The worst radio interview ever

radio interview

‘That was Adele’s fantastic new single. Now I’m really excited about our next guest. I’ve been a big fan of his for ages. You’ve gotta love his books. And, ladies and gents, he’s got a new one out today. If it’s as good as the last one, we’re all in for a treat. Give it up for the one and only Ben Adams.’

‘What a great intro. Thanks Chris.’

‘Nick.’

‘Shit, sorry Nick.’

‘This is going well, isn’t it. I must apologise to anyone who was offended by Ben’s language. Ben, it’s lovely to have you on the show. I’m a huge fan. Six Months to Get a Life was a hilarious book. And now you’ve got a new one out… Is that your phone?’

‘God, sorry about this Chris. I mean Nick. It’s my son. Hang on a minute. Joe, what do you want, I’m live on the radio. An emergency? What sort of emergency? Well, how am I supposed to know where the bloody remote control is? Sorry about that, Nick. I’ve turned it off now.’

‘Kids eh, who’d have em. So, you were going to tell me about your new book.’

‘Yes, my award-winning second novel is called Six Lies…’

‘Award-winning? Has it won an award already?’

‘Well, not exactly, but it’s just a timing thing. Anyway, let me tell you about it. Dave Fazackerley is not in a good place. He has just buried his mother. His wife has left him for a librarian and neither his band nor his career as a City Banker is progressing smoothly. The only thing keeping him sane is his close relationship with his life-long role model, his father.’

‘Sounds intriguing, Ben.’

‘But all this changes when, the day after his mother’s funeral, he sifts through the condolence letters piled up on his doormat and finds an envelope addressed to him in his mother’s artsy hand. The letter reveals a secret…’

‘Oh, we need a drum-roll.’

‘That sounds more like the travel news jingle to me.’

‘Sorry, wrong button. Back to the secret. Do tell.’

‘Biologically-speaking, his mother isn’t his mother.’

‘Was that your stomach?’

‘Yeah, sorry. I had a kebab last night and it’s been repeating on me ever since.’

‘We’d best get back to the book I think. So, it’s like that programme Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall present on the BBC? Long Lost Family?’

‘Er, no, it’s nothing like that. Their families don’t have rows in supermarket isles, drummers throwing hissy fits, drunken pub quizzes, book dorks, Virginia the virgin or their best mate’s kids taking the piss, sorry micky, out of their sex lives…’

‘Wow, sounds great. Right, the producer’s giving me the evil eye. Time to play another record. Ah, I see where we’re going with this one. Nice link.’

‘Let me guess, ‘Paperback Writer’?’

‘No. ‘Shaddup You Face’.’

six lies cover for pc w endorse

And now for the boring bit…

Thanks to Debbie, my publicist and new best friend, my books are getting lots of really exciting coverage at the moment.

I’m doing the rounds of radio studios around the country. Fortunately, the above wasn’t a transcript of my appearance on either Radio Newcastle or Radio Coventry and Warwickshire. Hopefully, my chat with Allison Ferns on BBC Sussex this lunchtime won’t be anything like this either.

My diary is chock-a-block between now and Christmas. There’s more radio banter, an article for a national newspaper, some magazine work and a few personal appearances (get me!).

The BBC documentary I was involved in is being shown during the first week of January. There is talk of something even more stellar in the near future. I’ll blog about that in due course if it looks like comeing off.

Finally, for the writers amongst you, after a chat with my publisher, we have decided to make the e version of Six Lies available exclusively on Amazon for the next three months. By enrolling it in KDP Select, I am giving those who have signed up to Amazon’s Unlimited subscription service the opportunity to download my book for free. My thinking is that I might get more early reviews by going with this approach.

If you have views on KDP Select, or if you have any great tips on how to avoid messing up a radio interview, I would love to hear from you.

Ben

Fireworks from a new author

I let someone else read ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ at the weekend. Stand back and light the blue touch paper…

Oh, the trauma. What would she think? Would she laugh me out of town or marvel at my whit and stimulating repartee? Would she write me off as a boring fart and chuck the book on the bonfire or beg me to write the sequel by tomorrow night?

Luckily for me, the book didn’t bomb. She genuinely seemed to love the fire in the characters’ bellies, their flare and the finale. She did even ask if she could read the next book, the first chapter of which is included at the end of ‘Six Months…’ Boom!

