Friday, 29 August 2008

September's Publication

"How do you rebuild your life when the world lies in ruins?

February 1945. Europe is in ruins and the Red Army is searing its way across Germany’s eastern marches, revenging itself upon a petrified population. The war is over, but for some the fight for survival is only just beginning.

Alix, the aristocratic daughter of a German resistance fighter, is alone and desperate to flee before the Reds come. But when a ferocious snowstorm descends she must return to the shelter of her abandoned ancestral home. There, she is shocked to find her childhood sweetheart Gregor. As old passions are rekindled, a couple break into the house to hide – the man, dressed in Gestapo uniform, is a stranger, but his companion is altogether more familiar.
By morning, the blizzard has died down but the Reds are back. The woman and her Nazi escort are dead, and Gregor has vanished. Alone and terrified, Alix runs for her life, and embarks upon an extraordinary and heartbreaking journey.
It will take sixty years and the fall of another empire – Communism – before the riddles of that fateful night can be deciphered.

Restitution is a memorable novel about love and betrayal, hatred and heroism – a reminder that, even in the worst of times, the most courageous acts of kindness are possible

About the Author:

Eliza Graham lives in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire, with her husband, children and dogs.

Hi, Eliza, tell us a little about your novel, Restitution:
"Essentially Restitution is a wrong-person-at-the-wrong-time love story crossed with some Gone with the Wind/Cold Mountain elements, perhaps! But set at a very dark time in European history: the closing months of World War Two in Europe. I'd been mulling over the subject matter for some years. As a teenager I stayed with a German family who'd come from the east as the Red Army moved in at the end of the war. They told me about packing a handcart with possessions and running away through the snow and to my teenage imagination, I'm afraid to say, it actually sounded quite exciting. As I grew up and read more I became completely chilled by the horror of that time. I kept wondering what would happen if you had competing loyalties, if you had friends or lovers on the wrong side. It seemed like a miracle to me that from so much suffering Europe could possibly have been rebuilt. And so the seeds of Restitution were planting."

Restitution is your second book published by Macmillan New Writing. How has your life changed since they published Playing with the Moon in 2007?
"It can be crazy! I still have my freelance proof-reading job, which I juggle with looking after the children. Writing is a lot of fun but it means I have to be much more disciplined about putting aside time. When I first started, I just wrote when I felt like it and in some ways, for me, that worked well as I could just relax into my imagination and let the book unfold at its own pace. Now I have to be more ruthless about getting on and doing it. But I'm certainly not complaining as it's a problem I longed to have for years while I was in Writing Wilderness.."

What is your typical writing day?
"The beginning of the week is less busy with my freelance work and other commitments so I tend to try and seize time then. Sadly my subconscious doesn't always respond well to the need to Have a Good Idea on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I just grit my teeth and try to get something down, even if I know it's not very good, before about half-past two, which is when the dogs start marching up and down and demanding their walk. After about half-past three it's unlikely much will happen writing-wise as I become a taxi service."

Four not-so random facts:-

Do you have a writing mantra?
"Prepare for the worst and keep Plan B up your sleeve. My Plan B includes changing my name and leaving the country and starting all over again somewhere like Tasmania."

By pen or by keyboard, and why?
"Both! On holiday I use pen and I often scribble on bits of paper as I dash around. When I'm at home I tend to use the laptop for convenience."

Greatest influences on your writing:
"I don't think I have any in particular. I'm very fond of spy novels like Len Deighton and John le Carre but I don't write books in that genre. I also love nineteenth century novels and frequently reread them."

Most ludicrous moment in your life?
"When we were struck by lightening, disabling our broadband and telephone; I broke my mobile; the front door key snapped in the lock; and my car battery went flat. All within 48 hours. If someone was doing voodoo on me, I've got the message now, OK?"

Thanks, Eliza, and best of luck with Restitution which is published 19th September 2008 and is available at all good booksellers.
You can read an extract of Restitution by clicking here, or for more information please visit the Macmillan New Writing site here.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

To agent or not to agent...?

I know that some of you/us have already crossed this bridge, and Len has already blogged about it (it sounded very hard work!), but two thirds of the way through book no. 3, I need to start thinking about it myself. While Macmillan have been wonderful in every way, I am not good at matters financial, and all things being equal, like the idea of handing All That over to someone else. Does anyone have any views/experience/advice, please?

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Miss Booth's Book Emporium

I have just set up a webstore for my books using Amazon's aStore system. I'm still finding my feet with it, but so far I'd definitely recommend it to other authors: you can build your own webstore and choose the products that go in it, but it's powered entirely by Amazon and all orders are handled and despatched by them, so you don't have to worry about messing up on that score, and of course it's a lot more reassuring for buyers as well - if you trust Amazon, you can trust an Amazon aStore!

