Apologies for the silence on this blog over the past couple of weeks but I've been publishing a trio of short stories to Kindle, and it has been a fairly steep learning curve! You can have a look at the results here. And if you want to download them, you'll get three stories for the price of one. They are all stories about 'love' - of a kind. But not conventional love stories. In the title story, A Quiet Afternoon in the Museum of Torture, a young couple on holiday in Italy with their new baby, begin to understand how parenthood will change their lives for ever. Incidentally, that was one story where the title came first. We holidayed in Tuscany a few years ago, albeit not with a new baby, and spent a quiet afternoon of our own - well, an hour or two - in the 'Museum of Torture' in Volterra. What makes these rather revolting places so popular I wonder? But I suppose we always are intrigued by cruelty observed from a position of safety. At any rate, it was that particular quiet afternoon, in conjunction with memories of those early months of motherhood which inspired the story, first published in a New Writing Scotland anthology, a couple of years ago. In the Butterfly Bowl, a young woman has to make an impossible choice between the demands of love and her own integrity. And Breathe is a celebration of an unsung life, a lost way of living and enduring family affection.
When I decided to take Kindle publishing seriously, I thought I'd publish something reasonably short before attempting anything more ambitious. And I'm still working with my agent on looking for a conventional publisher for a couple of novels, as well. But where Kindle is concerned, I had some tremendously helpful advice from several friends who are already having plenty of success with this method of publishing, especially Linda Gillard and Chris Longmuir. It's fiddly rather than difficult, and I could imagine it would be even more tricky if you didn't have a well edited manuscript and a certain amount of confidence with manipulating documents online. You need patience, rather than techie know-how. Amazon's notes are incredibly helpful and I think most professional writers know all about the process of writing and rewriting again and again as well as checking things again and again - and again.
I've made mistakes, plenty of them, and no doubt I'll make more - but like everything else, familiarity with the medium will help. And because a number of us are feeling our way into this new and essentially liberating format there's a mutual willingness to help that's invaluable. Writers are, after all, nothing if not communicators. Yet even those of us who could reasonably claim to be experienced professionals seem to spend far too much of our working lives struggling desperately to get work 'out there.' Which is not to deny that the gatekeepers can be useful. And most of us would accept that a good editor is beyond price. But still - it can be very gratifying to be in control for a change.
My next venture will be the Kindle version of my novel, The Curiosity Cabinet and it should be ready some time during August. This was one of three novels shortlisted for the Dundee Book Prize and was very nicely published by Polygon in 2005. Lorraine Kelly was kind enough to call it 'heartwarming, realistic and page turning.' It sold out within the year, but Polygon declined to reprint. Given its Scottish setting plus the fact that it's a love story or rather two deliberately intertwined love stories, past and present, with two deeply attractive heroes, past and present - I think it stands a good chance of selling well. We'll see. Meanwhile, I'm making sure it's properly formatted, and talking to a lovely artist friend about the professional cover she's designing for me. Right now, it all feels very exciting indeed!