I first heard the phrase A Very Important Teapot over a quarter of a century ago. I can’t remember in what context but when I started to write a book, I thought that, as the words had stuck with me, they might also stick out on a shelf, whether physical or metaphorical. However, it turned out that the title was the easy bit. Several attempts at turning it into a novel fell by the wayside, usually at about the 15 page mark, until April 2017 when, on a plane flying back from a month in Australia, I decided that procrastination was far too long a word and I should simply sit down and write. Don’t worry about a plot, I thought; maybe that’ll evolve naturally. Just put 100,000 words down on paper (or screen) and see what happens.
And lo, A Very Important Teapot was born, twenty-five year gestation period or not. And a plot did put itself together, a plot that even includes a teapot although not necessarily in the way you might expect. The book had become a comedy spy thriller, some say spoof, with a hapless hero, gorgeous heroine, secret agents from three different countries, half the local underworld and the police all on the hunt for some Nazi diamonds (although several of the hunters are not necessarily aware of this). It’s set in Australia (of course). Along the way it delves into the world of folk music, explains how guns aren’t as simple to use as all that, and comes up with a novel use for a set of jump leads.
Having written it, I hadn’t given a thought about what to do with it. I was 64 years old, after all, and had next to no knowledge of the publishing process except that unknown authors are guaranteed to receive many, many rejections from literary agents. This I subsequently confirmed to be true. However, pretty much when I’d stopped trying and was thinking I might either self-publish or put the whole thing away in a drawer, Claret Press, small, independent and thoroughly lovely, were clever or deranged enough to take it on. Mind you, by the time they did, the original 100,000 words was down to fewer than 80,000, and the book is naturally all the better for it.
It was published six months ago. It has a cover endorsement from comedy writer, Helen Lederer (founder of the Comedy Women in Print Prize, who didn’t hold against me the fact that I’m not a woman), and some pretty encouraging reviews are stacking up. A sequel is hopefully on the way.
You can find A Very Important Teapot on Amazon (of course) and all other Very Important online sites including Waterstones.
You can find out more about Steve Sheppard on his author website.