Ebooks: How digital publishers are 'shaking up' the industry

A hugely encouraging article from the BBC (not something that comes as a big surprise to us, of course!).

More royalties? Check!

More freedom? Check!

Same fantastic quality (or better?) Double check!

We live in a truly digital era, yet the digital publishing industry is still largely misunderstood.

Digital publishers are often young, dynamic companies striving to find creative ways to win influence in the online retail market of fiction and non-fiction.

They also compete with traditional print publishers to discover the next big idea.

Head over to the BBC website to read the whole article, it's well worth it.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-45088172


Mari Hannah Nine Lives Interview

Welcome to our latest Nine Lives Interview featuring award-winning thriller author Mari Hannah answering nine questions about her and her writing life.


Do you remember the first book you read?

No, but the one that sticks in my mind is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It was a coming-of-age classic, a tale about the March sisters growing up: Meg, Beth, Jo and Amy. This may have been a book I was given at school. I liked Jo best. Like me, she was a scribbler, rebellious, the strong one – a complete contrast to her sisters, a bit of a tomboy who is described as, quote “A young woman who struggles to escape the Victorian prison of her gender” unquote.I certainly identified with her character. Maybe, subconsciously, I dreamed of becoming a writer too.

Where is your ideal place to read, and do you have a favourite time of day for reading?

I read as often as I can, wherever I happen to be: sunbed, garden bench, train, car, plane – love audiobooks! – but my favourite place of all is in my conservatory in front of a wood-burning stove in winter or with the doors wide open in summer with a paperback in my hand. Unless I’m on the move, mostly I read in the evening, hard copy never digital. I can’t face a screen after a day of computer work.

Which authors have inspired or influenced you?

There are many, but Michael Connelly’s Black Echo introduced me to crime fiction. When I read it, I thought wow, this guy really knows his stuff. I love Harry Bosch and have just fallen for Connelly’s female character LAPD detective, Renée Ballard in The Late Show. She’s superbly drawn and, as with all his books, there’s a strong sense of place. Connelly makes writing look really easy when it’s anything but. He’s published by Orion who now publish me and some of my favourite crime writers. I’m very excited by the prospect of being published to a wider, International readership with another Northumberland based crime series featuring a new detective duo: Stone and Oliver. The first in that series The Lost was published in the spring. Book two The Insider will follow on Nov 1, 2018.

If you could choose any book from any place or time which one would you most liked to have written?

Patricia Cornwell’s Postmortem is right up there. It was a ground breaking novel introducing us to Chief Medical Examiner Dr Kay Scarpetta, a book that launched a hugely successful career. I loved her early work and hadn’t read anything that concentrated as it did on forensic science. The characterisation was a strength and, as the series progressed, I felt as if I knew them all personally as well as Richmond (Virginia) where the books are set. No wonder her debut won the Edgar. But let’s switch focus for a moment . . .

My family weren’t booky people. As a kid I can’t remember being encouraged to read, though my mother would probably dispute that. We had few books in the house. I’m ashamed to say that I hated English at school and struggled with grammar. Consequently, I took very little notice in class. Fast forward to motherhood. It was such a joy to see the faces of my children as they were being read to. If I wasn’t writing crime, I’d be writing for kids. They’re like sponges. They soak up everything. So, I’d also say that I’d have been proud to put my name to anything at all by Julia Donaldson who has singlehandedly inspired a whole generation of children to explore the world through books. Stick Man is my favourite. It made me cry, but don’t tell anyone – it would seriously damage my reputation!

What led you to write your first book?

An assault on duty cut short my career as a probation officer. Two lots of surgery to a serious arm injury and heaps of physiotherapy later, I had no job and began writing to pass the time and to keep the little grey cells ticking over. Long story short, I got the bug. I tried screenwriting first with an eye to writing for the TV, ending up on a BBC drama development scheme called North East Voices that was run in conjunction with Northern Film & Media. That scheme taught me so much about structure and pace, the ten-page rule. I was told that if you hadn’t hooked your reader by then, your script would hit the bin. When my crime pilot wasn’t commissioned, I adapted my script into a novel, The Murder Wall.

