What does writing success look like?

Last year when I was trying to decide what direction to move in, (keep sending out Promise Me to agents, or try to independently publish), I reflected on the question: What does writing success look like to me?

I think this is an important question all writers should ask themselves every so often as I am sure the answers will probably change from year to year.

Years ago I would have given quite starry-eyed answers along the lines of: be published by one of the ‘Big Five’, have a best-selling book that’s on display in all major bookshops, be invited to speak at book festivals and big writing events, get mentioned in ‘important’ press coverage, have my book optioned for film (that one will never stop being a dream), be nominated for prestigious prizes…

Mostly now what is important to me is knowing that my work is being read, and connecting with an audience, whatever form that audience takes (i.e. I don’t really care about talking at big festivals anymore, though of course I’d never turn down an invite!).

Competitions have had a massive impact on my confidence as a writer, reassuring me at key points of my career that I should keep going, and giving me a much needed boost. Lately I have been lucky enough to have a couple of competition successes, winning first place in the Writing Magazine school-themed short story competition, which you can read here. I also just found out this week that Promise Me has made the Finalist round for the Book Award category of the Page Turner Awards. I think it’s important for writers to acknowledge and take stock of any successes and wins, as we get so many knock-backs along the way, and some of the lovely feedback I’ve had for my short story really has made my month!

But there are downfalls of course if you focus too much on the need for external approval, and in the latest chapters of The Artist’s Way, (yes, I am still working my way through this!), Julia Cameron talks about how if ‘creatives’ constantly chase ‘Fame’ and ‘success’, which is measured by others, it can be a massive block to our creativity and distracts from our enjoyment of the process.  On page 172  Cameron says, ‘…Fame..is addictive, and it always leaves us hungry. …The desire to attain it, to hold on to it, can produce the “How am I doing?” syndrome’, which she points out then makes us start to question our work in terms of, ‘not if it’s going well for us’ but ‘How does it look to them?’

Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic talks of something similar, when creatives let their Egos get in the way. ‘An unchecked ego is what the Buddhists call a “hungry ghost” – forever famished, eternally howling with need and greed’ (page 249) She also warns of viewing creativity on a ‘limited human scale of success and failures’ as it takes away from the ‘glory of merely making things, and then sharing those things with an open heart and no expectations.’ (page 70) In this section she quoted Harper Lee, (in response to questions around when her next novel would be released), “I’m scared…when you’re at the top, there’s only one way to go.”  (page 68).

Authors such as Harper Lee who had phenomenal success, in terms of sales and recognition, then ceased writing, fascinate me. Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and sold 2.5 million copies in its first year, and won the Pulitzer Prize. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was published in 1936 and sold 1 million copies in six months, and also won the Pulitzer Prize. Harper Lee of course did eventually publish another novel Go Set A Watchman in July 2015, one year before her death, but a lot of controversy surrounded the release, with the revelation that the book was in fact supposedly an original draft of To Kill a Mockingbird and many said if Harper Lee had been of sound mind, would not have agreed to the release.

Regardless of this, there is no denying that Lee obviously felt pressures after her debut success. Some articles I came across have quotes where she said, “Success was just as scary as failure.” “Public encouragement, I hoped for a little, but I got rather a lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening.” (The Telegraph, Feb 2016 – read full article here)

In articles I found about Mitchell, it appeared that she had devoted so much time to writing and researching Gone with The Wind (eight years), that she had no desire to go down that road again, and was quoted as saying to a NY reviewer, ‘I wouldn’t go through this again for anything.’ (see Georgia Women article here) Mitchell was also thrust into the spotlight, accumulating thousands of fans, who would send her fan mail, with Mitchell attempting to respond to every letter. In one response she addresses a fan’s question about writing a sequel , ‘Even if I had the urge to write another book, I do not know where I would find the time, for my life, since the publication of my novel…has been lived in the middle of a tornado.’ The full letter can be viewed here Other articles cite that Mitchell was heavily involved in political positions and then World War II struck in 1939, which would have of course been a distraction. Mitchell also met an untimely death in her late forties when she was struck by a taxi, so who knows if she would ever have changed her mind about penning another book.

A writer I have much admiration for is Donna Tartt who has written three books in thirty years. You can see her being interviewed here When the interviewer asks her ‘If she could become prolific and get faster with effort’ I bet she felt like slapping him (like she isn’t already putting in a lot of effort?). Instead she smiles sweetly and says, “I’ve tried to write faster and I don’t really enjoy it.” Her debut novel The Secret History was a best-seller, and had an initial print run of 75,000 (as opposed to the publisher’s usual 10,000), so you could say Tartt has the luxury of a decent sales history (see what I did there), to allow her time to create, but I am sure she must have kicked back against immense pressure from the publishing industry to produce more; faster, after her initial success.

In a world which is obsessed with producing and consuming it’s kind of refreshing to see a writer who will say, I’m doing this my way, at my pace, and you can all just wait for my genius to unfold.

Finding Your Way

Artwork by V Gemmell

Recently I’ve hit a bit of a creative slump so for my birthday a couple of months ago I asked for a copy of ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron. I’d always wondered about this book and my curiosity was piqued further when a recent article (in the May issue of The Writing Magazine) featured an interview with Julia Cameron, and she spoke about her recommended practice of writing ‘Morning Pages’, where you write down a stream of consciousness on three A4 pages every day before you do anything else. This is just one practice and task Cameron recommends in order to kick-start your creativity, or in my case, try to get ‘unstuck’. In the opening, Cameron describes the book as a ‘toolkit’ for artists, and, ‘as they (readers) learn to take small risks in their Morning Pages, they are led to larger risks. A step at a time, they emerge as artists.’ The book is divided into ‘weeks’ like you are undertaking a course, with new themes and tasks introduced each time, but what stays consistent is the suggestion to complete your Morning Pages daily, and once a week set time aside for ‘An Artist Date.’ This isn’t a suggestion that you hang around gallery openings asking for artist’s phone numbers. This date is with yourself, where you set proper time aside to engage in something creative, or at least an activity you enjoy, alone (the alone part is very important).

I’d like to say after delving into the book about 5 weeks ago that I have shown impeccable discipline, but I’ve not. I am averaging about three morning pages a week, and often this is typed into my notes pages on my phone as I travel by train into work. I get up at 6.45am the mornings I’m travelling into work and I’m not a morning person so I was loathe to set my alarm 20 minutes early (as it tends take about 20 minutes to pen three pages). For me, that was going to set me up to fail at the start, and would defeat the purpose of making this something I would hopefully enjoy, and something that would energise me.

So now my morning pages often turn into late afternoon or evening pages, and it’s probably missing the point of ‘clearing my head for the day’, but it has thrown up some very interesting musings and I often use my pages to reflect on why I’ve been feeling blocked. I have to say I am failing on the regular artist dates too but I have slowly started to set more time aside to enjoy and explore all sides of my creativity (not just writing) which is really important to me as it does really help me switch off from the distractions of daily ‘noise’. My pen drawing at the top of this post was a result of one such ‘date’, and I also finally read through a book I bought from the GOMA years ago, called ‘Art From Elsewhere’, which features 70 works by International Artists, selected by curator David Elliot. I particularly liked the photos ‘Girls in Cars’ by the artist Shirin Aliabadi – you can read a short article about her and her photography here.

Sometimes I feel I waste too much time scrolling through social media (don’t we all), but then I remember the fascinating accounts, such as Humans of New York, that I follow, and how there is so much inspiration to be found in ‘the every-day’. This is something I know; finding inspiration everywhere is a big message I thread through a lot of creative workshops I have delivered, but I seem to have forgotten of late. Noticing small things in life was mentioned in one of the chapters of Cameron’s book and I do think there have been so many ‘big’ unsettling things happening in the World of late, it’s easy to let that noise dominate. And it’s easy to tell ourselves we have so many important day to day responsibilities to carry out (which, let’s face it, exhaust us,) that we don’t have time to be creative and frivolous.

