The above photo is the welcome sign at McMurdo Station, the United States’s preeminent outpost in Antarctica. In case you can’t see it at first (click for a larger version), sitting on the rock underneath the sign is a copy of my novel which came out in 2008, All Giamotti’s Children, the sequel to Life Without Giamotti. [Note: Life Without is on Kindle, but the sequels aren’t–yet. They will be eventually, though!]
I love this photo–which I recently rediscovered–because it’s visual proof that, although my fan base is my no means large, my books have made it to some very far-flung corners of the world. In fact, the Giamotti books have been read at (almost) both poles of the Earth.
So how’d my novel get to Antarctica?
It was a result of my friend Eric. Like me, he’s from Oregon; he just recently left to travel the world yet again. I met Eric as a result of researching the Giamotti books, namely the second one, All Giamotti’s Children. A section of that book takes place at McMurdo Station. I wanted to meet and interview someone who had actually been there and could give me an eyewitness account. I’m certainly glad I did. First off, Eric turned out to be a fascinating and interesting fellow, and we’ve remained friends for several years. Secondly, it made the Antarctica scenes in All Giamotti’s Children much more real and interesting.
When the book came out, I naturally gave him several copies of it, in the hope that perhaps some folks down at McMurdo Station might find it interesting. They did. I’m told that a copy of All Giamotti’s Children currently resides at the McMurdo Station library. (I would love to contact someone who’s down there now to see if it’s still there! Alas, Eric has done his last Antarctic tour, so it probably won’t be him).
I had forgotten about my book’s jaunt to the bottom of the world until very recently, in fact just a few days ago. While I was cleaning out an old book bag, I discovered a mysterious flash drive I didn’t recognize. I plugged it into my laptop and, voila! Several gigs of photos from Antarctica materialized. I realized that Eric had given me this flash drive after coming back from his last tour working at McMurdo, which I think was in 2009.
Eric’s help, however, was only half the story of how Giamotti, probably my favorite of any character I’ve created, got around the world. As I was preparing to write this article I recalled getting an email from the reader who said she was reading Life Without Giamotti at a research station in Greenland. She had brought the book specifically because she knew they’d be stranded by bad weather and she needed something interesting an absorbing to read. Here’s the email she sent me:
“Life Without Giamotti was awesome. I really liked it. My boyfriend will be reading it next. I actually finished it on New Year’s Eve (2007). As you can tell, there is not much to do in Greenland at a remote science camp. There are only 4 of us and we have pretty much finished everything for the season. Our flight finally takes us out of here on the 15th of February. I am looking forward to seeing the sun soon. It finally rises on the 29th of this month.”
Okay, so Greenland isn’t literally the North Pole–and McMurdo Station, being on the edge of Antarctica, is not literally the South Pole. (There is a science station at the South Pole, but it’s not McMurdo). Still, as measured on Google Earth, the northern tip of Greenland is 11,978 miles from McMurdo station, and the two are almost as far from each other in degrees of latitude as it’s possible to get on planet Earth.
As an author, I have to say I’m rather proud of that.
Anyway, thanks Eric, and thanks to everyone who has ever decided to pick up one of my books, wherever in the world you may be.