Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Store appearances

Earlier this month I appeared at Angus and Robertson Erina, for a book signing/selling afternoon.
Back in July, I did a few of these around the coast, with mixed results, but I think I have the formula right now.
Instead of sitting at a table at the back of a store, waiting and hoping for someone to come over, I was out the front, talking to anyone who came past!
It worked so well that we sold 17 copies in about two hours - and the A&R stores at Maitland and Kotara have booked me in for similar appearances on October 11 and 18 respectively!
Now, normally I don't like cold callers. And I hate being accosted in a shopping centre by someone trying to sell me something.
But, in the pursuit of spreading the word about my book (and making a few sales!) I became what I normally despise!
It's an interesting exercise, trying to hit up people for a chat as they walk past.
For a start, people don't wear shirts proclaiming they like fantasy books. Although I did meet one guy with a really cool Stormtrooper T-shirt on, which was a bit of a giveaway. And yes, he bought my book!
But what about the others? Some young, muscly, tattooed blokes just laughed at me. Others were willing to talk. A pair of old ladies bought a copy, while Goth-looking teenagers turned up their (pierced) noses!
As time went on, I began to refine my technique. There were some people who were walking just too fast to bother about. Others caught my eye or glanced in the direction of the posters.
I began by saying: " Do you like reading?''
Quite a few replied: "Not today thanks!" which begged the question, would they like reading tomorrow?
But if they stopped, I asked if they liked fantasy and then talked about my book.
I probably spoke to more than 50 people - some claimed to come back later (perhaps they did)others that they had no money that day.
It was an extraordinary experience to speak to so many people about my book.
And I learned that you can sell something if you truly believe in it.
So watch out for me around Christmas, when book two is out!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Your personal zombie attack plan

Like millions of people who live in/around Sydney, I ``enjoyed'' waking up to a post-apocalyptic red dawn last week, as well as a slightly brown dawn on the weekend.
Amid all the excitement, and coughing, I was chatting with a few mates and we naturally ended up discussing our personal survival plans in case of zombie attack in the event of an apocalyptic event.
Now most people I know (perhaps a comment on the people I know!) seem to have some form of plan to help them survive a massive zombie onslaught.
My basic theory is, you never go into the heavily-fortified compound, because there is always a traitor/fool/fatal flaw that will expose it to zombie infiltration. And once the zombies are in, there's no escape.
Naturally I think it's best to head for wide-open, isolated spaces where you can see them coming (and keep on running) and Australia is brilliant for this.
Of course, it does depend a little on the type of zombie. If it is a viral, rage-frenzied zombie type from 28 Days Later, then obviously you would just have to survive for a couple of months, until they die of hunger.
If it is the mutated, I Am Legend-type zombies, it's even easier. Firstly, they are all CGI and, without powerful computers, wouldn't exist to bother you. Second, all you'd have to do is find a spot where there's no shade (easy enough in Oz) for further than a zombie can walk at night, as they cannot survive UV rays.
Now, if we're talking old-school Dawn Of The Dead zombies who survive on human flesh and can only be killed by having their brains wrecked, then you need to be able to see the slow-moving suckers coming.
If they're the REALLY dumb types, from Shaun Of The Dead, then all the better. If they ever arrive that far west, they'll also be a source of amusement as you watch them bumble around. Sort of like seeing strange tourists trying to find their way around, or the token dumb American couple on The Amazing Race.
Whatever, a large cattle station out in the middle of Australia sounds perfect for all types, giving you self-sufficiency, space to see them coming - and many already have CCTV to allow the farmers to check on stock.
Of course, getting there safely is another matter!
But a mate thinks you need to find an abandoned underground bunker (well, there's surely a few secret US bases around in the outback), while others say cave systems are the go.
Anyway, if the next red dawn brings out the zombies, I'll be ready.
The only flaw in my plan is if someone reads this, gets zombified, then decides to come looking for me ...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Villains too evil?

The Wounded Guardian was reviewed by The Adelaide Advertiser recently, which was a pretty complimentary review (four stars out of five) - although it threw in the comment that the villains were too evil.
That got me thinking - how evil should fantasy villains be? I mean, I don't remember anyone saying Sauron was a bit too nasty in The Lord Of The Rings, or that the Ringwraiths weren't cuddly enough.
There are few fantasy books where the villains are quite nice people really, just a little misunderstood.
Are we willing to accept that orcs/goblins/trolls/whatever are all utterly evil but that humans cannot be that bad?
If so, where do the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot come?
When writing The Wounded Guardian, I had the difficulty of beginning with a compromised hero. Martil is derided as the Butcher of Bellic, a man with evil deeds to his name.
So if you imagine a scale between good and evil, he's kind of sitting in the middle. That meant any villains had to begin further down the scale than Martil - and keep going!
But I don't know if I'd class them as "totally'' evil, although I wanted the like of Duke Gello and the Fearpriest Onzalez to be very dark - they are men who are not bothered by conscience or morality. History is littered with such men.
But what do you think?
Can we believe in utterly evil non-human villains but human villains need to have some sort of redeeming feature?