Launching a book with Micaela Maftei and Laura Tansley
In early June 2019 we launched our co-written collection of short stories at Waterstones Byres Road on a warm Glasgow evening.
The products of the session with photographer Stewart Ennis afterwards, slow traffic rolling by as the evening turned cool, are like something from a wedding album. We are uproariously happy, so pleased to be standing next to each other, outside of a bookshop where we just launched a collection of our writing.
We didn’t plan to both dress in grey – we’d each made the decision weeks before the event (one us whilst packing, the other whilst shopping on a rare trip in to town).
When it came to launching the book we knew very clearly what we wanted (conversations unfolding, easy back-and-forth, wine) and what we didn’t (formal introductions, set questions, silence). We relied upon the qualities of our relationship to ensure these things; we did not plan who would field what question, who would speak first, where we would sit or whose name would come first if anyone wanted their book signing. As a consequence, speaking in front of audiences became a way for us to reconnect – over our writing partnership, our relationship and the stories we’ve created.
We’ve spent literally years thinking, talking about, and sharing elements of our process and work style. Ten years in the making, some of these stories have been with us through countless edits and reviews and redrafts. Talking to readers confirmed some things for us, as well as raising new ideas and offering new critically engaged queries about our choices.
There is such pleasure in our process and pleasure in being together discussing our process, that it made sense for us to focus on that during our conversations. Until a question from the audience reminded us that despite a key aspect of our process being a commitment to the story and to the writing, that by allowing the conversation to revolve around our process we were shifting the focus on to our authorship as opposed to the writing. There’s no doubt that co-authorship is unusual and therefore warrants space in discussion, but did we forget to foreground the writing once we were in the presence of a collection with our names on the cover? Yes, we did. This writing has been a way to stay connected, a shared project that’s acted sometimes as a link between two continents, two very different lives, two sets of commitments and expectations and schedules. As much as we love the stories (we love the stories) and as much as we are committed to be led by good storytelling always, the launches ended up being a celebration of our relationship, our rapport and the integration of our views and voices.
Maybe that’s absolutely fine. The relationship is what gave the events their energy. A book comes to life in different ways, at different times, for different readers. The writing is not the partnership, but the writing comes from the partnership, and the evidence of this in the photos from this event would suggest that this is a valuable thing to share.