This is such a wonderfully exciting and anxiety provoking time. Waiting for the first reviews.
The first ones to come in are usually the “endorsements.” It’s standard practice for publishers/writers to approach a few authors in advance and ask them to consider reading the new work and provide a short blurb to grace the cover (if they see fit). These blurbs often provide additional context to a story, the writers agreeing to loan their name and reputation to the work.
For my first book, I was lucky enough to land ones from Andrew Holleran and Brian Francis. This time around, we approached Stephen McCauley, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Rachel Giese. I’m thrilled all three said yes.
We chose Stephen McCauley because The Object of My Affection had such a huge impact on me. I had also recently read his novel My Ex-Life and loved it. His protagonists are often gay men charting new paths to create alternative families.
I’ve been a big fan of Ann-Marie MacDonald’s work for decades. I first discovered her work while employed at the National Theatre School of Canada, where she was one of the school’s most prestigious graduates. I loved her comic play Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), and Fall on Your Knees was beautiful and devastating. But it was really her novel Adult Onset that made me think about asking her for a blurb. That novel masterfully explores the pressures queer people feel to assimilate and the ways we are sometimes caught between our past and present selves.
As for Rachel Geise, I’ve been such a great fan of her work too. We first met briefly working for the same company (albeit in different cities, on different projects). After she left, I followed her career, as she conducted smart interviews on CBC Radio and went on to reimagine Xtra Magazine. A few years ago, she came to Montreal and read at the Violet Hour from her award-winning book Boys: What It Means to Become a Man. It’s a breathtaking mix of cultural analysis and personal nonfiction that offers a nuanced view on the pressures young men feel growing up.
I’m forever grateful to all three of them, because I know what it means to endorse a book. I, too, have been asked to blurb on occasion and it’s never easy. It’s quite the time requirement and the turnarounds are fast. Reviewing is also an artform (and not one I feel particularly good at). But still, I do it when I can because I know what it means to the writer. If an author has approached you for an endorsement. it’s a sign of great respect. It means they hold your work in high regard. And your words will forever appear on the copies of their books, as essential an element to the design as the cover, the font, the author photo and description. I feel so lucky.
Here are mine:
“Christopher DiRaddo has a knack for creating characters so instantly recognizable, they could be your neighbours, friends, or family.”
— Stephen McCauley
“The Family Way is a love letter to families, chosen and otherwise, and an engagingly bittersweet tale of the city of Montreal.
— Ann-Marie MacDonald
“Tender, affectionate and sexy, The Family Way is an astute chronicle of modern queer life at middle age. With sharp-eyed observations on love, loss, sex and friendship, Christopher DiRaddo has crafted a timely tale about creating families that can fit us all.”
— Rachel Giese