I started writing books when I was about five years old. Now after — I’m not going to say how many years — I’ve finally got one published! This is a dream I thought would never come true. I even made a deal with my kids that if I ever got my book published, I’d be so happy I’d get the title tattooed on my arm. Unfortunately, kids never let you forget anything. But, back then it wasn’t called PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME HERE, which Graeme [Simsion] pointed out would be a tattoo that could save my life if I was ever in an accident.
I wrote most of PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME HERE between the hours of 5 and 7a.m. My kids were little, I was studying Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT and running a small business from home. It was crazy, but the early mornings were pretty much the only times I had for writing. Thank you to my family — Greg, Reece, Paige, Jaime and my mother, Pam — for putting up with me and for their patience and love.
Thanks Greg for supporting and encouraging me to do the RMIT course, and for holding my hand and making me press send to Scribe.
Thank you Reece for writing those glowing reviews on Goodreads, and other websites. Sorry for being mean and making you take them down because you haven’t really read the book and won’t be doing so until you’re 18.
Thank you Paige for helping me overcome my fear of seeing my books in shops, by standing in the new releases section of Dymocks in Collins Street with a copy of PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME HERE in your hand and shouting up at me, ‘Oh my God is that Tania Chandler who wrote this book’, as I tried to escape up the escalator.
And thank you to my little Jaime for your early morning cuddles and writing advice.
I have a list of other people I’d like to thank.
The first, of course, is my publisher Henry Rosenbloom for believing in my book enough to publish it, both here and in the UK. Henry was also my amazing editor, and I loved every minute of the editing process — something I haven’t heard many other writers say. Henry had this lovely, gentle, diplomatic way of phrasing things. Instead of saying ‘you need to delete this bit because it’s crap’, he’d say something like: ‘Can you imagine the book without it’ or ‘Don’t worry, it’s all about polishing a very good book, so that it shines even more.’ He never told me what to do; he’d let me figure it out for myself. And if I had a good enough reason for wanting to keep something in, he’d let me keep it. But then I’d usually get back to him with something like ‘you know that thing you said about past-perfect tense, or the Coroner’s report, I think maybe you were right’. And, damnit, he was always right.
An extra-special thank you is to Graeme Simsion. Coach, mentor, inspiration. I was extraordinarily lucky to have such a clever, generous person to turn to whenever I needed advice. Graeme was brilliant at identifying things that weren’t working, but, unfortunately, he wouldn’t tell me the solution — like Henry, he’d make me work that out for myself. Which is the best kind of advice you can get. Although, there were many times I wanted to kill him for his advice, which was often brutal and always, always, always meant more hard work. I’m glad I didn’t because I never could have written PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME HERE without him.
And to Fran Willcox. Thank you for all your great advice and your encouragement when the chips were down, which was quite often. Writing, as you know, is not easy. I can’t wait to see your book finished.
I would also like to thank:
Everybody at Scribe. I’ve been overwhelmed by their amazing support.
- Bridie for publicity and for helping to organise tonight.
- And thanks Amanda, Marika, Sarina and Steph and everybody else who helped with the book.
- And to Jenny Grigg for the awesome cover design
And thank you to my first readers for their generous feedback on early drafts:
- Anne Buist
- Felicity Clissold
- Nancy Sugarman
- and Baia (Tsakouridou)
My writers group for all their great advice:
- Amy Jasper
- Danny Rosner Blay
- Allison Browning
- Meg Dunley
- Krysia Birman
- and Mark Brandi.
All my RMIT classmates and lecturers, especially Michelle Aung Thin. I learned so much about writing from you. I have a little black notebook in which I’ve transferred every single word of advice you ever wrote on my work in classes. And whenever I get stuck I look back over these notes. Not that I completely understand everything you wrote, which is probably because I’m not as clever as you, or it might just have something to do with you handwriting. There’s one piece of advice that you gave that I’ll always remember, and that was: If you’re ever lucky enough to meet with a publisher or agent etc., whatever you do pretend to be normal (I’m trying!)
Thank you also to Carmel Shute and Sisters in Crime for their support.
And last, but definitely not least, thank you to Jenny Green and Emma Viskic for their support and comfort in the final stages of giving birth to my book.
At the end of my thank yous, I was going to read Chaucer’s Go Little Book poem, but I was too worried about translation and mispronouncing it, so I wrote my own farewell and good luck note to my book:
I don’t know where you came from, why you chose me, or if you existed inside me for some time before I gave you life.
You were never easy to live with, but every day I nurtured you.
As you grew, I grew. I learnt so much about myself from writing you.
Some mornings I couldn’t wait to see you at 5.00am and some times I felt like deleting you, but I never gave up on you.
Leonardo da Vinci said: ‘Art is never finished, only abandoned’.
I will miss you and I’m scared of what could happen to you out there in the world, but it’s time to ‘abandon’ you, to let you go.