So far I only have the editions of Cover the Mirrors that are available on Amazon's catalogue listed in my shop, but I'll add the audiobook and the hardback of Trades of the Flesh as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

School Books

I've been blogging over at this week ahead of the publication of Borderlands in the US. Tomorrow's post is one I thought I'd throw open to the MNW family as well, if you don't mind...

'I return to work next week after eight rain drenched weeks of a summer vacation. Today, I will be calling into school for a few hours to sort through the new books we have ordered for the coming academic year. It is a task I’m looking forward to doing. Although we have a fairly clear curriculum, there is room for English teachers to introduce texts that they like or think their pupils might like. Over the past few years, I’ve managed to include The Moonstone, Oranges From Spain, Ian Rankin’s A Good Hanging, The Outsiders and The Godfather into my classes, alongside The Great Gatsby and Hamlet which are two of my favourite texts from my own days at school. This year I’ll be teaching Dracula amongst other things to one of my classes.

I’m not going to argue that these texts are ‘worthy books’ as such, though some of them are great works. Some I’ve included because I think the pupils will enjoy them. (I teach 11 – 18 year old boys, by the way.) In fact, Oranges from Spain was written by Northern Irish author David Park who is also a teacher. He was teaching Treasure Island to a group of students and realised they were completely bored. Therefore he wrote this collection of short stories which deal with teenagers growing up in the North.

The books we engage with when teenagers stick with us all our lives. Each stage of my education is marked by one book in particular that spoke to me in a way others didn’t: as a child Leon Garfield’s John Diamond; as a teenager, SE Hinton’s The Outsiders and Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby; at university, The Name of the Rose. As an adult, I revisit the books of James Lee Burke frequently.

I suppose what I’m wondering is, if you could choose one book that isn’t ordinarily taught in school to be added to the curriculum, what would it be and why? And furthermore, are there any books you’d like to see removed from school reading lists? Personally, I could happily survive a few terms without Thomas Hardy…'

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Macmillan New Writing - The Gathering

Yep, it sounds like a dodgy film (like Highlander, or some-such) but urged on by an e-mail from Frances, it’s about time for a meet-up/gathering/get-together/shindig/hoohah etc. for the MNW crew.
We’ve had a couple of big ones in the past, namely the first launch for the imprint way back in April 2006 and for Mike Barnard’s retirement, not to mention the occasional meet-ups for book launches over the last two years, but recently there’s been nothing with more than several of the writers in attendance at any one time. Frances thinks this should be rectified, and so do I.

So I’m throwing this out to you all to see what you think. Frances suggested a meet-up sometime in December, which I could do, and I’ll throw in January as possible month because I can do that too. Ideally it would involve a big lunch in London and/or an evening out drinking and chatting. We could combine it with a book launch or we could just pick a date the majority agree on. I’d love it if our non-UK authors could hop over the Atlantic, from India, Australia etc to join up but I’ll understand if it’s a trip too far.

So. What do you reckon then? Anyone up for this? And if so, when do you reckon?

(And by the way, this invitation isn’t just limited to the Macmillan New Writers – anyone else who frequents this blog is invited too. When it comes to chatting and drinking with friends, I’m not exclusive.)

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Attack on London

I know Alis has blogged about The Big Green Bookshop in the past. I'm going to be there on Saturday 6th September reading from Light Reading for Gold Dust magazine's party. If you wanna come along and heckle you are very welcome.

Here's the details:

You are all invited to come along for another evening of readings, drinks & music to celebrate 4 years of Gold Dust magazine.

Time: from 7pm

Date: 6 September 2008

The Big Green Bookshop
Unit 1, Brampton Park Road,
Wood Green
N22 6BG

Monday, 11 August 2008

Okay, here's a question...

I'm coming up on the anniversary of my debut publication. Tim Stretton just launched his boat upon the waters. Frances Garrood, Aliya Whitely, Brian McGilloway, Michael Stephen Fuchs, and Edward Charles have all sent their seconds out in to the world under the MNW imprint, and the rest of the MNW alumni are all in various other stages of...of, well, whatever stages they find themselves in.

So, I thought I'd toss this question out there, ala Bob Dylan, no matter what your stage of publication: How does it feel?

Pretty much as expected? Pretty much as unexpected? Gratifying? Disappointing? Surprising? Complicated? Better? Worse?

