Thursday, 14 December 2017

MY PUBLISHING LIFE with Keshini Naidoo

Welcome to my latest MY PUBLISHING LIFE feature, an interview with a literary agent, publisher, publicist or editor about their publishing career to date. Some serious questions, and some just for fun!

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


Associate Publisher

What and when was your first job in publishing?
My first job in publishing was actually on the retail side. Once I had completed my degree, I first worked at Waterstones in Leeds, then moved to London in the early 2000s to work at BCA, the mail order book club, as a buying assistant. I quickly moved to be the buyer for crime and thriller as well as literary fiction (and erotica!) and running The Mystery and Thriller Guild. 

How long have you been working in your current job/role?

I have been working at Bookouture since 2014. 

Which books have you worked on recently/are you working on?
Recently, I have been working on Angela Marsons’ latest instalment in the bestselling D.I. Kim Stone series, Broken Bones, as well as complex, gripping and page-turning psychological thrillers from Barbara Copperthwaite (Her Last Secret), Kathryn Croft (Silent Lies) and Sarah Wray (Her Best Friend). I’m very excited to be publishing Helen Phifer’s authentic, terrifying, police procedural, Dying Breath. It’s been a busy autumn…! 

Which qualifications/life skills/experience have helped you get to where you are today?
It’s somewhat of a cliché for people in publishing, but being a heavy book junkie since childhood has really helped my career. I’m glad that all the time I spent reading instead of climbing trees paid off! I always cite my time as a bookseller as shaping my knowledge of what real people actually choose to pick up – which is often quite at odds with what is given newspaper coverage. 

How do you relax after a busy working day?
I’m a horror movie addict, so I spend my downtime watching scary films and reading horror movie blogs! I love seeing live music and have been lucky enough to see Steely Dan and Robert Glasper (a jazz musician) recently. I also have two children and two kittens, so they definitely keep me busy when I’m not working… 

What was the last book you read for pleasure?
It’s not the last book I read, but I absolutely loved You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott. Her characterisation is just outstanding and always sucks me in wholly. 

Describe your job in 15 words or less...

I help authors get their books out to as wide a readership as possible. 

What have been the highlights of your publishing life so far
I’ve been fortunate enough to work at two publishing juggernauts in their early days – I started at Avon (HarperCollins) before it launched in 2007, which gave me a huge grounding in what it takes to launch a successful commercial book and Bookouture, which has grown into the leader in digital publishing in the last three years. I love the challenges of growing a company and the satisfaction of seeing its successes.
I’d also have to say that seeing Angela Marsons’ D.I. Kim Stone series go on to sell millions of copies has been another huge highlight of my career. And I was delighted to be named on the Bookseller Rising Star list in 2017 (I feel a bit old to still be ‘rising’, but I’ll take that accolade!). 

If you could try out any other job for one day (with no limits on money, travel etc.), what would you choose?
Anyone who has seen me at karaoke will know this, but I’d love to be a rapper for a day! Although I’m not sure my Northern tones would really be suited to it… sadly! 

If your publishing life was a book, what would the title be?
Lucky Girl. I feel really privileged every day to work at a job I love, with dynamic, creative, colleagues and fantastically inventive (and lovely!) authors. I get to discover new voices, and bring them to the reading public. And I get to read books! As part of my job! If you had told 8-year-old me that one day I would be involved in actually creating books, I don’t think I would have believed you…

Thanks so much for taking part, Keshini!

Look out for more MY PUBLISHING LIFE features coming soon.

Click here to read more MY PUBLISHING LIFE features.

If any literary agents, publishers, publicists or editors would like to take part, please contact me through my blog or Twitter for the full list of questions.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Ian Patrick

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


to share his BEST OF CRIME ...

Author – Chuck Palahniuk. Incredible writer who explores what he wants to explore and not what he thinks publishers are looking for. He is a superb writer who uses dialogue effectively.

Locke. A Welsh construction professional leaves a Birmingham building site in his BMW – which is where he stays for the rest of the film, driving and making phone calls. Simple yet so effective! The way the drama unfolds just captivates you. Steven Knight is the writer and director with Tom Hardy as the lead role.

