Wednesday, 28 September 2016

My Publishing Journey .... with Chris Curran

By Gillian Hamer

Chris Curran has written two psychological crime novels for Harper Collins Killer Reads. She left school at sixteen to work in the local library, returning to full-time education after studying for ‘A’ levels at evening classes. She was born in London, but at university in Brighton she fell in love with the south coast. She eventually persuaded her husband and family to move to Hastings where she is a proud shareholder of the recently reopened pier. Amongst other things she has worked as a primary school teacher, an actress and an editor.

Her first book, Mindsight, a psychological thriller set in Hastings was published last year. And her second novel, Her Turn To Cry, came out as an e-book on July 8th and publishes in paperback on September 8th.
In the second in our series where we investigate author's personal publishing journey from first scribbles to published novels, Chris gives us an insight into the highs and lows of her career.

What was the first short story or novel you wrote?

When I was a teenager I was obsessed by tragic women from history, particularly those who died young. So my first attempt at a novel was about Joan of Arc. I never finished it, which is probably for the best. I must have become more cheerful after that because my next two attempts at novels were comedies. I only have fragments to show for the years I spent writing them, but again that’s probably a blessing. My first published fiction was a light-hearted short story about a cheating husband, which appeared in Bella magazine. With my crime novels, I seem to have gone back to the dark side.

Was writing just a hobby to begin with for you?

I’ve always taken my writing seriously so I never considered it a hobby and I had ambitions to be published right from the start. Of course at first that only meant having my work read out in class or put on a school noticeboard! But even then I dreamed of seeing my name on the cover of a real book one day and was determined to make that dream come true.

When did you know you were ‘good’?

I’m not a confident person, however a few short-listings in competitions and some of my stories beginning to be accepted for publication convinced me I must be doing something right. A negative review can still shake my confidence however and of course that’s the one that sticks in my mind. I shouldn’t read them, but the lure is irresistible!

In fact, painful though it is, I have the feeling that it’s good for a writer to be full of doubts. That way you are always striving to improve.

What were your first steps towards publication?

Because I was doing a demanding full-time job, as well as bringing up three children, I started by writing short stories, mainly for women’s magazines. I used the small amount of money I made to fund two Arvon courses. These were incredibly useful not only for the intense writing sessions with the successful writers and publishing professionals tutoring the courses, but for practical advice about getting your work out there. It was also great to meet other students who were in a similar position and to share experiences and ideas. Quite a number of us have now published novels.

Chris's latest release
What has been your proudest writing moment to date?

It was an enormous thrill to see my first story in a magazine. When I opened the letter telling me it had been accepted I ran around the house screaming with excitement and terrifying my husband! One thing that really makes me happy even now is that my mum, who died before my novel was published, was so excited to read that story.

But I was most proud when Mindsight (recently picked as a Sunday Express best summer read) was chosen by such a major publisher as Harper Collins. It was unexpected because I didn’t have an agent and had submitted the novel during an open submission slot imagining I would hear no more about it. When the email from my soon to be editor popped up in my inbox, saying she loved the book and wanted to take it on, I was so surprised that I kept telling myself not to get excited because it was probably all a mistake!

Any mistakes you wish, in hindsight, you had avoided?

Losing faith in my writing at various times and letting it hold me back, although being the person I am I’m not sure I could have avoided that.

What do you know now you wish you’d known at the start of your journey?

That all the ups and downs along the way would feed into my writing and help to make it better.

What top 3 tips would you offer new and up-coming authors hoping to publish? 
  • Try to find a group of trusted readers who will give an honest and perceptive opinion of your fledgling work.
  • Don’t rush to submit before you are certain the book is the best it can possibly be. Ideally when you think it’s finished you should put it away and try to forget it for a while so that you can reread it with fresh eyes.
  • Brace yourself for rejection, but persevere.
Connect with Chris and her books:



Twitter: @Christi_Curran

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Snapshots from... Stockholm

In our regular series, we go exploring, finding out about the writing life around the world. Today Luna Miller (aka Monica Christensen) shows us around the Swedish capital of Stockholm.
Images by Peter Luotsinen

By JJ Marsh

What´s so great about Stockholm?

