The Ottoman Motel (An Unexpected, But Stoked Part 2)

The Ottoman MotelYou know how sometimes someone unveils a secret so spectacular and so heartwarming that you’re blown away? That you then relive every email and conversation you’ve had with them in the preceding weeks and marvel at how they managed to keep such a fantastic secret? Well, I’m experiencing that now, having interviewed talented Brisbane writer Chris Currie about his forthcoming first novel, The Ottoman Motel.

The blog went live just a couple of days ago and I saw Chris (it feels weird to say ‘Currie’, even if that is the correct format) a day or so later and had a brief conversation about whether the whole book thing feels real yet. He said he was probably going to receive a finished copy soon and that the reality would then probably start to sink in.

What he didn’t mention is that he’d crafted a brilliant plan to propose to his long-term girlfriend and that this finished copy was to play an integral role …

Congratulations! Can you tell us how you came up with the idea?

Thank you very much! I had known for a while that I wanted to ask Leesa to marry me, but of course I wanted to make my proposal special. I was coming towards the final final (final) rewrites of my book, and knew I still had the acknowledgments yet to write.

I thought to myself: I’ll only get one chance to write my first book, and I’ll only get one chance to propose to the love of my life, so why not celebrate both? After consultation with my editor, I worked out I could get a finished copy express posted to me in time for Leesa’s birthday, and the plan was set …

I get the sense you kept this one to yourself—not even your closest friends knew. Was it difficult to keep this under wraps?

It was really, really hard. Leesa is not very good at waiting for surprises, and very good at guessing them (try spending Christmas Eve with her …), so I wanted this to be the ultimate surprise. As it was her birthday, I was deliberately vague about what we were doing, only that I was taking her somewhere nice, thus hiding the real surprise inside another surprise.

Plus, it was an arguably foolhardy thing to do, and I didn’t want to get talked out of it! I worked it out yesterday, and it was over a month from when I sent in the acknowledgments to when I got to spring the surprise!

It is quite possibly the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard (especially for a writer). What sort of response have you received?

I don’t know what that says about writers, but it just seemed like a really nice way to show my love and commitment. I’ve had an overwhelming response to the news. It’s been wonderful, even from people I don’t know commenting on Twitter!

What would have happened had she said no (not that we think for a moment that she would have!)? Was there a contingency plan for pulping?

As I said, it was a possibly foolhardy act of pen-to-paper commitment, because no, there was no back-up plan. Once it was printed, it would be there forever. As one of my friends suggested, the perfect reply would be ‘I’ll write a book and then give you my answer.’ Luckily for me, her response was ‘Of course I’ll marry you,’ which made it all the waiting and the worrying worthwhile.

Can you run us through the moment/her reaction?

We were on the rooftop of the hotel I’d booked, with a bottle of champagne. It was a bit breezy, so I said I’d go and get our coats, which of course was a ruse to fetch the book and the ring.

I said, ‘I know I said I wasn’t going to get you anything for your birthday,’ and produced the book. She seemed chuffed enough, but then I told her to read the acknowledgments. She said later she saw the word ‘marry’ straight away. She said yes, even before I could get down on one knee and produce the ring.

I think this is going to become a collector’s edition. You do realise that you’re going to have to come up with something as romantic and spectacular for the second book …

I realise I’ve set the bar quite high. I’m sure inspiration will hit when I most need it, though …

I’m sure you will. Congrats again. Just quietly (and I think it’s ok to generalise here), we’re all really stoked for you.

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.