Monday 26 April 2010

Is it a dream?

I don't think I'll ever become blase about being interviewed. It's always a thrill, not least because so far all the people who have interviewed me have been absolutely lovely. There are far too many interviews to post all the links here, but here's a link to the most recent one: pages 14-15
I've posted before on my own blog about this sneaking feeling I have that this can't really be happening to me... What am I doing here, a suddenly-successful author with two reprints of my first book, a second out in proof copies, a third almost written and a fourth in the pipeline... and more after that... Bookstores contact my publisher offering to host signings, I've received emails from literary festivals asking if I'd like to speak... When did all this happen to me of all people? It's not as if it was even my lifelong ambition to become an author. I simply had an idea, wrote obsessively for six weeks, and... here I am, as startled as Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole. Will I wake up one day and discover this was all a strange (and very wonderful) dream?
Weird and wonderful things are happening to me almost daily at the moment. I'm appearing at Crimefest 2010 as a member of the CURZON PANEL and now I've been invited to join a debut author panel as well. It's called... wait for it... All the Young Punks. I wasn't even so very young when punks first hit the scene. What have I let myself in for now? For someone who writes crime fiction I'm inappropriately squeamish in real life. I haven't even had my ears pierced. I hope safety pins won't be compulsory...
Just today I heard from a blogger new to me. I visited her blog and found these pictures: THAT'S MY BOOK! Yes, my life is strange and very wonderful these days.

But the most exciting aspect of it all, as far as I'm concerned, is writing.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Holding my second book in my hand...

I received a proof copy of ROAD CLOSED in the post today! I think my publisher hurried it through for London Book Fair (no longer London International Book Fair...)
It is surreal to open a book and read your own story on the pages. Strange and very exciting!
The actual cover has a little more on it than the image here (like a quotation from Jeffery Deaver - "a stylish top-of-the-line crime tale") and because it's B format the print is larger than in CUT SHORT, which is better.
I am now the author of TWO books. I can't stop grinning...
Here's a link to a new interview - pages 14-15:

Sunday 18 April 2010

You'd think it would be easy... Help needed!

After a while, book promotion takes on a momentum of its own. I just received an invitation to Havant Festival in October 2010 - more of this later. It's lovely to receive invitations, but I don't want to be like the "gal who can't say no" and have turned down a couple of requests for talks during National Crime Fiction Week (14th-19th June). I'm already giving two talks after work that week, at Ruislip Manor Library on Tuesday 15th and Ickenham Library on Wednesday 16th, as well as my normal weekend bookshop events.
My second book, ROAD CLOSED, which hits the shelves in a couple of months, has already been selling well with preorders on amazon, which I'm absolutely thrilled about as I'm assuming these can only be readers who enjoyed CUT SHORT so much they're looking forward to ROAD CLOSED. So far so good.
I'm now busy writing (of course!) and am around 3/4 of the way through the first draft of DEAD END, the third in my series. I want check it, and research the fourth book in the series, over the summer.
When it comes to writing, creating a ficitious reality in words comes easily to me - I absolutely love doing it. The words just roll off the keyboard. Sometimes when I'm trying to get to sleep, an entire chapter unfolds in my head and I have to jump up and jot it down. Where I struggle is with the organisation (shudder). When I wrote CUT SHORT, it's no secret that I didn't plan. I just sat and wrote, for fun, for myself, with no idea anyone else would ever read my MS, let alone publish it. When I had to knock it into shape as a coherent book I got into a terrible muddle.
With ROAD CLOSED I was determined to make the process flow more smoothly and devised a detailed plan on a sheet of A3, writing down what each character was doing on each day through the investigation. Couldn't go wrong? Well, everything was going fine until I had to move a few chapters around. Muddle and mayhem, some tearing of hair and a few choice expletives, but I sorted it out in the end.
So, twice bitten... I wrote a 9 page detailed synopsis for DEAD END before I even started writing the MS...
... and here I am, 3/4 of the way through, and I've just shifted a chapter. This means about ten other chapters have to be moved around, and others reworked. Muddle and panic again.
Why not leave well alone, you might ask. My books (as I hope you know...) create authentic realism shot through with drama. If the day to day realism goes on for too long, it becomes dull. Who wants to read about boring the daily life of a police investigation? On the other hand, too much drama and terror in one section loses its impact. I'm very keen to make my books terrifying without becoming implausible. If my readers can really believe in the world I create, I think that's more frightening than if I pile on the horrors. There's no right or wrong about this. It's just my opinion. So the balance between realism and drama is crucial.
I was happily writing DEAD END and my agent suggested there was too long a patch of investigation, and then two hugely tense scenes built up at once. Of course I saw the sense in what he said. I would have reached the same conclusion myself when I come to review the whole shape of the book once the first draft is completed.
So I'm shifting chapters around again... with all the consequent changes. I can't have a character reminiscing about a scene before it's happened... or a Saturday night party taking place between Wednesday and Thursday... oh heck! I wish I was more organised!
The MS isn't due to be delivered until after the summer for publication in 2011, so there's no rush, but there are so many demands on my time. I don't have the luxury of being able to devote myself full-time to writing, and will be back at school tomorrow. And then there's the book promotion to fit in ...
Do other authors plan their books successfully before writing? And if so, HOW?

