Tomorrow Pamplona – On Tour!

It’s great to see Tomorrow Pamplona receiving positive attention in the British press. Author Jan van Mersbergen has been keeping track of the reactions on his website.

There’s also been very nice feedback on Twitter and from bloggers. Peirene Press are even coordinating a blog tour for Tomorrow Pamplona – Jan and I popped into a number of blogs to perform one-question gigs. It’s all very rock ‘n’ roll! You can find the tour programme on the Peirene website. The latest gigs are at Notes from the North and The Hungry Reader.

We also had some fun with the very short short-story/road-movie competition on the Peirene Press Facebook page.

Peirene set the following competition, with very strict conditions:

GIVEAWAY: Heading towards publication June 6th of Tomorrow Pamplona: A story about a boxer, about the bullrun in Pamplona. But also a road movie in book form. 4 of the 5 chapters take place in a car. Here is a picture of a car that features in the book. Give us your own road movie in three sentences (less than 30 words). Laura Watkinson, the translator of Tomorrow Pamplona, will choose her best and a runner up. The winners will receive a copy of Tomorrow Pamplona with a personal dedication from the author, Jan van Mersbergen.

I then had the very tricky task of selecting the winners. Here’s my… ahem… award-ceremony speech:

We have our winners! These submissions present some fantastically evocative road-movie scenes: the mother driving in her bra, the doofus, the flexed thumb, the tears of joy and who knows what else, the cod-Kerouac American, the passing Passats, the ocean, the silence, the tape deck, the catalyst for adventure and death. ‘Point car north’ and ‘man, machine and nowhere to go’ both suggest the start of an epic journey.

They were all great entries and I’d like to thank the nymph for the entertaining task of viewing this gripping programme of mini-movies. If Peirene’s tales are ‘Two-hour books to be devoured in a single sitting: literary cinema for those fatigued by film’, these pieces are two-minute literary snapshots to be consumed in a single gulp. So quick to take in, but not so easy to assess…

Of all the submissions, I felt that ‘A car, two guys…’ developed those literary snapshots into an elevator pitch for a full-on road movie. I admire the way the writer (who is it? I haven’t yet allowed myself to peep at the names…) adhered to the strict conditions of the contest (three sentences, no more than thirty words) and actually turned these limitations into an advantage. It’s terse and it’s tense. It packs a punch, then another punch, and another. Lots of action, even more suggestion – very Jan van Mersbergen.

My second choice has to be ‘My bitch, Banner…’ Why? It’s a powerful image, of course, but, even better than that, it’s a shaggy dog story. And everyone loves a shaggy dog story.

So I’ll just whizz down the FB page and check out the names of those winners…

And… *clears throat* … the winners are: Jamie Bulloch and Donald Gardner! Well done, both of you – and thanks to everyone for the fast and thrilling rides and reads.

Here are the winning very, very short road movies:

Jamie Bulloch: A car, two guys, the Stones, some dope, no plans. The road, the heat, no words, the past, bad blood. A chick, a lift, a fight, a knife, more blood.

Donald Gardner: My bitch, Banner, was in the driving seat. My intelligent four-footer, shaggy paws round the wheel in the early-morning M25 traffic flow. There’s a first time for everything, I thought.

Both deserving winners!

So, there’s a lot going on for Tomorrow Pamplona right now. It was a fine book to work on and it’s fascinating to see other people’s reactions to the story, both in the press and online. The social media aspect has made the whole translation and publicity process really interactive and stimulating. How wonderful to be able to reach out through your computer and talk to other people about a book you’ve worked on, while still sitting at home at your desk, with a cup of tea!

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