Pen, pencil, typewriter or computer keyboard?

Keyboard and sometimes voice recognition; with technological advances, VR is so good these days. I’m not able to write in longhand for long periods of time due to the injury referred to above. I wish I could because I think differently with a pen in my hand. I find it easier to express myself and retain more if I write down notes, rather than type them straight into my laptop or desktop.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

In the early days, perhaps. Not now. I used to write only in the morning when I was fresh and always at my desk. Rarely did anything I’d written after lunch make sense. However, I’m in a very different place now. Writers are in three stages most of the time: writing a book, editing the previous one or planning the next. When you factor in festivals, appearances, radio and TV interviews, articles, emails, social media and travelling – always on the go! – you have to discipline yourself to be able to write anywhere, anytime, even if you can only grab an hour or two. I’ll give you an example of my week so far. As reader-in-residence for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, I’m just back from a gruelling tour of libraries with the festival’s outreach programme, the Big Read: twelve events, five days, four hundred and fifty miles, one author – me! It’s a job I’m proud to do, but I have a deadline and, when I finish this Q&A, I must concentrate on meeting it. This may not be a typical week, but not far from it. I’ve not seen my family for a week. This is the reality for a lot of authors. Oh, and there is one place I never write and that’s in bed. No crime writer should ever be that comfortable.

Was there a break-through moment for you, or a key person who helped you?

Meeting my agent at an event organised by New Writing North is the answer to the first part of your first question. As far as a key person goes, I’m very lucky in that my partner is a former murder detective. She’s my first reader before a book goes to my agent and editor – checking the authenticity of the police procedural elements. As a former statement reader in a busy Murder Investigation Team, she has a good eye for spotting inconsistencies in witness statements and that type of thing. If I don’t get it right, believe me, she doesn’t hold back. When I began writing, Mo was still a serving police officer. Now she has more time, she gets involved as early as the planning stage. We brainstorm ideas. She accompanies me on research visits and is great at sniffing out a good crime scene. She does everything from editing to proofreading the finished books. She often appears alongside me in joint ‘fact v fiction’ type events which have gone down very well with readers. If you haven’t already guessed, her experience in the police was the inspiration behind the Kate Daniels series which is in development with Stephen Fry’s production company.

What piece of advice could you give a new writer trying to get published?

Research the industry you’re joining. Agents and editors you’re submitting to will expect you to have a working knowledge of publishing. Don’t, whatever you do, expect a published author to do it for you. It won’t buy you any friends. I wish I had a quid for every time a debut author has written to me asking for a quote. Can I read their book by next Wednesday? Can I recommend them to my agent – even though I haven’t read their book? Can I help with their submission letter? Can I give advice on how to write a synopsis that will sell? And these emails always begin, ‘I know how busy you are but . . .’ Sorry to be blunt, but you wrote the book, now do your homework, then be patient and grow a thick skin. I don't wish to discourage anyone from writing, but it took me years to find a publisher. I have a pile of rejection letters to prove it. So, if an agent or publisher passes on your manuscript, chin up and move on to the next on your list. Every rejection represents just one person's opinion. If you believe in your material, stick with it. Don’t give up, persevere. You will find an agent who loves your stuff eventually and he/she will help you progress to the next level. Good luck.


You can find out more about this brilliant author here:

Web: www.marihannah.com
Twitter: @mariwriter

Mari's latest book 'The Lost' is published by Orion and is available now.

 

 


Alan Carter Nine Lives Interview

Welcome to our latest Nine Lives Interview featuring crime author Alan Carter answering nine questions about himself and his writing life.


Alan Carter at Newcastle NoirDo you remember the first book you read?

It was probably a Janet & John at Fulwell Infants but I do recall ploughing through all the Famous Fives which a neighbour had bequeathed to us - so crime fiction has been on my agenda from an early age.

Where is your ideal place to read, and do you have a favourite time of day for reading?

A comfy chair, bed, anytime anywhere really.

Which authors have inspired or influenced you?

Ian Rankin probably lit (or at least rekindled) the spark. I also admire James Lee Burke, Graham Hurley’s Portsmouth series, and Henning Mankell.

If you could choose any book from any place or time which one would you most liked to have written?

I loved “I, Claudius” and “Claudius, The God” by Robert Graves - particularly the latter with its epic opening sentence. The voice is pitch perfect.

What led you to write your first book?

My wife made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. We had moved to Hopetoun (on WA south coast - setting for Prime Cut) so she could take up a teaching job. Meanwhile I was still making TV docos in the big city - not conducive to establishing family life in a new town. In return for me being a kept man, doing the housework etc for a year I could take time out to write a book while Kath brought home the bacon. No brainer. And the housework only ever took about 20 minutes so I had plenty of time to write. :)

Pen, pencil, typewriter or commuter keyboard?

Computer keyboard.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

I try to do 8 hours a day 5 days a week and aim for around 2000 words a day. I read a lot too, re-reading say the Graham Hurley series for its police procedural detail and a bit of James Lee Burke for the lyricism.

Was there a break-through moment for you, or a key person who helped you?

I never really expected to get published when I started out - the stats are daunting. But I got shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger for the first 5000 unpublished words of what would be Prime Cut. That helped open publishers doors. It then went on to win a Ned Kelly for first fiction. It all helps.

What piece of advice could you give a new writer trying to get published?

Write a lot and read a lot. Practice makes perfect and dissecting what is happening on the page in books that you like is important.


You can find out more about this wonderful author here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlanCarterAuthor/
Twitter: @carter_alan28

His next book 'Heaven Sent' is due out in November 2018 and you can check out his thriller 'Marlborough Man' now.

 

 


Howard Linskey Nine Lives Interview


Do you remember the first book you read?

I think it was ‘The Terrier’s Football Club’ by Karl Bruckner. It was published way back in 1961 but I found a copy in my Primary School library when I was very young and it is the first book I can recall reading that was mostly words as opposed to pictures. I also have a very early memory of my dad reading Treasure Island to me and I was a bit terrified of Blind Pugh.

Where is your ideal place to read, and do you have a favourite time of day for reading?

I read when I can and snatch moments here and there so there’s no set time. I have a comfy armchair in my front room and the sun really catches the light in the conservatory too so it’s nice to sit there but you can’t beat escaping to a good pub for half an hour or so with a book and a pint. I did that yesterday in fact while my wife and daughter were busy shopping for clothes. Bliss.

Which authors have inspired or influenced you?

Oddly enough my main inspirations were not crime writers. Stan Barstow was a big influence and I have read all of his novels. He was the one who first made me realise you could set books in northern towns and not just glamorous places like London or New York. I thought ‘A Kind of Loving’ was a great book. I’m a fan of John Wyndham’s very English brand of sci fi. ‘The Chrysalids’ is a favourite even though it is far lesser known than ‘The Day of The Triffids’ or ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’. They are all tremendously imaginative, which is inspiring. I grew up reading Len Deighton and John Le Carre because their books were always on my dad’s bookshelves and I took to their suspenseful stories, full of betrayal and duplicity. I was probably influenced by the way they tell their stories even though my writing style is nothing like either of them.

If you could choose any book from any place or time which one would you most liked to have written?

‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ is my desert island book. I absolutely love it. John le Carre writes beautifully and this is perhaps his finest novel. A tale of betrayal with an intricate plot containing a perfect whodunnit that is filled with suspense right up to the end. Le Carre draws on his own early life to describe a world hidden to most of us in such authentic detail you feel like you are being led through it by a real insider.

What led you to write your first book?

I’d been writing for years for fanzines, newspapers, magazines and trying my hand at writing scripts but one day I had the idea for ‘The Drop’; a story about a white-collar gangster from Newcastle who must retrieve some missing money or be killed, and it seemed a natural story for me to write. I knew the locations, thought I had a good idea for a plot and the characters just came to me. It was published in 2011 and The Times voted it one of the top five thrillers of the year, which was incredibly thrilling and still feels a bit unreal even now, years later but I promise I did not imagine it.

