If you ask writers why they write most will say tell you it is a compulsion, or, as Terry Pratchett once said, ‘writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.’ If we manage to make a few bucks in the process all the better. If we come to be recognised as a writer of some merit, better still, but to do that the writing needs a reader. So how do we get noticed?
During September I had quite a few changes going on around me on a personal/family level. Moving house and also the marriage of my step-son Graham to his lovely wife, Anna.
In addition there was Fantasycon, an event that I have haunted for the past 25 years, either as an organiser, a bookseller, a book editor, an author (and sometimes all at once). For the uninitiated, Fantasycon is the annual convention organised on behalf of the British Fantasy Society at which the British Fantasy Awards are announced. This year’s event was held in Peterborough between 29th September to October 1st So many people were crammed in to watch the awards ceremony that, despite extra chairs being parachuted in, it was standing room only at the back of the room. Suffering from lack of sleep, as you do at these convention weekends, and knowing my poor old knees where not going to survive that long on my feet, I had elected to sit in the bar (which was close enough to hear the applause). Besides which, I knew that all the details would reach us bar flies soon enough along the con-telegraph.
Then... My name was read out... And I was not there to hear it!
I am told that somebody shouted out ‘She’s in the bar!’, which was greeted with tolerant laughter. (Karl would have been proud of me.) The first I knew, however, was Pauline Morgan hoving into view shouting, ‘Oi, you – get in there! Pronto!’
I hurried into the banqueting room, where the awards were being presented, totally unprepared for what was to come, and paused for a moment realising something was afoot. I had no pre-composed speech (well, why would I?) nor had even time to think far beyond the instant. Taking several bows to cover my confusion I arrived at the podium to be greeted by the horror Don Ramsey Campbell, and BFS Chair Phil Lunt. Still totally at sea I whispered, ‘What’s going on?’
‘You have an award,’ Phil whispered back.
‘Me? What award? What for?’
‘It’s the Karl Edward Wagner Award…’
I was, and still am, totally gobsmacked.
Karl Wagner was a world-renowned writer and anthologist who was unstinting in his support of Fantasycon and the BFS, and the Karl Edward Wagner Award is bestowed by the British Fantasy Awards committee in recognition of the work done by its recipients in genre fiction and fandom.
Those of us who work on committees and organise conventions do so in the full knowledge that if a convention or society is running smoothly, the regular attendees seldom notice the backroom brigade. You don’t ever think that people are aware of you, or the work you do. But nothing you do ever goes unnoticed, it would seem.
In the sea of social media platforms and world wide connections this had never applied more than it does now. As authors we write and we promote and send out ripples, or even waves, to our potential readership in the hope of attracting attention, of gaining an audience for our ideas and our work. We blog and appear at events up and down the country and frequently have no idea how many people those ripples will wash up along side of.
Why do we write? To tell a story or to pass on facts. And who sees us writing? Who takes note? More people than we ever realise, it seems. Little that we do as writers ever goes unnoticed, though given the welter of information passing through our screens on a hourly/daily basis it may not always be recalled for long. The trick for any writer is to keep those ripples on the move.
Promotions for this month? (and yes, here comes the shameless self promotional part!)
I shall be organising a Spooky Reads event with Misha Herwin on the 28th Oct (4pm to 6pm) on the 6 Towns Radio Curtain Call show.
In honour of that the kindled version of my fantasy/horror collection Fables & Fabrications, and Misha’s spooky time-slip novel House of Shadows, are reduced to 99p for the whole of October!
Next month – 12th November at the Gladstone Museum in Stoke on Trent we have another spooky read event!
Also in the promotion-fest is the launch of Daemons of Devils End DVD and a short story collection. Debbie Bennett and I shall be signing at Forbidden Planet in London on 10th November.