Signing a two-book deal with Bloomsbury Raven

Signing a two-book deal with Bloomsbury Raven

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I’ve neglected my blog over the past two years, but I’m back, baby. Yes, blogging has a ring of 2003 about it, but I always enjoy hearing from other authors, which has inspired me to resume posting regularly about writing and books and what’s new with me.

Raven Books My big news is right there in the headline. A couple of months ago, I signed a two-book deal with Raven Books, part of Bloomsbury. They describe their list as “books with a touch of the dark side”, and I’m thrilled to see my dark-hearted novels take roost there.

What I can’t stop thinking about, however, is a conversation I had with a friend about a year ago. I was dragging my bloodied muse through yet another rewrite of my second novel, a mystery-thriller set in the Caribbean. I was probably only 30 pages from the end and I said to my friend, absolutely serious, “I’m thinking of tossing the whole book. It sucks, it’s never gonna be good.”

Every writer is familiar with this peculiar ennui the grips you at various points during the writing process. Why bother?!? Give up!!!

Of course, I did finish my draft. I went through some more edits with my literary agent. (The big secret of writing is how many edits there are. So. Many. Edits.) Christmas came and went. In the chilly new year, my agent sent my book out “on submission”, which means she pitched it to a dozen or so publishing houses.

Being out on submission is a bit like walking into a room where you know everyone’s talking about you. (Picture the scene: they go silent; all eyes swivel to you; you want to shrivel up and die.) It made my mind flee my body for a while.

Agreeing a book deal is always a long story – and, every step of the way, my anxious self worried it would fall apart – but the short version is that I signed with my dream publisher. Yes, for the book I wanted to give up on, the one which would never be any good. (Fill in your own moral-of-the-story here.)

Devil's Bay in the British Virgin Islands
Devil’s Bay in the British Virgin Islands

I’m now working feverishly on edits for that novel. (What did I say about edits?) It’s called The Getaway, and my agent memorably described it as “like Below Deck with murder”. Lola has landed a dream job working on a private island in the British Virgin Islands, but on her first day, someone is murdered. Whoops.

The Getaway is due to be published in November … 2024. Yes, if there’s one thing publishing can be counted on for, it’s a lightning-fast production schedule. In all seriousness, to answer your question: it takes a year-plus to publish a book, because there are edits to do (more edits?!?), there’s a cover to design, typesetting to do, a marketing plan to roll out, buzz to build.

Because I’ve signed a two-book deal, I’m also working on book number three, another psychological thriller, this time set in the music industry.

The year to come will involve a lot of writing, which is good, because … drumroll, please … I’m now a full-time writer. A full-time writer who’s committed to living cheaply, but still. My 15-year career in PR/marketing was more accidental than anything else, but I enjoyed it and I was good at it. However, it’s time to dedicate myself to my (hide your eyes, I’m gonna get sappy) vocation in life. It’s exciting to be making money from my fiction and be in a position to do it all the time.


What I’m writing: While I take a short break from thinking about novel-stuff, I’m tinkering with an idea for a little ebook about writing compelling characters. I have a wildly-overcomplicated process for characterisation, which I literally can’t explain in less than 10,000 words, so I figured I’d put it in an ebook.

Stoney Littleton Long Barrow
Stoney Littleton Long Barrow

What I’m reading: I’m binge-listening to Lisa Jewell’s The Family Upstairs for a book club meeting. Luckily, it merits a fast listen on audio, with plenty of creepiness and shady characters.

What I’m watching: In an attempt to get through the mountain of unwatched stuff on my DVR, I randomly watched a true crime documentary called A Diary From the Grave (available to stream on Channel 4). It’s a truly chilling case about a con man targeting elderly people.

What I’m doing: In the last couple of years, I’ve developed a fun(?) fascination with pre-history. Lucky for me, I live in a hot spot for people 5,000 years ago doing inexplicable things like dragging enormous slabs of rock hundreds of miles or building artificial mounds the size of the pyramids. Anyway, this week, I went to visit a local long barrow (ancient burial chamber), along narrow, narrow country lanes at the village of Stoney Littleton. It’s incredible to crawl inside a structure that had such significance to people thousands of years ago – and realise how child-sized those human beings used to be.

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