If other writers are like me then they just want to sit at their computer, listening to music they like and writing stories. I came to being an author with few illusions of what the actual writing process entailed. What I hadn’t expected was that we would then have help promote our books. I still remember my shock at being told that I would have to leave my house and talk to people. Didn’t they understand how long and hard I had worked to get a vocation that would allow me to live like a shut in? So one of the ironies of writing is (if other writers are like me) you have shy and retiring writers like MD Lachlan and Joe Abercormbie and me, and we all have to behave like we’re desperate for attention.
So War In Heaven comes out and as ever I am trying to think of ways to promote it when, one Wednesday morning, whilst working my day job (I’m not going to tell you what it is because it’s not as exciting as being an SF author. Oh, okay then, I’m an unemployed fluffer. Damn you viagra! I’m not really.) I received an e-mail from Chloe Isherwood with the title: Gav! Now usually when I receive missives with exclamation marks it means I’ve done something wrong, like made somebody cry, or run over a favourite pet or grandparent, or have set fire to something, by accident you understand. So it was with some trepidation I opened the e-mail. In it Chloe said that she had a brilliant idea to help promote the book. The e-mail finished with the words: “Keep your eye out for it on Facebook. I plan to get started tonight!” So I’m mildly worried, in my head I see Homer Simpson style marketing antics involving bowling alleys and shotguns. On the other hand, at least people would know who I was then.
So here’s what I know about Chloe:
• She knows more classic rock songs than you.
• She rides a Harley Davidson.
• She can fight with a hoopak staff. (If you don’t know, don’t ask.)
• She has a Buster Keatonesque talent for physical comedy. (I’m not making any of this up.)
• She is a time traveler. (I can find no other explanation for why she has a signed copy of Iron Maiden’s first album on vinyl, despite her birth being many years away when the album came out.) (Okay I might be making that up. The Time Traveler bit, not the date of her birth.)
• And she is one of the hardest working and most talented photographicists (I’ll just check with my editor that’s a real word. He’s crying again, apparently the things I do to the English language make him emotional) in the country. You can see her photos at Chloe Isherwood Photography and read her very amusing blog on Chloe Isherwood Blogspot. Now I’ll be honest, there’s little in the way of spaceships or giant fighting robots and you have to look pretty hard for the medieval weaponry (though that is more prevalent) but her pictures are things of beauty and frankly if you can’t appreciate beauty then I am of the opinion that SF/F is not a good genre for you.
So after a very long day I got in after 11pm and finally had a chance to look at Facebook and saw Other Great Uses for Gavin Smith Novels. I can be difficult to amuse. I was in stitches. Frankly I don’t care whether or not this helps promote Veteran or War In Heaven, it’s more than enough just to see one of my books in the opening scene of 2001, being menaced by Godzilla, or just being used as a kitten flattening apparatus. And in my petty, petty world I am secure in the knowledge that nobody has ever used a Sam Sykes novel to fend off a Ninja. I don’t care if you buy my books (though they are good and you will enjoy them) but please check out the page and allow yourself to be amused by the many alternative uses that they can be put to.
Thank you to Chloe and the others who have taken part, who are (at the time of writing this) Martin Hulley, Robin Gould, Matt Bryant, Matt Evans, Scott Young (who doesn’t even have a Facebook account for security reasons, Scott Young’s probably not even his real name) and Richard Brewster.
When Gavin released his 2nd book, War In Heaven, I promptly ordered myself a hardback copy (all the better to hit him with). When it arrived, I opened up the box and saw this rather stunning piece of artwork beaming up at me. It really is a very beautiful-looking book. The artwork itself is by Martin Bland, who is a very talented man.
A couple of days later I found myself walking around talking at to Martin (Hulley, my partner) about the book and decided that it would be quite funny if we took a load of pictures of us using the book for anything other than reading it. We decided this would be a fantastic way to
anger promote Gavin, entertain people and show off that beautiful artwork. So, I sent Gav an email to let him know to look out on Facebook for something involving his book. He was worried. I could tell. *snigger*
Martin and I then proceeded to wander around the house and take pictures of us using the book in various different ways, e.g. a hammer, a chopping board, a spice rack, etc. I mentioned it to my housemates, Robin and Matt who, might I add, love Gavin as much as I do (interpret that how you wish), who came up with their own ideas, which included the all time favourite: Fighting off ninjas. We’re still unsure of where he got the ninja from.
It has pretty much taken off from there! Having only started quite recently, we’re getting a lot of hits on the page and all-round good feedback from the ‘game’. It’s also giving those Photoshop enthusiasts a chance to show off their skills. 😉
Why not get involved!?
You’ve read about the genesis of this madness, and now Gavin is running a fantastic competition! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Gavin Smith and a picture of your alternative uses for a Gavin Smith Novel. Chloe (advised by Gavin and Gollancz) will choose two winners, one for best use of photoshop and one for best ‘real’ use. By entering this competition you are giving Chloe permission to post selected photo entries to her Facebook page. Last photos must be emailed no later than the 31st October 2011. The judge’s decisions are final. Visit our website for full terms and conditions.
Oh, you want prizes? Oh yes. Gavin will provide a signed copy of each of his books to each winner, and Gollancz will throw in some other fantastic books as well. But the most important prize is this – the OVERALL winner will appear as a minor character in Gavin’s next book! They have to accept that they will probably die in this book, probably horribly, and must promise not to cry if this happens. They will also have to supply some biographical and descriptive detail that Gavin will work in to the narrative.
So, on your marks, get set– grab your book and go!