Author Introductions #5: Jan Brigden

Good morning, folks!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I spent part of mine visiting some old haunts in London, where I lived for over a decade in my younger days. This time, I was there to raise a toast to a very good friend of mine who is moving back to his home town of Manchester after living and working in the capital for a long time. Coincidentally, we are also planning a move back to my home county of Northumberland and so it feels a little bit like the start of a new chapter, with many of my friends reaching a stage in life where they have grown tired of City living and want to move somewhere a little less frenetic, while others are expecting babies or getting married. It’s all happening!

For now, Monday has rolled around once again and that can mean only one thing – our next Author Introduction! This week, I’m delighted to introduce you to Jan Brigden, who signed with Choc Lit after winning their ‘Search for a Star’ competition in 2014-15 with her debut, As Weekends Go, an uplifting contemporary fiction novel. She had been writing for pleasure from a very young age; short stories for classmates at school, odes for workmates and fun quizzes for family and friends before progressing to write her novel, the idea for which came from a script she composed as part of a creative writing course assignment set by The Writers Bureau. Following a lot of secret plotting, research and feigning passion for customer accounts she was supposed to be reconciling during the day job, the chance finally came for her to put pen to paper.

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Jan Brigden, who writes contemporary fiction

 

I had the pleasure of meeting Jan briefly at a blogger / author meet-up last year in London and, after a spate of crime and thriller authors, it’s great to hear from somebody who writes a completely different genre. To find out a little more about this impressive lady, I asked Jan a few short questions which she has kindly answered…

  1. Tell us a little about yourself – don’t be shy!

I live in South East London with my husband Dave and a motley crew of cuddly toys. I’m a home bird really and come from a close family. I enjoy long walks and Pilates (now I’ve mastered the breathing routine!). I’m quite a spiritual person and have a keen interest in Mindfulness and Meditation.  I love reading – anything from JK Rowling to John Grisham. I also love days out/weekends away with my husband, holidays when we’re lucky. In my twenties I worked a season in southern Spain, an area I’m very familiar with and adore, and witnessed enough eye-popping shenanigans to fill another book. I blog about bookish things, news roundups, lifestyle/fun stuff and I’m also one eighth of group blog The Romaniacs . We all met via the Romantic Novelist Association’s New Writers’ scheme and two years ago proudly received the RNA Industry Media Award and even got a mention in The Bookseller.

  1. How about your latest book – what can readers look forward to when they pick it up?

As Weekends Go, my debut novel, follows two couples and their eventful weekend clash of agendas, involving a girls’ only trip to York, a Brighton sales conference and a Spanish stag do. The story mainly follows undervalued wife Rebecca (in York with her best friend Abi) whose embarrassing yet poignant encounter with gorgeous, non-stereotypical footballer, Alex Heath, highlights the respect that’s leached out of her marriage, leaving her facing some harsh home truths. The inspiration for Alex Heath came from having met a few players over the years, a couple of them so far removed from the flash bad boy stereotype we often read about in the press, (often justified, I hasten to add!) that it made me wonder how they cope with being pre-judged. This sparked the challenge to create a footballer who could hopefully buck the preconceived assumptions about him and endear himself to the reader. I enjoy reading multi viewpoint stories so it seemed natural to write one. I loved the idea of dipping in and out of each destination and set of shenanigans as the weekend progressed and then dealing with the fallout. It’s a book about respect, self-worth, denial and the power and unpredictability of our emotions. Dramatic, uplifting escapism with a few laughs along the way.

AWG 3D

 

  1. Who is your hero in real life and in fiction?

In real life, my husband Dave for his unwavering love, support, encouragement and laughs galore. When I was writing As Weekends Go he embraced a myriad of roles; sounding-board, tantrum-dodger and Chief Cuddler, all without complaint. A top hero in every way. In fiction, George Bailey in It’s A wonderful Life. An honest, generous, caring sweetheart of a man.

