Saturday, 13th November 2010

There you are!

You know the blurbs in the Radio Times, the TV Times and on the telly, that tell you about the films to be shown there? They usually start off so well, capturing our attention by naming two or three of our favourite actors. That’s followed up by saying that the actors are in a sparkling comedy, an exciting adventure, a chilling crime mystery, a romantic drama or something like that. After that, the blurb gives details about what happens, who does what to whom, how they react, and what they do next. It then goes on to tell us of an unexpected change in the circumstances and what happens then … and before you know where you are you have the whole ruddy plot spread out in front of you! Speaking for myself, I often decide that I don’t want to see the film if that’s what it’s all about. Does that happen to you?
Well, I have to write the blurb for the jacket of my own books, and I admit it isn’t easy. I have to write enough to persuade the reader to want to read the book, but not enough to make the reading of the book pointless. I introduce the main characters, set the scene, try to suggest the atmosphere then hope the reader will want to find out what happens in the story for themselves. It often takes several rewrites before I get it how I think it should be. Hales, the publishers, want me to write the blurb in 120 words only, which is quite limiting but entirely adequate.

Moving on …
It was the Northern Branch Crime Writer’s Association luncheon in Boroughbridge on Sunday last, 7th. Only writers who have crime novels published are members and can attend (with a friend). Everybody and their Aunt Nellie were there. The main thing on the agenda was this new commercial venture - publishing on line. This may possibly revolutionise conventional paper book publishing, like the introduction of sound to the film industry in 1914. I have two writing friends who have recently succumbed to the enticements of an on line publisher but it is too early to find out how successful the venture has been. Readers would need the novelty of an iPad to read the book in bed or on the train or wherever, which is an additional expense. I can see that it might have some success, but it surely can’t beat receiving a beautiful new printed hardback book as a gift, can it? I’d like to hear what you think.

Incidentally, I forgot to pay for my lunch at the hotel even though the branch chairman had made a special plea to all members not to forget to call at reception and settle up before leaving. However, there were a couple of friends I wanted to speak to, and some little bits of business I needed to attend to. After all, we only meet twice a year, so in the hurly burly of it all, I forgot. It was only when I was driving down the A1 bypassing Leeds that I suddenly remembered. I didn’t want to turn round. I was almost halfway home. So I thought I would phone it through on my credit card as soon as I got home. Anyway, I duly arrived here at about 4.15 pm. The queen was waiting for me wanting to know all the news. I said that I must pay for my lunch first. So I switched on my computer to tap out the hotel name to find the phone number. In the process I saw that there was an email from the branch chairman pointing out that I hadn’t paid and would I do it pronto. I was very surprised. He had certainly been quick on the draw. Anyway, I found the hotel number and dialled it.
Eventually a young woman’s voice said, ‘Reception.’
I said, ‘Hello. I had lunch in the hotel today and I am afraid that I left without paying.’
In a voice she used for asking tiny children with brown marks all round their mouths and on their fingers, if they’ve been at the chocolate cake, the hotel receptionist said, ‘Is that Mr Silverwood?’
Like Frankie Howerd, I was truly amazed! When I recovered from my amazement, I said, ‘Am the only one?’
‘You are,’ she said.
I apologised. Then I paid with my credit card, it only took a few seconds, and politely ended the call.
Do you know, I felt like Ronnie Kray. I really did.

Moving on very quickly …
In the current government squeeze, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport proposes to reduce payments to authors for the loan of their books from libraries. Currently we authors receive 6.29 pence each time a copy of a book is borrowed from a public library under the Public Lending Right (PLR) scheme. If the proposals are sanctioned the rate will be reduced to 6.25 pence per book. Further cuts are likely in following years with the government aiming to reduce the value of the overall PLR fund by 15% by 2014.

I suppose we should think ourselves fortunate. At least two publishers, a small chain of booksellers and a dozen or more libraries have closed during the year.

For the record …
My latest book, published on 30th June is called THE SNUFFBOX MURDERS. I have a new title coming out on March 31st 2011 called THE DOG COLLAR MURDERS and I am writing for publication hopefully next year THE CHESHIRE CAT MURDERS.

Well, I must leave you. I'm miles behind with everything. If you can stand the meanderings of this old writer, keep looking in.

Take care.