By way of introduction, I should begin by saying my name is Ashley Lister: I lecture at Blackpool & Fylde college; I write horror fiction and some exceptionally ribald poetry.
When the UK lockdown occurred, I was in a fortunate position. I lecture in creative writing and this was something I could continue to do remotely, from home, without the worry of contributing to the rising death rates.
I was also fortunate in that working from home meant I had extra time on my hands because I didn’t have to commute to work, or worry about socialising, or do a leisurely shop. The gym was closed. Dog walking was kept to a minimum and the free time just built up.
I’m not saying this to brag. I know some people have made enormous personal sacrifices during the lockdown and I’m in awe of all those people who have genuinely risked their lives to provide goods and services that so many of us have taken for granted. It’s incredible that, as a society, we’ve only just discovered that our country only functions because of people in low-paying jobs. Politicians and celebrities have been minor players in my life since March and I could live in a world without every one of them. But I owe a huge debt of gratitude to every shelf-stacker and checkout operative in the UK who has kept us alive during this pandemic.
Gratitude aside, whilst I was able to work from home, I realised my free time was mounting up. My options were limited to a series of choices:
- Irritate my wife.
- Spend the free time on FaceBook.
- Self-publish my back catalogue of fiction.
I decided not to irritate my wife. It’s fun at first but I know it’s likely to end in (my) tears if I push it too far. And I’m stupid enough to push it too far every time.
I also decided that I already spend too much time on FaceBook, so that option was discounted.
Which left me the opportunity to learn all about self-publishing with a very hands-on approach. I’ve been writing since I was a child and publishing my work since the late 1990s. Ordinarily I work with publishing houses, such as Virgin Books and Random House, and I’ve been happy with this relationship. But rights had reverted to me on a couple of titles from independent publishers and, rather than leave the books unavailable, I figured it would be interesting to try self-publishing.
I can honestly say it’s been a fun-filled experience. I’ve been able to choose cover art. I’ve been able to promote novels and poetry collections in a way that suits me. And I’m able to have fun with the stories I’ve written in a way that didn’t seem to happen before.
Blackstone Towers, my latest release, is the first novel I’ve published that is exclusively self-published. I’m very excited about this and I’m hoping it charms readers as much as it’s engaged me. In an attempt to promote it, to let people know about the book, I’m involved with a blog tour from August 13th until launch day, and I’ll be having a live online launch party on the evening of August 22nd.
If you fancy following the blog tour, the information is below. And, if you fancy coming to the online launch, where I’ll be reading from Blackstone Towers and sharing some of my ribald poetry, drop me an email and I’ll send you an invite.