☞Fancy a murder mystery novel? Check out I DIDN’T FORGET for a top read! #whodunit #bookblogger

I DIDN’T FORGET by JAMES S KELLY The double murders of two long time friends has created havoc in the small town of Solvang, California. Clay Wrens, the county’s top homicide detective is called on to investigate. As the investigation … Continue reading

Alison Neuman on how social media is important to her

For us authors, social media is important.
Not only are we able to keep readers and friends up-to-date with our writing but also with the life events of others. Currently, it is impossible for
me to travel so social media allows me to reach my destinations from the
comfort of home, and I love that opportunity it’s given me.
In the past few years, there has been a huge
shift to the Internet. Blog tours are a great example of this and an excellent way
to promote your books.
How it works is that the author visits several blogs and
they are introduced to a new audience.
I have heard of authors who have been made into bestsellers
just because of social media.
It’s a tool in the authors’ promotional
toolkit that should not be overlooked.
Although, we have to be careful. When I
get continuing posts from individuals trying to sell me products, I must admit, I tune out. When that happens, we are losing a potential relationship. For
myself, I plug Ice Rose during the holiday buying season and for blog tours or
events. Just enough to keep my book out there, but not enough to cause offence.
Like most authors worldwide, I like to share activities and
events that are going on with my career, but my
 blog isn’t only focused on writing, it’s also about the arts and crafts. A writer once advised me
to post a new blog every two weeks,
but I find this challenging. Finding fresh
topics can be difficult and I wonder how other bloggers manage it.
And, I admit, when I write my posts, I do
not always focus on how worldwide social media can reach. So when, few years ago,
I posted a blog on a cookie bouquet that I was making, and received a comment
from a reader in Germany I was very shocked and pleased.

Ice Rose 
Amazon.UK
Amazon.com
A teenager’s world is turned upside down when an explosion steals her dad and her identity. Entering an exclusive academy that immerses her in the world of secret agents, she must overcome her fears and disabilities to discover the truth about her dad’s mission, his software, and the mystery man stalking her before she ends up like her father — lost.
Alison Neuman 
Alison Neuman lives in
Alberta, Canada, where she is a freelance writer and lyricist. Nearing the end
of her studies for the Bachelor of Applied Communications Degree program at
Grant MacEwan College, she was inspired to complete the first draft
of  Ice Rose. The pace of secret agent books and movies gave her an
unlimited playground for  imagination. Music and performing are passions
she was able to bring into her writing and build into her characters.




Alison’s writing has appeared in “MacEwan Today”, “Westword”, and the “Edmonton
Journal” along with three tracks on the CD release Outside The Window.
Co-writing the screenplay adaptation of the book Whale Songwith author
Cheryl Kaye Tardif exposed her to the world of screenwriting, which she hopes
to continue to examine further in the future. Alison also has been writing
shorter pieces of non-fiction, one entitled Establishing Roots, that
earned a top ten ranking in the Edmonton Stories contest. This past spring she
was a winner in The Expressions of Hunger Contest in the Emotional Poetry
category. Her piece Undeniable Craving was on display in June and
July in various artistic locations across the city of Edmonton.  She has
completed a final edit of her memoir “Searching For Normal” and is currently
writing her next young adult manuscript.



When not writing creatively, Alison  is editing or writing for her
business, Sandy Tree
Communications
.

New mystery writer, Shirley Mclain and her debut novel:

THE TOWER

The TowerSamantha Jensen is kidnapped from outside her home in Tulsa Oklahoma, finds herself without memory in “The Tower”.
Sam´s twin brother Allan, operates a company, IDEA (International Diagnostic environmental Agency) with who Sam has worked for the past six years.
The company personnel of scientists and doctors travel the globe providing needed consultation, and investigations into anything that affect the environment.
Allan uses all of his resources to help find Sam, as well as trying to keep his business operating. The kidnapping, smuggling, betrayal and murder take you around the world from Tulsa Oklahoma to the Bhutan.
It´s also a story of love and devotion, as well as retribution for crimes committed. There are many unexpected twists and turns woven in through the story, such as the psychic connection between the siblings.

Shirley McLain is a retired RN, wife, mother and grandmother of six. Currently living in Plano Texas, where she is enjoying her retirement to the fullest. She is currently working on two projects for publication: an historical fiction, and a book of fictional short stories.

Shirley´s love of travel, adventure, reading and writing, creates the books which are inside of her.

