Last Saturday I was at MacFarlane’s of Abbeville Road to promote ‘The Village’, as one of MacFarlane’s ‘local heroes’. Robert Marsham’s excellent fromagerie will be hosting a series of ‘Meet the Author’ promotions over the summer, all with writers local to the Clapham area, of which this was the first.
On a blustery but sunny morning ‘The Village’ proved popular with shoppers, some of whom had come especially to talk with me and purchase a signed copy of the book. Thanks to all of those who stopped to chat and ask questions, to sit and talk about ‘The Village’ and about fiction and writing in general, despite the wind. I hope Jo, Neil, James, Mary, Camilla, Sallyann, Barbara, Paula and all those whose names have escaped me, enjoy the book and that they write a review. The ‘Ask the Author’ page on the Village web-site (www.thevillagedirect.com) has been revised to incorporate their questions and my answers about ‘The Village’. More general questions on publishing and writing and my answers are found below.
Why did you decide to be a writer? I have been writing for pleasure all my life, creating stories for friends and family. It was a necessary skill in my previous career as a civil servant. Although the writing wasn’t fictional, I needed a certain command of the written word. So it was a natural progression into writing fiction once I had taken early retirement.
Why self-publishing rather than the usual route? I believe that the large publishing houses aren’t really interested in taking a chance on new authors, unless they come garlanded with prizes or other prior recommendations, being too focussed on snapping up the next best-seller. That could be fiction or celebrity writing, or, increasingly, both at the same time. Self-publishing used to be frowned upon, considered as the refuge of the ‘vanity’ author, but that’s no longer the case. Established writers are turning to self-publishing and those famous for a different form, like the playwright David Mamet. Digital technology makes it easier than ever, given a certain amount of time and patience, so, why not? The royalty payments, as a percentage of cover price, are considerably better too!
Are you from a village? Did that influence what you wrote about? I grew up in a semi-rural English village and some features of that place appear in ‘The Village’, but I don’t think that this particularly motivated me to write about such a village. I’m interested in everyday life, the small things ( and sometimes big things ) which seem so commonplace, but are all absorbing for most of us most of the time. ‘Celebrating the quotidian’, you might say, the shared human experience. That can be set just about anywhere.
Will you be publishing work by other writers? Yes. I already have a couple of titles by other authors lined up, although the next Story Bazaar publication will also be by me – a novel for the young reader called ‘On the Frontier’.
Several other writers, ( some of them more established than myself ) were kind enough to come along and give support. Some of these folk will feature in later ‘Meet the Author’ events at MacFarlane’s. It was fun to swap tales about writing and publishing. My special thanks to Ann, whom I’d never met, but who arrived even before I had set up, to get her copy of ‘The Village’. She filled me with optimism for the event ahead, even as the chill wind whipped the table covers into a frenzy. Many thanks too, to Robert and the team at MacFarlane’s who were and have been so supportive ( the superb coffee was most welcome, and kept warming me up throughout the day ). Future events at MacFarlane’s will be trailed on twitter at #macfarlanesdeli .