The Swirl: More Than A Tour

November was a special month for me.

I travelled with a ragamuffin band of creatives to Scotland, France, Spain and England. We called it The Swirl; a tour where I had the privilege of talking about my new book, Paradox. My not-so-great acting abilities came into the spotlight as I attempted to emulate how Dickens delivered his Christmas Carol readings. The one glaring omission - I didn’t dress up in fancy clothes.

And November was a special month for me because…

I stepped outside my comfort zone into a world I’ve worked hard to avoid for many years — the public stage. I know how easy it is to believe my hype and, paradoxically, at the same time doubt my ability. This tour helped to remove some of those fears.

But November was also a special month for me because I was part of a group of dreamers who ‘made good art’

Together.

I like my own world; the Andy universe. It’s safe, covered with all the stuff I’m familiar with. But art is not designed to be controlled like that. Art dismantles the frame in which we see the world. And this was true of my experience on The Swirl.

The Swirl logo is an illustration of a campfire; a fitting image. At every event, we all brought our individual logs of creativity and placed them on the fire. As the flames danced into the night sky, something magical appeared.

The embers.

These small lights of dreams, hopes, sacrifice and questions, leapt into the sky. To follow each movement is impossible, because their individual journeys blend into a collective dance, swirling higher and higher into the unknown. Out of sight. But still floating. Their adventure, just beginning.

This is the paradox of art — life beyond sight.

We are connected.

For the better.

(Ps: a documentary is coming out next year, until then, here are a few little insights into this crazy time).

https://www.youtube.com/user/daveerasmus/videos

https://www.youtube.com/user/georgeholliday123/videos

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Andy Smithymandickens, Paradox
A Carol Type of Success

 

To all you creative dreamers out there.

Charles Dickens paid all expenses for the production of A Christmas Carol. He expected the initial profit to be about £1,000, but because he insisted on expensive bindings and illustrations, the first 6,000 copies brought him £230. The earnings for the following year - £744.

It may not have produced a triumphant monetary return, but the Carol became a story which changed the world.

Andy Smithymandickens, thoughts
Personal Touch

 

In just under one week my book, Paradox, is officially launched and the pre-launch discount ends.

For those who have already purchased the Hardback, thank you. It’s been a great encouragement as I venture down this Path of reimagining how to publish.

The publishing world continually encourages any dreamer to fit into a template model of production and distribution, usually motivated by cost. Although the Paperback and eBook of Paradox is fully immersed within that model, the Hardback is walking a different adventure. I’ve tried to keep true to the authentic tale of the story, from sustainable material to moral choices around production and delivery. But there is one part of this adventure I have yet to speak about.

The personal touch.

The personal touch is unscalable. It requires cost. Time. Capacity. And this month, I have faced that challenge head-on. Did I think through all the implications of writing a handwritten note with every purchase? Is it worth the energy to package the book in a bespoke way or frame any public presentation to bridge the gap between author and reader?

The answer to these questions and many more is yes!

This book is more than a story bundled inside a red cover. It’s my attempt at allowing the story to shape every part of this adventure. I have no set map or easy template. Only trust. So once again, thank you to everyone who has supported this dream, regardless of any purchase.

And for those who still want the book at a discounted price before its release. Order this week at www.andysmithyman.com.

A mysterious adventure awaits...

 

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Andy SmithymanParadox, new book
Why Not

 

I’m halfway through the month-long Swirl Tour. As with any journey, no matter what you plan, the very nature of its travel is the open invitation for the unknown. The surprise. The adventure.

And this tour is no different.

It’s a precious thing to have a platform to display your craft. But to remain focused upon that platform distracts the eyes from the deep, vibrant beauty of what’s around.

Pablo Picasso said that “Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”

This tour has, and still is, giving me the privilege of spending time with creative giants. Giants, not necessarily in the form of perceived fame and acclaim, but giants of spirit, imagination and compassion. In their unique ways, public and hidden, they have committed themselves to reveal the beauty within this world. In the words of Neil Gaiman, they are making ‘good art.’

