The future of publishing…

Is the physical book on the way out to be replaced solely by the ebook? I don’t think so but what I do think is that ebooks have changed the nature of physical book publishing for the better.

Customers  can now search on their kindle, press buy and, hey presto, in just a few seconds the book they want to read is in their hands. So where does that leave the physical book? We say in a much better place. “What!” you exclaim. “How can you say that?”
Well, we can because we are not just a small press publisher, we also absolutely love books, and we aim to produce books that people want to hold and take home with them.

In our local town there is a rare book store that sells some books costing $1000 and more – and they sell! Why? Because they are beautiful and that makes them collectable.

The ebook market in our view is putting pressure on publishers to produce collectible books once again. To compete with an ebook you have to produce an item that someone wants to possess. One of our books, Watchers (Book One in the Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys series) was produced in paperback format with that in mind. The book has illustrations and the cover and spine were designed to really encourage readers to see it as special. And guess what, it works!

One regular bookshop sold as many in one weekend as they normally sell in an entire three month season of the current trending bestseller. They were amazed and said it had to be down to how customers were reacting to the look and feel of Watchers.

Once they see the book, physical bookshops have no problem at all with stocking and selling physical copies of Watchers. In fact the rare bookshop, which only deals with physical books, expressly requested copies of Watchers as the owner said and I quote:

“People love to touch, hold and own beautiful books. We sell old books that have got that whole look and feel spot on, but when we see a modern book with the same appeal then we stock it, as sadly many of the current books are just plain bland.”

So physical books still sell, but they have to look and feel good and in our eyes that is no bad thing. Maybe in the future all the commercial easy read and throwaway blockbusters will be on kindle, but there will always be a place for the book you want to keep and display on your shelf and from our experience that book has to look and feel good.

Watchers - front and back and spine

The physical book is on sale at amazon.com and amazon.co.uk

Take a look at the worldwidebookshop.com to see some of the beautiful collectable books they stock. Not quite the same as being in the shop and being able to pick them up and feel them though! An example below is of the beautiful Arthur Ransome complete set of Swallows and Amazons –  with original illustrated endpapers and original illustrated dustjackets. To hold and thumb through these books is a precious experience.

Advertisements

Self Publishing Success Stories…And the Future of Publishing…

Self-publishing has never been easier. Now that e-reader platforms, such as Kindle, have grown in popularity, publishers and writers alike have a whole new way of reaching audiences and testing their ideas before having to commit to costly print runs.

But self-publishing has always been an option for talented authors. Look at this list of very famous writers who began by believing in their own work enough to go to print without the support of a mainstream publisher:

Alexander Pope
Alexandre Dumas
Anaïs Nin
Beatrix Potter
Betty J. Eadie – Embraced by the Light
Carl Sandburg
Christopher Paolini – Eragon
E. Lynn Harris
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Ernest Hemingway
G. P. Taylor Shadowmancer
George Bernard Shaw,
Helen Exley (now Exley Publications)
Henry David Thoreau
Irma S Rombauer – The Joy of Cooking
Jack Canfield  – Chicken Soup for the Soul
James Joyce – Ulysses
James Redfield   – The Celestine Prophecy
Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way.
Lewis Carroll
Louise Hay  (now Hay House)
Marcel Proust
Mark Twain
Richard Nelson Boles – What Color is Your Parachute?
Robert Kiyosaki – Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Rudyard Kipling
Sandra Haldeman Martz – When I Am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple,
Roddy Doyle – The Commitments
Shakti Gawain – Creative Visualization
Thomas Hardy
Upton Sinclair
Viggo Mortensen
Virginia Woolf
Walt  Whitman – Leaves of Grass
Wendy and Richard Pini –  Elfquest
Zane Grey

There are many more, but this list alone should be enough to inspire aspiring authors to not only hold the dream but also to take action by working at their craft, to ask for critical feedback and then to get their work out there when they feel it is ready.

Good presentation, editing and spell-checking are vital of course, as is a focused plan. Are you setting out to attract a publisher or to develop as a publisher in your own right?  Many of the authors in the list above went on to be snapped up by large mainstream publishers.  However Louise Hay became Hay House, now a mainstream publisher in the mind-body-spirit genre with a vibrant and active internet radio channel and series of “We Can do It” conferences and seminars.  Or what about Helen Exley whose first little book of inspiring quotes went on to found Exley Publications? Now in business for 28 years, their website states: “We have sold over 47 million giftbooks in 40 languages worldwide.”  Not bad for a lady who had an idea which she developed at her kitchen table!

