Author events are fun but they all have one thing in common – the writer always wonders if anyone will show up! The relief when people do is enormous.
So if you know writers and they are putting on events, do go along. Never underestimate the value of much appreciated morale boosting support here. (The other simple way of supporting writers is to review their books on the usual sites. The nice thing with this is the review doesn’t have to be a long one).
Local Author Event with Richard Hardie and Antony M Browne
On Tuesday, 12th November, I went to an author event at the Hiltonbury Farmhouse held by YA author, Richard Hardie, of Temporal Detective Agency fame, and Antony M Brown, the writer of the Cold Case Juries series.
I thought the venue was great (the irony being I walk past the pub so often with my dog, Lady, yet this was the first time I’d been in there!).
The author event was held in a cosy nook and there was a group of about eight or nine of us there. Richard acted as compere for the event and there were small tables where both writers had a selection of their books available.
Obviously at any author event, the writer is hoping to sell books but it does go beyond that. As well as being a way of meeting other writers (we appreciate the mutual support!), events are a chance for authors to engage with readers (actual and potential).
It is also a great opportunity for readers to put questions to writers and for authors to share something of what the writing life is like. (Forget glamorous incidentally but it is rewarding for many reasons).
Richard started proceedings by introducing himself, explaining what he wrote, and how he got into writing, and then into publishing. As mentioned in previous CFT posts, Richard wrote Gang Shows before moving on to write his Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords in his Temporal Detective Agency series.
He also talked about how his company Authors Reach has evolved. Later, he revealed Book 3 in his TDA series should be out hopefully in February/March 2020 and that an audio version of Leap of Faith should be out at about the same time. He discussed how the audio version has come about and his delight at hearing how the actor who is narrating this has brought Richard’s characters to life. Richard’s books are “narrated” in print by Tertia, his 14 year old heroine. Not an easy voice to get right.
I love books in all their formats and audio is growing in popularity. (I introduced members of my family to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld thanks to the wonder of audio books). Many congratulations to Richard for this step forward. Audio is a fantastic way of reaching people with stories. If you’re not reading them, the next most natural thing to do is listen to them and I like the tie-in here with the old oral storytelling tradition too.
Later in the evening, Richard’s competition to guess how many words were in his Leap of Faith novel (to as near a figure as possible), was won by Sue who was presented with a personally signed copy of the book.
Antony M Brown
Antony M. Brown is an award-winning essayist, former magazine editor-in-chief and member of the Crime Writers’ Association. He signed a four book deal with Mirror Books for his Cold Case Jury books – true crime mysteries in which the reader is invited to deliver the verdict on what most likely happened. He lives in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire.
Antony then introduced his Cold Case Juries series which comprises The Green Bicycle Mystery, Death of an Actress, and Move to Murder. He also explained how he wrote them.
Part 1 is the “police file”, Part 2 is the “evidence” and Part 3 is where Antony tells the story of what he thinks actually happened. If you go to his website, you have the opportunity to play detective too.
Antony also discussed the problem in trying to find an agent (he remains unagented. Richard did have an agent but parted company amicably with them later). Antony went on to talk about learning all about publishing contracts and that having a publisher does not mean the writing life suddenly becomes all sweetness and light.
For example, you often don’t get much of a say on your book covers. One of my favourite quotes comes from P.G. Wodehouse who said “God may have forgiven Herbert Jenkins Limited for the jacket of Meet Mr Mulliner but I never shall”! So this is not a new problem then and it happened to the best humorous writer this country has ever produced! (Wodehouse wasn’t a new author by this point either).
A common problem to all writers is balancing writing time with marketing time (and the latter can include anything from revamping your website and ensuring it remains fresh and interesting for you and your readers and using social media in an entertaining way that will draw potential readers in. That takes time and commitment in itself).
In Antony’s case, he has the additional problem of working out what research to keep in his books and what to leave out. Also it is so easy to become a research addict! At some point you do have to sit and write the book!
Antony shared news that his next book Poisoned at The Priory will be out in January and he has books 5 and 6 in hand.
One lovely thing that came out of the evening was a greater awareness of why books are priced the way they are (the publisher takes this, the distributor takes that, the bookshops have this cut etc) and that authors don’t see much of the cover price at all!
With Print on Demand and self publishing becoming more available to more people, there has been an increase in people taking the independent route because they want to retain total control over their work (you have to relinquish that if you go the traditional route) and see more of the money when hopefully the books sell.
Incidentally the golden rule for independent books is they mustn’t look like it! They should be indistinguishable from books produced by traditional publishers.
Questions and Answers
Author talks are fascinating when the writers concerned share a little of how they developed the “itch” to write, what has kept them going during the rejections etc., and can take questions from the audience. Richard and Antony covered this beautifully.
Taking questions can be nerve wracking but it encourages participation and a good question can get a wonderful discussion going. Unless the author has planted someone in the audience, you can’t know what the questions will be but you can guess at the most likely ones and have answers ready.
Ideally you have answers you can adjust in terms of who you’re talking with. If you’re talking to fellow writers, they are more likely to want to know about overcoming some of the pains of writing such as when the words just will not seem to flow, no matter what you do. A reader is less likely to be interested in that and more intrigued by where the ideas came from and what drove you to write in the first place.
It became very clear to everyone here that you do have to write for the love of it. Nothing is guaranteed and you need that love of writing to keep you going.
Also most of the time a writer is at their desk so getting out and about to meet readers is a wonderful flip side to that coin.
Using the Hiltonbury Farmhouse as a venue made the event a truly local one and I hope the pub encourages more authors to do this. I thought it worked well.
Congratulations go to Richard and Antony for hosting an excellent and interesting evening.
If you get the chance to get along to author events, do go. Writers seek to engage with readers via their works but events like this are your chance to engage with the authors and to see what lies behind their output.
For me, understanding why a writer is driven to write what they have is fascinating and enables me to get more enjoyment out of their books. Hopefully going to events like this will prove to do the same for you. And you can get to ask questions!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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