As you can see from the date of my previous post below, I’m taking a break from regular blogging.
I started this blog in May 2009 as I felt I’d reached a watershed in my writing, and I wanted to reflect on the ups and downs of my career as a novelist and poet.
I’ve enjoyed all the activities I’ve listed in the chart below, and although these have taken away more time than I’d wanted from my own creative writing, I’m hoping that this semi-fallow period will prove as productive as this wild poppy field!
If you’re new to this blog and want to find out more about me, click here and for more about my novels, click here
If you want to read a few tips about writing a book, click here and if you are interested in poetry, take a look at my Poetry page
In the past two years I’ve spent less time on creating new work of my own, than I have on the business of other writerly activities.
But this doesn’t mean that I won’t be taking part in any of these things!
I’ll still be happy to consider giving talks and/or running workshops, if you’d like to contact me by sending a message via the ‘Contact Me’ page above.
‘WordPress’ will forward any message to my personal email address, so please do let me know if you have read and enjoyed one or other of my novels, or have any other comments on my work. As you can see on this chart, you can still buy my novels at a reduced price from this site
or, if you prefer, Paper Lanterns IS available from Amazon, even though they will tell you it’s ‘out of stock’. All you need to do is click where it says, ‘new sellers’ and then, if you click on the option of ‘Novel Press’, you’ll receive your copy within 2 or 3 days, direct from Novel Press, with my personal signature above the printed name on this label, that is inserted into the front of the book..
I was about to post my latest (and probably final) information about Douglas Gordon Bruce, for my Mystery Challenge,
when I was suddenly whisked back to the end of June last year, at the Winchester Writers Conference, where the indomitable Director of the Conference, Barbara Large, MBE, kindly invited me to attend the plenary address on the Saturday morning, and say a few words about Novel Press and Paper Lanterns.
I was looking on the Conference website to see if the details of this year’s event had been published there yet, and I was reminded of an interview I’d given in the previous year. Some of the university students had been allocated the task of interviewing delegates from that year’s event.
I had walked out after Sir Terry Pratchett’s address to the conference into the blazing sunshine and was immediately accosted by a small group of young people wielding photographic instruments: Would I be willing to answer a few questions about why I was there, and what advice might I give to other aspiring writers?
When it comes to an opportunity for me to talk about writing in general (and mine in particular!) I’m not likely to turn it down, so I rattled on for several minutes, until I came to a natural ending. The interviewers were university students, and it was their project to make a record of the weekend for the university archives, with special reference to Terry Pratchett.
After that, I forgot all about it, so when I saw the yellow boxes on the left of the screen, I clicked on the one that was labelled ‘Delegates reactions to the 2010 WW Conference’. I started watching with interest, but without really expecting to see myself there.
I have to admit, that I did cringe a bit at the sight of me, jabbering away, seemingly non-stop. But on the other hand, I had to give myself some credit for being able talk off the cuff like that. Watching and listening a couple of times, I was slightly reassured to find that the words I’d spoken then were more or less what I’d say now, nearly a year later, (especially my final comment in the second section, on advice to other writers).
Although I’ve seen myself in action on a screen a few times, I don’t think I’ll ever get over the weird sensation of seeing myself in action, and what I must look like to others. Fortunately, I don’t give that a moment’s thought in everyday life! I was impressed by the clarity and calmness of the other five speakers – I wonder if any of them have had similar feelings.
I was pleased to see a pleasant man I’d had a conversation with, the evening before. He’d told me a little about his published book and it sounded very entertaining, but I’d forgotten all about him and his writing till I saw him on the video, so I was pleased to hear the title of his book, ‘Vet in Prospect’ and was able to find it on Amazon. I was delighted to hear that he’d landed a three-book deal as a result of attending the conference.
As you can see from the start of the video, he is not the only writer who has owed his success to this Conference over the last 30 years. I would heartily recommend this event to anyone who is serious about their own writing. There’s always a wealth of useful and encouraging information. Above all, it’s great fun!
For some reason, my blogging brain staged a shut down after my latest post on October third, and here I am now on 5th November, wondering, to the sound of exploding gunpowder, if some part of that missing month is hiding in my attic.
I blame the accumulation of clutter in our house over the last two decades. I could stand it no longer and embarked on a frenzied clearout that could not be completed methodically, step by step. What was done in room A, would affect Room B, and room C had to be half emptied, to make space for refugee pieces of essential items that were banished from room D . And so on, from mild untidiness to chaos, then utter chaos and eventually, after several trips to charity shops and the municipal tip, to soothing order.
