Monday, 18 June 2012

ABIDE WITH ME: Knees Up Mother Brown (KUMB) - review and interview

The Big One
Well, blimey, it's been a busy few days . . .
When I first began writing ABIDE WITH ME, I had no idea it would be a 'West Ham book'.  I was just writing a story, following the lives and the voices that ran through my fingers.  To this end, I thought finding a publisher may be difficult due to the book not appealing to just one specific genre or customer group.  It seemed part crime fiction, part sport fiction, part coming of age general fiction type of thing.  But Caffeine Nights took a chance, and for that, I will be forever grateful.  

I was quite comfortable with the crime fiction tag, having built numerous connections over the last couple of years in the online crime fiction scene through my short stories.  And those fine people in the online crime fiction community, friends all, have supported the book incredibly over the last couple of months.  Through the book signings, however, meeting the book-buying public, I realised the huge appeal to West Ham supporters - much of this due to the amazing cover by Mark Williams - especially when transposed to the seven foot pull-up poster I dragged around with me to each book signing.  

 The massive seven-foot pull-up banner wotsit - modelled by my littl'un - Summer (age 4 and a half)

We hoped the Hammers fans would take to the book - hence the book signings planned in strong West Ham supporting areas - but I had no idea they'd take to it how they have.  In the end, I was selling the book almost exclusively to West Ham supporters.  And I must acknowledge it rekindled my own passion for the club, put on hold thirty odd years ago when I discovered the Mighty Daggers.  I will always be a Dagger, but through my contact with the West Ham supporters I have spoken to and laughed and chatted with since the book was published, I've got a huge soft spot for the Hammers now.  And that was the last thing I thought would happen.

After I'd written ABIDE WITH ME, and realised the potential interest from Hammers supporters, I had to find a way of putting the book before them en masse, as it were.  The initial response from die-hard Hammers such as Trevor Drane, Phil Whelans, and Robert Banks from the magnificent Stop! Hammertime Facebook Group was more encouraging than I ever dreamed, so I continued on my search for more exposure for the book to more and more Hammers. It didn't take long for me to stumble upon the huge Knees Up Mother Brown (KUMB) website.  By far the biggest Hammers site on the web - over fifteen thousand members and two hundred thousand unique users every month.  I contacted Graeme Howlett - editor at KUMB - to see if he'd be interested in doing a review and interview.  I knew, short of getting ABIDE WITH ME stocked in the club shop - getting a good review on KUMB could prove crucial.  Graeme was more than happy to take a look, and for many a long month I bit my nails, wondering what he might make of the book.

But what a review it proved to be.  

 The review can be found here and a massive two part interview conducted by Graeme with myself, over a pint of the finest ale can be found here and here.

I finally want to thank each and every Hammer I've met on this incredible journey so far, for your support, your tales of grief and joy and misery, and your laughter.  Thank you :)

And a special thanks also  to Trevor Drane, Phil Whelans, Robert Banks, and Graeme Howlett - die-hard Hammers one and all.  Cheers lads.

All the best,

Ian

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