Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Next Big Thing

I’ve been asked to be the next link in a chain of authors answering the same set of questions on their blogs and author pages. Last week was Meg Kingston’s turn and her blog can be seen here: http://megkingston.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/my-next-big-thing_2.html Meg has written many short stories as well a non-fiction book called The Monster and the Rainbow about her experiences with disability, which should be read by all for its wonderful insights. Meg has recently completed a crowd-funded Steampunk novel, Chrystal Heart is to be released on 13/03/13.

So, it’s my turn in the hot seat:

What is the working title of your book?
White Van Man – although, as book titles seem to be getting longer and quirkier, it did cross my mind to call it: The Curious Incident of the 50 shades of White Van That Drove into The Twilight Zone

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Same place as a lot of my best ideas – in the bath. Also (shameful admission) I was a white van driver for a brief period in a long and varied career and my driving skills still live up to people’s low expectations!

What genre does your book fall under?
Crime.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote the first 50,000 words in November 2011 because I’d decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but it took until February 2012 to complete the first draft. Since then I have rewritten and edited it four times during the last twelve months. It is currently with a professional editor now for a final polish.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is a tough question as I feel comparing my work to other novelists would be presumptuous of me. It’s easier for me to say what it isn’t: it’s not a police procedural, or a serial killer novel, or a whodunit. I’ve simply taken an ordinary guy who’s led a fairly sheltered life and dropped him into a criminal world where the life-skills he has acquired up to that moment are of little use to him. I believe the writers who do this type of story well are Robert Goddard, Peter May, Chris Ewan and Dick Francis and if anyone were to mention me in the same sentence as these fine authors I would be cock-a-hoop!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since The Beatles released ‘Paperback Writer’ as it sounded like an easy job (how wrong was I?). I began writing stories in school exercise books and wish I’d kept them now. Early favourites that inspired me were Treasure Island and Kidnapped by R L Stevenson and the Biggles series by Captain W E Johns.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
As well as trying to extricate himself from gangsters, my lead character, Martin Blake, is also coping with redundancy, his wife’s infidelity, a teenage daughter, building a new business and, hardly surprising, some stress-related health problems. He could be the guy next door and I think he is someone to whom people will find it easy to relate. To follow the novel’s progress towards publication you can occasionally check my website at: www.robertdarke.com, or keep following this blog, or like my FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/RobertDarkeWriter

And we’re done, time to pass this blog-baton onto…
…anyone who wants to take this on and be The Next Big Thing!

Just let me know and I’ll update this blog with a link to you.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Professional Editing

Today I printed off the first hard copy of my novel. It’s funny how you spot things in a hard copy that you don’t see on the screen. Even as it was printing out, I spotted the odd typo and spelling mistake that had somehow slipped through all my previous edits.

Once I’ve completed yet another edit on this hard copy, I plan to send the book to a professional editor to give it a final polish. It’s not cheap to use a professional editor and a few of my writing friends, who are considering self-publishing, wonder why I’m doing it so I’ll try and answer that here:
Every book published by mainstream publishers has been through a separate editing process performed by somebody other than the author: I don’t know of any author who feels that their book was not improved by the process – you only have to read the acknowledgements at the end of most novels to see evidence of this.

The simple truth is that I’ve invested a huge amount of my own time in this project and I want my work to be as good as it can possibly be to enable readers to get the maximum pleasure from it. I don’t regard this as an expense but as an investment in quality.

Even so, it is scary handing over something that I’ve been working on for a little over 12 months to someone else to criticise. I want them to like it but I’m paying them to pick holes in it. A speaker at the York Festival of Writing said that giving somebody honest feedback on their work is a bit like telling a mother that her newborn is ugly! So it’s fair to say I’m nervous about what they might tell me …

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing