A brave new world – by Jackie Baldwin, author of DEAD MAN’S PRAYER

Category: Author Post

The irony of being published as an ebook has not been lost on me. All my life, I have been easily frustrated by technology and prefer to use pen and paper and speak to a ‘real person.’ I used to run a busy court department with one large hard backed diary. My system was never down. I have allowed myself to fall so far behind with modern technology, I fear I may never catch up.

If I had a time machine, I would send back the following tips to myself…

  • That thing you found on your desk after maternity leave and called ‘the abomination?’ Get it back out of the cupboard and learn to deal with it. Computers are not malign entities out to get you, (yet!)
  • Get a move on with that book you plan on writing. You need time lapse photography to show progress that slow.
  • Do not snort, roll your eyes and paw the ground like a bull when you see a Kindle for the first time. One day you’re not only going to be using one, your book is going to be on one. You are going to have so many books on that Kindle it is going to resemble a literary black hole with its own gravity field.
  • When your husband buys you a Smart phone do not thank him, smile sweetly, and ask him to take it back to the shop. Learn how to use it. You will also be able to chat on it to an AI called Siri and ask it meaningful questions in the hope that you will one day get a sentient reply.
  • Start going to parties, or store openings or anywhere with crowds of people in preparation for attending crime festivals. Practise your opening conversational gambits in the checkout at Tesco.
  • Engage with social media. Change your Facebook settings so that you are not the only one who can see your posts. Oh and do some posts. Nothing terrible will happen if you post that is raining. (Usually, but subject to the usual disclaimers).
  • One day you will be on something called Twitter and make tweets of 147 characters or less. I mean it, stop laughing!
  • You will go on a blog tour. No it’s nothing to do with rock music and you can’t buy a T-shirt. No you don’t need a suitcase or a tour bus. Organise this in plenty of time if you want to maintain a tenuous grasp on your sanity.
  • You will have to read from your book in public. Wear a stiff unyielding fabric that won’t tremble with you.

That about covers it.

Oh, and enjoy every single crazy moment!

Jackie Baldwin’s chilling debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer is out now in ebook. Buy it now.

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Pick a character, any character – by Michael Wood

Category: Author Post

I had the story for Outside Looking In long before my first novel, For Reasons Unknown, was published. However, I didn’t want to write a follow-up in case my protagonist, DCI Matilda Darke, never saw the light of day. Thankfully, she did.

Outside Looking InAs soon as I signed my contract for book one I wasted no time in starting book two. The first draft went well. I researched, I plotted, I wrote, and I loved where the characters were going. Just as For Reasons Unknown was published I finished writing Outside Looking In. It was time to relax, take a step back from writing for a while before tackling a second draft.

Then the comments and the reviews for book one started coming in.

The reviews were very positive and I was thrilled the crime fiction community were welcoming Matilda and me into their lives. One aspect I wasn’t expecting was for people to tell me who their favourite character was, especially so soon into a series. To write Matilda, I needed to get into her head; to experience her thoughts and feelings. I had to understand loss and grief and use my own first-hand experience with panic attacks to figure out how her day-to-day life was going to play out. As such, she will always occupy a special place in my heart. Of course, as an avid crime fan, I know that the readers’ favourite character isn’t always the same as the author’s. Gossip lover and keeper of the snack drawer DS Sian Mills is a strong contender, as is Matilda’s best friend, pathologist Adele Kean.

As a reader, I enjoy getting to know the personal lives of supporting characters. DS Edgar Wield from Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series is a brilliantly drawn character. In the earlier novels he is difficult to get to know, private, quiet, an enigma, but over the twenty-three novels he slowly emerges. As a lifelong fan of Ian Rankin I have enjoyed watching Siobhan Clarke flourish from a DC into a DI and step out of Rebus’s shadow (although not too far). Of the newer crime fiction series Sarah Hilary has created a wonderful supporting character in DS Noah Jake. We are only three books into this series and I am looking forward to discovering more about Noah as much as I am the protagonist, DI Marnie Rome.

When I sat down to write the second draft of Outside Looking In, I started to worry for my supporting characters. Did they need more of a role? Should they take their share in the limelight and rub shoulders with DCI Matilda Darke? A tweet from a reader quickly made my mind up. She described Matilda as a ‘wonderfully created and well-rounded character’ and ended her message by saying it was nice I had created such warm and compassionate allies for her. That’s when I knew I was doing the right thing. Matilda doesn’t have to be the clear favourite. As long as she has the love and support of the secondary characters then she will have a place in the readers’ hearts.

Outside Looking In wasn’t easy to write (no book should be) but I have enjoyed taking these characters on another journey. So, whether your favourite is determined Matilda, motherly Sian, sympathetic Adele, or even fun-loving Rory Fleming, I hope you enjoy my second book, and if you have a comment, don’t keep it to yourself – it may shape book three.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

Alex Lake on the idea that sparked AFTER ANNA

Category: Author Post

After Anna paperback coverI’m a big fan of psychological thrillers, in particular when they have a domestic feel – the ‘this could happen to me’ element – and I wanted to write a novel in that vein. Something gripping, but which felt real. For a while I’d had a few different ideas, but no central plot line to bring them all together.

That changed after a conversation I had with an American friend. She was contemplating a trip to Europe with her husband and young daughter, but decided against it because she had heard that there were gangs who kidnapped kids and sold them into slavery.

That stuck with me, and, sometime later I was noodling on another idea I had about a marriage that had broken down to the point at which both parties had made up their minds to get divorced and move on, but then something happened which made that impossible – perhaps a child of theirs fell very ill, or something like that.

Then it came to me: their child could be abducted, and they could be thrust into the media spotlight. It was later that I conceived of the twist: what if the child was returned, because abduction was not the end, but only the beginning…

From there it was long walks and plot outlines and drafts and then, eventually, I had something I was happy with. I shared it with the people who I rely on to give me advice on early drafts (thank you – you know who you are) and then rewrote and rewrote until After Anna was ready.

A note on the title: titles are strange beasts, because (for me, at least) they either come right at the beginning, or right at the end. After Anna came right at the end. The book was called ‘Somewhere Out There’ for a long time – and I was reasonably happy with that – but then one day After Anna just came to me, and it stuck.

I hope you enjoy reading it!

Get your copy of the No. 1 eBook and Top 10 Sunday Times bestseller After Anna online or in-store at select Tesco, Sainsbury’s and ASDA.