Recently I remembered someone from my past connecting with me on facebook years ago when my debut novel came out, who said to me, ‘Oh I see you wrote a book. I plan to do that one day but right now I’m far too busy.’ I felt like replying with the response I’m sure many writers would like to respond with, ‘Newsflash. We are all too busy, but if you really want to do it, you will make the time.’ Guess who I’m actually writing that message to now? Though as many writers know, having time is just one aspect of what holds us back. For me, being productive is very much about getting into the right mindset.

One of my favourite tasks so far in the book has been to write a letter from me at eighty to myself (with the prompts – what would I tell myself? what dreams would I encourage?). At first I struggled with this but then I quite liked eighty year-old me; she got quite sassy as the letter went on. It got quite personal, but I wanted to share part of it, because it’s probably something all of us need to hear sometimes:

Eighty-year-old me told me those times when I look at other writers/artists, whatever, and think I can never be that good, they’re so much better than me, they’re out there being so successful her response was, They’re not better than you. They’re braver than you. And if I look up when I’m eighty and all I see on my wall is some god damn modesty medal you won in your forties I am going to be very mad and hide it in a box of regrets. I want to look up from my armchair and see a wall covered in awards and certificates or at least some kind of photographic evidence that you have continued to put yourself out there, and celebrated your creativity and talents.

I hovered over that word ‘talents’ and nearly deleted it. But I didn’t. So I guess I’m half-way on my way.

In the press & other adventures

In a well timed run-on from my last post about social media allowing users their 15 minutes of fame, here is mine. You can follow this link to read a feature in my local paper, the Renfrewshire Gazette, where I talk about my YA mystery Promise Me and why I enjoy writing for teenagers.

Last month I was also delighted to be tagged in a great review for Promise Me. I’ve put an image of this below but it is worth visitng Rachel Sargeant’s site for other great thriller reviews here. Rachel’s thrillers are now on my TBR pile!

The past week I had a nice break from work, visiting St Andrews, Anstruther and Crail. The sun kept shining most of the time which was a bonus. Highlights were browsing in Topping and Company Books, having a wander round Crail Pottery and sampling the infamous Anstruther fish and chips (some photos below).

Now it’s back to reality and I’m trying to get words down for a new book I’m working on. Scenes keep popping in to my head, which is great, but none of them are in any logistical order, so I am wondering if I should deviate from my usual linear book writing process and just see where it all takes me!

Do we live in an extrovert’s world?

When things slowed down during lockdown this was a question that played on my mind. As a mix of a ‘social’ and ‘thinking’ introvert’ I very much need solitude to recharge and give me time to get lost in my thoughts every once in a while. You can see a definition of four types of introversion in this article here. There is a line at the start of the article which states, …’extroverts…thrive in highly stimulative social environments’. I would say I often do too, but only if you give me enough balance to hide away when I want to, and have time for much needed introspection.

The break from the norm over the past couple of years made me realise how loud the world can be. Morning commutes on public transport where so many commuters think we all want to listen to whatever they are watching/listening to on their phones (last week I was treated to a recording of a student’s lecture on the way to work). And then there is the open plan office environment which can quickly descend into a pit of noise. I did really begin to miss the social interaction of office life (and it is very important in my service delivery to clients), but I am still so grateful for moments of quiet on busy days where I need to focus on research and tasks. I wouldn’t enjoy my job if I didn’t enjoy meeting and engaging with people, but on a recent training workshop I was reminded that the level of ‘active listening’ I do in my day job can be tiring! And some quiet time is so important.

Talking to young people throughout lockdown also gave me new sympathy for those who actually breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed escaping from the over-whelming ‘noise’ and social interactions in schools, and those who had left school were grateful for some new options where they were able to log in to online courses , taking the pressure off if they were having a bad day and didn’t want to leave the house.  There is the other side of the coin of course too, where lack of social interaction and ability to have the freedom to live life was not welcome.