Once I had got over the relief that she enjoyed it (she read it in one sitting), we got into lots of debates about whether the characters in ‘Six Months…’ would have acted in the way that they did. And whether I should have subjected them to the fireworks that they went through.

It felt a bit like my school English literature lessons when we analysed Hardy’s or Shakespeare’s hidden meanings, only this time I was the author. I still didn’t have much more of a clue though.

The essay questions that she wanted to discuss included how would you characterise Adams’ writing style? What was Adams trying to show when he put in the scene about the marriage guidance counsellor? Would Amy have really told Graham that she was having her period whilst sitting in a pub having a roman candle-lit dinner? Would Graham’s ex really have had such a short fuse?

Even though I wrote the book, I am not sure that my answers to the above (‘God knows’, ‘that he had a sense of humour’, ‘maybe; maybe not’ and ‘yes’) satisfied my new fan. They certainly wouldn’t have satisfied Mrs, er, Katherine Wheel, my old English teacher.

My reviewer – let’s call her Claire because that’s what her mum and dad called her – is only the third person to have read the book so far (well, fourth if you count me). Hopefully I will get final type-set and EPUB versions back in the next week or two and be able to start sharing them with potential reviewers – you know, the ones who don’t know me personally and are likely to be more objective… Gulp!

Other developments on my author journey in the past week include me seeing a first cut of my fancy new author website.

I have had email chats with the man designing my site. I haven’t met him but he is probably only fourteen and already a millionaire. He asked me what apps I would like on my site. I didn’t have a clue. My boys said I should have ‘clash of clans’ put on it. I think they missed the point.

After further discussion, my web designer informed me that I wanted an app that counts down to my publication date, one that gets people to like my facebook page and one that takes people to my twitterings (@benadamsauthor). A website with all bells and whistles – well, I’m glad that’s sorted. There are some great images too. Once it is finished, it should be fully integrated with this blog.

I also published my book blurb on my facebook site. I stuck it there because I was told that I needed to generate unique content to get people to go to facebook. I am just following protocol. Normally I’m not very good at following protocol but as someone who is still new to all this stuff, I will go with the flow for now.

So, I will have facebook, twitter, fancy website, Goodreads and my porn site (oopse, I meant not to mention that one). But will they sell any books?

And what about the actual book? Let’s not forget that the book is, after all, the point of all this online nonsense.

Well, I now know that you can’t sign off the cover until you know how thick the spine has to be. As my man in the know puts it, ‘War and Peace had a big spine. Your book is practically spineless.’ I’ll give him a rocket for that.

Apparently we are still on track for a January release date. Graham Hope wants to introduce himself to the world. Then let the fireworks start…

I think that’s quite enough firework references to justify the topical title, don’t you?

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to those of you that have taken the time and trouble to comment on my blog. I have committed the cardinal sin and failed dismally to reply to everyone individually. I hope you will forgive me. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.

I have also been having lots of off-line discussions with fellow fledgling authors about the whole process of getting published. I really value these conversations. One thing that those authors are teaching me is that they aren’t like me at all – they are far more organised and prepared.

Book extract: living with your parents…

My book is finished, except for a final professional readthrough from a professional proof-reader. Those of you that have been following my journey from the start (you deserve a reward!) will appreciate what a long journey this has been. It took me a few months to write what I thought was a decent book. It took my editor a month to compile her comments and it has just taken me a month to respond to them.

I am now really proud of the (virtually) final manuscript.

What happens next? Well, I will no doubt have to wait a while to get the final proofed version back. I am also doing some work on my author website. I am paying someone to develop and work with me on implementing a marketing strategy. We shall see whether this is value for money or not in due course.

The ultimate aim is to publish the book early in the new year.

I thought I would share another extract from the book with you all. Feel free to tell me what you think.

Living with my parents isn’t easy. Having your old bedroom back more than twenty years after you left home and sharing the house with your parents is a big change from having your own kids, house, garden, telly and wife (yes, in that order). This significant step backwards in my life has taken some getting used to. I have to remind myself to abide by my parents’ rules while in their house. Rules like washing up straight after a meal rather than when there aren’t any clean dishes left in the cupboard and cutting my toenails in the bathroom not in front of the telly. Talking of the telly, I also have to make sure that the next time I watch playboy tv when everyone else has gone to bed, I turn the channel back to BBC before I turn the tv off. Mum is still getting over the embarrassment of having her women’s institute friends thinking she watches porn.

