Sexy Deep Voiced Announcer: Put your hands together for our lovely literary Lady, she of the smooth white fur, glistening fangs and diamond tipped claws… The Tiger Princess!
LOUD APPLAUSE FROM AUDIENCE AS THE TIGER PRINCESS STRUTS OUT TO “EYE OF THE TIGER” WITH A PAIR OF HANDSOME YOUNG MEN
Tiger Princess: Why sir, you say such wonderful things!
LOUD WHISTLES OF AGREEMENT FROM THE AUDIENCE. TP MOVES OVER TO THE DAIS AND SITS DOWN
Tiger Princess: Today’s guest is a successful e-Book author. His first novel, “Burn, Baby, Burn” is currently at number 16 on the Amazon Bestsellers chart and has been in the top 100 for 53 days! Google “Jake Barton Author” and “Burn Baby Burn” is the number 1 result. He has released another two books recently; “Blood” which is the sequel to his first book and “Heat” in which some familiar characters find themselves on holiday.
AUDIENCE GASP AND UP TOWARDS THE BACK, SEVERAL PEOPLE PULL OUT THEIR SMARTPHONES…
Tiger Princess: Please welcome, Jake Barton!
|Just look at that ‘Tache! Wonderful!
AUDIENCE APPLAUD AND ON THE SIDE STAGE, A LEONARD COHEN SOUNDALIKE STARTS SINGING:
Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free
Like a worm on a hook
Like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee
If I, if I have been unkind
I hope that you can just let it go by
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you
JAKE ENTERS WITH A REDHEAD AND A BLONDE ON EACH ARM, LOOKING A LOT LIKE JAMES BOND IN A BLACK SUIT AND BLACK BOW TIE.
THE GIRLS ESCORT HIM ACROSS AND KISS HIM ON THE CHEEK, BEFORE SETTLING HIM INTO THE CHAIR OPPOSITE THE TIGERPRINCESS.
Tiger Princess: Welcome to the Show, Jake!
Jake: I’m pleased to be here.
Tiger Princess: What age did you start writing? Why?
Jake: I started early, writing mostly poetry, short stories and plays. Mercifully, very little survives from this period. I wrote several stage plays, a couple of which were performed in public by professional theatre companies. I suspect the decline of regional theatre dates from this period – reparatory companies failing as a result of unwisely backing unknown young playwrights! I was at school, sixth form, when my last play received a public airing. Fabulous reviews and public apathy – the opposite combination would have been preferable.
I took a short break for about thirty years, started writing again while in exile abroad. An ‘Englishman Abroad’ account, a few articles for magazines and, about nine tears ago, decided writing a novel was simply a matter of sitting down and writing away for a month or two when a masterpiece would appear. A misguided concept, as I soon discovered.
“Why” is easy. I wrote, then and now, to give expression to a head over-full with images. I don’t crave attention, despite appearances, as the vast majority of everything I’ve ever written is discarded, torn up or abandoned. My long-suffering wife may read a tiny sample occasionally. If she says ‘yes’ I write more.
Tiger Princess: You come across as a bit of a Mystery man, is this deliberate or are you just shy?
Jake: I’m the least shy person I know. ‘Mystery’ – that’s from choice. I had a strange job for twenty-odd years requiring a ludicrously convoluted lifestyle. It was a fascinating, worthy and complicated job; it was also very dangerous. It ended in acrimonious fashion and life has been very different ever since. I’m not allowed to give details and would not even if I could. I feel safe for the first time in a long time and have no wish to change that.
Tiger Princess: How did you choose to use your Pen Name? Have you had more than one?
Jake: Jake Barton – what a strong, manly name. I chose it on a whim. Had I taken the trouble to ‘Google’ it first, I would have found I was sharing a name with Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson, a prominent drug dealer.
I have had a number of identities, too many to count, but as regards writing my early efforts were penned under the name Malachi Hagthorpe. I treasure a newspaper drama critic’s headline, ‘Hagthorpe hits the Spot.’ True. Embarrassing, but true!
Tiger Princess: How much writing do you do on a daily basis?
