Regular moms make cute little photo albums when their babies arrive. I’m about to bring a new book into the world — “The Other Mother: a rememoir” so why not create an album for my baby too?
So here goes. It takes more than the author to make a book. It takes a great story — burlesque dancer choreographs a life with unrequited novelist and teaches a young TV reporter the dance of truth, becoming her “Other Mother.” It also takes a partner — and for almost five years my husband Gary has been cheering me on.
But “The Other Mother: a rememoir” wouldn’t have happened without — okay here comes the baby analogy — without midwifery of my publisher and editor: Susan Kammeraad-Campbell of Joggling Board Press. She took the manuscript of a former journalist and helped me deconstruct it. The story started fifty years before I was even born and I was trying to tell it chronologically, through stories Byrne told me over glasses of wine on her screened porch. It felt distant and restrained — nothing like the story that emerged after she showed me how to polish and string together the pearls.
And so began four years of research, writing and rewriting — interrupted by documentaries and video work to pay the bills. The former journalist in me loved the deep dive into Byrne and Duncan’s past. Even things I hadn’t thought important, turned out to be pivotal.
Eventually the research phase was finished and Susan and I began the process of editing each pearl — chapter by chapter. Coming up with
a title was the hardest part… we called it everything from “Dancing with Byrne” to “The Adagio” before settling on the phrase that defined
her. Once we had that, the marketing phase began. I gave a TED talk and created business cards featuring Byrne’s sassiest womenisms.
Byrne would have loved the design process — Torborg Davern did the spectacular cover and Shanna McGarry made the interior just as beautiful. Will Green got the social media ball rolling, making me Tumble, Tweet, Pin and Blog while the advance review copies went out to media, literary competitions and bookstores. So far the reviews are amazing — from Lowcountry Weekly and the Beaufort Gazette.
While the books were being printed — in Minnesota, USA thank you very much — we got to work planning the launch. Byrne taught
me well. Everything can be a party — from combing through mailing lists to figure out who died, remarried or moved, to
addressing envelopes. Byrne’s “collection” of children is still growing — even in her absence — because of this book. I’m sure
she’s leaping through the air somewhere at the thought of it.
Yesterday, the books finally arrived from the printer. Six pallets worth. All of which had to be muscled from the end of Susan’s driveway to her warehouse — good thing for girl power. But at the end of the day I got to hold, in my hands, my baby. I just wish its Other Mother could have been there too, directing the new arrival.