Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, by Marnie Riches

I have just bitten my nails all the way to the end of The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, and I’m quietly blown away. Speechless. In awe. Wow!
Marnie Riches’ crime thriller is due out on Kindle on April 2nd. The blurb reads -
When a bomb explodes at the University of Amsterdam, aspiring criminologist Georgina McKenzie is asked by the police to help flush out the killer. But the bomb is part of a much bigger, more sinister plot that will have the entire city quaking in fear. And the killer has a very special part for George to play… A thrilling race against time with a heroine you’ll be rooting for, this book will keep you up all night!
Luckily for me, I was given a copy early. I always knew I would return this gift with a review, so as I read I made mental notes…
  • Mention the powerful voice, unmistakably Marnie, coarse, rich and bursting with personality…
  • Talk about the intrigue, the slow drip of plot, the build up of tension, the jigsaw structure you mentally piece together not only while you’re reading, but between times when you can’t read because life is getting in the way…
  • Refer to the multiple points of view, which play out like a film – giving readers a glimpse of each slice of action before moving on to the next compelling scene…
  • Mention the setting – Amsterdam, Cambridge, South East London; the vivid contrast between cloistered academia and gritty urban life…
  • And most importantly, say something about George McKenzie – the girl who wouldn’t die because of her tenacity, her strength of mind and ballsy determination; say something about the way she pulls you through, hooks you into her world, makes you feel when she refuses to...
These things were all in my mental note book; they were all going to be part of my review. But now I’ve finished reading The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, there’s another thing. I’m bursting to tell you what it is, but I don’t want to give it away. It’s hidden in amongst the multiple points of view, and sits there – an unsuspecting golden jigsaw piece – waiting for you to slot into place. The clues are all there, but Georgina McKenzie’s world is so totally absorbing you don’t even notice them until moments before the author’s reveal. And when you do finally see the whole picture, you wonder how you missed the signs. It’s clever, confident writing, and richly rewarding for the reader.
I absolutely loved The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die and I cannot wait for the next George McKenzie thriller.

Photo by Phil Tragen
The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die is the first of three novels in the George McKenzie series by Marnie Riches, published by Harper Collins.

Website: Marnie Riches     
Twitter: @Marnie_Riches    

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Let's call it a detour...

Jane learned how to hook an agent,
on the bonnet of her Mini Cooper.

I have decided to head back down the long road to traditional publishing. I can hardly believe that it’s been two and a half years since I first took a detour through Indie Land – where did all that time go? I’ve learned a HUGE amount about the publishing industry, marketing and social media, sold a truckload of books (a small truck), won awards, been studied by University students, got a commission to write a book for a care leavers charity, and had lots of fun; all this on the back of my self-publishing endeavours. So I don’t regret it for a minute.

My reasons for going Indie were mainly to do with impatience and exasperation at the snails’ pace and umpteen hurdles of traditional publishing. At one point I thought I was there, supping tea and biscuits with my then-agent and the head honcho at a London publishing house. They loved Where Bluebird Fly; told me it was “a moving, gripping story, with a complex and sympathetic character … and the subtle, yet dramatic, and perfectly paced way you reveal Ruby's past is masterful.”

Despite this high praise, it was a dead end. (Those bastards in acquisitions … No, seriously – I completely understand.)
As it turned out, Margaret could only dream of the open highway.
My then-agent tried to place my other book, Bring MeSunshine, elsewhere – and I do believe she tried very hard. I had some excellent feedback from over thirty publishers, and yes, one or two of them didn’t love my voice enough, or feel the story was loud enough, but mostly the response was enthusiastic and positive. I could have worked on these things, but there was one common theme to their rejections over which I had no control.

“I’ve already got one...”
“It's too similar to a recent debut acquisition.”
“There’s too much overlap with ... our other author.”
“The writing style sits closely to another author we have on our list.”
“We have similar books for this age group.”
“This will clash with another project already in development.”
“It would fit in the same space on our list that ... occupies.”
“We have recently acquired a similar themed book.”

You get the message.

I prefer not to think these were stock replies, since most of said publishers also offered me the names of these ‘similar’ authors and their soon to be/recently published ‘similar’ works, and went into quite a lot of other detail about why they liked Bring Me Sunshine so much.

But given this almost universal response, and after trying for so long and coming so close, it’s not surprising I took a detour.

Two years down the road, two books independently published and two more in the editing stage, I find myself edging closer to that traditional highway again. I’ve enjoyed the journey immensely, but as much as it pains me to admit it, I am not meeting my audience. The child and young adult market is an especially tough road to travel solo on. It’s smaller than the adult market, e-books are less accessible to children who don’t carry bank cards and cannot order online independently, and large numbers of children access their reading material through schools and libraries, which means it is practically impossible for a stand alone author to reach these outlets in any significant numbers. 

I had hoped my detour wasn’t a detour; that it was a shorter route with prettier scenery and more immediate gains. As it turns out, it was all those things. But now it’s time to fasten my seat belt, pull out onto the main road and see if this time I can go all the way.

Wish me luck…