Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Buy one get one half price!

These were taken by my friend Gillian on her camera phone and messaged to me - thank you Gillian!

Location: WH Smith, Queen Street Station, Glasgow.

Face out and on special offer in a station - I think that's what they call the Holy Grail.

Monday, 29 September 2008

An eventful weekend

I was awoken by Ann in the early hours of Saturday morning, who informed me that our usually quiet square was full of fire engines & police. I asked if our own house was actually currently on fire and being told “no”, went back to sleep, thus missing the most exciting event in our neighbourhood’s recent history.

A neighbour of ours is a publisher who had recently taken on a novel entitled “the Jewel of Medina” by Sherry Jones – a novel that has been seen (wrongly in the view of most) as anti-Islamic. A group of terrorists had decided to fire-bomb his residence. The armed police had been staking out the house, which was empty at the time, and arrested the men concerned, but not before they had started a small fire. Fire engines were called and I was briefly woken up to be informed of the fact.

When I decided to post something on the subject, I thought that the interesting point was that a crime writer had slept through the only crime to be committed on his doorstep for some time. Which of course is true.

But actually the real point is this. We have spent hundreds of years winning the right to freedom of speech. All censorship is bad. Censorship by terror has to be resisted at all costs. It’s fine to sleep through a police raid; we can’t sleep through the loss of free speech.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

When it all ends

This morning I completed the first draft of my WIP. It needs major surgery and it's definitely the proverbial sow's ear rather than the silk purse, but at least the skeleton of the story's there now, and anyway, how many first drafts aren't a bit grotty?

What I wanted to post about today, though, is the crisis of confidence I always have whenever I'm finishing up a book. From what I understand, a large proportion of writers really enjoy getting to the end of a piece, while others dislike endings because the prospect of parting with their characters saddens them. The ones I don't hear much about are the writers like me: the ones who hate endings because that's when their personal demons come out to play and tell them that the creation they just devoted X amount of time to reeks to high heaven.

Logically, I know it's an overreaction (as I said, what first draft doesn't need improvement?), and one that mars what should be a positive feeling of achievement, but am I the only one who experiences this end-of-draft malaise? Is anyone else troubled by the gremlin at such times?

Friday, 19 September 2008

Yet More Borderlands Pics

Underneath the disguises, from left to right, are my sister Amber, nephew Avi, and my niece Stephanie. As the picture she sent informs you, they are at the Barnes & Noble in Redlands, California (my home town, actually). She says:

"I am afraid the cover is a little blurry. Hope it still works. It is a great book. I am only 40 or 50 pages in, but am really grouchy when my job or my kids make me put it down."

My sister is an arbiter of local taste, so I'm happy to report that Brian is now big in Redlands.

If you're wondering what the heck Redlands is, read this wikipedia article. Or at least scroll all the way to the bottom looking at the pictures. There's some amazing gingerbread mansions there, built by the citrus barons in the early years of the 20th century.

Bet you didn't know there were such things as citrus barons, did you?

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Hot off the phone… (The Gathering: Part 3)

Okay folks. I’ve just come off the phone to David Headly, and we have a firm date for The Hoard of Mhorrer book launch at Goldsboro Books: January 16th 2009. Everyone, is of course, welcome to attend (these things usually start about 7/8ish), but of more importance to this blog is the confirmation of the “MNW Gathering”.

As per Frances’ suggestion, we could make it lunchtime, Jan Friday 16th if everyone is happy with that. At least that way any hangers on could keep going to the evening (chatting that is, not sure I should be drinking from lunch-time onwards – the book launch might get a bit messy). If we say about noon, all we need now is a venue, so I’ll hand that over to the resident Londoners in the gang. Got any ideas?

Monday, 15 September 2008

3 Lunatics for the price of 2

You have to be a little mad to be a writer, so says someone I chatted to over the weekend. I couldn’t disagree. I mean, apart from having the sort of imagination you only find in one other place, i.e. an asylum for the insane, writers have to be stubborn and single-minded as well as absently so, to believe that someday the fruits of their ill-judged labour will be plucked off the branch and showcased on the 3 for 2 table at the local Waterstones.

And bugger me if it doesn’t actually happen.

This lunchtime I strolled down to the Waterstones in Orchard Square and was very pleased to find in the 3 for 2 sale not only the paperbacks of Faye’s Cover the Mirrors, but David Isaak’s Shock and Awe, and Annabel Dore’s Great North Road, pretty much sat next to each other. Unfortunately my wee phone has the photographic resolution of a ZX81 so I didn’t take a photo of it, but my goodness… it looked bloody impressive. Maybe I should re-name this blog “3 for 2”?

Thursday, 11 September 2008

There must be some mistake

I thought for sure there'd be at least one, perhaps more, MNW writer on the Booker Prize short list. Perhaps someone should put in a call to Short List Headquarters to ask if there has been an oversight.


MNW - The Gathering (part 2)

Matt and I agreed some weeks ago that we would have another try at organising a get-together once the summer holidays were over. What we really need to know is (1) how many people would be interested (2) which month would be best for most people (probably out of Nov, Dec or Jan) (3) week-day or week-ends? and (4) day time or evening. So please could anyone who is interested state their preferences (including any dates or times which they couldn't manage)and we can see how far we get! It might be impossible to organise because of time commitments, distance etc. but we thought it was at least worth a try. I think it would probably have to be in London, unless anyone has any better ideas?

