In this blog I share the novel experience of being the subject of a photoshoot to produce images for marketing purposes, especially the forthcoming The Lighterman due out 8 June.
Bizarre, but lots of fun!
In the last few months I have been doing signing sessions in bookshops and talks to various groups about the Charles Holborne legal thriller series, and how my family background and my life at the Bar have affected the stories. Unsurprisingly, bookshops aren’t keen on authors accosting customers, so even when a shop can be persuaded to give you a slot, you’re often sitting at a tiny table at the back of the shop. Many authors only sell two or three books in an afternoon. I do have an enormous advantage over most authors in that I can wear my court robes and wig. Standing in a bookshop dressed as a barrister certainly does raise eyebrows. I’ve been mistaken for a dummy (I assume as in “Madame Tussauds” not as in “stupid” but who knows?), a cardboard cut-out and a vicar (?!) but attracting attention is only the start; I then have to launch into a long complex explanation of why I’m in court dress, the fact that I am a barrister and an author, the fact that my books involve a barrister anti-hero and so on. So my publishers and I decided that we needed some posters which told the whole story; a picture is worth 1000 words, right?
Gordon Tant, a very talented local photographer was brought in. The concept was mine: Charles is an ex-boxer and ex-criminal with an East End past and a West End profession, so Charles needed to be shown as a barrister but with hints at his violent past. A lockup perhaps, boxing gloves…maybe a shotgun. Everyone liked the idea, but we had no budget beyond the photographer. In return for free books my local coach repairer let me borrow his lockup, and further enquires turned up a policeman who owned a shotgun – and he was willing to lend it to us and attend the shoot so we didn’t need to apply for a new licence. But a model? Professional actors and models were prohibitively expensive. So I found myself playing Charles Holborne. Holborne is a fictional character loosely based on me and my experiences. Now I was being photographed playing my own fictional hero, who is based on me. Very odd. I’m not sure who is being shown in these mean and moody photos: me dressed as Charles? Charles dressed as me? Me dressed as Charles, based on me? In any event, what do you think?