This will be a rather self-indulgent blog post and I will not apologise for this! LOL.
It was around a year ago (I think) that I agreed to attend this event thinking, it’s ages away, it’ll be a laugh, yet as the day approached I realised I had no idea what I had got myself into! I had to get serious all of a sudden. I needed stuff to take with me for a start and trust my luck, some of my recent novels didn’t arrive through the post on time, including a batch of Unbinds – and I still don’t know where the shipment is!
On the morning of the event, I suddenly felt a little bit sick. I was reminded of the morning of my wedding when I stepped into the shower and vomited into my hand just because so much preparation had gone into that one day. Anyway, on March 14th I was thankfully not sick but I only managed a pot of tea and a miniature patisserie at my hotel before we had to make the walk to another hotel down the road, where said author signing was taking place. Once inside the Great Northern in Peterborough, I was greeted by chaos and activity and the nerves disappeared because it was time to get on with it all!
The first girl to my table told me she thought A Fine Profession was amazing and refreshing, she really liked it, and she bought a copy of A Fine Pursuit there and then. Great start, right! While sat at our table, my hub and I got to talking about my back catalogue and his favourite of the bunch remains A Fine Pursuit. I asked why and he said the psychology and the challenge of unpicking a character as interesting as Noah Yeardley. Anyway, (I did mention this would be a self-indulgent post, but I’m feeling a rare sense of pride right now), yet more people came to my table either just to chat, have me sign books, take swag or whatever. I was just happy people were approaching me!
I was shocked when one lady had one of my protagonists’ names printed on her t-shirt. O.M.G. Feckin’ fab. Said lady was very nice, asked for my picture with her, and mentioned she’d endeavoured to work her way through a book from each of the authors attending which was no easy job, given there were 30+ authors at said event. Not only romance authors but crime, horror and all kinds in between.
I was also blown away when quite a few people produced photo books with a page dedicated to each author, book covers on show and some quotes too! It’s at that point I realised that people have access to me and not only that, they’re interested too and want to make me a part of their community. Most of the time, authors sit at a laptop with only their own company because that’s the life of an author. Or so it always seemed to me!
Anyway like I said, I had no expectations of this event and it was my first big event, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I certainly felt a bit more assured than I did when I did my first library talk a couple of years ago, and certainly more assured than when I did a writers’ group talk last year and a book club one too – and I’ll tell you why! Last Saturday I was actually in the company of other authors who’ve also taken the step, as I have, to either self-publish or publish their work and ‘put themselves out there’. It’s really not something I did lightly and I know most other Indies like me didn’t take that step lightly either. To have that camaraderie is amazing, regardless of which route in publishing you’ve taken.
The overall feeling I took away from Peterborough was that most people want to read and most people want to write for all the right reasons. Everyone was so supportive and gracious of one another. The people I spoke to were more than aware how hard it is to get a footing in the writing world and yet we all do it for the love of words. Everyone I spoke to that day was genuinely passionate about books! They’re the best people in my eyes!
It was refreshing to step away from my laptop for a day or two and actually reflect on everything I’ve achieved so far. I think a lot of writers forget to reflect because we live in such a fast-paced world and hardly have time to draw breath! Sometimes we just have ideas we have to pursue and the world moves around us as we dedicate ourselves to writing a book, which is a risk and a sacrifice, but never not worth it (as I’ve come to realise).
Some readers told me they absolutely got one book of mine and others told me they got another. From my point of view, all I’m ever working with is the fact I know I can write and if I get an idea then great, I follow it. I write it and hope someone gets it. That’s all I do, because I love writing SO much. So when a person came to my table and said one of my books was their favourite last year, I was like WOW. Total bonus. One hundred thousand per cent bonus.
The thing with events like signings or whatever is the fear that you won’t get to speak to everyone for long enough or you forget to thank people, forget to meet everyone. I didn’t get round everyone because there were so many authors but there were some people I don’t think I will ever forget! I took away the feeling that it’s not always important to conquer the world, but to own what you do and really stand proud and represent that thing you do, whether it be as an author or as a reader or blogger or whomever or whatever your vocation in life is. Just own whatever it is you do well and be proud of your niche, because variety is what keeps the world evolving and without that, we really wouldn’t ever have change and that’s what I strive for all the time. Change might lead to something new and exciting.
After the books were signed that day and the banners and swag and tins of sweets put away, we sat down for a dinner and ball and that was when the day really got started for me. Speaking to one woman on my table, she asked me which is the book I’ve written that I believe in most. She also asked which book did I enjoy writing the most. I still say the book I enjoyed writing the most was Angel Avenue and I don’t think my opinion on that will ever change. I also happen to believe in that one the most. I explained to this lady that it’s a book some people just don’t get for whatever reason but I tried to tell her that sometimes it’s not about understanding everything in a book, it’s about how that book makes us feel about characters. I personally love books where you can read between the lines and take a moral away with you or just a feeling of thankfulness for everything we have in our own lives. I’ve written some pretty erotic stuff in the past, involving whips, chains, belts, dildos, you name it – I’ve never been shy of exploring all that. Human sexuality is the single most written-about thing on the planet. Yet despite all those other erotic books I’ve written, I still feel such a powerful, deep, not even sentimental but overawed emotion whenever I go back and pick up Angel Avenue and Warrick Jones (the guy printed on that lady’s t-shirt). He is the one male character I’ve written that I still think about. I’ll love him forever. So as we sat at that table, said lady clicked a few buttons on her phone and downloaded that book. That’s the world we live in now. Convenience. Expectation. Volume. Ease of access. Standing out in the crowd will never be easy because of this mass outpouring of creativity. It’s a blessing and a curse that anyone can publish relatively easily now. However, this particular author event proved to me that the people who succeed and the ones who remain authentic and original are the people who never sacrifice who they are and now I am glad to say I know some of those people personally! Passion really translates – and it really sells!
Far be it from me to reveal what us authors got up to later on in the night but the night owls amongst us who didn’t get to bed before 2.30a.m. laughed our socks off so much, we’re still talking about this and will be for months to come! A sign of a truly nourishing and fulfilling day! Amen to the organisers Hourglass Events and Orchard Book Club. They did a fantastic job, made a lot of authors realise they’re not alone in their fears, aspirations, dreams and endeavours… and more importantly we’ll all be back!
Many of us have signing hangovers for a number of reasons and I know I’m itching to meet people all over again very soon! Roll on Leeds 2016!
On a side note, I want to ask anyone who has enjoyed my books to please, please review them! Many people tell me they’ve loved my work and I just don’t see this love reflected on Amazon or Goodreads. Please do me the honour of just writing a line or two of review. It makes all the difference. It’s easy to read a book and leave it there, I am also guilty of this, but I try to review whenever I get chance. It not only helps other readers make a decision about their purchase but also drives more clicks to our pages and therefore hopefully more sales and hopefully more happy readers! Please review today and make everyone happy! Thank you!