Friday, 30 October 2009


I wonder how many more people were drawn to this particular blog than usual because of the title?

Just picking up on Matt’s blog below – the Bookseller debate about violence in fiction is a fascinating one that, of course, has no definitive answer. Violent content is a thorny discussion because it’s always a matter of subjective taste. Nobody can realistically judge or regulate this – although certain people and organisations have tried.

Everyone has a different threshold but everyone has enjoyed violence on some level. So whether it’s the satisfaction derived from watching James Bond’s evil nemesis get obliterated along with his secret base, Jerry smashing a plank with a nail through it onto Tom's head or watching Leatherface chasing a victim with a chainsaw there’s no right or wrong about what is and isn’t permissible. It’s a personal choice.

Human beings have been enjoying violence since the days of the gladiators. We’ve come a long way since then and now most of us can do it within the confines of books, TV and computer games…a lot less messier in terms of cleaning up.

It’s been said that certain individuals have perpetrated acts of violence because of what they saw on TV. I could get into whether or not such disturbed individuals would have been triggered regardless and should we censor everything because of a tiny minority but that’s a whole different blog.

In such a censored country as the UK I’ve always thought it odd that books don’t carry certificates – after all there is some incredibly graphic literature out there and this isn’t limited to crime and horror fiction. Don’t for a moment think I’m advocating this though.

Maybe it’s because the sort of people who would want to enforce such a thing have no imagination and therefore wouldn’t see them as a threat.

But anybody with a potent imagination might agree that filling in the gaps deliberately left by a skilful author is a sure fire formula for creating scenes more unspeakable than anything on celluloid. It’s because the reader makes the material personal to them and this is something that can’t be done on the screen with any amount of special fx or explicit choreography.

There is an argument for viewer imagination. Take ‘Psycho’ and the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’ These were two of the most bloodless movies ever released but everyone at the time was convinced they saw the gore.

But books are a permanently creative form of entertainment. The reader is constantly creating a picture of the character, the backdrop…and the violence in their head and this is what a skilled writer can use to their advantage.

Some writers don’t use it well, however, and this is where the real question lies. Is the violence in context or is it a cheap shot to boost an otherwise lacklustre plot? It’s incredible what some people will find permissible when the story is intelligently written. Just ask Thomas Harris. He’s a respected writer who has ingrained some deeply disturbing scenarios with readers and moviegoers alike and I’m one of many who are thankful for it. Anybody who reads that sort of material doesn’t want to feel safe. And if it’s not for you – leave it on the shelf.

However, there is a trend in books and movies of late that tends towards graphic torture and frequently of women. It’s not my cup of tea but I don’t object to it on the grounds of taste. I object to it because it insults my intelligence – one of the worst offences in terms of literature or the silver screen. It’s facile and usually devoid of humour – the one sure way you can make some of the most outrageous ideas palatable.

When I wrote STOP ME I wanted to highlight society’s worrying fixation with serial killers and the insidious make believe world of the Internet that masks some deeply disturbed individuals. Ultimately I ended up writing a serial killer book and extracting entertainment value from it.

The cover of STOP ME depicts a woman tied to a chair. I've been told by more women than men that they like it (the cover - not being tied up. Although who am I to judge). Women die in it but not in excruciatingly graphic detail. Men die in it as well. I'm not going to apologise because it's part of what I hope is an entertaining story.

It could easily be pigeonholed as just another serial killer book but I sincerely hope other readers will enjoy it as a commentary as well as an accessible, twisty thriller (and from feedback sources this appears to be the case).

One of the most constructive pieces of feedback I’ve had about it was what one reader called my ‘restraint.’ On the other side of the coin, I had another reader who felt they wanted to read more about the victims’ jawbones being sent through the post. Both of these comments came from women.

Honestly, it's almost as if people (of both sexes) have minds of their own...

Horses for courses but as a writer you have to make a judgement about the balance of plot and violence in your book. If you strip away the violence, however creative, and find you have little left then it’s probably not going to significantly reward the reader. That’s not saying that nobody’s going to buy and enjoy it though.

But if you do decide to create subject matter that can be interpreted as violent, subversive or misogynistic then I think you need to be even more creative and intelligent. It’s the only way it will rise above the glut of material created by writers looking for an easy meal ticket.