Monday 12 April 2010

Out and About

Forgive me for sharing my quotation from Jeffery Deaver with you again. I'm so proud of it!
"CUT SHORT is a stylish, top-of-the-line crime tale, a seamless blending of psychological sophistication and gritty police procedure. And you're just plain going to love DI Geraldine Steel."

Lately I've met some really friendly book folk like the lovely Helen Hunt. (No, not that Helen Hunt. This one isn't a film star. I'm talking about the real Helen Hunt, known to some as Helen M Hunt. She took the time to come all the way to Henley to my book signing on Saturday. Luckily CUT SHORT had sold out by 1 o'clock (apologies to the lady I wasn't able to sign for - why is there always more than one customer wanting that last copy?) so Helen and I were able to go out for coffee together, trailing our poor uncomplaining spouses along in our wake. Helen is the writer of many short stories that have been published in magazines but more of that later. Yes, there's another interview in the pipeline! Here we are together. (I'm the little one who looks like a tortoise.)

I have more photos - and more interviews - on the way.

My schedule from now now until the launch of ROAD CLOSED in June:
17th April - Waterstones Uxbridge signing
24th April - Waterstones Windsor signing
25th April - Waterstones Harrow signing
1st May - Heffers Cambridge signing
5th May – Verulam Writers Circle talk
15th May - Waterstones Winchester signing
21st May - CrimeFest Bristol talk & signing
29th May - WH Smith's Watford signing
1st June – Thames Valley Writers talk
2nd June – Westfield Library London bestselling crime writers panel
5th June - Waterstones Watford signing
12th June - Waterstones Bedford signing

Hope to meet you when I'm out and about.

And now - just because I can - WATCH THE TEAR!

Cut Short by Leigh Russell

And now I have to end this chatty post on a sombre note. I discovered through twitter about half an hour ago that another fantastic independent bookshop, NINEVEH in Havant, is under threat. Last year Nineveh hosted events for Havant Literary Festival. I was thrilled to be invited to participate and gave a talk to a lively and interesting audience. The event was very well attended so I know there are many people in Havant who are passionate about books. Please, if you live If you live in Havant, and value books, don't let this bookshop vanish.

Sunday 4 April 2010

My Visit to Tunbridge Wells

I just had an email from JEFFERY DEAVER who "loved" CUT SHORT!
He even kindly sent a quote:
"Cut Short is a stylish, top-of-the-line crime tale, a seamless blending of psychological sophistication and gritty police procedure. And you're just plain going to love DI Geraldine Steel - JEFFERY DEAVER"

This was taken in the studio of BBC Radio Kent.
Once I started chatting to Pat Marsh and Linsey on the Saturday Breakfast Show, their enthusiasm soon livened me up. It was a lot of fun meeting them. You can see how much wider awake I look after meeting them. Before (below) after (right).
You can listen to my live interview on BBC iplayer for about a week before it disappears on the following link:

After the interview, I went round the corner to Waterstones in Tunbridge Wells where CUT SHORT sold out by 3 o'clock - just time to buy another pair of purple shoes before setting off home...

A big THANK YOU to all the readers in Tunbridge Wells who stopped for a chat, and thank you to all of you who bought CUT SHORT. Look out for ROAD CLOSED which will be published in June.