Seeker of Stars was first published in 2005 by a small Canadian publisher. When it eventually went out of business, the stock of books and the copyright all reverted to me. While technically the book became a Canadian bestseller (the benchmark for that is shockingly low!), I still had about 45 copies of the initial print of 1200 left in a box in my closet when Cook picked this book up.
A few weeks ago, in conversation with a publicist and marketing person at Cook, I asked what I should do with the remaining books. The new version is new and improved — a new cover, new edits, speedbumps smoothed out, that kind of thing. I wondered whether I should simply recycle the old ones. They suggested, instead, that I donate the books to people who could never buy a copy.
That was an interesting challenge. I approached a friend who works with new refugees to our city, asking her whether she thought it would be a good gift for them. She asked to read the book first: they have to be careful not only that the language isn’t too daunting for a new speaker of English, but also that the books they offer would re-traumatize people who have been through enough crisis already. She decided to take a few copies for those who speak English better, but she also had another idea for the rest.
Last year, she had gone to visit refugee camps in Rwanda, to see one of the places the refugees she works with, to understand where they come from. Last week, she wrote to me: “I’m remembering the high school kids in the refugee camp in Rwanda. The country has recently switched to English instead of French as their national language and the high school classes we interacted with had teachers who were fluent in French and just beginning to learn English, with NO resources. They were begging for English books and dictionaries, and I can see your book being a real gift to them.”
She contacted the organization that works with this particular refugee camp, and they were indeed delighted. They plan to use the book for a kind of book club among the high school students.
PS 24 days until book launch in US/Canada.