The view from under the desk

September 16, 2009

I know you all like to be kept up to date with exciting new developments in the Greenhouse. And what could be more thrilling than to tell you that we have a new intern at the agency! He arrived a few weeks ago and here’s one of the very first shots of him hard at work.
Our intern’s name is . . . . But wait. Human Resources have just told me that I can’t reveal his true identity due to his age (18 weeks), so I’ll refer to him by his pseudonym.

People, meet Wee Man.

And because I know you can’t wait to hear all about him – his background, his academic rigour and literary interests, and the profound role he will no doubt play in shaping the Greenhouse in years to come, I invite you to share this staffer’s very first interview.

Wee Man, I know you are small in stature, but mighty in intellect. Can you tell us a bit about your academic background and what led you into the world of books?

WEE MAN: Sure, Sarah. To be honest, I was always a high flyer (though I say this with humility). I started leaping off sofas from an early age and then graduated speedily to stairs. Just give me a platform and I’ll make the leap! In terms of college, I majored in many genres and periods of literature – English classics, biography, historical works, metaphysical poetry. I’m eclectic, really – they all taste good. There are so many great books to sink one’s teeth into and I’m always hungry for more.

Oh, and hot news! I’m about to go back to college to take a Masters. It’s basically an intensive course in obeying them – Masters, I mean. We’ll be covering a lot of ground in a very circular way – basic walking to heel, sitting and staying. There’ll also be a lot of ‘bonding’ with other students, which could be challenging. I should graduate with Honours in Bottom-Sniffing, but face-to face debate with Retrievers is an area I’m still working on.

After that who knows – I may go for a doctorate.

I see. That’s impressive. And can you tell us a little about the books have influenced you most? It’s interesting that you chose to intern in a specifically children’s agency.

WEE MAN: I know. Some have actually said that kids’ book are a bit of a step down after my work on the theories of Proust but that just makes me growl. Sharon Creech’s LOVE THAT DOG influenced me deeply (I’m constantly recommending it). MARLEY AND ME is OK up to a point (ie, where he dies), but that Marley was a bit of a goody-two-shoes; I could have shown those journos some tricks that would have made their eyes pop. If we’re talking about that dread Banned Books list, I’d have to nominate OLD YELLER. What is it with dogs and death? Enough already.

What isn’t widely known (sorry about the shameless self-promotion!) is that I’m currently shopping my own novel to movie agents. Titled FANGS TO WEE MAN, it’s a dystopic in which a normal suburban family is terrorized by a shape-shifting dachshund that morphs from cute puppy to hell-raising werewolf. Basically it’s hot paranormal fantasy, with a spritz of autobiography. Genre-busting and, frankly, terrifying.

Well, we wish you all the best with that project, WM. But on to what readers REALLY want to know. What’s it like to work in the Greenhouse – and what is The Boss like?

Ha ha, yes! So much I could tell you on THAT one, but I value my position too highly. Actually, I don’t see that much of The Boss – other than her feet (and let me tell you, we’re in line for a mani-pedi, know what I mean?). But I do hear her a lot, jabbering away above me at the desk and thundering on that keyboard. Gets pretty hard to sleep, truth be told. She says the same things a lot: ‘Show not tell, show not tell, show not tell’. And there’s a lot of sighing. ‘Squeeze the juice from the fruit’ is another one. Then it’s all, ‘Voice, voice, voice’. Let me tell you, I get quite tired of HER voice, and I bet I’m not the only one. Oh dear, now I’ve said far too much!

The past week has been all action, despite (or maybe because of) it being the dog days of summer. The new Greenhouse YouTube channel going live. A starred PW review for Sarwat Chadda’s DEVIL’S KISS; Borders Book of the Month in the UK for Harriet Goodwin’s BOY WHO FELL DOWN EXIT 43 – and a deal with Tricycle Press in California for new Greenhouse client Winifred Conkling. The Boss has been free with the milkbones, I can tell you.

In terms of our work day? It’s a tough schedule. We’re in the office early till late. ‘We’ being me, The Boss, and Aunt Lucy. . . .

Aunt Lucy????

Yes, sorry. Shouldn’t really call her Aunt Lucy in a professional context, but it’s hard to break the habit. She’s senior to me, extremely hairy and extremely bossy, plus she has an enormous nose (ha, ha! So bite me, Auntie. She’s REALLY sensitive about that nose!).

OK, to be truthful she’s nine years old and thinks she’s ‘all that’ because she used to be a showdog. Actually, she’s still quite elegant in a faded kind of way, but basically thick as a plank, though don’t quote me.

Miaow! So a little friendly rivalry around the water cooler, eh?

For sure. Bone Wars form a major part of our day. She takes mine, I take hers. She may be big (especially in the derriere), but I’m the ambitious one. I’ve nearly cracked the whole toilet inside-or-outside issue (well, almost nearly) and now I’m on my way to make Senior Agent. I love working with writers, but I’m tough – my bark is nearly as bad as my bite. And I really do work like a dog – took home five manuscripts last weekend, and by Saturday night I’d already shredded two.

Thanks, Wee Man, for all your insights. Finally, tell us what you feel about the whole ‘growing and nurturing’ aspect of Greenhouse. What does all that green imagery mean to you?

Hey, I am the ultimate green guy – I was a shoe-in for Greenhouse! I love chewing acorns, I chase leaves as they dance in the breeze, I can watch a caterpillar for hours, and I will happily eat whole sticks (and vomit them up again) . . .

Ooops, sorry, just checked the Blackberry and I’ve got to dash – running late for a meet-and-greet with the mail man.

It’s been illuminating, Wee Man. And we wish you all the very best as you make a name for yourself (other than that of ‘Squirty McGuirk’) in the children’s books world.