It lives! (on publishing The Dust on the Moth, plus launch party news)

Me oh my, what’s this?

Unpacking 4

Okay, so I look like an overenthusiastic, spinsterish librarian, but never mind that. Look at what I’m clutching in my scrawny claw! Yep, it’s The Dust on the Moth. In the flesh! Isn’t she pretty?

To recap, The Dust on the Moth was a manuscript of mine that got picked up by Bees Make Honey, pimped up with photography and illustrations and then crowdfunded through an intense but successful Kickstarter campaign. And now, after months of editing, proofreading, laying out and polishing, the book has been printed and is real. As exhibited below.

Unpacking 8

One of the fundraising campaign’s main angles was our commitment – in an age when almost everything is digitalised – to producing something lavishly tangible that could be held in the hands, probed by the fingers and treasured on shelves and coffee tables. At the time the statement felt partially like something said out of principle. But now, with the result of our efforts actually existing as a physical part of the world, I’m reminded of the joys of something as (deceptively) simple as a lovingly designed hardback.

I feel proud to have been a part of this, and am genuinely humbled by the superhuman effort Bees Make Honey put into making the book so special, and by the generosity of the backers who funded its production. Putting the book together involved an unbelievable amount of work (just ask Dan, the book’s designer and a faded husk of the man he once was), and there were giddy highs and queasy lows and late nights spent editing, bubble-wrapping and gnawing at fingernails. But it was a sweaty labour of love and gratitude, and I hope our backers are happy with the result. I know we are.

Many years ago, some unsung boffin calculated that a picture paints a thousand words. So, to save me from more writing and you from more reading, here are 6000 words’ worth of images from The Dust on the Moth.

More information on the book and on how to get hold of a copy is available here.

One last thing. We’re having a launch party for The Dust on the Moth at Nottingham’s Creative Occupations Bureau on the evening of 5 March. If you’re in the area, pop in and join us for booze and cake. Hope to see you there!

The results are in: The Dust on the Moth has been funded!

Well who’d have thunk it… We actually did it! Bees Make Honey‘s Kickstarter campaign met its target! It even became a Kickstarter Staff Pick and Featured Publishing Project on the way. And now we have the funding to make this preposterous a dream a preposterous reality. Power to the people.

11032240_10153164598046764_52418847_o

Not that I’m going to pretend it was a walk in the park. A whole month of boring your friends and begging for money wasn’t exactly a bag of fun. And then there was the nail-devouring finale! Crikey. Being involved in a Kickstarter campaign is one of the most harrowing, agonising and exciting things I’ve ever done. I nearly threw up on several occasions towards the end, I swear.

11063105_10153162580746764_1109708779_n

But it paid off, and now – thanks to the support of our wonderful pledgers – we have the funding to produce The Dust on the Moth and its accompanying soundtrack. Over the next few months we’ll be putting the story through two more rounds of editing, preparing more photos and illustrations, and then squeezing the lot into an exquisite hardback cover. On top of that we’ll be finishing the soundtrack, printing posters and further refining our awkward silences (one of our quirkier pledger rewards). We’re going to polish and polish until the whole thing dazzles with strange brilliance. We owe our pledgers that much.

The book is scheduled for publication in November. If you like beautifully ornamented literary fiction that gives two fingers to genre, have a gander and maybe even treat yourself. That way, as the nights grow long and the frost begins to settle, you’ll be deeply absorbed in a feast for the eyes, ears and fingertips (and even the nose, if you’re showing that quirkier symptom of the digital age).

If you’re interested in finding out a little bit more about the project, here are some very kind words from Mary Corcoran on the significance of The Dust on the Moth and our supporters’ part in it.

Cheers!
Darren

dotm-cover-dec-2014

The Kickstarter campaign for The Dust on the Moth is Go Go Go!

Pretty slick video, if I say so myself. I’m biased, mind. Did you spot the Lionel Richie mug that says “Hello, is it tea you’re looking for?” Pure gold.

So, following my last post, I’m very excited to announce that the Kickstarter page for my book project with Bees Make Honey is live:

www.kickstarter.com/projects/beesmakehoney/the-dust-on-the-moth

Yep, you heard. It’s LIVE!

I won’t waste your time by blabbering on about the project. It’s all in the video above, and if a picture paints a thousand words, this video paints eight thousand and twenty-three (I did the maths).

And talking of a thousand, we’ve not had a bad start. We raised over a grand in just two days – that’s 20% of our target. But we still have a long way to go, and if we don’t meet the five thousand pound target by 1 May, we get none of the money pledged and can’t produce this multi-dimensional slab of beautiful strangeness called The Dust on the Moth.

