WWBB on Facebook!

You are invited to post your book links, blurbs, snippets on WWBB's Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter and use @louise_wise for a retweet.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Meet Allan Mayer and his book Tasting the Wind


Andrew saw what happened. Eddie saw what happened. But their severe learning disabilities prevent them from communicating what they have seen.
Ten years later, the hospital is destined for closure and Andrew and Eddie move to a bungalow in the community.

Enter Martin Peach, who has come into care work for all the wrong reasons. As if the challenge of helping six severely disabled people settle into a sometimes hostile community is not enough, his new manager, ex-nurse Della Belk, has a deadly secret which links her to the new residents…

Can Martin and his colleagues put together the fragmented clues about Andrew and Eddie’s pasts before one of them becomes the next victim?



Trailer Allan Mayer- Tasting the Wind Chapter 1




This is an amazing offer by Allan. He is prepared to giveaway an ebook of Tasting the Wind for FREE. Tell us Allan, why would you want to do that?

The novel took me ten years to write and I want to give it to you, free of charge…

Attached is a FREE e-book, Tasting the Wind.The paperback would cost you £8.99 on Amazon. Click HERE to see it and to read some excellent reviews.

So why am I giving it away?
There are 3 reasons:

1) We are living in difficult economic times. I want to give you a free read. If you want to check out what it’s about and if it’s any good, click on the link above.

2) Because we live in difficult economic times the powers that be will be looking to cut essential services. ‘Tasting the Wind’ is partly set in a 1980s institution for people with learning disabilities. I want to raise awareness of what life could be like for people with learning disabilities if funding cuts force them to return to institutional styles of living.

3) The profits from the paperback go to Derian House children’s Hospice. If you keep your copy of the e-book I would ask you to give a donation (as much or as little as you like, if you give £1/ $1 and pass this on it could make a million!) to Derian House. You are under no obligation, but if you wish to do so go to: http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/donate.html

Please forward this on to your friends and contacts.
Other links for ‘Tasting the Wind’ :
My blog- http://allanmayer.wordpress.com/
Tasting the Wind Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=56190762166
Do you use Kindle or another electronic reader? Download your free copy of ‘Tasting the Wind’ here:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5061
And finally: although I do not wish to make money from this book, I do have an ego. Please add reviews on Amazon, and join my Facebook page.
Let me know what you think, and how far round the world this has travelled.

Tasting the Wind is a tale of the lives of a group of mental patients who move out of their institution into “care in the community”. You class it as a thriller, can you tell us a little more about its genre?
With ‘Tasting the Wind’ I have perhaps committed the cardinal sin for a new author of writing in mixed genre. It certainly is a thriller, because the whole premise is what happens when two people who can’t communicate what they have seen witness a ‘murder’ and the person responsible is the manager of their care facility?

But it does cross genres. Originally I wrote a novel which aimed to show the reality of the lives of people with learning disabilities and give a realistic account of moving from a long stay hospital into the community.

I soon realised that it had been done before, for instance in the novel ‘Walter’ which was dramatised on the opening night of channel 4.

I decided that I wanted to entertain as well as inform people about a fascinating period of history. I wanted humour in there as the lives of people with learning disabilities, like the lives of everyone else, are a mixture of tragedy and comedy.

Originally the death came half way through and the nurse’s culpability was never discovered. What would happen, I thought, if I moved the death to the prologue?

Life is mixed genre. I believe that fiction should represent that and feel that publishers’ preference for single genre, although it is understandable because that is what the customer wants, is inhibiting.


What gave you the incentive to write this book?
Two reasons. Firstly, I felt that in working in long stay Mental Handicap hospitals in the 1980s I had had a unique experience. I had witnessed things that the majority of the population would never see. If you want to know what I’m talking about have a look at a documentary called ‘The Silent Minority’ which can be seen on ‘YouTube.’

Secondly, ‘Tasting the Wind’ came to me when I had been diagnosed with depression- a diagnosis which later changed to Seasonal Affective Disorder- I needed a longterm project, something to get me through the dark days.


It’s commendable that 50% of your royalties are going to Derian House Children’s Hospice. What is your connection to the hospice?
I’ve never been asked that, but when I think about it there are several. The first is that It’s local, and it gives dying children quality of life. How important is that? But there is more to my connection.

I first heard about Derian in the early 1990s, when it was being set up, at the same time that I was setting up a day service for adults with profound learning disabilities. My service was visited by some very well spoken ladies from the local council who, in a conversation with our Director of Finance, spoke disparagingly of how Derian house had been set up without government funding and would never survive.

