Lees hier Jenna Blums verslag over het Nederlandse verkoopsucces van Het familieportret, exclusief voor haar Nederlandse fans!
It's well known that many writers have giant egos. We have to, in order to believe that anyone else will be interested in what we want to say. My own ego is so enormous that while I was writing HET FAMILIEPORTRET (in my country known as THOSE WHO SAVE US) and got writer's block, I would walk along the Charles River in Boston, where I lived then, and imagine the novel as a movie. And who would play what character in the movie. And what scene they would show at the Academy Awards. And what I would wear to the Academy Awards when I won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
These were the fantasies that could soothe and nourish me enough to get back to work. (In addition to being interviewed on the American morning talk shows, the novel making the New York Times bestseller list....)
But even I, with my enormous ego, did not expect HET FAMILIE PORTRET to really make the New York Times list. (It did, thanks to my amazing American readers, in 2007.)
I never expected it to be a bestseller in Holland.
I never expected it to be the bestselling book of the year in Holland in 2011!
These are the miraculous things beyond even the imaginings of writers with enormous egos like mine. We hope for our book dreams to come true, we work hard to make that happen...but some gifts are beyond our wildest imaginings.
So you can imagine my surprise when my Dutch publisher, de Boekerij, brought me to Amsterdam in 2011 to talk about HET FAMILIEPORTRET and meet my readers--and there was a billboard. Right outside Schiphol Airport. It was the first thing I saw when my lovely publicist Jorien DeVries guided me outside.
This billboard was for my second novel, IN TWEESTRIJD. I was so astonished and grateful that I spent several minutes taking photos of the billboard with my iPhone like a truly gauche American until Jorien gently dragged me away so I would not miss my first interview.
You see, in America, we rarely put books on billboards. When I lived in the New York City area, I would occasionally see book billboards in train stations and on bus kiosks. But in an age when American publishers are trying to balance between print and digital books, and advertising for those books is similarly divided, a book billboard is like...an ostrich in the middle of a city street.
I wrote to my friends back home, "The Dutch really know how to treat their writers!"
Imagine my continued amazement at Christmas 2011 when de Boekerij informed me that there was now a billboard advertising the astonishing fact that HET FAMILIEPORTRET was the # 1 bestselling book of the year.
"Do you think you could get your hands on a copy of the billboard," I wrote to Jorien when I had stopped dancing around the house, "and send it to me?"
I was joking, of course. (But only half-joking, because the enormous ego very much wanted the billboard.)
"It may be difficult," Jorien wrote back. "We'll see what we can do."
"What would you do with the billboard?" asked my boyfriend, photographer Jim Reed, looking around the relatively small house we share.
"Put it on the front lawn, of course," I answered, "to advertise the book. Where is your promotional sense?"
I don't know why I'm not more accustomed to miracles by this time, because of course Jorien and her colleague, Marjolein, accomplished the impossible, and a month or so after my ridiculous request, a very long cardboard tube arrived at my and Jim's front door. We looked at it.
"Is that what I think it is?" Jim asked.
"I think so," I said. I was afraid to open it. I've always had trouble unfolding maps, let alone a billboard. I could just see myself unrolling the billboard and never being able to get it back into the packing tube.
Instead, I took it to our local picture framer, Reuben. Reuben looked at the tube.
"That looks like a mighty big poster," he said.
"It's a billboard," I said.
"A what?" said Reuben.
Reuben was brave enough to take the billboard out of the tube. We had to unroll it on the floor of the print shop because it was too big for the tables. It was also too large for Reuben to put on a backing that would protect it before he framed it.
"I'll have to send this to a specialty company," he said.
Three weeks later, a call from Reuben: the billboard was ready. I drove back to the print shop. I could see the billboard against the rear wall all the way from the shop's front door. It was spectacular. It was giant.
It wouldn't fit in my car.
We tried it several different ways, and finally after putting the back seats down and wedging the poor billboard in sideways, we made it fit.
Although I had to drive home with the boot partly open.
When I got to the house, I almost blew away carrying the billboard inside. Jim and I live in Kansas, infamous for fierce storms, as in The Wizard Of Oz. It is almost always windy here. The billboard caught the wind and acted like a giant kite.
But finally, by turning the billboard many different ways, I got it inside.
"My God, that's HUGE," Jim said, watching my struggles. "Where are you going to put it?"
"On the wall," I said.
"In my study," I said, "of course."
"I don't think it'll fit," Jim said.
I wrestled the billboard into the Black Room, my study. I fetched the ladder from the garage. I got a hammer and many nails. 45 minutes later, the billboard was hung.
The brave billboard had traveled from its manufacturer to my Dutch publisher, from my Dutch publisher to the East Coast of the United States, from the East Coast to the very middle of America, to the framer, to a second framer, and finally, finally, it was here.
I loved it so much I had to kiss it.
Finally, artwork to satisfy even my enormous ego.
Dutch readers, thank you for reading HET FAMILIEPORTRET and making this happen. Bedankt, so much.