She also has a daily blog called Fiction Writing and My Anything blog. It covers whatever her inspiration for the day is.

Click below for the interview:

What inspired you to write your book?
 Retirement, I retired from nursing in March of 2010. I had never had time to just sit down and write as I wanted , so when I retired I started writing

What is it about?
“The Tower”, is a mystery about a young woman kidnapped from her home and taken out of the country. This story takes you from Tulsa to the Bhutan. It has lots of twists and turns.

Was there a character you struggled with?
No, I didn’t struggle with the characters. They take on a life of their own. Everything just fell into place as it needed to. I found it a very amazing process.

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
I can honestly say I don’t have any books under my bed. I am currently working on projects but nothing I have given up on.

How did you find your publisher? How do they treat you? Would you recommend them?
I found Xlibris doing research for publishers. They treated me very well but I do not plan to use them again. Being a first time writer there were questions I didn’t know, that I should have asked. I don’t like the fact I can’t tell how many books have been sold except by a quarterly report. I want to know what my advertising is doing. They tend to not pay as much attention to you after you have published. I also wanted suggestions and help which they did not give. It was just my decision. In all fairness they did a wonderful job putting the book together.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1456813463&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWhat’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
I feel the best part of being a writer is being able to make what’s in your mind come to life on paper. Being able to share your stories that are constantly bubbling up in your mind.

The worst part of being a writer is the amount of time sitting in front of the computer. I have found my writing to be almost totally consuming. I don’t know that I would change it at this point in time. I am blessed with a very supportive husband, and it’s just he and I, so I have all the time I need to write. There are times I just have to get up and give my bottom a rest from sitting.

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
Late in the evening is my best time. My husband tells me it is because I worked nights for so many years. I am not a morning person at all, so it takes me a while to get moving.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
 I have done both, actually. I may start my idea on paper and then move it to the computer and go from there. I have a stack of paper, which I have written notes on for my books.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from people around me, or other authors. I particularly enjoy Diane Gabaldon’s writings, but I am very eclectic in my reading and my writing.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
I am not usually a goal setting person. I tend to let things happen as they will. On the other hand I do try to keep my chapters close to the same word count, give or take a hundred or so. It just depends on how the flow is going for the chapter.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
Right now I am working on a Historical Fiction called “The Dobyn’s Chronicles’.” It is based on a branch of my family who became orphans after the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1888. This book has been a really fun write for me.

Do you have a critique partner?
Yes, I do. I belong to FanStory.com and have developed some very good writing friends that help me with my writing. I wouldn’t want to be without them.

Contacts:

Epic Fantasy: A Chronicle of Endylmyr

BY
CHARLES HALL 

 
 

A Chronicle of Endylmyr is a literary epic fantasy that will not only entertain, but also hopefully open your eyes to be more aware of the nature around you.

Full of ambition an Eastern despot seeks to control all magical items in the world of the novel.

These items, created in the distant past have become scattered over time, some coming into the possession of the Khan, others into the possession of a primitive pastoral people, and yet others into the possession of the European-like community of Endylmyr, located in the far reaches of the western plains. When the Khan sends armies to seize the devices, the various peoples of the North and West band together to resist, using the magical devices themselves to defeat the Khan’s schemes.
After a few misguided attempts to use the entire collection of magical items, Angmere, the historian, discovers an ancient rhyme that suggests three women are the key to the puzzle. Gwynyr, Hellwydd, and Hilst, acting the part of the three witches of Endylmyr, become a storm that has been brewing over the northern mountains and defeat the Khan’s attempt to seize the city. For the present at least, the peoples and cultures of the woods, steppes and plains are free from the threat of conquest.
Relax, and escape into the world of the Endylmyr. Ride the wave of this literary epic fantasy to your heart’s content…

Charles has been fascinated by book reading and writing since a very early age. Because of traumatic experiences in his home and family life, he often found himself lost in mystery and adventure stories. He had such a deep love for language arts that he began his college career as a French major. However, he soon realized where his passions lied and graduated with B.A. and M.A. degrees in English Literature.
During that time, he also began to experiment with writing poetry. Some of his work was published in small campus magazines, and keeps most of the pieces he wrote stashed away in his bookcase. His love for poetry also led him into a co-editor role with a popular poetry magazine at the University of Wyoming. His love for writing soon had an added benefit as Charles went on to marry the best writer in the advanced composition course he taught there.