Incidentally, blood on breasts was one of the biggest no-nos at the BBFC. Who the hell decided that?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Is Crime Fiction Too Sadistic?

by Matt Lynn

There's an interesting debate going on over at The Bookseller. The reviewer Jessica Mann was reported as saying she was giving up reviewing the genre because she was fed up with "outpourings of sadistic misogyny" that now characterises so many crime thrillers - although, in fairness, Jessica points out out later on that she is only giving up on those kinds of books, not the entire category.

Still, it's a debate worth having, and one that authors should take seriously. At some point in the last decade, the crime genre seems to have transformed itself into a 'serial killer' genre. A lot of the poster campaigns you see for books these days appear to be designed to be as gruesome as possible, and may well be putting off as many people from the genre as they attract.

I don't have anything against violence in books myself - and I don't suppose that someone who has written a book called 'Death Force' is in any position to complain about it. It has always been a big part of the crime and thriller genre, and there are good reasons for that. We are all fascinated by death. And, of course, it is only life and death situations that really create the necessary drama and tension that writers are seeking to create.

There are two problems, however.

Much of the crime genre appears to have slipped into a kind of torture porn. The crimes get more and more horrific, much of it dircted against women and children. I'm not convinced that is either healthy or wise.

Next, it isn't really very realistic either. Unless I've missed something, this country has hardly any serial killlers. The US has a few more, but not that many. At yet the bookshelves are groaning with serial killer stories. They aren't reflecting the world around them.

I wouldn't want to dictate what people should write about. But I can't help feeling that Mann is onto something when she complains that the genre is disappearing into a ghetto which, while it may do something for a minority of readres, alienates the mainstream audience.

Friday, 23 October 2009


There’s one common emotion that a lot of writers experience when they’ve finished a manuscript – anticlimax.

Never quite the streamer and champagne affair that they anticipated, they then immediately begin to consider how it’s going to be received and, if it is met with a positive response, how many more drafts are going to be needed.

I do try to celebrate the moment. After all, it’s the place you fantasised about being at months previously. It’s also the hardest part of the work done…isn’t it?

I’ve just finished the second draft of my new, stand alone thriller and it necessitated a lot of new work. Some the agent requested, a lot of it self-imposed. The deed is done so a triple gin martini will be forthcoming. But as I’m spiking the olives, I’m already thinking about the final polish that I’ll give it before emailing it.

But every draft is an improvement and if I can get everyone as fired up about this one as I did STOP ME then I’m looking forward to an opportunity to enhance it. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have read my first novel – via MY WEBSITE and Twitter - and I’m starting to get a feel for what pops their corn. Now I’m asking: Are there enough twists and turns as my previous novel? Is it as contemporary? Is it as dark? Does it move fast enough? My agent and publisher will have myriad responses to these questions over the next few months I’m sure.

And after it’s been edited, polished and proofread and if/when it’s published there’ll be a lot of readers with a different take on whether I have actually ticked all the right boxes. But at some point in all this there’s got to be a celebration. So why the hell not now? Cheers!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Author's Websites.

by Matt Lynn

I've just been getting the Matt Lynn website re-designed. Fire Force is out next February in hardback, then in paperback in May, and I wanted it to be re-done to reflect the fact there were now two books in the series to promote. And, of course, is has to be flexible enough to incorporate the two more books in the series that are scheduled for 2011 and 2012.

But it set me thinking to what author's websites should be trying to do.

I don't really share the general gloom about the books business. People have loved stories for thousands of years and aren't going to stop now. Unlike newspapers, which are in serious trouble because the internet has taken apart their whole way of delivering news, electronic books don't offer any real advantages over the traditional printed sort. But that doesn't mean we don't need to change.

The web is changing the relationships writers have with readers, and our websites need to reflect that.

We need to be a lot closer to our readers, and allow them to talk to us. We need to provide more details of the story, extra information such as research materials, background on the characters, maybe free short stories. We also need to unpeel what we are doing, so that readers can take a look at how the books gets put together, and comment or criticise if they want to.

What we don't want to do is just put up marketing blub, or expect people to download and read extracts. The web is all about conversations, not broadcasting.

So far my website is pretty standard. But over time I want to expand it and develop it, so that it fits in as part of whole experience of reading the Death Force books. Our websites will be the main way we get closer to our readers, and make them part of a community, and that is the way we'll stay in business.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Sex, guns and inspiration

One of the great joys of writing thrillers is the astonishing generosity with which people share their time and expertise. Over the past few years of writing the Carver novels, I've asked pilots to tell me how to sabotage their own planes and helicopters. I've had professors tell me how to make an atomic bomb. An ex-Marine who now runs a Nordic ski centre enabled me to send Carver off to the frozen wastes of Northern Norway without ever leaving the comfort of my cozy study. The enthusiasm with which people contribute ideas and information never ceases to amaze and delight me.

