evseymour

Word on the Wire

Tag: Midnight Ink

BEAUTIFUL BOOK LAUNCH

Book launches are unpredictable affairs. You can promote and tweet, blog and bleat but every writer realises that folk are busy, have commitments even if it’s slumping in front of the TV with a glass of wine or block of chocolate at the end of a busy day. Those who would love to come often live in different parts of the country so that’s another factor to take into account. Throw into the mix that the official launch of ‘Beautiful Losers’ coincided with the Referendum – what were we thinking, you may ask – and, by rights, it should have been a disaster.

BUT also throw into the mix the fabulous venue – none other than The Suffolk Anthology, the finest independent bookshop in Cheltenham – and the odds were already stacked in our favour for a respectable turnout. I’ve done a few of these types of events, but this rates as the sweetest. It wasn’t simply the environment or the glasses of fizz or the support of bookshop owner Helene Hewett for ‘Beautiful Losers’, but the people who took the time to turn up. I had a natter, if only briefly, with each and every one of them. It was a lovely warm occasion which probably explains why I was a lot more open than usual when giving a brief chat about myself and how I ‘fell into’ writing.

DSC_1508Oh, and as I’d hoped, not a single word was uttered about ‘you know what’.

 

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE GALS!

Two events took place last week on Tuesday March 8th. Both resonated with me. First, it was Independent Women’s Day and, secondly, my novel ‘Beautiful Losers’ was published in the U.S. The connection probably seems blindingly obvious, but actually the truth is subtler.

‘Beautiful Losers’ is the first time I’ve written with a female main protagonist in eight years. Prior to this, I wrote action adventure style/spy fiction with male main protagonists. Now every writer knows that it’s important to creep under the skin of both sexes, but choice of main player requires a special degree of skill and confidence. I explained why I preferred ‘writing as a guy’ a couple of years ago in articles I wrote for Book Oxygen and Books by Women. In the latter I was particularly revealing: ‘Returning to why I find it easier to write from a male perspective, the simple truth lies in my childhood.’ I went on to explain how my mother’s death when I was eight years old had a profound effect on my life. ‘From that moment my family consisted of my two big brothers and my father. In spite of me being sent away to school, they were the biggest influences on my life by far, while my mother’s death was and remains the most defining. It was a catastrophe and it changed us all, but for me something elemental shifted. ‘ I go on to describe the domestic mayhem that ensued, including a fast procession of females in and out of our house, and how the mood music at home focused on cars and women, booze and business deals, and that it was a ‘no-brainer’ to slip into a man’s skin when writing.

So why, you’re entitled to ask, the big departure now? Many factors, I guess. Three of my children are daughters and I’ve watched them grow up and have children of their own. Without going all ‘shrinky’ on you, I’ve not always found it easy to be around women, let alone be part of the ‘sisterhood’. It’s probably a hang-up associated with aforementioned ‘domestic mayhem.’ Over time, my attitude has changed simply because I’m older and I, too, have evolved. And there has been a surprising element of joy in discovering that my own sex is neither to be feared nor distrusted (mostly) and that there is, indeed, a special, unique camaraderie that exists between women.

And something extra that is hard to define.

‘Spiritedness’ comes close, and a determination to succeed whatever the odds, for it’s very often females that pick up the pieces when things cut up rough. It just so happens that same gutsiness is an essential attribute found in the best and most convincing main protagonists (male and female) and I hope that Kim Slade, my main player in ‘Beautiful Losers’, despite the pressures she is put under in my story, emerges a stronger, more grounded, individual than when she started – if only for a short time!

Like I said, writers need to drill down beneath the skins of their characters in order to make them as credible as possible – easier when there is much to celebrate about the fairer sex.

 

‘Beautiful Losers’ will be published by Midnight Ink on April 1st in the UK

 

 

ALL IN A WRITER’S LIFE

The time between a commissioning editor accepting a novel to the actual date of the novel’s publication can seem like infinity. I often remind new writers of this when a story is so topical its sell by date has already come and gone before hitting an agent’s desk.

