Politicians and Spooks

Bee HiveNow that election is all over I can mention politicians, a group of people who play important, if sometimes secondary, roles in my books. From Arnold Donaldson in The Last Dance to Sir Arthur Lacey in A Set of Lies via Tim Johnstone in Her Parents’ Daughter none of them are particularly likeable characters. No, delete ‘particularly’, there is little to be said for any of them other than that they were ambitious and hungry for political power (especially Sir Arthur).

My spooks tend to be much more sympathetic.

Sir Bernard Lacey (A Set of Lies), Richard Mackenzie (Her Parents’ Daughter) and David Redhead (Walking Alone and Runaways) are particularly nice (if ambiguously painted) people – well, at least, I like them.

And the ones you cannot be sure of (could what they did be called espionage?) are people whose motives are generally good. Elizabeth and Jane (Her Parents’ Daughter) may just have been caught up in the lives of those close to them; Max Fischer, the central character in all three volumes of The Iniquities Trilogy, may just have been a man of his time (the 1930s) in his place (middle Europe).

I have lived with some of these characters for getting on for fifteen years and have got to know them well. Carl Witherby, for example (he is an academic neither a politician nor a spook – though he influences other characters who are) spans my books from almost the first chapters of The Last Dance to the last page of A Set of Lies and I think of him every day. There is so much to these people I write about that cannot be included in a book, however long it may be, and much of their personality and character must lie in the imagination of you, the reader.

I wonder whether you see them the same way as I do?

A Set of Lies

Front Book coverA SET OF LIES now exists.

It is sixteen years since Colin and I were waiting to be served in a restaurant in Plymouth talking about the map and the portrait of Napoleon on the wall by our table.

In that time we have moved house five times and I have written and published five other books but ‘The Napoleon Book’ has always been there, in the background, on at least five different computers gradually coming to life .

This was the book I have always wanted to write…. historical mystery, a detective story with political implications…

The lives of many of the characters contain much that is true history – the American wars of Independence, the Australian mineral rush, the South African wars, many different European wars, two hundred years of English social and political history – and I have had great fun researching the details.

But it also contains much that may not have happened but should have done…

I just cannot believe that the British Secret Services of 1815 would have let an asset as important as Napoleon Bonaparte slip through their fingers… not at a time when enemies other than the French were circling and revolution was fomenting in the towns and cities of Britain.

I just hope there really was a man like Sir Bernard Lacey who could see this and whose actions changed the course not only of the 19th Century but also of the 2015 general election!

2015 ? So far so good!

It’s nearly the end of (for me, a dry) January and progress on A SET OF LIES has been made.
The style proof was received and approved – the designers at Troubador have done a grand job – next step there is the typeset proof and – for me – the final chance to read and make any necessary amendments. Hopefully these will be minimal. Since its conception (in Plymouth in 1999/2000) it has been a very long gestation but it is about to engage!
Running alongside this is the beginning of the marketing and sale process.
The Advanced Information has gone out to booksellers and local shops. This, hopefully, will encourage at least a few shops to stock it!
The Facebook page for A Set of Lies has been set up https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Set-of-Lies
The Twitter account has been set up (so my fellow The Archers tweeterers are not inundated with book related stuff and my readers are not inundated with information about what used to be ‘an everyday story of country folk’ and is now contemporary drama in a rural setting’ @carolyn_mccrae for the author bits and @iowauthor for The Archers.
I also have a page on www.goodreads.com – which includes all my titles – and which I am trying to get my head around.
All I have to do is keep all these social media up to date – will there be any time to write the next one?

Here’s to 2015

2014 has seen HER PARENTS’ DAUGHTER out into the world and 2015 will see the next one A SET OF LIES published in June (though available before that!)

