Many people will know that about Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival held in Harrogate, and I was there this last weekend gone.
I have to say it was just wonderful!
Originally I had booked to go up on the Thursday and come back on the Sunday, but that meant missing Creative Thursday as it’s a 5 to 7 hour drive (traffic dependant). I mentioned this and my darling hubby said, okay then, he had the Wednesday off anyway, so we could go Wednesday and I could attend Thursday. As it was 1 July at that point, I didn’t think that there would be any places available for Creative Thursday. Thus, without getting my hopes up, I went on the internet and I checked. There were! So I booked one ticket. Then began the fun and games to extend the hotel stay.
The point is, it all worked out in my favour, which was a bit of a surprise. Things don’t usually go that well for me.
So, I attended Creative Thursday, which was really interesting. A panel of established authors lead by Mari Hannah talked about how to approach writing as a profession and gave tips on how to pitch, very useful tips. Vaseem Khan talked about writing the outside your own cultural background. And Greg and Kate Mosse talked about plot structure. They were all great sessions. What also makes it good is the people that you meet and get chatting to during the day, other writers also there to learn, as well as the established writers, all of whom are happy to help.
What I didn’t know, was that the end of Creative Thursday is the Dragons’ Pen, when attendees can pitch their work to agents and publishers. You put your name in a hat; then names are drawn by no less an author than Mark Billingham, and then you have two minutes to pitch your novel to the Dragons. By sheer luck, he picked my name!
So I gave my pitch, trembling all the way through. I remembered what they had said in the morning, to breathe and talk at about half the speed you think you should. I remembered the recommendation to cite other authors/books that are related to your own book. And I did all that. I even did it within the time given. Mark suggested I could have waffled for another 35 seconds, but I responded I don’t waffle in my books, so I couldn’t in a pitch. Don’t know it that did me any good, but I try to keep it true.
Upshot of this is that three of the four asked to see my work! Woo hoo! I was on cloud nine! So with such a good foot in the door, that’s what I’ve now done. I know there are no guarantees, but I have a chance I would never have had had I not gone to Creative Thursday. I just hope now that they like the full book enough to take me on. Or that at least one of them does!
This really is a case of good luck, or alignment of stars or whatever cosmic power you want to believe in. I was lucky to get the extra day in Harrogate. I was lucky to get on Creative Thursday course. I was lucky Mark Billingham pulled my name. I was lucky I have a good book to pitch. I was lucky that three people were interested enough to want to see it. I was lucky.
I’ve also worked damn hard to get that book right – as you’ll see from the previous blog because that book is the one I pitched. I also worked hard on the day on that pitch, tweaking it right up to the last minute, so it said everything it needed to say. Because I will always remember the quote from Samuel Goldwyn “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
Just to balance the sweet news, here’s a touch of sour. I was also told by one individual that they are the only one who reads my blog. So to the rest, if you’re not reading, I don’t know what you’re doing here. Still, I see the numbers, and I appreciate all who follow my ramblings. Thank you all for reading.