My first adult crime fiction novel, Kill or Die was released in May of this year, but I'd actually written the first version of it some years previously. At the time I didn't get far in finding a publisher. I sent it to two publishers and their feedback totally contradicted each other. One said it was too gory and graphic, the other said it wasn't graphic enough for a crime novel.
So, what did I do? Put it away in a drawer and got on with something else. Some years later I came across the manuscript again, and saw that there was a hand written comment at the bottom saying how much the reader liked my style.
When you're just a novice writer, a rejection is a rejection. It's only through experience that you get to read between the lines, and learn how to pick up on what the editor did and didn't like and, if you use your brain, you'll suggest making a few changes. At the time though, I pushed it away in a drawer and forgot all about it.
Then, after re-discovering it, reading it again and seeing for myself how it could be improved, I got to work on the re-write with the aim of this time persevering in finding a publisher. Amazingly the first publisher I sent it to liked it and said they wanted to publish it. Months of interaction followed before I realised that the company was bogus! Quickly extracting myself from being associated with them, I was a little wary of sending it off anywhere else.
However, my next publisher – Bloodhound Books, with the lovely Betsy Freeman Freavly and her husband Fred at the helm, it turned out to be the best decision ever.
They have proved to be a great publisher to work with, who really work hard for their authors. They have a Facebook page for just the authors so we can share our sorrows and celebrations, and have the occasional meet up too.
I was recently at the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Festival in Harrogate, where lots of Bloodhound authors as well as Betsy and Fred all got together. And it was great fun!
The Harrogate Festival was just brilliant, and I came away after the four days totally inspired after listening to talks by world famous authors such as Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Val McDermid and many others. I even got to meet Lee Child!
I'm working on another book now, which I'm hoping Bloodhound Books will accept. But meanwhile here's the blurb and an extract from Kill or Die which I hope you will enjoy:
A vicious burglary goes horribly wrong when an elderly victim is killed and one of the burglars is injured.
The car's headlights came out of nowhere, as Julia pulled out of her drive. She instinctively tried to swerve, but there was no avoiding the impact. It was slight, a faint tinkling of glass breaking – a sidelight or indicator light. In the back, Lucy buckled into her seat, cried out in fright.
Through the fog, Julia distinctively saw the driver brace his arms against the steering wheel, but his passenger shot forward, cracking his head against the windscreen so hard a circular cobweb effect of blood-smeared shattered glass instantly appeared, before he ricocheted back into his seat.
“God! That must have hurt. Stay here, Lucy. He might need an ambulance.”
She got out, heart thumping, and dashed to the other car's passenger door. She was aware of the driver getting out, and walking around the back of his car towards her. He was tall, taller than Ian, and he was five eleven. This man was broad shouldered, too, and dressed all in black, like a large shadow she was only barely aware off, as she focussed on the passenger. He didn't seem to have moved since ricocheting back into his seat. She hoped to God he wasn't seriously injured.
“Shall I call an ambulance? I think your passenger is hu...”
Her question was left hanging in the air, as Julia realised she couldn't make out the driver's face, because he was wearing a woollen balaclava. Something stirred in the pit of her stomach. A slight warning. She ignored it. It was a horrible night. Why wouldn't someone wear a balaclava? What mattered was the passenger wasn't moving. Was he unconscious? Dead? God, she hoped not.
She went to open the passenger door when an arm, clad in black leather, was thrust in front of her, shoving her hand aside, and yanking open the passenger door. The thick smell of leather filled her senses, as he crowded over her.
“He couldn't have been wearing his seat belt...” she tried to say, but then the driver spoke.
“Nash, get your arse out of there.”
Julia shot the man a sharp look, thinking how awful to snap out an order to someone who'd hit their head against a windscreen. Through the slit in the balaclava, his pale blue eyes were luminous – and cold.
The passenger looked to be in his mid-twenties, and horribly disfigured on one side of his face. He groaned, and slumped forward, his head almost in his lap.
“He needs help. My mobile's in my bag. I'll...” A leather gloved hand clamped suddenly and roughly around her mouth and nose, and she felt the terrifying feeling of suffocation. Frantically, she struggled against him, writhing, twisting, trying to kick back at his legs to scrape her heels down his shins. Desperately aware she couldn't breathe, she clawed at his hand, but she was being lifted bodily off the ground, and carried back to her own car. He bundled her into her driving seat.
“Shut it! One sound, and the kid dies, understand?” His eyes locked onto hers, glittering with menace.
Kill or Die (ISBN 978-1912175147)is available from all good book stores in paperback and Kindle.
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