With my friend and collaborator Avril Joy I have been experimenting with the process of publishing a novel on Amazon Kindle. Like many informed people I have moved from the notion that these E readers might be a passing fancy towards the new and important sense that novels in this new democratic form of publishing can give a public platform to many talented writers whose good novels may never survive the thorny obstacle race that is present day market-driven publishing.
Avril and I are interested in this process for our own work, but also interested in making the process accessible to new writers, particularly those who attend our Room To Write conferences – where many writers are working at publishable level.
I plumped for Paulie’s Web which sprang out of my life-changing experience as a writer in residence in a woman’s prison.
This novel has been a long time a-coming. It has taken me ten years to digest the extremities of my experience in prison and write my novel as true fiction in a way that pays tribute to the many women I met while working there. If, by the by, it goes some way to cracking the absurd stereotypes of women in prison it will be an extra delight. While there are dark passages here I make no apologies for the ultimately optimistic tone of this story which is a true reflection of the humour, stoicism and kindness that I was witness to in my prison experience.
So, what is it about?
Paulie Smith, rebel, ex-teacher and emerging writer comes out of prison after six years, her conviction overturned. As she moves around in the next few days, struggling to readjust to the scary realities of life ‘on the out’, she reflects on her life in prison. She focuses particularly on her first few weeks inside, alongside the four very different women whom she first met in the white van on their way to their first remand prison.
Paulie’s thoughts move from Queenie, the old bag- lady who sees giants and angels, to Maritza who has disguised her pain with an ultra-conventional life, to Lilah, the spoiled apple of her mother’s eye, to the tragedy of Christine - the one with the real scars.
And then there is Paulie herself, who ended up in prison through no fault of her own. Their unique stories, past and present, mingle as Paulie - free at last - goes looking for these unique women who have now been ‘on the out’ for some years and are, Paulie hopes, remaking their lives.
Now PAULIE’S WEB is on its way to being out there on Kindle! It is in the works. It should be up there tomorrow for readers to download. Fingers crossed.
Avril’s clever, sensual novel THE ORCHID HOUSE is already out there and she has posted some helpful tips on her blog for writers out there who want to have a go. Her book is downloadable, as she says, for the price of a decent cup of coffee. A new day dawns for all writers.