I also have sympathy for the growing expectations from employers in interviews, with assessment centres (when in person), often incorporating group tasks and role-play scenarios (do extroverts even enjoy these?).

I’m not saying a ‘quiet’ world is necessarily preferable over a loud world; but it would be nice to sometimes have more of an equal balance.

In my writing life I am forever grateful for the skills I developed when training to become, and then work, as a careers adviser. Writers I suspect often fall into the introvert category, as we need time and space to escape into our own imaginative worlds, and the work by nature often requires sitting alone in solitude. (I’m saying ‘often’, as I know some writers actually prefer to sit in cafes with some background noise and people around.)

When writers then release their work out into the world, there can be the expectation to magically turn into a ‘performer’; talking and presenting and delivering engaging workshops in front of multiple audiences. I soon got lots of practice of how to be a ‘performer’ in my early years as a careers adviser where I had to hold the attention of teenagers during multiple talks and workshops. Fast forward to my debut novel release and I suddenly realised how lots of my skills transferred when I put on my ‘author hat’ to engage with young people. And even if the thought of standing in front of hundreds of young people is still nerve wracking, each and every event has been enjoyable – even the one where the IT system broke down just as I was about to deliver a power point presentation to the whole of second year. (Another thing I learned from the day job – always be prepared to adapt pre-prepared sessions!)

Even the way writers engage with audiences online is becoming much more ‘extrovert’ and ‘performative’. Writing blogs such as this is something I enjoy, and I think used to be more of a ‘thing’ in the writing community. Now this form seems over-shadowed by visual and spoken content on Instagram, Youtube channels, Podcasts and of course #Booktok. I referred to TikTok in a previous post where I talked about my hesitancy of this world. I like the idea of trying to put together creative videos (and I am a fan of ‘visuals’ as well as words), but not when it’s me talking to the camera!

Every time I watch TikTok or read about social media ‘influencers’ who have millions of followers, I can’t help thinking about Andy Warhol’s quote ‘In the future everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes’ (you can read an old post of mine where I talk about how Andy Warhol’s philosophies influenced my YA mystery Follow Me here).

These days I think it’s more like fifteen seconds, Andy.

I’m sure he would have risen to the challenge…

Cover Reveal for Promise Me

Young Adult Mystery ~ released end of October

One of the most exciting things on the lead up to the release of a book, (I think anyway), is getting to see your cover come to life. I am delighted today to ‘unveil’ the front cover of my new Young Adult mystery Promise Me which will be released at the end of the month.

I think my talented designer friend Rebecca Johnstone, (check out her Dainty Dora website here), has done an amazing job of putting together a dramatic and eye-catching design. I gave Rebecca a rough outline of what I wanted, then Rebecca worked her creative magic to pull it all together. It was a fun, collaborative process and it has been lovely to commission a friend to work on such an important part of my book.

~ Here is a teaser blurb for Promise Me~

When threats begin, Darcy realises someone might be prepared to do anything to hide the truth


Following the separation of her parents, seventeen-year-old Darcy moves with her mum to a wealthy Scottish village which hit the headlines when a local girl was stabbed at a Halloween party two years previously. 

Darcy always wondered about Christian Henderson’s conviction of murder, fascinated by this attractive misfit and his story. 

Much of Christian’s trial took place online, before he even reached the courtroom, with witch-hunt style podcasts and online forums spinning stories of what happened the night of the party. 

Darcy befriends the inner social circle at school and strikes up a friendship with Christian through letters, determined to uncover unanswered questions around the conviction

But who can she believe? 

Book news

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If the past year and a half has taught me, (and you, I’m sure), anything, it’s that life is unpredictable and short, and all the clichés that go along with that line of thinking.

