To market to market, to tell a fat tale

I have just heard that my wonderful fellow authors from the Odyssey stable (garret? mansion?) had a great success at the Ferny Creek Market yesterday. With a mystical theme, they still managed to sell all five copies of The Pale that I sent to the table. Wow, just, WOW!

I guess sci-fi with talking dogs was just within the net of interest for Faery and Angel followers. They too love their dogs I guess.

Meanwhile, I was engaged in an interesting conversation with my mum. She says such fascinating things these days. Indeed, I have plans for a new book, all about the amazing ideas that come to the surface of her reality, which is often in an alternarive universe from where I am living.

Yesterday she introduced me to a new resident at her care home. Although she never addresses me by name, she does introduce me as ‘This is my daughter Clare’, so she definitely knows who I am! Anyway, she then proceeded to tell me the history of the new man at the afternoon tea table.

‘They found Jack in the street, you know, and he wanted to buy the place so they let him in. He lives here now but he works at the local newsagent on Mondays. He’s going to bring me a copy of The Age because I still haven’t seen the article they wrote about my cooking.’

See, it’s absolute gold, isn’t it? Such a rich world. She can cram in more nuggets of intrigue in one go than I can smash into a chapter.

Hmm, I wonder where I get my love of telling stories?

Affirmation

The fact that my book now sits on a library shelf seems very surreal. I must visit and take a photo before someone borrows it – NO, wait, I really want someone to borrow it!

There is this thing where authors get paid micro-microcents for each time their book is borrowed, but really, you wouldn’t want to hold your breath to use it for a cup of coffee. What’s much much much more exciting is that the story could possibly, maybe, perhaps, get into the hands of a reader. An actual live person turning pages.

The thought that somebody unknown might go in and have a look at my imaginary world is just amazing. It’s strange how even the chance that it might happen affirms the world of The Pale as somehow more real.

And very motivating. Right, out of the blog and back to writing Pale #2!

What am I doing? Moral agency and the writer

Sometimes I look up from the imaginary world I’m writing and take note of what’s around me. Sometimes I ask, What am I doing? Is this worthwhile? Can stories have value? Is this how I want to spend 2018?

A dear friend recently sent me this link from Literary Hub on the moral agency of the fiction writer. I include it here because it makes total sense. The quote is from Susan Sontag’s At the Same Time: The Novelist and Moral Reasoning, and addresses the morality of the writer:

“Obviously, I think of the writer of novels and stories and plays as a moral agent. . . This doesn’t entail moralizing in any direct or crude sense. Serious fiction writers think about moral problems practically. They tell stories. They narrate. They evoke our common humanity in narratives with which we can identify, even though the lives may be remote from our own. They stimulate our imagination. The stories they tell enlarge and complicate—and, therefore, improve—our sympathies. They educate our capacity for moral judgement.”

See the page with many more snippets of Sontag’s wisdom at

http://lithub.com/susan-sontag-on-being-a-writer-you-have-to-be-obsessed/

I have been re-reading this passage as I write. It seems to me to be very apt for the stories that come out of Odyssey Books, where nothing exploitative or repulsive gets a look in. Odyssey – where books are an adventure – and very often, a moral one at that!

 

Thanks to the British Library free Flickr stream for the image taken from:  “Italien … mit 12 Städteplanen und 40 Ansichten in Stahlstich”, by Georg von MARTENS, p. 1775, Stuttgart, 1846.

Sci-fi rules … or might soon

I have just read Fascinating article about genre boundaries in this month’s Writers Victoria magazine, The Victorian Writer (as in, writers who live in Victoria, not those who write like Dickens necessarily!).
In ‘Crossing the Streams’, author Claire Corbett writes that ‘the genres all need each other and dividing them up is pointless … Sci-fi in particular plays well with the others’.

Corbett argues that all genres use the techniques of romance, crime, horror, etc, to keep their narratives going, and that ‘sci-fi is on the verge of swallowing pretty much all literature whole because, as Kim Stanley Robinson points out, the reality we are living in now is pretty science fictional’.

I looked up Corbett’s author page and it’s very impressive. Check it out at
https://www.clairecorbett.com/

Five tips for tackling a scary task

Halloween is over, but there are many scary tasks in store for the newbie fiction author. Today was another milestone day.

For the first time, I walked into a bookstore and said, ‘Hi, I’m a local author, and I’d like to ask if you’d consider stocking my book.’

EEEEEEK!!!!!

But I really did it. Not once, but twice. And then I added a trip into a strange libary as a bonus, suggesting that they too might like to have my *divine* work on their shelves.

Now that my pulse rate has slowed somewhat, I can share some ideas for this task:

  1. Be prepared. I kind of was. I prepared a one-page ‘Introduction to The Pale‘, on which I listed its freshly-developed tag (‘dystopian sci-fi with talking dogs!’), the link to purchase, RRP, a teaser re the characters (‘Meet the canini…’), and a short bio with contact details.
  2. Have a book to show them. I *LOVE* the cover that Michelle organised for me (thanks to Elijah Toten), and it really goes down well with prospective buyers/readers.
  3. Be prepared to give up a hard copy. Yikes! One bookshop – a very nice bookshop – said they’d love to look into it and could they have a review copy right now – so I had to say ‘Yes, of course!’ and watch the precious paper disappear behind the counter.
  4. Live your local writing scene. It helps that I sometimes go inside these bookstores, as they are in shopping strips near where I meet friends for coffee. When I made my claim to be a local author, they came back at me with other names and a degree of excitement. Lucky for me I know a couple of these people from work (at uni), so I was able to join the booksellers’ enthusiasm. But being aware of similar titles to yours, or of other local writers, seemed to ease the conversation.
  5. Populate your website. The bookstore that didn’t ask for a hard copy wanted to know if Odyssey had published a sample chapter online? I said, adlibbing quickly, not yet, but that there is a sample section about to be published on my own website.

Both bookstores said they have heard of Odyssey and would look to order after checking out the book. Fingers crossed!

The image is from Lilliput Lyrics, a children’s book published in 1899, courtesy of the free images provided by the British Library on Flickr

Image taken from page 180 of 'Lilliput Lyrics ... Edited by R. Brimley Johnson. Illustrated by Chas. Robinson'

 

Launch day!

This evening is the launch of my sci-fi, dystopian novel, The Pale. I’m very excited and just a little bit nervous.

All I have to decide is what to wear, what to say, and what to read. Problems every author should have 😉