Inspired by authors such as James Lee Burke and James Crumley, Charles wrote his first novel, titled Indian Summer. He wrote two other novels, Crude Surgery and Green Reaper, before the pressure of family demands pushed his professional life into another direction.
Other circumstances kept Charles from writing for several years after that. It was not until his son sent him a short fantasy asking for his opinion that his passion arose again. From there, the idea of his most recent literary epic fantasy, A Chronicle of Endylmyr was born and the rest is history…

Click below for the interview:

What inspired you to write?
I have wanted to write since I learned to read. Inspiration? Initially Conan Doyle and Franklin W. Dixon (The Hardy Boy Mysteries), and later C.S. Forrester, D.H Lawrence and J.R.R.Tolkien.

Tell us a little about your main character?
Is he/she someone you’d like to meet? Gylfalin is a former mercenary and orphan who has found a new life studying with the scholar Angmere and marrying his widowed daughter. He is fearless, loyal, compassionate, and possesses a strong moral core. Events in the plot draw him back to the world of war, though he continues to develop as a lover, father, and sorcerer.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1432750283&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrCan we have a snippet from the book?
Yes. Here is the beginning of the main story:

Gylfalin rode out at dawn, leaving the smoke and stench of Farendyl behind as his mount quickly breasted the crest of the surrounding plain, then cantered off north in the direction of Endylmyr, the place of his birth and home to the few relations he could number among the living. He glanced back once. The smoke of the village fires rose above the horizon, drifting into a long flat tail that hung motionless in the frozen air, showing faintly in the first light of day. Though the town was tucked in among the trees of the low ground along the river, out of sight from the level of the plain, in full light its pennant of wood smoke would announce its location to any interested observer—the hunter returning from the hunt, the merchant in search of commerce, or, in the instance he feared, the raiding party seeking loot or slaves.

There had been rumors lately, carried by traders visiting Farendyl on their seasonal rounds, of horsemen from the East encroaching further and further into the northwestern reaches of the great grasslands. While out hunting just two days before, Gylfalin had crossed paths with three of these horsemen. Coming over a rise, he suddenly found himself face to face with three strangely dressed men watering their odd looking mounts at a small stream that threaded its way through the grass. With a shout the three seized reins, swung themselves into their saddles and started in pursuit. Gylfalin survived the encounter only because he reacted quickly, reining his horse in a tight half circle and racing back over the rise. Hearing the thud of hooves at his back, he twisted around and loosed an arrow over the horse’s rump, knocking the nearest pursuer out of the saddle, repeating the shot a minute later as another came thundering up behind, lance at the ready. Gylfalin reined in and turned his mount to face the third man, putting an arrow to string as he did so.

His pursuer slowed and circled warily, bow in hand. The two riderless ponies studied the scene from a short distance away, reins dragging on the short, tough turf. One quickly lost interest in the humans and stretched its neck to crop the frosted grass underfoot. Gylfalin watched, waiting for his moment. The enemy horseman would have to drop the reins to slip an arrow from the quiver on his back before he could draw and release, while Gylfalin, having twisted his reins around the wooden pommel of his saddle, sat with arrow knocked, bow at the ready. His mount turned as he had been trained, to keep the adversary always directly before him. Recognizing his disadvantage, the surviving rider made his decision. With a look of challenge and a cry in a tongue Gylfalin had never heard before, he pulled back on his reins, turned his pony and galloped away past the bodies of his two dead companions, and soon disappeared from sight in the rolling folds of the plain.

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Three.

How did you find the publisher/agent? What was the journey like? Ever feel like giving up?
Yes, I felt like giving up when I couldn’t find a publisher or agent who was willing to read a 180,000 word manuscript. I finally decided to publish with Outskirts Press after reviewing the services and costs of a number of other self-publishers.

How do your juggle a writing schedule with real-life work, or are you a full time writer?
I am retired, and write every morning for three to four hours.

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
The best part is entertaining readers, the worst is wondering if my work is worthy.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
I wrote my first novel by hand, then moved to typewriters, and finally to a laptop. I now write exclusively on the laptop.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
Ancient and contemporary native cultures, Western literature (starting with Homer, through Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and J.R.R. Tolkien) my personal experience of having lived and delivered a son at home on the Flathead Indian Reservation, among other things.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
 I try to advance the storyline or further develop a character each day. I don’t count words.

