Who is Andy Warhol?

 

andy warhol FM image

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

FM

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

 

 

 

 

 

In the Press and other excitement

greenock telegraph

 

I was delighted to see an article in The Greenock Telegraph today about Follow Me.  I grew up in Inverclyde, and even although I now live in Renfrewshire, I work down in Greenock and it’s nice getting to stay close to my roots. I’ve posted a snapshot of the article at the top of this post.

I’m really looking forward to doing an author event for school pupils at Greenock Central Library early next month, as well as going in to talk to 4th year pupils at a school in Gourock, and one in Glasgow later in November.

Last week I was part of an author team for the West heat of the Kids’ Lit Quiz, which took place at Our Lady’s High School in Cumbernauld and it was lots of fun. The pupils from a range of schools across the West of Scotland put us to shame with their amazing knowledge of literary classics and modern books.

My talented friend, Rebecca, also did a brilliant post about Follow Me on her creative website The Magpie Diaries recently. I loved how she centred her post around the Keats Poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn, which is quoted in my novel. You can read her post here  Another writer, Patsy Collins, also asked me to write a post for her blog about my book launch experience. I had lots of fun writing this for Patsy and it was nice to see so many people interacting with that post. You can read that here

Lastly I noticed other day that if you order Follow Me through the Foyles Bookshop website you can get it delivered anywhere within the UK Free within 2 days. Here’s a link to their site here

You can also request it in Waterstones or buy on Amazon (that link is on my homepage).

 

Launch Night

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

Follow Me ~ the books!!

Follow Me ~ the books!!

Famous for 15 minutes

Famous for 15 minutes

Me reading at Cafe W

Me reading at Cafe W

Last Friday evening was the launch night for my YA mystery, Follow Me, at Waterstones, Argyle Street in Glasgow, with my publisher Strident Publishing Ltd. What a night! I really couldn’t have asked for a better launch – I took along my mini coca-cola bottles, with Marilyn Monroe badges, encouraging everyone to be ‘famous for fifteen minutes’ by joining in posting about the launch on social media, with the hashtag #followmetothebarn (I had lots of fun looking through the tweets the next day). I also had my cupcakes with edible book cover toppers from the brilliant eatmyface.co.uk. My publisher, Keith, at Strident, was kind enough to supply wine and other soft drinks and my parents also brought along other savory nibbles.

My publisher, Keith, did a Q&A with me and I read out short extracts from my novel in-between. He knows Follow Me nearly as well as I do now, so his questions were very intuitive and it made it feel like a friendly conversation. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support from friends and family and it was brilliant looking out into the audience at such an encouraging and happy crowd! I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t feel nervous at all, which kept me calm when reading, and meant I enjoyed every minute of the night.

I had my first taster of signing books at the end, and it felt surreal, but amazing, to be sitting in Waterstones surrounded by my own books, with people wanting to buy a signed copy!

A strange co-incidence of the evening was when I met two women on the stairs, who were looking down at the set-out chairs, wondering what was going on. I invited them to come along, and later, after postings on social media, I realised one of them was part of a book group who had communicated with me via Instagram a couple of weeks ago. Neither of us had realised on the night! She was kind enough to write a little post about my launch here 

Afterwards I went for drinks to Drury Bar and Kitchen and they played a perfect selection of rock and alternative old-school tunes. It was lovely to be able to share such a special night with so many friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen for years. Even my old Primary Head Teacher turned up, which really made my night!! She was always so encouraging of my reading and writing in my last couple of years at primary school.

I’ve put up slideshow of photos on the right hand side bar of my homepage – see if you can spot yourself! Big thanks to Derek Mooney who took loads of photos on the night and to Lorna McLaren, Peter Morrison and my Mum, Rosemary, and other friends who posted photos on social media.

Thanks again to everyone who came along and made it such a brilliant night. It’s one I’m never going to forget.

You can order Follow Me now on Amazon here or order into your local Waterstones here

Ready for Take Off!

montage

Tomorrow is the BIG LAUNCH for Follow Me at Waterstones, Argyle Street, Glasgow 6.30pm. I’m putting the final preparations together today for little things I want to take along. I’ve put together a montage photo (at the top) with some moments from my day yesterday. One big moment was getting to hold my book Follow Me for the first time in my hands – such a great feeling! And I also received a pop art card from one of my work colleagues – that’s me, Andy Warhol style, which is just brilliant. All of my work colleagues, friends and family, have been so supportive and excited for me and it makes the whole run up to launch day even more exciting for me!
The coke bottles are a little extra thing I am taking along to my launch, keeping in with the Andy Warhol, pop art theme.

One of my biggest champions since I could read and write was my Mum, the writer Rosemary Gemmell, and I was delighted to be interviewed on her blog yesterday. You can read that here  I couldn’t ask for a more inspiring and supportive Mum and it’s brilliant being able to share a love of words and writing with her. I was so happy when she got her brilliant book, The Highland Lass published earlier this year (one of many), as I know this was a story close to her heart, and I think this is probably my favourite book of hers.

There will be updates from launch night soon!!

Launch Night ~ Waterstones, Argyle Street, Glasgow

book launch

So excited to reveal that my launch for Follow Me will be in the Argyle Street branch of Waterstones in Glasgow on Friday 9th October at 6.30pm. There will be drinks, some nibbles and of course book signings! I’ve been lucky enough to attend book launches in the past for writer friends and it feels amazing to know this time I will be the author at the event.

Read my book blurb here on the website of my publisher, Strident.

Come along to the event and hear more about the inspiration behind my book!

Final Cover Reveal!!

 

Follow me front cover

The cover design for Follow Me went through some last minute, quite dramatic, changes the other week and I am delighted to be able to reveal the final finished version above. The artwork/photography is by artist Ida Henrich, and I am really happy with how it turned out. It makes everything feel very real seeing my name on a book cover!

I was lucky to be consulted about my cover (I wonder how many authors are?). My publisher, Strident, even asked me to write a short brief of any ideas I had before work began. I had always visualised woodland being central to the image as Eddison Woods is a central feature in my story (and leads to the Barn). I love the green light in this too.

The release date is 30 September, so not long to go now. As my counter states on my home page – 21 DAYS TO GO!

My launch event still to confirmed – will post details as soon as I know…