One of the great pleasures of doing publicity for All These Perfect Strangers is getting to meet people who love books as much as I do. At the Sydney Writers Festival I got to chat with Candice Fox and Graham Potts about 'Rising Tension', in Canberra it was talking with Emily McGuire about the portrayal of women in crime fiction, in Geelong it was catching up with the lovely Ann Turner to discuss our complimentary takes on crime and university life and in Melbourne it was all about being a debut author with Sisters in Crime's Janice Simpson. It was so much fun meeting up with old friends, new friends and lots of enthusiastic readers. My favourite part of any talk always are the audience's questions - you never know what you are going to be asked and it never ceases to be a surprise and delight. So if you are in the audience at a Writer's Festival or an event, be brave and grab that microphone!
This week I had my launch for All These Perfect Strangers.
The venue was Readings in Carlton which was the perfect setting as I went into that bookstore on my very first night in Melbourne and loved it from that moment.
So many people turned up. Family, friends and familiar faces that represented every aspect of my life; school, university, my time in the union movement, my mothers’ group in Brunswick, neighbours and my kids’ school gate were all there, as were my wonderful publishers Simon & Schuster, Bolinda Audio, representatives of Sisters in Crime and my fabulous agent Clare Forster of Curtis Brown. A perfect blend of personal and professional.
My book was launched by the Attorney General of Victoria Martin Pakula who I worked with prior to him going into Parliament. The criteria I was given for finding someone to launch the book was find someone who knows you and doesn’t mind public speaking, a perfect description of Marty. His speech was great, I couldn’t have asked for better.
Then it was my turn to speak, I pretended it was the Oscars and thanked everyone I ever met. The crowd was generous (not just with applause - I got flowers and champagne!). It was so much fun that I can't wait until the next one so I better start writing the second book.
I went to my first writer’s festival as a ‘writer’ on the weekend in Perth. It was so much fun.
I spoke about being a debut novelist in a tropical grove (yes really) with Laura Barnett (Versions of Us) and Portland Jones (Seeing the Elephant). There’s nothing like sunshine, bird calls, cool breezes and a warm audience to settle the nerves. Plenty of questions and laughs throughout.
The next session, tricks of the crime writing trade, was with Peter May (I could list his books forever but The Blackhouse is my favourite) and Ann Turner, my fellow S&S author, (The Lost Swimmer). Spookily, it took place in a lecture theatre that was a dead ringer for a room in my book but luckily no one died in the hour. We covered settings, weather, what to do when the pesky police turn up trying to investigate murders in your book and much more. Peter explained the difference between an English ‘bobby’ and the French gendarmerie (top tip – don’t ask the latter for the time, they’ll reach for their guns). We had a great time.
And then I got to be an audience member and listen to literary heroes such as Gail Jones, Iain Pears and Charlotte Wood. I had dinner with my lovely publisher Simon & Schuster, all their fabulous authors, as well as some of Perth's best booksellers and arts journos. I caught up with those crafty goddesses Pip Lincolne and Beci Orpin who were fabulous and got to fan girl Andy Griffiths and Hetty McKinnon. If you haven’t got Hetty’s excellent recipe book Community – Salad Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen yet, then I can only suggest you go out and ‘do yourself a f(l)avour’.
Perth set the thermostat to ‘gorgeous’ and the crowds were fantastic.
Thanks so much PIAF for the invitation.
There were times during the last four years where I would try and imagine what it would feel like holding my book in my hands. What I never expected was that when it arrived it wouldn't be alone. A friend described this poster as making me look like a glamourous murderer which made me laugh a lot as most of the time I look quite scruffy (and a non murderer I hope). Anyway, all this should be coming to a bookshop near you from March onwards.
A surprise in the mail today from my lovely editor Carla Josephson with a parcel containing my proofs from the UK. My U.K. agent Becky Ritchie described these as 'spooky' and I think they are a more ominous whereas the Australian one is mysterious with a more organic grain of wood/thread like feel to them. Both are fabulous.
And as an added bonus these come with a preview of the 'real' U.K. cover on the back.
I'm not someone to take New Year's Resolutions seriously. In fact, the only New Year's Resolution I have successfully kept was one I made 2007 to write a short story and enter it in the Scarlet Stiletto competition. It was the first thing I ever wrote.
This year I have plenty of good intentions about writing every day (already broken and it's only day four) but it has already been a great start to the year with mentions in The Age and Herald Sun. I never expected to be on a 'Hot' List in my life but I'm taking it!
Herald Sun above, The Age below
I was asked recently to give an author's perspective on unreliable narrators to Dawn Ius of the U.S. digital magazine The Big Thrill which is the online publication of the International Thriller Writers. The blockbuster Gone Girl, closely followed by Girl on a Train has probably guaranteed that 'girl' has been exhausted as a book title for a while (particularly when you consider the earlier success of The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo) but what does it mean for unreliable narrators? As someone who has a protagonist who actually is a girl (I'd actually argue that Flynn and Hawkins' books are about women) who is an unreliable narrator, it is in my interests to argue that I think as a writing device they are going to be with us for some time yet.
I actually think that we are all the unreliable narrators of our own lives and that writing in a first person point of view allows you to explore another person's world, their boundaries of right and wrong from inside their head. A character's unreliability can be far more subtle than deliberately withholding information or directly lying to you. Using an unreliable narrator is a technique common to all genres of writing because it allows an author to explore our human frailty. So I think it's here to stay and even if marketing departments are a bit sick of them, readers will never be.
Here's the link to Dawn's article http://www.thebigthrill.org/2015/11/trend-watch/
So much time writing is spent trying to conjure up convincing characters who the author can hear in the head and see in their mind's eye. You are breathing life into characters, occasionally trying desperately to rescusitate characters and because it is a crime novel, also bump some off.
One of the delights of having finished my book, is to allow other people to tell me what the characters are like to them. What I didn't expect was being lucky enough to actually see and hear my own characters.
Pen Sheppard, the narrator of my story, is the cover girl on the front of the book. She was the character I found the hardest to visualise because the story takes place through her eyes. Even though I knew the inside of her brain, at times her face was still hazy, but the instant I saw the book cover, I knew the designer saw her perfectly.
This week, the lovely people at Bolinda and I chose the narrator for my audiobook. As a life long fan of audio, I know choice of narrator is crucial, particularly for a first person story, and I think we've found the perfect voice for Pen. Recording will start before Christmas. I can't wait.
Hello and welcome to my website. My name is Aoife Clifford. If you are looking at my first name dumbstruck by the number of vowels contained within and wondering how the heck do you say it, you are not alone. Aoife is an Irish name and pronounced Eefa (similar to Eva but with an f instead of the v). Quite simple really, just don't think about the spelling.
This website is dedicated to my writing, in particular, my first novel, All These Perfect Strangers, which will be published in 2016 (March in Australia, June in the UK).
At the moment Advance Reading Copies are being read in Australia, proofs are being finalised in the United Kingdom, Bolinda audio are working out who will be reading it for their audiobook and I'm starring in my first video clip ever talking about my book. It is all very exciting.
On this website, I'll be posting about all of the above and more, including events planned around the launch of my book.
Kurt Vonnegut described writing life as having to jump off cliffs and developing your ‘wings on the way down’. For me, it is more like parkour, lots of little leaps of faith and occasional running into a block of concrete, getting up battered and bruised to start again. I'd love for you to come join me on the journey.
Thanks for dropping in!