Category Archives: Writing

The New Pup at Bloodhound

A lot has happened since May, and what follows is a resume of those two months.

The latest CSI Eddie Collins novel, provisionally entitled The Death of Jessica Ripley continues to gather dust on the shelf here in the Writing Pad. I began it in March and blitzed through the first 25k words feeling excited and looking forward to seeing how Eddie handles his latest crisis. I can’t wait to get back on with it because it has the potential to be the best Eddie book I’ve written to date.

So why have I stopped writing it?

On the 19th May, I wrote this:

Bex stood on the back step looking at the door. It was open.

She never left it open. Billy never left it open either. The only time this door was unlocked was when they were going through it.

I wrote that and the subsequent fifty thousand words (to date) because I had begun negotiations with a publishing company called Bloodhound Books. They’d seen and liked the Eddie Collins books and wondered if I could create something entirely new, a standalone, just for them. Because I love a challenge, Dancing at the Devil’s Door (provisional title) was born.

It is far removed from my usual work. I had lost my lead man and his cast of supporting characters – I felt alone for the first time since Eddie came into my life around 2004. Thirteen years is a long time, and Eddie and I have grown to know each other pretty well, so being without him now is like setting off on an adventure without your best friend accompanying you.

Instead I’m travelling with a woman, Becky Rose (note the name change). I thought writing her would feel forced, but I needn’t have worried because writing a female a lead, this female lead, feels comfortable. Becky took some getting used to though, like meeting and working with a new person does in real life – for me anyway.

 

As I mentioned, there’s no sign of Eddie Collins anywhere in Devil’s Door (he’s furious!), in fact there’s no CSI involvement at all in this book; they don’t even warrant a mention. The police are featured in the book, of course – it’s a crime thriller, but not in any great depth, more on a personal level than a professional one. No, this book focuses entirely on its protagonist, Becky. And despite the early sample above, it’s now in first person.

For those of you who’ve read the Eddie Collins short stories, you’ll know I like to play with first person writing, but had always been afraid I couldn’t sustain it for an entire novel. Think about it; the writer cannot stray from inside that person’s head. He can only describe what she sees, hears, feels, and experiences; there’s no hopping over to a secondary story line to see what’s going on there either. It’s intense, it’s almost claustrophobic, and it’s extremely personal.

Bloodhound offered a contract based on the first two chapters (still in first draft!) and a hastily prepared synopsis of the rest of the book. Even the synopsis has a story: I didn’t have one – a synopsis, I mean. I usually write my books on the fly with no idea where they’re heading. I’ll stop half way through and try to make sense of what’s happening and where the story should logically go, but I didn’t have that luxury with Devil’s Door. So I had to think a long way ahead and consider how it might pan out. And having a scene list to follow has been a good thing for me; it’s allowed me to crack on with the writing rather than pause and consider too much.

I’m still buzzing about the chance of working with the people at Bloodhound – they have a splendid reputation. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll keep you posted (hopefully a little more promptly next time). Whatever happens, I’ll be back on Jessica Ripley very soon.

 

The Note

Coming soon, The Note.

“Sarcasm and black humour, action aplenty, this is a winner.”

I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed writing CSI Eddie Collins’ new short story. Well, actually I can, and so I shall. I wrote The Lift in 2015 and got a kick out of my first real attempt at writing in first person. After the launch of Ledston Luck earlier this year, I thought it time I revisited a short I’d written at the back end of 2016. This became known as The Note.

“There is a lot of dark humour in this which had me laughing aloud.”

I enjoyed reading it, and was quite fired up by the whole story-line, and the characters who come out to play with Eddie.

I made some amendments – made the ending less abrupt, and generally tidied it up. It’s twice as long as The Lift, and for me it’s twice as enjoyable.

“Power-packed, explosive introduction to Eddie Collins.”

Back in 2015 I found the whole idea of writing a short story daunting. It’s very different from writing a novel, having to keep your eye on one character and keeping the arcs short, the focus tight, and the theme in mind, really concentrates your mind. Add to that the complexities of writing in first person and you get an instant buzz.

The Note is jam packed with drama, hard hitting and often brutal scenes, twists and turns abound make this a highly charged story.”

And so, it seems, have many other people. I sent it to my readers last week, and the response has been nothing short of phenomenal. I’m really grateful to them; they have given me the confidence to think about next year’s short, and removed any doubt I had that people don’t like short stories.

“The story was gripping, the emotional turmoil facing Eddie was palpable throughout. You felt the tense nervousness gripping him over the few short hours the story covers. The dialogue is believable, clear, without affectations and not contrived.”

Friday 5th May 2017 – launch day.

