Twitter divides my friends into two camps – like Marmite, they either love or hate it. I admit to joining the Twitterati party reluctantly, after author Judy Darley assured me that every British crime thriller writer just had to be there. Luckily – as I was totally clueless about Twitter – I booked a training session with social media guru David Massey, and never looked back. For me, it’s become every bit as addictive as the cigarette smoke wafting through my first thriller, Up In Smoke. Quite simply, it’s a great way to get connected with a friendly and helpful network, not to mention a highly efficient newswire. If you want to know what’s hot in business, fashion, fiction, films – just look at your Twitter feed and see what your network’s talking about. I follow nearly two thousand interesting people, and I’ve set up some special interest lists as well – like fiction writers in Birmingham and Bristol, the two cities closest to my heart. I also join in a few specialist hours on Twitter. If you’re not sure what they are, type #BrumHour, #TheCultureHour, or #1pmlunch into the Twitter search engine, and you’ll soon find out! I recommend all three that I’ve mentioned. #BrumHour is dedicated to business, food and fun in the buzzy city of Birmingham, #TheCultureHour majors on the arts, while #1pmlunch is top chat for those of us lunching al desko. They’re all really supportive too.
That’s the networking and news, but what about inspiration? Obviously, I follow quirky news stories, but more than that, if the well of inspiration is running dry, my Twitter friends ride to the rescue. Writing latest thriller, The Bride’s Trail, I hit a brick wall. I wanted a really stunning setting for a shootout, and I just couldn’t imagine one. Posing the question to the friendly folk on #BrumHour, I was soon overwhelmed with great ideas. A couple of people suggested the semi-secret Anchor tunnels, a Cold War network that extends under Birmingham’s City centre, and also the handsome Jewellery Quarter next to it. It was just what I needed to write the complex and fast-paced story that became The Bride’s Trail, my latest thriller.
Hard-headed business fold among you will be asking: can Twitter give me sales? Yes, undoubtedly – I’ve made friends through Twitter and some of them have bought my books, just as I’ve bought great products as well – but for me, it’s primarily a social medium and a way of networking with friendly people.
If you love Twitter too, please follow me – I tweet as @AAAbbottStories. You might enjoy #BrumHour, #TheCultureHour, or #1pmlunch as well. If you’re not tweeting right now, why not dip a toe in the water? See you on #TheCultureHour!