From wikipedia here is an interesting account of Marcel Proust’s first journey into the printed word:

Volume 1: Du côté de chez Swann (1913) was rejected by a number of publishers, including Fasquelle, Ollendorf, and the Nouvelle Revue Française (NRF). André Gide famously was given the manuscript to read to advise NRF on publication, and leafing through the seemingly endless collection of memories and philosophizing or melancholic episodes, came across a few minor syntactic errors, which made him decide to turn the work down in his audit. Proust eventually arranged with the publisher Grasset to pay the cost of publication himself. When published it was advertised as the first of a three-volume novel (Bouillaguet and Rogers, 316-7).

In early 1914, André Gide, who had been involved in NRF’s rejection of the book, wrote to Proust to apologize and to offer congratulations on the novel. “For several days I have been unable to put your book down…. The rejection of this book will remain the most serious mistake ever made by the NRF and, since I bear the shame of being very much responsible for it, one of the most stinging and remorseful regrets of my life” (Tadié, 611). Gallimard (the publishing arm of NRF) offered to publish the remaining volumes, but Proust chose to stay with Grasset.

Volume 2: À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs (1919), scheduled to be published in 1914, was delayed by the onset of World War I. At the same time, Grasset’s firm was closed down when the publisher went into military service. This freed Proust to move to Gallimard, where all the subsequent volumes were published. Meanwhile, the novel kept growing in length and in conception.

In essence, it is for every writer to decide their own route. Self-publishing is rewarding but also very time consuming as now you are not just an author…’Oh, to be able to take off to an ivory tower and create in peace!’ That luxury is no more for the self published author, as to self publish successfully you must become a salesperson, print buyer, publisher, designer, marketing and advertising expert and more. So it is very understandable that often very successful self published authors choose to accept offers from the mainstream publishing houses. They are not selling out, they are being pragmatic and acknowledging that, for them, time to write is being eroded by time to market what is being written.

However, as the self publishing arena becomes even more saturated it may be that the way of doing business in this field also changes.  It may be more effective for groups of authors to pool skills and talents and work together. If a group can share skills and time then it just might become a win-win situation, where everyone gives time to do a little promotion without  having to lose big chunks of valuable writing time.

Also, if literary agents remain as inaccessible as they currently are, they might find that they are pushing themselves out of business altogether. It would seem that more and more, the mainstream publishers are using the indie sales charts to observe the market and pick their new writers from there. It is more economical after all to take a risk on someone with a proven sales record than it is to effectively bet on an agent’s hunch – however good that agent may be. And, as self-published writers become more experienced, they may also prefer to negotiate direct contracts with the mainstream publishers, further cutting out the middlemen. Why pay 10-15% to an agent after all, when you can negotiate for yourself?

Finally look at the statistics. Self published writers and indie publishers (such as ourselves!) are having a pretty successful time in the charts. Most of the serious self published authors we have looked at are pretty happy with their sales figures. Compare that with a comment from one mainstream publisher we have met who said: “The market is terribly tough at the moment…even well established authors’ books aren’t selling right now.”  This is not the experience of the top ranking self published authors who, after all,  if this market trend is correct, shouldn’t be selling at all considering they are not at all well established!

This just shows that somewhere along the way, many mainstream publishers have lost touch with what the ‘man on the street’ wants to buy, while many of the self published brigade and small indie publishers seem to have their collective fingers on the pulse.

We say it’s time for all sides to work together. It’s time to join forces and recognise that the new breed of self published writers may have something to add to the conversation and if the establishment – namely mainstream publishers and literary agents – want to survive, then it may be time they start to listen to what readers want to buy rather than focusing on what they want to sell to them.

Ultimately it is a story telling business. Sometimes the stories are told with a use of language that is poetic, literary and masterful and sometimes the story is just told as a block-busting page-turner that has no pretensions or aspirations to literary greatness. In that respect, it’s not that different to the movie industry, some will become classics some will just achieve good box office sales. It doesn’t matter which and ultimately the reader will decide. As the reader becomes even more e-reader based, it is without doubt that the market forces will move and change and be further shaped by that trend.

