You’ve Got…Airmail!

Image: entrepeneur.com

I don’t know about you, but I love, love, love getting a letter or greeting card or email from my friends and family.  I tend to get wrapped up in their daily goings on, or whatever person or event is causing them grief or joy.  Sometimes I’ll hold on to the letter or save the email so I can read them over and over again just because of what is written, how it’s written, or just…because.  I so adore my friends and family.   I’d imagine some of you may feel the same way.

But how would you feel if you received a letter, addressed to you, from overseas, from someone you didn’t know?  How would you feel?  Wouldn’t you be curious?

Airmail, a novella by Naomi Bulger

Well, that’s what happened to Mr. G.L. Solomon, living in Sydney, Australia.   In Naomi Bulger’s novella, Airmail, his very lonely, very mundane, very routine life takes a turn when he receives a letter from a woman he doesn’t know, who lives in New York.  This odd, mysterious, quirky woman, Anouk, continues to write letters to him, confessing the random workings of her mind, and he continues to read the letters, still content in his life, sitting in his home halfway across the world.  Until, that is, one day she writes him, claiming to be writing from “the other side.”  Believing Anouk is in trouble, Mr. Solomon steps out of his comfort zone and into her world in New York, leaving all that is familiar to him, determined to help her in any way he can.

What happens from that moment on, can be nothing but life changing for Mr. Solomon.

Airmail is a brilliantly written novella by Naomi Bulger.  It’s one of those stories that lingers in our minds long after the book is tucked away.

I had the opportunity to hook up with Naomi this week and ask her a few questions about the story, and I am thrilled to share our conversation with you!

I love the premise of Airmail.  What inspired you to write it?  Were the characters based on anyone you knew?

Thank you! If I’m honest, insomnia inspired me to write Airmail. I originally had a completely different story in mind, one in which a girl traveled the world writing letters to a stranger, and through those letters the stranger (and the reader) would learn about her adventures, her romances, her journey. But while I was writing I went through a particularly bad bout of insomnia, and I guess it really messed with my mind. It probably didn’t help that I wrote under a flickering fluorescent light a lot of that time, too. Before I knew it, the girl had a ‘reverse stalker’ and within a very short period of time, she was (or believed she was) dead! She never got to leave New York.  I struggled for a while with trying to wrestle the book back to my earlier vision but, in the end, I gave up and decided to keep writing and see where the story would lead me.

To answer the second part of your question, the characters aren’t based on people I know, but the old man, Mr G.L. Solomon, was created in part by a close friend.  I was struggling to write the character of an old man in a way that convinced even me, let alone anyone else.  So I work-shopped him with my friend, an actor.  I gave my friend a brief outline of the old man’s character, then started posting letters.  I would hand-write the letters in the character of Anouk, and send them to my friend’s house (addressed to Mr G.L. Solomon) in airmail envelopes.  I even pasted used US stamps onto them so they seemed to come from New York, rather than my Sydney house around the corner.  After reading the letters, my friend would talk with me about the old man’s reactions. Things like, “He can’t read Anouk’s handwriting” came first.  Then “He has developed a routine around how and when he reads the letters,” and, “He used to be annoyed when they came, but now he is curious to know more.” Together, we built up a picture of this curmudgeonly old man, who is so very real to me today.

How long did you take to write Airmail

This was a quick book to write, I’d say only six weeks.  But that was the first draft.  Subsequent drafts and work with editors in both Australia and the US took literally years.

Is there a message in Airmail that you want readers to grasp?

I don’t think I wrote Airmail with a message in mind, it’s not a book that’s intended to teach.  That said, I think the central message that came out of this book is to “own your own stories.”  Things happen to us in life: the very good, the very bad, and a whole lot of everyday stuff in between.  But if we try to edit any stories out of our memories, even the bad ones, we are not being true to ourselves.  Everything that happens to you in your life helps make you who you are, that unique and special you.

Airmail has a very unique cover.  Who did the design work?

I love the cover of Airmail, it was done by my publisher’s in-house designers. I talked with them about the kind of mood I wanted to create, for example the vintage postage feel, and sent them some Polariod photographs I had taken myself during my research for Airmail. But I was prepared for something completely different, and willing to accept their marketing know-how over my aesthetic. They came back with this cover, even using some of my Polariods on the back, and I just loved it.

~ ~ ~

This is definitely a not-to-be-missed read.  And….no book review would be complete without a giveaway!  So go ahead and leave a comment below, be it a question or random thought, and I’ll put your name in a hat, from which a winner will be drawn and announced tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I’d love it if you would join me when I give you the low-down on Naomi.  She so deserves a day of her own…Yeah, she’s that good.

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About Diana Murdock

California-grown, writer of contemporary and YA paranormal with enough energy to write, raise two boys, run, and dream.

Posted on March 1, 2012, in Friendships, Life Lessons, Relationships, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.

  1. Fantastic interview ladies. Airmail sounds wonderful!!! Love getting a closer glimpse into the world of writers! 🙂
    Naomi, I’d love to know your writing process – from idea to first draft? I assume you are a pantser but did you plot at all? What would you differently in the writing process now that you’ve written the book? Any lessons learned you’d care to share to someone starting out?

