Your Questions Answered!

By far the funnest part of the Hollow Pike book tour was the Q&A sessions – some of the questions were ‘out there’. Nothing I can come up with is as fun as reader’s questions, so this week, I’m opening up my blog to you, my lovely book-reading chums!

Mhairi Ledgerwood wants to know: What advice would you give to a writer trying to keep motivated and finish their first novel?

This comes up a lot. Most authors give the same advice – read lots of books in a similar genre, don’t give up etc. I’d like to quote Irish author Colm Toibin who said at the Shoreditch House Salon ‘Go home and write your f*****g book’. Crude, but he has a point. If I had a pound for everyone who said they had a great book idea…well let me get my Pensieve out and have a look! You have to write the bloody thing! Yes, it will take months of your life, but it will be worth it. The trick is in setting small goals and rewarding yourself. Finished a chapter? Woo! Have a Wispa. Finished 20,000 words? Have a cheesecake. In writing, no-one else but you is going to reward you. ‘Getting published’ is one goal of many.

Eden Ottman says Hollow Pike is AMAZING.. my question is … did you have to reasearch a lot for the book and is there a sequel???

To the first part, the answer is yes AND no. The characters and setting are a part of my past, so I knew them instinctively. However, without wanting to give anything way, the witchcraft element did need a lot of research. I read The Crucible, The Malleus Maleficarum and lots and lots about the Pendle witch trials.

I think it’s time to talk about the sequel, because a lot of people have been asking. Before I signed my deal with Orion, I had already written most of a sequel to Hollow Pike. I won’t reveal the title, but I will say it focused on the character of Kitty Monroe. There was a whole new mystery for the gang to solve. But, these are tricky times for bookshops and publishers. A sequel is only going to happen if Hollow Pike is a huge success. The reviews have been AMAZING, which I’m thrilled about, but now I need you all to spread the word like crazy! I really hope I can share Kitty’s story with you one day soon!

For now, all I will say about the second novel from Orion is that it’s a twisty turny thriller! Watch this space!

Michael ‘King Peter’ Andrews asks Was The Crucible inspiration?

Very much so. The Crucible is a metaphor for victimisation and scapegoating. The message of that play is as relevant today as it was then. In fact, with the media becoming more and more powerful, there are all sorts of ‘witch-hunts’ happening in the world today. I think Muslims and gay people get a very tough time in the press.

Laura H wants to know: Have you seen a stranger buying or reading Hollow Pike and did you say/do anything when you noticed?

I’m still waiting for the stranger on the tube moment (although I’m SURE that’s because everyone bought the Kindle version ;)). That said, at a recent signing a reader came in to get her book signed – she’d randomly bought it because of the beautiful cover and then loved it. That was a very special feeling – to know that people are out there choosing to buy Hollow Pike is an honour.

Gavin Gunter asked: James Dawson –  in 10 years time… what do you want to have achieved?

My big fat goal is to carry on writing full-time. It’s the best job in the world. I always say my job is ‘writer’ not necessarily ‘author’. Fiction is my true-love, but I would also like to write for newspapers and magazines, non-fiction and perhaps even scripts. It would be UNREAL to see someone adapt one of my novels for the stage or screen. I would also like to have achieved a marriage (yes, a marriage, not a ‘civil partnership’) to a Hemsworth brother. I’m not particularly bothered which, which I think makes me very reasonable.

Ellie Fryer says: How did you decide on a title for your book? How did you come up with such an original idea for Hollow Pike when there are lots of books written about the same thing (for example vampires)? ?

The title was originally ‘Bracken Hill’, but at quite a late stage I discovered that Bracken Hill is a hugely successful jam company in Yorkshire. ‘Bracken Hill – The town where jam never sleeps’ isn’t VERY scary so we changed it! A lovely teacher I used to work with called Sophie helped me choose ‘Hollow Pike’. Pike is old english for hill, plus has an unsettling tone to it, I think.

Trends in YA fiction are silly. Schedules are set years in advance, so you just have to write what you want to write about. I had no idea that witchcraft was going to be trendy this year, but it’s worked out that way. I think with things like vampires, they never ever go out of fashion. The supernatural will always fascinate us, because we can’t fully understand it, and that taps into something scary. Everyone loves a scare!

Emma Davies asks: Any tips for handling bullying in school for my pupils?

