Publishing a book is a bit like having a baby. There’s the moment of conception, when the idea of the story first takes root. Then there’s the brooding over your idea as it develops and starts to grow limbs, all in the safe darkness of the womb. At last it appears on paper, but even then it will be months (or sometimes years) before it actually sees the light of day.
There’s so much that goes into a picture book that most readers take for granted. Illustrations take forever – in fact, this is probably the hardest part of the process. (Thank goodness I’m a writer, so I don’t have to struggle with hours of drawing, redrawing and painting!) You have to exercise incredible patience as your words get edited, arranged on the page and married with the images.
And then – wonder of wonders! – the front cover is revealed and you feel like an expectant mom who’s had a sneak peak at her baby with the help of an ultrasound. You want to do back flips in the garden, but of course it’s still not time for your baby to be delivered.
Then finally, finally – when you’d almost forgotten something significant was on its way – you get an e-mail from your publisher headed with the magical words “marketing plan”. Then you see the date and you know – yes, there can be no doubt now – that this book is about to pop out into the world.
And so, after months of waiting, I’m bursting with excitement to see the fruit of my and others’ labours come into being. The Lemon Tree, published by Penguin Random Struik and illustrated by well-known South African artist Wendy Paterson, will hit the shelves sometime in the first week of July 2016. Woohoo! It’s simply thrilling.
The Lemon Tree tells the story of Lungi and Sipho who are sent by their gogo into the rain one day to find the missing ingredients they need to make pancakes. The fruit of their lemon tree comes in handy to barter with their neighbours in this tale of African ubuntu and sharing, with a delicious twist at the end.
An idea which came to me so gently, like a perfectly formed bubble, on a wet winter’s afternoon, will now be a bound book with colour pictures which children can clutch in their little hands and pore over while their mommy or daddy or favourite aunt or granny reads to them. It is a little mini-miracle and one for which I am especially grateful.