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A Cold Winter Sun ahead

Domestic noir/kitchen sink psychological drama-thrillers are all the rage right now, and have been for several years. They sell like crazy and it seems that readers can’t get enough of them. Well, let me tell you right now that I am never writing one. They are not exactly my cup of tea to read, and I feel I would be incapable of writing one. Leave them to those who do them best, I say. It’s a legitimate thriller sub-genre with a huge following and I admire those who write them as much as I respect the great crime writers I read. It’s just not something that’s in me to write.

The point of this is to say that I feel writers ought to write what they feel best-suited to write at any given time. I reckon if I were to attempt to ape something currently in vogue, but out of my comfort zone, it would show because I did not wholeheartedly believe in it. When I wrote Scream Blue Murder I was taking a chance because I was straying out of my comfort zone in terms of what I had written before, but the difference was that it felt right because I loved the action-adventure genre and thought I understood it well enough to write something along those lines. The storyline was nagging at me, begging to be written. What’s more, it was a hugely enjoyable experience, and I felt myself grow into a style of writing I had so enjoyed reading.

And so, a year after Scream Blue Murder, comes Cold Winter Sun – the sequel to a book I might never have written if I had stuck rigidly to one style, and a follow-up which might never have seen the warm light of day had it not been for my inherent stubbornness. Scream Blue Murder has thus far proven to be my least-effective novel in terms of sales and overall ratings, so writing a sequel didn’t make a whole lot of sense financially. Except for the fact that I liked the book, I believed in it, and I could not prevent myself from delivering a follow-up. You write what you write and hope that people enjoy it. That’s all you can do. Far from turning my back on it, I now hope that I can complete a trilogy of Mike Lynch books at some point, just to draw the mini-series to a satisfactory conclusion.

As the new week begins I find myself in countdown mode in readiness for the release. This week will see it go ‘live’ on Amazon for pre-order; there will be promotions from my publisher which will hopefully get shared around; Scream Blue Murder will be promoted at a cut-down price; and I will be gearing up for 1 November and the blog-blitz of reviews and articles. Cold Winter Sun has had a terrific response from my ARC readers, but now I am nervous about what book bloggers have to say about it, and whether its presence will give the first book a bounce and see both of them do well.

I’m not expecting the same kind of reaction as I get for my Bliss and Chandler books. You have to be realistic, and I am fully aware that the action-adventure thriller market does not thrive in the same way that the crime-thriller one does – not at my level. What I would like to see is even a modest improvement in terms of sales and reaction, which would delight me because both these books mean a lot to me. I wrote the first for my dad in an effort to provide him with something he might want to read when his desire for fiction waned. Sadly, he never got to read it, but I like to think he would have enjoyed both Scream Blue Murder and Cold Winter Sun. They were his kind of books, and I think of him often when I am wearing the skins of the characters I created for him.

A hectic few weeks ahead then – and I am very much looking forward to it. Cold Winter Sun will be my sixth published novel, and if you had told me this was going to happen as 2016 was drawing to a close, I would have considered you quite mad. It’s been an incredible couple of years, and no matter what happens in the future I can look back and say that I achieved so much more than my modest aspirations.

Finally, just a word about Amazon. For this entire year they have been screwing around with reviews. Most of the time they seem to busy themselves removing reviews from genuine book bloggers. The 1* efforts from obvious Internet trolls they leave in place, but the thoughtful and inspiring reviews from people whose dedication to books appears online every day, are tossed aside as if they are meaningless. It’s a travesty, and if Amazon don’t get their act together then more fool them for driving people away. It’s a nonsense – and it has to stop.

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