That’s why I’m getting onto my knees, kissing the tips of your toes and asking that you have a look at the page, share it, get involved, spread the word and – if you like the look of the book – maybe even treat yourself to one of the many delectable rewards on offer. The success of this audacious campaign depends as much on exposure as on offering a lovely piece of audio-literary-visual oddness. The success of this campaign depends on you.

Thanks for having a gander, and feel free to get in touch.

No Buts – A Literary Oddity Finds a Home

(or: How Bees Make Honey Pimped My Novel)

glyph

Once upon a time I wrote a story. Well, two stories. Or maybe three…

Anyway, however many, they started doing interesting things. Even though they were very different, I kept spotting common themes, images and motifs. The stories started merging together, and quite naively, I left them to it. I didn’t think about implications, target audiences, markets, genres. I just thought I’d see what happened. I ended up with a novel called The Dust on the Moth.

I remember the first time a literary agent showed an interest in The Dust on the Moth. She gushed a little in her emails, and then invited me to meet her in London. I couldn’t believe my luck. I was pumped. I booked a train ticket without hesitation. On the day I ironed a shirt and put on my lucky boxers. I was ready for destiny. And then, over an overpriced cup of Earl Grey, the agent – who was lovely, by the way – told me that she really liked the book but found it a little intimidating, and wasn’t really sure what she could do with it. I nodded politely and smiled with clenched teeth.

Fair dos, I thought. That’s just one agent. Plenty more fish in the sea. But other agents who requested the manuscript did the same: ‘It’s a great book…but perhaps a little too offbeat for the market.’ ‘Very strong imagery…but it’s a tricky book to categorise.’ ‘A refreshing concept…but it seems to fall between genres.’ And so on.

So I couldn’t help wondering: what’s the point? I’d tried to write something not only entertaining but also ambitious and original. I’d given three years to it. So why bother? What should I have done instead? Should I have watered myself down? Should I have been more generic? Would I have been better off writing about a young wizard who uncovers a Catholic conspiracy while getting gimpy with a sexy vampire millionaire?

It was disillusioning. I became jaded and bitter. I started shouting at kids in the street, kicking old ladies’ cankles, pushing prams down stairs. Eventually I found the strength to move on and write other things, but the bitterness of The Dust on the Moth lingered like the aftertaste of vomit in my mouth.

illustrations trio

And then came a minor miracle in the form of Kirsty Fox – miscreant megamind behind Bees Make Honey and one-woman creative industries empowerment machine. She chanced uponThe Dust on the Moth through Panspermia Press, and wanted to make it the next project for Bees Make Honey’s publishing arm. I met her at the Gladstone in Carrington. ‘But it’s too offbeat,’ I stammered. ‘Genres… Pigeonholes…’ Kirsty didn’t care. She saw all of the agents’ ‘buts’ as strengths. She wanted to publish it because it was different and because she liked it. Simple as. That’s how Kirsty works. The girl’s got balls. Figuratively speaking.

It was refreshing. It restored a lot of faith. My eyes had been opened to the integrity, passion and freedom of the DIY publishing scene. I was overjoyed. I started being nice to kids, helping old ladies cross the road, visiting injured babies in hospital. I was shitting rainbows.

So we got to work on polishing the story. Kirsty lent me her editor’s eye and I learned a lot about dialogue tags and thinking even more carefully about readers. As the story started to refine itself, Kirsty began to feel that it deserved better. She shone the Bees Make Honey signal into night sky and Dan Layton and Phil Formby came abseiling in through the windows. It was amazing to watch how, in their hands, The Dust on the Moth slowly evolved from run-of-the-mill ebook to lush multimedia objet d’art, complete with illustrations and photography. And with time, even that wasn’t enough; online and musical elements started to take shape. Exciting times.

photo trio

And then, another ‘but’. How were we going to fund such a lavish product? The answer was crowdfunding through Kickstarter. We felt optimistic that we were offering something unique that people interested in literary fiction/art/photography/curios would be interested in backing for a piece of the action. So we ploughed on. It was just like the A Team, except with less flame throwers and more cans of Red Stripe. It wasn’t long before The Dust on the Moth had taken on a life of its own. It’s no longer just a story. It’s no longer just mine. It’s a genuine collaboration – a one-of-a-kind, living, breathing, beautiful monster.

I’m chuffed that The Dust on the Moth has found a home with Kirsty and the lads – not only because it resonates so well with Bees Make Honey’s spirit, but also because I’ve had the opportunity to work with a nifty team of nerds I could almost call my friends. Almost.

Right. Enough about me and Bees Make Honey. You can find details of the Kickstarter campaign here. Have a gander. Get involved.

Over to you.