Phew! I was able to draw breath, and after producing a couple of passable poems to ease my creative famine, I turned to my neglected blog and started browsing some of the headlines on my daily updates from the on-line Bookseller. Poetry and clearouts were combined several months ago here in the post
Last week I received an email from one of my favourite bloggers, Litlove of ‘Tales from the Reading Room’,
asking if I would take part in an on-line interview with her. Coincidentally, publishing was the topic. Litlove was interested in my own venture into publishing, Novel Press. Though probably it wasn’t such a coincidence, since Litlove feels that small publishers and publishing cooperatives are going to be important in the years ahead. She is not the only blogger to be investigating publishing trends, as you can see from this post.
I was pleased to spend time in looking back on my experience of being published and becoming a publisher. All sorts of half-forgotten details came to the fore, and now I can see more clearly what a challenge it has been – and, in spite of some frustrating moments, how satisfying I have found the whole venture.
Thank you, LitLove, for asking me in the first place, and also for tidying up my rather rambling answers to your stimulating questions!
This hasn’t been the only interview I’ve taken part in this week. I’ll wait till my next post before I tell you about Tuesday afternoon, when a small BBC team brought their own clutter of lights, tripod, camera, monitor and numerous trailing wires into my own little writing room. Very exciting, even though the focus wasn’t really on me and my writing.
No, not that one! – though there might be some connection between the TV programme my children used to love, and this weekend’s event at Jury’s Hotel in Swindon.
I drove down yesterday morning in welcome sunshine and managed to follow the directions I was given, supplemented by the time I spent on Google Maps trying to make sure if I did happen to find my way through this unfamiliar town to something called The Magic Roundabout , I wouldn’t spend the rest of the day circling round and round, trying to decide which exit to take.
I admit, it’s a very tenuous link, but this photo of the piles of random books at the Bookcrossing Unconvention evokes the constant movement of books as they themselves go round and round, from place to place and hand to hand. If you haven’t yet discovered the amazing world of Bookcrossers, >click here!
My invitation to attend the Unconvention as one of the author-speakers happened in a roundabout way. It started with my Cover Design Challenge.(Here’s the final one of 6 posts in this category) Each of the 150 entrants received an email acknowledgement from me, often with a comment about their choice of cover. I discovered that one of these came from Holland, a country which I feel an affinity with, as I am one-eighth Dutch myself.
When I found that Isabella was a Bookcrosser and was organising the international Convention in Amsterdam this year, I sent her a copy of Paper Lanterns, hoping that it would then be sent out on a journey to other Bookcrossers.
That wasn’t the end of it. I was delighted to get an email from Isabella, asking if I would consider giving an author talk. As a Bookcrosser myself, I receive the on-line newsletter and was aware of the event, but I certainly wouldn’t have put myself forward, so it was really nice to be invited.(Although I’m not (yet) an active member, I do have a Bookcrosser name: Paraglider)
Bookcrossers are friendly and welcoming people, and it was lovely to see so many familiar faces. I was also pleased to see my fellow ex-Transita author, Adrienne Dines, though it was a pity that I arrived too late to hear her speech – as well as being a superb writer,she also has a well-deserved reputation as a highly entertaining speaker.
On the subject of entertaining speakers, an extra bonus of that event for me was the author-talk by Jasper Fforde, which was made even livelier by the presence in the audience of so many enthusiastic readers of his novels. I really liked the way he explained his approach to writing – deliberate subversion of the expected, and his preference for ‘the path less taken’.
There was no photo of Jasper on his website, but though I found this one via Google, I have to say it doesn’t do him justice. From the what he has said about his books, I guess he’d happy to be represented by this dodo on a scooter from the cover of ‘The Eyre Affair’, the first of a series featuring Thursday Next.
I’ll take his advice and not try to describe what it’s about, and just say, ‘Read it.’
It was a shame that he hadn’t bought any copes of his books, as I’d definitely been tempted to buy one on the spot.
Come to think of it – a Dodo on a scooter wouldn’t have looked out of place on the original Magic Roundabout.
I had a wonderful morning last Thursday, talking to a lively group of enthusiastic readers. I never know quite what to expect when visiting different reading and writing groups, though one thing I can be pretty sure of is that it won’t be boring. Not for me, anyway!
