Monday 27 August 2018

Taking a fresh direction as a writer

Writing careers fascinate me, and I know from questions put at the "Life of Crime" talks I've been giving up and down the country for many years that they also fascinate a great many readers. A major part of my thinking in starting this blog more than ten years ago was to supplement those talks by giving further insight into the life of a crime writer who was far from being a household name. Since then, my career has moved in a very happy direction, but I remain fascinated by the rollercoaster nature of literary lives.

It's often said that these days, it's as hard to stay published as it is to become published in the first place, and there's at least a degree of truth in that. So what can a writer do? Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a strong believer in keeping one's writing fresh. In my case, this means varying the nature of what I write - short stories as well as novels, fact as well as fiction, writing about other people's books even more than about my own. With each Lake District Mystery, I've tried to do something a bit different from the last book - this was especially the case with The Dungeon House, the most recent entry in the series.

Gallows Court, however, is very, very different from my earlier books. It took a long time to write, and naturally I have been nervous about how it might be received. There are various stages in that process of getting reaction. First, the agent's reaction. Happily, that was very positive. Second, the reaction from publishers. Here, I was thrilled to be taken on by Head of Zeus, a really excellent publisher. Third, what would good judges say? Advance copies of the book were sent to a splendid mix of leading authors, from Lee Child, Peter James, Stephen Booth, and Peter Robinson to Ragnar Jonasson, Peter Swanson, and Shari Lapena  I've been truly overjoyed by their comments.

And finally, what do readers and reviewers say? Well, I'm holding my breath, but I've been gratified by the very first review, which has just appeared on the In Search of the Classic Mystery blog. I'm so pleased that Puzzle Doctor approves the book. When you send a book out into the world, you have to accept that not everyone will love it; that's life. But it's certainly great for morale if initial reaction is largely favourable. And that is especially true when one has taken the risk of striking out in a fresh direction. 


Paul Beech said...

Hi Martin,

I’ve seen over the years how often you’ve tried new things in your fiction – for example, in the short form, your hilarious flash fiction story ‘InDex’ and your detour into the macabre, ‘No Flowers’; in the long form, your fascinating take on the Crippen case, ‘Dancing for the Hangman’.

And now, following your brilliant Harry Devlin novels set in Liverpool, and – hopefully only interrupting – your deservedly popular Lake District series, we have coming up the biggest and riskiest departure of all, your Golden Age-style crime thriller, ‘Gallows Court’.

But with such a compelling lead character as Rachel Savernake in her Rolls Royce Phantom, her mysterious 1930 London doings so ably chronicled as to hold us on the edge of our seats, and with such a good publisher as Head of Zeus behind you, I believe your gamble will pay off handsomely with many a present fan loving the book and a whole new readership gained.

My very best,


Rambler said...

My thoughts instantly flew to Ken Follett, an author renowned for his thrillers, when he wrote "Pillars of the Earth" and his publishers advised him that it would be inadvisable to publish it. He insisted and the book came out with no advance publicity, no stacks of books in W H Smiths, etc - and became a best-seller through word of mouth alone. Added to that, "World Without End" the sequel, was 18 years later!

Martin Edwards said...

Paul, as always I'm grateful. Keeping my fingers crossed about Gallows Court!

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Rambler, I didn't know that about Pillars of the Earth.