For our 25th anniversary we've been sharing the Origin stories of the Onions. We walked a lot of different paths to the House of Onion, some smooth, some thorny and some with a higher-than-expected number of door-to-door encyclopedia sales.*
But what of the books themselves? How do we find our authors and our books - or how do they find us?
Pure and simple: how do the books become?
Well, we must begin with the confession that, as Algernon Moncrieff so tartly put it, 'the truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!'
Sometimes they come to us.
Sometimes we go to them.
Sometimes they arrive fully formed.
Sometimes the gestation is long, and the incarnations are many.
Sometimes, we feel like Kipling's whale, opening its throat and swallowing all the stories in the world.**
Sometimes we feel like Taffy, creating the alphabet from scratch.
Often, we feel like Pooh and Piglet - keeping company with authors and stories, lending a paw, navigating heffalump traps and having a little smackerel of something at eleven.
So hear and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was.
Tomorrow: How the Tashi Got His Tale
The first two illustrations are Rudyard Kipling's own woodcuts from Just So Stories, the third, of course, is the wonderful EH Shephard.
*For a brilliant short story about door-to-door salesmen, we highly recommend 'The Devil and the Corner Grocer' in the collection The Chewing Gum Rescue and other stories by Margaret Mahy.** Until a Mariner of infinite-resource-and-sagacity used a lifeboat and suspenders to create a grating to stem the flow. We call this grating The Friday Pitch, but more of that in due course.