And I’m humbled.

Inspired.

With friends.

We all can make ‘good art.’ In our home. With our family. How we raise our kids, work with colleagues and walk with each other.

Imagination into reality.

Why not.

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Andy Smithyman
Pre-Orders are now Live

The nervous moment has arrived...

Pre-Orders for my new book, Paradox, are now live on my website!

I have no idea how this book will be received. Does the story hold up? Will people like the design? The questions can seem never-ending. Occasionally overwhelming. But last week, a friend told me it was time to enjoy this moment. Celebrate. Follow this crazy adventure. It was good advice.

Looking at the finished product, it’s a book I’m really proud of. The creative team did a fantastic job. We didn’t get to do everything we dreamed of (that’s for the sequel), but what we did do is worthy of shouting about.

The Special Edition hardback looks and feels beautiful. It has an Iris Cloth cover. The uncoated cream paper (made from wood procured from sustainably managed sources) compliments the nature of the story. Ollie Mann did a fantastic job with 18 black & white illustrations.

The hardback retails for £20, but you can pre-order the book during November for £15.50. As a bonus, you will also receive the eBook version of Paradox for free!

Alongside this, there are a selection of signed prints (12x16inch) available to purchase (for those who like the idea of The Twins staring at you over the dining room table).

The paperback and digital versions are released internationally on 01/12/18 from most retail distributors.

One final thing. I’ve wrestled with the best way to approach P&P, from sustainable packaging to a delivery method which doesn’t take advantage of workers. Finding cost-effective solutions is difficult. I may not have found all the answers, but I did make a few decisions. When you purchase the book from my website, you have two options on P&P.

A flat fee of £2.50 for any order under 2kg.

Or.

Free customer collection.

Enjoy Paradox.

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Collaboration

Paradox has my name at the bottom of the book. But as with any story, the creation is rarely from the author alone.

Collaboration is at the heart of this book. Every aspect of the content, design, production and promotion carries the fingerprints of many lives. As I begin to take this book onto the public stage, I will get a chance to tell a few stories about this crazy journey.

And then something else will happen.

Paradox will morph into a tale I have no outline for. That’s the beauty of stories - they are never the exclusive right for the author alone. The reader crafts the next chapter. Collaboration leads to the unknown. Uncharted. The mysterious world of imagination.

An adventure.

For us all.

Pre-orders go live in a couple of weeks with a few special offers. Until then, I have linked below a sample of a three chapters for you to enjoy. You will see a couple of illustrations by the artist Ollie Mann. His artwork took Paradox to a different level.

There are eighteen drawings inside the Limited Edition Hardback and Paperback. (Psst... The Hardback also has a few extra surprises with it).

Hope you enjoy the chapters.

www.bit.ly/paradoxsample

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Andy Smithyman
It Matters

Be Bold.

Be Rebellious.

Choose Art.

It Matters.

(Neil Gaiman: Art Matters)

 
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Andy Smithyman
The Value of the Journey

 

“It is no paradox, surely, to assert that the road to a famous and beautiful place is in some mysterious way a part of that place.”

(G. Troutbeck: Rambles In Florence)

Who would have thought such wisdom could come from Mills & Boon.

 
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Andy Smithyman
Paradox Blurb



I’ve written a book, but what’s it about?

The short version… Paradox is a re-imagination of A Christmas Carol with a bit of Stephen King thrown in.

As for the extended version... well that’s a different tale to tell and one that reveals an inner conflict.

When it comes to the promotional material for Paradox, I have a struggle. One side of me knows that a carefully worded blurb will capture some of the searchable keywords and phrases that potential buyers type into their favourite shopping site. My other side then calls out the illusion and spin for such exaggerated hype. Do I really need to use so many superlatives in my blurb then draw upon comparisons to famous authors?