Pen, pencil, typewriter or computer keyboard?

When I first started writing it was pen and paper then I’d type it up on an old manual typewriter because that was all there was back in the 80s. I then became a journalist and there was no time for that, so I had to learn to type stories straight onto a PC. Now it’s a lightweight lap top, which is very portable, so I can take it anywhere but I mostly write at home.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

It’s not always the same but I try to ease into the day by having breakfast and reading the newspaper once my daughter has gone off to school. There is usually a bit of internet related procrastination reading the latest appalling behaviour from Donald Trump and how Mike Ashley refuses to spend any money because Newcastle United are somehow broke yet again. If those two were in a room together and I had a gun with one bullet it would be a tough choice. I’d probably have to beat the other one to death. Finally, I buckle down to a mid-morning writing session and try to get at least a thousand words done before lunch. How many of those will end up in the finished book remains to be seen but it’s important just to get some momentum going or the blooming book will never be finished. Routine goes out of the window towards the end with a deadline looming then its just write-edit-write-edit and repeat until the pesky thing is done.

Was there a break-through moment for you, or a key person who helped you?

My first breakthrough was getting my debut novel ‘The Drop’ published by Ion Mills at No Exit then I had another big break when my fourth novel was picked up by Penguin and I am now writing a series for them (The Chosen Ones is the latest). My literary agent, Phil Patterson, has been the key person for me throughout my writing career. His support and advice have been priceless but I have also been lucky to work with three really intelligent, supportive and lovely editors; Keshini Naidoo, Emad Akhtar and Joel Richardson who have all been massively supportive and a pleasure to work with.

What piece of advice could you give a new writer trying to get published?

Make sure your book is the best it can possibly be before you send it to someone then develop the patience of a saint and the skin of a rhino. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you the odds against getting published are ridiculous. They are but someone has to get there and it might as well be you. Be honest with yourself too though. Have a realistic view on how good you are but know you will improve with every book you right. It might not be that first novel that gets you there, in fact it very rarely is. Every author I know has had a lot of rejections over the years but they got published in the end because they got better then stuck at it and never gave up.


You can find out more about this wonderful author here:

Web: www.howardlinskey.co.uk
Twitter: @howardlinskey

His latest book 'The Chosen Ones' is published by Penguin.

(photograph of Howard taken by Donna Lisa Healy)

 

 

 


Danielle Ramsay Nine Lives Interview

Welcome to our latest Nine Lives Interview featuring crime author Danielle Ramsay answering nine questions about her and her writing life.


Do you remember the first book you read?

Absolutely: The Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. It was a beautifully illustrated edition and completely mesmerised me with its dark tales, igniting my imagination.

Where is your ideal place to read, and do you have a favourite time of day for reading?

My ideal place to read would be on a beach in the Caribbean. Failing that, curled up my couch in the evening with the wood burning stove and candles lit and a large glass of red wine.

Which authors have inspired or influenced you?

My latest book, The Last Cut (2017) which features DS Harri Jacobs – a female cop who finds herself tracking down a serial killer who is altering his victims to look like her – was heavily influenced by three writers whose shared name I gave to my protagonist. Harri’s namesakes are three inspirational and heroic 19th century female writers who used their work to battle against racial and gender oppression: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), the free black woman, Harriet E. Wilson, Our Nig or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859) and the escaped slave, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). According to legend, Abraham Lincoln credited Harriet Beecher Stowe when he met her in 1862 as being “the little woman who wrote the book that start-ed this great war (the civil war 1861-1865).” Whether true or not, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel was hugely influential in the fight against slavery and it was her brave portrayal of the horrific ills of slavery, including sexual abuse that shocked a nation. All three of Har-ri’s namesakes fought on, regardless; each with their own life struggles be it slavery, poverty or gender inequality - or all of the above. They won, each one of them in their own rights. No one saved them, they ultimately saved themselves.

If you could choose any book from any place or time which one would you most liked to have written?