    • Thanks, Natalie! Naomi’s world is really fascinating! Naomi, take it away…

    • Thanks Natalie, this was a fun interview and Diana certainly made me think with her insightful questions. The writing process… ordinarily, I have a rough idea of where I’m going and what I want to achieve. I even had that in ‘Airmail’, until the insomnia-related derailment threw me into the dark. That was a scary process and I worked a lot with a friend who is a fairly successful author (and lectures in creative writing at a local university) to figure out how to proceed. I roughly know where I’m going for the book I’m writing now. I recommend having an outline of your story, but still aiming to be flexible enough to explore other directions if your characters take you there. In the end, your characters are not you, and they may have different ideas or reactions to your plans.

  2. Maria Gallardo

    This book sounds like something I could really get into. I had a text to self connection as soon as you mentioned the title as my grandfather used to send me letters airmail and I remember the postage and how thin and frail the envelopes would be. The fact that one of your main characters is an old man makes me want to read it even more now. It’s interesting to know that you cranked out your book in six weeks, but then to see how long to edit and see it come to fruition. Ah, the life of a writer! Excited for you Naomi! Congrats. Diana, great interview!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Maria! Yes! I remember the thin airmail envelopes my mother used to get from her relatives overseas. I always held them with such awe, like they were something so incredibly special!

      You’ll really like Naomi’s interview tomorrow as she reveals even more!

    • That’s so sweet, Maria, I like picturing your grandfather sending you those airmail letters. One of the wonderful and unexpected things that have followed the release of this book is that people from all over the world have started sending me letters! It seems we are not alone in our enjoyment of old-fashioned mail.

  3. Great interview! I will read the book.

  4. I’ve read Airmail and posted reviews. It’s an intriguing story that really make you think and wonder and be inspired by Naomi’s amazing ability to weave magic with her words. Excellent review, Diana!

  5. I love, love, love getting mail! The idea that a letter comes from a stranger is so, oooooh, awesome!

    Great review – I always like to get to know our WANA sisters better and this was a fun peek into Naomi’s writing life.

  6. I want a copy. I love her comment that we aren’t living a true life when we edit out parts we don’t like.

  7. This sounds like a really interesting premise for a book. Thanks for passing it along!

  8. Nice! Anxious to read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  9. What a fun giveaway! I was brought over here by Naomi’s blog & I’ve been so interested in reading her book so I REALLY hope I win! 🙂

  10. Thank you Diana and Naomi for this wonderful interview!

    And I love the sound of your story Naomi!

    I love getting and reading emails. Okay, I’ll even admit, like you Diana, I re-read them. What is that about? I’ve got to get a life! LOL! 🙂

  11. I am enjoying our wana interviews do much and this one is no exception! Great job, you two 🙂

    The cover is wonderful. It reminds me do much of my childhood in Europe – we have used the same kind of envelopes. The story is really intriguing and after reading the interview I want to know what happened to Anouk. Is the reality slipping out of her grasp?

    I am curious how many queries you have sent out before landing an agent. Or did you query the publisher’s editor directly?
    What are you working on now and do you still suffer from insomnia?

    • Hi Angela, I’m so glad you enjoyed this interview, Diana certainly made it fun! I am agent-free. I won’t give away too much info because Diana may want to put this in her post tomorrow, but basically I was approached by a publisher directly, after I sent the first-draft manuscript to an appraisal service (the appraiser apparently passed the MS on). That didn’t all pan out, and I promise to explain more if it’s not in tomorrow’s post.

      I’m working on a full-length novel right now, and YES, I still suffer from insomnia, although not as often. I slept well last night, after getting only four hours of sleep in the combined time between Sunday afternoon and Thursday bed-time. BLECH!

    • Thanks, Angela! I agree! It’s fun learning about each other! Especially when we dig past the daily grind and look at the pre-WANA era. 🙂 Naomi is no exception!

  12. Great interview, girls!I love the premise of Airmail and look forward to reading it. Six weeks, Naomi? Wow, that’s fast! I love the cover…couldn’t be more perfect! Thanks for sharing all this Diana and Naomi!

  13. Letters… so strange in this day but so important. I liked how this story started off one way but changed completely. The mind of Naomi is fluid and that makes for great reading. Great success! I look forward to reading this one.

    • Dannie, without a doubt you will love it! Naomi has an incredible background and a very creative mind (you should take a peek at her blogs – very, colorful and unique!)

  14. I didn’t realize the cover was the cover at first. It’s spectacular, and it does create a very vintage feel.

  15. Very interesting, D. Thanks for sharing. I have dutifully followed Naomi on Twitter and “liked” her FB page…because that’s how I roll. 😉 *Waves to Naomi*
    Seriously, the book sounds very fresh and different, and I would love to win a copy.
    Thanks for the opportunity, Ladies.

    -Jimmy

    • *waves* Hi Jimmy! Thank you so much for your support of Naomi! She’s awesome. The story she tells is definitely not cookie cutter type. Fresh and different – excellent choices of words. Another name in the hat!

  16. Thanks for letting me join you for tea! Felt like I was right there with you. Great conversation to reveal a little about Naomi and her novella. Thanks, ladies!

  17. Hi, Diana. I missed this on the 1st (see what happens when you have a birthday!) so I don’t get to be in the drawing, but it looks like an awesome book. Putting it on my TBR list now – thanks!

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