You wait a while for a review and, what do you know, two come along at once.
Book reviews are the buses of publishing that can take a book elsewhere. The preferred destination: discovered, bought, read and enjoyed is clear, although there’s no guarantee any book (however good) will succeed.
‘Bussing it’, as in catching a bus and staying on wherever it goes has its fans, such as teenagers with free travel cards, OAPs and even rock chick Chrissie Hynde. It’s about the journey, and the opportunity to discover unexpected places along the way that may be more interesting than the final destination.
Independent book blogs are bussing-it-trips compared to the straightforward journeys on offer via the book review pages in the mainstream media.
Book blogs, through their willingness to read widely and without prejudice towards self-published works, offer a chance for other voices to be heard and new, perhaps more unusual books to be discovered. As Haruki Murakami says, ‘If you only read the books that everyone is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking’.
What if a hero isn’t a true hero? This was my starting point when I came to write my dark comic short story Shopping at Tesco.
They say you should never meet your heroes, the simple reason being that in reality few people measure up to the hype, and it was with this cynical thought in mind that I listened to news of the Hudson River hero.
ack in January 2009 (yes, I wrote the first version of Shopping at Tesco that long ago), American pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was hailed a hero after successfully making an emergency landing of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, New York, after the plane hit a large flock of geese, disabling both engines. All 155 passengers and crew survived.
It was the perfect good news story and there aren’t many of those, but at the time my initial thought was, I hope the pilot is up to his new role as the US nation’s hero. Well, of course it turned out that he deserves all the adulation he has since received: an outstanding scholar, president of the high school Latin club, an experienced pilot with 40 years and 20,000 hours of flying experience, an air safety expert, successful author and a happily married family man who friends describe as “shy and reticent”. In other words, Sullenberger is an all round good guy.
But, what if a hero who becomes a hero suddenly and accidentally isn’t so great? Shopping at Tesco evolved from this simple question. The plot formed subconsciously in a dream that was further developed until Joanna, my “Tesco hero” who isn’t a true hero, came to life. Meanwhile, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is so much a true hero that a film based on his life is to be directed by Clint Eastwood, and if there’s one thing Clint knows about it’s heroes.
My main website and blog is moving to here. Why? Well, I’m about to publish several works starting with a dark, humorous short story called SHOPPING AT TESCO (free on Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords etc), and I came to the conclusion that shortening my name to “Jaq” is a good idea.
Jaq is what close friends and family call me. It’s also how I used to sign artworks when that was my main creative outlet, and as Jaq Hazell I appear to be the only one on the internet.
There are many Jacqui Hazells. There’s a witch in Wales, a health consultant somewhere else, and another Jacqui Hazell who likes to run marathons. I’m sure they are all lovely people but they are not me.
SHOPPING AT TESCO is about a snooty yummy mummy who takes decisive action when faced with panic and danger at a London supermarket. It’s available as a free download from your favourite ebook retailer. And for news of new titles please join my mailing list here. Thank you.
It’s the final day of London Book Fair. I managed two days out of the three before I thought, enough.
It’s often said book fairs are not for authors – like lambs visiting a slaughterhouse – and best avoided. However, this is the third year I’ve visited and it is changing.
‘Effective PR and Marketing’, ‘5 Ways to Supercharge your eBook sales’, and ‘The Principles of Successful Book Cover Design’ were just three of the many useful seminars on offer.
Alongside author interviews such as Ali Smith who was inspiring, and Conchita Wurst (Eurovision winner) who was entertaining but irritating because: a) I was expecting a seminar full of tips about writing non-fiction, b) her autobiography is ghostwritten, and c) she’s not into books, and only reads “the Vogue”.
Thankfully there were also interesting panel discussions including established talents such as author Melvin Burgess, and his charismatic publisher Klaus Flugge, founder of Andersen Press.
‘Where would we be without authors?’ he said. ‘Publishers are just midwives.’
I am waiting for rain. I’m looking forward to it. I’m scanning the weather reports, and even managing to listen to the weather on TV without glazing over. I have to know when?
Weird I know, seeing as I’m British and as these things go the British are absurdly grateful for one fine day, let alone over a week of good weather, but I am hoping for rain. It’s April and I’m in England, so what is going on? The showers should be frequent, but so far they are falling elsewhere.
This is not a gardening issue, it’s a writerly one. And I don’t mean the usual summer conundrum that writers have to solve on a sunny day, as in you really should stay in and work but you feel you have to go out because in the UK one or two hot days can make a summer, and that’s your lot. No, it’s more straightforward than that. I’ve got it in my head that the cover for my short story collection, London Tsunami & Other Stories, should involve a shot of a wet London street by night.
Should be easy, I thought, it rains all the time, only all of a sudden it’s stopped.
Never mind, I’ll bide my time, I’m sure that perfect shot of a damp lamplit London street can only be a matter of days away, although apparently not according to the weather forecast.
For more information about London Tsunami & Other Stories click here.