Last Friday it happened again. I'd had an idea for a scene in the next book in which Carver goes shooting on an English country estate. I have never done this. I have not even fired a shotgun in my life. I was chatting about the scene, and my technical shortcomings in writing it, to my landlord Jamie Allday, from whom I rent my office-space.

'I know just the chap to help you,' Jamie said, explaining that his cousin was married to a man called Jonathan Irby, who is not only a superb shot but also the General Manager of the West London Shooting School. Founded in 1931, the school is based at what must once have been a rural retreat, right next to Northolt airfield, in the outer suburbs of London. The school offers private tuition at £101 an hour, as well as a series of outdoor ranges which replicate pretty much every form of game shooting you're ever likely to encounter in Britain. Needless to say it's incredibly popular with the corporate-event crowd: makes a change from all the lapdancing clubs.

Anyway, I explained my idea for the scene to Jonathan Irby. My aim was to describe a very traditional, upper-class and (supposedly) civilized event in such a way that it became as exciting and tension-filled as one of Carver's usual violent action sequences ... with a strong dash of sex added to the mix as well.

Jonathan totally got what I was after. For starters, he explained all the basic technicalities: the different types of guns involved; the various targets; the significance of terrain and weather conditions, etc. But as well as that, he came up with specific incidents, likely to happen on a shoot, that would increase tension, or reveal aspects of people's character and state-of-mind. So he was just as inspirational in terms of the actual narrative as he was with all the backdrop to it.

After a fascinating morning, which was a pleasure in itself, I came away buzzing with ideas for the sequence. I could see exactly how it would play out over several thousand words. In fact, I can't wait to stop writing this post and get on with my new scene.

The times when the well seems to have run dry for a writer are utterly miserable. But day like Friday remind me why it is that, despite all it many drawbacks, I do still love this job.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


The Internet is a pretty unquantifiable entity and it’s difficult to gauge how much of an author’s efforts to promote their book online actually translate into worthwhile results. There are so many cracks for your hard work to fall down and it’s very time consuming. A little like writing the book in the first place.

The accepted wisdom is that Internet publicity is good even though there are plenty of pitfalls and horror stories. A writer friend of mine went on a virtual tour to promote his book, launched a competition and ticked every conceivable cyber promo box only to watch his sales plummet lower than they had before.

But every now and again it can surprise you. In the last week I’ve been sent links to two pages that featured my book. This one (second one down) was a review of STOP ME that I was more than pleased with and this one materialised last night.

To use a rather laboured Frankenstein analogy – the Internet is an uncontrollable monster that seldom does your bidding but occasionally comes home with an armful of something sexy.

The real trick is balancing your time between feeding the monster and attending to more important surgery. I’ll stop using the Frankenstein analogy now.

I would say that writing is the most important thing, however, and if you don’t have time for writing and promo I would always plump for writing. After all, if your work’s not finished what is there to sell to (I’m hoping that’s not a real website but what the hell – click the link)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

bargain books

I have heard readers boast that they never buy books from bookshops, and never spend more than fifty pence buying from amazon or charity shops. I have nothing against shopping in charity shops – I do so myself – or against online suppliers who are efficient and cheap. But for every book that is sold for 50 pence or less, a publisher loses their profit. There’s nothing wrong with publishers making a profit. There is a great deal wrong if they don’t.
3 for 2, buy one get one free, brand new books half price . . . we all love a bargain, but our gain is someone else’s loss. If publishers lose too much, there will be no publishers. Already the market is swamped with self published books. I don’t claim that all self published books are poor quality, or that all traditionally published books are superior. But, like the proliferation of television channels, more quantity inevitably dilutes quality. And publishers do set some standards. At the very least, they are hoping to make back the money they’ve spent producing the book.
We are moving towards a world where everyone can produce their own books, downloadable free. As for professional authors, they won’t have time to write, they’ll be busy working to pay their bills. There’s precious little money to be made from writing now. With no advances or royalties, the cupboard will be completely bare.
If you never spend more than 50 pence on a book – or even one penny as a reader boasted recently – bear in mind that you may be approaching the point of no return. Like lemmings, many readers are rushing over the precipice to a Brave New World where the book as we know it will cease to exist, lost in a morass of blog-like semi-autobiographical works of flaccid fiction whose prose has never heard the scissor snap of an editor’s keys . . .
We all like to feel we are getting something for nothing. Let's hope we don't end up paying a higher price than any of us bargained for.
Let's hope our careers as writers aren't...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Fact and Fiction

by Matt Lynn

I was interested to read this story in the Telegraph this morning, about how well-financed the Taliban is from the opium trade in Afghanistan, because it touches on the plot of my thriller Death Force, which is about the attempt by some Army officers and mercenaries to make the Taliban a bit poorer by robbing their money.

