A side-effect of my first book coming out is that I’ve had to try things I haven’t done before, and I’m sure this is good for me. Although I write about danger and adventure, in reality I’m a risk-averse wimp.
So, since my last post, I’ve attended my first ever book club as a guest author.
There was wine. Very tempting, for Dutch courage, but in the end I asked for tea. (Truth to tell, I was worried I’d forget the names of my own characters. Nerves can occasionally result in a rush of blood to the feet… I did skim through the book before I went, and that helped.)
In the end, I needn’t have worried. The group was incredibly kind and friendly, and the evening was (to employ my most over-used work, according to elder DD) convivial.
One of the things we talked about were the main suspects in You Think You Know Me, and the characteristics of a killer. This led me back to Channel Four’s quiz about the psychological make-up of various famous figures.
The quiz developers scored them on five psychopathic traits:
- Emotional detachment
- Coolness under pressure
Readers were challenged to guess where the chosen subjects would fall on the psychopathic spectrum once their scores had been turned into a percentage.
(I was curious about their methodology, and the site does include some background information on this.) The quiz got me thinking about the main suspects in my book, and where they would fall. Guilty or not, they each have a fair dash of several of those traits; the levels of narcissism and emotional detachment are what makes the difference.
Other questions the book club attendees asked were:
How long did it take me to get published? Erm… I mean, it’s like asking someone’s age, isn’t it?
Had I considered self-publishing? Yes, but I was worried I wouldn’t have the required business acumen.
What made me set my mystery in the arts world? My mother trained as an artist, and my brother followed in her footsteps, so I’ve been brought up going to exhibitions and watching art documentaries. The amount of wealth in some parts of the business started to fascinate me too, as well as the rivalry. This article on Damien Hirst gives a flavour of both.
How long does it take me to write a book? The actual writing is normally quite quick – maybe two or three months – but the thinking time beforehand… that’s another matter. And the current novella I’m writing – the shortest thing I’ve tried except short stories – is taking longer than anything yet.
Do I give talks? Gah! It’s not just the idea of giving a talk that scares me, it’s giving a talk in Cambridge, where every other speaker is a professor or Ali Smith. If anyone ever asks me, I will quail in fear (but will say yes, obviously…)
We also talked about much less panic-inducing topics, like the local arts scene, the upcoming Cambridge literary festival and our children, which definitely eased the tension.
I’m so glad I was invited, and I’d certainly do it again. And maybe even have the wine next time…