I’m still working my way through listening to the Novel Marketing Podcasts and to say they are thought provoking would be an understatement. One episode has been looking at the question of what is the brand of an individual writer. Amongst other suggestions it says to ask readers to tell you three words that describe your writing. If you’re brave enough to tell me, I’d love to hear from you on that one.
One of the people on the podcast said that if a writer was struggling to identify their brand then he asked them to name their three favourite films and then look for the theme. I stopped to think what mine are… ‘Dead Poet’s Society’, ‘Two Weeks Notice’, ‘Pay It Forward’. Before I moved on I had to come to terms with the missing apostrophe in the title of the Two Weeks’ Notice, but once I’d done that…There are themes there. Making a difference, changing lives, transformation. Having thought about this previously I think I identify most with the book ‘Les Misérables’ by Victor Hugo (not the film which follows a much shallower love story rather than the original about the life of Jean Valean – the musical is closer to the book). I write at least in part about the question ‘what makes me who I am?’ It is about transformation and changing lives. In ‘The Appearance of Truth’ I explore the challenges of identity faced by Lisa Forster when she discovers her birth certificate really belongs to a baby who died at four months old. ‘Alfie’s Woods’ is about the life changing power of friendship. Even the ‘Pet Dogs Democratic Party Manifesto’ is in part an exploration of real issues, although from a different perspective.
I’m not sure all my work fits neatly into this analysis. ‘The Lifetracer’ is a crime novel, but it also explores the relationship of Conner with his beloved son Mikey who, as a result of divorce, he can no longer live with full time. ‘Lovers Take Up Less Space’ – well I’m not sure where that fits in. It was about what makes me who I am personally in so far as it stopped me going insane when I had to commute on the Underground and ‘Alfie’s Diary’ perhaps what keeps me sane on a daily basis – although some may question my definition of sanity, writing as a dog!
As to the future, the novel I am writing now most definitely fits the brand as described. I’ve still got a lot of work to do on it, but I am very excited about how it’s going. Looking ahead it gives me an idea of where to go next. There is a short story I have been thinking of expanding into a book, but it has made me realise that I need to look at deepening the story if it is to be truly satisfying to me as a writer and to those who like what I write.
At another point the podcasts suggested I come up with a short tagline to describe my work. For me, after hours of distillation I came up with ‘Changing thinking through fiction’ and whether you think that describes my writing or not, it’s certainly what I’m trying to achieve.