Sunday, June 8, 2008

Holding up The Blue

On the eve of the announcement of the Montana Award finalists (June 10), I am posting a photo of my Mum. That's The Blue she's holding and Kapiti Island is lying fetchingly behind them.

Mums and Dads are good when award anxiety sets in. They think - however good the opposition - that your first-time novel should be shortlisted for every major award, and will most certainly win.

They have already told everyone about the book from the moment of its launch: the woman at the garden shop, the butcher, the GP's nurse. They carried it around for weeks so they could brandish it when running into friends and acquaintances, and have gently insisted that every single one of them read it and report back. They've made sure the library has multiple copies, and have been known to rearrange bookshop displays when no-one's looking so your book is suddenly (yet again) Read of the Week.

So this post is in part a good luck charm for the upcoming Montanas. In part a thank you. Here they are, my Mum and Dad, Norma and Lindsay McCallum, The Blue's unsung promotional team.

And here's one of the artistic shots they took of The Blue and Kapiti - braving the stares of startled beach walkers and hungry gulls to get it. It resonates with the blueness of The Blue, the stuff of islands and sea and sky. Blue wherever the eye goes.

In fact, people whaled from Kapiti as they did on Arapawa Island, and during one of the whale hunts in The Blue the Tory Channel whalers ponder going as far north as Kapiti Island in pursuit of the whale.

I love to think of Mum and Dad on Waikanae Beach organising this scene. Mum worried the book will fall off, Dad hoping the camera will work, and both of their voices travelling clear across the water. Then one of the beach walkers makes a silly comment about Mum sending the photo 'home' to England, and my Seaham-born Mum who's lived here over 40 years rounds on the gentleman and gives him an earful.

She tells him that the photo is staying right here in New Zealand because she and Lindsay are both kiwis now. By adoption. Kapiti-folk doing what parents round these parts do: photographing their daughter's book on a log. For her blog.


Vanda Symon said...

The things family will do, bless them. My mother and mother-in-law are shameless bookshop shelf re-arrangers too. "People can't see it there, Vanda, so I put them on that gondola at the front. Much better." Our very own cheer-leading squad.

I don't suffer from book award anxiety, as I'm fairly confident I wouldn't get one. I had no idea when the Montana finalists were being announced, so I shall look forward, with hope, to seeing your name!

Rachael King said...

Good luck, Mary! I'll be watching with interest when they make the announcement. i remember when I foudn out I was on the shortlist for best first book: my sister emailed me to say 'congrats on the shortlisting'. But nobody had told me about it, and I couldn't find it on the internet, so I was completely baffled for a while.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness me, Mary - how audacious and auspicious - I have just read in the Dompost (over my morning cuppa) that your novel has been short-listed in the FINAL category.... woweee.... How outstanding. The Earwigs are on the map well and truly. Crikey Mary. How does that feel!!!

Mary McCallum said...

Thank you Maggie! You were up and about early. I am still a bit overwhelmed by the news. (For those who don't know, Earwigs is the Eastbourne Writers Group Maggie and I are part of.)

And well done on your magnificent article about your writing adventures in Greece

Anonymous said...

well sister of mine, congratulations (again!) See, even here in central QLD Australia we hear of the audacious 'the Blue'! Montana Awards,ay? Well done - the Aussie McCallums are all sending you their best wishes and positive vibes.

Anonymous said...

As a long time fan of Star Trek I feel very linked to those episodes where things were sent off into space and never heard from again.

This is my third time of trying to get a comment published on my own but I never give up as Mary knows.

I still have The Blue in my handbag but suspect friends are avoiding me unless they can at least produce a library slip saying they've read it.

We are very proud of you, darling, and wish you every success at the Montanas. Mum X

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to track down a Lindsay McCallum who was at ZBM Radio in Bermuda in the 1960s. I'm putting together an Old Boys Network. I can't tell from the photo if it's he, but I dimly recall that the Bermuda Lindsay's wife might have been Norma.
Can anybody help?
Jim - - ex morning man, ZBM-2

Mary McCallum said...

Hi Jim! How wonderful that you found this post - my father is indeed the Lindsay McCallum you're looking for - he was Director Special Events at ZBM Radio Bermuda 1962-65. You can reach him at and cc me on to ensure they get it - he'd be delighted to hear from you. [In case you haven't come across this before, the AT is to show @ and to save you from spam ...)