Jake: I’m not an organised person. I write every day, but often to no purpose. I try and write a daily piece for my blog, but when I’m in ‘novel’ mode I usually write at inconvenient times, when ideas pop into my head. I scribble notes, snippets of dialogue, at 03.00 am, discard them at daylight.
Tiger Princess: If you could meet any writer (living or dead), who would it be and why?
Jake: I’ve met a few writers. Boring lot, aren’t they? I’d have liked the opportunity to meet John Kennedy Toole, the author of A Confederacy of Dunces. After suffering from paranoia and depression due in part to repeated rejections of his masterpiece, he committed suicide at the age of 31. I love the book and having discovered it several years before it became a cult classic and championed it relentlessly, I’d like to have had the opportunity to engage a remarkable mind in conversation.
Tiger Princess: How do you prefer to read – Kindle or Print? Why?
Jake: Without question, print. I have a Kindle, read from it every day, still prefer the feel of a traditional book. I prefer the A5 size paperback to the smaller variety.
Tiger Princess: Where do you see the publishing industry going in the next five years?
Jake: My local bookshop closes at the end of the month. Sign of the times. The immediacy of an e-book, from an author’s perspective, is obvious. I have had contacts with agents and publishers and the nature of the traditional industry is of slow, creeping lethargy. A friend signed by a member of the big six well over a year ago is still deep in the editing stage. Choosing a cover, still unresolved, has taken three months. He tells me the launch date will be ‘not before mid-2012.’ I find that unacceptable.
Downloads changed the music business for ever. Very rapidly. E-books will have a more leisurely effect, but the involvement of the biggest book-seller, Amazon, is crucial. The Kindle is an excellent product, as is the iPad, both ideally placed to drive future sales of e-books. Five years from now, I suspect the two methods, print and e-book, to be running side-by-side. Accepted alternatives for each new book. Traditional publishing has to pull its socks up or risk being left behind. Paper books will continue, of course, but the pace of change is relentless.
Tiger Princess: Why do you think you’ve been so successful on Kindle recently?
Jake: No idea. A complete shock, to me as well as everyone else who knows me. A good cover, carefully worded pitches the right choice of genre, that helped, of course. I changed the name of my novel, together with my author name, which removed at a stroke any legacy support from people who’d known the book in the past. Not the wisest decision.
I deliberately chose to write crime fiction. It sells books. I’d have preferred to write a Historical novel, indulged my inclination to write rambling descriptions at a leisurely pace, enjoyed the research process immensely, but I’d also wanted to write a ‘commercial’ book. All that work – may as well write a book people would want to read.
Otherwise, I looked at who was selling the most e-books. Specifically, their price point. I settled on offering my books at minimum price level, 99 cents ‘71 pence. If established authors were happy to do this, why shouldn’t I? There’s no mystique to kindle books, but there are indicators for success. Getting a ‘chart listing’ is a great help. When a book gets into a chart it is seen by those vast numbers of readers who want to see what’s popular; they check the charts. Once there, to an extent, it’s a self-perpetuating process.
I know nothing about marketing, have no publicity strategy. Being both lazy and incompetent, I have no secrets to impart. Success was not instant. For six weeks I sold a few books a day. Then, the figures jumped to one hundred a day and stayed there. I’m not making a fortune, not even a living, but that was never my intention. I’ve been contacted by two agents and two publishers since I ‘Kindled’ – plus an agent who ‘liked but not loved’ my book a few months back and now wants to reconsider. Meanwhile, thousands of total strangers have read my books. Priceless!
Tiger Princess: And finally – if you won the Booker Prize, how would you celebrate?
Jake: Celebration takes many forms. I don’t write out of necessity. I’ve done many things in my life, lived in different countries, experienced more than the vast majority of people. That gives a different outlook to life. I like travelling, experiencing different cultures. I don’t crave luxury, am ridiculously lacking in materialism, enjoy life to the full.
Not the usual response to this question, I suspect, but in the unlikely event of winning a literary prize (ha!) I’d evade all aspects of fame and disappear off on my travels again. With the sole exception of company of the love of my life, I require nothing. I don’t make plans, have not done so for many years, but insofar as a plan exists, it is to go off wandering the world again. Hopefully, very soon.
Tiger Princess: I can understand that one! Thank you again for answering my questions.
Jake: You’re welcome.