Beloved by Toni Morrison. It was published in 1987 and it is a book that I wish I had written because of its exploration of American slavery, family, trauma, repressed memories and ultimately, the resilience of the human psyche to fight oppression – regardless of the personal consequences. The racial themes of black/white relations founded in such an inequitable past as slavery, struck a personal chord with me as my Algerian grandfather was raised in Dundee by a white family in the early 1900s and suffered unspeakable racism throughout his life. At the age of thirty-seven he was deployed at the outbreak of the Second World War to France. Physically, as a 6’1’ black man he was a conspicuous figure; finally captured, he proceeded to escape three times during his five year imprisonment. He even survived a “death march” into Germany at the close of the war by feigning death and then made his own way home through Europe, arriving months after the end of the war. My grandfather ironically died shortly after being reunited with my grandmother from an intracranial brain tumour, believed to have been the result of trauma to the head after being beaten repeatedly by a German soldier’s rifle. Consequently, my mother grew up fatherless with no reference to her racial heritage.

Morrison dedicates Beloved to the “Six Million and more” Africans and their descendants who died during the transatlantic slave trade - a novel that speaks of human survival and resilience against adversity which is why it speaks to me of my maternal family and in particular my grandfather and as such, is a book that I wish I had written.

What led you to write your first book?

I had always wanted to write. However, I was not decided on which medium I wanted to write in. I then made a choice to be a filmmaker and so, at the age of fourteen I wrote to the National Film and Television School in London who kindly advised that if I was not Steven Spielberg, then I would have to undertake a degree. So, I followed their advice and graduated with a 1st Class Honours Bachelor Degree in scriptwriting and media pro-duction. I then completed a Masters with Distinction and while undertaking a PhD won a place on the reserve list for the Frank Knox scholarship for a fully funded post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University in African American Studies. My academic interest in ra-cial identity was borne out of the fact that my grandfather was Algerian and raised in Dundee and so, my mother was black-skinned, as were my four uncles. However, my aunt was white-skinned; as was I. I had grown up hearing the “N” word used in reference to my own mother and so, this insight into racism despite being white-skinned, had led me to want to study slavery and the concept of “passing” from one race to another.

However, after getting a top New York literary agency’s support for a psychological thrill-er I was writing set in New England where I had once worked, which encompassed ra-cial, sexual and religious politics, I gave up my ambition of Harvard, choosing to write creatively rather than academically. The debut novel set in the States was never pub-lished and if it had been it would have been over 1000 pages long and too complicated to be commercially viable. So, on the advice of a fellow academic and author who told me to “write what you know” I filed my debut novel away and wrote the DI Jack Brady se-ries set in Whitley Bay in the North East of England where I currently reside.

Pen, pencil, typewriter or computer keyboard?

Laptop.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

I get up at 5:30 a.m. and run roughly five miles up to the stables where I keep my horse and then back home. Sometimes I ride my horse around the fields and country tracks or, I simply check on her. I then get home, shower, have a strong black coffee and then start work. At least, that is my intention. Sometimes emails and other such distractions get in the way. If the work is flowing, then I will keep at it until about 9:00 p.m.

Was there a break-through moment for you, or a key person who helped you?

The key person who has helped me, and is still helping me, is the Queen of Crime - Martina Cole. She has been so amazingly magnanimous in her support of my work. Her unerring kindness for other authors always astounds me. She has endorsed my past two books and will be the first person to read my new psychological thriller (in a few weeks’ time) before it even goes to a publisher.

What piece of advice could you give a new writer trying to get published?

My tip would be to never give up; regardless of how many rejections you may receive, if you truly believe in your writing then keep going. You can only succeed if you keep trying - you fail as soon as you stop.

Randy Pausch at the age of forty-seven gave his last lecture in 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; a month earlier he had been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. The book The Last Lecture, based on the speech he gave to his fellow colleagues and students, was published posthumously and one of his quotes resonated with me when I was trying to get published (and still does):

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”


You can find out more about this wonderful author here:

Web: www.danielle-ramsay.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danielle.ramsay.author
Twitter: @DanielleRamsay2

Her next book 'The Puppet Maker' is published by Hodder & Stoughton.

