This week we hear from a newcomer to Chudleigh Writers, Ian Riddle, who tells us about the writing and marketing of his debut novel, Midsummer Dreams.
“I’ve come to writing rather late in life, having taken up the pen just three and a half years ago as I was fast approaching sixty-nine. This possibly goes some way to explain why I’ve been writing frantically ever since, making up for lost time. I’ve never worked so hard as I’m doing at this writing thing.
I’ve already published a coupe of volumes of shorts; volume III will be ready for this October. Midsummer Dreams, though, is my first novel although there’s a second The Girl in the Blue Hat, already in the wings and a volume of monologues well under way.
Midsummer Dreams is a lyrical history of the lives, loves and, in particular, the dreams of several of the inhabitants of the small village of Treddoch Harbour set over a single day, Midsummer’s Day. It’s something of an Under Milk Wood in prose and was inspired from my having lived in the small Cornish fishing village of Polperro for over 40 years.
I’ve also been a great fan of Under Milk Wood since the age of eighteen when I first heard Richard Burton’s version on what was then called the Home Service.
Treddoch, as the imagined village is referred to locally, is a fictional, atypical, once fishing, now touristy, community situated on Cornwall’s southern coast.
Everybody has their dreams, though none more so than the inhabitants of Treddoch. In their case, and this is where they differ from the mainstream, as well as having their own, personal dreams, the residents of Treddoch Harbour also have the one dream, the overarching dream, that singular dream that binds them as a community. This is the dream of having a ‘good Season’. For many of them, who rely on the tourists for their income, their money’s only to be made in the summer, when the tourists are abroad. Winter months can be dire.
The action starts at dawn and ends with dusk. The story’s told through the voice of a tour guide as he takes the reader around the village, introducing the characters one by one, starting with the late Butcher and his Wife, now interred in the local cemetery!
There’s also a cat, Bastet, but whether she’s the Ancient Egyptian Goddess reincarnate, as her owner believes, is left to the reader to decide. You can view more by clicking here.
I can only assume that Midsummer Dreams, being a novel, has pushed me into doing some marketing which I’ve ignored so far with my short stories. I guess that’s going to have to be rethought though, once volume III’s published.
One of the challenges for me, regarding marketing, has been embracing social media. It’s a medium that’s held no interest for me up until now, and even now I’m only interested in it for a fairly specific purpose, marketing.
Rightly or wrongly, I’ve always perceived social media as being a platform for people to share their holiday snaps, pictures of the latest additions to their lineages or, as a friend of mine once did, his new kettle.
My seventeen-year-old grandson recently explained to me just how big a portion of their marketing budgets companies now spend on social media advertising, so I thought it was probably time I got with the programme after all; hence my posts on the South West Writers group on Facebook and a few Tweets. The converted are always more ardent than the regular bunch of believers, whatever the religion.
The old-fashioned side of me though still thinks along more traditional lines so I’ve recently begun a PR campaign, targeting all and sundry with a press release, or three. Thank goodness for the computer age though, in this respect. Emailing has saved me a fortune in postage stamps and there’s seemingly no end to the number of people I can afford to find and annoy.
Press releases are a bit like throwing mud at a wall. Fortunately, a couple of bits have started to stick.
As well as having a freelance journalist approach me for a copy of the book, I’ve already been featured on Pippa Quelch’s show on BBC Radio Devon (late May) and Debbie McCrory’s programme on BBC Radio Cornwall on Friday just pas 19th June (8.40pm). The latter worked well as the date being almost Midsummer’s day coincided very nicely with the title of my novel. I couldn’t have orchestrated it better if I’d have tried!
After these modest successes I’m feeling quite elated; a lot more people will soon be finding copies of my PR material in their inboxes.”