This is part 3 of my interview with author, Chrissie Michaels. Today she explains how she is promoting her new book, In Lonnie’s Shadow.
Chrissie, how do you market yourself to teachers and librarians?
Rachel at the Australian Education Union has just interviewed me for the teacher’s union newsletter and I recently did an interview with Judith at SLAV (School Library Association of Victoria) for their Bright Ideas blog.
Will there be teachers’ notes for In Lonnie’s Shadow?
There are teachers’ notes on Ford Street’s website and also on mine. I do plan to add more. I have put on an FAQ section on my site as there have been a few questions about which items from the dig are real or imagined. I should reinforce at this point that Lonnie is a work of historical fiction.
Do you or you publisher have any plans to sell your book overseas?
Paul Collins (publisher at Ford Street Publishing) has mentioned that it went to Bologna. We won’t know for a few months. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
How did you decide what content to put on your website?
I am a novice at this. I only set up the website over the summer holidays and haven’t got a domain name yet. Sophie Masson gave some good advice, which I took up about using the Google site. I wanted the focus to be on Lonnie and to make the book trailer more available. I also wanted it to be a focus for teachers. That’s why I am putting up some additional classroom activities. I have just included some work on the language in the novel, clarifying terms such as: duck shoving, on the wallaby etc.
Who is the audience for your website?
I guess I have made it more for teachers at this point. I am a real novice at this at the moment. I haven’t even faced Facebook or Twitter yet!
Why did you do a book trailer? How did you decide what to do for it?
Paul Collins suggested we have a book trailer. This was over the last summer holidays. Hopefully it provides an entry point for some to read Lonnie.
My partner Michael produced the trailer. Between us we came up with the ideas for the script. It was a matter of what we could do and what we could work with. Michael is fabulous at using MovieMaker.
We had some photos of Little Lon from my research. They feature buildings that appear in the novel which is set in Little Lon in 1891. There is the Leitrim where Daisy lives and the Governor, one of Pearl’s haunts. The Royal Exhibition Buildings, the fountain and the Carlton gardens are central to the illegal horse race through the streets. The knife relates to Slasher Jack; the bottles (the bottle for medicine or poison and the Glass and Bottle gang); the fob watch (the cause of some of Lonnie’s unhappiness); these all appear in the novel. The trapdoor and the traditonal nursery rhyme ‘Around the rick’ are also key links.
The background music to the clip was a birthday present from my brother who plays the classical guitar and composed the piece,which he called Lonnie’s Lick. He says he is available to compose music for any other clips.
My daughter and her boyfriend were most put out that their words weren’t used, as they spent at least an hour one afternoon rehearsing lines, as Lonnie and Pearl. My daughter does appear as Pearl though in the news clipping section of the clip!
How are you integrating your online promotions with your ‘real world’ promotions?
I don’t think I really live in the ‘real world’. That internal landscape keeps building fences. This is the first time I have been involved in any online promotions’ venture. There have been quite a few interviews for blogspots (such as yours) and we are all certainly grateful for the opportunity to talk about our books and writing. Networks are so important for writers. It can be quite isolating otherwise. But there has to be a balance.
Are you a full-time writer? How do you structure the days that you write?
I do have a part-time teaching job at the local secondary school, three days a week, which is quite time consuming.
Writing at home is relaxation time, done purely when I feel like doing it, which turns out to at least a few hours a day, mostly on my days off, and during weekends or holidays. I do have spells where I do more, especially when an idea is ripening or a deadline is due.
How does your background inform your writing?
I’m an avid reader with a love of literature and history. I have a curious (and at times, a troubling) mind. When I was 17 and in my first year at uni, where I was studying French, I was introduced to the French authors, Zola and Balzac. They still stay with me now.
How would you describe your ‘brand’ as an author?
I think I will end up being tagged as a writer of historical fiction. If I could live my life again, I would have been an archaeologist or historian and I guess I would have ended up in the same place. (Then again I would like to be Doctor Who’s assistant and I have written a sc-fi novel for Scholastic Press…)
I just consider myself a writer who is lucky enough to be published sometimes.
If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?
Never send a handwritten manuscript. Accept any criticism as constructive advice.
Always be polite – remember that the commissioning editor who refuses your manuscript today will probably move on to another publishing house and you may meet up again soon.
In Lonnie’s Shadow
The discovered artefacts from an archaeological dig in Melbourne become the backdrop for this story about a group of teenagers in 1891 who are struggling to make their way in a world that seems to be conspiring against them whichever way they turn. Lonnie McGuinness knows only one thing for sure – there doesn’t seem to be any fairness in life for him or his mates. So he decides to take matters into his own hands.
But when does a favour turn into a crime?
And when should a secret no longer be kept?
Chrissie’s published work includes junior fiction, poetry and short stories, as well as a series of primary school texts. In Lonnie’s Shadow is her debut YA novel and is published by Ford Street Publishing.
She will appear at Melbourne’s Emerging Writers Festival, at 7 pm on Thursday 27 May 2010 at the Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.
View the trailer for In Lonnie’s Shadow here. (Scroll down approx. 4 screen lengths to find it.)