I was brought up a socialist, and although professionallity prevented me from speaking, I seethed at their superior and glib attitude. This was about dying children, and why didn’t the government that they so obviously supported (you can fill in the gaps) fund such an essential service?

So since that day I have given to Derian House. I used to do amateur dramatics, and when I had to have my beard shaved off to play an ugly sister I had it sponsored for Derian House.

And guess what? Twenty years on Derian House is still providing an excellent service. Another connection is that Derian doesn’t only provide services for children in their last days. Sometimes children with profound disabilities stay there for respite, and some of those children now use the service I manage as adults.

You can find out more about Derian House at http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
The whole of ‘Tasting the Wind’ is inspired by the work I did in the mid eighties in what we used to a ‘Mental Handicap Hospital.’ Most of my characters are a combination of up to four people I have known, but are unique in that the old adage is true- they take on life of their own. Once a character had formed I would put them in a situation and their reactions wrote themselves.

One character who is not a combination is Jamie, who is based on David Heffer, a superb care worker who worked with people with learning disabilities and had so much to offer to the future development of services. The IRA decided that he wouldn’t get to make this contribution when they planted a bomb in a Covent Garden pub.

One of the best outcomes of publishing ‘Tasting the Wind’ was that it led to David’s family contacting me. We spent a lovely weekend together, which I have recorded in my blog.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
That’s a difficult one. Because of the mixture of genres one passage may give the impression that it is a miserable tragedy, another would say ‘slapstick comedy.’ So I’ve chosen the scene where the ‘patients’ finally leave the hospital which has been their home for decades.

By way of explanation: Eddie has coped with his years of institutionalisation by inventing imaginary characters and pets, such as Pansy the dog. Don Maguire is the Hospital Bully. Frankie is a patient that Eddie witnessed being murdered by a nurse ten years previously. Got that? God- here we go:

Eddie’s leave-taking was that of a celebrity: kissing the reception staff, waving to all and sundry and swinging his carrier bag as he passed through a corridor of patients, all chanting 'nee-naw nee naw.' Behind him came Jamie, uncharacteristically red-faced, carrying a large blue suitcase with a red balloon tied to the handle.

'Come on, Pansy, come on boy, we’re escaping.'
'Eddie,' Jamie called as he approached the bus, 'I thought you’d agreed to leave Pansy behind?'

Eddie looked down, his eyes glazing. Then with a beam and a flicker of white tipped tooth he said 'Yes, Pansy, stay here boy, off you go,' as he pretended to throw an invisible stick and watch the dog race back into the hospital.

'Bye Pansy. Be a good dog.'
Eddie squeezed into his seat he held his carrier bag to his chest and, staring at the hospital, muttered, 'mustn't forget Frankie. Must take Frankie with us.'

'But there isn't a Frankie,' said Ruth, 'or are you thinking about Billy?'

Eddie shook his head, as if she was misunderstanding what he was saying and there was no way that he could ever explain.

As Rita and Oscar started to cheer, signifying that the bus was setting off, Eddie stepped for a moment out of his private world and joined in, waving his bag as if it were a flag. With the other hand he was patting the air and talking out of the corner of his mouth: 'Hush boy,' he whispered, 'need you where I'm going, but bark like that and the screws will hear you.'

At the main gate, Don Maguire was leaning against the post. For once he was not wearing his green jacket. Instead he wore jeans and a T-shirt, and was pretending that he was too much of a man to feel the chill of the early spring breeze. Rita turned from him, rubbing her eye.

‘‘E no ma boyfren no more,’ said Rita.
Colin stopped as a tractor went past, giving Oscar a chance to slide open a small window and give the Don his parting message:

'Bye Don. Will you miss me?'
'Fuck off.'
'Hey Don, when I was in the office I saw your records. They say you’ve got the biggest brain in the mental hospital...'

Don’s chest puffed out as he shrugged as if to say 'isn’t that obvious?'
'...And the smallest cock they’ve ever seen.'