Giving talks about my writing is second only to the pleasure I have when I’m at my desk creating characters in a novel, or finding the words to express my thoughts and feelings in a poem. This has been one of the unexpected benefits of finding a publisher for The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society nearly five years ago (October 2005). I’d already had a small collection of poems published (Single Travellers, Flarestack, 2004) but I was amazed by the difference in people’s reactions when they heard I was now a published novelist. Suddenly, I was being invited to give talks to reading and writing groups and a range of other organisations - I’m still receiving requests for these types of events.
I feel so lucky!
Thursday’s visit was particularly enjoyable for me, as most of the group had only recently read the Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society and were keen to give me their comments and ask me questions. It was wonderful to know that this novel is still being appreciated by readers, especially those who know and love Birmingham, and liked the positive image of the Brummies in the book. Here’s a link to Sheila Arthur’s reviews of the book and her reflections on the event on the Active Arts website, and her own blog.
After introducing the ideas behind my new novel, Paper Lanterns, I read a few extracts, which gives me the opportunity to present the voices of different characters, something that I love doing. It reminds me of how I felt when I was part of the poetry ensemble, Late Shift, reciting in front of audiences at Literary Festivals across the country – a skill that I acquired to my great delight, in my early fifties, after experiencing painful self-consciousness in front of groups of strangers for most of my early life. What a gift that was – as you can see in : “ How I didn’t get Stage-Fright “
I always have a box of my books in the boot of my car – not because I have any expectations that people will want to buy a copy of one or other of my novels, but as part of my ‘Just-in-Case’ approach to life. So I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who were happy to hand me some cash in exchange for a copy of Paper Lanterns. There was even a huge display board with information about me and my books, and including a copy of the Sunday Mercury article about the Chinese letters. Thank you for arranging this display, Lesley!
Funnily enough, when I browsed the headlines from the daily on-line Bookseller, I came across a link to an encouraging article that seemed particularly relevant to me in my guise as Novel Press: Re-inventing Book Marketing, by Dave Weich, who tells his readers,
“In the next ten years, book marketing will radically reinvent itself.”
And guess what? His closing paragraph states,
“Word-of-mouth will always drive book sales…”
One of the many things about the internet that I enjoy, is the way I can gather snippets of interesting information that wouldn’t normally have caught my eye. The daily on-line headlines from The Bookseller are a useful source of book-related news. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of reading about one of my favourite authors, David Mitchell –
I say that Mitchell is one of my favourites, but so far I’ve only read two of his novels, Cloud Atlas and Black Swan Green. Some people might question my use of the word ‘read’ since I listened to the unabridged versions on CDs during my frequent long car journeys and numerous short ones. Cloud Atlas was amazing, and one of these days (once I’ve got round to reading his others ) I’ll read it again.
I can’t pretend that there’s the remotest similarity between my novels and those of this hugely talented and successful Booker-nominated novelist, but as a writer, I found it refreshing to see that he still takes delight in hearing how people have reacted to his books. Interviewed at the Edinburgh Book festival, he refers to a man who told him that his wife reads Cloud Atlas (2004) every year and “she finds something new each time“. When asked about the possibility of winning the Man Booker Prize he says, “I felt honoured and pleased (by the nomination), but it’s the guy who approached me to tell me his wife reads Cloud Atlas once a year that I think is just so great.”
It’s worth reading the whole article to find out more about his books and his own approaches to writing, many of which I can also identify with.As I’ve said on several occasions, the positive comments on my own novels is what helps to keep me going, especially now that I am in charge of all the marketing of Paper Lanterns.
Here’s another enthusiastic email that arrived via the ‘Contact Me’ page above. It’s from a reader who knows and loves Lamma Island, confirming that I’ve ‘got it right’!
“Since I was introduced to your book via the Lamma Website, I have been dying to read it as I have been a frequent visitor to the Island since my son moved there 14 years ago. Like you it holds a special place in my heart being a place like no other. I have not been disappointed by your book as for me it evokes the spirit of Lamma brilliantly and is a great read. I loved your references to places on the Island, I think it was really clever of you to weave such an intriguing story onto a mere spec in the South China Sea and evoke such a sense of place.”
