It’s finally arrived! My first blog so I’ll need all the luck I can get as there are so many blogs out there I sometimes fear we have reached saturation levels. But here goes: nothing ventured as they say…
My memoir – ‘On Charlotte’s Shoulders’ came out over a year ago and did it set the world on fire? Not exactly but a tiny flame was lit and resulted in over 70 five star reviews on Amazon. Genuine and unsolicited critiques – well for the most part. There are a few from friends but no arms were twisted or bones broken in endeavouring to persuade them to post such positive such reviews.
It is a given fact that everyone I’ve met – acquaintances, friends, fellow members of choirs and writing groups I attend, genuinely seem to love the book and want to talk to me about it. Unless the reading world is peopled by liars. In fact I have given couple of talks to groups and managed to sell some copies but I really need to tap into the great Irish diaspora and so far I haven’t got around to it. (See below)
The book has not had a proper launch although Acorn my publishers did their best on a limited budget. You can have no idea of the costs of this kind of thing. One marketing man they employed for a month to try and flog the book to bookshops charged about £400 for a few hours efforts just chasing up book buyers for the big players in the field e.g. Waterstones in the UK and a few independent stores in Ireland. No one said no but by the time he ran out of money, no one said yes. Read my book and find out about life on those streets before the council rehoused us.
While I think of it, another reason why the pitch to booksellers was unsuccessful may have been something to do with the fact that copies were not sent, only brief details. No wonder they weren’t clamouring for the next best Irish memoir since Angela’s Ashes. Mine is better as I said. I later learned from an employee of Acorn that the book is more expensive than the average because it comes in at over 350 pages. All beautifully written of course but you should read the stuff that got away, the stuff that had to be deleted or we would have had 800 pages on our hands, similar to Joyce Ulysses. That comes in over 900 pages but I am not for a moment comparing my little effort to the great maestro’s, far from it. Although his is a classic, it is not exactly accessible. Mine is unputdownable. So my many fans assure me. Another way it differs from the Ulysses is that it says what it means. There are no classical allusions, no obscure references, and no pages of seemingly meaningless prose that can only be accessed by studying even greater tomes which attempt to extract some nuggets of meaning.
My memoir is eminently readable so sucks to Joyce! An interesting fact here though is that I spent the first years of my life in Dorset Street Dublin and my Aunty Nelly lived around the corner in Eccles Street where Leopold Bloom, the main character in Ulysses lived. We lived and played in the streets of north Dublin – all mentioned in Ulysses. So dare I claim a connection? The lovely Georgian houses in Joyce’s time were lived in by the great and the good –mainly Anglo Irish. By the time we came along these houses were reduced to slums.
Anyway the plan now is to try and launch it in Ireland. I am visiting Dublin with other Joyce lovers in June for Bloomsday and will personally visit as many stores as I can to try and interest them in stocking the book. I’ll take a few copies with me so – although it bleeds my heart to do so – I will enrich Ryanair’s boss Michael even further by paying for the excess baggage. Talking of excess baggage, something truly appalling happened to me a few weeks before the book’s launch which undermined the very foundations on which I stood and destroyed a part of my soul. The main reason I was not firing on all cylinders in terms of promoting the book. But that’s a story for another day…
In the meantime buy and enjoy ‘On Charlotte’s Shoulders’