By nmurray, Aug 9 2020 02:07PM
Hello Richard, it is wonderful to talk to you today. Your new book 'The Black Lion' a ghostly tale is set in Brighton, which is a few miles along the coast, east of Littlehampton. The temperature here today is 33°C! We are lucky to have a sea breeze to cool us down although I am sat next to a fan at the moment trying my best not to implode.
We know each other, don't we Richard as we both organise book fairs. This year the Brighton and Hove Book Show is due to take place in November. I have had to cancel my show, the UK Southern Book Show for this year but fingers crossed your show can go ahead.
Your new book The Black Lion was published on 22 July. Please let everyone know about your writing journey and about your new book.
"Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog.
1. What made you want to write a book?
At first it was curiosity but it was also about challenging myself - putting myself to the test to find out if I could write a novel. Once I came up with the concept, I was determined to turn it into a story and so I took the plunge.
After eight months of writing I thought it was finished and proudly showed the novella to my beta readers but, it turned out I needed more time to finish it. Instead of a final draft it looked more like a first draft according to the beta readers, and the main advice I was given was to flesh it out and make it the best I can. So the next task was to flesh out the story and I was totally baffled by it. I had no idea what it meant or how I was going to do it.
One of my writer friends invited me around to her house, let me pick a couple of pages of my book and demonstrated to me how to ‘flesh out’ a story. It was like witnessing a painter dotting colours of paint on a canvas, concentrating on what it looks like and what needs changing to make it better by adding, removing or replacing colours. It all made sense and I had to go though the book page by page, and so I did. After I fulfilled this joyful task, I approached my beta readers again and after they read the entire book, a novel by now, their advice was to get in touch with a professional editor to go through the book with a fine-toothed comb. The good news was: the book was done and now it needed an extra pair of eyes to look for punctuation, literals and inconsistencies. My friend and author Rohase Piercy recommended to contact author and editor Jayne ‘Charlie’ Raven. To break the ice, Charlie requested to send her a sample piece of the book. After I read her comments and suggestions I knew she was the person I had been looking for, and our collaboration was a fact!
2. Tell us about you and where you live.
I’m Richard, an openly gay author, and I’m living with my husband and dog in Peacehaven on the south coast of England. I have a job, 30 hours per week, and spend the rest of my time cooking, writing, cycling, walking the dog and visiting cultural places. I’m a co-organisers of The Brighton & Hove Book Fayre - the last event in November 2019 was our busiest so far and we have another event booked for November this year. I’m also a book fairy, gift-wrapping books and hiding them in public spaces in and around Brighton. Book fairies pop an official book fairy sticker on a book, which reads ‘take this book, read it & leave it for the next person to enjoy’, and they might even add a ribbon to dress it up as a gift.
3. What have you written and what are you working on now?
I’ve just released my debut novel, The Black Lion, a fictional supernatural (and lgbtq+) book about the life of Deryk Carver who was the owner of the Black Lion pub in the old town of Brighton.
Under my own name I published ‘The Gluten Free Mediterranean Cook Book’, which has been selling very well, notably in the US, ‘The Dog’s Favourite Recipe Book’, ‘Ooh Yes I Woof!’ and ‘Ooh Yes I Do!’ In 2017 I wrote three short stories which were included in Kensington Gore’s Hammered Horror anthology ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’. That’s how I, unexpectedly, became a published author.
I’m currently working on the second instalment in the book series ‘Spirits of the Past’ and this time the story is set in Amsterdam.
4. How do you market your books and do your promotion methods work?
I have tried a variety of methods. First of all I like to have my books stocked locally as a lot of my books have links with the Brighton area. Looking for local stores or establishments is a must. I also take part in book fairs which seem to be reasonably successful and they prove to be one of the best places to connect with readers.
After I launched ‘Ooh yes I Do!’ I threw a book launch party in Waterstones and invested heavily on two paid features in Pink News and Pink Magazine. The book also featured in the Brighton & Hove Wedding magazine, a full book review in local LGBTQ+ magazine G-Scene, and had two lovely features in Latest 7 magazine and the Kemptown Rag. Sales went well and I did earn back all of my investments. Because the book was launched in 2014, the same year same-sex marriages were introduced in England and Wales, I featured in Channel 4’s ‘We are so gay’.
I invested for an advert for my second book which featured in a well-known dog’s magazine, but it didn’t sell.
From that moment, I stopped investing in advertising in magazines all together.
My cook book’s sales have surged since November 2019. It sells very well, notably in the US and it’s the best selling book I published so far - without any advertising.
I’m planning to invest in social media campaigns for my novel in the hope to reach people who will be genuinely interested to read the story about Deryk and ghost stories about Brighton.
5. Where can readers find your book for sale?
On Amazon, paperback and Kindle book. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Lion-Spirits-Past-book-ebook/dp/B08B4WWL11
I’m very pleased to announce that ‘The Black Lion’ will be stocked by City Books in Hove and my cookbook is still available from L’Isola Buona, an Italian deli, in Newhaven.
The Black Lion tells the untold story of Protestant brewer Deryk Carver who lived in the 16th century Black Lion pub in Brighton. One evening he gets arrested. Nine months later he is burned at the stake in Lewes and becomes the first martyr of East Sussex. In 2019 Matt quits his job. He buys a cottage from an anonymous seller and rents it out as a holiday-let. The guests get caught up in unexpected supernatural encounters. Is Deryk's spirit haunting the cottage?
Thank you Richard it has been a pleasure.
I hope you have a good week and I will be in touch soon.