If the past few years have taught me anything, it’s that the publishing industry is even more unpredictable and slow, and often constraining. Constraining in that you’re left to depend very much on someone else setting your timelines, and there’s a lot of waiting around wanting to know what’s happening, often ghosting, and that then gives you a lot of time to then wonder about your writing, and if it’s any good, and if you will ever see your next book in print. After taking my second book back from my publisher by mutual agreement it threw me out into the world of submissions again, you see. For the non-writers reading this basically think about any time you have tried online dating. It’s not all bad of course. In the end online dating was actually a success for me, and I have been traditionally published before, but… you know…you have to go through a bit of pain to get to the place you want to be.

For me, it felt like I’ve been standing still the past few years when it comes to my writing, even although ‘behind the scenes’ I have very much been getting words down on paper (or onto my screen). Too much of my thoughts were occupied with but when will these words be out there in the world again, will they ever be out there in the world again...everyone is going to think I’m a failure, and I forgot to enjoy the process and I fell out of love a bit with creating.

So then I started to ask myself what do I actually want from my writing? and I talked A LOT to people close to me who I feel very lucky to have in my life as they keep me sane , and I asked a good friend and colleague of mine (thanks Hilary) to give me a career coaching interview so I could dig a bit deeper into that question, (what do I want from my writing), and most importantly set myself some actions that would help me move forward.

I realised I am sometimes so immersed in the world of writers, on social media predominantly, especially the past few years, I subconsciously absorb what I think is the right or coveted direction to travel in terms of a writing career. And I put a lot of pressure on myself and I don’t actually focus enough on allowing myself to just actually ENJOY writing…to go back to that raw feeling of excitement that I get from joining words together that are actually forming into a story, and to enjoy seeing where it is going to take me.

After my first book launch friends bought me cards and bookmarks and there was a common phrase appearing on these: ‘ Create Your Own Story.’

So that’s what I am now doing; I am taking control of my own story, and this was a really long winded way of saying I have a book coming out next month and that I am going full Indie with this, self-publishing (but actually I have a team- my Mum has been amazing with the technical side, final edits, and I have a fab cover artist, Rebecca, and professional platforms which will deal with distribution).

It feels good. Promise Me, my next Young Adult mystery is finally going to make its way out into the world. And I hope some readers find it, as really that’s all I want. Readers, and a sense that I am connecting with people.

I will be doing a cover reveal very soon for Promise Me, posting my book trailer, and probably posting far too much about it in general, so I apologise in advance for that.

I’m finishing this post with a link to wise words from Ethan Hawke (a crush of mine back in his Reality Bites days, and who knew he has a lot of soul too…). This is titled: ‘Give yourself permission to be creative The underlying message is basically stop worrying about the quality of your creative work and what other people will think of it, as the ‘world is an ‘extremely unreliable critic.’ And it is very important ‘to play the fool.’

I also recently read ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott (every writer should read this) and I loved the line, ‘Be afraid of wasting…time obsessing about how you look and how people see you.’ And ‘Write towards vulnerability.’

Putting my work out there myself does make me feel vulnerable, but I’m ready to play the fool!

Events, Books & Writing

Hello! I’m sitting typing this listening to the wind and rain outside, happy to be indoors drinking Early Grey Tea. I had a last burst of sunshine in Italy last month, and since returning home I think Scotland has dramatically descended into Autumn (Winter…) Cue dark mornings, dark nights, and potentially a lot of atmosphere for writing dark fiction.

A couple of very EXCITING THINGS are on the horizon book-wise for me, which I will talk about more in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I am happily working away on my third teen thriller/mystery, and I have signed up to do two events during Book Week Scotland in November. The first event will be at Strathearn Community Campus, on Wednesday 21st November at 7pm. I will be talking to the audience about REBELS in fiction, as well as discussing the power words and imagination have to give young people a voice. The librarian put together a fabulous poster for my event; see below. This is a FREE event but tickets should be booked in advance through Strathearn Community Library, or the Eventbrite page here 

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On Thursday 22nd November at 2pm I will be visiting West College Scotland, Clydebank Campus, to talk to students during their Literacy Week, about the inspiration behind my ideas, what literacy means to me, and how I became a writer. I’m really looking forward to both events! I’m also going to be taking part in a big Book Fair in Dundee at the start of December. I will post more about that nearer the time.