Are you a published or a self-published author and how do you come up with your cover art?
I am self-published, and used an artist from Outskirts Press to create a scene from the plot, flanked by two important characters.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
I have just finished volume two in the “Endylmyr” series. When it has been revised I plan to start volume three.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
 I hang my head, take a deep breath and look for the next agent or publisher to contact.

What’s your advice about getting an agent?
Get a recommendation from a friend who has successfully published.

Do you have a critique partner?
My sons and my girlfriend are educated, avid readers. I often defer to their judgment concerning the effectiveness of a scene or character.

The Carston Series by Bill Kirton

The Darkness
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1849232970&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrFor a change, I stayed with them while they ate. Obsessive, see? About all of it. I suppose I was making myself see the reality of what I was doing. The noises they made, the ridiculous scene, the smell – it was all down to me. I was as chained down there as they were. I had to feed them, empty their bucket. My planning was good, the timing, the effort, it had all worked, against all the odds. And I was stuck with it. Nobody knew they were there. I’d done it. Except for Bailey, of course, but I’d deal with him in time.
‘What’s going on then?’ said Waring.
I just looked at him.
‘What’s the idea? Going to top us, are you?’
Silly bugger. He didn’t realize what terrible timing it was. They all wanted to know, of course, but they were afraid to ask. It was a question I’d asked myself, too. But not for a while up till then. Suddenly faced with it like that, especially that evening, after the fiasco with Gayla, I felt I ought to make up my mind. Up till then, I’d been more or less toying with alternatives. The problem was, I didn’t know the answer. So what I said … well, it came as a surprise to me as well as them.
‘Probably.’
I was never going to kill them. That wasn’t the idea. Just teach them a lesson. But, with all of them there, and me thinking back on what they’d done, and, worst of all, feeling that there was little difference between them and me, I started to think that maybe death was the only logical outcome. I didn’t know what was right any more. It was all so bloody awful. So many victims, so much contempt for other people, and there was I, in amongst it, adding to it. There was no way out. They all had to go. Including me. And, of course, Bailey.
About the Author

Bill Kirton was a university lecturer in French before taking early retirement to become a full-time writer. He’s produced material in many different media – radio plays for the BBC, stage plays, revue songs and sketches for the Edinburgh Fringe, crime novels and short stories, two non-fiction books aimed at helping students with writing and other skills and, to make a living, he writes DVDs. Brochures and other commercial and training stuff for companies and organisations all over the place. He’s been visiting artist and guest director at the Theater Department of the University of Rhode Island on four separate occasions, TV presenter, voice-over artist and Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at three Scottish universities.

His four published novels are set in the north east of Scotland. Material Evidence, Rough Justice, and The Darkness all feature DCI Jack Carston. The Figurehead is a historical novel set in Aberdeen in 1840. The Carston series has been published in the UK and the USA.
The Figurehead

Return to an age where sail was being challenged by steam, new continents were opening, and the world was full of opportunities for people to be as good—or as evil—as they chose. When the body of a local shipwright is found on the beach in 1840 Aberdeen, Scotland, neither the customers and suppliers he cheated—nor the women he seduced—are surprised. 

But the mystery intrigues wood-carver John Grant, who determines to seek out the murderer. His work and his investigations bring him into contact with a rich merchant, William Anderson—and his daughter Elizabeth. Commissioned to create a figurehead that combines the features of two women, John eventually uncovers a shocking tale of blackmail and death as, simultaneously, he struggles to resist the pangs of unexpected love.
Material Evidence – A Cairnbugh Mystery

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1932859322&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrThe body of Stephanie Burnham is discovered by her husband. She’d been brutally assaulted then murdered. For Detective Chief Inspector Jack Carston, newly arrived in the town of Cairnburgh, near Aberdeen, Scotland, the case is a conundrum. All the evidence points to the husband – the marriage was a sham – but somehow the pieces of the jigsaw don’t fit together. Who was Stephanie Burnham? A high-flying businesswoman or a middle-aged drunken depressive? Was she sexy or frigid, intelligent or stupid, callous or loving? It seems to depend on who Carston asks. He knows that, to solve the mystery of her shocking death, he must first unravel the enigma of her personality.

Bill Kirton has put together a fine debut with intense plotting, strong characters, and just the right touch of acid in the dialogue (particularly the female dialogue). Fine Rendellian touches and a structure and depth that is rare in a first book make this a cracking page-turner. The denouement, when it comes, will shake you.

