Andy Mulligan went on a whirlwind tour of America a few weeks ago, alongside David as his publisher, to talk to the movers and shakers across the pond about the novel, TRASH. Andy talks here about his few days in the US…
New York, New York! – imagine, rolling in from the UK for the first time and seeing all those sights from the movies. I sat in the limo waiting to be swept up in a car chase, mugged in Central Park or at least screamed at by yellow-cab taxi-psychos. I was rather disappointed to find that the city is in fact the most organised, courteous and beautiful of places. My neck is half broken from staring upwards at the glittering skyline. Anyway, the Random House US machine is an astonishing beast, and I’ve been talking ‘Trash’ to executives, librarians, teachers and booksellers for hours now. The enthusiasm! – it’s wild!
I didn’t even know Harvard Universtiy was in Boston, and here I am walking its leafy lanes – how stupid am I? As a teacher, half my students want to study at this gorgeous place. What a treat to be having supper that evening with some truly erudite booksellers and library-leaders. Overwhelming again to hear that ‘Trash’ is close to their hearts.
We’re moving fast, David Fickling and me – David is my publisher and a man of infinitely more charm and sophistication than me, so I let him do most of the talking. We flew into the city early, and were picked up by a brick of a man with the robot voice of a security agent. He turned out to be one of the US President’s former drivers, so our limo swept past the White House as he told us tales of thwarted kidnaps and nabbed terrorists…I have never felt so safe in a car. I didn’t want to get out! However, we have dinner tonight with more shakers and movers of the publishing world, who all promise to throw ‘Trash’ out to the world. This is an overwhelming experience! I don’t want it to stop!
It’s over, I’m sorry to say - the first ‘Trash’ US tour came to an end in the exquisite city of Chicago, overlooking Lake Mitchigan – another huge turn out of interested booksellers, journalists and publishers. More penetrating questions about the book’s origins – everyone wants to know who the children are, which means I get to talk about the various streetkids they’re based on, which inevitably brings a tear to my eye. Clearly I am going to have to toughen up. It’s also clear that out here the vast industry of publishing is still very dependent on the dynamism of individuals: I have met the most dedicated groups of librarians and booksellers, passionate about their roles in spreading good literature. It’s been eye-opening and very encouraging. I spent a few restful days in Greenwich Village, looking for the ghosts of Leonard Cohen and David Byrne – I think the Village is too gentrified for them, sadly. I had to stand still and gawp at the beauty of the buildings, and I think my love affair with New York has only just begun. But I’m back in London, hard at work…