Promoting a Modern Novel or Trying to Make Sense of the Universe

Catherine McNamara interviews three authors who have worked with or are working with an independent publisher.

First off is Charlie Hill whose novel ‘The Space Between Things’ came out in October 2010...

What sort of expectations did you have when you signed with a small publisher?

None really.

You’ve written for newspapers such as the Times Literary Supplement, the New Statesman, the Independent on Sunday. Did you use these contacts?

I tried. But due to a combination of my over-exuberance (in the run-up to the launch of your debut novel, it's easy to forget how to approach the national press) and editorial indifference, none of them bit...

How important was a web presence and social networking for you? How effective did they prove and what other methods did you use to reach your audience?

I got in touch with Hay and other festivals, encouraged local cafes to take a punt on stocking the thing, harassed mums at local baby groups... Marginally more successful than any of this was my leafletting (The Times called my novel a 'celebration' of the suburb in which it was set, so I stuck that on a flyer and did the whole postcode.)
I'm a bit sketchy when it comes to social networking - I make do with a free website and a rather pre-Twitter approach to 'friendships' on Facebook - so it's difficult to draw any conclusions from the effectiveness or otherwise of my web presence. I do think that you can spend too much time on it though. I can see the value of Facebook pages and Tweeting and - at a pinch - working to build a following for a writing-related blog, but trailers on Youtube? It's an obsession at the moment, for both writers and their publishers and the only thing writers should be obsessed about is their work. Place a short story in a decent mag and the interest will come; it all comes back to the work, after all.

Stereotypes And Writing

by Kristin Gleeson
artwork:Bradley Wind

I’m not sure when I first became really aware of the impact of stereotypes, but it might have been when I moved to England in the early 1980s and many people called me ‘the Yank.’ I’d never thought of myself as a Yank in any way, shape, or form, especially with an English father who cautioned me against the dangers of a Philadelphian accent. But ‘the Yank’ I became and with that moniker I acquired the baggage of what some English thought Americans represented. They were rich, big spenders who flashed their money around. I wore charity shop clothes and re-knitted pullovers. Or they thought American cities were crime ridden and everyone toted a gun. I’d only ever seen a gun in a policeman’s holster. The experience sensitized me.

Back in America my family had expanded to include various in-laws who were Thai, Cuban and a half Native American and I learned about their own experiences of stereotypes. The subservient Asian wife, the hot-tempered Latino and the noble Indian maiden with braids were repeatedly plastered upon my in-laws and shaped people’s interactions with them. My in-laws in turn ridiculed these images, were angered by them or ignored them but underneath it they just wished to be judged as people first.

Andrew Oldham Interview

Andrew Oldham Interview
by Shanta Everington

Andrew Oldham was born in a Bolton Hospital in 1975. He grew up with dreams of rockets to Mars amongst washing lines and gossip. His poetry has been broadcast on BBC Radio Four Poetry Please. His first collection Ghosts of a Low Moon (Lapwing, Belfast) was published in 2010 to critical praise. He has been published in Ambit, The Interpreter’s House and The London Magazine. He continues to write but now lives in Yorkshire.

I caught up with Andrew to talk about poetry, writing and getting published.

Hello Andrew and welcome to The View From Here. How did you get into writing poetry?

I was a teenager; teenagers at some point will try their hand at poetry. After I got over this and believing I was another Coleridge, I started to write poems about observation. However, in those early poems I wrote about the romantic idea of love, of fictional dark beauties that could never be found on the margins of the industrial and rural landscape I grew up in. I gave these first attempts of dark beauties to an art model at the college I was attending in Wigan. That sounds bad. It sounds like a cheap chat up line akin to ‘come up and see my etchings’. It wasn’t like that, she was an old friend, a friend I drank with, caught the bus with and I was stunned when she walked into my A level Art naked. She asked to see my poems after a drunken boast that I wanted to be a poet. It went downhill after that. Her boyfriend found the poems in her handbag. He thought the dark beauties were her. He chased me all over town. She never spoke to me again, convinced that she was indeed the dark beauty. I blame the Romantics for my descent into poetry. Poetry can get you in trouble and it is always best to get into trouble for something you have done. My poetry since then has always been based to some extent in my experiences.

The Scent of Lemon Leaves : A Review

The Scent of Lemon Leaves
By Clara Sanchez
Published by Alma Books
Reviewed by Jessica Patient

Clara Sanchez’s The Scent of Lemon Leaves is a curious book. Originally published in Spain, The Scent of Lemon Leaves has been a bestseller in Spain and Italy. Sanchez tells the story from the view of Julian, a retired Nazi Hunter, stuck in the past, and Sandra, a woman who has recently found out she is pregnant and has run away to her sister’s beach cottage on the Costa Blanca so she can decide whether or not she should marry the father of her unborn child. This is an intriguing approach and helps offers a young and old perspective throughout the novel.

“People think we’re anchored in the past, unable to understand the past.”

Sandra meets a Norwegian couple on the beach one morning and becomes close to them. She even gives up her sister’s cottage to move into their gated house and becomes intertwined with their friends. Julian has travelled from South America, after he receives a letter from his recently deceased work partner, saying he has spotted ‘wanted’ Nazis living in Spain. Both characters become snarled up in the lives of the Norwegian couple and their ‘brotherhood.’ Both characters are forced to deal with their pasts and face up to the future.