Life is quietening down a little a month after publication of If I Die Before I Wake, but there’s still plenty of good stuff going on.
At the end of last week I went on air with BBC Radio Jersey to chat about the book – with a little help from Jersey library they have chosen it for their book club this month. Have a listen to that interview here – from about 1hr 32mins.
Then there was a lovely surprise as Jeff Noon reviewed If I Die Before I Wake for The Spectator. He really seemed to get what I was trying to do with the novel.
“In the darkness of the stilled body, this is a novel which glows with life.”
Jeff Noon, The Spectator
In other news, a “collectible” version of the book has appeared for sale on Amazon – a signed first edition for £30. As I told all of you who bought a copy at my launch – they’ll be valuable one day! Ha!
I woke up to the first day of February and some amazing news – If I Die Before I Wake was an Amazon bestseller!
With a great deal running at the moment – the e-book is 99p on Amazon – the sales of the book have had a really good week, and it peaked at number four in the Amazon fiction chart. It was also number one in the Kindle crime thrillers chart for a while.
Isis Publishing – who recorded my audiobook with Finlay Robertson reading as Alex – interviewed me to celebrate its release.
Find out about my writing routine, writing snacks and childhood nickname…
I had a great email this morning from a reader in Brisbane (hi, Carmel!) who has put If I Die Before I Wake forward for her Book Club next month.
She wondered if I could send her some questions for discussion during their meet-up. I didn’t have any prepared, but I’ve had a lot of fun thinking up some this evening.
I thought I might as well post the questions here, too, in case you’re reading If I Die Before I Wake for your own book club. I hope they get conversation and debate flowing (unless your book club is really just about drinking wine and having a chat, in which case, carry on!).
If you have read the book and have any other suggestions for the kind of topics or questions you would want to discuss, please feel free to post in the comments below or email me.
Here are the questions (NB. POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT! I don’t give much away here, but you might want to read the book first…):
- Which character in If I Die Before I Wake would you most like to meet?
- How did Alex change through the story? How did your opinion of him change?
- How did you feel about the ending? Was it a surprise? Was it what you wanted to happen?
- Alex rarely sees anything, and when he does it is distorted – so he doesn’t often talk about people or current events in a visual way. Instead, he uses his other senses to describe what is going on. How did this affect the way you pictured the scenes of the novel?
- Which character(s) did you suspect of having tried to harm Alex? Why?
- Alex often copes with the challenges of his condition by retreating into his mind, into imagined worlds – perhaps most noticeably at the very end of the novel. What did you make of this? Do you believe in ‘mind over matter’? Have you ever had any experience of mentally overcoming pain or discomfort?
- Although the events in the novel are fictional, the kind of decisions Graham and Philippa face about Alex’s future are considered every day by families out there in the real world. What makes it particularly difficult for them is that they don’t have a clear idea about what Alex would have wanted. What would you want to happen, if you were in Alex’s situation?
- Alex talks about all the things he would do if he could live a ‘normal,’ healthy life again – eat a bacon sandwich, run through the streets in the rain… what are the simple pleasures you enjoy the most (or take for granted)?
- Different characters have different opinions about whether Bea should consider moving on and finding someone new. What do you think about her situation? Should she remain loyal, or consider her own future more selfishly?
- If you could ask the author of this book one question, what would it be?
I’ve just been sent the cover design for the Dutch translation of If I Die Before I Wake – I’m so excited to see the book in another language!
Als ik doodga voor ik opsta is out next month, and it looks like you can buy it through my publisher’s website here (although I have little idea what it says on this web page, to be honest!).
Als ik doodga voor ik opsta – by Emily Koch
This is quite a special moment, as Prometheus, my Dutch publishers, was actually the first publisher to buy my novel. We hadn’t heard back from any UK publishers when the lovely Job Lisman at Prometheus made an offer to my agent. To have that first publisher say, “Yes, we love it and we want to print it,” was a magical moment in my career as an author. Thank you, Job & Prometheus!
It has been translated into Dutch by
The sales figures are in for the first week of If I Die Before I Wake being on the shelves and I’m thrilled to say that it went straight in at number 18 on the hardback fiction chart… making it a top 20 bestseller!
More than 1,400 hardbacks were sold – a fact that I am still trying to get my head around. Thank you, if you were one of the people who bought it.
Another fantastic week for If I Die Before I Wake!
Obviously, there was the launch of the hardback version of the book, and the wonderful party that went with it – but this week has been great for many other reasons, too.
The Bristol Post very kindly featured an article about the launch party in the paper the following day – it was lovely to be supported by the paper I worked at for eight years. My old editor Mike Norton also tweeted this photo of him buying a copy of the book. Three years ago, when I handed my notice in so that I could focus on writing If I Die, he surprised me by saying that he thought I could get published. Someone having faith in you at that stage is invaluable, and I’ve never forgotten it.
It has taken me a few days to recover but I wanted to say a few words about last Thursday.
If I Die Before I Wake was finally launched on January 11 as a hardback – and what a day it was! I had already started receiving messages the day before from people saying their copy had arrived via Amazon, and it just continued from there.
It has been more than three years since I left my job to focus on writing this book. It took 18 drafts. God knows how many hours. I can’t believe it is FINALLY out in the wild!
It’s been a busy week in If I Die Before I Wake land.
The e-book was released on Thursday – a week ahead of the hardback release on January 11. Book bloggers who received preview copies have been uploading their reviews to Amazon and I’ve been blown away by their comments. As I write this there are no less than 74 reviews – I’m so grateful to you all for posting them, and for taking the time to read the book and post on your own blogs about it.
Thanks to Bristol 24/7 for this interview in their January edition (and online).
I chatted to my former Bristol Post colleague and Bristol 24/7 editor Martin Booth about writing If I Die Before I Wake over pancakes and a cuppa.
The illustration is by Bristol artist Anna Higgie, who I collaborated with on my Feathers and Fur exhibition in 2016.
Read the interview here.