Chapter 21-The Little Book Publishing Company

Tom Edmonds together with his business partner Delilah Turnbull, had created The Little Book Publishing Company because they had seen an increasing desire expressed by Authors  to be more involved in creating their own books from the beginning of the publishing process. Both having worked in the publishing industry for many years, it became obvious to them that there were many authors out there who just weren’t getting recognised, and the industry had grown to a point where up and coming authors were simply getting lost in the deluge of the more noted writers and already published authors. 

So they put together the idea of a boutique publishing company and agreed that they would always maintain a level of availability to honour their clients personally. And so The Little Book Publishing Company was born. It had been successful from its inception, being readily accepted by a long list of interested clients who had not been able to get their manuscripts noticed by the larger publishing agencies. There was a growing market for Indie Authors, particularly with the increase in demand for eBooks. 

Tom first met Will at a book launch for Delilah’s partner, Louise. It was on that day he contracted Will to illustrate a book, and then another book….Will was inspired by The Little Book Publishing Company and what it had to offer and how they worked together in a fun and creative environment. A personalised and authentic service to help creative-minded authors achieve their greatest goal, to produce their own book and be inclusive in each step of the creative process. Despite their growing popularity, they chose to remain a small company providing one on one assistance. Tom cared for all of his employees like family. His small team gave him their best because they wanted to. There were six employees, including Tom and Delilah who were involved with design and layout. Then there was Sarah, the administrative assistant and receptionist, Luke the IT specialist, Moana took care of advertising, marketing and promotions for both the Company and clients, and Kirsty helped part-time with everything in between – from cleaning, to helping in reception, to making tea and coffee, whilst she studied part-time at University. She was the baby in the business and they all looked after her.

Tom had books in his blood, a family history dating back to the 1800’s, where his great, great grandfather was a type setter and printer. His great, great aunt was an author. Not having had any children of her own at the time of passing, the large estate was eventually divided between her nieces and nephews. The Estate was at first legally tied up because technically they were unable to certify her death. Her husband lived to be 105 years old and at the time of his passing twenty years ago, the estate was  released to the family.

Eventually the inheritance reached Tom through his Aunt Elizabeth, a spinster who had lived in the house on her own. The family thought her more than slightly crazy because she was adamant that her Aunt Grace’s ghost was still present in the house. She was an occultist, a spiritualist and often held seances in the house and other gatherings for artists, writers and psychics. This house, was the house that Will and Molly were staying in now, completely unaware of its history.

Tuesday morning, Will and Molly were up early. They had arranged to go to the office with Tom and decided to walk around to their house for breakfast and meet Kelly. The neighbourhood was an older area of the city, almost all of the houses were built in the early 20th century. The springtime gardens were a mass of colours, immaculate in design and well maintained. They enjoyed the walk to Tom and Kelly’s house, taking in the beautiful gardens and well cared for houses. The sound of the door bell was met by an orchestra or woofing and barking of a variety.

“How many dogs do they have?” Molly asked Will, Will shrugging his shoulders. From behind the closed front door they could hear Kelly’s muffled voice.

“Now everybody  be quiet please. Sit! Instantly there was a rehearsed silence of anticipation. On opening the door they were greeted by four dogs sitting in order of height, tails wagged excitedly, sweeping across the wooden floor. 

“Hi guys,” said Kelly, “Come on in,” she invited Molly and Will inside. She turned to her furry friends and said, “Now, everybody… wait….and say… hello,” and with one subtle instruction from Kelly the four dogs raised their left paws in unison, and Molly and Will had to shake paws with them all. They couldn’t help but laugh, they were so cute! Kelly welcomed them with a hug and directed them through to the kitchen, instructing the dogs to their individual cushions in the sunroom out the back. The house was of a similar design to the one they were staying in. Tom was busy at the stove cooking breakfast.

The dogs looked on attentively, doting on Kelly. With another subtle instruction, the dogs laid down and relaxed

“They are so sweeet!” Molly exclaimed delightedly. “I love they way they respond to you”.

“Morning all, ready for your first day at work?” Tom greeted them. “We do things very differently around here. Isn’t Kelly great with the dogs…I mean aren’t the dogs great with Kelly? She is an animal behaviouralist and non-verbal dog training is her speciality.” Tom smiled proudly.

“That’s so cool!” said Molly, very interested. “Tell us more, Kelly, this topic fascinates me.”