Frustratingly, the answer is both yes and no.

I find it all too easy to make this book into something it’s not because Paradox represents more than just a few years work. Part of my identity is wrapped up in its creation. I want people to read the book. Enjoy it. Talk about it. Make me feel that the years have been worth it. Because of that, any hack to get it into the sightline of people seems reasonable. And that’s where I could lose the very thing I’m holding onto with every ounce of my being.

Honesty.

Vulnerability.

Reality.

Below, is the blurb going up on my website, book sites and various databases. It’s evident that I’m drawing upon a few tricks of the trade, but I’ve also attempted to hold onto the reasons for writing this book. Have I succeeded in finding that balance? We’ll see.

 
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A love-stained memory haunts Samuel Abrahams. Locked away, with chains of shame. All it takes is a postcard to turn his world inside out. And a message from someone he's worked hard to forget.

"The Twins are here. The Twins are real. The Twins are right in front of you."

Paradox is an inspiring re-imagination of A Christmas Carol. This page-turning adventure travels between present day and Victorian Britain, as a mysterious shadow flings Abrahams into an unknown but strangely familiar world. The place he calls home, London, has transformed itself into the living stories from Charles Dickens. But nothing is what it seems in this richly layered thriller.

Dan Brown introduced the world to Da Vinci's hidden code. In Paradox, the intriguing web of Dickens is revealed. Behind every tale from the Victorian author is a clue as to why Abrahams has the feeling of Déjà vu. He doesn't know who to trust as he weaves through the provocative back-story of Oliver Twist. A familiar character from Hard Times has a disturbing look in their eyes, and a card dealing Fun Fair owner from The Chimes carries an unspoken fear. As Abrahams pieces the clues together, he uncovers a twisted game that is as old as time itself.

And a message.

From Dickens.

"The Twins are here. The Twins are real. The Twins are right in front of you."

Paradox is more than just a Fantasy Thriller. It's a Social Thriller.

This compelling tale shows the Dickensian landscape of poverty and social injustice is still in existence today. Education, Welfare, Housing and Healthcare are just some of the themes connecting the Victorian world to the present day. But leave all assumptions aside. The message from Dickens carries a surprising twist for the world today.

Perfect for fans of James Patterson, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman - Paradox brings similar pace, imagination and brilliant characterisation to the page.

(Released: December 2018)

Andy Smithyman
A Confession

 

I've written a book. 100,000 words, give or take a few paragraphs. It comes out at the end of 2018 in Hardback, Paperback and Digital form. Although the book has taken 3 years to write, it's a product of a 30-year journey. 

This is a different kind of book for me. I've ventured from the comfortable world of non-fiction into the unnerving landscape of fiction. It's been an exhilarating and challenging ride, testing my imagination to the limit and then beyond. 

Writing is a vulnerable process. My words sound like a work of art when I'm the only one to hear them. But the real test is when that manuscript is laid down for others to read. No hype. No excuses. No biased lens. A small group of people have seen the text, their input crafting something more beautiful than my own hands could ever do. And in a few months, another layer of my heart is displayed. General release. 

Vulnerability is crucial for me. I'm a better person when I drop all the facade that modern-life and my head encourages me to hold onto. The temptation is to hype this release, make it into something that it's not. But I don't want to do that. Yes, I'm going to have fun with the promotion, but I'm also going to be faithful to how this book came about. 

Over the next few months, I'm going to lay out the journey of this book as it goes into print. There will be a few surprises, tales and unanswered questions. Along the way, I'll open up about the design process and what you will get if you decide to buy the book. And maybe, there will be a few lines about my hopes, fears and insecurity. 

This book has introduced me to The Twins. I don't know where they are going to take me or what I'm going to see. But I do know this simple truth. 

The Twins are here. The Twins are real. The Twins are right in front of you and me.

Andy Smithymannew book