  1. Who are your three favourite writers – and why?

Hard to choose only three but if pressed I’d say Lisa Jewell – her modern day observations are fantastic.  Maggie O’Farrell for her ability to portray such raw emotion through her characters. Maeve Binchy for the warmth and spirit of her larger than life characters.

  1. When you’re not writing, what is your favourite way to spend your time?

Primarily with my husband and my family or good friends. Reading, walking, Pilates for my dodgy shoulder.

  1. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Other than my strong, loving marriage, it would be writing As Weekends Go and seeing it published.

  1. What was your favourite book as a child?

Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree – I read it every night and thought of Silky & Moonface as firm friends.

  1. Have you read any books recently that have really captured your imagination?

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which explores how in dwelling on the past or worrying too much about the future, we miss out on the benefits of appreciating the here and now. It really made me think.

  1. If the Prime Minister knocked at your front door and asked to borrow a book, which one would you recommend they read?

Probably one of my Bill Bryson Travelogues.  Guaranteed belly-laughs as some of those politicians look as if they could do with cheering up. More seriously though, it would also give a healthy reminder through Bryson’s genius observations of ‘real life’ and all its trials and tribulations from the trivial to the frustrating to the hilarious, the hurdles people face in life that some of our politicians appear to have no appreciation of.

  1. Finally, if you could be any character from a movie, which would it be?

Oh, that’s easy – Sandy from Grease. My favourite film. To dance with John Travolta, plus the great setting and era and the songs, a feel good fest throughout. I love the way Sandy transforms and grows in confidence. Not sure I’d suit a pair of leathers like she does, but hey ho! Love it!

…Thanks Jan! Who doesn’t love a bit of Grease? I was always more of a fan of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever but, either way, his hips don’t lie!

And on that uplifting thought, I’ll wish you all a happy and healthy week!

LJ x

 

“The Wobble”

Hello!

Firstly, let me say that I’m not talking about the uncomfortable wobble many of us experience when completing the long ‘walk of shame’ from a sun lounger to the edge of the pool.

There is plenty of wobble there, comrades. The struggle is real.

But actually, I was thinking of the various, multifaceted wobbly bits involved during the process of writing and releasing a novel. “The Wobble” is also a very real struggle and one that tends to crop up repeatedly.

Oh, marvellous, I’m trying to finish my first novel and all she has to say is that the crippling self-doubt never gets any better? I might as well pack it all in now and reach for a tub of Ben and Jerry’s…

Now, now, don’t panic just yet. All I mean is that there is a consistent, fairly predictable cycle of thought processes which crop up during the various stages of writing, editing and releasing your novel. Perversely, their predictability is a source of comfort and I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone.

This isn’t an exact science so don’t quote me on this, but here’s a rough guide to the various stages of “The Wobble”…

  1. BLIND FAITH

Once you have taken the decision to change your career/life/start a new challenge like writing a book, your mind will usually cushion the decision with the pleasant accompaniment of an enormous well of blind faith. This may/may not include various enrolments in creative writing courses/online marketing courses/money-sucking ‘how to be a writer’ days out in the country. (Total waste of time, in my opinion, but each to their own).

Notwithstanding the above, this ‘blind faith’ stage can be enormously productive, resulting in reams and reams of absolute tosh. Don’t be disheartened by that, either! It’s all part of a bigger plan, leading to…

2. BLIND FEAR

Your loving family and friends may not recognise you during this (hopefully brief) phase of The Wobble. Tantrums, tears and stained jogging pants will replace all thoughts of unicorns and Booker Prizes – now a distant memory as the crushing realisation of what you have done weighs heavily upon your shoulders. You’ve decided to follow a dream – how crazy is that?! It’s not practical…it’s batshit nuts, is what it is. It’s a competitive world and your mind will try to tell you that you have no place in it. Stay strong…

3. KICK-BACK

Natural pride/ego/stubbornness will drive you to complete the novel. This can take time with some regression back to Blind Fear but usually results in powering through the pain. It’s a law of Nature, I’m sure of it. If somebody tells you that you can’t do something (even if it’s your worst self) then a small part of your brain whispers…

Fuck off! 

