Jane Tulloch, who has recently published her first novel, ‘Our Best Attention’ delivered a talk this week. Taking place at Blackwell’s, it was hosted in conjunction with ‘Edinburgh: City of Literature’, which was very fitting given the plot of the book – set in a well-known Edinburgh department store in the 1970s, the book will surely be relatable to many. There is something distinctly familiar and local that extends to all elements of the book, including the innovative way in which Tulloch published her novel – publishing it with the help of ‘Comely Bank Publishing’. Based in Edinburgh, this publishing house was set up to promote up-and-coming authors from the city. On a small scale, the publishers are attempting to revolutionise the way in which the world of publishing works, with benefits including copyright remaining with the author.
The influence of this small scale publisher is beneficial on more than one level. This was evident on the night, which was co-hosted by publisher Gordon Lawrie. What was particularly pleasant about the evening was the way in which, implicitly, the close nature between author and publisher was made clear. That Lawrie was present at the event is significant; what was even more endearing was the way in which the pair seem to work together with such vivacity – it was apparent that Lawrie was incredibly involved in the process of writing the book, and the repartee between the pair was responsible for many laughs on the evening. Together, they provided much insight into the perils of publishing: from deadlines to the rising cost of printing, I left well-informed. This was where the benefits of the evening ended. I fall under the category of people who greedily devour information about an author before reading a book. However, I felt a little disappointed about the amount that the author revealed to the audience. Despite being prompted with interesting questions about favourite authors and the difficulties of writing, Tulloch’s answers were brief. Perhaps I have a romanticised image of the process of writing, but I expected to be able to gauge a little more passion from Tulloch, which may have left me more excited to read the book (which I will be reviewing shortly).
There were some enlightening comments made; including the semi-autobiographical chapter about Tulloch’s own retail career – which I hope will relate to my own often disastrous experiences – and a section about an Asperger’s character, a nod to Tulloch’s previous career in the NHS. The jury’s still out on the success of the book, but, given the opportunity to have such close interaction with the author, I expected to be feeling much more excited about reading the novel than I currently do.
Image by Tom Morris