 

 


K.A. Richardson Nine Lives Interview

Welcome to our very first Nine Lives Interview featuring crime author K.A. Richardson answering nine questions about her and her writing life.


Do you remember the first book you read?

Probably not the first book I ever read as I was a very early reader, but the first that impacted on me and made an impression was The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton – I loved escaping into the worlds at the top of the faraway tree with Moonface!

Where is your ideal place to read, and do you have a favourite time of day for reading?

Ideal place would be lying on a sunbed somewhere hot and sunny sipping on my favourite cocktail but other than that anywhere I can be comfy for a good while – nothing worse than starting to lose yourself in a book then being interrupted! I usually read at home on an evening before bed, but on holiday I’ll read as often as I can during the day or night!

Which authors have inspired or influenced you?

So so many – too many to list to be fair but some include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Steinbeck, and Shakespeare from being young – I had the complete works of Shakespeare by the time I was 13 yrs old and loved all of them. John Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men which we studied at school – it was the first book to ever make me cry. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because – well Sherlock – no more explanation required!

Another of my inspirational authors is Karen Rose – to see a strong female who’s overcome much adversity and ill health produce such fantastic character based novels is just brilliant. Love every one of her books and I’m sure I’ll love all the ones to come. Met her at Bloody Scotland in 2017 and she is just as amazing and inspiring in real life.

If you could choose any book from any place or time which one would you most liked to have written?

Again there could be so many, but I’d have to say The Treatment by Mo Hayder – the wandering man character just pulls me in, as does the book as a whole – so creepy! But sooooo gooooood!

What led you to write your first book?

I was working as a CSI at the time for a north east police force, and I’d been given a push back into writing by a psychic – he encouraged me to believe in myself so I registered to do my MA Creative Writing straight after his reading. The first 15000 words of a crime novel became my thesis, which once I’d passed my masters, I just kept on writing and it became With Deadly Intent. From there I just kept going. I’d always written stories, ever since being small, but I’d never really believed I could be a published author until I got that encouragement from Anthony. He believed in me – and it made me believe in myself.

Pen, pencil, typewriter or computer keyboard?

Ooooo – for years as a teenager I wrote on a traditional keyboard, then an electric word processor that was sooooo slow. Now I love to handwrite if I’m out and about, though will always transfer this to laptop once I get home and if I’m writing at home I almost always use the laptop.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

I always start with a hot cup of coffee beside me which slowly goes cold before I remember it’s there. Actual routine though involves me quickly reading over the last section to refresh myself as to where exactly I am then I crack on. I don’t write for a set time or word count though – just until my head thinks I’ve done enough for the day. Sometimes that’ll be a few hundred words, othertimes a few thousand and on a mega good day I’ve been known to hit seven or eight thousand.

Was there a break-through moment for you, or a key person who helped you?

Depends on what context this question is meant but one break-through moment was being ‘encouraged’ (more like kicked up the bum in the general direction of…) speaking to Darren Laws of Caffeine Nights – he was at Harrogate Crime Festival as was I. it was truly one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done but he liked my pitch enough to want to see With Deadly Intent – he then gave me my first contract. Once this was published I was curious as to whether anyone else would be interested in the stories I’d written and approached Bloodhound Books – they got back very quickly with the offer of a three-book deal which after some consideration, I accepted and thus the forensic files series was born.

What piece of advice could you give a new writer trying to get published?

Be tenacious – if you give up on yourself or your writing then it’ll be a downhill slope and you’ll eventually stop writing. So keep writing, approach all the agents and publishers (who accept direct submissions) until you find one that suits. Don’t believe for one second that you have to pay a publisher to get published – this is not true and there are loads of reputable publishers who would never do this. And enjoy it! Writing can be so many things but it should never be a chore that you don’t enjoy.


You can find out more about this wonderful author here:

Web: www.kerryannrichardson.com
Facebook: KA Richardson
Twitter: @kerryann77

Her next book 'The Forensic Files' is published by Bloodhound Books.