Yes, I can write this damn book. There will be an audience who loves reading about dancing unicorns and, even if there isn’t, at least I can say that I tried.

4. GOLLUM SYNDROME

Once you’ve actually completed the bloody thing, your brain will then tell you (illogically) that nobody should ever see it. Ever. It is your special secret, like Frodo’s Ring. It is your preciooooouuusssssss…

At this point, family/friends/mental health workers will step in to snatch the manuscript from your vice-like grip and advise you to send it off to a decent editor. Take their advice and hand it over. When it comes back covered in red pen, make sure that you are alone before having a meltdown (it will not be your finest moment). Reemerge into the world and thank the editor graciously before reading their comments with an objective eye. That is the key, here. You must be able to look at your own work with objectivity, otherwise you’re stuffed.

5. THE BIRD’S NEST

Much like a baby bird teetering on the edge of its mother’s nest, the prospect of sending your novel to a professional/uploading it for the world to see via Amazon KDP (as I did) is both terrifying and exciting in equal measure. You’ll want to back away – don’t. Take the leap and hold your head high.

6. RIDE THE WOBBLES

You’ve done it and you’ve survived. Don’t ruin the victory lap and start demanding that friends and family read it within twenty-four hours, or start huffing if people have a few minor complaints. People are only human and you can’t please everybody. If you manage to please the majority you’re doing well!

There’ll be fantastic reviews and bad reviews from time to time – accept both with good grace. Don’t start engaging in slanging matches with people; you’ll only enflame matters and end up looking like a moron. Think of that walk from the sun lounger to the pool: take it slow, but not too slow; take it easy, but not lazily; and, most importantly, walk tall.

I’m on the cusp of releasing my fourth book in the DCI Ryan series (‘Angel’) for pre-order from 15th July and, after three bestsellers, you’d think I’d know how to avoid The Wobble. Well, I’m still working on that. But I can tell you that optimism, hard work and perseverance does pay off. In two days alone, nearly four hundred people contacted me to say they were incredibly excited to hear about the forthcoming book. One reader in particular brightened my day with the following:

“OH MY GOD! I think I almost wet myself when I heard your next book was coming out!! AAAARRRGGHHH! OK I need to clear my diary! Thanks!”

Take precautions if bladder control is an issue but otherwise massive thanks to every single one of you who has supported my books over the last eighteen months. It’s definitely helped me to ride the wobbles.

LJ x

P.S. On the subject of poolside walks of shame, it goes without saying that speedos seldom help matters. You know who you are. 🙂

 

 

The cardinal importance of Latin music

Well hello again and greetings from LJ Ross HQ!

Continuing the trend of recent blog postings, I’m going to chat a little bit more about the ways in which you can try to capture your writing buzz and (more importantly) hold onto it!

Here are the most common complaints I hear (both from aspiring writers, established writers and myself, when I’m having a rant), alongside some suggested responses:

  1. My work isn’t good enough; nobody will read my novel, let alone like it, so why should I bother?

Briiiiiing briiiiing! Hey you, sitting over there feeling sorry for yourself, Hemingway called to tell you to stop being such a big baby. Also, he says to remind you that he’s already taken the liberty of penning several great works of fiction, so, sorry, you won’t be able to write exactly the same thing. The point to take home is simply this: if you spend your time trying to emulate your heroes, or even those who are currently enjoying success, then you set yourself up for a miserable time of it. Human nature being what it is, your state of mind will probably create a vicious and self-fulfilling prophecy in which you end up writing a heap of old crap. Why? Because you will have no identity of your own, no ‘voice’ (that sounds pretentious but you know what I mean) so your plot lines and general style will likely suffer. Readers are very attuned to what they like and don’t like and they can spot a phony a mile off, so be warned.

2. I feel torn in so many directions. I’m trying to change career and pursue my dream to become a writer but I have a family and commitments – what should I do?

You have family and commitments that you care about more than pursuing your own selfish desires? Well hooray, that means you’re not a raging sociopath! (Phew).