BBC Interviews, February and March 2017

Being interviewed via email is so very easy, and I really enjoy them too! I have time to think about my answers, about how I’d like to come across depending upon the tone of the questions.

But in February, BBC Radio Leeds contacted me and asked if I’d like to do an interview on the radio! No way could I refuse – how often does a request like this land in my inbox? But, if truth be known, I wasn’t looking forward to it. As well as email interviews, I don’t mind one-to-one questioning; in fact I quite enjoy it. But speaking to an audience of thousands on the air! I was petrified.

But then I relaxed a little because it was a pre-recorded interview. I could make as many blunders as I liked and none of them would ever make it out alive. As it turned out, the lady interviewing me, Gayle Lofthouse, was a true professional, and she kept the nerves at bay.

It was a short interview, but I’m very grateful to her and BBC Radio Leeds for the chance to speak with her.

Here’s a link to the Gayle Lofthouse show. I hope you enjoy listening to me squirm!

But if I was petrified by a pre-recorded interview, imagine how I felt when I got an email asking if I’d like to appear on the radio live! Andrew Edwards’s producer contacted me with a view to doing a live interview on the 6th March, for his Book Hour show.

My nervousness steadily increased. And so did the bad case of man-flu I was suffering from too. It became so bad that on the 5th I had to ring and cancel – I could barely speak. All those sweaty palms were for nothing. The BBC though were very understanding, and we re-scheduled the torture for the following Monday – right before I was due to start work. I’d have to take my uniform to the studio with me, and drive like a madman in order to get to work on time.

Bear in mind that I talk gibberish (my lady, Sarah, calls it wobbly-gob!) when I’m under pressure, and you’ll understand why I get so giddy on air during my time there. I was terrified, and sometimes when I’m terrified I’m liable to break out in the odd bout of swearing. And this thought just added to the terror.

I needn’t have worried too much though, as Gayle before him, Andrew was a consummate pro, and he guided me along quite nicely. You might notice that he threw in a low-baller right at the end, and I was flummoxed; couldn’t think straight and so I said the first thing that came to mind, and wish I hadn’t. Tom Cruise? Really? Sorry, Tom.

In fact, the interview went so well that, while he was playing some music, Andrew asked if I’d like to extend it. He had a pre-recorded interview with another author lined up, but said he’d play that another day. I’d never get asked this kind of question again, and so I agreed, knowing I was in real danger being late for work.

So the ten minute session turned into twenty-five minutes. But that didn’t make me late for work. What did make me late was that I’d forgotten my boots, and so I had to drive home for them anyway. Tut.

Here’s the link to the Andrew Edwards interview.

Note, these files are very large. Google will give you the option of downloading them in order for you to listen them.

The End of Ledston Luck

I have a feeling of déjà vu.

I’m at the end of a book. I’ve finished the first draft, finished the second draft where I check the story, tighten it up, ditch the stuff that the story doesn’t need, and add bits where it needs reinforcing. I’ve finished the third draft where I check the spelling and the grammar. And it’s been out to several key readers who spot the deliberate mistakes I left in for them to find. Fourth draft is in the bag.beak-1294093_1280

Now it’s ready for the cover and for the blurb. As if by magic, they’re now ready too. Would you like to see it, the blurb? You would? Oh, how wonderful! Here it is:

They say you can always trust a copper. They’re lying.

They lied thirty years ago and they’re still lying today.

A booby-trapped body in a long-abandoned chapel. A scene examination that goes horribly wrong. CSI Eddie Collins and DI Benson are injured and one of the team killed. Eddie is heartbroken and guilt-ridden. And angry.

To find out who the killer is, they must first discover the motive. Their breakthrough comes when two young burglars disappear in the village of Ledston Luck. Eddie picks a fight with the wrong man, and is suspended from duty. But he can’t let go of the investigation. He finds the secrets behind a thirty-year-old murder and comes face to face with the killer – on the wrong end of a shotgun.

But this is where the déjà vu ends. In the past, whenever I’ve released a book, I’ve just hit ‘publish’, folded my arms and sat back in the chair, watching. People who’ve waited for them have read them and enjoyed them – I know this because they were kind enough to leave a review telling me so. And that’s been the end of it. I got back to writing a new story, hoping the next one would take off in more spectacular fashion.blog-1616979_1920

Ledston Luck is the fourth CSI Eddie Collins novel, and this time I’m more hopeful of achieving that ‘spectacular’ release. Over the last few years I’ve become friends with some wonderful book people: writers, bloggers, and book fans. I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel that they’ve all come together to help me release Ledston Luck with a bit of a bang rather than a damp whimper.

