It’s that time of year again. World Book Day is almost upon us. It’s more like World Book Month though if you’re an author doing school visits. Not that I would change that for a moment.
There is nothing so exhilarating(and/or terrifying) than a room full of teenagers gathered to hear you talk about writing. Like a grown up. Like you know something about it. Like a real author.
You know what I mean.
But while not my natural habitat, I find school visits to be a whirlwind of excitement. I love talking to readers and hopefully future readers. And of course writers or hopefully future writers. There are a lot out there. We always need more.
So while it is nerve racking (seriously, I’ll shake like a leaf beforehand and collapse in a heap afterwards) there is also nothing so worthwhile for an author than getting out there and directly connecting with your readership.
And the questions… oh my, the questions…
This week I’ll be going to Drogheda Grammar School on Wednesday 1st March and on World Book Day itself, Thursday 2nd March, I’ll be in Dubray Bookshop in Bray talking to local students. The following week I’m going to Coláiste Chillian in Clondalkin and High School in Rathgar. All this and work too.
*gazes longingly at bed and promises self I’ll sleep in April*
I am not well-read. Not in the traditional sense. I have an English literature degree. I love to read. I take pleasure in books of all kind from their physical form to the wonders inside. But I am not well-read.
As a writer, one must read. There are so many reasons of this but for me it’s a case of getting the ideas moving — the giant fan stirring up the words like tokens in the Dome at the end of the Crystal Maze TV show so you can plunge in and try to grab the gold tokens from the air, while avoiding the silver ones which have negative value. In a sense, that is writing to me, madly whirling around in a place full of fluttering glittering ideas and trying desperately to grab the good ones.
Ideas come from everywhere, it’s true. They are all around us every day. But more than anything else, ideas come from other books. Carl Sagan said that when you open a book and begin to read another voice is whispering to you, from across centuries, across boundaries of nationality, race, gender and experience. We’re hearing the words of another, words carefully thought out and crafted, telling you a story, passing on a message. Sharing.
To be well-read, I always imagine, is to be the person who scores highly on those “100 books you must read lists”, who knows who won the Hob-nob prize in 1992 (yes I made that up. At lease I hope I did), who wafts through a bookshop picking up only the best, the most prestigious, the “important” books.
Oh, this is so not me.
I read what I love. I read the things that grab me and won’t let go. I read the books that don’t seem like a chore (I did enough of that in college), that make me ignore TV, or hunger, or anything else really. The books that keep me up at night going “just one more paragraph, one more page, one more chapter”. I read the books that make my family look to see how many pages I have left before trying to interrupt. Luckily I have a family who understand that “I’ve only 20 pages to go!” is a valid reason for making anyone wait. They do it too, of course. It’s hereditary.
And I want to write those books too. I think all writers should. Write what you love. Write what you need to read. Write the book that will not leave you alone, that wakes you up just as you’re falling asleep to say “I have this amazing idea!”
Reading is a superpower, the ability to bring words on paper to life in your mind, to get so emotionally embroiled in a story that it takes over. Writing is the same, because if you aren’t obsessed with this story, with these characters, how can you expect that magic to work on someone else? It’s hard work, but so rewarding, especially when you seek out the stories that you need to tell, that you ache to write.
The Dubh Linn trilogy has an array of Dublin locations, and a few in Dubh Linn as well so, after a conversation at the launch of A Darkness at the End, I put together an actual map. There’s loads to play with, a list of locations. You can switch to satellite and zoom in and even work out all the routes if you want to do a walking tour. If you’d like it bigger and in more detail you can go to Zeemaps and Dubh Linn clicking here.
It’s that time of year again and this weekend it’ll be Octocon, in the Camden Court Hotel, Dublin. Here are the panels I’ll be taking part in over the weekend. I’ll have copies of my books on sale in the tradehall as well and I’ll be happy to sign them for you. I’ll also be hanging out and going to some of the amazing other panels. Really looking forward to it. The full schedule is available here.
Want a recap of the Dubh Linn series? Wondering if it’s for you? Here’s a spoiler free review of A Crack in Everything, A Hollow in the Hills and A Darkness at the End from Aoife at Fred Weasley Died Laughing on YouTube.
Also just a reminder that I will be at TitanCon next weekend, 30th September – 2nd October, in the Wellington Park Hotel in Belfast.
When I’m writing I usually end up collecting songs which connect to the book and A Darkness at the End is no different. Each song represents either a character, a place, an event or a general theme of the whole book. So here’s the playlist for it, and a link to the playlist on YouTube. Enjoy and let me know if there are any you think should be in there as well (and why).
Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who helped to celebrate the launch of A Darkness at the End the other night, both on the group and in a virtual space as well. It was a fantastic night and I couldn’t have asked for more.
Particular thanks to Sarah Rees Brennan who, despite threats, didn’t shame me at all 😉
(Next time, Sarah, next time).
Bob has signed copies in the Gutter Bookshop, and so too do our friends as the National Leprechaun Museum. There will be more popping up in various bookshops as and when I get there (I’m on a mission).
Failing that I’ll be at Titancon at the end of the month, and at Octocon in October. Signing pen will be at the ready. All three books are available from all good bookshops, on and offline, now. Keep a lookout for the very rare, collector’s item that is the wings badge!