Those of you who aren't Macmillanites (aren't 'Macmillanites' demons out of a Clive Barker novel?) should feel free to chip in, too. What's up with all this publication hoo-rah? How does it rank relative to, say, loss of virginity, matriculation, bailing out of an airplane, or crossing the equator ("cutting the line," for the nautically inclined)?

Friday, 1 August 2008

August's Publication is...

"Introducing England's most eccentric family . . .

It is the early Sixties, and thirteen-year old Cassandra Fitzpatrick is growing up in a household full of waifs and strays and general misfits. Despite her unorthodox home life, however, she is generally content – until something happens to her that turns her life upside-down.
Cass’s unhappiness deepens when she wins a scholarship to boarding school and is torn away from all she knows and loves – especially her adored, if wildly unconventional, mother. In time, Cass begins to settle down, but accustomed though she is to her mother's eccentricities, even she is not prepared for the announcement Mrs Fitzpatrick is about to make.
Years later, as her beloved mother lies dying from cancer, the adult Cass is reassessing the experiences, good and bad, that have made her who she is. The Bird, the Bees and Other Secrets is the story of how one woman comes to terms with her extraordinary past and eventually finds happiness. It is a novel about the brevity of childhood and the responsibilities of adults, and a reminder that love can be found in the most unexpected places

About the Author

Frances Garrood's main career was in nursing, and she published many short stories in the odd moments between working and bringing up her four children. She was also a Relate counsellor for many years, and now counsels clients privately at home. She lives with her husband in Wiltshire. Dead Ernest is her first novel.

Hi, Frances, tell us a little about your novel, The Birds, the Bees and Other Secrets:
"The novel initially grew out of a short story I wrote some years ago about a woman sitting with her dying mother and thinking back over her childhood. Of course, there is much more to it than that, but it did give me something to work from and some kind of structure (and I need structure, especially as I don't plan ahead).While the novel is not autobiograpical, the idea was inspired by my own mother, who was very eccentric but also funny, creative and brave. Her life – like the life of the mother in the book – was fraught with difficulties and suffering, and yet she managed to maintain an amazing spirit. It is this spirit which I hope to put across. The novel means a lot to me, not because it is good (I'm not in a position to judge) but because I have put so much of myself into it. The experiences of love, joy, sadness and bereavement have all been mine, in one way or another, and they make the book very personal to me."

The Birds, the Bees and Other Secrets is your second book published by Macmillan New Writing. How has your life changed since they published Dead Ernest in 2007?
"Apart from the yacht and the Porsche, you mean? I think the key word is confidence. The imprimatur of MNW was a tremendous boost, for as we all know, writing can be a lonely business, and to know that someone believed in my book enough to publish it was fantastic. I think I've been on a sort of high ever since that first letter from Mike Barnard, and while many MNW writers' novels have done better than Dead Ernest (so far, although it is now in the early stages of development into a TV film, so you never know...) I still feel excited to be a published author. I haven't yet gone so far as to call myself a 'novelist', but I'm getting there. Also, at my age (I think I'm probably the second oldest MNW writer, after Brian Martin, and my youngest son is the same age as Faye!) it's good to know that it's possible to succeed at something new."

What is your typical writing day?
"I don't have one. I so envy the rigid routine of the 'Get up at 6am, 2 cups of strong coffee, write for 2 hours. 8.15am more coffee and a muesli bar, walk the dog, two more hours' writing etc'brigade, but I simply don't have the self-discipline. I write when I feel like it, which could be any time. Sometimes I write quite a lot; at others, just a few words. But I have set myself a deadline for the WIP (although I'm not telling anyone when it is)."
Four not-so random facts:-

Do you have a writing mantra?
"I think mine is probably 'Keep going, because eventually it'll start writing itself, as it always does (but I get impatient, as I always do...).' Or is that too long? Not very snappy!"

By pen or by keyboard, and why?
"Keyboard every time. I'm far too lazy to write things out more than once (although I have a kind of typing dyslexia, and tend to write letters in the wrong order, so the spell ckeck is in constant use). "

Greatest influences on your writing
"I don't think I'm influenced by other writers, but I read widely. I love many of the 19th century novelists, especially Trollope, Jane Austen (of course) and Mrs. Gaskell. I especially admire writers like Barbara Pym and Anne Tyler, who can write with great delicacy about simple every-day subjects."

Most ludicrous moment in your life
"There have been so many, but none stands out especially. Being pulled fully-clothed into a swimming pool by my grandson at a wedding - will that do?"
Thanks, Frances, and best of luck with The Bird, the Bees and Other Secrets which is published 1st August 2008 and is available at all good booksellers.
You can read an extract of The Bird, the Bees and Other Secrets by clicking here, or for more information please visit the Macmillan New Writing site here.