But it also started me thinking about the lines between fact and fiction and how thriller writers should handle them.

One of the things that I've also liked about the genre is the way it draws on real-life, taking stories from the military, from science, from finance or from politics. Of all the fictional genres, it is the most 'newsy'. Indeed, the best thrillers give you the same sense of immediacy and being close to the action that you get from reading a newspaper.

But, of course, it also creates problems.

A newspaper or website is real-time. A book is on a two to four year time cycle. If I start thinking about a plot right now, it will take a year for me to write it, and another year for it to come out, then a few more months before it comes out in paperback. Then you hope it survives on the shelves for at least two or three years. So someone could be reading it five years after you thought about it, and it has to still seem bang up to date and relevant.

Right now, I'm writing the third in the 'Death Force' series. It's called 'Shadow Force' and involves the unit of mercenaries taking on the pirates in Somalia. I had a discussion with my editor at Headline about whether pirates would still be in the news in 2011 when the book comes out. I reckon they will be, and I talked to a few experts to find out. The pirates, I reckon, will be in and out of the news for years to come (and it would be great if they could take a really big boat the month the book comes out).

But, of course, I can't be sure of that. People might have lost interest by then.

It's really a matter of guesswork - and also trying to figure out what conflicts or stories will be topical for several years, and which are just transitory.

Friday, 9 October 2009


Was chatting recently online about editors asking writers to change their work for publication and how far a writer should or shouldn't go.

Juggling a desire to be faithful to your work and a desire to be published is an exceedingly tricky act. Obviously it’s down to individual scenarios but I think writers always have to bear in mind that having a book published is a commercial enterprise and that the publisher’s first priority is maximising the return on their investment. This means giving readers what they want – or what the publishers believe they want. If they are an established market force then it’s likely they have the sort of experience that can bring your work to the attention of a wider readership and you have to trust them at the editing stage.

However, the last thing any writer wants is for their work to be compromised so ultimately it’s a gut thing. You’ll know if what you’re being asked to change will alter your message or story so don’t be afraid to diplomatically debate anything that you feel conflicted about. Balance that with a healthy spirit of compromise, however. Every work benefits from an experienced editor and you should welcome the opportunity to improve the text and to give your book the best possible chance in such a heavily saturated market.

Fortunately, the changes I had to make to my dark thriller STOP ME were very small. It was more a case of making the facts as clear as possible to the reader and thankfully I wasn’t required to change the plot. The deadly spam email sent around the world by the Vacation Killer was an unusual way to start a book but the publisher was happy to go with it. There was a request for me to up the ante with the gore in the book – not necessarily to write more scenes but to amplify what was already there. The publisher felt that the reader would expect more of this from a serial killer book. I didn’t feel the story necessitated too much and added a sprinkling more as a compromise. My editor seemed happy with this.

On a lighter note, I used the names of restaurants I’d eaten at in New Orleans for authenticity but had to change them to fictional ones because the publishers were concerned about making the real businesses synonymous with serial killers!

Don't get tied up in knots like the Vacation Killer victim above. To win a signed copy of Richard Jay Parker’s breakneck thriller STOP ME just spot three headlines on his website and email them to him via the address there.

Just go HERE

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Hub

It’s happened. After weeks hearing whispers of concern, muttered gripes and grumbles from all sorts of quarters, it’s finally happened to me . . . I’ve fallen foul of . . . (cue spooky sound effects, dim the lights) . . . The Hub.
I’m passionate about authors supporting bookshops. I’ve blogged elsewhere about this, on the Bookseller blog and on my own blog
I’ve signed at 24 bookshops since Cut Short launched three months ago without any problem. On each occasion my book sold out and I was invited to return. I have a further dozen signings booked between now and Christmas, with several more bookshops lined up for after Christmas.
What could possibly go wrong with my bookshop events?
This coming Saturday would have been no exception. I’d arranged to sign at a busy branch of Waterstones. The Events Manager couldn’t have been more helpful. As usual, I was happy to put in the hours. The bookshop was ready. I was ready. Everything seemed fine - until I received an email from the bookshop to say they were unable to obtain the stock in time and had to cancel. The distributor could deliver the books immediately, but the store isn’t allowed to accept a delivery without permission from . . . The Hub. The Waterstones Hub.
In the good old days there wouldn't have been a problem. (What am I talking about? I’ve been a published author for three months – what good old days?). Books were delivered by the distributor whenever they were needed. There was never a problem. The distributor distributed books. That’s their job. They do it very well. What could be simpler?
Seems it was too simple and successful a system to survive.
So now Waterstones own Hub is stopping Waterstones stores from selling books.
I’m known for being outspoken but this is so weird I don’t know how to react.
Something this bizarre needs the pen of George Orwell . . . hang on, he wrote fiction. . .

