Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pompomberry House

Title: Pompomberry House
Author: Rosen Trevithick
Author's website: Click here
Available on Amazon (including Kindle) and other sites

Gist of the book as available on GoodReads:

A writer's retreat seemed the perfect chance for Dee Whittaker to take her mind off her marital difficulties.

However, she meets five of the most hideous writers ever to have mastered a QWERTY keyboard, and her problems quickly multiply. Things escalate further when the handyman winds up dead.

After fleeing from the island, Dee attempts to get her life back on track but begins to notice that something strange is going on. The stories written on the island are coming true and hers is next - complete with a murder.

Her estranged husband makes an unlikely sidekick as the two of them try to stop the literary copycat killing an innocent woman.

Packed with topical references, Pompomberry House provides a satirical look at the emerging world of indie publishing.

My views:

Over the past one year or so, I’ve been interacting with Indies a lot. Be it via GoodReads – or rather various discussion groups in GoodReads, on LinkedIn groups or email interactions while agreeing to review or god forbid – not review their books.

Fortunately, most of the Indies I’ve interacted with are kind, generous, creative souls, willing to learn from each other and share their knowledge. Only a few whom I encountered had the most pompous egos ever seen and a critical pin-prick could have them shoot from their chair up in the air like a wailing balloon, designed to screech as it soars upward and slowly deflates.

Dee, the main protagonist in this book and an Indie to boot, is not as lucky as I am. Hoping to run off from a chaotic personal life – rather a jobless, careless husband who refuses to grow up, she heads off to a writer’s retreat pretty much in the middle of no-where. If being glared at and mocked at by evil sea-gulls wasn’t enough, she finds herself surrounded by larger than life whackos, who presumably are gathered here to let their creative juices flow and pen an anthology.

If Dee hasn’t read their book – she just isn’t well read, if Dee doesn’t lust for one of them – well something must be wrong with her. The book is dripping with humour and is an enjoyable satire on Indies, it is replete with fearsome critics and Kindle book review groupies.

Dee is one of the first arrivals at Pompomberry House, where the retreat is being held. She anxiously waits for others to arrive and lustful, well presented Annabel, who has splashed her photograph all over the cover of her book is the first Indie she meets. Her claim to fame? ‘Falling for Flately’ is a number one best seller. “It got to the top of Welsh contemporary romantic suspense fiction priced at under two pounds for three hours.” When Dee asks what the book is about, she learns it is about a girl who falls for a man called Flately. The twist in the story – Flately is her boss. “Otherwise it would be so boring,” explains Annabel. The others arrive, some of them, like the handsome Rafe prefer to make a grand entrance - each of them, Dee included, are well-conceived characters bursting with Indie pride.

They settle down and the workshop begins. Each of them pulls out a piece of paper from a hat stating something about someone in the group. Predictably, they have to guess who that person is. Dee picks up a chit that reads: I die tomorrow! Biff, the care-taker dies. Dee flees from the island, even as the others decide to hush up this murder. Unfortunately the police do not believe her.

The wild carnival ride continues, as the stories in the anthology begin to come true (Dee’s contribution was published without her knowledge and is in first draft, but let me not digress). So, a pig jumps over a cliff (it is rescued), a marriage is staged for a garden gnome with a China doll, a human foot is washed ashore and Dee gasps as she realises the story she had contributed is about a murder! There are darker stories contained in this anthology, will these also come true? Will the murderer stop at nothing, just to prop up the book sales of this anthology (and yes, sales are shooting up). The only person Dee can turn to is her estranged husband – Gareth.

The author in this well written satire spares no one, not the egoistic Indie writers, nor the self-acclaimed critics (some of whom live to criticise), nor the overzealous forum members. Adding an element of whodunit provided the right measure of spice. An enthralling read, but my Indie friends (and that goes for me – perhaps a wanna be Indie author) do need to have the ability to laugh at some hard truths cleverly captured in these pages.

I would say it is a must read for all Indies, or at least for those who have a sense of humor. Non-Indies will also enjoy this book.


1) What inspired you to write this satire? How have majority of the Indie authors who have read your book reacted?

Like you, I’ve experienced a lot of interaction with Indie authors, particularly in forums. As you point out in your review, most self-published authors are pretty gentle, but we do have our flaws. I could see that those flaws were ripe for mockery.

Interestingly enough, Indie authors, reviewers, and the types ridiculed in the book, have enjoyed it the most. Perhaps because they can easily relate to the characters and recognise traits belonging to people they know or even themselves. Feedback from people who aren’t in publishing has been more mixed.

2) Who is your favourite character in this book?

It’s so difficult to choose. I think Dee is probably the most tolerable but she really is the best of a bad lot. Rafe Maddocks was very enjoyable to write.

3) Where do you think the Indie scene is headed? What would be your advice to an aspiring Indie author?

Thanks to the rise of Kindles and other e-Readers, as well as the introduction of low-risk print-on-demand services, it had never been easier to self-publish. With so many ‘big names’ having risen to success without the backing of a main stream publisher, the public are really beginning to recognise that talent and a publishing deal are not synonymous. This means that, as more and more talented Indies hit the headlines, readers will become increasingly willing to take a chance on books by other Indies.

My advice to aspiring authors is to maintain faith in your work, no matter how many knockbacks you get. Keep up to date with new developments in technology and promotional opportunities. Network with other authors and readers and always keep your cool, even if you meet an Enid Kibbler.(Note: Enid Kibbler was the critic in this book who tore apart each book and every Indie author on review forums)

4) Which book are you working on right now?

I’ve just sent a copy of my new novella to Text Mender for proofreading. It will be published just before Christmas and will be available exclusively to Kindle. It’s a much more serious book than Pompomberry House, exemplifying my other favourite genre : psychological fiction.

Source of the photographs: Downloaded from Flickr and used as per the terms of Creative Commons License


Susan P. Cooper said...

I love this review. The book sounds absolutely delightful, one worth reading. I plan on downloading it tomorrow. With our eBook now done, I could use a good read and this one would definitely fit the bill. :)

A.K.Andrew said...

Thanks for another great review Lubna. As I started to read the synopsis, my first thought was that I don't usually like reading books about authors and their writing struggles. But as i went down it seems that , as you say it's bringing out some uncomfortable truths, and giving some insight into the indie world, which needless to say I'm interested in. I too have found most indies to be helpful and supportive.

Catarina said...

Interesting book Lubna. Never even gave the issues it is about a thought.

Am sure it's correct that when authors get together like that it brings out uncomfortable truths.

Great review and intervju!

Krystyna Lagowski said...

You're right about it never being a better time to publish, with all the self-publishing options available. But it also makes the field so much more competitive. In a way, it's good because there are fewer politics involved - it's a buyer's market. And when writers get together, oh boy, the fur can really fly. Thanks for bringing this awesome read to our attention!

Destination Infinity said...

I have only been a blogger, so I don't have much idea about Indies. I might want to write a non-fiction book one day, but I have no clue on what to write or whether I'll be doing it at all! Who knows, I might just end up writing one autobiography after 30 years and nothing else! :)

The story of this book seems interesting, but I am not sure how the author has made such a plot, fun to read. Maybe I should try reading one of these books!

Destination Infinity

Scott said...

Great Interview. It's clear you have had a lot of experience working with Indie's, and while some might say it shouldn't affect your opinion of them as a writer., I've found that people who are more open and curious and willing to check out other people's ideas are better writers, and the closed minded ones seem to have writing that reflects that quality as well.