Over breakfast Kelly shared a little about her work and their ‘family’.  Tom and Kelly had decided not to have children, and the dogs had become their family. As a child Kelly had always been able to ‘hear’ animals talking to her and could never understand why other people couldn’t do the same. Her desire to understand this more grew as she did and after leaving High School she studied animal psychology. Her own business started through dog walking and progressed naturally as did her studies, into training and animal behaviourism. It took her to all sorts of locations as the movie industry got wind of her talents. She had a special way of communicating with all kinds of animals which was unique to her. This was how she met Tom, as a dog walker and house sitter. Whilst he was working for a large publishing company,  the long hours and travel meant that Tom was often away, and Kelly would come and housesit for him, taking care of his two dogs – Max, a 

Schnauzer and Hugo a Golden Retriever. 

Kelly had collected two members of her own furry family who used to come and stay with her too. Lulu, a poodle crossed with something undefinable, chocolate in colour, so very adorable and charming. And Maggie, a Huntaway crossed with several other breeds, was not quite able to decide which of them she really wanted to be. Very intelligent, gentle, but slightly befuddled. And then along came Coffee who turned up as a street kitten at their local cafe, making herself at home in Kelly’s lap when they first met. She would have only been about 6 weeks old, a chocolate coloured Burmese, who never grew much bigger, who looked and behaved like the eternal kitten.

Molly felt something soft and furry brushing against her leg and looked down to see this same chocolate Burmese cat making her presence felt. She reached her hand down for the cat to smell, and taking this as an invitation, Coffee jumped up onto her knees. Kelly and Tom exchanged a glance, and Kelly said to Molly, “Wow, you are privileged! Coffee never greets strangers, she usually disappears into the bedroom, or runs around and under the furniture like a mad thing!” Molly savoured the moment of a kitty cuddle, it had been a long time since she had one. As Tom cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher, he said to Will and Molly, ”Let’s go meet our other family – The Little Book Publishing Company are waiting to meet you. I am so excited!” 

Driving through the traffic, Tom was completely at ease, weaving his way in and out of cars whilst he chatted about the landmarks along the way. Parking the car in the underground carpark, he led them to the cast iron cage-type elevator and up into the building.

“Can you believe we started in our garage?” he laughed. Molly was awestruck by the beautiful building they were in. From the antique elevator door the inside of the building was lit with reflected natural light, by strategically placed ornate mirrors. Indoor plants created an lush garden, including a small waterfall, which flowed along a pebble lined channel set in the polished concrete floor  into the reception area, where it ended in a small grotto pool in the corner of the spacious room. Four stories up, they had a view out across roof tops to the harbour in the distance. The natural light flooded into the rooms and the plants gave the space an amazing energy. Tom had bought the building as an old warehouse and converted it into office space, the levels below them were leased out to other businesses.

“Delilah’s partner, Louise is a horticulturist and specialises in creating indoor garden spaces. She had written a book called Creating Inner Spaces,” Tom explained as he opened the door into Reception. The Reception Room was decorated in vintage furniture, an eclectic mix of pieces selected from several era’s. The whole building had a fun, relaxed feel to it. Here they were met by Sarah, who took them into the meeting room. The Meeting Room was a large open space with a kitchen at one end. A long extension table made of old pine sat in the middle of the room surrounded by a variety of different wooden chairs and at the other end of the room was a lounge suite and bean bags, plus a caste iron and brass daybed covered with a brightly coloured patchwork quilt and a mountain of colourful cushions. There was even a baby grand piano! The kitchen was made from recycled timbers, white subway tiles with black grout and red electrical appliances, including a top of the range commercial gas stove top and double oven, even the fridge was red, black and chrome. They had left the brick walls with their original surface, the old peeling paint lightly sanding back so that portions of the raw brick were visible, and then sealed. The huge floor to ceiling paned windows with heavy metal frames let in so much light it felt like you were sitting outside. The floors were of polished timber boards, worn unevenly from so many years of foot traffic. There was a history written in the marks, burns and even grooves from wood borers that added character to the room. The ceiling had huge wooden beams and timber lining boards. In the far corner of the room atop a suspended concrete base was an antique printing press which belonged to Tom’s great, great, grandfather. No longer in use and having been restored as a collectors item, the polished brass fittings were highlighted by the glossy black paint. Molly thought it was beautiful. She was so impressed by what they had created here. Her eyes sparkled with excitement, taking in her new work environment.

Tom invited them over to sit at the table, Sarah took orders for tea and coffee, and placed a plate stacked with freshly baked muffins  for morning tea, on the large pine table. Molly took in all of the decor with detail. “What an awesome space Tom! Love the collection of chairs!” She said smiling, inspired by what had been created here.

“Sarah, can you please round everyone up?” Tom asked. 