But most importantly, it is up to us, the story tellers to fulfill an ancient role, which is to recognize that what society most wants to is to learn and to experience and to heal. We meet our audience’s needs by exploring, questioning and offering solutions to our greatest dilemmas through the power of story. That maybe why the self publishing industry is doing so well, as it seems to be in touch with this need while the mainstream industry seems to have lost touch with it completely.

Here are some more stories from other sources about self-publishing successes…

How I became a best selling author.

Wall Street Journal article reveals the secrets of author Darcie Chan.

December 2011 by keithogorek

In December 2011, the Wall Street Journal ran a cover story in their Friday Journal section about author Darcie Chan and how she became a best selling author. The reason the Journal gave so much space to the story is Darcie had been rejected by 12 publishers and more than 100 literary agents before she self published and sold more than 400,ooo ebooks. Part of her marketing strategy included pricing very aggressively to gain a following. Here’s the link to the full article in the Journal that tells her story.

via How I became a best selling author. Wall Street Journal article reveals the secrets of author Darcie Chan. « The Indie Book Writers Blog | Self Publishing | Get Published | Author Solutions.

Self publishing writer becomes million seller

An entrepreneur has turned the writing world upside down by becoming the first author to sell more than a million electronic books without a publishing deal.

By , and Richard Alleyne

John Locke, 60, who publishes and promotes his own work, enjoys sales figures close to such literary luminaries as Stieg Larsson, James Patterson and Michael Connelly. In the last year John has had four of the top 10 books on Amazon/Kindle at the same time, including number one and two   Read full story Telegraph.co.uk

Self-Publishing Revolution: Man Makes $100,000 in Three Weeks

Self-Publishing on Amazon’s Kindle

“This has now become the best way in the history of mankind for a writer to earn money. It may be one of the greatest ways to ever make money, period.”

It is a great time to be a self-published writer. Joe Konrath, the author of the above quote, should know, he has made $100,000 in three weeks, a record for self-published writers.

At this stage almost everyone knows about Amanda Hocking. But here’s an update on her from the Guardian.co.uk!

Amanda Hocking, the writer who made millions by self-publishing online

A couple of years ago, Amanda Hocking needed to raise a few hundred dollars so, in desperation, made her unpublished novel available on the Kindle. She has since sold over 1.5m books and, in the process, changed publishing forever.

    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 January 2012 20.00 GMT

When historians come to write about the digital transformation currently engulfing the book-publishing world, they will almost certainly refer to Amanda Hocking, writer of paranormal fiction who in the past 18 months has emerged from obscurity to bestselling status entirely under her own self-published steam. What the historians may omit to mention is the crucial role played in her rise by those furry wide-mouthed friends, the Muppets.

Read full story here:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/12/amanda-hocking-self-publishing?newsfeed=true

Make 2012 the year where we dare to dream..

From www.dance-with-life.com

 2012 has been surrounded with so many different energies; those who promote it as a year of doom and chaos, those who say it is a new beginning, those who say it is a year much the same as any other.

So which is true? They all are. Because what we imagine things to be is what they can become. How we react to change shapes our ability to influence outcomes and ultimately our life is only ever limited by the limits of our own imagination.

What is it we all want really? I would say it is peace. Peace in our own hearts, peace in our communities and peace on the planet. The problem with peace is that we are very clear on what peace is not, but no one ever really sits down and gives real time to imagine what a peaceful world might actually be like.

As my teacher often says, there are hundreds of paintings of hell (just think of Bosch). Every kind of horror is imagined. It’s gruesome yes, but it’s very varied and generally shows tremendous detail.  However when it comes to heaven what do we get? Generally some fluffy clouds, green fields, angels and cherubs, girls in pretty dresses with flowers in their hair and that’s about it. It all looks a little bit samey and deep down, if people are honest, they are not quite sure that wafting around in fields of flowers or fluffy clouds forever is really going to be that interesting or exciting!

This might sound amusing, but actually, if you look at it, whether we are aware of it or not this is quite an entrenched thought, deep down in many of our psyches. And if our lazily imagined peace is not really what jazzes us then how can we really expect that we can create peace on our planet?

So historically we haven’t been that good at putting effort into imagining peace. And if we don’t imagine something we have little hope of creating it.