And here’s one from one of the Bookcrossers I’ve mentioned in my previous post. It clearly demonstrates how this wonderful organisation encourages its members to read more widely:
“This was a book which is out of my usual genres, though through Bookcrossing I have once again embraced many types of book and new authors, which I had got out of the habit of reading… I liked the gentle flow of the storyline peeling away the revelations ~ whether from the letters of Ann’s grandmother, her mother and her own self discovery ~ until the three time lines all dissolved into one as the story ended…the descriptions of the scenery and the people in the community were very vivid and evocative and reinforced my imaginings from my relatives’ tales…A wonderfully engaging tale which I enjoyed and as I do know someone else who would enjoy this book I intend to get a copy as a present…”
This is something that I find quite difficult to do because:
(1) that old chestnut of ‘not having time’
(2) I don’t find it easy to write a summary of a plot without giving the game away.
(3) When I’ve finished a book that I’ve enjoyed, I need to let it ‘settle’ in my head for a while, as I work out what feelings I’ve experienced while reading and how the author has achieved these effects.
I love reading detailed reviews on other people’s blogs, and that brings me to number (4) There are often so many excellent summaries and insightful critiques of a book that I’ve read, it seems a better use of my time to direct people to the relevant sites, as in this previous post so I’m delighted that there are so many enthusiastic book readers and reviewers out there. And yes, of course I’m doubly appreciative of reviews for my own novels!
Yesterday I was thrilled to get this wonderful review from a highly accomplished writer, Robin Lewis of Left Lion, a printed and online culture and listings magazine which covers Nottingham, with a specific focus on the local music and arts scene. (I love the first statement: “Unhappy families are always more interesting than happy ones”, though for me, it’s only ‘true’ in fiction!)
(The Lion logo makes more sense when you know that it was named after a stone lion outside the Council House. )It’s the place where I did my MA in Writing (and also where my son was born, over thirty years ago) so I have great affinity with the city. You’ll also see Robin’s detailed on-line interview with me, if you scroll down after the review.
Getting published is hard enough, but marketing your book is even harder, especially when you are your own publishing house. So I’ve been very heartened recently to find yet more insightful critiques. It’s fascinating to find how different people react to the characters in Paper Lanterns – I can see that it makes for a lively discussion for book groups, as you can tell from this extract below from the friendly group in Tennessee (holding their own paper lanterns on the evening of their discussion).
I’ve mentioned them in a previous post but I’ve just realised I haven’t explained how they discovered this novel. It’s not (yet!) available in bookshops in the U.S. so I’d thought that Tammy must have found out about it from the review on Rhapsody in Books, but no. Tammy explained how she’d Googled for Book Club Reads and then had arrived at a new on-line book group based in Birmingham (UK)
They’d wanted to choose a book by a local author, and Paper Lanterns was one of them. Tammy had followed the link to my Amazon page and had liked what she saw, so she contacted me via this site, and the rest is history.(I’ve hidden a few phrases that might have given awat too much for those who haven’t yet read the book)
“Everyone could relate to the family drama– we had a deep discussion about how things were probably hidden in every family from different generations, and which generation we could most closely relate to at this point in our lives.
Most thought that at first it was hard to keep up with the characters (who was who) until we kept reading and then it all fell in place. We also talked about how it took a talented writer to be able to pull that off like you were able to do. (smiles)
Ann was a huge discussion– we wondered if there was a reason she was made to sound so homely looking.
Also, the way you portrayed Vivienne as such an uncaring mother, xxxxxxxxxxx was a big discussion. No one could relate to how a mother could be so cruel to her child (the negative remarks she would make). It takes a great writer to be able to evoke these kind of emotions in the reader.
We all loved your writing style and thought you did an excellent job with the descriptions of Hong Kong and the surroundings. And, the way you left xxxxxxxxx (the ending) left the reader thinking long after the novel was finished…..We have all passed our copy of the book on for others to enjoy. (so many people in our area will enjoy your talent)
It’s so nice to know that my novel is being read so widely - though anyone reading this on my blog will see that my books can be ordered here from anywhere in the world with free P&P. I’ll soon be sending off a package of 13 copies of paper Lanterns to a book group in Italy.
And of course, there are the wonderful Bookcrossers to spread the word!
– I’ve been given links to the ‘Journeys’ that several copies of my book are making and it’s been fascinating to read their responses.
I posted the fifth and final question of my Virtual Treasure Hunt last week, and copies of The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society have been sent to a winner in Italy and one in Scotland, while three copies of Paper Lanterns should now have arrived at their new homes in the Midlands and the South West.
Many congratulations to the winners (to be honest, there were only five people who managed to find all five answers, though several others came up with two or three. I’ve just had to go through these questions and their accompanying hints myself, and even I found some of the a bit tricky to track down!