Leigh Russell, author of CUT SHORT
(available on amazon and perhaps in good bookshops)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Are The Public Fed Up With Rubbish Yet....

by Matt Lynn

Maybe this is wishful thinking, but there are signs that the reading public may be getting fed up with some of the pap the publishers have been pushing at them in the last few years.

The Bookseller reports, via The Sun, that bookshops are a little reluctant to stock the new Katie Price book, her fourth in five years.

Even if you accept that Price is worth one memoir, maybe even two, four is probably pushing it a bit, even by the standards of Random House.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure the James Patterson word factory is quite the Toyota-style paragon of efficiency it should be either. Alex Cross's Trial drops back from 2 to 7 in the hardback charts this week, according to The Times.

Patterson has some talent, but by churning out formulaic, ghost-written thrillers he isn't doing anyone any favours. Least of all himself.

One of the purposes of The Curzon Group is to promote quality popular fiction - our own, obviously, but also other people's. It's encouraging to think that the reading public is fed up with cynical, ghost-written pap. We might even be on to something.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Tom Cain is Blocked

I'm blocked. It's never happened to me before. Oh sure, there have been times when I fretted that i didn't know what was going to happen next in a story. There was a whole weekend at the Harrogate Festival when I petrified my editor with the revelation that I really didn't have a clue how I was going to follow up The Accident Man. He thought I was kidding at first. Then he told himself that maybe I was just exaggerating the extent of my problems. And then, with a palpable air of shock, horror and even a dash of panic, he understood that I really, truly, absolutely had no idea how to write the next book.
That, though, was a case of too many ideas, rather than too few. There were so many storylines flying around my head for the book that would eventually become The Survivor that i simply had no idea how to weave them all into a single coherent plot. But that was July 2007 and the book wasn't due in till January 2008. In the end, with a lot of hard work all round, the job was done and The Survivor came out on time. And since it's up for a Barry Award for the year's best thriller at the Bouchercon thriller convention in Indianapolis later this month (Bouchercon is the biggest of a great mass of thriller conventions, weekends and assorted gatherings that can and do occupy writers all the year round in the States), I guess it held together OK. This year's Carver book, Assassin, was deliberately planned as a simpler, sharper, tighter, wham-bam-thankyou-ma'am kind of story and it was probably the most painless I've ever written.
But next year's book ... well, that's turned into a total bloody nightmare. I've got the basic set-up, or at least I thought I had. I've got the main characters. I know the key twists and betrayals on which the story will turn. But for three months I've been stuck ... absolutely jammed ... motionless ... in short, blocked. And it's all down to one simple thing: I can't decide how to carry out an assassination that occurs about a third of the way in to the story. It's one of the key moments of the whole book: an evil foreign politician, loosely based on an actual evil foreign politician gets his well-deserved comeuppance courtesy of my man Samuel Carver. The hit goes down exactly as planned ... well of course it does, this is Carver, he knows what he's doing. And then things start to unravel ... well, of course they do, this is a Carver story and nothing is ever quite as easy for the poor bastard as it seems.
But what I can't get my head around is the way in which Carver does the dirty deed. My problem is perfectly straightforward. Carver, in theory, kills his targets by means of 'accidents'. That's why he's known as the Accident Man - durrr! But there only are so many ways of creating fatal accidents and Sam's already killed people in 'accidents' that caused a helicopter crash; three car crashes, carried out in two different ways; two plane crashes that were deliberately similar because the target was the same man in both cases; a burning (and then exploding) building; a poisoning (strictly speaking this was carried out by someone pretending to be Carver, as was one of the car crashes) and a shooting made to look as though it was carried out by the target's bodyguards. These, of course, are in addition to all the shootings, stabbings, stranglings, shooting-in-the-mouth with-a-distress-flares and general blowing-to-bits that have also occurred in the course of three absurdly action-packed books.
And now I have no idea what to do next. I'm completely and utterly stumped.
And it serves me right. I have committed, I now realise, two grave errors. in the first place, I gave my protagonist a characteristic that not only defines, but also limits him. James Bond. Jack Reacher and the rest can get rid of their enemies in any ay they choose, the more obviously and publicly the better. But I made Carver a man who kills anonymously, unattributably, in ways that are far more complex that a bullet from a Walther PPK, or a bone-shattering punch from a 250-pound giant.
How very, very thick of me.
Even worse, I then used up my material way too fast. My books are ridiculously profligate with their action scenes. Having watched way too many Bourne films and series of 24, I tried to go for the same non-stop kinetic frenzy of movement and combat: one damn thing after another .. and another ... and another.
This combination of compulsive originality and wanton improvidence has used up my creative capital way too fast. So now I'm racking my brains for new, even more extreme ways to off my bad guys. Maybe Carver could let loose a herd of killer weasels and chew the evil bastard to death, or feed him toxic oysters till he became first as fat; then as food-poisoned as Michael Winner; or waft some Russian polonium-210 in his face and give him a lingering-yet-inevitable death like Alexander Litvinenko.
Anything would do - anything outrageous, yet just about credible. But it hasn't come. Because if it had, I wouldn't be scribbling this blog, would I? I'd be getting on with my bloody novel ...


