From the desk of :01 Publisher Simon Boughton
The hardcover publication of Mark Siegel’s Sailor Twain a year or so ago was marked by a special exhibition at the New York Public Library – a collection of Twain documents and artifacts set out in the library’s displays cases with great solemnity and with no mention that the book is a work of fiction. It was tremendous fun and completely convincing (some attendees dressed in Gilded Age fashions); there were newspaper clippings and maps, Sailor Twain wine, a model of Twain’s steamboat that Mark had made so that he would have something to draw from. The event reminded me of how completely Mark had imagined and created the world of Sailor Twain, and of the work and devotion involved in bringing a work of art into being. While plotting the ramifications of Twain’s story and putting it all down in 400 pages of lovely charcoal drawings, Mark was also doing a fine (and full time) job of running the First Second publishing program. I was awestruck at the time by how Mark pulled it off, and seeing that model steamboat brought it home again: meticulously constructed by hand, it stood for me for the hard work and craft that goes into the making of an outstanding work of art, and how so much of what makes a good book true is never seen – it’s left behind the scenes, on the writer’s desk or in the artist’s studio.
Sailor Twain is published this week in paperback. I’m as proud of it as any book First Second has published. It’s entertaining, romantic, magical, and full of insight into the human condition. It has swearing, mermaids, heavy drinking, literary intrigue, big hats, and a very big explosion. Everything in it is true. I know, because I’ve seen the model.
Mark Siegel’s Sailor Twain paperback is in stores today!