Advice for aspiring Killer Reads authors

Category: Team piece

Kate for twitterThinking about sending in a manuscript for our open submissions call out? Kate Stephenson, who will be acquiring authors for the KillerReads list,  shares what she is looking for in the inbox…

Characters: A great book needs believable characters with whom you want to go on a journey, and who stay with you after the story’s end. They must have emotional depth – by all means they can be flawed, troubled, angry, or dark, but they need to have something at their core that makes you care about what happens to them. Fiction is about experiencing the world through someone else’s eyes, and you can’t hope to achieve this without fully realized characters.

Voice: That almost indefinable thing that makes an author stand out from the crowd. I can’t tell you how to write or what to write – you must first write for yourself, because you are compelled to. But I want to find an assured and engaging new voice that doesn’t sound like something I’ve read a million times before. Confidence, originality, cracking dialogue, emotional punch – this is what I look for as a reader, and as an editor.

Hook: It’s crucial that you grab your potential readers’ attention with a great concept. Your book might well be completely amazing, but the hook is the thing that will make people pick it up in the first place. It’s partly our job as the publisher to convey the concept through our cover art and creative copy; but the idea must first come from you, the writer.

Pace: You must keep the pages turning. Drive the plot first and foremost, and be very wary of info dumping. If at all possible, find a way to convey necessary information through dialogue and action, rather than long explanatory passages for the reader to wade through.

Never stop reading: I think one of the best things a crime/thriller writer can do to hone their skills is to read other crime/thriller writers. Reading widely will help you grasp how to master your chosen genre, and may help you to figure out how to solve that tricky plot problem you’ve been grappling with. I find it fascinating to listen to writers talk about the books that have inspired and influenced them the most. We’ve been running a pod-cast series over the past couple of months called Writer’s Envy, where some of our authors tell us about the one book they wish they’d written and why. Definitely worth a listen if you’re interested!

Ex-detective Luke Delaney answers your questions

Category: News

Delaney header

We asked if you had any questions for our ex-Met detective author Luke Delaney. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the questions focused on his experience in the police. We hope you enjoy this insight into the life of a detective-turned-author. More answers to come next week, on publication of THE KEEPER, the second novel in the DI Sean Corrigan series.

1. Are any of the characters or cases in your novels based on real-life experiences?

All of my characters are of a type or types of cops I worked with, but there’s no direct lifts – they’re all fictional. The cases in my novels are not based on real crimes, but the atmosphere and process of investigation are completely based on reality.

2. How does it feel to be responsible for a team, knowing that their lives could be in danger?

You don’t think about it – everyone knows their jobs and the risks involved. Sure, being in the police can be a dangerous job, but at the end of the day we’re not going into combat in Helmand Province day after day, where sudden death isn’t just a vague possibility – it’s a reality. I wouldn’t want to insult our servicemen and women by giving the impression I risked my life daily as they do.

3. How does it feel when you know you’ve found the perpetrator/killer?

It’s always a buzz to get your man or woman, but when it’s a murderer, there’s a special kind of buzz – like you’ve caught some particularly dangerous type of wild animal. There’s a heightened sense of nervous excitement, surrealism at first, but that soon fades and everyone gets on with the job.

4. How does it feel to really know what a dangerous place the world is?

I don’t see this as particularly dangerous world, or country at least – I’m just aware of the risks and can sense when something or someone is not right. I love it. I feel awake, alert and as a consequence my fear of crime is very low, because it’s realistic and I know how to avoid becoming a victim. I’d rather be able to see the dangers than be blind to them. Wouldn’t you?

5. Is it impossible to stop thinking like a detective – even now that you’re out of the force?

Completely, but who would want to stop thinking like that? Not me!

Luke’s debut novel COLD KILLING is available in paperback now. And you can become better acquainted with his main character, DI Sean Corrigan, in Luke’s short story REDEMPTION OF THE DEAD.