Friday, 2 October 2009


With all the doom and gloom around in publishing it's good to find something positive to blog about. Yesterday was Super Thursday - the big day on the UK publishing calendar when the majors unveil all their books for the Christmas period. Yet, on the same day it was also reported that independent booksellers have gained market share during the first half of the year. Report here

This is encouraging for all of those who refuse to be poked down a market force rat run.

As the promo for my new dark thriller STOP ME runs into this giant publicity mechanism it's reasssuring to know that there are booksellers but above all readers who won't be swayed by that strategic display inside the door, the carefully positioned titles on the front of house table or those books that the major publishers have paid to have facing out from the shelf.

This is not me bad mouthing these titles or their publishers. It's business and everyone must compete to position their books at the most busy time of the year. But ultimately it's all down to readers and as a newcomer to this game it's cheering to know that readers aren't always as predictable or malleable as they're often believed to be.

As a new author I've been bowled over by the people who are prepared to take a gamble on STOP ME. A lot of readers like to adhere to authors who are popular or whom they've read before - after all, some people often don't have time to read so want a safe bet when they do get the chance. But now I'm learning about a breed of discerning book buyers who refuse to be brainwashed by the strategies of publishers and will walk that extra few feet behind the displays to find something rewarding in the A-Z section rather than grabbing what they're expected to.

These are the people who have been in touch with me via my website and Twitter, these are the people who have taken the time to leave positive reviews on the STOP ME Amazon page. If you listen to what the industry tells you, you wouldn't know these people existed.

I've been inspired by them and my own reading patterns have changed as a result. Consequently, I'm now reading a lot of new authors and not only is this satisfying in terms of finding some surprising, infinitely rewarding and quality reading material - it's also flicking the V's to mind control.

Meeting up with my fellow Curzon authors last night it struck me that a lot of us are promoting our first books and although it's a highly competitive market, all of us are selling. We all work hard towards promoting our books but there's only so much we can do. After that it's down to the quality of our books and the word of mouth that follows. As writers we must be doing something right but the decision for a reader to pick up our book and invest their time and money in it cannot be underestimated - particularly in the long hangover from recession.

Odds have already been taken on which books will be Christmas hits. I wonder how many will be reading STOP ME. The odds aren't great but as a man against the machine it would be great to hear that the Vacation Killer's deadly spam email will be entertaining a few more independently minded readers over the holiday.

Read more bout STOP ME at

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Icing on the Cake

I'm just back from Havant Literary Festival, my first festival as an author. We stayed at Brookfields Hotel in Emsworth, a short walk from the sea - highly recommended .
I was fortunate to have a very receptive audience for my talk at the Literary Festival. They were generous in their comments about Cut Short and probing in their questions about my experience as an author.
Lucy, the festival organiser, and Tim at Nineveh Bookshop made us feel very welcome and all in all I thoroughly enjoyed my first appearance at a literary festival in my new guise as Author.
And the icing on the cake? Here's a photo of the 'literary cake' Tim gave me as we were leaving - a cake decorated with a tiny book made out of rice paper. Almost too good to eat . . .