Tuesday, November 07, 2006

46,203 Words

Not much progress I know, I've been doing some reformatting and fiddling around with the place names. In my head, the story takes place mostly in Leicester, with a bit of Leeds thrown in (these being the two cities in which I have lived longest) and so I blended them together to create a fictional city. Then I read an article about the importance, for the readers, of being able to place a book geographically. Sometimes it's a city you live in or have visited, sometimes it's a more exotic location that you associate with a holiday, etc. I agree with this completely. I have read locationless books and enjoyed them but they aren't as memorable as books like The Bull from the Sea (read on the island of Poros), Hunting Mr Heartbreak (read in Arizona), Tender is the Night (read shortly after returning from a budget weekend in Paris) or any very English novel, such as I Capture the Castle. Crime fiction seems particularly to rely on it's geography - the city becomes a central character in itself. Leeds has both Frost and Dalziel & Pascoe, Edinburgh has Rebus and Skinner. I don't want to tie my book to Leicester, mainly because many of the characters are amalgamations of real people, or people I have met but renamed and exaggerated out of all recognition - or at least this has been my intention. If I set the book in Leicester, it would be just my luck to find some old schoolmate popping out of the woodwork with some bogus claim, saying I've defamed them or whatever it might be. You're so vain... as the old song goes. If I tie the book to Leeds I invite unfavourable comparisons with well-established 'Tecs like the above. It's a dilemma but I think I've plumped for Leeds in the end - after all, I know it better.

On another tack, I've had an interesting response to my Ebay listing: an internet entrepreneur (for want of a better description), let's call him J, has contacted me to say he's planning to set up a small press of his own and would be interested in publishing my novel. This is no self-publishing offer either (they are ten-a-penny), he will meet all production, advertising and promotional costs and give me 50% royalties. Sounds great doesn't it? I mean it's not a £10K advance but it's definitely not to be sniffed at. Unfortunately I couldn't reply because the auction ended and Ebay blocks you from responding to questions after the time has run out. I re-listed but it made no difference and J hadn't included his email address so I had to Google him. I found several references to him, in various capacities: web-hosting, website design, advertising, even setting up his own charity (something I tried to do once, but that's another story). So it seems he's genuine, although I have some reservations about the no. of typos in his website and the old adage jack of all trades, master of none did come to mind. All I can say is that I hope (I hope, I hope, I hope...) that I am wrong, and that this offer is kosher, and that a year from now I will be opening a crisp new paperback full of my own words.

I wonder too how much research he's done into small presses. I understand that there is an Association of Small Presses (or somesuch) now in existence, and that some will qualify for help or funding from the Arts Council. I know that they can also get help from their local authority LDO in many cases, with publicity, etc. I hope I can manage to find J again, somewhere in cyberspace and ask him all these questions. All in all, it's been a mixed up kind of day.



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