Saturday, 19 August 2017
Friday, 18 August 2017
Sunday 23 July was a big day for me because the third book in my DI Hamilton series, Deadly Friendship, was published. I thought my emotions would be far more contained than they were - not only was this my third book in the series, but, in total, it's the fifth I've published, so I should be used to publication day, right? Wrong! I've realised my nerves build the more I write ... and I'm sure many authors feel this. We're constantly in competition with the last book we've written - if readers loved it, can we match, and even exceed, their expectations? And if they hated it, can we better ourselves and our stories? We all know that we can't please all the people all the time, but gosh, we can continue to try ... and that in itself is nerve-racking.
|Above: The fantastic authors, readers and bloggers who|
shared a glass a fizz with me at midnight and
right: author Lee Child even stopped to pose for a good
luck photo with me on publication day
I'm sometimes asked by bloggers and readers if I have any special traditions for publication day, and the answer is always no. They've all been on a weekday, so I'm usually at home with my son, doing the nursery run, washing and cooking, and of course interacting with people on social media. So, maybe Harrogate did have something to do with the butterflies in my stomach, because as midnight hit, I was surrounded by amazingly supportive readers, bloggers and fellow authors who shared a drink with me and wished me luck. It certainly made for a memorable publication day.
To the other Authors Electric writers, do you have any fun traditions for publication day?
Thursday, 17 August 2017
The whole process of doing such a drastic edit was really interesting. You start by getting rid of everything that isn’t vital, and you condense wherever you can. But that’s not enough for a cut this drastic, so plotlines have to go as well. It’s rather like trying to unpick a piece of knitting or embroidery. If you don’t follow the thread all the way back to the beginning you’re left with a question – what happened to the man in the top hat? Where did the horse go? What was the result of the drought? I think we’ve all read books where something has gone unanswered, and neither the writer nor the editor has spotted the problem. It’s an easy error to commit, but it may stop the suspension of disbelief because it’s reminding the reader that this story is a fabrication – it only ever happened in the mind of the writer, not real life.
Tuesday, 15 August 2017
Giving birth to the covers for my four-book series was comparatively easy. Half way through the respective manuscripts, ideas for the cover began percolating, sometimes only in snatches and occasionally arriving fully-formed. Because the series has an art and design thread, I conjured my ideas from a variety of historical and archaeological references, and ran a city skyscrape of Istanbul, London & Rome in the background of all four to denote the international thriller vibe. My graphic designer grasped the concept and used the photos I sent to create four luscious covers that definitely helped sell my books.
Then I decided to switch genres from a fun adventure thriller to psychological suspense--much more serious, much more penetrating, and definitely in need of a different approach. For the first time in my cover history, I hit a wall. It took me ages to come up with anything. Then, because there's a creepy dreamy quality to some sections of the book where my character is climbing the London rooftops, I imagined a cover capturing that one aspect. I sent my notions off to my graphic designer who, unfortunately, did exactly as I asked. I loved the result, by the way--the profile of a woman gazing down over the Victoria rooftops with St. Paul's cathedral in the background, all luminous blues and moonlight like an Arthur Rackham illustration.
However, I soon found out that such a cover said the opposite of psychological suspense. One of my Facebook writing colleagues suggested Peter Pan getting high, as usual, which would be perfect if Peter Pan was a serial killer.
Back to the proverbial drawing board went I. A cover designer reached out to be and floated another concept entirely: a woman crouching on a roof, obviously up to something nefarious in her black leather and spandex, with rain pummelling St.Paul's in the background. Now the mood said edgy, dangerous, utterly suspenseful ... and, as one author suggested, also communicated a vampire US political thriller. Regardless of what my opinions are regarding blood-suckering US politicians, that was not my book.
By now I was beginning to despair. I had alienated my graphic designer who didn't much like another designer's work encroaching on his territory, understandably. On the other hand, he wasn't a cover designer who understood the intricacies of targeting today's book market, and only took my directions, which I apparently wasn't qualified to give.
That's when I stepped back, way back. I turned the task over to the new cover designer along with my blurb and ended up with a striking cover I can live with. She switched Big Ben with St. Paul's to eliminate any US-centric notions that only one dome exists on the planet, and hardened up the scenery to denote the suspense aspect. All potential vampires and resemblences to comic book heros were quickly banished. Job done.
And the whole experience has left me sobered. I have learned that choosing the right cover requires more than a professional artist, it requires a knowledgable cover artist. I realize that I don't want a cover to echo the book's plot so much as to entice and intrigue within the reader's expectations of that genre. I also learned that group-think over covers can be a feeding frenzy. Among the helpful and supportive comments there will always be both haters and lovers, but that the most brutal opinions are often the most beneficial. The best advice I got was to just step away, Jane, step away ...
The general response among my individual writing friends is that they love the new cover. Those who are friends but not writers love it, too, but say it's "not me". Obviously designing one's own cover, even conceptually, puts so much of one one's own creative DNA into the mix that the story may be eclipsed. All my existing series covers definitely bear my brand and reflect the plots, but now I'm changing directions. Actually, I'm a cross-genre buffet writer, anyway, so switching gears suits me just fine.
Now let's see if the cover helps sell the book. That story's yet to come.
Monday, 14 August 2017
|Fairlight Shorts opened in July|
|Shall we Dance?|
All of the short stories featured on Fairlight Shorts can be found at www.Fairlightbooks.com
Helen Stancey's collection of short stories, The Madonna of the Pool was launched on 27th July.
It can be purchased in UK bookstores and online in the usual places, including Blackwell's bookstore online: Blackwell’s
Sunday, 13 August 2017
|Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Fest|
|Meeting Lee Child|
|Ann and Francis Pryor|
Saturday, 12 August 2017
--F posts hourly reviews of his new book on FB for 33 straight days
As to Don Juan, confess that it is the sublime of that there sort of writing; it may be bawdy, but is it not good English? It may be profligate, but is it not life, is it not the thing? Could any man have written it who has not lived in the world? and tooled in a post-chaise? in a hackney coach? in a Gondola? against a wall? in a court carriage? in a vis a vis? on a table? and under it?