This is a tough one. The last one I saw, that I really enjoyed, was Life on Mars. It captured the policing of the time so well and so well written.

Hannibal Lecter. This killer had depth of character. He wasn’t one-dimensional and was a great match for Clarice Starling. I enjoyed the playoff between the two.

Clarice Starling. Clarice was a savvy agent with determination to get the job done. A different approach to detection. Due to the setting she had to build a trust with Lecter who held all the cards. I’ve interviewed Paedophiles who believed they could get away with the crimes they’d committed due to a superior intellect and perceived deception. They never did succeed.

Ashtray. It’s amazing what can be used in the heat of an argument that results in death.

Having spent 27 years in the police, I have attended many. To be honest each one is horrific and not what I would describe as memorable as you spend time trying to forget them. Hence I don’t tend to read much crime although I write it.

I’m fortunate in having a good working knowledge. Times change though, as does the law, so I do like Rebecca Bradley’s blog on police topics.

Trust your own process. You could speak to ten writers’ and they’d all come up with different ways that work for them. Find your own way and use it. I’d also say the same with voice. Find your own and stick with what works for you.

Wine Gums….many of them!

Educated in Nottingham, Ian left school at sixteen. After three years in the Civil Service he moved to London for a career in the Metropolitan Police. He spent twenty-seven years as a police officer, the majority as a detective within the Specialist Operations Command. A career in policing is a career in writing. Ian has been used to carrying a book and pen and making notes. Now retired, the need to write didn’t leave and evolved into fiction.
Rubicon is his debut novel published by Fahrenheit Press 

Find Ian Patrick on Twitter - @IPatrick_Author


Publisher's description
Two cops, both on different sides of the law – both with the same gangland boss in their sights. 
Sam Batford is an undercover officer with the Metropolitan Police who will stop at nothing to get his hands on fearsome crime-lord Vincenzo Guardino’s drug supply. 
DCI Klara Winter runs a team on the National Crime Agency, she’s also chasing down Guardino, but unlike Sam Batford she’s determined to bring the gangster to justice and get his drugs off the streets.
Set in a time of austerity and police cuts where opportunities for corruption are rife, Rubicon is a tense, dark thriller that is definitely not for the faint hearted.

Rubicon was published by Fahrenheit Press on 21 August 2017.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This is How it Ends
By Eva Dolan
Published by Raven Books (25 January 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher

Publisher's description
This is how it begins.
With a near-empty building, the inhabitants forced out of their homes by property developers.
With two women: idealistic, impassioned blogger Ella and seasoned campaigner, Molly
With a body hidden in a lift shaft.
But how will it end?

My verdict
When I finished This is How it Ends, I sat for a while gazing into nothing, surrounded by silence. I wanted to shout about the issues it raised and share my enjoyment of the book and my admiration for the author. Yet first of all I needed some time to think and process everything I had read.

While this is a psychological thriller, it's also so much more than this. I can't say much about the plot without giving anything away. But it is complex and intelligent, filled with social and political conscience and some highly topical and ethical contemporary themes. It is bang up to date, focusing on the plight of the underdog against the big property developers. The writing is stunning, drawing the reader in. This is a masterclass with its multi-layered plotting, realistic characters and twists that actually work.

I don't think I've ever been so invested in a book's characters before, shaken and shocked by events as they unfolded right until the bitter end. This is a powerful twisty thought-provoking read and one I won't forget easily - if at all. It's also a book that people will be talking about for a long time, as anger, compassion and frustration ooze off every page.

Eva Dolan is a force to be reckoned with. This is How it Ends is her best novel yet - a book that will challenge you and leave you reeling.

Marie Gameson's Writing Toolkit

WRITING TOOLKIT gives you an idea of an author's writing process through the tools they use. The tools can be anything (real or virtual) that they think is essential for their writing - serious, fun or even a fetish (that they're willing to own up to)! 

I am delighted to welcome 





The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) was published on 15 July 2017 by Salt Publishing. 

I’ll just say straight off, that when it comes to a writer’s habits, I am the very antithesis of a role model, as will become evident below.