Molly and Will shared several hours, well into and beyond lunch with Tom and his team. He outlined briefly to the staff of how Molly would be taking down a little story about them individually for a project he was working on, and that Will was to take a photo of them to accompany this. He did not let on anything about the book he was creating or of Tom’s artwork. 

Tom leaned over to Will and whispered, “we’ll talk in more detail over dinner, tonight ok?” To which Will nodded in agreement. The rest of the afternoon, Tom showed them around the business and took them through the process of creating a book from the first step, which they would personally experience and be involved with  the creating of the book ‘In The Company of Friends”.

“Now I know where I will be publishing my next book!” exclaimed Molly excitedly.

Putting his arm around her Tom said, “Oh that would be our privilege Molly.”

The rest of the afternoon Molly and Will decided that they would walk back to the house to take in more of their new neighbourhood. “It would probably be quicker than driving in the traffic,” said Tom, adding “So tonight at 7pm? Cool?” 

“Cool,” replied Will, Molly smiling like the Cheshire Cat, still slightly too dumbfounded to say much at all. They walked back through what appeared to be an old industrial area that had undergone a renaissance, the conversion of warehouses into apartments and business offices. The street level of some of the buildings were used as boutique shops, of all sizes and such a variety of businesses. There was also a cafe and several restaurants. The path led them through a park, generously shaded with established trees, a beautiful display of designed gardens, and a large play area, not that far from the house. A wide pathway meandered through the gardens, large enough for bikes, skateboards, scooters, prams, even mobility scooters.

Later that night over dinner they discussed the  planning and strategy to assist Molly and Will to work within a set time frame. Molly was to interview each employee, including Tom, in their own home, suggested to help each of them to relax into being interviewed. Tom suggested to keep it very casual, just a discussion, nothing deep. The basic guidelines were to take down where were they born, who lived with them now, what were their dreams and how would they run the business if it were theirs. They were to start next Saturday with Kirsty, it being up to her as to what time of day would be best. Until then they had a couple of days to explore and settle in.

It was late by the time they walked home from Kelly and Tom’s. Molly was keen to do some writing, having been either too busy or too tired to have started the new journal with Grace.   Will had a few things to finish in their home office, so Molly headed upstairs to get ready for bed, where she planned to do some writing. She stopped by the spare room at the back of the house, she sensed something or was it someone, drawing her through the door. Sitting on the bed, she closed her eyes and listened. Around her she could feel the presence of several people, one of which was Grace Simpson.

Molly knew then that this was once Grace’s office, where she used to write, it was her creative space. There was no reason why she could not move the furniture around. As much as Molly loved the idea of sharing a room with Will, she had such a strong pull to write from here. She found it inspiring, uplifting. They had asked Tom for another desk, something suitable for writing. The larger partners desk that was already in the office downstairs was perfect for Will. She decided to move the small table from under the window to an empty space behind the door, making room for her new desk. It felt right. 

Satisfied with her day, Molly sat up in their bed with every intention to write to Grace. She had opened the journal, but in a mere blink of an eye, she was asleep, book propped up against her bent knees. By the time Will came into the bedroom, she was in a deep sleep, pen in hand, book still against her knees. He muffled a laugh, smiled at her endearingly and gently removed the pen and book, placing them on her bedside table. Molly did not move. In the depths of her sleep, she visited The Attic. She felt herself stepping into what felt like a dense forest, warm, humid and damp, the rich smell of moist earth filling her nostrils. Through the mist that surrounded her she saw the outline of the house in a  clearing ahead. She walked towards the house and in through the backdoor to see Lucy standing at the stove cooking.

“Evening Miss Molly! We have been expecting you. Grace is upstairs with Anna,” Lucy said. Smiling back at Lucy, Molly feels herself moving through the house and towards the stairs. Even in this dream there is that tingle as she walks up the wooden stairs. Looking up the stairs she sees that the door is slightly ajar and can hear voices, there was a soft light emanating down towards her. Peaking through the door, she could see Grace and Annabelle in conversation. She watches on silently, not able to hear what they are saying, just observing. Then without breaking their conversation, she hears Grace’s voice in her head, “You can come in you know!” Molly feels her body floating through the door and over to the two women sitting in the armchairs. It was very dreamy and she is not able to hear what they are saying, nor is Annabelle able to see her. Then she hears Grace’s voice in her head again, “She is still learning how to be here in The Attic with us. Annabelle’s physical body too is asleep.” 

Then the vision faded and Molly woke to find herself still propped up in their bed, her knees bent, but where was her journal and pen? It was too dark in the room to see anything and not wanting to wake Will, she decided to snuggled down under the covers, wrapping her arms around him and slipped into a peaceful sleep. 

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