BY SUZANNE KELMAN
September 7, 2016
So I have some exciting news to share. My second book in my “Rejected Writers’ Book Club” series has just been acquired by Lake Union Publishing. For a bunch of ladies who have been rejected on the page, they’re sure getting a lot of attention from a real publisher.
Lake Union is one of Amazon’s own imprint companies so this news warranted a trip down into Seattle to meet with the publishing team and venture into the Willy Wonka of buildings—the infamous Amazon Towers, corporate headquarters of the company.
So off I trundled with my agent, Andrea Hurst, and her associate agent, Sean Fletcher, for a day in the big city—clad in my OICs (Off Island Clothes).
I should say, at this point, I only possess three sets of OICs—you know, the ones you wear with underwear, and they don’t include clogs or boots in the ensemble. Because of limited OICs and the fact that this was the second meeting with Lake Union, it dawned on me (with only one more appropriate set of togs), that I may have to stop writing books they like or find another publisher.
Anyway, we left at the crack of dawn for a noon lunch meeting and, believe it or not, we actually arrived at 11.45. I could have flown in from San Diego quicker. But you know how it goes, there was a line for the ferry, then we crawled through traffic on the way down. Then with coffee and bathroom breaks, we finally entered Seattle at around 11 a.m.—only to have us overshoot our exit.
With the sights and sounds of the big city turning my menopausal brain into mush, I finally got my iPad navigation working, only to be informed by Siri that the exit we needed was half a mile behind us. This resulted in us crawling, in the boiling heat, through Game Traffic till we eventually looped back around.
We finally arrived to attend our lunchtime meeting in a new Italian restaurant in the shadow of the Amazon Tower. We had an excellent meeting with food so exquisite I wasn’t sure whether to eat it, plant it or mount it in a frame above my fireplace.
Once lunch was over it was off to the tower to have an editorial meeting and also enjoy a grand Amazon tour. I made it through security—yes, I had to go through security; I guess they were worried I might be sneaking in a Penguin publisher in my off-island pants. The first thing I realized, on entering, is that this is no ordinary building; with such impressive facilities, it felt more like a European airport than the place I order my toilet paper from.
It was, in fact, like entering a different universe. The 37-story building has a five-story meeting room center, featuring an amphitheater and stage with stadium-style seating for 2,000. There are also shops and restaurants, including a Starbucks, Skillet Street Food, Marination, Mamoon, Anar, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, and two restaurants from local chef Josh Henderson. That is a lot for a country mouse in her second set of OICs to absorb in one building.
My first port of call was Starbucks for a meeting with my new editor, who had flown in from New York for the week. We had a very successful business meeting discussing future projects and the plans for the Rejected Ladies. This included outlining the six months of work my newest manuscript will go through to make it into the beautiful package it’s sure to become. We had a great chat in such a comfortable little booth that it was hard to believe this was a work environment at all.
After my meeting, it was time for my tour of the rest of the tower. A trip up the building was an adventure all in itself as there are no buttons inside the elevators. Instead, you tap the desired floor into an electronic keypad mounted in the corridor; it then directs you to the elevator to take. I have to admit it seemed a very effective way to get you from A to B, but it was a little disconcerting, shut inside a metal box zooming skyward without the safety of illuminated buttons to chart my course or as a distraction to stare at as people entered. I kept thinking—as we gained speed, higher and higher—that maybe we would shoot right out of the roof just as in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We didn’t, as it happens, but when I got out on the 37th floor, we might as well have; it felt as if I was on the top of the world. What a fantastic view.
As I toured the building, making my way down from floor to floor, I was in awe. Some of the highlights for me were the areas dedicated to fun, with an art and craft room and an electronic gaming room for employees to play and blow off steam. Also, a food court and an outside barbecue deck.
But my favorite by far was the dog floor. There is a unique outdoor deck, with a wall covered in tennis balls, so employees can bring their pooches to work. It’s complete with grass, fire hydrants, stacks of towels and dog toys. What a smart and innovative company.
I was told by Gaby, my author-liaison lady, that not only do Amazon allow their employees to bring them new ideas to make this working environment the best that it can be, but they also encourage it.
I loved my trip to the big city and it was fun to meet everyone at Lake Union and see firsthand where all the magic happens. But I was so glad to shelve my OICs for another year and get back into my yoga pants (that have never been to yoga) and my clogs. It was a very successful trip and the good news is that my crazy ladies will be back in a second book to entertain everyone. It’s scheduled to be released in the summer of 2017.
Image at top: Suzanne Kelman, photo by Kim Tinuviel
Suzanne Kelman is a multi-award winning screenwriter, playwright, and an Academy of Motion Pictures Nicholl Finalist. Her debut novel The Rejected Writers’ Book Club was released in 2016 and quickly became an Amazon international bestseller within its first week. Her second book in the same series is due to be released by Lake Union Publishing in Summer 2017.
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