I left my last blog post about Mr Middleton, staring incredulously at my fiance who had just suggested that I call the esteemed Shaun Tan about illustrating my book.  Like, as if he was a regular person, and not some kind of illustrating savant.  

My betrothed convinced me to at least try and get his phone number.  He promised to coach me through a phone call if it came to that.  Fairly convinced I would not get his number, and would be able to simply mumble my way through an apologetic message to a remote assistant to a literary manager, I agreed.

Damn my husband-elect and his wiley ways!  It turned out that he remembered I might have a friend whom I work with who might have Mr Tan’s number, or email address, because of her work in the arts.  Not my publisher-illustrator friend, but another one whom I can’t find a link for on the Internet, otherwise there would be a link here.  She is a bit anti-web anyway, so is probably glad I haven’t dobbed her in online. 

She had his number.  She had his email.  She had his goddamn mobile.  Stop being so helpful, I wanted to say.  “Thanks,” I said.

I now had a scrap of paper containing unavoidable details.  My fiance looked at me.  ‘That’s great!” he enthused.  “Now, don’t panic.  I do this all the time.  Let’s rehearse the phone call.”

“OK.” I said in a small voice.

“OK.”  He was determined to pretend that getting Shaun Tan’s number was a good thing.  And it was!  But the thing was, I was now completely petrified.  Petrified that what I wanted was sort of, maybe, within reach, but that he might say no.

My fiance, bless him, got me to go through with him what it was that I thought I might want to ask.  We started here:

“Hi, I have a story, well, nothing flash, but anyway, and a publisher is sort of interested, though no guarantees, well they probably won’t even publish it, it’s a long shot at best, but anyway, so I am looking for an illustrator and you probably won’t want to do it, but anyway, I just thought I’d ask, sorry for presuming you probably have a million really cool projects on and anyway, is this a good time to call, it probably isn’t, well, good-bye, thanks for your time.”

and, after some gentle coaching from my one and only, we got here:

“Hi Shaun, I have a fairy-tale for grown-ups that I am looking for an illustrator for.  A major publisher is interested.  I love your work, and so I was wondering if you would be interested in seeing the story and considering working on it with me?”

A deep breath.  A last minute trip to the loo.  A fiance who left the room so I could embarrass myself in front of no one in real life (the person on the other end of the phone doesn’t really exist).

One ring.  Two.  He won’t answer, he won’t answer…a heart in a throat…


“Hello, Shaun Tan?” (of course it was Shaun Tan.  I was just stalling.  Get to the point!)

“Speaking.”  He didn’t sound annoyed yet…I took courage.

“Shaun, my name is Jackie and I am looking for an illustrator for a story.  Publisher _____ is interested but wants some sample drawings to go with it.  I was wondering, as I love your work and think your style would suit the story [on, the presumption!], if you might be interested in seeing the story?”

“Oh, sure, look, I am not really illustrating any work other than my own any more.  But if you send me the story, I can send it to other illustrators I know.  I’m working on an animation at the moment.  God it takes so much time and work!”

“Oh sure, of course.  That would be great, thanks!  What’s your email address?”  (I already had it, but not to seem like a stalker…)

“It’s ______.  OK, good luck.”

“Yeah – you too.  Thanks.”

Click.  The end.  he had been, nice!  He had been, chatty!  He had not been pissed off, or imposed upon and he didn’t treat me like a crazy person for even presuming!  

“You can come back out!”  I called to my fiance.  

“Well, how was it?”

“It was…good.”  I pondered.  “He can’t do it, but he was really…nice.”

Maybe, I was thinking.  Just maybe, I had a chance of becoming, an actual, writer….maybe a writer was just someone like me, who had crazy ideas which turned out not so crazy once they were in print and a few other people had said, hey, I like this!  

“So what do I do now?”

“Now?”  He looked at the computer and then back at me, like the answer was obvious, which to him, I guess it was.

“Now, you advertise.”

To be continued.