This Aussie author had a book idea while ‘high as a kite’ after brain surgery.
She might not have written an entire book in one day, but Australian author Karina May has a pretty good, pretty sweat-smile story behind the rom-commy Duck à l’Orange for Breakfast, which comes out March 28 from Pan Macmillan Australia.
First, you need to understand the plot: The novel centers on Maxine “Max” Mayberry, an ad executive who has just been cheated on and also diagnosed with a brain tumor. Enter a Tinder pal, Johnny, who helps her cook her way (remotely) through a French cookbook and back to her full cognitive (and romantic) powers.
Author May is formerly a journo-slash-digital marketer, and underwent surgery herself for a benign brain tumor in 2019 and 2020. After waking up in the ICU, she asked for her phone and typed some “snarky” notes in. “At the time (high as a kite) I thought I was writing all the genius things, having all the genius thoughts!” she wrote in a recent post about the experience. Many of the genius thoughts were hard to discern after the fact (see above: “word salsd”), but the recoverable pieces (“the book cook”) went on to form the beginnings of her novel.
“I think the funnies captured here are significant,” May told Literary Hub. “Serious issues are typically written about seriously, and it was important that I wrote this story with lots of humor, as that’s what helped me get through (and is generally my default in life’s tough moments).”
She helpfully offered to translate some of her notes for us:
“Clear what is important. What is?”
“Waking up am I the same. Do you think I’m the same”
“you don’t want to see a nun coming into room”
“dishing out special k (or k special) like the berghain”
side note: the way I spell anesthetic is alarming aneshutec haha
There certainly is no one way to write a book, and I am a bit charmed that May turned her post-aneshutec moments into something enduring and hard of cover.
“It’s still surreal to me that these random thoughts have become a fully-formed novel,” said May via email. “Someone in the comments of that post wrote about the ability to ‘spin gold from sorrow’ and while I don’t share that exact sentiment, it’s a nice way of thinking about it. I think I view it more as a reclaiming of narrative—or, identity, really.”
Bless her. And take it from Karina, that word salsd of yours could really be something.