Lockdown Fiction is a blog series, curated specially for our States 2021 festival. We’ve asked 4 authors to reflect on the experience of bringing out a book with an indie press in the middle of a pandemic.
We continue with Drew Gummerson, whose latest novel was published by Bearded Badger Publishing Company in November 2020. Not only was Bearded Badger setting up business as a new indie press in the midst of lockdown, but Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel was their debut title. So no pressure.
Since its release in November 2020, at the height of a global pandemic, Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel has been compared, amongst other things, to Adrian Mole, the writing of Joe Orton, the TV shows Bottom and On the Buses, Albert Camus, Alan Partridge and Charles Bukowski.
It is only after the writing of it that I’ve become aware of my influences.
I wish I could sit down with a plan and write a certain kind of book.
But I can’t.
With me it’s all happenstance, chance, blind typing luck.
Of course, talk about nature and nurture, but we are what we read.
My dad had the collected works of James Thurber lying around. I loved the simple, hilarious drawings the most but we all have a little Walter Mitty in us. The Beeb have recently repeated Reginald Perrin. Who could forget poor Reggie, fantasising about his mother-in-law the hippopotamus, and ravishing Joan, the secretary?
But it was Reggie himself, like my anti-hero, who came off the worst.
Of course there are other hotels, motels, flop houses.
In Vlautin’s Motel Life, after a terrible accident, two brothers set off across America. The only thing Antonio, working the desk at nights in a seedy Barcelona hotel, has going for him is a resemblance to Frank Sinatra. (The Lonely Hearts Club, Raul Nuñez.) And then there is John Fante’s marvellous creation Arturo Bandini, skid row resident, worrying where the next dime is coming from while dreaming of being a literary sensation.
Don’t we all?
Well, not me…
I wrote Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel with no intention of publication. I’d had an agent once, a big publisher once, but that was a while ago.
Finding Bearded Badger Publishing Co. was serendipity.
It was on twitter that I saw this new East Midlands publisher was setting up. There was some back and forth between me and Paul, Chief Badger. We liked the same books, Vlautin, Bukowski, Brautigan. So when they opened for submissions I thought why not?
You can find Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel, (now in its 2nd print-run) for sale in Bearded Badger’s online shop at £10.00.
Our next Lockdown Fiction Blog will feature Anne Goodwin and be published on 21st April 2021.
Don’t miss our LIVE festival event in which Bearded Badger editor Paul Handley joins a panel of small presses to discuss Indie Publishing: Building the Comeback. Book FREE tickets for this event starting 10am on Sat. 24th April.