Over the past month or two I have spent some time travelling through to Edinburgh, meeting up with writer friends at the Book Festival, before heading to the wonderful Teen Title Party at Edinburgh Central library, at the end of August. It’s always a pleasure to be in the company of Kirkland Ciccone, who delighted the audience at the Teen Title party by flinging free copies of his wonderful new YA book, Glowglass, into the crowd. Here’s some pics from the party below. (And a shameless #shelfie pic of me posing by my books in the Edinburgh Book Festival bookshop).

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Yesterday I took a jaunt to the Portobello Book Festival, where I listened to my writer Mum, Rosemary Gemmell (link to her website here), talking about the art of writing short stories. My Mum was joined by other writers, Elle Turner and Jane Tulloch, and chaired by Lynsey May. I really enjoyed the walk along the beach front at Portobello before the event.

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It was really interesting to hear their different approaches to writing, and the benefits of writing shorter fiction. I agreed with much of what they said; that writing shorter fiction allows you to experiment creatively, with different styles and themes. I love writing short stories, as well as longer fiction. Flash fiction in particular is a great way to learn the importance of making every word count and definitely encourages me to push myself creatively.  Even although I write teen novels, my short stories are much more contemporary adult themes, and I enjoy switching between the two.

I think one of the most fun parts of being a writer is getting to meet other writers and listen to them talk about their work, and the feeling that we are all a part of one big community.

 

 

The magic of words

The last couple of months have been busy for me. I moved to a new office in my day job, after a year in a promoted post, in August. In August I also had a fun day out in Edinburgh with fabulous authors such as Kirkland Ciccone, Alex Nye and Roy Gill. We got to spend some time in the Author Yurt at the Edinburgh Book Festival, (thanks to Kirkland’s VIP pass), where we drank lots of tea and ate lots of crisps (authors live really glamorous lives you know). I had to get a photo beside my books in the Festival shop, before then heading off to the fabulous ‘Teen Titles’ party at Central library. Below is a snapshot of my interview in the Teen Titles magazine, alongside a photo of me at the party!

I was interviewed last year by pupils Alison and Freya when I visited their school, Portobello High. I was delighted by their reviews of ‘Follow Me’ in the magazine, particularly as Freya found it, ‘scary, gripping and dark.’

 

In September I managed to escape to beautiful Barcelona for a few days of sunshine, and during the September weekend I attended the inspirational Society of Authors weekend, titled ScotsWrite, at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld. Famous authors such as Joanne Harris, Jane Johnson and Denise Mina delivered key note speeches and helpful workshops. I loved the fact that even after penning loads of books they all still feel a sense of ‘self-doubt’ when it comes to writing.

One of my favourite quotes from the weekend was during Joanne’s talk where she said, “Playing with words is the closest thing to magic we can do. It’s voodoo.” I think this is a beautiful way to describe writing; when a piece of work starts to flow and come together, it does feel like magic. And both Joanne and Jane spoke about the journeys their writing has taken them on, the people they have met along the way, the way their words have led them on adventures and touched different lives. Something which came across was the sheer power that words can have. It reminded me why I write – I want to be part of that magic, of weaving stories into the fabric of the world, even if that world is one built within my own imagination!

The best thing about the past few months for me has been the way in which a book I have been working on for quite a long time, finally came together. And now I am working on the finishing touches to some final edits before I send my words out into the real world (i.e. to my publisher for a read). Watch this space to see what happens with book number 2…

Who is Andy Warhol?

 

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When Follow Me was released I received lovely gifts from friends, a few of which were Pop Art/Andy Warhol themed, because of the influences in my book. The photo above shows a very thoughtful gift which was put together by my very creative friend, Rebecca – I love it so much and it is a brilliant memento to hang on my wall!

