Monday 6 June 2016

Tommy Donbavand: Learning From the Best

by Jo Wyton

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article for this blog about the usefulness of finding a good network as a writer. Not long after voyaging into the world of Actually Talking To Other People, I signed up for a writing retreat (which you can read an article on here). I don't really know what I was expecting, but I do know that I turned up on the first night a bit of a trembling mess, really. I recall a room full of people sitting on the floor listening to a talk on building a platform (I think. The nerves really were terrible. It might've been a talk on koala bears for all I would've noticed.)

Mostly the nerves were because I hadn't really met many published authors. I had met some at the end of teetering signing queues. And I think it's fair to say that some of those had ended with me nearly getting 'Never Meet Your Heroes' tattooed on my forehead, but quite frankly my forehead is big enough without calling further attention to it. 

This particular writing retreat had as its Writer in Residence a certain Tommy Donbavand. It was a great few days - cake, wine, writing - but my favourite moment was something unrelated to the main business of the retreat.

This is Tommy. See? Serious Business.

This might be a good time to point out that this article is a little different from those that normally appear on this blog, but it's part of something Big. Important. Put That Piece Of Cake You're About To Eat Down And Pay Attention Important. Because Tommy has cancer.
And he needs the support of fellow writers.

And he didn't turn out to be terrifying, after all. In fact, he's one of the nicest bloody people I have ever met.

My favourite moment of the retreat? Several drinks into Saturday night festivities, along with another published author, we retreated into one of the classrooms to... that's right - gather around Tommy's iPad to watch Doctor Who. That's right. Doctor Who. And it was an AWESOME episode.

But what was important was that Tommy invited me in. Made me feel like being a Published Author wasn't an exclusive club. Not an unreachable dream but a much-dreamed-of reality. 

He also, incidentally, introduced me to somebody - the other published author staring at the iPad, waiting for the internet to reconnect in time for the big reveal at the episode's end? He's now my other half.

Tommy shooting Tim Collins (said other half) with a balloon crossbow. Because cakes and wine can't keep you entertained forever.

So I have quite a bit to repay Tommy, you see. This blog isn't much of a way of doing that, I don't suppose, but I do genuinely think that meeting Tommy played a big part in my existence as a writer, and I'd only encourage others who haven't spoken to many published authors to seek them out. They were once dreamers, too, and they're really very nice (the occasional signing queue aside).

And if you feel like supporting Tommy, who's had to give up the school visits that sustain him financially, you can do one of three things:

1. Buy a copy of Doctor Who: Shroud of Sorrow (which is, naturally, brilliant fun for kids, with a few serious bits thrown in - reviewed here)

2. Enter one of the fabulous competitions being run. You can win TONNES of books. They will appear on some of the blogs, which are listed on the image at the bottom of this blog. The first one can be found here.

3. Visit his blog. Join his Patreon scheme, where you sign up to loads of 'how to write' content.


(Yes, I know I said three, but it's a good one.)

4. Leave a comment on his blog. Offer some support on Twitter or Facebook. Or just raise a glass to his continuing brilliance and friendliness and to your own dreaming. Go on.


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