Food for thought

Writing rituals and tips for new writers

Following is an interview with Rachel, originally published on NovelKicks, 21 April 2015. What is your new novel, Stranger Child about, and what inspired it? If I had to find one word which sums up what Stranger Child is about, it would have to be revenge – but that nowhere near covers it. Emma Jacobs met David – now her husband – several years ago, but they lost touch when she went to Australia. When she came back, she was horrified to learn that David’s first wife had been killed in a car accident, and his six-year-old daughter had disappeared from the scene. Now, six years later, Emma and David have put the past behind them and are happily married with a new baby, Ollie. And then a stranger walks into their lives, and their world falls apart. Emma discovers things about her own past that shock her, and when



I love and hate the question “where do you get your inspiration from?” in equal measure. I love it because it makes me reflect on how I came up with each idea, and I hate it because it makes me feel vulnerable. The worst thing that could happen to a writer is running out of inspiration, and each time I finish a book I think, “I’m never going to have such a good idea again”. So it’s a very worrying question!


Building Characters

One of the great joys of writing novels is the fact that – as the author – you get to build the characters you want to. You can make them as evil or as wonderful as you like, and they can embody the worst of human behaviour, or the best. I am a great people watcher, and I am totally fascinated by the way individuals treat each other and react to situations. When I see a behaviour that is interesting, I store it up, ready to paste it into one of my character profiles, usually exaggerated to make a fairly simple human failing into something considerably more sinister.


The Pros and Cons of Self-publishing

I am often asked why I chose to self-publish, and the answer is that it wasn’t really a conscious decision. I had written my first book – Only the Innocent – because the idea for the story had been buzzing around in my head for about ten years, and so one very cold winter I decided I was going to spend my days writing a novel. It’s the best decision I think I have ever made!


Getting Started in Crime Fiction

People often ask me why I decided to write thrillers, and I’m never sure what the right answer is. I have always loved reading thrillers – not so much traditional crime fiction, but more the psychological, slightly twisted, tales that chill a person to the bone. But that’s not the only type of fiction that I enjoy. I’ll happily read just about any book, so why did I choose to write crime? I would argue that my books aren’t really about crime. The underlying story is about people – how they behave towards each other, treat each other, and abuse their power. But as there is always a crime committed as a result of this behaviour, it becomes necessary to have a police presence. Without a doubt, though, I would say my books are more about the ‘why’ than the ‘who, what, where’ of a traditional crime novel.


Author Rob Sinclair on why self-published authors need entrepreneurial skills

I am very happy to welcome author Rob Sinclair to the blog today. Rob is the author of the Enemy series of thrillers featuring intelligence agent Carl Logan. He self-published his first novel, Dance with the Enemy, in 2014 to widespread acclaim and recently released the follow-up novel, Rise of the Enemy. Today Rob discusses why it’s important for self-published authors to understand that they are also entrepreneurs. Writing a best seller is easy, isn’t it? It’s just a process of stringing together 100,000 words in the correct order. If it’s good enough, getting the book to sell is then a no-brainer, of course. From your very first reader, word of mouth will simply take control and spiral outwards across the globe. Within weeks your book will be topping the charts, have been translated into several languages and you’ll have received several offers for film rights from big Hollywood studios.


Success in independent publishing

This is a hastily written blog post in response to requests for information on marketing self-published books – so I apologise in advance for any errors. I am sitting in my hotel room with my laptop balanced precariously on my knee with half an hour before I have to leave to catch a train! The reason for the haste is that yesterday I attended an excellent event hosted by ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors), and it was reported by the equally excellent of Joanna Penn (of that my blog has advice on successful marketing for independent authors.


Not all endings should be happy

As a writer, I feel I have a duty to provide a complete story that leaves my readers satisfied. Equally, and maybe slightly bizarrely, I feel a duty to my characters – imaginary though they may be – to be true to them. And sometimes this has been a bone of contention with my readers. Obviously I can’t talk in detail about the end of each of my books without giving away far too much, so I will have to write in general terms.


“A Paroxysm of Nausea”- author Tim Adler tells us why he writes

 “…just as a paroxysm of nausea swept over him,” I finished, looking up from my exercise book. My schoolmates looked bored, and somebody flicked a chewed-over paper ball at me. Paroxysm. Not a word you hear used much in everyday language, but I’d read it somewhere and decided to shoehorn it that week’s chapter. My English teacher was thrilled though. Every Saturday I was persuaded to stand in front of my class and read the latest instalment of a serial adventure I was writing. One month it was Doctor Who, another it was my version of a James Bond yarn. No sex, just gadgets. Not that I needed any persuading. I loved storytelling. Being an only child, a lot of my time was spent drawing comics and poring over books while my idea of heaven was taking the bus to the local library and just trailing my hand along the


Tangling with Titles : enter a title survey to win!

Virginia King wrote the first sentence of her psychological mystery over ten years ago. She’s been a children’s author and prize-winning publisher, but she had to teach herself to write a novel by writing it … and writing it. Now it’s finished with the next book in the series well underway. It’s professionally edited with a stunning cover, ready to go – except for the title!  She shares her tangles with book titles from a marketing perspective. Then she invites you to enter her Title Survey for the chance to win her books. Anyone who knows how long I’ve been writing my novel can’t believe I’ve kept at it for so long, gone through so many drafts and versions, ditched so many characters and discovered others, burnt out editors and agents, (kept my husband), only to falter over the title in the months before publication. A title is only a