And I also met Dervla Kelly, my editor-to-be.

My challenge now - apart from trying to stay calm, because trust me, I am not - is to pay attention to the blog while I write and photograph for the book; taking care not to repeat myself, so that the book is nice and fresh. I am paying close attention to each month, as each chapter will be a month's exploration of the edible and botanical city (with a little foraging thrown in for seasoning), before returning to the terrace and roof farm, and landing up around the dinner table, with menus and a picnic or two. Central Park or East River? Dead Horse Bay (see the Frenchman's most recent post)? You tell me. Where would you like to go?

So, that's it. You won't hear any more about it until it's Time. But I've kept my lips zipped for so long it is helpful to have exhaled.

Phew.

42 comments:

  1. Holy cow!!! Congratulations! I'm thrilled for you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Marie, unzipped - congratulations, mazel tov, baie geluk! Very much looking forward to licking the pages! Love from me and Trebor X

    ReplyDelete
  3. YAY!!! So, so, so pleased for you :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. So exciting! And I can't wait to buy it. As someone from a small town in the rural Pacific Northwest I have to say reading your blog the last year or two has really opened my eyes to a different view of NYC. I've never disliked NY, I've always wanted to visit and thought there were a lot of amazing things about the city, but I had this vague feeling that the lives of big city people were all so completely different from me and had no idea that people foraged or that there were so many different outdoor spaces to go to. In other words I saw the city as a place I'd love to visit for a week or two sometime, but as a place I could never ever live and be happy. But through your stories and pictures I can see that differently now.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Woohoo!!!
    Stewart Tabori and Chang....I am absolutely thrilled for you. I want an autographed copy.
    xoxox
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  6. So very happy for you. You done good, girl.

    ReplyDelete
  7. So spectacular! I am also a reader from the Pacific Northwest, and must say that you have made NY real for me, dare I say cozy? I am truly looking forward to your book, the hardbound one, full of wonderful glossy pictures. Delightful.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wooow!!! It sound soo exiting. All I can say as a faithful reader is that I really look forward to your book and that Iam sure it would go right into the shelf of wonderful living/gardening/inteligent bookd.

    As we say: ¡Enhorabuen!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Another loyal reader ready to buy. I'm not much of a reader normally, but I can't seem to stop reading your blog. I very much look forward to the book.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Note to Estorbo: the Secretary tells us (via email from London!!!) that she will save you from fire AFTER Elizabeth David.We say: "whad the forg!!!"
    Estorbo, we wish to tell you that the Secretary would save you FIRST. Books? Pfff! What are Barnes and Noble for?
    But she also says "jolly well done!"

    ReplyDelete
  11. We are so very proud of you and cannot wait to be able to touch, turn and treasure "66 Square Feet - the Book" next fall, which actually seems not so far away at all when one considers the amount of work you need to do! Can't wait to see your touch in big beautiful photos on our coffee table.

    If there is anything that I/we can do to help, please let me know.

    Meanwhile, thanks for the strawberry idea last night - yum!

    ReplyDelete
  12. You're going to have a busy, productive year, and I'm looking forward to the result. Here you are writing your initial news about the book, no pictures, even, and I'm already hanging onto every word.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Congratulations and thank you for sharing how you got there - most interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  14. congratulations, Marie, from an avid reader of your blog

    ReplyDelete
  15. Another Pacific Northwester adding congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Can't wait to get my hands on the book. Congratulations!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. How wonderful for you. Hope you enjoy the process and the finished product and it is a great success.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yayyy, so excited to be working with you on this!! We are just as thrilled as you are to create a beautiful book.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is wonderful news and many congratulations to you. I too am looking forward to your book - no doubt it will be as enjoyable as your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  20. C'est une excellente nouvelle ! It's going to be hard to wait so long before the book is published. And I totally agree with your vision of books ��

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wonderful news. Like everyone else I look forward to the first of many books!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Can't wait Marie - a copy will be on my bedside table permanently. I would love Dead Horse Bay to be featured in it.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Fantastic! Congrats, that's so exciting - really really happy for you! Enjoy the journey...can't wait to see it!
    Love Fran

    ReplyDelete
  24. Congratulations Marie! What an amazing and wonderful opportunity for you. I know that the book will be (sorry for using again) amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Dude, dit is exhiliratingly exciting. Yay.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Pluma says.'Holy Cod! Congrats, show pics of catnip please."
    Janet says, "Wow, can hardly wait to get book"

    ReplyDelete
  27. Fabulous news Marie. Congratulations. Put me down for two copies please - one to lick and one to keep.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Congratulations Marie, and thank you. I'm from Christchurch New Zealand and know very little about New York, but I love your blog, and before reading it, never imagined NY could be anything other than a concrete jungle. Thanks for making me think otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Terribly exciting! Congratulations and good luck :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. I am so pleased for you. I think the best part is how excited you are to be doing this. You said you wouldn't post any more about the book until The Time, but I hope you'll reconsider and let us in on the process you go through... it is sure to be a roller coaster and awfully revealing about the business of writing and publishing. I'd love to hear about it all.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Can't wait!!!!! That's what a book should be :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. 2013 will be a special year and I am already forming a mental list of the lucky recipients of your book....for birthdays, anniversaries etc.
    Brava and good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Oh, Marie! We are thrilled for you and look forward to a lovey, "lickable" ('Kaika said that) first edition. Well done, you!

    Keli'i

    ReplyDelete
  34. Goeie nuus! Wys die Amerikaners wat 'n boere?meisie kan doen. Hoop daar kom ook 'n katboek eendag.

    Trudie Port Elizabeth RSA

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank you, everybody, so very, very verrrry much for your good wishes and comments. This will be an adventure.

    Dervla, I look forward to working with you!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I am greatly anticipating the book. I love blogs and pictures and digital but I really love books. About how people live and do things and why they decided to try this instead of that. I love the stories. I just know your book will be all that and more.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Marie,

    Wonderlike nuus! Baie geluk.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Congrats! Can't wait to see the finished book.

    If you are in Williamsburg, check up on one of the (garden) loves of my life: Green Dome Garden at North 12th/Driggs/Union. I volunteered there for 6 or 7 seasons and it's not a community garden in the normal sense. It's more like a small botanic garden (no veggies) run by smart plant people. They have a good design in a small plot.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hooray! So awesome. I can't wait to get my hands on more of your lovely writing. Enjoy the process.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Well done love...true-lee. So happy and excited for you. Now the work begins!

    ReplyDelete
  41. People choosing to live from (more than in) a small space have always intrigued me. That you do it without a television is downright liberating. Exciting. You are compelled to look past the sofa and the plasma tv at - life. I love it! Can't wait for the book.

    ReplyDelete


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...