Today I am super excited to be hosting Claire McFall, author of Ferryman. It was one of my favourite reads of 2013 and it is an honour to have her on the blog. I really hope you like her guest post as much as I did!
The Social Media World
Why is it every time I think of Twitter I visualise someone doing the “Birdie Song”? With a little bit of this, and a little bit of that and… I digress. Tweeting now seems to be an imperative for authors and publishers in terms of getting yourself and your novel out there. In 140 characters or less, be witty, create a splash, create a discussion, create a controversy…
Create a following. There’s a scary thought. Anyone else reminded of cults and crazed dictators? Who are you following? How many people are following you? If someone follows you, and you don’t follow them back, is that a snub? It’s a minefield, and I find myself judging my own self-worth by how many followers I collect. It’s safe to say I’m not feeling like a priceless Ming vase right now.
But I think that’s mostly my fault. As a blogger (who shall remain nameless – although she was very nice about my book so I forgive her, mostly because it’s true!) so succinctly said, my Twitter skills are “lacking”. In my defence, I had my first Twecture (Tweeting Lecture? No… too much?) in a restaurant after far too many glasses of wine in the not too distant past, so I freely admit to being a beginner in the land of Tweet. I just never quite know what to say… or if it’s as funny as I think it is. And what’s all this about a hash-tag? Trending? A pupil has just told me that they prefer Google Plus to Twitter. I’ve never even heard of it. Is this what my parents feel like? I’ll never mock them for making me show them how to use the DVD player ten times ever again.
Now Facebook I get. I have a Facebook page (come find me!) and I know how to use it! I can comment… post pictures… link. Like stuff. The whole shebang. The most awesome thing about Facebook? People can talk to me… and I can talk back! When I was young I was OBSSESSED with the Famous Five. I wanted to go away in a caravan, explore smugglers cover, solve a mystery, have an adventure… I’d even have let people call me George! I would have loved to have been able to tell Enid Bylton how amazing I thought her books were (Hmm… just realising this is possibly a bad example as Ms. Blyton died in 1968 and I wasn’t born for another twelve years… but if she had been alive). I’d never have known where to send a letter, and the likelihood of a reply?
I’d like to point out at this juncture that if you leave me a nice comment or a hello on Facebook, I will definitely reply, because I absolutely love hearing from people who’ve read and liked – dare I say loved? – Ferryman. :) The thing Facebook has over Twitter, for me, is that it has the ability to create a little community. You can have discussions and share things and make new friends and connections. Okay, it’s also that I know how to use it and therefore I don’t feel like quite such a numpty. (Numpty: awesome Scottish word. It means eejit – you can work that one out for yourselves!)
But, in my ever-so-humble opinion, it’s bloggers who are the Guardian Angels for writers in this new social media world (or should that be cloud?). Bloggers. Are. Awesome. And I’m not counting myself in that category. I have a blog… but haven’t earned my stripes as a blogger. I need training… I need inspiration… and a healthy dose of commitment. Because bloggers, they’re dedicated. They read, like, a bazillion books, getting the word out there about all the new and exciting fiction that’s available. And they keep the publishers on their toes because they can’t be bought. If they liked it, terrific. If they didn’t? Well, they’ll tell you so.
I lived in a little place growing up. I had a few pals who were readers, and if they read something cool, they’d pass it along. But most of the time the new book treasures I uncovered, I had to find myself. And sometimes blurbs are a bit pooh-pants and put you off a book that might otherwise have blown your mind. You can trust your lovely blogger to read it for you – pants blurb or no pants blurb – and give you the real skinny on what’s inside. Has anyone used the phrase “skinny” like that since the 90s? Ah well, maybe I can start a revival.
Another reason bloggers are an author’s new best friend? They’ll let you share a little of their limelight. It’s a sad fact that books and authors are often not TV sexy. That’s not to say we all have faces for radio… but bookie things just don’t get too much airtime. Bloggers are often willing to give authors a chance to shine. I’ve done a few guests posts (like this one! Hello! :D) and interviews on on-line blogs, and they’re a great place to let readers and blog-fans meet the real me. The mad, irreverent slightly off-my-banana me… without having to see my radio face (ahem).
And so… what have we all learned today? Well, for a start, I still suck at Tweeting and blogging, but I’ve been filled with a renewed enthusiasm. I will uncover the secret behind the hash-tag! Then I’m going to stand in the street like Gavroche yelling “Follow me!”(I’d sing it Les Mis style but no one really wants to hear that) And secondly? The internet is awesome. Not just because now when I can’t remember what film that man off the telly was in I can just look up the IMDB (how did I live before that?), but because it gives authors a chance to bridge the gap between themselves and their readers. The whole reason I wrote Ferryman (and Bombmaker… coming out in February so watch this space!) was because I wanted people to read it and hopefully love it. Without the Tweets and the Facebook messages and the blog posts and comments, it’s just me, sitting all alone in my office (okay, couch), getting dusty and turning into Miss Havisham. Wondering.
Claire McFall’s work is, in essence, all about first love and difficult decisions. Her novels take straightforward romantic narratives and hurl them into unusual and extreme settings, blurring accepted genre boundaries and creating new sub-genres of her own. She then charts her characters’ reactions to these unfamiliar situations and the new and confusing feelings that beset them in a hyper-real, engaging, deeply poignant and literary manner. Claire is a teacher and lives in the Scottish Borders with her husband and she currently working on her next novel for Templar Fiction