Rough Justice – A Cairnburgh Mystery
Floyd Donnelly has spent four of his twenty-six years in prison for robbery with violence. He’s foul-tempered, amoral and anti-social and yet everyone is surprised when his body’s found outside Cairnburgh’s only nightclub.

Detective Chief Inspector Jack Carston thinks he knows who’s behind the murder: self-made man David Burchill. The problem is that the street-wise Burchill has a cast-iron alibi for that night. And he always manages to keep one step ahead of Carston’s investigations. It just needs him to make one mistake, though…

There is a brutal rape in Rough Justice by Bill Kirton. It isn’t there to titillate, but to carry the story forward and ultimately bring about the climax to a thoughtful and thought-provoking book. The detective leading the hunt for the killer of a young thug from a local squat is also after a local self-made man he believes to be behind various rackets and who is protected by fellow masons in the senior ranks of the police force. The book involves some very human, intelligent Scottish coppers and ought to bring Bill Kirton the attention he deserves.

Email and blog for Bill Kirton
I put a few questions to Bill Kirton:
What inspired you to write?
I’ve always written. In fact, in a clear-out a few years back, I came across stuff I’d written as a kid. The strange thing was that it was a play about a crime. I say strange because I became a crime writer by accident so it was bizarre to see I was writing about that when I was probably around 9 or 10. It was, needless to say, complete rubbish. I know some kids’ things are brilliant and I did some work with primary school classes recently and their stories were amazing, but my juvenilia had nothing to recommend it at all.
How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
I have about a dozen plays – stage and radio – and two crime novels. Another one – a black comedy/satire – is being considered by a publisher at the moment, too.
How did you find the publisher?
Way back, when I turned from plays to novels, it was much easier to get agents. I sent the original version of The Darkness to the late Maggie Noach. She liked it, tried to flog it and Piatkus told her they weren’t planning to publish any stand-alone thrillers but they liked it and asked if I wrote police procedurals. I hadn’t thought of doing that but, with interest from a publisher, you obviously try to oblige. So I wrote Material Evidence and they published that, then Rough Justice. Then my editor left and I was out of favour. Maggie also died tragically young and, by then, agents and publishers had become more difficult to impress. But Bloody Books, in the USA, were starting a series called Bloody Brits (the best of British crime, according to them). Val McDermid was the commissioning editor and she accepted the two for publication there. The Darkness, which I’d rewritten several times by then and made part of the series, was published by YouWriteOn in that initiative they had in 2008 to publish a number of books for free.

I sent The Figurehead to several publishers and it was taken up by Virtual Tales in Canada.

A short answer, though, to your question is that I think it’s getting impossibly hard to interest mainstream publishers and agents but, to counteract that, there are lots of small, Indie publishers around who are willing to take risks. I think writers have to accept that they’ll get plenty of rejection slips but that that doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of their writing.
How do your juggle a writing schedule?
I don’t have to. I took early retirement 20 years ago and I spend most of my time writing (when I’m not wasting it on Facebook). The juggling used to be between commercial writing and my own stuff, which I obviously much preferred doing. But I’ve found that commercial work has dried up significantly over the past 12 months so I’ve been able to concentrate on short stories and novels. The trouble is that, as with the vast majority of writers, it doesn’t earn much money, but I love doing it.
What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
The best part is that we get so absorbed in our fictions and the craft of producing them that time flies by. When I’m into a work, I’m unaware of myself, my surroundings, anything much. You hear golfers and others talking about being in a cocoon of concentration – well it’s like that every day. It’s as if there’s this private world which, paradoxically, has nothing to do with you but to which you’re given free access to wander around, watch and listen to characters and record it all.
I suppose the worst part is the one that’s becoming more and more necessary – the need to spend as much time marketing and promoting as we do writing. I love meeting readers, doing signings, talks, workshops and the rest, but the whole business of having to do the attendant administration, be a salesman, etc. is a nuisance. But, of course, necessary.

