Product placement in books as well as films

10 10 2013

“Marcia just loved the feeling as the ice cold Coke slipped down her dry throat, lubricating, satisfying, cooling…”

That will be £1,000 please Mr Cola. Please pay by return. Cash preferred! Oh, you’d prefer a pay per book deal, would you? OK. Should we start at 10p per hardback and negotiate from there?

It works for film makers so there must be an argument for it to work for books as well. Should JKR get a slice of the coffee profits next to the Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross? Should Brown get a piece of the tourist pounds spent at the Louvre or Florence? Jodhpur in India is getting a mention in one of my upcoming stories so perhaps if I mention which airline I intend my heroine to travel by could mean a ticket or two wings its way to me.

I do wonder how prevalent it is both in the rarefied heights of the global author meeting global consumer brand but also down at the grass-roots. Local authors are writing by the thousand all the guidebooks, the walking trail maps, the home-town set novellas – do they get the free coffee for mentioning Kiara’s Koffee shop or a pint a day from the “best little pub in Lower Froyle” which a fictional detective likes to frequent?

Alternatively should writers never reference real things, real places, real people? I do it. All the time. I love that I can base my books on real locations, love that readers may come and see where my imagination placed a character. What does it hurt?

Did I mention how much I like Bentleys and Jaguars – fine automobiles all!

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Crossing the genre Rubicon

21 09 2013

I write chick-lit and am proud of it! But some people have issues with being typecast into a genre. He only writes westerns, she’s a feminist author, see when his next historic romance is out, M&B weepie etc etc.

Some people get so annoyed with being ‘trapped’ they seek to escape. There are a number of ways of doing this and we can see in the real world that it really works – if you have the skill and talent to get away with it.
• Iain Banks / Iain M Banks – fiction / science fiction
• JK Rowling / Robert Galbraith – fantasy / crime
• Stephen King / Richard Bachman – horror / oh, er, horror

How do they do it though? I am steeped in my genre. I love the ability to hide hard hitting reality under banal conversation and trap readers seeking a sex & shopping moment inside a complex detective story under a chick-lit cover. Chick-lit-dicks satisfy nearly all my needs as a writer because I work at it and make the genre my own.

Crossing into a fantasy world or horror would be a wide river indeed. I would spend my time fearing I was paddling in the Styx rather than the Rubicon. Would all my readers leave me to pay the lonely ferryman as critics pan the attempt to cash in with second-rate output? Or would it be safer to use the pseudonym until it was proved I knew what I was about and could float your boat (perhaps taking the analogy too far?)

Ask a secondary question. Do genres really exist with boundaries we dare not cross?
B*ll*cks to that! I’ll write what I want





Where to do it?

30 07 2013

IT. The physical act. Writing I mean?

Being creative should not be about location but the process of actually getting it down on paper, on the screen – and that typically takes a special place. Some people are lucky enough to have space enough to create their own writing zone with inspirational possessions around them and the ability to close the door onto solitude.  Some have special places out in the world with the oft-quoted anecdote about Harry Potter being brought to life surrounded by Edinburgh coffee drinkers sheltering from the rain. I’m not like that. 

I actually do have a place of my own. A desk, a PC, even a room I call a study.  But I don’t write there. My so-called study is a place for house admin, internet trawling and for meeting visitors to the house. My books come out the darkness, out of the mind locked away from the world – hot-housed so creativity is all there is to focus upon. There’s no writers’ block allowed, no breaks to make tea or put the washing on. Writing is all there is.

Some would find it difficult to find the time and isolation. Being a single man with my own house gives me that opportunity. I have made the dark spaces in my house where only I go to find creativity, where the inner eye can be focussed on a single goal. It isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone but for me it works. My output is my testament.

I’ll do it in secret, locked away from the world. But what I do is for everyone to share.





Pseudonyms – what’s in a name?

26 07 2013

 

JK Rowling is actually Robert Galbraith – or is that vice versa? “The Cuckoo’s Calling” was not written by some canny bloke with a striking turn of phrase about women’s clothes but by wizard obsessive Rowling.  She has moved on in more ways than one. Tales about Harry, Ron and (admittedly less common) Hermione have now become more adult and talk about one Cormoran Strike. Good name – is it a pseudonym as well?

 

I have no problem with pseudonyms. Lots of good reasons for using them – from JK’s anonymity and desire to be judged on her own literary merits, through to hiding something about your real self. Would Mein Kampf have sold so well written by Hilda Bathwater, Five go to Kirren Island by Brigadier De’Ath?  There is also the embarrassment factor. Should a respected journalist, literary professor, industry stalwart want their google name search interspersed with fan-fiction about the soft porn novels churned out in their spare time? Better Trudy Biglove gets the fans and Professor X gets the cash and solid reputation!

 

I did like the spate of books that came out when Da Vinci Code appeared. So many men suddenly had names which rhymed with Dan Brown or could be easily mistaken for his name by a commuter in a hurry. Dan, Sam, Tom. How many were real names?

 

If an author has a good reason then so be it. Let it lie. However, should we have the same view if it is (crassly?) commercial decision by the publisher? Should authors allow themselves to see their work under another’s name simply because their surname has too many syllables or doesn’t translate well into another language? Are commercial reasons so bad? Are they all crass?

 

My writing is my own. My name is my own. I am me.  Honest!