Penzance Writers’ Cafe was delighted to welcome David Coubrough, author of the locally set crime novel Half a Pound of Tuppeny Rice, to Writers’ Café on Wednesday September 14th.
David, who has always felt an affinity with Cornwall, started writing at the age of 57 after attending a course at the City Lit, Covent Garden. After his course, David armed himself with a copy of the Writers and Artists Year Book and a good supply of determination: ‘whatever you’re doing,’ he told the group, ‘you need to believe in yourself. If you do, then there is a good chance that someone else will’.
David explained how he struck lucky with his publishing firm, Peter Owen, outlining the publishing process and how the firm had chosen to market him as an author and to emphasise his previous career. There was a good deal of discussion about marketing, and the relative merits of a local cover image (which risks the book being categorised as “cheesy”, opportunist, Maurier-lite etc) and a generic “noir” design as chosen by david’s publisher.
But it’s once the books are in the warehouse, apparently, that the work really starts and with gentle humour David revealed the less-than-glamorous life of the newly published writer; book signings do not necessarily attract a shopful of eager punters, and of the three people who turn out to hear you speak, one may be fast asleep and another have a broken hearing aid…
As well as shifting over half of the initial print run of 2000 paperbacks in five months, which is in line with publisher expectations for a first novel, David has sold a number of e-books – but he pointed out that these generate little income for authors. There has also been some interest from a TV production company, and their requirement that a sequel must be in place before they proceed must be the most stirring of incentives. But motivation, of course, has to come from within. ‘There has to be something compelling you’ said David. He has certainly had his share of discouragement, which he discussed with a striking openness and lack of rancour – the first publisher who turned out to be a time waster, his agent’s breezy opening gambit ‘of course, you’ll have to re-write it’, and a fellow author’s even less flattering response. It seems that aspiring authors certainly need a fair share of resilience, but the agent at least went on to give some useful ‘tricks of the trade’ – such as using hooks as chapter endings.
We would like to thank David for giving so generously not only his time and attention, but some sample copies of his book for group members to enjoy. David is a superb manager of plotlines, and helps the reader to keep tabs on a large number of characters, so Half a Pound of Tuppeny Rice has plenty to offer those of us grappling with the production of full-length fiction quite apart from sheer enjoyment.
Now, David – on to that sequel, and we will have stories to tell our grandchildren of how we met the author of the top TV blockbuster of 2026.
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