Last year there was a bit of a Pop Art resurgence, with a Pop Art exhibition opening at the Tate Modern and the BBC recently devoting a whole week to the movement, broadcasting excellent documentaries such as, ‘How Pop Art Changed the World: Soup Cans and Superstars’ (by Alastair Sooke), and ‘A Day in the Life of Andy Warhol’ (by Stephen Smith). I was really interested to watch these as a lot of the observations and themes were ones I had written about and studied during my time at University, which then fed into aspects of my Young Adult novel, Follow Me.

When studying Pop Culture as part of my undergraduate degree in Communication and Mass Media at Glasgow Caledonian University, I developed a fascination with Pop Art, and in particular one of the forefront artists, Andy Warhol.  Warhol’s art was inspired by pop culture. He produced work which focused on celebrities and incorporated media headlines and everyday consumer products, such as Campbell Soup Cans and Coca-Cola bottles, into his art work. He used repetitive images, reflecting sameness and loss of originality.

I continued to read about his art, and life, long after I graduated, all of which influenced the idea to feature an underground hangout in  Follow Me called the Barn, modelled on Warhol’s infamous ‘Factory’.  Warhol’s Factory studio was a magnet for celebrities and misfits – the artist’s workplace transformed into a social meeting place, attracting not only those in the art world, but film stars and other music icons.

As the plot for Follow Me began to form in my head I thought about how attractive and appealing an underground hang-out might be for a group of bored teenagers stuck in a small town where not a lot is happening – especially if out-of-town attractive art students were the creators. The Barn within my book offers an escape and holds an allure for the young people, but there is a darker side to the hangout, creating the mystery element of my story.

What always struck me was how perceptive Warhol was about the direction society was heading, in relation to our obsession with fame and ‘the surface image’. He championed the idea that ‘art is for everyone’ and should be accessible to the masses. He was credited with the infamous line, that, ‘In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.’ With the oversaturation of reality TV and the oversharing of our daily lives – through personal photos and video clips on social media channels – it appears that today everyone is indeed having their fifteen minutes of fame. Society’s obsession with image and fascination with celebrities, (a fascination which appears to deepen when they die young, at the height off their fame), sparked off other themes within my novel.

Warhol became more than just his art – everyone wanted to know him and be with him. He actively encouraged and embraced this fame and recognition, and also constructed an ‘image’ of himself to portray to the world (donning a wig and sunglasses).

Through my studies I became more fascinated with the story behind his art work, and to me he became both an Icon and product of the postmodern world -Warhol himself is the art.

Sooke stated something similar in his Soup Cans and Superstars documentary, saying Pop Art images are now ripped off and used to sell products.

On the night of my book launch I wore an Andy Warhol ring -a clay construction of his face, created by an artist Flamingos and Giraffes on Etsy. Unfortunately Andy’s face fell off sometime during the after party! I’m sure this is fitting in some way…

I also wore a pair of Campbell Soup Converse trainers to my first school event. The quote on the shoe box is from Warhol  ~ Art is what you can get away with. (He used to customise his own Chuck Taylor trainers with silk screens). If you pop into the gift shop in the Gallery of Modern Art you’ll find Campbell Soup prints, donning the names of areas in Glasgow.

If you ever hear people mention Andy Warhol and wonder who he is, take a look around – his art is out there, in many forms, waiting to be consumed…

 

 

Follow Me gets a mention in Books of the Year

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I’ve had a wee bit of a #famousforfifteenminutes type of a weekend. I was really excited to see Follow Me mentioned in the Books of The Year section in the Sunday Herald Life magazine, chosen by Scottish Crime Writer, Alex Gray as one of her favourite reads of 2015. My publisher, Strident, has the write-up on their website, which you can read here .

I was also apparently featured on the cover of a Renfrewshire free paper on Friday, called Paisley People, but I have yet to get my hands on a copy of this to see the article!

I’m also delighted that my author profile is now live, (after a wee bit of a delay), on the Scottish Book Trust Live Literature Author Database. You can see that here  This means that schools and community organisations who are registered for Live Literature Funding in Scotland can book me to do a workshop/talk, with support from SBT. Here’s more information about this great scheme here