Monday, 7 May 2012

ONE AUTHOR'S WEEK: Pauline Fisk on Survival Training, Ballroom Dancing and Free Downloads

What a week.  First the promotional giveaway, then the research into ballroom dancing, then the survival training course in the deep green forests of Northampton.  It’s amazing what we authors get up to.

The giveaway first.  I’d never done anything like it before but Authors Electric were planning a collaborative giveaway of e-books in celebration of World Book Night and as a member of the group I thought why not? My novel, Midnight Blue, was available for promotions on Kindle Select and after years of selling all round the world, maybe this was my chance to share a little and extend my readership to a new generation of readers. 

Well, to be honest I thought I’d get a couple of hundred hits.  Nothing prepared me for the figures to keep rising until over a thousand copies had been downloaded in just a few short hours.  And, since the promotion ended, the sales continued to roll in, putting ‘Midnight Blue’ back in the Top 50 Amazon fantasy and children’s charts for the first time in nearly twenty years.

As an author, it’s fantastic to find your books read and enjoyed by successive generations of readers, young and old.  Since my big career decision at the age of nine, I’ve been a writer all my life.  For the last twenty years I’ve been a full-time writer, and the e-book market is the latest of my ventures.  I don’t know how successful it will ultimately prove to be, but knowing that my books are out there in perpetuity is a form of success in its own right.  Over the next year I intend to bring out much of my back list as e-books too.

But I haven’t forgotten the publishing world, and that’s why this week saw me not only on the internet giving away books but a] hitting the dance-floor, learning [from the sidelines] how to cha, cha, cha, and b] out in the jungles of Northamptonshire, learning first-hand how to light fire, collect water and bed down in torrential rain without getting wet.

For the first time in my writing life, I’m ghost-writing a book. I met the subject of that book out in Belize whilst researching my novel, ‘In the Trees’.  A six-foot-God-alone-knows-how-many-inches ex-Marine, care worker, boxer, expedition fixer for media companies, expedition leader, adventurer who’s lived with cannibals and learned his survival training skills from the Penan tribes of Borneo – even an avid ballroom dancer, John Sullivan’s a gift of a subject  to write a book with.  Not only are his stories extraordinary, but his photographs and films are stunning.  John’s a man who has done it all.  My week was finished off by going into school with him and seeing the effect of his talk on a theatre packed with sixth formers, who couldn’t have been more impressed if they’d met David Attenborough himself. 

I’ll be posting more on this subject, so watch this space.  In the meantime, I can tell you that if you want to learn to dance and live near Northampton, Andre’s your man.  His dancing school is heaving and, even for a clod-footed, rhythmless observer like me, what he’s teaching looks almost do-able.

Not only that, but if you want to cook your supermarket chicken [or freshly-caught road-kill] to perfection without pots or utensils in the Great Outdoors, an underground oven is the way to go [and would be great for a Christmas Dinner with a difference, to impress your friends].  Oh, and sleeping in a hammock strung up between trees can be as good a night as in the best hotel.  I do not kid.  Even if it rains – and it rained for me – you can still be comfortable. 

After all those hours before the computer watching figures rising on my free downloads, it was great awakening in woodlands to the smell of firewood and the gentle hiss of rain. The author’s life - who could want for anything else?

Pauline Fisk blogs on the author's life on:



Penny Dolan said...

Wishing you more weeks full of such brillaint experiences. Am dazed by it!

It must be satisfying to use your writing skills on such a worthwhile "ghost story" - but many congratulations on your AE triumpgh too.

Sue Purkiss said...

It all sounds terrific!

Carole Anne Carr said...

Can't get to Northampton, but being a writer ruins the health, so would love to join in!

Pauline Fisk said...

If you want to know more about the ballroom dancing bit of my week, follow the link below to the blog page on my website. My part of it all was spent firmly on the sidelines, so no exercise I'm afraid. Yes, indeed, writing's bad for the health - but it's good for the soul!

Emma Barnes said...

Looking forward to your next novel combining topics of ballroom dancing and survival skills...and published as an e-book of course!

Pauline Fisk said...

Ha, ha! Spending so much time promoting myself these days, I don't know how to find the time to write. I do have a novel on the go, but it's slow going. I look back with wistfulness and affection on the days when publishers publicized their authors' books, instead of expecting them to do it themselves. And, on top of that, they still expect them to write! [Sorry for that, couldn't resist a gripe.]

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Pauline this was a breath of fresh air (true rain-doused and wood-smoked air!)What a wonderful week. It just made me laugh at the energy of it all and the contrast! Its put a whole new slant on this week for me. I've just come back from a trip to the bush watching wild dog (not sleeping in a hammock strung between 2 trees though!) and was feeling sorry for myself under these grey skies. Thank you for cheering me up! I keep imagining you tango-ing through the forest!