The main message of Hollow Pike is, MAKE THE RIGHT FRIENDS. I think so many bullying problems stem from faulty friendships. I’m not happy about it, but I think a bit of bullying is inevitable. Schools are so crowded and competitive that social climbing is bound to happen. As sad as it seems, putting someone down is a way to get ahead. BUT – if you have the right friends, you can feel invincible.

I think teachers should work on empowering young people to be assertive and confident. If someone says ‘ha, you look stupid’, we need to get students in the position where they think ‘I actually don’t care.’ If you feel confident in yourself, your opinions and your lifestyle, it’s so much harder to be a victim.

And finally, pedantic singer/songwriter Stuart Warwick wants to know: How did Mrs Gillespie get Lis’s phone number in Hollow Pike?

With as few spoilers as possible, I think it would be reasonable to say that Mrs Gillespie has her means…she’s no ordinary old lady, is she?

 

Thank you so much for your questions! I really enjoyed answering them, and they were all very sensible! I’d love to do this again, so ALWAYS feel free to leave questions on Facebook and Twitter! Or even under here in the comments box!

Lots of love, James xxx

Don’t be a Drag, just be a Queen

A lot of authors are vying for your nominations for the Queen of Teen Award right now. Contrary to what you may have read, the QoT as I shall call it, is open to all teen authors, female OR male. For this reason, I should very much like to be short-listed! I would be the FIRST EVER male contender.

Let me explain why I’m so keen to be the queen. Number one, there is a crown involved. AN ACTUAL CROWN.

More importantly though, when I was a little boy, I used to love wrapping myself up in my mum’s gold duvet and pretending to be a character called ‘Princess Susan’ (what? I was like five!). I made my sister be my servant, Sally (sorry, Joanne). However, I was always getting told off for this because ‘it’s not what little boys do’. This sense of ‘doing things wrong’ continued well into my twenties. I thought there were certain things boys shouldn’t do or say just because they are boys.

This is obviously HORSESHIT. No-one, male or female, should ever feel limited on the basis of gender. I like to think, that if I could get anywhere near that crown it’d send out a beacon-like message to all the teenage readers that GENDER MEANS NOTHING. Everyone needs to feel like a queen now and then.

I would so appreciate your nominations. Only do so if you enjoyed Hollow Pike, though or it’s all a bit political! I know some of you have voted already and I’m so chuffed! I really hope I get shortlisted. Voting closes this week, so if you haven’t already, I’ll love you forever! You can vote here: http://www.queenofteen.co.uk/nominate.html

And if you are in ANY DOUBT that a dude can be a queen, allow me to introduce the mighty Raja…

How To Sell Books

JK Rowling is what I believe is called a ‘game changer’. Prior to the domination of Potter, the concept of a ‘famous author’ wasn’t a thing, but now writing a book is another path into the fame game. JK Rowling is unique in her situation, however. If James Patterson were to walk in my flat now, I wouldn’t recognise him. Is it enough to know his name? Is Suzanne Collins happier being the anonymous ‘The Hunger Games Woman’ than newly megastared Jennifer Lawrence?

I’ve been thinking about FAME. I’m loathed to give the woman any more publicity, but Samantha Brick was the name on everyone’s lips this week. She is either famous for being THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND ALLURING WOMAN IN THE WORLD or THAT UGLY BITCH DIE DIE DIE. The problem is, she doesn’t mind either way. That’s right, a plant grows whether you water it with love or piss on it. Such is the name of the fame game. Either way, Ms Brick gets what she wanted. We ALL know her name. She’s gonna live forever, she’s gonna learn how to fly.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Brick is working on a recipe book.

I clump Brick into the same group of Z-List celebrities such as former Big Brother contestants Imogen Thomas, who simply cannot stop telling us about her extra-marital affair with Ryan Giggs, and Nikki Graham, who is still selling stories about her battle with anorexia. Now, I’m not saying Ryan Giggs is a saint (obviously not), but at least he’s kept his mouth shut. The FAME is clearly of no interest to him. He could have had a book deal out of it, but no.

More than the point of fame itself (bonking, declaring yourself the new Helen of Troy), there is now more fame to be made from media issue du jour ‘trolling’. Trolling is Extreme Internet Slagging Off, and it is a crime. But more than a crime, it is oxygen to attention/publicity seekers like Brick and Thomas. You immediately get a second source of fame: ‘CRUEL WEB MONSTERS TARGET BRICK’. Well, of course they did. She went in the Daily Mail to tell everyone how wildly beautiful she was. The act predicted the response.

