Local author extends her fund raising for breast cancer research
Since August, Marlborough author Grace Conti has been donating royalties from her novel Through an Icon’s Eyes to Breast Cancer Research. She had planned to end this generous fundraising at the end of October, coinciding with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, instead she’s extending it until Christmas.
This is Grace Conti’s debut novel, and with steady sales she hopes to increase her fundraising by catching people who are given Kindles and iPads over Christmas.
Grace explains, “In recent years a shocking number of friends and neighbours have been touched by this insidious disease. The day I decided to publish my novel in Amazon's ebook format I received the news that another close friend had been diagnosed – so donating the royalties seemed the right thing to do."
“ I know people who run marathons for charity, but I haven't got the stamina for that. The best thing I can do is offer practical support through friendship and hope that sales of my book result in a significant donation."
Through an Icon's Eyes is a magical story of love, heresy, murder and betrayal. Set in 1440s Europe against a turbulent background of inflammatory politics and religious divisions. Benedict Paston a former sundial-maker, is lost to the world. His self-imposed exile in a remote monastery is relieved only by the task of painting an icon.
As the hours of devotion mark the progress of one day in his monastic cell, escape from self-destruction is brought about by the painted image of Mary Magdalene. Meanwhile, in England, Annie Carter, a young widow beset by visions and facing death, finds that she too has an unusual guide and confessor as the light and shadows mark the progress of her day in a very different cell .....
Grace explains the background to her novel: “The historical research really took the time, it is the cusp between the medieval and the renaissance periods when Europe was teetering on the brink of dramatic change.”
“The story of Benedict & Annie began to unfurl the more I read, although it wasn't until I went to Greece on holiday and stumbled across some fifteenth century icons in a little Church that the character of Mary Magdalene joined the story and the novel took shape. She is their confessor, therapist even. It’s a story of two people who misunderstand their intentions and let that destroy their relationship. A little bit of magic helps unravel their story.”
The rising popularity of the ebook is gradually changing the face of publishing, an industry that’s dominated by large corporations which hold sway over bookshops and readers. Writers like Grace Conti have chosen to remain in control of their work by using Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing.
Grace has found the process fascinating: “I had always thought the only route for a writer was to find an agent and hope they can sell your work to a big publisher. I knew that my novel was difficult to pigeon-hole, they like genre-specific books and these days it seems to be more about authors’ personalities rather than their actual work.”
“I was given a Kindle earlier this year and I was very dubious to begin with. Like so many people I love holding a book in my hands, but the more I read the more I enjoyed it. It is great to be able to take a whole library on holiday with you, or on the train.”
“Publishing for Kindle was easy. Just a case of formatting it correctly, designing a cover and away it went. My partner designed a website to go with it and I created a facebook page ... I even tweet excerpts of the book."