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
I’m beginning to suspect that my answers all sound a bit forced or precious but I’m telling the truth. When I’m going well, any time is good and, in fact, I’m completely unaware of time. I’m always desperate to get back to the story and find out what happens next. I like getting away, doing some gardening, walking in the hills, and I used to sail but the boat was too far away so I had to sell it. But most of my life is spent writing. And I love it.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
All computer nowadays. Strange really because I used to use a pen and write on one half of the page to leave room for changes, additions, etc. But I could never write on a typewriter. I don’t know if it was the noise of the keys or what, but I tried and just couldn’t. But since we’ve had computers, that’s all I ever use. I actually find writing with a pen hard nowadays.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
All sorts of things. There are writers I love but it would never occur to me to try to copy their style or techniques. But ideas are triggered by words, images, sounds, individuals, strangers, angers, joy – almost anything.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
No. I don’t really understand how that works for people. At first, the words may come slowly and you may throw most of them away. But once a work is ongoing, it has its own momentum. It’s not to do with the pace of the story either, it’s the pace of the writing. At the end of a writing day, I don’t think ‘How many words?’ but I do think ‘has the story moved on?’ It usually has, sometimes significantly, and that feeling of the organic process of a novel or story growing is the real satisfaction. It may turn out to be 70,000 or 120,000 words – it’s as big as it needs to be. The characters take you along and you just have to keep up with them. They know when it’s time to stop.

Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?
I’m both. For Material Evidence, Rough Justice and The Figurehead, the publishers commissioned artists to produce covers, all of which I liked. But for The Darkness, I did my own cover – minimalist and basically an attempt to reflect the real darkness in the book but suggest a possibility of light, even if it was fading. Pretentious? Maybe.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0273734377&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrLast year I was commissioned by Pearson to write a book for students in their Brilliant series. It’s called Brilliant Study Skills and I finished it last October. It’s on sale now and they’ve commissioned me to write two more in the same series – Brilliant Essays and Assignments and Brilliant Dissertations and Project Reports. When I’ve finished them, I have a book of sci-fi/fantasy stories which a publisher has accepted. They want me to add more and make various changes to make them fit more thematically. I can see their thinking and know it’ll make for a better book, so that’ll be the next project. After that, there’s the final Carston to write, then a follow-up to The Figurehead.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
They’re a fact of life. When I used to send radio plays to the BBC, the earliest ones were rejected but always with something positive in the replies – good characters, realistic dialogue, funny, little remarks like that. And it was encouraging so it made you try again. Nowadays, that happens very little and sometimes you wonder if they’ve read the stuff at all. But it’s a competitive market place and, when I send new stuff out, I try to make myself anticipate rejection. So when they show interest instead, it feels like a bonus.

Do you have an agent? If not tell us a little about your reasons for “going it alone”.
I’ve had two agents in my time and I think the good ones are excellent at pointing you in the direction they feel your writing should go. But, once again, the market is tending to dictate everything now, so there’s a tendency to try to ride the wave of current fads. The only reason I’d like an agent now is that I’d like someone else to take charge of the whole business of contacting the media, organizing signings, etc. They also know the markets better than I do. I’d always recommend getting an agent but I’d warn anyone trying to to be prepared for yet more rejection slips.

Do you have a critique partner?
No. My wife sometimes reads my things, especially when I’m writing from the point of view of a woman, and she invariably makes useful suggestions. On the whole, though, I go with my own instincts. I do read other people’s work and comment but it’s a time-consuming business and I try to be selective with it.

Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
This crops up at talks and workshops and I always stress three things:

1. Trust your own voice. Some writers think they have to use ‘special’ words or some sort of elevated language. Maybe it works but, more often than not, it’s inhibiting. I often wonder whether education does more harm than good to writers in that it blunts their directness, the raw quality of their experiences. I don’t mean you should be ungrammatical or not bother about spelling and punctuation – you should, they’re part of being professional, but don’t be afraid to use the vernacular. Celebrate your uniqueness.

2. Read aloud when you edit. You’d be surprised at how many things you pick up which you don’t notice on screen – repetitions, clumsy sentences, mistakes, all sorts of things. Read it so that it feels good in your mouth and sounds right in your ears.

3. Cut, cut, cut. All writing is better for being cut. My editor told me to lose 70 pages from Material Evidence. She was right, and it was much better as a result.

Reviews
Material Evidence – ‘a cracking page-turner. The denouement, when it comes, will shake you.’

 Rough Justice – ‘The book involves some very human, intelligent Scottish coppers and ought to bring Bill Kirton the attention he deserves.’

The Darkness – ‘A guaranteed page turner, dark in every sense but crackling with suspense and energy.’ ‘A wonderful, thrilling, dark, compassionate book.’