So why don’t we all do this? My debut novel, Hollow Pike, has been in shops for a couple of months and is selling very well, thank you – but it could do so much better with a little self sacrifice. What part of my soul should I sell? A sex tape (Tulisa has a single out, folks)? Something scandalous from my childhood? Perhaps I could send my family or friends down the stream? Or I could hook myself a celeb boyfriend! That’d be fun.

Well, no, obviously not. For one thing, no one would care because I’ve never been on The X Factor. But here’s the thing. All of these stunts, so common in the media, are to mask a total lack of talent. I would put good money on some sort of Cheryl and Ashley Cole reunion stuff to start floating around in the next few weeks. Why? Ms Cole is back with a third album. Of course, it’ll be terrible, but the wall-to-wall PR will send it straight to the top of the charts. Similarly, although I’ve only read samples of the ‘Masters of the Universe’ Twilight fanfic it stemmed from, 50 Shades of Grey has been universally slated by reviewers. Despite these awful reviews, it will most likely be one of the best selling books of the year. This is a result of exceptionally stealthy PR based on ‘word of mouth’. But I haven’t heard anyone say it’s good – so what is this ‘word-of-mouth’? I would argue bloggers and press only starting talking about it because it was a porno version of Twilight. The publisher behind the book knew they would for this reason.

I cannot speak for all authors, but I do know this. Whether it’s any good or not, I worked bloody hard on Hollow Pike. Two years of writing went into that baby. Writing, editing, hacking, slashing and then repeat. I would be devastated if people only read it because of sniggering glimpses of ‘The Red Room of Pain’ or because I was famous for bonkers tabloid claims. I imagine most authors feel the same. We are more than happy to do PR…I have talked about bullying and sexuality, but only because I am happy to and don’t feel like I’m betraying any part of myself or my family. If anything, those pieces were embarrassing, but I thought they might be helpful to young people, so it was a write-off. However, there is a line, I call it THE DIGNITY LINE. I think any author worth their salt would rather let the books, and our writing, sell themselves.

On a final note, it’s clear to me that YOU ARE ALL JEALOUS OF MY BEAUTY. If you disagree you are a HATER.

😉

Which Would You Rather?

Five years ago, Chris Hemsworth was just plain old Kyle Hyde in Aussie soap opera Home and Away. He even did a stint on Dancing With the Stars. His little brother, Liam, was on the other one, Neighbours. Oh, but what a difference a few years makes. Both brothers, neither unpleasing on the eye, are now Hollywood’s hottest property. But if you had a choice (like Miley ALLEGEDLY did), which Hemsworth would you go for? Here’s a helpful guide before you buy.

 

 

 

Chris – 29 Liam – 22
Massive breakout role Thor: Who doesn’t love an arrogant Norse God expelled from Asgard?  Appears in Thor and the forthcoming Avengers Assemble. Downside – silly costume. The Hunger Games: Oddly well-fed starving person. Appears in The Hunger Games and (presumably) the sequels.
Topless picture    
Earlier odd horror film appearance A shaven-headed Hemsworth plays ‘dumb jock’ with a twist in Joss Whedon horror film with a twist, Cabin In The Woods, out in two weeks’ time. It was filmed in 2008, however, long before Thor. A shaven-headed Hemsworth plays ‘dumb jock’ with a twist in not-Joss Whedon horror film with a twist Triangle, which starred other Aussie done-good, Melissa George.
Where else have I seen him? Playing Kirk’s doomed father in the JJ Abram’s version of Star Trek. Playing Spencer in barmy Nicholas Cage sci-fi gubbins Knowing.
Unfortunate links to Miley Cyrus Purely rumour. They worked together on Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Last Song, and have dated since. Sad, but true. BURN HER.
Single? No – married to Spanish actress Elsa Pataky. No – see above.
Career Prospects Shiny. Between The Avengers and Snow White and The Huntsman, this is so Chris’ year. He’s a less loathsome Sam Worthington – the sky’s the limit. Less certain. A teen franchise is hard to step away from (ask Taylor Lautner). For some reason he’s in The Expendables 2 and rumoured to be in a new version of Arabian Nights.
Would you? Yes you would. I imagine you would.