Dare to Dream

So my challenge for 2012 is to forget the resolutions about what you are not going to do any more and resolve to do one thing – Dare to dream, dare to imagine a worked out version of peace. It will take effort, because it’s a new territory.

Someone once said that there are no new ideas any more just recycled versions going round and round. That is true. There is very little new on the planet except for this one thing, there are absolutely no worked out imaginings of a peaceful world that also manage to stay interesting, stimulating and rich with innovation and creativity. Just think about it, there are no books, no movies, no songs – it’s a whole new concept that collectively we need to dare to imagine and dream into existence.

So maybe we can make 2012 the year where we really begin to dream a whole new way of being into existence. We can ask ourselves these questions:

What is peace for me in my own life?
What can I do to contribute to peace in my own family and social network?
What would an interesting world of peace look like to me?

Wishing everyone a year filled with love, light, laughter, joy, strength, good health, peace and prosperity and I leave you with a prayer and a song …

A Prayer for 2012 
Guardian Angels of all creatures, 
protect us all; 
teach us to love, 
to pray, 
to respect the world we live in 
and to be kind to every living thing, 
so that one day we may understand 
that all we do now 
will be a part of us forever. 
Angel Prayers & Messages by JM Hurley & Rosie Ismail
(verse from the Prayer to all Guardian Angels for Balance and Peace in the World)

People of the Story

For some people life is a poem, for others it’s a song, and there are those for whom it’s a tragedy, or a black comedy or a giant, epic fantasy! Regardless of what way the story unfolds, the one guarantee is that a story is being written, one breath at a time.

We are ultimately the people of the story.

We have a constant need for stories. We like stories about the world around us (the “News”). As we  grow up our stories evolve from picture books, cartoons and comics to full blown movies, novels and TV soaps.  Such is our appetite for a story we don’t seem to care whether the story is real or not and more and more we give equal weight to stories about celebrities and to Reality TV show stories featuring ordinary people.

If an alien civilization somewhere out there happened upon earth and began to observe us, they would probably say that this is a world of stories. To them, we might appear to be a young species of some kind who sit mesmerized as a giant story telling machine weaves its spell and enthralls us in its neverending supply of stories.

A story is of course a great learning tool, as long as you are aware that it is a story. It’s when we are in the story and forget that it is a story that problems arise. We begin to believe the story that we are being told and that we are telling ourselves. We forget that as creative beings we have the power to co-create the story and to change its direction. Worst of all, we can become so entrenched in a version of a story that we fight anyone who is equally entrenched in another version.  And so we have wars and conspiracies, financial meltdowns and power games.

More importantly, in the forgetting that it is all a story in the first place we can be manipulated by those who control the mass story telling machines. As the media industries of news, film and music become more and more amalgamated into large corporations they have the power to pump out a stories that can influence what we believe.

Right now we have a music industry that has become overwhelmingly mass produced, one dimensional and more like a giant porn and freak show. It is no surprise that the children incessantly being fed this one storyline are becoming confused, unhappy and angry. And the adults fare no better as the mass media is feeding us on a diet of war, fear and insecurity amidst channels full of largely meaningless programming.

But we have choice. We do not have to choose these stories. We can move from our hypnotic trance and see that healing ourselves and the planet can start from little steps. One step is to wise up to the story we are being fed and start creating our own. Parents have a responsibility to watch what stories are being pushed on their children and to steer them to more creative and positive ways of seeing the world.

I feel very strongly about this as I see that the root cause of much of the dis-ease that my clients are now presenting with is stemming from a belief that it’s all hopeless and awful out there because that is the story they are seeing and hearing every day.

Yes we are the people of the story. The story has shaped us since we first started to create pictures on the walls of caves. But in truth there are only two operating systems from which everything springs – love or fear. We must start rewriting the story and co-creating the stories of love. We must give attention to the stories that feed and nourish our souls, to the stories that inspire, teach and help us progress.

The other system, the one of fear has no place in our world. However, as long as we give attention and belief to the story machine of fear then we make it real. We give it power and then bring into reality all the things we absolutely don’t want to experience.

