Today marks the official launch day for School Library Journal’s April Issue, featuring both an article on yours truly and a starred review of King of the Screwups. Of course, I am tremendously excited. I just read the review this morning and my favorite lines are: “Liam is a multifaceted and resilient character who ultimately learns how to be comfortable in his own skin with the help of his new, makeshift family. Going’s knack for defying stereotypes and creating memorable characters will not disappoint fans of Fat Kid Rules the World and Saint Iggy.”
Yay! That’s just what an author wants to hear. So to celebrate I went out to Dunkin Donuts and got the Berries and Creme donut I’ve been craving ever since I saw the over-sized poster hanging in their window. What can I say? I’m a sucker for advertising.
As for the article, I’d been waiting eagerly to see it. I knew it was coming for weeks. In fact, I even had to do a photo shoot. The crazy thing is, I’m four months pregnant. Definitely showing. And that donut? Let’s just say it’s not the first one I’ve eaten in the past four months. In all my time as an author, dating back to 2003, this is the only time I’ve had a professional photo shoot. My first thought was, “Now?”. My second thought was, “Why not use a head shot?” That’s what I normally do for publicity. I supply one of my stock photos. Easy. Except School Library Journal works this particular feature in the same way the New York Times does – they put a full body shot in the center and wrap the text around it. Thus, I could not weezle my way out of getting a brand new photo taken.
Now, if you’ve ever been pregnant you know that the middle months are awkward. You’re showing enough to look fat but not enough that people can feel entirely confident asking, “When’s the baby due?” I discussed this with the SLJ art director and we decided it had to go one way or the other. Either I needed to look entirely pregnant or I needed to look NOT pregnant. The important thing was not to leave readers guessing. So, we went with the non pregnant look.
The other key element of the photo shoot was that the picture needed to subtly tie in to the book. Since King of the Screwups has a lot to do with guy’s fashion, we decided I’d wear a men’s shirt, jacket, and tie. Good for hiding a baby bump and good for the book. This sounded simple to me. Wrong. Because I am only 4 foot 11, even the smallest of men’s shirts and jackets made me look like a toddler playing in her father’s closet. So, I enlisted some help and came up with several women’s shirts and jackets, sized up, that looked more gender neutral. And by enlisting help, I mean that I went to the mall and bought several nice jackets I intended to return after the shoot. I know, I know. Bad Kelly! I also borrowed several from friends and family so I’d have choices for the photographer.
Then came the day of the actual shoot. The photographer – a really nice guy – came to my house, which was above and beyond fabulous of him to do. Excpet that I have two cats. He pulled up in his shiny new red car – very sporty looking – and started unloading his equipment. One of my cats, despite being spayed, has a peeing problem. Meaning he pees on stuff to mark his territory. The photographer wasn’t here for more than five minutes before I spotted that cat IN his car. The scene that followed was like one of those slow motion war movie scenes where the person runs for their life after a bomb explodes. “NOOOOO!”
I grabbed the cat so fast its head is probably still spinning. To my knowledge the cat did not actually pee in his car, but truly, would the man have told me? And I couldn’t exactly start sniffing around his entire vehicle to be sure. Now I was frazzled. To make matters worse, I have a second cat. This cat is very grumpy and uncooperative by nature. I mentioned my intention to put the cat outside, but the photographer loves cats, so he insisted the cat should stay. Mistake, I thought. Huge pending mistake. But not wanting to look heartless and seeing the cat asleep in a chair in the corner of the room, I overruled my better judgement.
Then the photographer began setting up his equipment. As he set up he told me stories about working on the NY Times fashion shoot, snapping pictures of J.Lo and Ben Affleck during their romance, run-ins with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Martin in the Hamptons, working with Lindsey Lohan… Feeling small and frumpy, I ran into my bedroom and tore the tags off my soon to be returned items, and began to feel self conscious about the free make-up session I’d had that morning at the mall. I also kept a wary eye on the cat.
There was a lot of equipment to get into place. The main pieces included two tall spindly metal poles which held a roll of white paper between them. The white paper swooshed down across my living room floor making a stage. On either side there were bright lights and umbrellas, just like you see on TV shows. I’d say set-up took about a half hour. At the end of this time, when I was dressed in my white shirt and black jacket, and we were almost ready to start, the cat got up. Not only did the cat get up, but the cat decided to investigate the strange goings-on. And because this is my troublesome cat he managed to wedge himself under the white paper, right between the two spindly metal poles holding the entire set-up in place.
My heart began to pound as I edged towards the cat. I knew that if I couldn’t get hold of him on the first grab, I was done for. The whole carefully arranged deal was about to fall like a deck of cards. I snuck over ever so quietly, and reached down ever so carefully, and… grabbed the cat. By now I was starting to sweat. And because he was unhappy, the cat proceeded to shed all over me.
My access to the outside world was blocked by equipment, and since I was anxious to remove the cat before he started to yowl, I put him in my bedroom – a place he is usually not allowed into. Within ten minutes he’d eaten my husband’s plants and thrown up just inside the door so any time I needed to get into the room to change clothes or fix my hair, I had to step over a huge pile of cat puke.
I am telling you this so you will know just how glamorous and exciting my life really is.
And the rest of the photo shoot? Let’s just say that modeling is a lot harder than it looks. By the time the whole thing was done, I was completely exhausted and I’m convinced the photographer must have felt the same. Even now I worry that my cat may have peed in his car and he was too polite to say anything.
But the end result is a great article and a non-pregnant looking photo, so who can complain?