As the bus started to pull out of the grounds, Oscar reached into the black bin bag at his feet and held up a green jacket, which he waved like a victor’s banner. A study in rage, Don Maguire shouted obscenities and waved his fists; but there may as well have been an invisible field across the entrance, because he never once stepped out of the grounds. As Don's rage receded into silence, Colin looked in his mirror, watching the hospital grow smaller and smaller, until it disappeared.
They had left.
This is an amazing offer by Allen:

The novel attached to this e-mail took me ten years to write and I want to give it to you, free of charge…

Please forward this to everyone you know.
You should have received this e-mail from me or someone you know. If not, please delete it.
Attached is a FREE e-book, Tasting the wind.
The paperback would cost you £8.99 on Amazon. Click HERE to see it and to read some excellent reviews.
So why am I giving it away?
There are 3 reasons:

1) We are living in difficult economic times. I want to give you a free read. If you want to check out what it’s about and if it’s any good, click on the link above.

2) Because we live in difficult economic times the powers that be will be looking to cut essential services. ‘Tasting the Wind’ is partly set in a 1980s institution for people with learning disabilities. I want to raise awareness of what life could be like for people with learning disabilities if funding cuts force them to return to institutional styles of living.

3) The profits from the paperback go to Derian House children’s Hospice. If you keep your copy of the e-book I would ask you to give a donation (as much or as little as you like, if you give £1/ $1 and pass this on it could make a million!) to Derian House. You are under no obligation, but if you wish to do so go to: http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/donate.html

Please forward this on to your friends and contacts.
Other links for ‘Tasting the Wind’ :
My blog- http://allanmayer.wordpress.com/
Tasting the Wind Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=56190762166
Do you use Kindle or another electronic reader? Download your free copy of ‘Tasting the Wind’ here:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5061
And finally: although I do not wish to make money from this book, I do have an ego. Please add reviews on Amazon, and join my Facebook page.

Let me know what you think, and how far round the world this has travelled,
Thanks,
Allan Mayer


Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
I went alone- sort of. I spent ages getting rejection letters, as you do. I wrote to my hero, Dean Koontz, and got a reply which recommended that the new writer should write in a single genre. He acknowledged that he got away from the single genre thing because of who he was, but that the new writer should do that to get a mainstream publisher.

Now I had a problem. I was a new writer, but didn’t believe that Tasting the Wind could be properly presented in a single genre. So I decided to do it myself. I talked to friends who had self-published, but that seemed to be too expensive and too involved. Then someone informed me that YouWriteOn were offering a cheap Print on Demand service.

Did you send Koontz a copy of Tasting the Wind?
No, but it did cross my mind. It was just that his letter said how his brief had advised him never to comment on stuff that was sent to him- you can imagine it can't you- 'Why aren't you publishing my book- Koontz said it was good.' It is well worth writing to him- you get a really thick package back. I got his standard letter, which says that he is busy writing, but the signature is genuine (well worth having I thought.)

Then... there was a messager in ink at the bottom of the page which said: see other letter....
and there was another letter which advised me as a new writer to go for a high concept novel. Thing was, it didn't answer any of my specific questions, so I guess his team have a stock of letters, some for fans and others for writers asking for advice. Nevertheless, I am pleased to have a couple of signatures and feel very happy with the response. He's also got an excellent website, don't know if you've seen it:
http://www.deankoontz.com/

Tasting the Wind is published with a POD company YouWriteOn. Were you happy with their service?
There was a lot of criticism of YWO in the early days of their POD service. They had claimed that they could publish 5000 novels in the three months before Christmas 2008. That was never going to happen. Critics from the publishing world claimed that the quality of their publications could not be assured and compared it to vanity press.

For my part, I could accept the shortcomings of the service, but have never had reason to call it a scam. The books are of good quality- admittedly they lack the benefit of professional proof reading- but they don’t fall apart like some of the earlier POD books apparently did. These days, anyone who asks me about the wisdom of using a POD publisher I would direct to my reviews on Amazon UK. The critics say that POD books are only bought by friends and relations. Only two of my reviews come from friends, and most of them are five star. These days we have the internet, and if you learn a few marketing skills you should be able to sell your book beyond your immediate circle.

My only criticism of YWO as a service is that books ordered direct took ages to come- I now order books exclusively from Amazon.uk and use their free delivery option.

Would you do it again?
It would depend. Tasting the Wind was a one off which wouldn’t fit into a category. If I wrote another book I would still go through the traditional route of submitting to agents and publishers. If that failed then yes I would use a POD publisher again. I would rather get my work out to an audience- however small- than leave it sitting on my hard drive.

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
What marketing haven’t I done? Well not TV and radio yet- although I did wake up one morning to find that an American internet radio station had featured me. I’ve done local papers and magazines, and saturated the internet. (just Google Allan Mayer Tasting the Wind and you’ll see what I mean.)

I spent most of 2009 exploring every avenue of marketing. Take a look at my blog to see the whole list. Some worked, some didn’t.