If we just become a little more conscious about where we place our attention, we can wake up from the hypnosis and actively imagine a new way forward. Small steps and little choices can help us and those around us to unhook from the drip fed stories of fear. These are ways we can heal and grow.

 by JM Hurley author of Dance with Life
 Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
(Robert Frost from The Road not Taken)

50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected

This post is taken from onlinecollege.org and is being reposted here as a great reminder to all writers out there that many now-famous writers took a long time to be discovered. Many self-published first and in a future post we’ll look at some of the top writers who began by self publishing.

Do you know of more who should be added to this list? Or do you have a good publishing story of your own? Send a comment to tell us…

And now here is the article…

Whether you’re a struggling writer, or just studying to be one, you probably know that there’s a lot of rejection in your future. But don’t be dismayed, rejection happens even to the best. Here are 50 well-respected writers who were told no several times, but didn’t give up.

  1. Dr. Seuss: Here you’ll find a list of all the books that Dr. Seuss’ publisher rejected.
  2. William Golding: William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was rejected 20 times before becoming published.
  3. James Joyce: James Joyce’s Ulysses was judged obscene and rejected by several publishers.
  4. Isaac Asimov: Several of Asimov’s stories were rejected, never sold, or eventually lost.
  5. John le Carre: John le Carre’s first novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, was passed along because le Carre “hasn’t got any future.”
  6. Jasper Fforde: Jasper Fforde racked up 76 rejections before getting The Eyre Affair published.
  7. William Saroyan: William Saroyan received an astonishing 7,000 rejection slips before selling his first short story.
  8. Jack Kerouac: Some of Kerouac’s work was rejected as pornographic.
  9. Joseph Heller: Joseph Heller wrote a story as a teenager that was rejected by the New York Daily News.
  10. Kenneth Grahame: The Wind in the Willows was not intended to be published, and was rejected in America before appearing in England.
  11. James Baldwin: James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room was called “hopelessly bad.”
  12. Ursula K. Le Guin: An editor told Ursula K. Le Guin that The Left Hand of Darkness was “endlessly complicated.”
  13. Pearl S. Buck: Pearl Buck’s first novel, East Wind: West Wind received rejections from all but one publisher in New York.
  14. Louisa May Alcott: Louisa May Alcott was told to stick to teaching.
  15. Isaac Bashevis Singer: Before winning the Nobel Prize, Isaac Bashevis Singer was rejected by publishers.
  16. Agatha Christie: Agatha Christie had to wait four years for her first book to be published.
  17. Tony Hillerman: Tony Hillerman was told to “get rid of the Indian stuff.”
  18. Zane Grey: Zane Grey self-published his first book after dozens of rejections.
  19. Marcel Proust: Marcel Proust was rejected so much he decided to pay for publication himself.
  20. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen: Chicken Soup for the Soul received 134 rejections.
  21. William Faulkner: William Faulkner’s book, Sanctuary, was called unpublishable.
  22. Patrick Dennis: Auntie Mame got 17 rejections.
  23. Meg Cabot: The bestselling author of The Princess Diaries keeps a mail bag of rejection letters.
  24. Richard Bach: 18 publishers thought a book about a seagull was ridiculous before Jonathan Livingston Seagull was picked up.
  25. Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Peter Rabbit had to be published by Potter herself.
  26. John Grisham: John Grisham’s A Time to Kill was rejected by 16 publishers before finding an agent who eventually rejected him as well.
  27. Shannon Hale: Shannon Hale was rejected and revised a number of times before Bloomsbury published The Goose Girl.
  28. Richard Hooker: The book that inspired the film and TV show M*A*S*H* was denied by 21 publishers.
  29. Jorge Luis Borges: It’s a good thing not everyone thought Mr. Borges’ work was “utterly untranslatable.”
  30. Thor Heyerdahl: Several publishers thought Kon-Tiki was not interesting enough.
  31. Vladmir Nabokov: Lolita was rejected by 5 publishers in fear of prosecution for obscenity before being published in Paris.
  32. Laurence Peter: Laurence Peter had 22 rejections before finding success with The Peter Principles.
  33. D.H. Lawrence: Sons and Lovers faced rejection, and D.H. Lawrence didn’t take it easily.
  34. Richard Doddridge Blackmore: This much-repeated story was turned down 18 times before getting published.
  35. Sylvia Plath: Sylvia Plath had several rejected poem titles.
  36. Robert Pirsig: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance faced an amazing 121 rejections before becoming beloved by millions of readers.
  37. James Patterson: Patterson was rejected by more than a dozen publishers before an agent he found in a newspaper article sold it.
  38. Gertrude Stein: Gertrude Stein submitted poems for 22 years before having one accepted.
  39. E.E. Cummings: E.E. Cummings named the 14 publishers who rejected No Thanks in the book itself.
  40. Judy Blume: Judy Blum received nothing but rejections for two years and can’t look at Highlights without wincing.
  41. Irving Stone: Irving Stone’s Lust for Life was rejected by 16 different editors.
  42. Madeline L’Engle: Madeline L’Engle’s masterpiece A Wrinkle in Time faced rejection 26 times before willing the Newberry Medal.
  43. Rudyard Kipling: In one rejection letter, Mr. Kipling was told he doesn’t know how to use the English language.
  44. J.K. Rowling: J.K. Rowling submitted Harry Potter to 12 publishing houses, all of which rejected it.
  45. Frank Herbert: Before reaching print, Frank Herbert’s Dune was rejected 20 times.
  46. Stephen King: Stephen King filed away his first full length novel The Long Walk after it was rejected.
  47. Richard Adams: Richard Adams’s two daughters encouraged him to publish Watership Down as a book, but 13 publishers didn’t agree.
  48. Anne Frank: One of the most famous people to live in an attic, Anne Frank’s diary had 15 rejections.
  49. Margaret Mitchell: Gone With the Wind was faced rejection 38 times.
  50. Alex Haley: The Roots author wrote every day for 8 years before finding success.

