I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Kerry Hudson’s debut novel Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma. Kerry was one of my early follows on Twitter and, having enjoyed her updates on writing, life and the cake essential to both of those, it’s especially lovely to help her celebrate her first novel coming out. Here’s what Tony Hogan is all about:
When Janie Ryan is born, she’s just the latest in a long line of Ryan women, Aberdeen fishwives to the marrow, always ready to fight. Her violet-eyed Grandma had predicted she’d be sly, while blowing Benson and Hedges smoke rings over her Ma’s swollen belly. In the hospital, her family approached her suspiciously, so close she could smell whether they’d had booze or food for breakfast. It was mostly booze.
Tony Hogan tells the story of a Scottish childhood of filthy council flats and B&Bs, screeching women, feckless men, fags and booze and drugs, the dole queue and bread and marge sandwiches. It is also the story of an irresistible, irrepressible heroine, a dysfunctional family you can’t help but adore, the absurdities of the eighties and the fierce bonds that tie people together no matter what. Told in an arrestingly original — and cry-out-loud funny — voice, it launches itself headlong into the middle of one of life’s great fights, between the pull of the past and the freedom of the future. And Janie Ryan, born and bred for combat, is ready to win.
Sounds ace, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to read my copy of Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma. You can get yours from any good bookstore or online retailer, like this one right here: Amazon UK.
There’s a terrific prize draw open to anyone who hosts or comments on a Tony Hogan post. There is no purchase necessary. There is no limit to how many times a name can be entered i.e. if you comment on three blogs you have three entries but it’s only possible to win one prize per person. The winning names will be drawn at random on Wednesday 1st August and announced on Kerry’s Tumblr blog and on Twitter.
1st prize – A three chapter or synopsis critique plus afternoon tea at Beas of Bloomsbury, London (at a mutually beneficial date and time) with Juliet Pickering from the AP Watt Literary Agency to discuss your critique. Plus a personalised copy of Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before he Stole My Ma.
2nd prize – A literary hamper containing a personalised copy of Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma as well as three of my most recommended writing theory books and Hotel d Chocolate chocolates to enjoy while reading them.
3rd prize – A personalised copy of Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma.
And, as if that wasn’t all exciting enough, Kerry has some top tips for those all important meetings with agents and publishers, so I’ll hand over the blog to her…
When I was just starting out writing and dreaming of a book deal I spent far more time than I should have reading blogs about what it was like when you did actually get a deal. The publishing world felt like a secret society and when I did get the opportunity to meet my agent I still had no real idea what to expect and my pre-meeting anxiety sky-rocketed. There was no need of course, my agent Juliet is very nice and brilliant to boot but I wanted to help others who may find themselves in the same boat. So, here is my definitive list which has the catchy title: Stuff I Wish I’d Known Before Meeting With My Agent and Publisher.
Meeting with an agent
An agent won’t ask to meet with you unless they are seriously interested in your book. Of course you’ll be tied up with nerves (I was so nervous I left half my brownie which is unheard of) but take confidence in the fact you’ve done something right if you’re getting face-time with an agent.
It’s ok to ask questions. Asking questions won’t irritate an agent or jeapordise your chance of signing with them. It will show that you’re professional, switched on and that you take yourself seriously as a writer.
But don’t forget about the less-business orientated side of the agent-writer relationship. I once heard the best adage about trying to decide whether to sign with an agent; the advice was, don’t imagine what your agent will be like when it’s all going swimmingly, imagine what they’ll be like when it’s all going badly. Your agent will likely deliver some disappointing and (hopefully) some of the best news of your life. Your agent will be by your side during some of your most important decisions, potentially for decades. Choose carefully, trust your instincts and in my experience it definitely helps if you really genuinely enjoy your agent’s company and can have a good laugh over a slice of cake with them.
Eat the brownie, nobody will judge you.
Meeting with a publisher
If you’re going in to meet a publisher then lots of people ‘in-house’ will have already read and liked your novel. Like agents, publishers are busy people and if they are inviting you in to meet them their intentions are serious. So, relax if you can (I couldn’t, I refused biscuits – are you seeing a theme emerging here?).
The meeting may consist of the one editor who is championing your book but it could also have several editors as well a marketing, sales and PR rep in attendance. Each will be looking at how you and your book would fit into their area. There’s nothing you can do to influence their decision but be open, honest and demonstrate the passion you’ll undoubtedly feel for your book.
Make sure you know what you’re going to write about next and can explain that succinctly. Like most writers I’m not great at explaining what my books are about but getting that two or three sentence pitch right in this meeting could be the difference between being offered a multi-book contract or not.
You might get free books. If they’re offered, it’s not rude to take them, it would be rude not to.
Eat the biscuits. The people of publishing love baked goods. They’ll admire you for tucking in.
Of course all of this advice is no good without my final golden rule:
Write. Write the book you have always wanted to and that you’ll be proud of. Ignore the voices saying that nothing new is getting published. I’m proof that dreams can, and do, come true.
Top advice. Thanks Kerry! I don’t need to be told twice to eat cake. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by on your tour and all the best with Tony Hogan.
Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Growing up in a succession of council estates, B&Bs and caravan parks provided her with a keen eye for idiosyncratic behaviour, material for life, and a love of travel. Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma is her first novel. Kerry now lives, writes and works in London.
The Tony Hogan Tour has already stopped off at the blogs of top tweeps and ace writers Valerie O’Riordan and Nik Perring, so go check out the posts there. The tour continues tomorrow over at Sara Crowley’s blog, before moving on to Lindsay Healy’s place.