Look, jokes aside, there’s no two ways about it: the moment you become a parent, your own needs are instantly and irrevocably subordinated to the needs of the precious little life/lives you have created. The same logic can apply if you have no kids whatsoever – perhaps you have responsibilities as a carer, or simply feel responsible to the other important people in your life. What I would say is that you must find the balance that is right for you. In some cases, this will mean carving out snatches of time to pursue your own hopes and dreams – if you want to be a writer, perhaps it will mean only a couple of hours a week to sit and have the luxury of mapping a story on the bus into work. Whilst I agree that you can’t suspend real life and commitments, I don’t believe that you should abandon the things that make your soul sing. We are each in different circumstances; emotionally, financially and in a multitude of individual ways, so the journey towards our goals will naturally be different. Don’t give yourself a hard time if it takes you a few years to get there; one of the best bits about a career in writing is that the more experience you have of life, the more you have to draw upon as inspiration.

In my case, I have always been a fiercely independent person and I like to think that even without the benefit of being married or having a loving family and friend network, I would still have had the gumption to make a play for my dreams. However, it’s a moot point because without all of the aforementioned people, it’s likely I would have turned out to be a vacuous person, devoid of any insight into human behaviour or relationships and therefore would have been an utterly abysmal writer of fiction. Funny how the world works, isn’t it? Anyway, the existence of this network gave me the confidence to try. I cannot overstate how important that was, and still is, throughout the process of writing each new book. If you are thinking of making the leap, confide in those special people and you might be surprised at how supportive they will be.

3. I can’t seem to get into a good ‘flow’ with my writing. Is this what they call ‘Writer’s Block’?

It sounds like it, but here’s a checklist you can take home:

  • If you can’t get into writing your own story, it might be worth seriously considering making changes to the concept because if your subliminal mind doesn’t want to write it, ain’t nobody going to want to read it. Just saying.
  • Have you been getting enough sleep? Seriously, your brain needs to be able to function properly in order to write a book. Go and take a power nap!
  • Do as I say (and not as I do) and lay off the caffeine. It’s fine as a boost, but it’ll make you jittery and nervous!
  • Get some exercise. Take a brisk walk and you’d be surprised at how the ideas start to floor. I recommend taking a notepad to jot them down!
  • If all else fails, close the door and search Spotify for a compilation album of Latin choons that you can shake your hips to, such as my current favourite The Rhythm is Gonna Get You. I’m not kidding. Skip ahead to La Bamba, make a beeline for Bamboleo and round it off with a quality bit of Livin’ La Vida Loca. It’s infectious fun – exactly what you need when you’ve been sitting over a desk mourning your lack of talent/skills/life/literary awards and frankly you need to get a grip and shake it loose!

That’s about all I can think of for now, folks!

Until next time…

LJ x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series or standalone?

Any mother will tell you that if you manage to find the time to blow dry your hair in the morning and get through the day without ten strong coffees, you’re a bloody rock star. Factor in multiple children and work, and things start to get pretty frenetic.

In my case, I can’t complain too loudly. I have a hands-on husband who, despite managing his own busy career, is always an equal parent and a great dad to our little boy. My son is two and enjoys spending time at nursery (terrorising the staff, no doubt) which allows me to ring fence blocks of time during the day when I can work, too. Despite what some people imagine the life of a writer to be, it isn’t all that glamorous! Like any self-employed job, there are long periods of time spent at a desk, with only your fictional characters for company. Then, there is the act of being persistently creative, which can be both a joy and a curse. Finally, there is the crippling self-doubt which comes from putting that creative product ‘out there’ in the real world, where people can heap plaudits or shred it to pieces, depending on their mood.

Why do you do it? I hear you cry. Well, it’s for the simple love of writing stories. I was a lawyer in London before deciding to change career, and almost as soon as I got into the flow of writing I knew that I had made the right decision. The process can be frustrating and there is a lot of hard work involved, but the benefits far outweigh the costs in terms of personal happiness and a flexible working life.

