A marvellous opportunity has recently come my way. A friend of a friend has offered to make a book trailer for me. Charlie Rose, who was introduced to me by my friend and co-Rattle Taler Charlotte Feld, wants to make a trailer for my first novel Starlings. Starlings was released over a year ago but I have always felt that it didn’t get enough attention at the time. It was published by the gutsy but small Revenge Ink and the marketing budget was limited. Revenge Ink is one of the few publishers accepting speculative submissions from authors– this is great, it meant I could get my book published without the help of an agent unfortunately it also meant that I didn’t have an agent to help me publicise it. You might think it’s a bit arrogant to think my novel deserves to have been noticed but it’s not that honestly. The reviews it did get (apart from the very first one!) where all so good but they were in niche publications and the local press, it was impossible to get it reviewed nationally. Likewise, the readings I did for the book were all met with very positive feedback and the book groups I went to were all extremely enthusiastic. The book is set in Brighton (where it seems at times that everybody knows everybody) and even now I’ve given up actively promoting it, people will stop me in the street and tell me how much they loved it. It was long-listed for the Edge Hill Prize so there is some merit in it; I’m not just full of bluster. I sometimes think that the niggling feeling of not being done with Starlings is what is preventing me from finishing a second novel. I’ve plenty of ideas and I write every day but I can’t quite settle down to it, as if I’m not yet ready to give it my full attention.
When Charlie offered to make a book trailer for it I jumped at the chance. What harm can it do? If it brings a new audience to the novel then I’ll be more than happy and if it doesn’t I won’t be any worse off than I am now. We had our first meeting last week to discuss what kind of trailer to make, the main themes, how to start it, how to portray Brighton and the book in just a few minutes. We went over the genesis of the novel, the process and the generalities of how and where I wrote it. It was really interesting to discuss the book in depth again especially with someone who has just read it. I haven’t looked at it for many months but it was such a big part of my life for so long that of course I remember a lot about it but there are things I’ve forgotten. The structure is very complex, the stories link into a narrative that makes you reflect differently on the action and the characters by the time you’ve finished reading it. All the characters are related in some way to others in the book even if they don’t initially appear to be. The aim was to show how everyone is linked to everyone else, something the trailer should show too. In addition to this, every time I talk to someone about Starlings something I’ve never thought of surfaces. This time Charlie said he thought it was perpetually summer in the novel that the sun was always shining and that this contrasted with the dark and gritty underside in the stories. I wasn’t aware of this, in fact I thought a lot of it was set under a cloud with stormy seas but, now it has been pointed out to me, I realise a lot of the stories do take place in the hot summer sun. This could be a problem for the book trailer as we want to start filming it pretty soon and the last time I looked it was threatening to snow. We’ll have to improvise, maybe con some friends to walk about in shorts eating ice-creams!
We also plan to film in some of Brighton’s lesser known locations, to look at the city from a different angle, a slightly skewed vision of the tourist image so often presented. There was even talk of taking a boat out to film the West Pier from the sea-bound edge.
It’s an interesting process, deciding where to film and what passages to include and also what background information to talk about. It’s all very exciting. I’ve decided to blog about it at each stage so if we have to call the coast guard during filming you’ll be the first to know.