Published writers are familiar with the scenario. In short, it can be a frustrating business. For the uninitiated, here’s a brief rundown of the reality of the mechanics. It goes something like this: Your book has been accepted. Cue popping corks, big smiles and mega excitement. Some time later you’re asked to carry out edits. At this point it’s not uncommon to have a petulant ‘what is going on?’ moment. This is when the newly injured writer, creativity in tatters, calls his or her agent, moans like hell, and then flees to the garden and screams long and loud at the sky. Sound and fury spent, the sensible settle down and discover to huge embarrassment that the hotshot editor assigned to the book talks great sense, really gets the story, and his or her suggestions are worth taking on board. Chastened, you carry out edits. Months pass. You – if you’re very lucky – are asked to brainstorm cover design with the art department. If you’re not very lucky, your ideas are totally ignored. And.  Then.  Nada. For months.

Well, this hasn’t been my experience to date with US publisher Midnight Ink. Sure, the lead-time has been long, (which suits me because I’m switching from the spy genre with male main protagonist to psychological thriller with female lead) but some months ago I worked my way through edits with very little effort and no sound and fury.  A couple of months later, I spent a memorable evening with emails flying across the Atlantic discussing the cover. The finished design (sorry, folks, sworn to secrecy) is spot-on and all I could have wished for.  A huge confidence booster, it kept me sweet for the inevitable ‘news blackout’ that descended. What I didn’t expect was a comprehensive fourteen-page publicity sheet from the publicity and marketing department, which popped into my inbox last week. How I wished I’d received something like this prior to being first published in 2007.

No nonsense, clearly written, it explained precisely what would be done for the author and what, in return, the author would do (or not) for the publisher. Any questions that might have popped into my brain on reading were answered lines later in a peculiarly intuitive way. It felt entirely collaborative and the best bit for me was that this this was just the general sheet sent out to all ‘Winter Inkers’, the detailed stuff for my novel, ‘Beautiful Losers’ to be sent at a later date.

I could come out with a ton of clichés about being on the same page, and singing from the same hymn sheet, and rattle on about the confidence this inspires.   The truth is that in a hugely competitive market there is nothing like having a committed publisher on your side.   It’s been a whole new ‘baseball’ game and a damn fine week.

HAPPY 2015!

Like most people, I started back to work on Monday. Having skirted coughs, colds and other nasty little bugs during Christmas, I’m afraid that, happily for some, I began the New Year without a bang and without a voice. Undeterred, (I don’t feel particularly unwell) I took the opportunity to look ahead and sort out my book reading schedule for the Cheltenham Standard. I’ve mentioned this before but I seem awash with novels in all genres from lovely female authors, but very few from male writers. In the interests of balance for Cheltenham readers, I’d genuinely welcome newly released novels from the male of the species. I’m quite easy to contact through my website. http://www.evseymour.co.uk Gloriously, my first two reviews for the New Year will feature Colette McBeth’s sublime psychological thriller ‘The Life I Left Behind’ and Anne Zouroudi’s ‘The Feast of Artemis’, gastro-porn meets murder mystery. Both novels really made my Christmas reading a joy.
On the writerly front, I’m working on revisions for ‘Beautiful Losers’ for US publisher Midnight Ink. I’ve never worked directly for a US publisher before and what’s most striking is the ‘can do’ and upbeat approach. Within weeks of being signed, I received a handy dossier answering all the questions I might have thought of and a lot I hadn’t. Basically, I was given a step-by-step outline of what happens and when in the months leading up to publication. Editing is an elevating process whomever the publisher but I’ve discovered some intriguing differences between British and Americans. For example, Americans use double quotation marks in reverse for dialogue – imagine sorting that lot out over 400 pages – and some of my more English phrases are clearly bewildering to the average US reader. Nonetheless, working with a hawk-eyed editor is very satisfying. 2016 (the year of publication) seems a long way off, but I’m pretty certain it will shoot by. In fact, 2015 is looking pretty cool all round. I hope it’s the same for you too. To all my blog followers, readers and friends, here’s to you having a lovely, lovely, happy and healthy New Year!