Holy Island

After my first novel, ‘Holy Island’ was published in January 2015, my jaw fell to the floor when it reached the UK #1 spot the following May in the Amazon charts. When I wrote that book, I wasn’t at all sure how it would be received and certainly hadn’t thought far enough ahead to consider that it might form the basis for a series of Northumbrian murder mysteries. Yet, when it was received so kindly by readers around the country and internationally, and people wrote to me to ask if there would be more of DCI Ryan, I began to think about the possibility. I was clear on the fact that I would only write a sequel if I felt there was a genuine story to be told; it needed to come organically, rather than being something formulated only for commercial gain.

Well, I think I’ve been bitten by the writer’s bug, because now I can’t seem to stop imagining new mysteries. For me, the ideas flow from the landscape of Northumberland and its surrounds: the first novel was named after the atmospheric island of Lindisfarne and the second, ‘Sycamore Gap’, after that iconic spot on Hadrian’s Wall made famous in Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesThe third in the series, ‘Heavenfield’ is named after the tiny, remote church of St. Oswald’s, also in Hadrian’s Wall country. The scenery is my muse and so, for as long as the stories keep popping into my mind, I’ll be happy writing them.

Sycamore Gap

But, are there certain rules to abide by, when writing a series? As with any practical advice on the topic of writing, this is a highly individual thing. Each writer is different and their approach to writing stories reflects their own personality. In general, it is probably fair to say that the stories should flow and, depending on the type of series you are writing, you should bear in mind your audience and remain loyal to the characters you have created. When I say that, I mean that you should try to put yourself in the shoes of the characters and ask yourself: ‘what would be likely to happen in their lives, next?’ Thinking along these lines usually helps with the flow of a story, when your planned outline comes to a bit of a shuddering halt with the dreaded writer’s block. Yes, it is a real thing and, no, you cannot always predict when it will strike!

Should each book in a series also be capable of being read as a standalone? As the characters develop through each of the books in the series, it becomes increasingly difficult to create standalone stories unless each book truly encapsulates an entirely new theme. For example, in the first three of my DCI Ryan series, I included a secondary thread relating to a cult circle, which was never designed to continue indefinitely and needed some form of resolution by the third book. This brings a sense of satisfaction to both me and my readers and with the fourth book, I am looking forward to re-introducing my main characters in the context of a new and exciting mystery.

The one potential drawback to writing a series is that, as the stories and characters progress, the fabric of their imaginary lives becomes more complex and will require a strong grasp of each so that you do not unwittingly drop a clanger! For, as with people in the real world, the reader will immediately notice if your detective says or does something that is noticeably out of place, or if he grows ten years older, overnight.

LJ x

 

 

 

CAPTION COMPETITION!

  
To celebrate the imminent release of Holy Island in paperback, I’ll be giving away ten signed copies to those who can come up with the funniest / most inspired ending to the following caption:

“Ryan followed the muffled sounds at the end of the darkened corridor. With slow movements, he edged closer, until only a wooden door separated him from what lay beyond. Fingers splayed against the wood, he pushed the door open and his jaw fell in astonishment, for he saw…[BLANK]”

Post your entries as a comment here or on my Facebook L J Ross Author page here and the winners will be chosen on Friday 17th July.

Good luck! 

X

Sycamore Gap

HW387 SYCAMORE GAP  HADRIAN'S WALL

(c) Roger Clegg Photography

Before I begin my usual rant about the ups and downs of moving from being a lawyer to writing novels, let me take a moment to introduce you to the work of Roger Clegg, a fantastic photographer based in the North East who is well known for his stunning work in and around Hadrian’s Wall, as well as the wider scenery of Northumberland.

It is his photograph of Sycamore Gap (above) which graces my Twitter account and will soon form the basis for the cover of my next book, conveniently titled, ‘Sycamore Gap: A DCI Ryan Mystery’, after some tinkering with text and all that jazz which I shall happily leave to a more qualified person!

