Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Pick-Up Artist

Today I've invited Chris Hill along to chat about writing and his new book.

Welcome Chris.

Thanks for inviting me along to your blog Marie, it’s a pleasure to be here!

Let's great straight in with some questions: When did you start writing?

I’d say I started writing after a fashion in my early teens - just scraps in school exercise books and so on. I gradually became more serious about it until I developed to the point where I was producing proper short stories which were good enough to enter into competitions and I entered lots of those over time. I lost way more than I won of course but it was a great way of practicing as a writer. After that I moved on to novels though I had three finished before I managed to find a publisher for my first one.

You won a Bridport Prize award for your writing. Was that an important step for you?

In some ways it was yes. As you know it’s quite a big short story and poetry competition, one of the bigger ones in the UK and I won it with my story The Runner which is about a man who tries to win the affection of his son by beating his ex-wife’s new boyfriend in a half marathon.  They get tens of thousands of entries for the Bridport so it was a real surprise to win. I remember it was quite a posh prize giving with dinner and VIPs and a speech from the esteemed author Kate Atkinson who was the judge that year and who said some very kind things about my work.

It was some years ago and it didn’t lead to any big breakthrough in terms of agents and publishers flocking to sign me up. But what it did do is give me a boost of confidence. I thought I must be on the right track if I was able to win something like that so I persevered and I do think that dogged determination is one of the best things a writer can have on their side.

Your new novel is The Pick-Up Artist. Where did the idea come from?

Well, the first thing was just that I wanted to write something quite light and funny. My first published novel Song of the Sea God (published by Skylight Press) was a literary novel and quite dark. It does have jokes in it, I don’t think I could write anything which didn’t have some humour, but it is essentially fairly serious. It’s a kind of creepy fairytale about a curious figure who washes up on an island off the north of England and tries to persuade the local people he is a god.

And I wanted my new book to be a complete change of gear, something fun and not too heavy. So I wrote a romantic comedy.

The Pick-Up Artist is about a shy young man who’s unsuccessful with women and seeks the advice of a web community called The Pick-Up Artists, who claim to use psychological techniques to help their members appeal to the opposite sex. It’s fair to say it doesn’t go as well for him as he might have hoped. I suppose it’s a story about a weak man and some strong women. The women in the book are the most interesting characters in it I think. They are big and rude and funny.
You attended the Lyme Literary Festival to launch your book. What did you have to do? Was it fun? And was it like you thought it would be?
It was great, a really fun event. My publisher Magic Oxygen laid the event on at the festival to launch the books they had coming out this spring, including mine, and also to present the prizes for their Magic Oxygen Literary Prize for short stories and poems. I was one of the judges for the prize so it was a pleasure to meet some of the winners. 
At the event I had to talk a little from the stage about my new book and answer some questions about it. For the rest of the time I was signing copies at a table and meeting readers which is always a real pleasure. I also met some people I had only known through social media before so that was great.
There were lots of book lovers at the event which is what you need really. I have appeared at literature festivals before and had different experiences, some good, some bad. The worst thing is if you turn up and there’s nobody there - they’ve not put it in the programme or bothered to promote it and nobody knows you are on. I’ve sat in a few empty rooms! So this was great and a really nice way to launch my book.
Anything else the readers should know?
I suppose it’s interesting that I’m a man writing a rom com. There aren’t that many of us about - so I’m told. I sort of fell into it and we will see how this book goes before I work out whether I will do it again. The publisher say my book is ‘lad lit’ and I’m not really sure I like that label as it sounds ‘laddish’ and I don’t think my book is that really. I wanted it to appeal to women readers at least as much as men and I am grateful to find that, so far, it seems to be doing just that. Readers of the book who are women are telling me that they have found it interesting and amusing to read a book where the ‘dating game’ is described from a male perspective. Some have even told me they have found it an education!
Tell us where to find out more about you?

You can find me on my website here
My twitter handle is @ChilledCh

And what about your book?


The Pick-Up Artist was released in February 2015 by Magic Oxygen Publishing, you can find it on Amazon 

Thanks for your time Chris, I'm sure the readers will enjoy your book.

Thanks Marie.

Chris Hill- Bio

Chris Hill is an author from Gloucester in the UK whose new novel The Pick-Up Artist is published by Magic Oxygen Publishing. 

Chris works as a PR officer for UK children’s charity WellChild and spent more than 20 years as a journalist on regional newspapers.He lives with his wife Claire, their two teenage sons and Murphy, a Cockapoo.

The Pick-Up Artist is the story of a young man’s attempts to find a girlfriend using techniques developed by an online community who claim to use psychological techniques to appeal to women. Chris’s first novel Song of the Sea God,  published by Skylight Press is a literary novel set on a small island of the coast of England where a strange figure washes up and tries to convince the local people he is a god. It was short listed for the Daily Telegraph Novel in a Year prize and won the efestival of Words award for Best Literary Fiction novel. Chris has previously had some success as a short story writer including winning one of Britain’s biggest story awards, The Bridport Prize.
Once again, I'd like to thank Chris for joining me here today and thank you for stopping by.

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