Proof copies have arried

Just look at this beauty:

Three women. An isolated town. A decades old mystery.

Isn’t that just so enticing? You just want to know more!

Proof copies are an incredibly exciting part of the writing process. This is when the hard work is done. You have a book in your hand. An actual book, with a cover and an acknowledgements section and a dedication…

Of course, this is not the final product. The reason why it’s called a proof copy is that it’s, well, for proofing. So I am going to have to read This Wild, Wild Country again (I’ve only read it about 367 times before) and highlight any remaining typos, mistakes or odd layout issues.

The proof copies play another important role. They will be sent to buyers and reviewers, who will then hopefully put in lots of preorders and line up reviews in time for the book launch on 4 August.

Is this the right moment to say it? This Wild, Wild Country is now available for preorder in your favourite book shop. Do it. You know you want to…

PS: This is not the final cover. Cover reveal coming soon… watch this space!

Launched in France

Voilà, The Long, Long Afternoon is out in French, as Un long, si long après-midi. I could not be prouder. Just look at it, right there on the table.

Launching in a different country is so exciting because it all feels a bit wild. My French is not that great, so I have to translate the reviews and guess at some of their meanings. I cannot follow the social media in the same way. Doing readings and signing books in France is adventurous. Will I understand? Can I get my points across? And how amazing is it that people care about my book, when there is so much incredible writing in France?

I wanted to give a few, quick book recommendations from French authors. There’s Leila Slimani’s Le pays des autres (The country of others), a haunting story of a French woman who moves to 1940s Morocco. For cozy mystery fans, there’s fellow L’Edition Martiniere author Frédéric Lenormand’s lovely series about Marie Antoinette’s hairdresser, Au Service Secret de Marie Antoinette (In Marie Antoinette’s secret service). And we need something for the true crime fans too. I highly recommend Sarah Maza’s Violette Noziere: A Story of Murder in 1930s Paris.

Maza, strictly speaking, is not French. But I, strictly speaking, am also writing in and about a place I wasn’t born and… je ne regrette rien!

All edits are done!

… or are they?

This Wild, Wild Country is now with the typesetter, which means I will soon be holding the first printed proof in my hand. This will be a really special moment. What’s been words on a computer screen for 18 months and counting will finally be a physical thing to hold and flick through and put on a book shelf.

But the edits will not be done. First of all, the printed proof is just that – a proof copy. I will need to read it and re-read it to really make sure there are no mistakes remaining. There is other stuff to look out for: do the chapter titles look right? Is the spacing ok? Does the title fit the cover image, or is anything important being obscured?

Then there is what I call the book framework. I still have to write acknowledgements, an Author’s Note, some questions for reading groups and, most importantly, a dedication.

Meanwhile, the book will go through many hands at Bonnier, and through a sensitivity read. So there may be further edits coming at me down the line.

Like a painting, a book is never truly finished. But at some point, the editing has to stop. Still, I know I will howl with pain if This Wild, Wild Country goes to print and I open it in a book shop and find a typo.

Ah, well., we can always fix things for the paperback.

Final round of edits

I just got a bunch of final edits back for This Wild, Wild Country.

This is maybe the most exciting phase of book publishing. The book is so close to being finished. You can almost see it on the shelves already. It’s also starting to become the novel I’ve always wanted it to be. Does that sound weird? Maybe?

While I hate edits – after all, how can my perfect book baby have any flaws? – I also love them. There’s a saying that good books aren’t being written, they are being edited, and I 100% subscribe to that philosophy.

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

The thing is, writing a novel is a journey without a map. You know you’re going to get “somewhere”, but the “where exactly” is always a question. Sometimes, you have grand ideas that don’t work out. Sometimes, a sub-plot that sounded great in your mind is silly on paper. At other times, a fresh mystery emerges from the pages. But does it have a solution?

Editors are absolutely essential in teasing out the brilliant bits from the word jungle and helping you, the author, look square in the face of the bad ones. They also give you something else that’s crucial to writing success = a deadline!

This Wild, Wild Country is coming out in August and is already available for pre-order at Waterstones and Amazon. And I am procrastinating. Back to the edits!

Cover design is happening

Terrific news from my publisher last week. The cover design for This Wild, Wild Country is in the works.

I’m not going to give too much away just yet. But I can talk a little bit about the cover design for The Long, Long Afternoon. I get asked a lot about the cover. Who created it? Did you get a say in it? How is a book cover decided?

Getting the cover right is crucial, both for the author and the publisher. The author wants a representation of their vision for the book. Once the cover is revealed, the book finally becomes real.

The publisher, of course, has another motive: sales. A cover needs to pop, it needs to stand out from the crowd of books on a book shelf. It needs to appeal – but not necessarily to everyone. A good book cover entices the kinds of readers who will love the book, not all readers everywhere.

Author and publisher will work together on a design that both are happy with. While the publisher has the final say (after all, they’ve got the publishing rights), they won’t want an author to be upset about the cover. It is normal for covers to go through several versions – even the text placement needs to be carefully thought out.

Above is the first concept proposal for The Long, Long Afternoon’s hardback cover that I got to see. Alot of the elements are already there. The broken plate, the curtains, the flowers. But I was still able to make changes and comments. I ran the cover past my family, and my sister suggested adding the stain on the cupboard that could be food… or blood!

The final cover really stands out from other crime novels. It is bright, sunny and charming… but the broken items, the burnt turkey and the knife prominently sticking from the chopping board give it an air of unease. The kitchen looks lived in, but abandoned. The food has been lovingly prepared, then left to rot. The geraniums are peering in, ready drop their blood-red petals all over the scrubbed sink.

I’ll tell you a secret. Can you see the shadow of a man in the light streaming onto the floor? He’s hard to spot, but he’s there…

Under the radar ;)

Congratulations are in order – I won the Under the Radar award from Sue at the fabulous Brown Flopsie’s Book Burrow review blog. It’s a true Christmas present!

Quite a while after Sue wrote this wonderfully succinct and loving review of The Long, Long Afternoon, we met at the Bloody Scotland literary festival in Stirling. Sue is such an amazing book blogger and a great friend of debut authors across the UK. We really need that early buzz to get our pre-orders up and get noticed – so bloggers like Sue are our lifeblood.

Please support your favourite book bloggers with a like or share today.

3rd draft submitted

Phew….

I’ve just submitted the third draft of This Wild, Wild Country to the fabulous folks at Manilla Press. I can’t say much about it yet, but my second novel will be set in New Mexico in 1970 and feature a murder in a Hippie Commune.

It’s been tough writing the Hippies. They are so easy to ridicule, yet they really tried to do something different. I wanted to take them seriously for what they were aiming to achieve, rather than mocking their style and slang. Hope I’ve succeeded.

Hippie slang sounds cliched to us now, but it was totally real, man. Just check out this rad advert for bongo drums. Far out!

Source: Lileks Tumblr