What EMILY PERKINS has to say on posthumous publishing

7 Apr

I emailed around some living writers to get their thoughts on posthumous publishing. I begged them not to think me strange or morbid in my asking. Here’s Emily Perkins take on my request to ‘blog about death.’



Hello Lily and everyone

Blogging and Death, what a subject line. Some quick thoughts –

1. In the event of my death I would like parades, please, in which school children who have learned all my words by heart beginning at age 3 will recite my stories and novels aloud in sequence. Anyone who faints or needs to sit down during the proceedings will be taken out the back and [       ]. At the end, doves should be released into the sky.

2. I’m never going to die. Despite this, I have appointed an ahem literary executor which seems ridiculously pompous and hopeful at this stage in the game, but did it under advice of a lawyer when I was making a will. But this was ages ago & I should review the arrangement, apart from the fact that I’m never going to die.

3. It feels odd and sometimes wrong to read posthumously published work. The chilly whiff of the open grave rising from the open pages. But I adored Janet Frame’s Towards Another Summer and am so pleased it was made public. I’m not sure about reading The Pale King. I’m sure they’ve done a careful, intelligent, loving and excellent job, but it doesn’t spark my interest – in the same way that I wouldn’t want to see the rushes from a film shot by a much-loved director who died before completion.

4. I think the public should be protected from anything of mine that is unfinished. Other writers, though, perhaps not. I’m glad Middleton Murray didn’t ‘leave all fair’ and burn KM’s letters and journals. I don’t necessarily think the wishes of the dead should be respected.

5. Although I’m never going to die, I do sometimes, mid-novel, fantasise about being hit by a bus and just how shitty the draft would look to anyone who could be bothered to read it. Namely those who had invested in the writing of it and who might hope to recoup something. ‘This?!’ I imagine them scoffing. ‘She was – really – on this?! All that time?!’ But I suspect the origins of that fantasy lie in wondering how to get out of finishing the book, rather than any agony about posterity. When you’re gone, you’re gone.




One Response to “What EMILY PERKINS has to say on posthumous publishing”

  1. geoff richards April 7, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    this is a really elegant read! Elegant writing and elegant looking.

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