I still have no idea how those bloggers and readers will receive it, but I live in hope that they enjoy it – it’s why I do it. It’s why every author does it.pants-1255847_1280

Normally when I reach the end of a book, I have a hollow feeling inside; something like sadness, something like a loss, like I’m missing something. Is it homesickness? Kind of, I suppose. It’s something I can only assuage by starting another story, right back at square one. It’s a sickness, but not an unpleasant one. With the imminent release of Ledston Luck, that hollow sadness isn’t something I’ve had the time to feel. No doubt it’ll hit me soon, and then I’ll begin looking around for more situations to dump Eddie into – I know he’ll thank me once he reads this.killer-820017_1920

A Glorious Month

This post is by way of a small update really, rather than anything earth-shattering. I thought you might like to know that A Long Time Dead has finally been made perma-free by Amazon UK, a year or so after it went free in the US. This has been great news for fans of ‘the old’ trilogy featuring SOCO Roger Conniston.

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As of writing this post, 9500 people in the UK have downloaded it on Amazon, and a further 3000 or so on Apple. This has planted it within the top 5 in the Crime and Police Procedural charts, and overall it has fluctuated from being just inside the top 20 to where it sits now, which is 45. Happy? Bet your arse I’m happy.nerd-155841_1280

It’s seen a sudden spurt of reviews (mostly very good), and more importantly has prompted downloads of the other two in the series; Stealing Elgar and No More Tears skyrocket to somewhere approaching the sales figures they constantly enjoyed four years ago.

The knock-on effect hasn’t stopped there. The new series, featuring Eddie Collins, has also seen a decent resurgence, but less so than Roger’s.

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Another snippet worthy of note is that I’ve finally finished the first draft of the new Eddie Collins book, Ledston Luck (that’s still a working title). I’m very excited by this because I’ve managed to wangle in a couple of very curly twists that I’m quite proud of. One of them is… Oh wait, that would be a major spoiler so I’ll shut up.

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The New Book – Ooooh!

I’m working on the second draft constantly (great, except my reading over the last year has suffered tremendously), and once it’s done, I shall be firing it out to a couple of trusted readers.

Also finished, apart from a firm title (I know!) and cover art is The Note, another Eddie Collins short story – quite a hard-hitting one. And I’m resurrecting an old short from a couple of years ago called Any Old Iron. It’s not a crime story, it’s more of a horror story really, and that’s for Betsy from Bloodhound who’s compiling an anthology for release later this year. It needs a polish, but other than that it’s ready to go.

My only concern as Ledston Luck (and The Note) draws to a conclusion is how to release them.nmt99ptext book-1468463_1280

The last Eddie Collins book I released fell into a black hole. I happen to think that’s more down to my marketing skills rather than it being a bad story (it ain’t!), and I’d hate for Ledston Luck to follow suit. place-name-sign-1647341_1920There’s talk on the wire of a mailing list and gathering together a team of people to help with book releases, but as I already said, marketing is NOT my strong point. So… well, I’m at a loss as to what to do. Hopefully I’ll think of something soon.

Scene Structure

Today I was asked if there is a specific purpose behind the structure of my novels, specifically The Third Rule and Black by Rose.

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Yes. There is.

And you have to bear in mind that although I’m on my tenth novel, I’m still developing – and I suppose I will until I turn my toes up. But anyway, the theory behind the short scenes in The Third Rule was quite simply to break up some very long chapters, and to allow me to move back and forth between characters and their circumstances while remaining inside a chapter.

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Black by Rose is a different story; it’s shorter, punchier, sharper, not so much of a deep insight into each character’s story, more a smash and grab. And that’s down the scene structure. I used scenes inside chapters this time to keep the narrative flowing, and to keep the reader on their toes. It’s a method I also employ in the latest book, Sword of Damocles.SoDFrontCover26.5.16

Overarching those theories is one other reason I use scenes like that: because that’s how I visualise the story. I like films, and I like how the director cuts between scenes and characters, sometimes settling on one for just a second or two. That’s how I see their story unfurling, and that’s also how I see mine. I spent four or five years writing screenplays, and the scene breaks are crucial there. I’d like to say that my novels’ structure is down to script-writing, but it’s not; I was writing books long before scripts.

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As I work to eventually write shorter chapters (really working on that with the current project, Ledston Luck – and it’s a hard habit to break), I’ll keep on with the scenes and the sub-scenes because they work for me as a writer, and I’ve heard nothing negative so far from readers.

If you’ve read any of the books mentioned here, or any of mycharlie-chaplin-392926_1920 earlier books featuring Roger Conniston, how do you feel about the scenes and even the sub-scenes? Do you like them, helps break things up, or do you hate them because you lose continuity?