Interview with Essi Tolling

A response to some of the questions sent in by readers of Watchers…

Q: What is the inspiration behind this series of books?

A: There’s a long answer and a short one to that question. I love stories is the short answer. Always have. One of my lasting memories from when I was a young boy is of my parents reading to us – especially on those dark winter eveningss in front of a crackling log fire. I loved hearing about the characters, trying to guess what they would do next and where the plot would take them. Hopefully the Tilly Greenway series will have the same effect for readers now. It’s not a regular fantasy-epic, because the plot is based around a lot of hidden secrets which are revealed over time. There are “Who dunnit?” questions, “Where is it?” questions and of course “How on Earth can they get out of THAT?” questions! It’s as much a thriller as it is a fantasy, which is a fun combination to write.

Beyond that, my main inspiration behind the series is my love of nature, history and myth. I’m rarely happier than when I’m tramping around the countryside and I especially like to visit places that have some association with ancient myths and legends. I suppose we’re back to story-telling again, because the stories that run through the land are deep and resonate strongly with me. Trees have their tales to tell, as do stones and plants. Imagine what a four hundred year old oak tree has seen in its life. Or a Yew, which might have been alive for thousands of years. Stories and messages are all around us. I like to listen and learn and hopefully re-tell them in a way that people enjoy.

Q: How many books will there be?

A: More than 2 and fewer than 6. There are also two further novels which are linked to the Tilly series, but separate to it.

Q: What is the storyline?

A: In essence, it is a straightforward quest. Time is running out for planet Earth and Tilly and Zack have to find a number of mysterious keys if they are to save it. They’re up against stiff odds. A sinister secret society has plans for the human race (in Book 1 this is to microchip the whole population with mu-brains). On top of that, there is a group of shadow-entities called The Others who feed off humans although they can’t be seen. Then there is the possibility that a number of alien creatures are living on Earth too. Oh, and a bunch of genetically-engineered mutants are let loose too. So, the kids have their work cut out if they’re going to succeed. But they do have helpers. I’ll leave it to the readers to find out who they might be.

Q: Who would enjoy this book?

Pretty much everyone I hope! I’d say the books are for teenagers upwards, but I recently had some letters from a group of eleven year old children who had all read “Watchers” and loved it, so it seems it’s a real cross-over novel. I’d like to think that readers who like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and the Narnia books would enjoy it, but I also think adult readers who like a Da Vinci Code-type conspiracy thriller will have fun with it too. The series is really not like anything else, so the proof will be in the pudding!

Readers who enjoy Grail Quests will certainly like the series. So will people who like riddles. In fact, there are a number of hidden codes within the books, waiting for people to discover them..

Illustration from Watchers by Meraylah Allwood

 

Q: Are you a full time writer?

