“For the last time, I’m not a bloody werewolf.”
The woman looked at me, but I could tell she wasn’t convinced.
“I’m not convinced,” she said – rather more dramatically than was necessary, I thought.
Oh well. I knew what was about to happen and yes, before long there was a mob of people all pointing their tiny accusatory fingers at me. J’accuse!
I was never any good at ‘One Night Werewolf’ and as I flicked my card over, the smug smiles spread from face to face.
“Well done everyone, good game! And you know what this means…”
The smiles flickered for a moment as the excuses began.
“We’re fine, I mean I’ve got two already…”
“EVERYONE WINS A BOOKMARK!” I said to collective groans as I channelled my Inner Oprah. “YOU get a bookmark! And YOU get a bookmark! “AND YOU get a bookmark!”
I’ve become a Marketing Monster since BAD PRESS iNK announced The Axe & Grindstone would be published on October 31st. There are Axe & Grindstone bookmarks aplenty in the lobby to my building. The manager of the wine bar beneath my flat has a fixed smile on his face when I walk in, because he knows he’ll be picking up Axe & Grindstone beer mats from random tables for the next week. Everyone who buys a photograph from my Fantom Events photo studio gets a free Axe & Grindstone gift whether they’d like one or not.
And god help you if you follow @misterphipps on twitter. GIFs aplenty.
But it’s also given me the opportunity to talk to people I wouldn’t, and to explore the world of the independent bookshop, each with its own independent style and ethos. BAD PRESS iNK has a map of them all, and I’d recommend having a browse, finding your nearest one, and going along for a mooch. I’m very bad at talking to new people, but I’d almost forgotten how much I’d like looking through physical books, picking them up because the covers looked cool, or the random page I picked made me laugh. It’s very, very easy to become addicted to the convenience of an algorithm selecting your next book for you, so you only read things related to the books you’ve bought before. Random Bookshop Browsing has meant my last three books have been a contemporary awkward romance, a sci-fi fantasy, and a historical story from the point of view of Henry VIII’s fifth wife. Often all being read at the same time as an audiobook recommended by a friend who never uses a Kindle.
As I write, there are twelve days to go until Publication Day. It feels strange. Novels are intensely personal things, crafted and created over a period of years. The Axe & Grindstone has its own story behind it, like all good novels, and one which I’ll begin to share with you over the coming weeks. Promoting something that’s only ever existed inside your head is an inherently uncomfortable thing. Writers are not, generally, “look at me, aren’t I great” kinda people. The temptation to go “oh, it’s nothing really” and change the subject is strong.
But comfort zones are meant to be broken. In a forthcoming interview for The Keith Blakemore-Noble Radio Show where I talk about the book and the scary stuff I write for Big Finish, I chat about fear, and what it means for me as a writer. Not only in the sense of what makes people like scary stories, but also fear being a barrier to new experiences. The greatest sense of achievement can come from leaving a comfort zone and embracing them when they come along.
Working with BAD PRESS iNK is most definitely a new, and exciting experience. It’s great to see a strong and unique voice emerge in independent publishing and one that’s not afraid to do something different – for which I’m exceptionally grateful. It’s a partnership based on a desire to do something new, and challenging, and yes – downright scary at times.
Because it means me having to have the confidence to go out and talk to new people. It means me breaking from my comfort zone and not being shy and self-deprecating. And the more I do it, and the closer we get to Halloween, the easier it’s getting. It means shouting from the rooftops that something amazing from Northumberland is about to descend on the publishing world and the publishing world had better darn be ready.
Because BAD PRESS iNK are launching with my book.
And it’s going to be fantastic.
And you’re going to love it.
And, yes, I was the bloody werewolf and you’re going to leave with an Axe & Grindstone bookmark even if it kills me.
Not at your local bookstore? Tell them to order it!
Want more Paul? Visit his author page.