Creating the New Book
This blog is actually about me, sorry about that, and about what I am trying to do, not as a businessman-slash-writer, but as an artist. Do remember that even if your main goal in writing is to make money you are also a representative of a fine old tradition of story-telling that goes back to the beginning of mankind.
The Play’s the Thing
I started writing crazy plays when I was at university. It was very hard to get my plays staged but that didn’t worry me, I formed a small theatre troupe and staged my plays myself. I wrote short snappy comedies and the audiences laughed, cheered and applauded. Even though my plays worked, it was just about impossible to get theatre companies interested, all they staged were the classics or rather dull drawing room dramas.
At the time I was working all night as a waiter, to get a little nest egg together, and then one day I packed my bags got on an aeroplane and went travelling for six years. During my travels I wrote my first novel A Foxtrot Through India inspired by a trip to India. I entered Foxtrot in a competition for novels in England, I didn’t win, but at the presentation night I was told by the judges that my book was the best but it was too short. Of course it was short, it was snappy and to the point with no long descriptive passages! The presentation night was a weird experience, the judges spent the whole night talking to me and ignoring the winner of the competition.
Cider Drink it
It took me twenty years to perfect Foxtrot. Eventually I found a publisher but when they accepted my book they wanted to change it so much that I refused to let them publish it. Disillusioned with publishers I decided to publish my books myself. I started with Cider Drink It Make It Cook with It, which sold out quickly, and I followed that up with a cookbook, that also sold out and then a book of plays Noahs Nuclear Niche and finally A Foxtrot Through India. All my books were well received, sold well and made a profit but self-publishing is an expensive past time, involving a large outlay of funds, so when a German publisher approached me I jumped at the chance.
My next foray into publishing involved a German publishing company. They approached me and asked to publish my books, the least said about this experience the better. Don’t get me wrong, I like German people very much but the myth that Germans are very efficient and craftsmen was destroyed by actually working with them. So when the opportunity came for me to self-publish eBooks on Amazon Kindle I jumped at the chance. Basically, I see a writer as an artist, and in order to develop their art they must get published in some form or other, so eBooks are a great invention for writers, They also help foster creativity, give writers exposure and help a writer develop, and writers need to get exposure to develop.
Writing comedy in eBooks however is very difficult because the reader has to work at it as well as the writer. Comedy is easier on the stage, the actors can create the mood with the audience, but when comedy is written for reading, it is the reader who has to create the mood and the modern reader is often not prepared to put the effort in to actually laugh. Writing comedy is often poo pooed, as if it is easy to write, but in fact it is harder to write than romance or horror. To be successful at writing comedy the writer has to engage the reader and make them drop their natural inhibition to laugh, the problem is that the modern urbane, educated, sophisticated reader looks down their nose at comedy. I faced all these problems but took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and decided to write a series of comic whodunits. A series of four books, Death in the Australian Outback, was born. The action is driven by two crazy detectives, Bigfoot and Littlefoot, but I threw in a serious minded female policewoman, Sergeant Elizabeth West, to keep the beer swilling, loud mouthed men under control. The other thing I did was to go for uncontrolled comedy, the comedy, or craziness, is none stop and what I am trying to do is make a comedy that pushes the boundaries of the genre to new heights, or lows, as the reader may decide. Comedy is not the only driving force in these whodunits however I wanted in each story to present a new and interesting problem, new and interesting characters and to present a view of mankind where people are there for each other, a sense of community you might say.
If writing crazy whodunits wasn’t problematic enough my style is also new and perhaps ahead of its time. Being ahead of your time, believe me, is not a comfortable place to be. I write with an electric style, fast moving with no long overblown prose, no baggage hanging off the side. I let the story race along and tell itself. I have been particularly successful at this in my Jack Hamma books especially In Bed With Jane Austen. I wrote In Bed giving the reader not even a pause to breath and the book, I think, is a particularly successful personification of my ideas of what a book should be, a passionate flow of words that force the action along, faster moving than even a movie. One thing I like to do is write books that are so fast paced that even movies and television seem slow.
Putting Passion Back into Books
I moved from writing plays with punchy dialogue to writing comic whodunits, where I just let the comedy roll, not stopping even to tell the story and then I moved into fast paced action adventures where I don’t even give the reader a toilet break. I believe that I have only just begun to experiment with the form of the written word. One of my goals is to beat the television, youtube, Facebook and the rest of the electronic media at their own game. I want to fight no rear guard action for the book but to reinvent the way books are written and most of all put passion, guts, invention and creativity back into literature.
Anthony E Thorogood