Finally I have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. I have…. drum roll… a website!
There are loads of reasons why it’s taken me so long to get to this point – inherent laziness is one big one, but also concerns about committing to writing here when I ought to be writing my next book. Self doubt was another inhibitor – like many of us, it’s taken me years to be able to call myself a writer, let alone trumpet it from the banner of a website.
But after reading an interview today with the elusive and utterly brilliant Italian writer, Elena Ferrante, whose real identity has never been revealed, I started to wonder whether some of my reticence about having a website might also have something to do with the issue of anonymity. “I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors,” Ferrante told her publishers when she submitted her first book in the early 1990s. In other words, let the books do the talking, not the people who write them.
Without her real name on the cover, Ferrante has been able to be totally honest and authentic in her writing, in a way few of us are, which means her novels have a brave, unflinching and raw quality. A website is yet another step away from that anonymity, which might be partly why I’ve dragged my feet. It’s the antithesis of Ferrante’s position – the promotion of the writer over the writing.
And yet. Social media and the Internet mean modern readers expect a relationship with the author not just with the books. Which is fair enough. If you’re investing in a world, it can add an extra layer or texture to know a bit about the creator of that world.
Plus it’s an opportunity to interact, to ask the writer all those clever questions about his or her books that even they might struggle to answer . I’ve had some brilliant conversations over the last four years with readers who’ve got in touch through Twitter or Facebook and I’m looking forward to many more through this site.
So here it is. Behold my shiny new website about which I have so many mixed feelings – pride, fear, excitement, anxiety. Please feel free to contact me through the site, or to comment here. I’ll also be putting together a regular newsletter (well, once I’ve worked out how to do it) which I’m intending to use to recommend the books I feel most passionate about, and to offer free copies of my own books and even early book proofs.
Self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to me, so if you don’t see me on here enough, get in touch on Twitter and give me a prod. If, on the other hand, I’m on here too much, it means this has clearly become a displacement activity and I need to be sent straight back to work pronto.
21st Century, here I come. Who knows, I might even switch from CDs to downloads soon*.
* Not going to happen