Wednesday 26 October 2016

You and not you.

Having your books translated into another language is a strange experience. Something that has your name on it, but which you can't read. So you don't know exactly what is inside. 

My books are already in Italian, with interesting but somewhat different covers from the English language ones. And different titles too. Never Coming Home is Disappearance and Out of Sight Out of Mind is Lost Identity.

Now my publisher Choc-Lit has teamed up with Norwegian publisher Cappelen Damm, who will be launching Choc Lit in Norway in 2017. Cappelen Damm will be releasing nine Choc Lit titles in 2017 with roll out in to 2018. And Never Coming Home is one of them. It's exciting and an honour to be one of the ones chosen to be part of this, and I'm really looking forward to seeing my first cover in Norwegian. Still won't be able to read what's inside though!

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Visiting the Society of Antiquaries

The 'day job' can sometimes get me into interesting places, which is how I came to be at a seminar with other PhD students at Burlington House, which is the London home of the Society. It is an amazing place full of all sorts of treasures, and a wonderful library which I hope to be exploring further at some stage in the future. The Society also looks after Kelmscott Manor in the Cotswolds which is the former home of Pre-Raphaelite  William Morris - so I'm putting that one on the agenda for next summer, when the house is again open to the public. In the meantime, back to Burlington House. Apart from the library, the house is full of quirky treasures and paintings - things that have been acquired and donated by collectors since the Society began in 1707. The various lectures and talks we enjoyed during the day have given me ideas for my research and also the stirrings of what might turn themselves into thriller plots at some stage in the future. We shall see.

Serendipity was at work at the start of the day - I had an overnight in a nearby hotel and on the wall in the street outside was a blue plaque for Sir Mortimer Wheeler, an archaeologist who was a TV personality when I was very young. I vaguely remembered a luxuriant moustache. His name turned up an hour or so later, as one of the Fellows of the Society.  The kind of slightly edgy coincidence that gets the brain going - or it does, if you are a thriller writer.

Remembering my recent research into Richard III (See the post for 28th September) I was interested in seeing the earliest portrait of him, and the Bosworth Cross, which is said to have been recovered from the battlefield where it was used by Richard in religious services. Both are among the Societies treasures. I was expecting to have to ask nicely to see them but the portrait was on display on the wall of the room where most of the talks took place and the Cross was in a glass case in the foyer. Which rather sums up the kind of place it is - a building with fascination stuff on display on every floor.

I had a wonderful day - even though the journey home was horrendous as the Severn Tunnel is closed and on top of nearly an hour for an extra  trip around Gloucester the train was 40 minutes late.

While the Society's London premises are not open to the public on a casual basis, you can book to have a paid tour and they have an active programme of free public lectures on a wide variety of topics. If you are into history and archaeology, well worth a look. And you get a peek inside the building.

This is a link to their site, if you want to explore further. HERE

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Mirror, mirror

Another of the Cardiff University monthly public lectures - this time one of my favourite lecturers, folklore expert Juliette Wood - talking about mirrors. Not just for seeing yourself in, but for divination and magic.

We got a whistle stop tour through natural surfaces, water, polished stones, to polished metal and then to the invention of mercury mirrors and on from there, and including superstitions such as the many variations about looking in mirrors and seeing a future spouse.

One of the things about attending a lecture is that it sparks ideas, and/or points out connections you might not have made. Something I learned - the frequency of mirrors, or materials that were probably used as mirrors, in ancient burials - and their probable magical significance. And that these occur all over the world, from Europe to Japan.

The other thing that I particularly took away was the incidence of mirrors in art. One of those things you kind of knew, but had never really thought about. The Pre-Raphaelites and Caravaggio were highlighted, and as I'm a fan of both and have dark plans to involve their art in some future books, this was one of my bonuses of the evening. Apart from enjoying myself, of course. I'm an especial fan of John William Waterhouse and he has quite a lot of slightly sinister stuff, involving mirrors and water and divination with themes from myths and fairy stories and legends.

I made notes, and am looking forward to using them in the future.

Wednesday 5 October 2016

The love/hate of cover reveals.

 Cover reveal day - the first big date in the life of a book.

It has already been quite a journey to get to this point - writing the damn thing - and at this stage, the love can be spread very thin - then editing it, then all the process of getting it ready for the reader. And now it passes out of the author's hands - your baby is flying, or maybe fleeing, the nest.

Ask most authors and they will confirm that getting a good looking cover is a very important part of a book's success. Probably the first thing that prompts a reader to take the book from the shelf or track it down on digital or audio platforms. And the cover is very often something that is entirely beyond the author's control. A self published author has more autonomy, but there are still the issues of conveying a mood to a chosen artist, and paying for it. For those in the hands of a publisher - well, the industry abounds with horror stories of incorrect setting, time periods, hair colours, mood, even of authors not even seeing their cover until it is already in the public domain. My two so-far published books have fabulous covers - thanks to the talented Berni Stevens - and I know my publishers work hard on getting the right look.

Then, once you have this perfect cover - one that totally conveys the experience the reader is going to get when they open the book - then it has to be announced to the world. Cover reveal day - the day when the book becomes 'real'.  Lots of social media - maybe some posts with bloggers, maybe even an on-line event - everyone loves a party. I haven't had a new cover to celebrate for a while, but I am hoping - and I know it will be fun, and a bit scary. A day to love and hate? What if no one else likes it? And they say so? Probably worse, what if no one notices it? Like I said, fun and scary.

I was prompted to write this post by a brilliant cover reveal from Nicola Cornick - who writes historical/time slip. The books are great, and the new cover for The Phantom Tree is beautiful. But the way it was revealed, in the form of a jigsaw, was brilliant. I'm impressed and, of course, a bit green with envy.

I'll put in a link, so you get the idea and see the lovely cover - unfortunately, as I've completed the puzzle, I can't get it to unscramble itself, so you can  play too. Defeated by technology!