So, publication day is here and what am I doing?
It’s May Day. I can’t believe I’m writing this, that today, my debut novel, My Husband’s Wives, has actually gone out into the world. It is like letting go of a teenager who you know has probably stayed at home too long, but when the moment finally comes there’s an eerie quietness…
So it is with my book. Will it meet with kind words? Will it be loved by others as much as I loved writing it? I have to say, I loved every moment of writing My Husband’s Wives. From the day I began, right through to sending it to my agent and the fact that it was picked up by the lovely Caroline at Aria Fiction who treated it with as much tender care as I could have wished for. Later, it passed on to others, to Suzanne and Blake and Nia, and they too welcomed it and gave me the warm feeling that we, My Husband’s Wives and I – were among family and friends.
May Day is good. I had expected it to come out in June, and I admit, I did panic a little when I realised it was up for pre-sale on Amazon with a release date of May 1st. What happened to all those days I was going to work extra hard to press it on friends and relations across the globe? What happened to all those important media contacts I was going to make to really amplify it for readers who so needed to read it? Honestly, no, it was the immediate panic that others would now read what I had written and it scared the heck out of me.
Then one evening, talking about it with a friend, I lulled the words over and back across my lips. May Day. May Day. May Day.
It was perfect.
Everyone loves May Day, don’t they? After all, it is like the doorstep to summer. In my own childhood it was one of those memorable days when we seemed to change into lighter clothes and every window in our street had a mysterious gift of May flower and gorse sitting proud. It was a time of altars set up in our classrooms and the aroma of the first cut of grass outside stale classroom windows. The irresistible allure of summer holidays beckoned to us so we were heedless to recognise that they were still two whole months away.
Labour Day in America and in many other countries symbolises not just the notion of celebrating workers but also celebrating the legacy of the Eight Hour Movement. It took rallies all across the U.S. culminating in Haymarket Day to make this a reasonable aspiration for all of us.
The British traditionally took out their maypole and danced on village greens to celebrate the beginning of summer. And no wonder, the holiday stretches back to Roman civilisation, May 1st was the first day of summer, it is a day of hope and optimism and celebration.
In Ireland, our Bealtaine festival goes back to Pagan times. (The nuns wouldn’t be too keen on this, I think!) The 1st of May was associated with driving cattle into summer pastures and a number of rituals were performed in different parts of Ireland to ‘bless’ the coming season. Mostly they involved fires, with lots of dancing around them or through them and of course, a feast accompanied the celebrations. In some parts of Ireland, in later years, house fires were doused on the night and re-lit from the Bealtaine Fire, such was the belief in its potency as a way of keeping safe. The people of Edinburgh celebrate now with a feast of drama and dance, in Ireland we are beginning to follow suit and over the last few years a number of local and national celebrations have sprung up to mark this time.
In the Christian calendar, it is the feast of St Joseph the Worker. This didn’t really come to my notice until it became my uncle Frankie’s anniversary too. St Joseph was the man who helped to raise Jesus, according to the New Testament and my uncle played a similar role in our lives. We were lucky to have him. Our memories of him are of making homemade toffee, attempting to do our homework for us when we weren’t in the mood and generally covering up for us because he so thoroughly adored us.
During the writing of My Husband’s Wives I toyed with the various details about each of the women. What Christmas was like for them, if they had memories of grandparents, when they were born, things like that, that formed the characters further in my mind. I came to a stop after I had assigned each of them a birthday. Why? Well, they were all born in May. Each of them, seems to be what I would call a May bird – born at opposite ends, of course. They run the gamut of the spectrum from the stubborn and hardworking Taurean Grace, to the two sided Annalise a typical Gemini. Do these things matter now? I think so.
My Husband’s Wives is a summer book, a light holiday read and what better way to start the summer than in May, just as it appears we were meant to?
So, what will I be doing on the 1st of May? Probably the same thing I do every other day, getting up early, knocking out a couple of hundred words and then going about the day as I normally do, only maybe this year, I’ll treat myself to new shoes and perhaps someone else can make dinner…
My Husband’s Wives
is published by ARIA, an imprint of Head of Zeus. For more information on Aria titles or for review/interview with Faith or other ARIA authors please email [email protected]
Thanks to the Bealtaine Festival for permitting use of their wonderful photograph.