A Turn Up for the Books

October 12, 2022

I may have mentioned that I’ve got a book out – now in paperback (including a very fancy exclusive edition for Waterstones with the sprayed edges).

Unlike my last book, when my bookshop support team consisted of my Dad furtively ringing me from random bookshops around Scotland, announcing that he had just moved my book somewhere more prominent, Waterstones have massively got behind Hare House, making it their Scottish Book of the Month. The best part of this is having my twitter timeline punctuated with the odd moment of joy as different shops around Scotland have used my book to exercise their marketing and display talents. I think we can all agree that these are better than yet another howl of despair at the state of the nation:

I hope that people find the words inside as compelling as the very pretty paperback, but at this stage in the game I’m just happy to see it out there getting some love. It’s also, anecdotally, selling quite well – when I did my event at Wigtown, there were only four copies of the paperback left as it turns out that when you put a lot of bookish people into a small town in Scotland and then make it rain all morning, they descend on the festival bookshop like so many page-starved locusts and buy everything that isn’t nailed down.

Board showing event at Waterstones 6pm Thursday 13th October

I’m even (finally) having something like a launch in my home Waterstones, with an event tomorrow evening complete with wine and nibbles. Sadly, a planned reading and discussion next week in Edinburgh has been cancelled after it turned out the that the good people of Embra would rather buy the book and find out what it’s about by reading it, than slog out in the dark of an evening to have the author tell them directly (book sales have been pretty good, but ticket sales not so much). On the whole, as someone who would certainly rather read a book of an evening than go out, I think I approve of this approach.

So there you go. Plugging over. For those who are only here for the actual hares, rather than the literary ones, I can only apologise and assure you that normal service will resume shortly.

Lolling hare

At least, I hope so.

Paperback Writer

September 8, 2022

This was a pleasant surprise yesterday afternoon.

Paperback edition of Hare House

If you’ll forgive me a little self-promotion, the paperback edition of Hare House is coming out officially on the 29th of September, just in time for anyone looking for a spooky read around Halloween. And the very next day I’ll be at the Wigtown Book Festival talking about it to anyone who is interested enough to turn up and listen (and pay their £7.50 entry fee). This will be a new experience for me. It’s our ‘local’ festival (but still a good 50-odd miles away) and after toying with cycling there I’ve decided to take the bus most of the way and let the Brompton fill in the gaps.

Bromptons in Paris

Indeed, this will be just one of a few adventures the Brompton will have coming up this month as we get ready for another #5GoMad adventure… Watch this space.

On My Travels

January 22, 2022

Well, this is exciting – I’m actually going somewhere. I’m not sure if you can count one event at a bookshop as a ‘book tour’ but I am heading to Oswestry for an evening talking about Hare House on the 27th January at the lovely Booka Bookshop (which have even done a wonderful Hare House window in its honour.

Practicalities have put paid to my original plan of taking the Brompton and cycling to Oswestry from the nearest train station, sadly, but I am looking forward to going somewhere different. It’s been a while since that’s happened.

If any of you are Shropshire way and interested, come along and say hello!

“All Book Launches …”

January 11, 2022
JoAnne with her copies of Hare House

“… should be like this”, my pal and local poet JoAnne McKay announced as we sat down to coffee and cake together to commence the real business of the day – exchanging gossip (the formalities of the actual signing being over).

Books with coffee and cakes

I have to say, I agree. January had served up a near-miraculous day of sunshine and light breezes, with barely any frost and she happens to live 12 miles away along one of my favourite routes in the area.

rural road and sunshine

I had stuff to do and (as I recalled later) a meeting to attend, but if I’ve learned anything since moving to Scotland it’s that when the weather calls like that, you answer. With the cake consumed and the coffee drunk along with the last juicy drops of literary gossip it was just a matter of caning it for the 12 miles back to make it home in time for my meeting.

late afternoon winter sun

And tomorrow I’ll be doing it all again only further, as I head to Notso Bigtown for the second instalment of my #BookLaunchByBike.

When Will this Relentless Self-Promotion End?

January 6, 2022
Copies of Hare House in hardback

Soon, I promise, but today is publication day for my book and as threatened I have made a little video trailer to celebrate.

It’s actually been an interesting little project for the whole Christmas/New Year period, and I’ve ended up learning a lot, mostly about how not to go about making a video, like attempt to shoot video hand held unless you’ve got the steadiness and low heart rate of a sniper. Also that three days spent listening to a recording of your own voice as you painstakingly align images, words and sound would send anyone over the edge.

I have edited basic videos before but mostly just cutting stuff and adding captions and I knew I needed something a little more functional than the video editing tool that comes with Windows. The other half recommended Blender, an open source programme that he’s used before and it definitely is a lot more functional in that it’s a fully fledged 3D animation rendering tool that does a bit of video editing on the side (when we were kids I remember my mother and aunt doing a jigsaw puzzle of Concorde’s cockpit and this is more or less what the Blender user interface is like, only perhaps somewhat more complicated). I was reduced to watching YouTube tutorials, my least favourite method of learning stuff, just to be able to get started, but after a few days of messing around I had got to the point where I could do most of the things that I needed to. And, as well as giving me the excuse to get out cycling round some of my favourite places, it has also reminded me that there is a real satisfaction in learning a new skill (and also filled me with even more admiration than I had before for those people who manage to put really good videos together).

Anyway, here it is, apologies in advance for the sound of my voice …

… and now I’m wondering what else I could do with my new-found skills.

Welcome to the New Year, Just Like the Old Year.

January 1, 2022

Back in 2020, when I first found a publisher for my second novel (cough Hare House cough), I was disappointed that it wouldn’t actually be coming out until 2022 but I do remember thinking that at least the publishing industry’s long lead times meant I’d be able to have a proper book launch … Bless us, how young and foolish we all were back then.

Now that the time is actually almost upon us (did I mention I’ve got a book coming out next week at all?) and with Omicron ascendant, gathering a lot of people together in one room just for a book launch seemed potentially murderous, even if not technically illegal, so I had to think of an alternative way of marking the publication and one that absolutely didn’t involve anything so awkward as a virtual event on Zoom.

ebike on remote rural road

So, as well as foolishly offering to cycle round most of the country to sign a copy for anyone who buys one (terms and conditions apply …), I equally foolishly suggested I could put together a short film of the landscape that inspired the book. Which has been the reason why I spent the last three days of the year roaming round bits of the countryside on my borrowed e-bike, discovering, among other things, that putting together a decent video out of handheld phone camera footage is bloody difficult.

tree on hillside by stream

Especially when the weather gods have clearly decided to set the dial to ‘dreich’ and take off for the entire holiday period.

sun barely breaking through clouds

Damp socks aside, however, I can’t think of a better way of seeing out the old year, and seeing in the new.

Here’s hoping 2022 brings us better times. And at least you’ll have something decent to read.

Copy of hare house and mug with hare on it

We Interrupt this Everyday Tale of Rural Folk…

August 12, 2021

… to announce that I got something very exciting in the post today

Cover of Hare House, by me

This is not the final finished product yet; the book comes out officially in hardback on January 6, 2022. But it is still exciting nonetheless (and I may be biased, but I think it’s a gorgeous cover design).

Back cover and blurb

Mark your calendars …

And now, back to cycling, gardening, and existential climate angst.