Friday, 5 September 2008

Borderlands in Houston

Here are my pictures of Brian Gilloway's Borderlands in a Houston Barnes & Noble. Brian's in good company: Ed McBain, John Mortimer, and Walter Mosley. Pretty exciting, isn't it?

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Borderlands Arrives in the US of A

Actually, the release date for the US edition of Brian McGilloway's Borderlands was the day before yesterday, September 2nd, but some of us (and by "some of us," I mean "me") are a little slow. But there it is, on the shelves of the Huntington Beach Barnes and Noble, sitting proudly in the New Mystery section. Somewhat surprisingly, St. Martin's Press (Thomas Dunne) decided to stick with the original cover, which shows an unusual attack of good sense and good taste; usually covers are changed just on the principle of the thing.

I have discovered that unless you are JK Rowling, John Grisham, or someone else who has a large audience quivering with anticipation at the imminent arrival of your new novel, "publication date" is a pretty elastic concept. The stores may get the books out on the shelves even before they are "published," or they may find their way out of the back room a few days later when the stock clerk stops using that particular box of books as a lunch table. So far, of the five Barnes and Noble superstores within 10 miles of my house, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Orange all have Borderlands on display; Costa Mesa and Irvine's copies are still apparently in use by the stockboy. Borderlands is also on display at Borders in its Long Beach, Brea, and Yorba Linda stores, and I suspect it will soon be cropping up at others. So, St. Martin's seems to be doing a good job of pushing the books out the door and onto the shelves, and I'm glad.

This is more than a selfless interest in seeing Brian's book reach a wider audience; this is also an historic, but little-noted occasion. This is the first time a Macmillan New Writing book has jumped the Atlantic and been printed in an American edition. Many--probably all--of us would like to see our books do the same, but I suspect those of us residing in the US harbor special hopes in this area. (Though something tells me if my book hasn't made the jump by now...)

Irrespective of my vested interest in seeing Brian's book do well, I'd urge American readers to toddle on down to their local bookstore (or, okay, go online if you must) and pick up a copy of Borderlands. McGilloway's prose is flawless, his characters pop off the page, the plot is engrossing, and the setting unique. The book received deservedly great reviews in Ireland and the UK, and sold enough copies to turn most writers Elphaba-colored with envy.

In case you didn't get the message, My Fellow Americans, I'm suggesting you buy it. (And congrats, Brian!)

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Publishing milestones

Matt just informed me that the paperback edition of Cover the Mirrors is now available on the 3-for-2 table in the Sheffield branch of Waterstone's (thank you!), and with all the recent talk on this blog about publishing experiences and milestones, I thought I'd ask you all what your own watersheds are or have been. Big or small, achieved yet or not - just writing-related things you consider worthy of note. A few of mine, off the top of my head and in no order:

* Getting a publishing deal (obviously).
* Visiting my publishers (Macmillan and Magna).
* Selling some subsidiary rights, namely large print, audio and Romanian translation. (Well, I personally didn't sell them, but you get my meaning.)
* On a related note: being translated into a foreign language.
* Working on one of my books with a professional editor.
* Doing a 'proper' interview.
* Appearing on live radio.
* Getting a book-themed tattoo.
* Holding a bound copy of one of my books in my sticky mitts.
* Braving my family reading my work - smut and all.
* Seeing my book in a bookshop.
* Being in a window display.
* Being face-out in section.
* Being on one of those cardboard standy things.
* Being on a special offer table (thanks again to Matt and Sheffield Waterstone's!).
* Having a launch party.
* Being shocked to discover that my scrawly signature is now an asset when selling books.
* Having my book sell out at several retailers.
* Meeting some fellow MNWers (Aliya and Alis).
* Speaking to a book group.
* Having my second novel accepted.

...I'm bound to have missed some, but anyway - can you add any more?

Monday, 1 September 2008

The Curse of Not Being A Bother

Further to Emma Darwin's comment further down the page about how lucky we MNWers are to have each other to share the publishing experience with, I thought I'd finally get up the courage to ask the question that's really been in my mind since day one of signing the contract.

How much of a bother are you prepared to be?

I'm desperate not to be thought of as hard work. Therefore I hardly ever speak to anybody at Macmillan. It's not that I don't have questions that I'd like answered about how many books I've sold and what exactly goes into marketing plans and so on. I'm just so paranoid that somebody will go, 'That Aliya Whiteley, blimey, worst of the bleeding lot. Never stops bleating on about something. And she obviously knows nothing about the biz, does she? Put a note on her secret file not to publish her again.'

Or, it occurs to me now, I could be at the other extreme of the bothersome author scale. Maybe they think I don't really care because I never say anything, and have decided not to tell me anything even if something important came up because, hey, it obviously means nothing to me.

So where are you on the scale? I speak to somebody at Macmillan maybe six times a year and am pretty apologetic then. I've always wanted to know - are you doing it more than me?