Well, it’s that festive season once again, and we at ASP are celebrating the end of our first year in business by decking the halls of our imaginary offices and filling the wassail bowl. In response to fevered requests, we’ve decided to throw open our doors, as it were, and show the public how our dedicated staff celebrates the holidays.
Our most recent hire, Alex “The Colonel” McRae, comes to us all the way from Merrye Olde Englande, where she turned down a post in David Cameron’s “shadow cabinet” (or shadowe cabinete) to take on PR duties for ASP. In the tradition of great English poet-explorers, the colonel once survived a month in the Himalayas on nothing but tea, Kendall Mint Cake, and the collected poems of Ted Hughes. She has flung herself into the Yuletide spirit with typical gusto, festooning the walls above her desk with posters of Prince William, ropes of blood sausage, and red and green cricket bats. The Colonel quaffs mug after mug of wassail with nary an effect, perhaps because she’s the only one who knows what wassail is, and fields the difficult questions, such as “How do you pick the books you publish?” and “Why Marmite?”
Next up is publishing guru Andrew Gifford, who steers ASP through the turbulent waters of commerce in his alternate rap star persona, Andee G. Every day is Christmas for Andee, which means that every day he arrives with presents for the staff — flesh masks, tubs of Marmite, and extra-long support hose are among recent favorites — which they must thank him for by kneeling and quoting any line from the last three seasons of Dr. Who. Only then can he get down to the hard work of wrangling distribution deals, booking author appearances, and calling New Yorker editors to ask if they have Prince Albert in a can. Andee also tends the staff mascot, a brown and gold asp named Gigi, who he charms to sleep with his hard-core renditions of such beloved songs as “Love Letters in the Sand” and “Louie Louie.”
There’s decorating, and then there’s attaching bows, lights, and ornaments to every goddamn thing in sight. ASP Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Rose Solari certainly falls into the latter category. Staff members learn the “hard” way to beware when she comes at them with lengths of sparkling ribbon, saying, “just hold still a minute,” or sidles up to them at the water cooler with a light-up Santa hat smeared with Marmite. A practicing Pagan, Solari keeps a shrine to the Triple Goddess on her desk, as manifest in photos of writer Iris Murdoch, poet Anne Sexton, and Zoe Lucker in her role as Tanya Turner on “Footballer’s Wives.” This holiday season, Solari has led the staff in such spirited rituals such as sticking pins into a James Frey doll and imploring the gods to give Sean Bean better film roles.
CEO and ASP founder James J. Patterson can seldom be found in the office, for he models himself after the medieval goliards, those wandering scholars who travelled from town to town lampooning the local constabulary. (Think Peter Abelard without that nasty castration business, or Malcolm Gladwell with better hair.) Ceaseless in his pursuit of knowledge, or at least, an explanation for the Washington Capital’s woeful playoff record, Patterson wanders the country’s streets, bars, and writer’s conferences, expounding on the works of his heroes — Thomas Jefferson, Henry Miller, Alan Sherman — and gathering material for his next essay, “Marmite is disgusting.” In his absence, staff members can peruse Patterson’s Christmas wish list, which includes having Reese Witherspoon and/or Uma Thurman join the ASP staff as his intern, and test their memories by reciting highlights from some of the boss’s beloved recurrent speeches, including “Book distribution companies are bullshit,” “The music business is complete bullshit,” and that holiday dazzler, “Fundamentalist Christians are genuinely, truly full of bullshit.”
We hope you’ve enjoyed this holiday glimpse into the workings of Alan Squire Publishing. As we leave our hardworking staff, do join me in wishing them a festive holiday season, and a new year filled with glowing reviews, record-breaking sales, and very, very little Marmite.