Thursday 22 August 2013

My Guest on the blog is Andrew McBurnie

I am delighted to welcome to my blog 

Andrew McBurnie

Photo by Kind permission of the author

Andrew -welcome to jaffareadstoo and thank you for visiting us to talk about your book

Andrew McBurnie (18 Sep 2012)

The blurb

Teenager Adrian Thorby is about to experience a week of embarrassing and comic incidents. But he's scared. It's 1962, the week of the Cuban missile crisis, and the world is threatened by nuclear war. He's a science-fiction fan who fears he will never live to see a futuristic world of high-technology, including space travel and robots, and will never have a girlfriend.

Adrian lives in Hull, a north-eastern English city still half-flattened by WW2 bombing. He assumes that with his country’s experience of intense bombing during the last war, there will be a swift introduction of emergency preparedness measures. But everyone continues with their lives as normal. Nobody prepares; Adrian begins to think the grownups must all be mad.

He is also secretly in love with a girl from another school, is troubled by sexual thoughts, and through some awkward moments begins to wonder if he really has the brains to participate in a technological future. The seven days of “Fear Week” narrate his exploits, blunders and embarrassments during the nuclear crisis, and his yearnings for the girl of his dreams.

Andrew - what is it about your book that will pique the readers interest?

I didn't think about this when I wrote Fear Week, but after consideration, I would say:

  • "Fear Week" depicts a kid's attempt to find his way during a week when modern civilization seems about to destroy itself, a period that few people seem to know about now.
  • There aren't many novels about the Cuban Missile Crisis that are set in such an apparently unlikely location: Hull. In fact, there is only "Fear Week".
  • Despite the serious topic, the book has (I think) some amusing scenes.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of Fear Week?

About three years; mainly in the evenings after work, including rewrites and corrections.

The book world is very competitive – how do you get your book noticed?

After putting "Fear Week" up on Amazon and Smashwords, I didn't do any marketing at first, and it was was greeted with… massive silence. Then I researched ebook marketing, and review blogs particularly. I found several online lists of ebook reviewers, some indicating genre and other preferences.
I didn't do any mass emailing to the lists, aka spam. I used the lists, and the results of my own google searching, as follows:

For each candidate review site, I:

  • Examined the website to check that my novel matched the reviewer's preferred genres and make sure they would accept self-published novels (many don't), and if they did accept self-published novels, that they also accepted e-books (some don't).

  •  Double-checked to make sure there wasn't a temporary notice up saying that their schedule is full and so they aren't considering any new novels at the moment.

  • Selected UK reviewers at first because I thought "Fear Week" might be a bit 'British', but that seemed not to be the case in the end.

For my email to the site owner, I:

  • Attempted in most cases to address in some small way to information contained in their site.
  • Made certain to respond accurately if they had particular formatting and content requirements in review requests.
  • As additional information following the novel's summary, added that I'd had "Fear Week", professionally proof-read, and usually mentioned that I've previously published short stories in print magazines.
  • Rarely attached a copy of the novel itself unless specifically requested on the reviewer's website.
  • Once I got my first good review (from the Historical Novel Society) I started mentioning it in all my emails.

It's been a long process since I started because most of the review sites I examined were quite interesting, and I liked seeing what they thought of books that I'd read. I would usually find one or two suitable candidates a day, but sometimes none, so the process has continued over about five months so far.

I've recently begun to look at personal blogging and social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, etc; but have not had the time to put much effort into it yet.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

(In addition to writing a good story…) Be prepared to spend serious money on professional editors, at least two. Otherwise don't waste your time or a reviewer's time.

Which writers have inspired you?

Anton Chekov, Jane Austen, Ray Bradbury, Eric Blair, Muriel Spark, Phillip K Dick, J G Ballard, Frederick Pohl.

Andrew - it's been a pleasure to have you on the blog today. 
Jaffa and wish you continued success with

 My review of Fear Week

This is an interesting and well written coming of age story. Adrian Thorby is a typical teenager; he has his head in Science fiction stories, but at the same time fantasises about the pretty girl he sees riding her bike to and from school. But this is 1962, and the Cuban missile crisis is about to rock the world, and suddenly the fear of a nuclear event is very real. This story narrated throughout the eponymous ‘fear week’ echoes the fears of many people who thought that the world was about to end. Adrian fears he will never live to see the world of his Sci-Fi fantasies. 
I really enjoyed this story; it made me laugh out loud in places and yet there were some real focus moments of shock and fear. I was a very small child during this scary week of 1962, so have no first hand recollections of what the experience was like, but this story goes some way to explain just what a scary prospect it was to live through the possibility of a nuclear crisis. Adrian is a quirky narrator; you can’t help but warm to him. His interaction with his parents and siblings was a joy to read, but what really made me smile was Adrian’s relationship with his peers at school. The issue of the lost copy of Harold Robbins’s The Carpetbaggers had me remembering a similar incident I had with a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I think that the author has done a splendid job of recreating a very believable scenario, whilst at the same time keeping the narration light and interesting. 

If you like well written social commentary then I'm sure that this story would appeal to you.


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