The Mums and Tots Mafia Strikes Again!
When wondering how best to help publicise my first novel, I didn’t initially think my current circle of contacts would be particularly relevant, given it mainly centered on the Mums & Tots group and other such pre-school activities. Then I remembered my younger son was used to bickering over the play dough with a lad whose mother happened to be a part-time reporter with Central News on maternity leave. I spoke to Harriet who very kindly gave me names and phone numbers and useful advice on how to pitch the story, basically suggesting a ‘housewife superstar’ approach. I considered making the calls myself, chickened out and passed the details on to Cassie in Orbit publicity who followed up and arranged for a news team to come and film me first in the branch of Ottakar’s where I had worked, admiring the piles of my very own book and then later, at home with my children.
On the day The Thief’s Gamble was published, Cassie and I met the reporter Jan and his cameraman (whose name escapes me, sorry) in Witney Ottakar’s, much to the bemusement of passing book-buyers and I did a brief interview. In fact, I did it several times, since I was extremely nervous and needed several attempts at stringing my words together. Jan was friendly and patient and highly professional, as was the cameraman, so I was able to relax and get through it. Then Jan decided he wanted some extra footage, ideally of people buying the book and also an interview with Zoey, the manageress. It’s times like this that can really test friendships; Zoey agreed to say a few words, (while making it quite clear I owed her one) and I managed to persuade two other friends, mothers of children my elder son goes to school with, to be an anonymous shopper and an eager fan asking for her copy to be autographed. When we could all stop giggling like schoolgirls ourselves, it all went very well.
Next we went home for a much-needed cup of tea and to decide how to set up for filming there. The professionals decided our Cotswold stone open fire was more suited to say, a novelist of the aga-saga school, so I was filmed working at my computer, while the children played happily at the dining table next to me. It became apparent that neither Jan nor the camera chap had children of their own, since they assumed this was a normal state of affairs. I had to point out that no, I generally wrote at another computer in the corner of the bedroom since it’s nigh on impossible to do anything creative with two small boys rioting round. The reason for their current angelic behaviour was the presence of strangers, the extremely bright light hanging over their heads and most of all, a camera. In fact, I was quite tempted to see if Central TV could get me an old, broken camera to rig up, just to give me some peace and quiet from time to time, the effect on the kids of being filmed was so magical.
Cassie had also twisted Tim, my editor’s arm and arranged for him to give a brief interview in the Central TV studios, which was included in the piece broadcast. It went out just before the break at the end of the first half of the regional news and I was really delighted with the end result. It was excellent publicity on a professional level and not at all embarrassing on a personal level, thanks to the expertise of all involved in putting it together.