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The Accidental Writer


I guess if I had planned my assault on the mountainous terrain of the literary world, I would have ensured I had at least three books in a series either ready or mapped out before veering off into something a little bit different. Creating a series is a good model, and once you have established a following you can then afford to take chances.

If I had planned it…

By the end of 2017 I will have had three books published in the year, with each of them very different from the other. The first, Bad to the Bone, is a police procedural, and the book that broke me into the market; the second, with a very different theme and a whole new cast of characters, is a dark, psychological crime thriller called Degrees of Darkness; finally, Scream Blue Murder, due for release in November, is a fast-paced action thriller, again with all new characters, and written from a different POV to the other two.

This is, in retrospect, an odd business plan. Build the loyal readership first, then deviate, that’s the way it should be done. Not put out something new each time.

If I had planned it…

But that’s not the way it went down. Degrees of Darkness was actually the first full novel I wrote that I was happy with, and the first version of it was written around twenty years ago. Both it and Bad to the Bone were originally self-published towards the end of 2016 following my receiving notice of impending redundancy. It was actually Degrees that I initially attempted to sell to Bloodhound Books, but they were wary about some of the graphical language and scenes. I came close to not submitting Bad to the Bone, but I decided I had nothing to lose, and when Bloodhound offered me a contract not only for it but also a second in the series, I could hardly believe what had happened to me.

Buoyed by my success, I made significant changes to Degrees and tried again. This time Bloodhound were happy with it, and in retrospect the changes I made only improved the book. I now had a contract to write a follow-up to Bad to the Bone, but by this time I was really excited about my work in progress, which was a stretch for me as I decided it had to be written in the first-person – something I had never attempted before in a novel-length piece of work. I told Bloodhound that I intended to complete that book before putting my mind to anything else. The result was Scream Blue Murder, which I duly sent to Bloodhound and they in turn duly gave me a contract to publish it.

It was arm-pinching time. I had sold four books in less than six months, and one of them wasn’t even a gleam in my mind’s eye by that point.

If I had planned it…

Sure, completing the sequel to Bad to the Bone and at least plotting the third in the series may have been a safer path to follow, at which point I could then have released the others. I could also have considered publishing them under a different name.

But I didn’t plan it. Any of it. I wrote precisely what I wanted to write at the time I wrote it, I explored the hidden recesses of my mind, I tested myself, put myself under pressure, and I did all that because none of it was planned.

Bad to the Bone may not be the most successful book Bloodhound have ever published, but it far exceeded my wildest expectations in terms of not only sales but also reviews. I gained a following along the way, and I sincerely hope that most of my readers will continue the journey with me. Whether my lack of planning impacts on how well Degrees of Darkness and Scream Blue Murder do can never be truly measured, but my publishers have faith in me, faith in the writing, faith in the books, and at the end of the year I will still be a published author, with three books behind me, and accidental or not that is something no one can take away from me.

If I had planned it…perhaps none of it would have happened at all.


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