This award-winning photograph was captured with the last light on Midsummer’s Night and took two years for the conditions to be just right. I am therefore delighted that he is happy for it now to grace the cover of my next novel – many thanks to him.

If you would like to have a look at this or any of the other beautiful pictures of the region, check out his website: www.northern-horizons.co.uk.

Now, onto the writing itself.

What a bloomin’ minefield it is, writing a sequel! Gone are those heady, blissful days of ignorance which I enjoyed before the success of Holy Island. Not that I’m complaining, you understand, but now I have something to live up to. I have to say that DCI Ryan has been drinking a lot more caffeine (mirroring the writer herself) and is somewhat grumpier than usual (again, I am guilty of this) in this second book. Coincidence?

Jokes aside, part of me wondered whether I would enjoy writing a second book as much as I enjoyed writing the first. I am happy to say that, for all the pressure, the re-writes, the second-guessing and creative tantrums (I admit it), this job still gets two thumbs up from me. The relative solitude isn’t suited to everyone, but being a largely antisocial git, it suits me to lose myself in a story for hours at a time and then to enjoy spending the rest of the time with family and friends. It takes inordinately high levels of concentration, to cut everything else out of my mind in order to sit and write for long periods of time, but it’s worth missing Geordie Shore for that. Let’s face it, practically anything would be worth missing Geordie Shore (sorry, reality TV fans!)

With that in mind, better get off and do some work!

Hope you all have a great week.

x

The Gong Show

 

Morning, all!

What a weekend! I have a lovely Canadian friend who uses the phrase ‘gong show’ to describe chaotic situations – not necessarily bad ones – but frenetic all the same. It seems an apt description of my weekend, that’s for sure.

Firstly, we headed over the border into Scotland to visit my father-in-law on his 80th birthday. He’s a lovely man, who in his formative years was one of the sharpest, most generous people I’ve ever met. From the first, he welcomed me into his home with a healthy dollop of charm and an open heart, which I will never forget. I hope that, when my son brings someone special home to visit, I will do the same. Unfortunately, due to a long illness, my father-in-law is now suffering from dementia and is living in a care home. The carers do a fabulous job and we are extremely grateful to them for the kindness they show him. We broke our journey at my family’s home in Northumberland and then took a train along the east coast, past Lindisfarne, up to Edinburgh and beyond. It’s a scenic journey but a bit of a long one, which prevents us making the trip every week, as we would like to be able to do. It’s always bittersweet, but we had a wonderful time while we were there.

Secondly, an interesting phenomenon happened on Thursday night. I happened to look online and noticed that ‘Holy Island’ had been reduced in price and selected for inclusion on Amazon’s ‘Kindle Fever’ book promotion, which ran over the Bank Holiday weekend and continues until 10th or 11th May.

Well, I thought, that’s nice. Then, I carried on with my day.

Flash forward a few hours and I looked very much like the Doc in ‘Back to the Future’. Great Scott!

giphy

I never expected that my little book would make it to #1 on the Amazon UK Bestseller list. It was great to make it to the top of individual categories, which is all I could have dreamed of. As for anything else, I never imagined it would be possible. I have now developed a severe case of Imposter Syndrome. At any moment, I expect to receive an e-mail from Amazon saying, “Sorry, we made a mistake.”

For anyone reading this who decided to buy my book, I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ for giving it a try. It has been said many times elsewhere and by authors across the world that you can’t hope to please everyone, but if reading ‘Holy Island’ has given you a few hours of decent entertainment then I have achieved my original goal.

Have a great day. x

All Stars Rule!!

Morning!

Well, blow me down with a feather, but it turns out I’m an ‘Amazon All Star!’

No, I haven’t decided to join a basketball team. I’m 5ft 3” and so, on every level, that would be ridiculous.

The ‘All Star’ tag is a bonus award scheme which Amazon runs on a monthly basis. There are two categories: book titles and authors. Those book titles and authors read most frequently on Amazon are awarded ‘All Star’ status, which is one of the few accolades that an e-book author can achieve.

