Having two small children is, of course, wonderful, but it also comes hand-in-hand with early rising. As such I'm rudely awoken by being jumped upon, followed by the usual debates surrounding breakfast (the children settle for cereal but I opt for my usual bowl of porridge, with salt, and a double espresso), before it’s on to teeth, clothes and getting out the door.
Once the children have been deposited at school and nursery, I get to my desk, another coffee in hand. I start by catching up on emails – a lot of our business is conducted with authors and artists abroad, particularly in the US, and a flood of emails tend to come in during the night that all need to be dealt with. Furthermore I need to prep for a trip next week to New York where my colleagues and I are hosting a party in celebration of Folio’s 75th anniversary and where I have been asked to join a panel at the New York Comic Con to discuss Folio’s series of Marvel Heroes titles.
Our postie brings something almost every day, whether that is a new book, proofs or a copy edit. Today I am thrilled to open an advance copy of our latest limited edition, Frankenstein. Even though I’ve seen the project through each stage of its development, it is always a tingling moment to open the final book for the first time and see all that work come together. This one is limited to just 750 copies, each one signed by the artist Angela Barrett, and is bound in a cool ice-blue leather that feels great to the touch. It has chilling Gothic illustrations and intricate black and white vignettes that add to the ominous and unsettling nature of the story.
Since the temperature has dropped significantly, today it’s a bowl of homemade soup with crusty bread for lunch. I eat with my wife, Ishbel, who also works from home, and we discuss plans for the coming weekend which include taking the children to the annual Dumfries Rood Fair. Working from home has many benefits, but I find exercise isn't one of them, so I always try to go for a walk at lunchtime. Until recently I would follow the Nith as it winds its way through Dumfries, with the potential excitement of spotting a kingfisher or one of the town’s resident otters, but recently I've been exploring the small wood that lies close to my house and that’s where I head now. It is little more than a copse, but I regularly see deer foraging silently amongst the trees and I hear the geese above me arriving back at this time of year.
The afternoon consists of an online meeting or two, today with one of our art directors to discuss the illustration approach for another limited edition. We often work up to two years in advance of publication (and even longer sometimes for a limited edition) so it is fascinating to be a part of a book’s journey from the initial planning stage to eventual publication. Having decided the book and an approach it is up to our art director to propose the right artist for a project and this comes from these early, often lengthy, discussions. Following this I review marketing material for two of our upcoming Christmas features, a gorgeous science book and a special Marvel offering.
I turn my attention to desk editing at this point. Collating two proofreads of a non-fiction title I mark-up corrections on a PDF of the text before emailing this to our typesetter, who will return it in due course with the corrections made. Folio publish a variety of fiction and non-fiction, children’s and adult titles, as well as the limited edition books, all of which require slightly different disciplines. (One of the most enjoyable things about working on the limited edition titles is having some truly bizarre meetings, such as recently where we spent a couple of hours feeling the texture of different papers and even measuring up a piece of towel!) There is also the difficult task of finding the right introducer to a book. For this I put forward several names and we discuss the merits of each before settling on whom to approach for the new piece.
Having collected the children earlier in the afternoon, my wife makes their dinner while I finish up work for the day in my office. Not having to travel into town every day means, of course, that I am on hand while the kids eat, and after their dinner we get a chance to play, before having baths, tucking them in and reading to them. My son has recently developed a love of Roald Dahl stories, his favourite currently being The Twits.
The children fed and asleep it is time to make our own dinner and relax. I've recently been experimenting with several fish dishes, and this evening is no different with mackerel in sherry vinegar with a salad passed over the fence from my neighbour, Jim. In the evenings we often settle down to watch some television or read a book, and tonight, with the wind howling outside, we pour ourselves some red wine and curl up with a book. For me, I am (belatedly) whizzing through and thoroughly enjoying Case Studies, by Graeme Macrae Burnet. With any luck I’ll be finished and onto another before my flight to the States on Monday.
The Folio Society edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, introduced by Richard Holmes and illustrated by Angela Barrett, is exclusively available from www.foliosociety.com