Would the real Peter Jones please step forward

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Back when my agent was shopping How To Do Everything And Be Happy around the UK publishers, there was some talk about whether or not I should change my name to avoid confusion with the other Peter Jones who, whilst equally tall, is often described as being more dragon like, and has a tendency to arrive at venues in a helicopter.

Sharing a name with a celebrity has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand people rarely forget me. I’m Peter Jones. Like the dragon. Like the shop. Memorability is a useful thing when you’re an author. On the other hand, journalists have this annoying habit of getting VERY excited about the possibility of an interview… and then lose interest just as quickly when they realise I’m not a billionaire, or a regular face on prime time television.

It’s a little like I offered you a five quid, and you thought I said five-hundred quid. When you realise I meant a five pound note you might feel ever so slightly let down. You might politely tell me to keep my cash. I want to say, “it is still cash you know!” but neither you and I are the actual people in this scenario, and nobody’s talking about cash.

Even amongst readers there’s some confusion. I occasionally get emails along the lines of “so you’re not the real Peter Jones then?” (am I somehow not real). And at a book signing back in January one lady came up to me, asked for the book to be made out to her son – and then promptly told me that he was doing my business course at college (I just nodded and smiled). Then a couple of weeks back, when I popped along to Author Della Galton’s latest book launch, one of her readers (who was clutching a copy of How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim) exclaimed “Wow! You’ve written a book with Peter Jones! Will he be here today?” When Della pointed out that I was standing right behind her there was that awkward moment of confusion that I’m beginning to expect when I’m introduced to people.

It occurred to me that a little re-branding might be in order. Time to tell the world that there’s another flavour of Peter Jones available, and like any branding exercise, give people some sense as to what I’m about. With this in mind I had some new author photos done.

Reaction has been mixed. Most have reacted very positively. Others… less so. I feel that I’ve stuck my head above the parapet somewhat. But then I suppose that was the point.

I’d be interested to know what you think (though try to keep in mind that I’m a human being, with actual feelings, armed with a delete button…), and even more interested if you’ve got a similar experience of your own to share. Use the comments box below.


You can see more of the pictures from the shoot on my facebook profile

Music, to write to

 

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The internet is a wonderful place.

For instance, the other day I came across a ‘poll’ of Thirty Two people (I know!! Thirty two people! Not exactly extensive, or statistically viable, but bear with me…) that posed the following question important question:

When writing, what would you prefer to hear in the background?

Here are the fascinating results:

Loud music with vocals – 6%
Loud music, instrumental only – 3% (ie. one person!)
Music, but unobtrusive – 21%
Normal background noise – 15%
A quiet room/house – 40%
Silence (earplugs) – 12%

For me it’s a complex question – because the music that I have playing in the background is an essential part of my writing process. For instance, there are a number of scenes in my novel (The Good Guys Guide to Getting The Girl – find out more here) when poor old Jason manages to screw up another promising relationship, or where his affections aren’t reciprocated, or where he feels like he’ll never meet the girl of his dreams. Writing these scenes could be a challenge, particularly if I wasn’t feeling that way myself, and unlike some authors who seem to live in a permanent dream-world where their characters seem so real to them that they no longer have any control over what they say or do, writing for me is more like theatre where I play every part. For this reason I usually need something to help me get into character, and music is the fastest way I know.

Here are some of the tracks I listened to (over and over) whilst constructing those heart breaking scenes (and if I’ve done this properly some of them link to youtube where you can listen for yourself)

A&E, Goldfrapp
Photos, The London Metropolitan Orchestrafrom the movie ‘Cashback’
Things You’ve Never Done, Passenger
Suzy, The London Metropolitan Orchestra – ‘Cashback’ again
Driving With The Brakes On, Del Amitri
One True Love, Semisonic
Now Comes the Night, Rob Thomas
Elevator Beat, Nancy Wilson from the movie ‘Vanilla Sky’
Wise Up, Aimee Mannfrom the movie Magnolia
My Stupid Mouth, John Mayerawesomely funny, sad song. Judging by the comments of YouTube, some guys feel about this song the way some girls do about the movie ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’
Drawing, The London Metropolitan Orchestra – ‘Cashback’ again!
In Your Arms, Kina Grannisa fabulous lovely song, but really quite sad. The video is amazing but seems to me to be totally at odds with the mood of the song.

Notice that quite a few of them are taken from movie soundtracks. Movie soundtracks are a great source of mood inducing music (much of it instrumental) because, obviously, that’s the point of the music in a movie.

Likewise, for the scenes where it seems like Jason might be winning, where a new girl enters his life, or a date goes particularly well, maybe even really, really well (if you know what I mean), I came up with a selection of songs to get me jumping around in my chair, my pulse racing, or whatever else was needed to give the scene the necessary ‘ka-pow’

Toxic, Britney Spearsregardless of what you might think of Britney, this is a great song
Would You…?, Touch and Go – very sexy
God Put a Smile On Your Face, Mark Ronson
Must Be Dreaming, Frou Frou – this song makes my heart feel like it’s going to burst
The Sweet Escape, Gwen Stefani – whereas this one just makes me smile and smile 🙂
Come What May, Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor
Let’s Get It On, Marvin Gaye
Lifeline, Imogen Heap – I prefer the instrumental version, the lyrics tend to get in the way when I’m trying to write
Oh Yeah, Yello

So, good people of the internet, I’m interested to know whether anyone else does anything similar? Post your comments in the box below! Looking forward to reading them.