That advice you get about having to write something each day, I think is rubbish. Very few of us have writing as our full-time job, so we have to write when it is convenient; for me that means weekends and holidays. I have written three books this way, and it suits me more than trying to crowbar 10 minutes of gritted-teeth writing time into each weekday evening.

Where I write
Basically I write anywhere that is reasonably quiet and where I can smoke. At home this means the garden or the ‘outhouse’ (a glorified conservatory, which my long-suffering partner has kindly designated as an OK-to-smoke-if-you-keep-the-door-open zone). I wrote much of Mr Gadd in China, either at cafes or in the garden of one particular hotel, where a sympathetic waiter would keep me topped up with wine or coffee whilst trying to stamp on the cockroaches which whizzed around my table as twilight turned to darkness.

Unfortunately the ability to drink, smoke, have a WiFi connection and balance my lap-top are far more important to me than the ergonomics of my situation in terms of which position is best for my neck/back/eyes. I figure I can sort out the physical problems down the gym some other time. 

Mount Gay rum, Golden Virginia, any non-oaky red wine, café latte and – most importantly – English Breakfast tea, served in a proper big mug rather than one of those silly cups where your index finger gets caught in the handle. For sustenance: lashings of almond butter and either marmite or honey.

Some strange change happened to me between youth and middle-age, so that I turned from someone who wouldn’t have dreamt of doing homework without The Stranglers playing in the background to someone who really dislikes extraneous noise: TV, radio, music. My tinnitus has got a lot worse with age, but fortunately is so constant that it rarely bothers me in the same way as does a TV on in the next room. 

Where I plot
I go on long walks to untangle the plot. If I am visiting my mother in Dorset, then the plots are played out on Maiden Castle – a wonderful massive iron age hillfort – and where I got the idea for Mr Gadd. As I do most of my writing in Suffolk I also walk along the river Deben. I am aware that I sometimes mutter to myself, so it is fortunate that I rarely meet dog-walkers who might be alarmed. I try and row at least twice a week as well – it isn’t so good for plotting, but it is essential for the soul. I would like to think that I look contemplative and ethereal in the photo below.

Social media
I am fairly hopeless at social media, and my only rule about it is to tell myself that ‘tomorrow I will definitely post something’. I’m afraid that when someone tells me I can arrange things so that a single tweet or post to Pinterest spawns a post to Instagram and Facebook and whatnot, I just hear ‘blah blah blah’. It is not so much the technology (I have spent several decades in IT) as trying to dash off something interesting without taking 3 weeks to think about it.

I don’t use anything fancy when writing. I scribble notes and draw mindmaps on notepads and use Word for my manuscript and Excel for plotting. As I have studied screenwriting rather than writing, I tend to plot the story using John Truby’s 22 steps method of screenwriting. It gives a useful rough guide to the first draft.

Having hinted that I am competent at IT, I should go on to say that Windows 10 is my enemy, and that my darkest fantasies involve Microsoft employees, me, and vastly upscaled versions of the weapons in Cluedo. I use different PCs, an old laptop and a tablet – and I have watched each become more enfeebled after being assaulted by various automatic Windows 10 updates. Sadly, my lovely Surface Pro, which I took to China twice to write and re-write Mr Gadd didn’t pull through the last update. I almost wept: Surface Pro 3 (deceased).


About Marie Gameson
Marie Gameson was born in Trinidad but spent her childhood in Kuwait, El Salvador, and Barbados. She is now in England, and getting on a bit.
Marie and her mother co-wrote a book based on the legacy of the ‘English Redlegs’ – the Monmouth Rebels who were exiled from England to Barbados, following their defeat at the Battle of Sedgemoor in Somerset in 1685.

Find Marie on her website and on Twitter - @MarieGameson

About The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased)

Published by Salt Publishing (15 July 2017)

Publisher's description
The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) explores the painful themes of having to grieve for someone who is not yet dead, and trying to find one's identity through an absent father. 
Winifred Rigby follows a Zen-like path of serenity and detachment, whilst leaving havoc in her wake. When Fred, a stranger haunted by poltergeist activity, contacts Winnie, he insists that stories she wrote as a teenager hold the key to his supernatural problems, and she is forced to renew acquaintance with her younger self.
Where will it all lead? 

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