On a chilly Friday morning, before I was awake, I drove across town to the leafy suburb of Montmorency for my first day of work experience.
I could hardly believe my luck when Busybird co-owner, Blaise van Hecke, agreed to take me on. I have always wondered what it is like behind the scenes of a publishing house, and I was not disappointed. Is it as quirky and cool as it seems? Well, yes – to me it is.
When I first met Blaise, it seemed unlikely that butter would melt in her mouth … until I discovered that she likes to write stories about serial killers. I first learned of her darkly delicious tastes at a flash fiction writing workshop she was running at our local library.
I met the other two members of the Busybird team, co-owner, Kev Howlett, and publications manager, Les Zigomanis, when I arrived at the studio door last Friday. To begin with, Kev provided me with a comprehensive tour of their new studio – including the basement. Upstairs there is a light and airy gallery, Kev’s studio and the editorial area; while downstairs there is a photographic studio, a conversation pit, a toilet and a full size human skeleton. Despite the all-inclusive nature of the tour, nothing was said about the assemblage of bones in the middle of the room – and I did not like to ask.
Following the tour, Les sat down with me to discuss Busybird’s range of publications and the editorial protocols. Throughout the day, both Kev and Les were warm and attentive: Les made sure I was acquainted with the tea and coffee facilities and Kev kept interrupting his work to make sure I had tea/coffee/lunch – whatever I needed. They both have an unquestionably excellent set of priorities.
After so much attention, it became necessary to visit the basement again. This time I was by myself and it was pitch black, but I eventually found the light and tiptoed across the space. It did occur to me that it would be very easy for someone to flick the light switch and lock the door. What I didn’t expect was to find a heavy red curtain, like a theatre curtain, concealing the wall on one side of the toilet. I reached out and ran my fingers across the fabric – I was soooo tempted, but thoughts of Bluebeard filled my mind … Whatever lies behind the red curtain will have to remain as another element of the Busybird mystique – unless you are prepared to uncover its secret!
The mantra at Busybird is it’s all about the stories, and the new studio reflects that sensibility. There is a fairy tale aura about the space. I can almost see stories as embodied entities – teasing and beckoning – out of the corner of my eye.
– Lisa Roberts