Sunday, 15 November 2009

Of Dandelions and Daffodils...and explosions (just in case you thought I was growing soft)

Flowers have featured heavily in the last couple of days of my life.

Not very 'thrilling' you might think for a thriller author to be talking about flowers, but there is a reason for it.

Explosions, too.

First off, DANDELION.

I had to chuckle when my well-meaning mam said she'd been reading Judgement and Wrath and had got to the point where Dandelion first shows up. 'It's not Dandelion, it's Dantalion,' I explained. 'Oh, well, you know who I mean,' she responded.

Well, actually, that got me thinking. Must make sure that I don't pick a villain's name that is difficult to pronounce in future. Even in Dead Men's Dust, there were different people calling the killer TWO-BALL Cain (which I'm sure as a red-blooded man he appreciated), while me and a few others pronounced his name Chew-bel Cain.

Another thing that has been mispronounced is Arrowsake (the secret base where Hunter trained while fighting terrorists). Some people ( even on the audio reading of DMD) pronounced it ARRO-SACK-AY as though it was a Japanese name. It isn't it's pronounced ARROW (as in bow and arrow) and SAKE (as in oh, for f..k's sake!). My fault entirely, as I used the original base for the wartime Special Operations Executive as the idea behind Arrowsake. This was based in Scotland at Arisaig, which I turned into a phonetic (ish) sounding Arrowsake to avoid the ire of the locals.

With Dantalion, you can pronounce it DAN-TALLION or DAN-TAY-LION but please don't call him Dandelion - I'm not sure that the warped contract killer would care too much for that. Being callled his mother's little angel was enough to send him off on one, let alone being callled her little weed.

Oh, and by the way, the title of DMD is plural - but it still occasionally gets the singular Dead Man's Dust.

Let this be a lesson to all you aspiring authors when considering titles and character names.


Well, what can I say?

As followers of this blog know, I appeared on BBC Radio Five Live on the Simon Mayo show where J&W was reviewed by three critics. Although I kind of expected to be attacked as being a 'commercial' thriller writer as opposed to being a 'literary author, the last thing I expected was for a discussion to spring up as to what two 'yellow things' were on the cover of the book. Someone suggested rubbish, and someone else suggested 'Daffodils', while I was thinking WHAT THE F..K? Did two tiny yellow blobs of colour mean anything to listeners who couldn't even see the book cover?

OK, so I got that the presenter and the critics were only having a little banter, so I didn't feel precious about it, but you could probably hear from my desultory explanation that 'They're lights in the distance.' that i wasn't that chuffed at the direction the conversation had turned.

But, hey, overall, I came out feeling good. Two of the critics liked the book and said so, while the third, although constantly referring to Lee Child as being better also summed up by saying he liked it.

Now for the EXPLOSIONS!!

The feedback I've had has been massive, and very incendiary from some people (get the explosion reference?).

I've had some well-wishers emailing, and some telephoning, and even some demanding that one of the critics be boiled in oil then strung out for the ravens to peck at....and I have to say a HUGE thank you to you all.

Another one for the aspiring authors here: not everyone will like your work. FACT. Some will try to pull it down at the expense of making others sound better. FACT. Critics criticise. FACT. Just take any bad press on the chin and move on.

...although that big pot of oil is approaching bubbling point!!

Seriously, though, here's some quotes gleaned from said radio interview:

“suffused with testosterone. . .. very exciting . . . I liked Joe Hunter.” Zara Husain

“Fun, furious. . . a good read. . . . cracking pace. . . crisp pacey thriller.” Joel Morris

“I enjoyed it. . . classic opening scene. . . last 1/3 really exciting. I was totally caught-up in it.” Boyd Hilton.

So what's there to complain about, huh?

My thanks to Simon Mayo, and to Zara, Joel and Boyd, for featuring me on the show.


Tina said...

Good advice, Matt! Thank you so much for visiting. I'd be absolutely delighted for you to link to my blog. I'm your follower now and I'm looking forward to reading about your exploits in publishing. I'll be posting about the progress of my novel when there is news. Cheers, Tina!

Matt Hilton said...

Thanks Tina, consider it done.

Col Bury said...

Sod the flowers, Matt - they're for pansies (he-he).

Nice quotes - even the self-righteous one offered some positives.

(Hi Tina,
Good luck with your book.)

David Barber said...

Hi Matt, it was just the one critic I was ranting about. But..the daffs! I sensed your tension with your reply BUT I suppose as you say, these are the things you're going to have to put up with as an author.
Apologies if I spoke out of turn on my comments regarding the interview but it did wind me up.
At the end of the day the readers count and going by your post there are many of them. All the very best to you!
Regards, David.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Good quotes them!

Matt Hilton said...

Thanks Col. Yeah, you have to get by the negatives and seek out the positives. Listening again, even the critic who came over as being 'less-enthusiastic' actually said some really great things about the book.

Hi, David. Just so you know; this wasn't in response to your comments. Believe me, mate, there were others who were literally ranting and raving about me being dis-respected, and how said critics words could ruin my career before it even got started. Like I said, though, I actually thought I came out of it very well. But, hey, thanks for the comments. The support is very much appreciated.

Ta, Paul. I agree, the quotes are spot on. Now you know why elipses appear in so many blurbs!!