The most important lesson that I could pass on about marketing of a self-published or POD book is to find your niche audience. I finally found it this year when I did some readings at the Open University. There is a group there which studies the Social History of Learning Disabilities. I so enjoyed doing the readings and afterwards people queued for me to sign copies- a small taste of fame which I will never forget.

(The reading was recorded and will soon be added to the OU website at: http://www.open.ac.uk/hsc/ldsite/conferences_v2.html )

Through the conference I also made some useful contacts in the academic world. Tasting the Wind will be being reviewed in the Briutish Journal of Learning Disabilities in December (one of the biggest journals in the field) and is on reading lists at Manchester University and at Lancashire Adult Learning.

Having said that, I would hope that Tasting the Wind is of interest not only to people in the field of Learning Disability. What I set out to do was open a window into a world that few have seen firsthand.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Tasting the Wind took ten years. Part of that was the need to get it right. It was a labour of love, and a very difficult balancing act . I wanted to present realistic characters with learning disabilities without being patronising or stereotypical. I wanted to get over a ‘message’ without preaching. I also wanted to include humour and was very conscious that handled wrongly it could have looked like I was poking fun or laughing at rather than laughing with the characters.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
I can’t think of a simple answer to this one. The original kernel of inspiration was my own experience, therefore at that stage characters and happenings were intertwined. Then I would combine characters and add my own original tweaks until they took on a life of their own. The plot then developed in ways I had not anticipated once these new creations started to interact. So I suppose that the characters do have some sort of primacy, although the relationship between character and plot is probably best described as symbiotic.

The best example of the book ‘writing itself’ is to do with the demise of the villain of the piece. She is based on a real person (who for obvious legal reasons cannot be named.) The real ‘Della’ abused people with learning disabilities, and when this was found out was not punished but ‘promoted out’ of the situation. This was my original ending, but when my wife complained that it was not sufficient (although sadly realistic) I looked at an alternative ending. One leaped out, based on what had gone before, and I can promise you that it is dramatic, appropriate and satisfying.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
Yes. As a child I would write stories and poems. In my teens I had poetry published in local anthologies and used to contribute to readings. A bit scary when you’re fifteen, but it was good experience. I always wanted to write a novel but it was a long time until I felt that I had the right subject. My favourite reading genre was Science Fiction, and I was waiting for a Sci- Fi story to come along. It never did.

Are you working on another book? Possible to have a preview snippet or blurb of that?
I have completed the first draft of a thriller. I have degrees in theology, so have decided to put them to good use in writing a Dan Brown style thriller packed with biblical clues and cultish conspiracy.

For one reason or another I haven’t had time to do much to it recently. I’m hoping to return to it eventually, and the gap will hopefully help me to view it more critically so that I can be merciless in my editing.

I have never been able to show anything to anyone while I’m still working on it. I had been writing Tasting the Wind for many years before my wife even got a glimpse of it. It’s a personal thing.

What I can say is that it involves a theology lecturer (Jack Ellison) who gets involved in a local fundamentalist church where a young girl claims to be demon possessed. Soon he finds himself in life-threatening situations, as do others who are close to him, and each time a biblical clue is left. Are the clues related to the ‘demoniac’ or are they linked to Jack’s former life where he rescued youngsters from cults? It’s a million miles away from ‘Tasting the Wind’ but in my new novel (working title ‘Legion’s Daughter’ I am still writing about ‘what I know.’

What mistakes do you see new writers make?
To me one of the most serious mistakes is not paying enough attention to editing. Once a first draft is complete you may have to slash it by half, completely cutting scenes which you may really like but which do not take the story forward. This takes a lot of honesty, discipline, and understanding of form.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Go in with your eyes open and know why you are writing. Be your own greatest critic- why give someone else the pleasure?

As well as mastering the craft of writing, learn about the world of publishing and book marketing. Get hold of a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, and visit web resources such as the excellent ‘How Publishing Really Works’ and ‘Absolute Write.’

Another piece of advice which I got from a confidence coach, was to identify your model of excellence. Choose a writer you admire, study their style, find out their beliefs about writing, write to them- meet them if you can (without becoming a nuisance or a stalker!) They did it- so can you.

Above all, enjoy your writing and enjoy the world of writing. Few of us will make a living from it, but all of us can enjoy many of its rewards.

Contacts:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Eden and Hunted - sci-fi like never before!

The only Indie library on the 'net!

Popular Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

COUNTER


View My Stats