A few months ago I got a phone call early in the morning. It was a friend, a book reviewer I deeply admire, to whom I’d passed a PDF of my novel. She’d stayed up half the night reading it, and loved it. “It’s the book you were born to write,” she continued. “I can’t believe that no one has ever written this story before, but it’s fantastic.”
I write this not (just) to blow my own horn. (It’s a fact of modern life that authors, no matter how private, must blow not only their own horn but an entire brass section, in person and over social media.) Rather, it’s that her comments caused me to reflect more deeply on two things: what writing “Gutenberg’s Apprentice” has meant to me, and how it will feel once the novel is out in the world.
I think it’s safe to say there are probably only a handful of people with the precise mix of interests and skills to undertake such a project. I could not have written this book if I didn’t speak French and German, and was a printer myself. It has, from the beginning, been a labor of love, a treasure hunt whose every twist and turn was absurdly exciting. I had tried to write novels before, with limited success, but this was the one that gripped me and would not let me go, the one I was born to write.
How it is received is something else. My passion for the subject is mine; some readers will share it, others not. It has been enormously encouraging to receive starred reviews from the industry’s three major trade magazines: Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Booklist. It has also been instructive to read the early reviews online, and realize that no single novel can hope to please all of the people all of the time. I’m gratified that a majority of early readers have been moved by Peter Schoeffer’s story. More than that I cannot ask for.
Thanks to Erik Kwakkel for the image