Thursday, 12 March 2015

New two-book thriller deal

Back in January I mentioned that in the wake of finding my Inspector Lucas Rocco series dropped (French detective based in France in the 1960s), I had written two new books. One was 'Close Quarters' (due out 30th April in hardback - Seven House), and is the sequel to  'The Watchman' , both of which follow the work of  spy protector, Marc Portman, a man who works at long distance to ensure the safety of those engaged in secret assignments by government agencies such as the CIA and MI6.

The second book I called 'THE LOCKER', and was something a little different. It's a thriller, but this time my lead character is a woman. (And no, not the first time I've done this).

I said at the time that writing is great therapy, and there's nothing better than striking out in a slightly different direction when the mood takes you to really pull you out of yourself.

The idea for this story was inspired by a visit to the gym one day. I mention this not to brag about being a gym freak (I get bored far too easily and think of all the things I could be writing instead of sweating my ass off on a running machine,) but only because for me, as with many writers, it's the seemingly insignificant events that will pass by, only to stick in the corner of one's memory, calling for attention, even months later. And this was one such.

When I opened one of the lockers to put my clothes away, I noticed a business card on the bottom; a white card with a name, telephone number and address - I forget now who it was for, but that's irrelevant. But when I turned it over, I saw it had my (first) name scrawled on it. OK, a bit spooky for a split second, but there was nothing else; no message or number. Clearly, there was another Adrian in the area and the card had been dropped by a previous visitor while getting their clothes out of the locker.

As I said, insignificant and something to be forgotten. Except something about it wouldn't let me. IN fact, it kept coming back. (Not the card, I mean... the idea). And what kept hitting me between the eyes was the sheer randomness of a piece of card with my name on it being left in a locker at a public gym. OK, it wasn't my whole name, but still...

The thing was, I kept coming back to a simple question: What if... ?

And that's the great thing about writing fiction. It's the 'what ifs' that make us view the world with a slight different eye to most other people. Because we're trading on 'what ifs' all the time, exploring ways of telling a story with a touch of reality laced with great dollops of imagination.

In this case, I wondered, what if a woman - a mother of a little girl - arrived at her gym one morning to find a card lying on the bottom of her chosen locker. A white card.

Addressed to her.

Hello, Nancy.
You’re at your usual locker at Fitness Plus. The time is approx. 09.15. Your cell phone is dead, your home phone won’t answer and your daughter, Beth, is alone with Tiggi, her cute Polish nanny.
 It will take you 18 minutes to get home. If you drive fast.
    Shame. You’re already 18 minutes late...

Nancy was further instructed to tell her husband, a charity field worker somewhere in Africa or the Middle East, what had happened. But NOT to call the police. Fairly standard kidnap instructions, I imagine. Do what we tell you and everything will be fine... Except that Nancy remembers how her husband had impressed on her that if anything unusual ever happened, all she had to do was call a special number and help would arrive. Which she does.

This help turns up in the form of two people, former British soldier and cop, Ruth Gonzales, and her American colleague, ex-department of Homeland Security agent, Andy Vaslik. Both investigators with a private security/insurance company called Cruxys Solutions, they're here to solve the problem of Beth's kidnap. At first all they have to do is find and contact Nancy's husband, as he seems fundamental to the kindappers' demands.

Of course, nothing is quite as simple as that, because while Nancy is freaking out over her kidnapped daughter, what soon becomes apparent to the two investigators is that Nancy's husband, Michael, is not only out of reach, they begin to wonder after a while whether he even exists.

But that's part of the story I won't go into. Sorry - you'll have to read the book.

And that's how the 'THE LOCKER' was born. By chance encounter with a piece of card.

The good news for me was, my agent, David Headley, quickly secured a two-book deal with American publishers Midnight Ink, for this and a sequel which I'm currently writing. I had originally intended 'The Locker' being a standalone thriller, but I came to like the way Gonzales and Vaslik worked together... and the publishers wanted a series, so it was a no-brainer, really.

'The Locker' won't be out until 2016, which seems a long way off, but I'm already finding time slipping by horribly fast. Until then, it's back to the keyboard...

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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

My latest articles in Writing Magazine

April's edition of Writing Magazine includes my monthly 'Beginners' column and is called 'Get down to Business'.


I confess this might have been inspired by a writer saying to me recently how nice it must be to do what I love full-time, and how wonderful it must be to work at home and take time off to do something else whenever I felt like it.

You know... like my writing's only a hobby, innit?

The sad thing is, I've found this attitude fairly prevalent in the outside (non-writing) world, almost as if some view us through rosy glasses, a pen in one hand, a glass of G&T in the other and nothing else to do all day but compose instantly saleable prose... or wonder off and have jolly larks on the river with like-minded scribes.

Well, sorry to disappoint and blow holes in anyone's perceptions, but the simple lesson is, if you want to be a published writer, you have to take this lark seriously, which means treating it like a business and becoming a professional.

That might mean giving up lots of things, like television, but if you want to succeed, that's the trade-off. It's work like any other.

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My other contribution this month is my New Author Profile which covers Northern Ireland writer and lawyer, Steve Cavanagh, who sees his debut novel 'The Defence' published by Orion this very month (March, that is).

Steve's premise for this crime novel is one that some people might not agree with, but is certainly an unusual proposition: that hustlers and con men share the same skills as lawyers.

I really couldn't comment, m'lud. But to find out what those skills are, you'll have to read the article... or Steve's book.

You could also check out his website here for more information on the author and his work.

Right, that's me done for the day... I'm off for a well-earned kip...

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