No, although I do write almost every day. I teach a specific practice that helps people to lower their brain-wave activity into what’s known as the alpha-state. This is actually linked in with the Tilly stories, because it’s in the alpha-state that we dream and the books are all about dreams, visions, prophecies from the past etc. We can only dream when our brains are in the alpha-bandwidth (approximately 7-14 Hertz). It’s interesting to me that we all operate solely in alpha until we’re five years old, all mammals are in alpha all the time – and the Schumann Resonance (the Earth’s vibration) falls within the alpha bandwidth too. It’s in this state that people’s of old cultures not only dream, but communicate with each other too. Australian aboriginals, South African bushmen and so on – as well as true shamans – can all access a place where time and distance mean nothing. You could call it being psychic – or you could just say it’s a natural gift we all have, it’s just that most of us westerners have forgotten it. Modern day remote viewers almost certainly access it.

What happens in dreams fascinates me. As readers will find out, Tilly has the ability to dream into the future…she just doesn’t know how to use that ability at the beginning of the story.

Q: Can you talk a little about the process of writing and what inspires you?

A:My writing process is maybe a little different to most writers. I practice going into the alpha-state and then choose a scene from the story and let it unfold. I’ll experience the scene from each character’s point of view – a bit like an actor playing all the roles – and I don’t try to force them to react in any particular way. They’re alive (for me) so I give them free rein to say and do what they like!  Of course, I have an idea of where I want it to go, but I’m flexible with it. If something unforeseen comes along, I see that as a real inspiration. The other day, the plot took a twist that I really wasn’t expecting, when an unknown character walked in and did something which had a big impact. I then had to shuffle a number of other bits of plotline around to accomodate this new turn of events!

That’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing. Yes, I know what the ultimate end of the story is (I’ve written the last pages already) and I know what is coming in between, but I let the story take on its own life, trusting that it will lead me where it wishes to go. It’s a bit like taking a journey in a car. You can have the journey as well-planned as you like, but you never know EXACTLY what you’ll see out of the window, or who you might meet at the service station when you stop for petrol. And you can never see exactly what’s beyond the horizon, or even the next bend!

What inspires me is mainly is my love of nature, but I also have a strong feeling that we’re at a time of great challenge right now. There is so much on television that is so negative and I’d like to think that the Tilly series has a part to play in balancing that with a message of hope. That’s the serious backdrop to the story. But mainly, it’s a good old rigmarole with plenty of twists and turns. Oh, and I can guarantee that no one will be able to guess the ending!

Listen to Essi reading extracts from Watchers here

To find out more about Essi visit his blog here

The movie or the book..?

bookblob.wordpress.com is a great new blog about books.  This post in particular really got us discussing so I’m posting it here but please visit bookblob to comment back on this post

What Should Come First…

…the movie or the book?

It’s a question that’s come into play for me a lot in the past. Is it better to read the book before watching its movie or TV show, or is it okay to switch it up sometimes? Up until a comparatively short time ago, I would have told you that you should read the book first—always, without question, no matter what. I’m afraid I had (and still have) a bit of a tendency to be a purist. How could anyone taint the meaning and initial impact of a story by watching its adaptation first?

And for a while, I was able to adhere to that, at least when I was aware that the movie or show in question was based on a book. Why on earth would I want someone to form my opinions for me? To fill my head with their own idea of what the story was and distort whatever thoughts I may have formed on my own? I made sure to follow this regimen with Lord of the Rings, with Harry Potter, and with pretty much any other story that I held in high regard.

But then, whether by accident or deliberately (I’m no longer sure which), I started watching movie versions of books before I had read the story. I began to fudge on my steadfast rule by watching movies like Pride and Prejudice and Emma and North and South, and, more recently, shows like Game of Thrones. And I discovered that by viewing one artist’s representation of another artist’s work, I was able to more fully grasp and enjoy the book that the adaptation was made from. I could take from the film version that which helped me to understand the book better, and I could choose to discard what didn’t. I could use the artist’s imagining of the book to expand my own imagination, or I could reject it and form different opinions altogether. I was beginning to make room for change amid my former rules for reading. In short, I began to discover that neither order of consumption is good or bad; both have their own merits and disadvantages, and neither form of the story necessarily has to compromise the other.

Read more here bookblob.wordpress.com