**BP NOTE: We have a treat to make your Monday a bit brighter. Visiting us with a guest post and a giveaway is Alexis Hall, author of Glitterland. E received an early copy and found herself unable to stop reading. Her review will go up later today.**
Hello, and welcome to my first ever blog tour, celebrating Riptide Publishing’s release of my first ever novel, Glitterland. Yay! Thank you so much to The Book Pushers for hosting me. And, to you, dear reader, for stopping by. If you’d like to come with me and keep me company on my virtual wanderings, you can find a full listing of when and where I am here.
There’s also some kind of contest type thing happening. The truth is – and already I reveal the rather limited scope of my imagination – quite a lot of the incidental things in Glitterland have a little bit too much reality to them. In the sense that they’re, cough, in my house. Occasionally about my person. One of the things that absolutely isn’t about my person, and has always been solely decorative, is the peacock feather Venetian mask Ash has in his bedroom. I, too, rather admire the beauty of artificial things. If you’d like to win this slightly random souvenir, answer the three questions below (answers in the book) and drop me an email. I’ll announce the winner a handful of days after the end of the tour on the 3rd of September.
- What other peacock feather themed item does Ash own?
- What does Darian have tattooed on his hip?
- What is the name of Chloe’s boutique?
Alexis’ Adventures in Writerland
When I was talking to my publisher about possible topics for this blogtour, they suggested that something about my experiences writing and publishing my first novel might be interesting. I was a little bit confused by this, because I think I’ve always secretly suspected that Lord Henry Wotton was right, that artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are.
Then again, Lord Henry Wotton was kind of a hypocritical dickhead, and he lived in a world before blogging. So here I am.
Writing occupies a slightly peculiar space in my mind – and I suspect in the minds of many people. On a rational level, I understand that it’s just something that people do, and that writers are ultimately no more special or unusual than schoolteachers, bricklayers or traffic wardens, but emotionally the state of Writerness feels like something almost otherworldly and unattainable. For whatever reason, I don’t think we grow up with the idea that writers are just ordinary people like you and me, we grow up with the idea that writers are basically some kind of space alien, or perhaps a hereditary aristocracy. For much of my undergraduacy I harboured dreams of being “a writer” that amounted to little more than dreaming about how awesome it would be if I were that special kind of person that the books come from, so that I wouldn’t have to do nasty tedious things like getting a job or waking up before noon.
There is such a disconnect in my mind between this sort of nebulous idea of Being A Writer and the frequently humdrum reality of writing that even now, with an actual book that I actually wrote being released by an actual publisher that the whole thing feels strangely unreal to me. I think part of me still expected that I would be somehow transformed into a luminous being of light and spirit the moment the last copy-edits were done, but actually it turns out that having your first novel published is a lot like losing your virginity. You build it up into this massive thing in your head, but when you get right down to it you wake up in the morning and you’re still the same schmuck you were when you went to bed.
One of the things I’ve found fascinating about the process of writing a novel is how bizarrely decentralised it is. Again, I think a lot of us have this idea in our heads that writing a novel is something that happens more or less in montage. You sit down with a typewriter, you make a cup of coffee, you shake hands with a man in a suit and you’re done. Turns out that in real life it’s this strange, bewilderingly distributed process of which the author is a comparatively tiny part and the act of writing the book is a comparatively trivial component. Once the book is written, there then comes the process of editing it (of editing it in three different ways, no less, a process which I found tremendously difficult to explain to my Mandarin teacher), sorting out cover art, writing the blurb, then rewriting the blurb on the grounds that it doesn’t follow properly from the strapline, or that it contains too much information, or not enough, or sounds too formal or too informal, answering interview questions, hunting down people to get recommendations and cover blurbs, and all sorts of other activities. All of which go on at once.
While all of this stuff is going on, you get occasional bizarre flashes when you realise that this is going to be an actual real book that may very possibly be read by people you have never even met. My first flash of this was when the cover art first came through. Now I’ve got to admit that the cover art wasn’t entirely what I’d expected – the book is so resolutely grounded in Ash’s perspective that I’d been vaguely imagining some kind of desolate landscape with a sweep of glitter brightening an otherwise slate-grey sky. Putting Darian front-and-centre on the cover in all of his quiffed glory creates a very different impression (and ultimately, I think, the correct one – I do actually really like the cover). I think what struck me about the cover art was that suddenly there was this fantastically rendered, note-perfect picture of a character who had, until that moment, existed entirely in my head. It was like I’d just sort of walked into somebody else’s life and was having to do my best to look like I was meant to be there.
The second strange realisation that this was a real thing that was really happening was when I saw the first fully laid-out copies of the text, complete with spirals, sparkles, and page numbers. Somehow this bunch of words that I’d sort of started writing in a blank Word document had metamorphosed into an actual book-shaped-thing, the sort of thing I might actually read just like I would read a real book that I might buy in a bookshop. It was a strangely humbling and disconcerting experience.
And perhaps even more disconcerting is that I now find myself writing about the whole process for a virtual book tour. Which I think brings us full circle.
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.
Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?
You can read an excerpt and, y’know, cough, buy the book, if you want, at Riptide Publishing.
**BP NOTE: We would like to thank Alexis for joining us today and Riptide Publishing for making this happen. Don’t forget to come back to take a look at E’s review.**