Having me as a lodger isn’t easy for my parents either, especially at their age. They are both approaching their seventies. They are physically fit but my dad had a hip replacement last year and needs the other one doing too so he is temporarily less mobile than he would want to be. Mum could probably still climb a mountain faster than me and both of them can drink faster than me.

Before I moved in, they were very set in their ways. They had a routine for what rooms in the house they would sit in at different times of the day (kitchen in the morning, conservatory in the afternoon, front room in the evening). Meals were served at 1 o’clock and 6 o’clock and after dinner they would listen to The Archers then move from the radio to the telly in time to watch the soaps. They would go to bed straight after the 10 o’clock news.

Except for a short but explosive teenage stroppy period, I have always got on with my parents. We don’t do cuddles and all that stuff, but pre divorce, I used to go round there once a week with the family, have dinner, play board games and generally drink too much London Pride. I made another of my vows when I moved in with them. I wouldn’t just use their house as a hotel. I would make the effort to continue spending quality time with them. This isn’t proving easy.

‘Quality time’ these days seems to mean sitting around a kitchen table littered with empty London Pride cans and Prosecco bottles, picking my life apart. Now anyone over the age of two would probably be capable of picking my life apart. But my mum and dad consider themselves uniquely qualified to do the job with a forensic precision. They were both social workers in their former lives. My mum used to do something worthy with the parents of children with disabilities and my dad used to manage a ‘family services unit’, whatever that means.

There is only so much frowning over my previous life choices or suggestions about future life choices that a man can take. I reached my limit today. Mum cooked a traditional Sunday roast, beef and all the trimmings. We washed it down with our usual beverages. Our plates were empty, our stomachs full and our tongues alcoholically lubricated when mum asked me where it all went wrong.

‘What do you mean ‘where did it all go wrong’?’ I asked.

‘With your life, Graham. How did it come to this?’ She even did that palms up, arms outstretched hand gesture thing when she said ‘my life’, presumably meaning everything. Where did everything go wrong? Thanks mum, build me up, bolster my confidence.

I thought about going for a glib response but the earnest look on mum’s face made me change track.

‘I don’t know mum, I guess my marriage just wasn’t meant to last.’ Ok so it wasn’t exactly an insightful answer but it was the best I could do.

‘That’s nonsense and you know it Graham.’ mum continued. ‘Marriages need to be worked at. It wasn’t as if either of you had an affair or anything that drastic. Surely you could have worked through your differences?’

‘You didn’t even see a marriage guidance counsellor.’ dad chimed in. We did actually but I hadn’t told them about it because they would have had a go at me for walking out in the middle of a session.

And so it went on, two against one, tag-team wrestling. My parents still seem to think the sun shines out of my ex’s backside. They act as if she is their daughter rather than me their son. They still hold out a hope that my perfect ex will have me back. I wouldn’t go back even if she would have me back. Which she wouldn’t.

I have told my parents time and again that my ex and I split up because of our terminal irritability with each other, our mutual intolerance of each other, our irreconcilable tv viewing schedules. We just didn’t like each other. I tried to explain that to my parents but, to them, not liking your other half doesn’t constitute grounds for divorce.

‘You should have paid more attention to her when you had her.’ dad advised. Why didn’t I think of that?

‘Those poor children.’ mum offered. Why didn’t I think of them too? I was on the ropes by this point, being seriously double-teamed by my parents, but wasn’t about to submit.

‘Bloody hell, will the two of you just leave me alone. I have had it with your sniping at me. You might have been married for ever but all you ever do is sit on your arses watching crap on the telly. I’d prefer to be single and living than married and dead.’ The ‘atomic drop’, the ‘full nelson’ and the ‘gorilla press’ all combined in to one move. That told them.

‘Happy mother’s day.’ mum muttered as I was heading for the door. Shit.

At this point, I think I should make a confession. Being divorced, separated from my kids and my marital home (not to mention my ex) is quite stressful. It is quite a large upheaval in my life and may just have caused a slight emotional imbalance in my otherwise rock-solid equilibrium. In other words, I may be a bit self-centered at the moment, even a bit emotionally unstable. Not to the extent that I am about to charge around Morden with a lethal weapon killing random strangers, but enough that I may snap at my parents from time to time.

I need to put an end to alcohol-influenced conversations about my life.

And my editor said…

I love my editor. I have never met her and she may already be married but make no bones about it, I love her.

I sent my first book, ‘six months to get a life’ off to her a few weeks ago. I have been a nervous wreck ever since.

By the time the book came back, my nails were shorter, my hair greyer and my blood pressure higher.

But the wait was worth it. She likes it! She thinks it’s funny and that it could be a commercial success.

Of course she didn’t just say that everything about it was perfect. In fact she has provided lots of really constructive suggestions that I will now be enthusiastically working on over the summer.

In particular, she has challenged me to develop the characters more. Particularly for those of you that are writing your first book at the moment, I thought I would share some of her comments.

At specific points in the text she has posed questions like:

“Does he think Julia fancies him?”

“Is it OK by Graham? Does he mind being told he isn’t great in bed?”

“Shouldn’t Graham acknowledge that he’s being a bit of a dickhead?”

“Could you use this as an opportunity to show us what’s going on in Sean’s head?”

“More of a reaction/comment here from Graham, please.”

“Pretty twattish response from Graham – we should see her anger.”

“Wouldn’t Graham think about sex more? Wouldn’t he want to know about Dave & Helen? Has he slept with Amy? Does he want to? Does he think he will?”

“So what’s he like? Describe him. Can we see Graham being bitchy/jealous/competitive.”

“Does Graham fancy ‘short skirt Sarah’? He’s single again – he’d be considering the idea, wouldn’t he? Space here for him to think about whether he’s attracted to her/feels attractive himself/is he ready for anything new/what’s his self-image/how confident does he feel? Etc. Try to do it via physical details, eg might he check to see if he’s got a beer belly/does it show/should he go to the gym later.”

My editor also said a couple of things that I would love your views on.

“Really? I don’t believe a parent of teenagers wouldn’t have heard of au pairs.” What do you think? Have most parents of teenagers heard of au pairs?

“Coffee? Teenagers don’t drink coffee.” Is she right here? Are my kids odd?!

And whilst she liked a lot of the funny lines in the book, she didn’t think this one worked. Do you?
“I actually took my ring off on Christmas day and chucked it under a sofa in my family home in disgust at being bought a ‘beard care set’ for Christmas. I haven’t even got a beard.”

Book cover – which do you prefer?

Choosing a book cover is so important. As a reader I will shy away from tacky-looking covers or covers that suggest to my subconscious that the book is a bit too girly or paranormal or whatever for my tastes. A glance is all it takes to put me off a book.

The trouble is, a cover that might put me off might at the same time attract others to at least read the book’s blurb.

I have just received the attached two cover designs for my first book, ‘Six Months to Get a Life’. I would love to know what you think of them.

six months to get a life02 street sign

six months to get a life03-02 fat bloke cover

I wait with baited breath!
Ben

Help! My editor is reading my book!

‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is virtually written. I am really proud of myself. The book currently has a 100% 5* rating. Ok, I am the only one to have read it so far but let’s not dwell on small irrelevancies.

Someone else is reading it now though. I have just sent my tome off to an editor.

I am now feeling as insecure as my principal character, Graham Hope. Will the editor like it or will they pan it as the worst piece of ‘literature’ they have ever had the misfortune to read?

I am of course hoping they report back that they love the book. That it is the best debut novel they have come across. It is certainly the best debut novel I have ever written.

But as a still wet behind the ears author, I am also hoping that my editor adds value to the plot and to my writing style. I don’t just want a pat on the back. I could get that from my mother.

On second thoughts, no I couldn’t. My mother would probably tell me there is too much swearing in it.

I was hoping to publish my book in the autumn but I want it to come out with a bang rather than a whimper so I am going to work with some lovely people to get it properly produced, marketed and promoted. This means publishing in early 2015.

The more I read about other authors’ experiences, the more I realise how much of a novice I am. I love writing but I need to get to love all the crap that goes with it if you want your book to be a success.

I am putting time into developing my ‘author platform’, whatever that means.

I am tweeting regularly but as far as I can tell, everyone on twitter talks but few listen.

I am reading about SEO and other three letter acronyms. FFS.

And ‘pay per click’ advertising is on my list of things to think about for this week.

I just hope that all this extra stuff doesn’t suck the creative energy out of me. Get me. As Ray, Graham Hope’s best mate in ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ would say, “Get a grip you tart. Don’t go all arty-farty on me.”

I would love to hear others’ thoughts on the whole process.

Ben