The award is great and it’s something I never expected starting out, but most importantly, it tells me that there are a lot of you lovely people out there reading  and (hopefully) enjoying it. The title has been more-or-less permanently ranked as #1 in the ‘Cozy Mystery’ category since it was released in January and has been climbing the ‘Romantic Suspense’ category steadily over the weeks until it peaked at #8 this week. It’s still climbing, so watch this space! I’m competing against a fair amount of books which feature naked male torsos on their covers…

I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who invested their pennies in buying the book and I hope that you have found it to be an entertaining read. I’ve been very lucky in the reviews online, for which I am also grateful. As with anything in life, you can’t please absolutely everyone (there will always be a crazy minority who don’t enjoy my particular brand of Hot Fuzz crime, but we don’t talk about them!) So long as the majority are happy, that’s good enough for me.

I think that writing can breed a certain amount of self-consciousness, which is natural. After all, you’re investing a lot of time and energy in a project which is very subjective in nature. Then, you voluntarily open yourself up to the criticism of internet trolls, disgruntled former friends, the mean kids from back in the day and not forgetting the general population. The world of publishing today is much more ‘digital’ in nature and writers need to be aware of this and ask themselves if they can hack it. It takes confidence, which can be a rare commodity.

As with any new aspiring author, I naturally turned to traditional publishers first, in my quest to get out into the big wide world. When the offer letter and contract finally did come through the mail, I was ecstatic…right until I looked at the terms. You can’t blame them, really. I was an untried, new author. Why did I think they would offer me decent terms?

It was Mr Ross who suggested that I think outside the box and look into publishing an e-book.

What? You mean, do it ourselves? That’s crazy talk, I said.

It’s the future, he said, don’t be stubborn, he said.

Turns out that, as with far too many things for my liking, he might be right. Traditional publishers today will struggle to back new authors when they are competing with the likes of Amazon. Yet, I think that the existence of the Amazon-type platform will make reading much more accessible to so many people that I can’t bring myself to think of it as a negative.

In short, I’m very pleased that I took the plunge and would encourage any aspiring new authors out there to give it a go. The world loves to read and I, for one, am always looking for new voices to enjoy.

Bye for now!

x

The Coffee Shop Tour: Eshott Hall

  

Happy Easter, to those of the religious persuasion amongst you! 

Today, I’m cheating a bit. Rather than patronising a coffee shop I’m enjoying my caffeine fix at beautiful Eshott Hall in Northumberland. It’s full of cosy charm and faded grandeur, surrounded by trees and pretty parkland. We’re here for a weekend getaway to celebrate Mr Ross’s birthday and it’s a lovely retreat.

Nowadays, I’m never without my laptop and so it is also an ideal opportunity to take an hour here and there to write a bit more about the murderous goings-on at the setting of my new book, Sycamore Gap. They’ve found a body in the cavity of Hadrian’s Wall and, let me tell you, it’s not some old Roman centurion…

The village of Eshott could also provide a bit of inspiration for future works, given my predilection for small, close-knit village scenes which mask a seething underbelly of crime. As on Holy Island, all is serene and quiet, but I find myself wondering: what lies hidden? 

It’s funny, isn’t it, how appearances can be deceptive. For example, I was sitting reading a book by Rachel Abbot earlier in the day (Sleep Tight, it was called, and very engaging it was too) while an old couple sat nearby. At first glance, I thought they looked harmless and kind, like the perfect grandparents. Only after they had spent forty-five minutes bitching about their schadenfreude Doreen (“with the sizeable arse”), their daughter-in-law Mary (“who can’t cook for toffee”) and generally slated all those of their intimate acquaintance was I forced to admit that my initial assessment had clearly been way off base!

We’re all guilty of making value judgements, though. The kind of flash opinions based on another person’s looks, clothing, social status and, for some, the colour of their skin. It’s a tendency which has long tentacles. What about in the work place? Or, in the destruction of families or friendships? It’s food for thought. 

‘Night, all. 

X