For anyone who didn’t manage to find all five answers, here are the links to the relevant questions and these are the answers.
Question 1 ANSWER “So near, and yet …”
Q 2ANSWER “Sunday, 10 January 2010″Q 3 ANSWER “that was not there a little while ago”Q 4 ANSWER a mountain climbing Guinness drinker
Q5 ANSWER “The craft of writing a book can be learned” and “Jeffrey Archer”
I won’t ask you to detect the link between Hens and this picture. Yes, those small creatures on the bottom left of the picture do have feathers and wings and they also lay eggs, but have you ever seen hens swimming with their chicks paddling in their wake?
I don’t think this next picture will be much of a clue,
though astute followers of this blog might remember a post I’d made last August in which I’d mentioned that Kew Gardens was within walking distance of the house which my daughter and her boyfriend had just bought. This picture of Kew Pier was taken last Saturday afternoon from a pleasure boat trip that had been organised by my daughter’s friends as part of the celebrations for her Hen weekend.
They couldn’t have dreamed up a better activity for a day when the temperature reached 30 degrees – the main point of it being its lack of any activity more strenuous than climbing a short flight of steps up into the bright sunshine or down into the shade. It was lucky that the original plan for a seven-mile circular walk from Box Hill had undergone a radical change. The bride-to-be (not to speak of her mother and future mother-in-law) might have collapsed with heat-stroke. As it was, we had the cooling breezes through wide open windows below deck where we unpacked a sumptuous feast and drank pink fizz.
We were heading for Hampton Court, but this was one of those occasions when the journey was more significant than the destination. We wouldn’t had had time to visit the flower show, so we strolled through the walled gardens and breathed in the scent of a thousand roses.
On the way back I was fascinated by the sight of two boys in their canoes, using a kneeling technique that looked incredibly unstable, but was obviously a powerful way of gaining speed. I suppose that the theme of Desert Island Reads can be loosely linked to this watery picture, but more to the point, it relates to an event I’ll be taking part in this Thursday as part of Frome Festival. Scroll down a bit when you reach this link and you’ll see what I’ll be up to.
I’m really looking forward to this, and have just about made up my mind about my own Desert Island Read. I’ll let you know more about the causes of my indecision later.
It’s been a good week for yet more book-related activities after the excitement at Winchester Writers Conference last weekend:
1)SOMETHING NICE, but not unexpected: I received an email from the Lamma-zine reviewer of Paper Lanterns, John Cairns, with a link to his own e-zine, Cairns Media. He’d previously asked if he could quote an excerpt from my novel there, and here it is, complete with some of his own pictures to illustrate the scene from Paper Lanterns when Ann arrives at the ferry pier on Lamma island.
If you’ve read it already, you might like to see the photos, and if you haven’t, you’ll get a flavour of the book and the accuracy of my descriptions when writing the novel.
2) SOMETHING NICE AND TOTALLY UNEXPECTED: I solved the mystery of how Tammy from Tennessee had come across a brief description of my novel, Paper Lanterns. You might not find anything extraordinary about this until you think of the thousands of novels published each year, many with the weight of a huge marketing machine behind them, and then consider the fact that Novel Press is a frail new-born, with Paper Lanterns as its only product so far, and nothing behind it at all except my efforts, and the good wishes of my small group of fellow writers.
The only way I could think of that might have led Tammy to my book, would have been the lovely review from the excellent Rhaposdy in Books, with its large following of readers, most of whom are also Americans.But no,Tammy had arrived there through sheer happenstance (as I’ll explain in a later post). Until this week, I was too involved in discussing the most convenient way of getting the ten copies safely to her home in Tennessee, and it was only when I heard that the package had arrived,(two days after being picked up by the carriers, DHL) and the copies distributed to the other members of her group, that I thought of asking her how she’d come across it in the first place.
3) SOMETHING NICE that had been planned a couple of months ago: an ‘author’s talk’ that I gave on Thursday morning at Erdington library. Last month I was talking to a writing group there. This time, it was a reading group. One member who had read and enjoyed Paper Lanterns, commented on her perception of the way that novels these days are presented to the reading public. She felt that the we, the readers are being manipulated by the needs of the publishing world to produce sure best-sellers, and that many of the books that are promoted in bookshops have been written with an eye on an imaginary camera, as if they were packaging their stories in a way that would easily convert to film scripts.