There are still six months to go before official publication date (28 June 2015) but so much is happening. The book is back from the editor and final amendments are being made, the cover has been designed and the marketing information (press release, author information) written and approved but the ‘to do list’ grows ever longer. Marketing materials have to be designed (posters, postcards, bookmarks, business cards, point of sale material), contacts made in 2014 relating to HER PARENTS’ DAUGHTER have to be maintained (newspapers and magazines that did reviews, bookshops that did signing events) and, of course, the web-site has to be updated and pre-orders to be taken…….. Luckily it’s Christmas so the world quietens down and stuff can be done!

I hope 2015 is a good one for all my readers, and, of course, everyone else.


Changes and Apologies

Summer is over and it’s been a busy one. No competitions were won (not even by Liverpool FC) but the exciting news is that the new book Her Parents’ Daughter is going to be ‘out there’ soon. It leapfrogged A Set of Lies which will be published in the spring of 2015.

For this, my fifth book, I’m doing things differently.

Firstly, after 8 years with Troubador, I have decided to change publishers and am now trying New Generation – we shall see how that goes but so far so good (I think).

Secondly, since having a stock of books is the last thing a self-published author wants to be left with I’ve decided – on the strong advice of my husband Colin – to go with Print on Demand. I took some convincing but fingers crossed the quality will be as good as NGP say it will be. Her Parents’ Daughter will, of course, also be available as an e-book in all tablet formats.

Finally, after comments from several of my readers I understand that the genre of this book is Crime/Thriller. Re-reading the previous books I understand that this should have been the genre for all but Highly Unsuitable Girl.

Once the physical book has been seen and approved I begin the rounds of Sales and Marketing. Shops and Press on the Isle of Wight will be harassed to take stock and coverage and then the press and shops in Ludlow, Shropshire, where I used to live and where some of the book is set.

Fingers, as ever, are firmly crossed……..

PS – A note on the title.

Her Parents’ Daughter was originally to be called Silver Birch but I decided on Her Parent’s Daughter because it is who the main character’s parents are that cause her all her problems. I did not know of similar titles. SO….

Apologies to Carlos Bernard, the actor who played Tony Almeida in 24, who produced a short comedy film called ‘Your Father’s Daughter’ in 2012.

And to Alice Pung whose book ‘Her Father’s Daughter’ was published in 2011.

And to Gene Stratton-Porter who had previously published a book called ‘Her Father’s Daughter’ in 1921.

How difficult it is to choose something totally original!

Now is the time to submit to agents…….

This should be an interesting week. At least I hope it will be.
Introduction letter and synopsis for A Set of Lies have been written.
The first chapters have been extracted.
All documents are saved as PDF files.
I even had to produce a CV – for the first time in over thirty years!
And now I’m ready to submit A SET OF LIES to various agents who, I really hope, will be sympathetic.
It’s a good story that took twelve years in gestation and four more in the writing.
It’s gone through so many proofs and re-reads, re-writes and rearrangements, re-thinks and even more re-reads I cannot imagine how many hours have gone into it.
Hours spent with a laptop on my knee while Colin watches television.
Hours spent lying awake wondering whether I have covered all the details of how Sir Bernard did what he did.
Hours spent with the laptop on the kitchen table with Lodger the cat trying to help by walking over the keyboard.
Hours spent at my desktop when there was no ‘day job’ work to do.
Every single one of them enjoyable – in one way or another.
I have loved writing A SET OF LIES and I shall be sorry to wave it off into the real world.
I shall have to say goodbye to Skye, Andy and Carl (though Carl may crop up again – he was after all in THE LAST DANCE, WALKING ALONE and RUNAWAYS).
I no longer need to worry about whether William and Josephine are rather too unhappy and whether Bernard and Catherine are rather too unsuited.
And did Gussie really have to die the way he did? And was Bernard’s punishment of George rather too harsh?
And were the Married Women’s Property Laws that unfair and Estate duties in 1917 that draconian.
Ah well – perhaps one of the agents will spot potential and perhaps they will will find a publisher who will want another re-write and I’ll get to know all the Laceys again.