Archive | September 2013

Book launch: the speeches

Professor Alan Durant introduced the book and the author (images of self and from book):

The second file is my speech added to some slides (thanks Mike Cambray) taken on the day:

Some photos of the informal part of the launch (thanks MikeH, Angus, and other friends):

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‘Its a hill, get over it’ is launched

Prof Alan Durant introduces the book and the author

Prof Alan Durant introduces the book and the author

During the evening a continuous loop of slides was displayed mingling images from the book with scenes from my ‘hill’ activities over the years. See the slides here.

It was a very successful launch of the book.

Thanks to Sandstone Press and Middlesex University for their contributions to the evening. Some 50 people attended, with over 30 snapping up individually signed copies of the book. After we had cracked some wine, the proceedings continued with Prof Alan Durant laying out some of the background to the book, and to the author. Then I took the stage to tell a little more about the gestation of the book. It was also a great opportunity to thank some of those who had helped on along the way.

There was an issue with the videoing of the two speeches, and only the audio track was rescueable. That will be in next posting, along with a set of photos taken of the event. Meanwhile here is a taster [quality alert] that a friend recorded of part of my speech on their phone – which is now on YouTube.

Book launch today

photo 5

The book launch takes place at Middlesex University tonight. Have been on tenterhooks as the books hadn’t arrived. So this morning there was great excitement in the office when the courier delivered copies. Here is the author proudly holding a copy freed from its packaging. After all this build-up it is nice to actually see a finished copy. I must say Sandstone Press have done a marvellous job in producing the book. Now to face the audience at the launch, and then await the first feedback and also any reviews as they appear. [NB: Kindle version is now available]

How I wrote ‘It’s a hill, get over it’

So, if you read the previous blog posting about why I wrote the book, you will realise it was just a tease at the end, as it obviously got accepted by some publisher or other. However, it has to be said that I was fully expecting a rejection over that first application, and then a long round of further rejections. But to my huge surprise the commissioning editor at Sandstone Press said “we are interested and my concern would be with the narrowness of the subject. I would hope to see it extended into more general fell running, its history, characters and events.” Even then it was not an acceptance. Swallowing any pride I might have had, I thought about it and decided to re-write the synopsis to encompass this change and re-submitted it to them. The response this time was “Thank you for such a thoughtful and positive response to my comments. Sandstone Press would indeed be interested in this book. Do it well and I am very confident that we will accept it.” So, positive but still no deal. With hope in my heart, and still no idea if I could deliver, I set out on researching the revised manuscript on 13 June 2011. In December 2012 the first draft of the manuscript went to the publisher, and was reviewed anonymously by their ‘reader’. Three days before Christmas I received an acceptance email (with a list of changes in style, emphasis, etc from the review) and a draft contract. The rest as they say is history. It has taken another 9 months to finish the text, make the changes, source the photos, get copyright approvals, edit, proof-read and agree all the peripheral stuff (cover design, index, etc). It is coming out in hardback and Kindle editions.

Over two years of researching and writing then, all in my spare time. The work flow turned out to much more random than I expected. Having revised the synopsis I now had a new set of chapters to work to. Initially I started working on the chapters that I had good leads to ideas and material for. On a family holiday in summer of 2011 I spent some very fruitful time in the public library in Kendal searching for secondary sources. I had now compiled an ever increasing list of books, articles, leads, etc to follow-up. A request to the FRA to be granted access to the archive of Fellrunner magazines fell on stony ground. A series of email exchanges included the statement that “the prospect of yet another book about fell running is not welcomed and the FRA Committee will not wish to co-operate in providing assistance. ‘Feet In The Clouds’ did no favours to the sport.” This remarkable rebuff did not stop me. Fortunately friends, and friends of friends, managed to supplement the copies of the magazine that I had in my possession, and research and writing continued apace.  Networking with others in and around the sport produced many leads and connections. I was deliberately looking for a different pitch to both Studmarks on the summits, and Feet in the Clouds (both of which I acknowledge as trail blazers) so left them on my shelf and resisted referring to them, unless to check facts. My first saved draft manuscript file is dated December 2011 and it ran to 28,000 words (roughly a quarter of the end result). By now I was expanding my research and writing some of the more difficult chapters. As well as exploring more of Kendal’s excellent library resources, I was checking obscure book sources at the British Library and also press articles at the Newspaper Library (conveniently just down the road from where I work).

I soon decided that I wanted some personal perspectives as counterpoints to the historical stuff. Serendipitous openings gave me the opportunity to secure interviews with some significant players in the sport. My idea was to try to get to talk with a spread of runners that matched the themes of the book, and this all started falling in to place. By now I realised I was searching for my own ‘style’ of writing. So, it was time to show someone else and get some feedback. A first critical friend gave me some excellent feedback on structure and emphasis, and pointed out some of my most blatant writing quirks (which obviously weren’t SO blatant to me). A tidy, a re-shuffle and on I went. Later my second critical friend viewed the working manuscript and advised that their might well be more of ‘me’ to bring to the piece. Overcoming a reluctance to expose my modest fell running achievements to scrutiny I took this point on board. I think the end result is better for it, being a three-stranded story – the history of the sport, inter-weaved with reflections from some of the major players, and interspersed with some experiences of mine. As part of the process of content review and checking all the interviewees were sent the sections about themselves and corrected these where necessary. Sarah Rowell corrected me on a number of matters as part of her review, prior to agreeing to endorse the book. Various other correspondents also commented in places where they had expertise. It is with great sadness that I particularly acknowledge help in that way from John Blair-Fish – who passed away this last week. I had never met him, but he was very patient in pointing me in the right direction over certain matters in the early days of the FRA, particularly the Scottish aspects. So, thanks to all those who have helped me reach the point where the book is to be published in less than a week, and is available to order. Any errors that remain are mine, and mine alone ……. Now for that awful anticipation of the first reviews.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning
The end is where we start from

T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding



Only two weeks to go to the book’s launch now, and the excitement (well mine anyway!) is building, as I wait for my copies to arrive. Sandstone Press have today put out a press release which contains these fine words:

“If there was a prize for ‘Most Imaginative and Amusing Title’ this month’s beautiful release, titled as above, would probably take it. Steve Chilton, a dedicated fell runner of many years standing (if standing is the right word) has produced the first and definitive history of his sport. He has delivered a beautiful text, to match his great concept, and added to it a brilliant photo section, tables, records, and interviews with the great runners of past and present …….. [It is] one of the most impressive of all our titles, a ‘must have’ for all fell runners, all runners generally, and all lovers of the Great Outdoors from Ben Nevis to the Lakes and beyond.”

It is possible to pre-order from Amazon, and I understand from the publisher that a good number of copies have been ordered already. Co-incidentally or related I am not too sure, but they have recently reduced the priced even further. Whether this is a good of bad thing for me as an author is a moot point.