I was glad to hear her views, as they seem to accord to those of Jonathan Davidson of Writing West Midlands in his article ‘New Ways of Publishing’ in which he expresses the hope that “poor writing won’t be quite so often foisted upon us in an attempt to get a return on investment or to distort our reading tastes for purely commercial gain.”
And now for the fifth and final question in my Virtual Treasure Hunt. Congratulations to everyone who’s already emailed me the correct answers to the first four questions (It’s still not too late to find the answers – you can start here, and then find the links back to the earlier questions)
(a)What is the fourth statement about Writing a Book that I won’t immediately want to contradict?
AND,(HINT) if you’ve found the right page, you’ll also be able to tell me the answer to this, linked, question
(b)Which author re-wrote one of his novels 30 years after its publication?
The first five people to ‘contact me’ with the correct five answers will win a copy of either The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, or my latest novel, Paper Lanterns:
Before I launch into my brief visit to the Winchester Writers Conference last weekend,
I have to tell you about my excitement when I opened my email just now, to find that Google Alert had spotted an enthusiastic review of my first published novel, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society.
As you can see here it’s the responses of ‘my’ readers that helps to keep me going when the going gets tough.
Any opportunity for mixing with other writers gives me a boost, whether I’m leading a workshop for aspiring writers, or joining in as a participant myself, or listening to talks and readings from other authors, I always find some new understanding to add to my store of knowledge and skills. One of the most stimulating of these events in the UK has to be the annual Winchester Writers Festival that takes place at the end of June.
I’d heard about it several years earlier, and was thinking of signing up for the 2005 Conference, when I received that phone call from Transita, saying that they wanted to publish my novel. I’d reached my goal of publication, and foolishly imagined that I’d learned everything I needed about writing a book and getting it published. How could I have foreseen the sad demise of Transita, and my return to square one in a search for a publisher for my next novel, Paper Lanterns? I won’t go into details now, but you can read about some of the resulting difficulties here.
Eventually, I realised that although I’d learned a huge amount about marketing and the difficulties of getting published, I still had more to learn, so I signed up for the 2008 Winchester Writers Conference. That turned out to be an extremely useful decision. No, I didn’t find an agent or publisher to take me on, though, as usual, there were plenty of them milling around the University campus, giving pre-booked one-to-one advice, or delivering lectures. However, I did learn more about how to bring what I’d thought was a finished product to a properly publishable state. (I’ll write more about this in future posts).
When I’d implemented all the necessary chopping and changing, I sent it out again. And again. And again…until I came to the dead-end of every possible path. I knew that Paper Lanterns would be appreciated by many of my previous readers, and many new ones too, and if it was ever going to appear in print, I would have to do it myself. And here’s how I did it.
I was so delighted with the Novel Press’s first product that I sent a copy to Barbara Large, MBE, the amazingly energetic, enthusiastic, supportive and perceptive Director of the conference, and she very kindly invited me to attend the plenary address on the Saturday morning, and say a few words about Novel Press and Paper Lanterns.
If I hadn’t already committed myself to a family event at my mother’s house in Sussex, I’d have signed up for the whole weekend.
It was lovely to be back there, even for a short while, meeting up with writing friends, Adrienne Dines, and Crysse Morrison, as well as talking to strangers. (Though when a writer gets talking to other writers at such an event, they don’t remain strangers for more than a minute or two).
The plenary address was delivered by the indomitable Sir Terry Pratchett – what a fantastic(al) story he tells about his own experience of getting published. No one would imagine in their wildest dreams (that is, no one who knows anything of the current state of publishing) of being taken on so casually by agent with their first book, and some time later receiving a publisher’s cheque and a commission for a second book. ‘Oh, so that’s how it happens,’ thought the young Terry P, ‘You send off your manuscript, and back comes a cheque.’ He spent it on a greenhouse!’
Among the numerous amusing anecdotes and fascinating insights into his own writing practice, was what he described as ‘The valley of clouds’. Once he’d unravelled the analogy, I was delighted to find that his approach to plotting a novel accords with mine. As he explained, he can see the distant peak across the valley, and knows where/what he’s heading for, but the details of how the story will unfold is shrouded in the mist. He discovers these as he writes.
But there the similarity with this hugely talented and successful author ends. According to Wikipedia, as of December 2007 he had sold more than 55 million books worldwide, while I was happy with my sales of (nearly) 3,000 copies of the Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society.
ENTRANTS IN MY VIRTUAL TREASURE HUNT, WILL FIND THE FIFTH AND FINAL QUESTION IN MY NEXT POST.