Sing Ho! For The Open Road

Great Britain


Like a lingerie salesman with a suitcase full of samples, the company is sending me out on the road next month. Here are some of the places I’ll be visiting, and I’ll try to keep you abreast of changes, developments as I go.

Oct 3 – In conversation with Cathi Unsworth @ Shoreditch House, London
Oct 5 – Launch of ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ at the New Bloomsbury Set, Bloomsbury
Oct 9 – Signing at David’s, Letchworth, Herts
Oct 12 – Signing @ Jarrold’s, Norwich
Oct 17 – Signing @ Waterstones, Oxford
Oct 24 – Talk on Northern writers, Sheffield, venue TBA
Oct 27 – Yeovil Literary festival, Somerset
Oct 29 – Royal National Hotel Bookfair, London
Oct 31 – Reading event, Bath Spa
Nov 1st – In conversation @ the Authors’ Club, London
Nov 27 – Book Week Scotland

Throughout the month – national blog tour, online interviews TBA

Writers don’t get sent out on tour in the way they once did, because you know, computers. Blog tours are better than radio interviews, because the interviewers are usually far more knowledgeable than radio presenters (although there are exceptions; Robert Elms was always well-informed and filled with curiosity).

I get a pretty good crowd but as I write genre I obviously don’t pack out concert venues like Alain de Botton, Martin Amis or (more weirdly) elderly bad-boy Brett Easton Ellis. I once arrived in a Northern venue (a teenage drop-in centre) to be confronted by signs reading ‘Get Your Free Chlamydia Kit Here!’ I was on stage with another writer, an old pal, and one sweet lady came up and said, ‘I hope you’re both having fun.’ To which Other Writer replied tartly, ‘It’s a Sunday. We’re working. This is not fun for us.’

You don’t usually get paid for events at my level, although you do get expenses. However, there are other rewards. Librarians are always so pleased to see you (and they’re giving up their time). They apologise unnecessarily for the size of the crowd and run about making tea, and are generally delightful. I prefer meeting readers at bookstores because literary festivals attract the same attendees year in, year out, and you get a broader range of readers. One thing I don’t get is many teenagers, especially in London, where they’re too busy throwing acid over each other or selfie-ing themselves next to terrorist attack memorial spots.

The most disheartening thing you can do is attend an arts festival and find yourself one of a tiny handful there, then go one street away and find Mango and H&M packed out with shoppers.

Most writers enjoy public interaction and would do much more if they were asked. There needs to be a national database link-up that allows us to visit smaller towns while we’re in the area. Big bookshops get you in at 6:30pm, and if you’re several hours from home it’s difficult to squeeze in another event on the same night. Dartford after work on a wet Wednesday evening in November feels like a long way to go for six people and a dog, when an online talk will get you a huge audience.

BTW, I’ll also be in your car with you, as for the first time I’ve recorded my own book for ‘Forgotten Authors’. Thinking back, it now seems very odd that I wasn’t asked to do the same thing with ‘Paperboy’. Instead there’s a very nice actor pretending to be me and talking about my mother and father, which too disconcerting for me to listen to.

7 comments on “Sing Ho! For The Open Road”

  1. Brian Corrigan says:

    Is there any possibility of a visit to the North West? I fully understand and agree your thoughts about blog tour being an easier way to meet more people, but there is nothing quite like being face to face with a favourite author.

  2. Chris Webb says:

    The first sentence reminds me of the old “I travel in ladies underwear” joke 🙂

  3. admin says:

    I noticed that Lancashire wasn’t on the list again. I’ll ask.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    If you want Chris in your area talk to your local library/bookstore and ask if there’s a possibility of joint invitations. We’ve partnered with other guilds to joint sponsor a teacher we all want to see. You divide up the travel expenses, provide accommodation and each has their own event. Don’t expect Chris to do all the work. Provide incentive.

  5. Roger says:

    Bloody hell I’m never going to see you am I?

  6. Helen Martin says:

    Can someone in Roger’s area get him an introduction to a library program person? We can’t have despair setting in like this.

  7. Jan Briggs says:

    Why are you doing all this singing?

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