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A night with Mark Watson

Mark Watson

Candice: I spotted a month or so ago that the Warwick Words festival was returning.  In the line up was a night with Mark Watson, a comedian I did not know but who is also an author, it sounded an interesting variation our usual writing/author nights.

Toddling up to meet Phil I realised we had not seen each other in at least a month as I have been up to my eyeballs with work and house stuff.  The whole concept of writing and book publishing has been bottom of my list, but I was looking forward to a change from this other treadmill.

Settling in I wondered what we were to expect.

Mark opens with a plug for the book and a joke – sounds like a good start to me.  In fact the opening reflected the rest of the show, a bit all over the place as it became half comedy and half book talk.  However, this wasn’t a negative thing as I enjoyed having my funny bone tickled.

Mark was very honest, “My first two books were shit, I’ve got better.”  “This evening I’m going to fly by the seat of the pants.”  I could already see how Phil and I could make our turn to do this kind of event more interesting with comedy patter as well as book readings.

At one point he even suggested the audience didn’t listen any more and just thought about questions for the end.

My favourite part was the famous Elevator pitch: “In Eleven there’s a bloke who has a secret and in the end it’s fine, in The Knot it’s not fine !”

Then on to the reading. Interesting, his writing was very wordy, not really my style but then Mark proceeds to self criticize some of his writing as his style has moved on in the five years since he wrote that book.  The second reading is better, more my cup of tea.

Then on to questions, Phil asks the same question I was going to ask. “If your first books were so bad how did they get published?” It seems Mark has a publishable style but he doesn’t believe that the concept or content was good. They lack soul.  His first two books didn’t really sell so he was worried that he was finished before he begun. He then went off a developed a comedy career and came back to writing.  Getting a publisher the second time around wasn’t the easiest as the first part wasn’t as successful. He said, ” I’ve had two separate careers, you want to get it right the first time or it could have a really negative impact.”

On the way out Phil and I had an interesting discussion about how commercial writers need to find commercial publisher.  Mark has a degree in English so we can understand how he probably got published easier as Agents were looking for some one who reflected their own style and inclination to aim for the Orange Prize.  We just want to appear on the holiday read stand at the airport and don’t mind if we get thrown away afterwards.  I said we need to find someone who is an Agent for this style only else we’ll never get picked up.

To be honest I think we knew this, but when we ever get round to sending those inquiry letters out again, there will be more focus.

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Autumn is here


Candice: We’ve had a great summer in the UK and then all of a sudden, on the 1st of September, autumn has hit.  We are still getting lovely days but the nights are drawing in, it’s colder so I’ve had to put the heating on for a few hours each night.

However, this does bode to a time of year when more reading might be done as people draw round the fire, and have more time to sit as they feel less inclined to do things as it gets dark outside.  I was moaning the other week about not having had anything to read recently, well I’ve gone the other way and now have three books to read but don’t seem to have had time to read them so this might be a my chance.  Of course, come January I’ll had loads of time on my hand (!) to do lots of reading.

Well this weekend the other half and I having a well deserved break from the decorating and general house sorting for our five year wedding anniversary.  Thinking about the weather, five years ago it was absolutely throwing it down all this week but the sun shone on our day, then the UK had a heat wave while we were on honeymoon – so there is always hope for one last trip out for the shorts.

So, the other week I got an email from Warwick Words, another local literary festival.  Warwickshire must be a popular area for this, I suppose due to our Shakespearean roots?  Anyway, it’s a about their Autumn Festival, just a few events over the first weekend of October to whet your appetite for next year.  Phil, being Phil, fancies the Pun Run,  “the only pun and wordplay-based comedy club in the UK”, I also think this sounds interesting but it happens to be on a day when I am away.  However, if we want to keep up the comedy vibe then ” An evening with Mark Watson” is the way to go.  He’s not a comedian I know but it sounds like he is also a prolific writer so we could have a laugh and learn some stuff too.

Have a look, there might be something you fancy.

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