First week jitters

by M.J. Hearle

Well, the big day has been and gone. Anybody interested in reading Winter’s Shadow (and if you’re not, why aren’t you?) can waltz into their local bookstore and buy themselves a copy for the low, low price of $19.99. Alternatively, you can jump over to the Winter’s Shadow page and order it online, but I urge you to do it the old fashioned way. Bookstores, especially the independent ones, need your support. Otherwise, they’ll go the way of the Dodo – destroyed by poachers, rats and dogs.

Currently, I find myself jumping back and forth between two mental states – excitement and apprehension. Being a deeply neurotic soul, I can’t help worrying about the eventual fate of Winter’s Shadow. Is the book going to fade into obscurity or find its audience? So much of it is out of my hands. I can clog the internet with blogs, march through the streets naked wearing only a sandwich board with the book’s title, but it might not make a lick of difference. It’s a word of mouth industry. Luckily, so far the word’s been pretty good. There have been some very lovely and encouraging reviews online and readers seem to be enjoying the book. Whether or not this translates into actual sales is another thing altogether.

Que sera, sera, he says as he bites his nails down to quick.

There’s a new interview up at Alpha Reader. Thanks to Danielle for giving me the publicity and supplying some interesting questions which were a lot of fun to answer. I also love the evocative images she sprinkled throughout the interview text, one of which is actually the pre-photoshopped photograph used for the Winter’s Shadow cover. It gives you an idea of how much work went into creating the finished product.

Speaking of photographs, I might have get another author portrait taken. An uncle called me up yesterday to congratulate me on the book publication and told me the photo I’ve been using online makes me look like a young Stephen King. This was not a compliment. While, I would love my writing to be compared to Mr. King’s – my appearance…not so much. Great writer, not a very handsome man.

In other news, last Thursday, my publisher invited me along to The Great Debate a Dymocks charity event which raises funds for literacy projects. The topic was ‘Do White Middle-Aged Men Tell the Best Stories’, and was argued for the affirmative by Virginia Gay, Richard Glover, and Greg O’Mahoney and by Dan Ilic, Annette Shun Wah and Rob Carlton for the negative. The irrepressible Adam Spencer (obscure Monkey reference for those readers old enough to remember the Japanese TV show. Adam actually did a whole bit on Monkey during one of his introductions. I too am still a little confused over my feelings for Tripitaka) chaired the debate. Rob Carlton’s team ended up winning but both sides put forward hilarious arguments and a fine old time was had by all.

Along with the Pan Mac folk, sitting on my table was the owner of the Dymocks Warringah Mall store, who kindly invited me out Manly way to do a signing at some point in the future. Mind you, this was after he related many amusing (terrifying) anecdotes about writer’s appearing in store for signings only to have no-one show up.

Without naming names, one particular story involved a budgie-smuggler loving, prominent politician who arrived at Dymocks to sign copies of his latest book. Either due to the poor weather conditions (apparently it was a miserable night) or more likely, the fact nobody gave a damn about his signature, nobody was there. As the hours ticked by, and the store remained empty, the manager gently suggested perhaps it might be time for him to pack it in. He’d given it a good shot but it didn’t look like there were going to be any supporters arriving anytime soon. This politician, in a display of characteristic bull-headedness, refused to leave until he’d sold at least one copy. Eventually a middle-aged couple wandered in and this politician followed them around the aisles, harassing them until they eventually relented and bought his book just to get rid of him.

I had a giggle at his expense, but then started wondering what would happen if I was put in a similar situation? My first signing will be at the Book Warehouse in Port Macquarie this Saturday morning so I guess I’ll find out. If nobody shows up I might take to chasing people around too.

Though you’ll never catch me in a pair of budgee smugglers.

M. J.

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