When in Stockholm, within walking distance there is always a green spot, a park or a big stone on a hill with a magical view. Built on 14 islands and with few high buildings the capital of Sweden is a picturesque and green city. Although the city shows itself at its best during the summer, with the bright nights, it can also be enjoyable to have a walk along the streets when big snowflakes are doing their best to cover the city in its winter dress. The cold wind bites your skin and the colourful city lights up the dark days and it gives the feeling of Christmas.

Compared with other capitals Stockholm is a pretty small city. The city of Stockholm does not even have a million citizens. That makes it a nice city for walking and biking, because distances are not big.

And then there is all this water around. You can both swim and fish in several places around the city. Not to mention all the areas where you can take a break during your walk beside the water and sit by the quayside, dangle your legs and just enjoy the view.

There are many boats taking you out in different directions into the archipelago. It´s actually one of the world most island-rich archipelagos, 30 000 islands. Too many to imagine, but it is amazingly beautiful.

Tell us a bit about the cultural life of the place.

Stockholm has a long tradition of theatre. As well as the royal theatre and the city theatre there are several small theatres with financial support from the city. There are also free, outdoor programmes in the summer. Mostly theatre, but also dance and music.

As all big and proud cities, Stockholm of course has a Royal Opera. But there is also a public opera that is more about experimenting with the art form and always singing in Swedish. I still have a problem to hear what they are actually singing but I really appreciate the thought.

The Cullberg Ballet have been world famous since the sixties. And it seems like, during recent years, more and more Stockholm contemporary dance companies are becoming established on the international scene.

The music scene is of course one of the biggest and a big part of the city’s pulse. Compared to the number of citizens Sweden has great international success in music. And of course, Stockholm is the centre.

The most conspicuous development in recent cultural life must be the explosive growth of new film festivals. Niched by ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ or thematic. Everyone wants their own festival and that is really exciting.

What´s hot? What are people reading? 

I believe that crime stories are the most popular genre. There are a lot of famous crime writers in Stockholm. And I think there is something very special about reading a book from your own environment. It makes it easier to build up the “inner picture”.

But there is also a big interest in other culture or just other ways of doing things, like the books of Jan-Philipp Sendker. “The art of hearing heartbeats”, about a romance in Burma, have made more than one Swede cry over the relentless faith of a loving couple followed by decisions that are really hard to understand. A Swedish book that got a lot of attention a few years ago was the true story about Katarina Taikon, a Roma woman, and her struggle for both her artistry (she was a writer) and the human rights of her people.

There are big investments being made into getting children to read. Modern technology and communication are still the most attractive alternative for many young people, compared to the slower art of reading. But when they read they enter the world of fantasies; anything from Harry Potter, vampires, space wars, dark angels to tiny creatures that live underground. Being a child of the sixties when social realism dominated children´s books I totally love fantasy stories for kids (and adults) to explore.

Can you recommend any books set in the city?

The most famous book is of course “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. The City Museum even offers very popular hikes, with a guide who leads you in the footsteps of the characters. As if it had happened for real. A really interesting phenomenon.

Per Anders Fogelström has written a series of books, starting with City of my Dreams, about a family in Stockholm from 1860 to 1968. An important piece that helps you understand the city’s development during the last few centuries. Reading these books, you learn to know these families so well that you mourn the one who dies and eagerly welcome new-born family members.

Jens Lapidus takes the reader, with his books Easy Money and Never Fuck Up, into the violent and criminal world of Stockholm. Where a mistake is never forgiven and drugs mess up too many minds.

And of course I have to mention the most famous of them all, even if dead for many years. August Strindberg. One of his books, Röda Rummet (The Red Room), describes Stockholm more than a hundred years ago and the city’s hottest spot both then and in the early eighties. A place with red-velvet covered furniture and big mirrors, where me and my friends used to hang out as much as we could afford.

Who are the best-known local writers?

In crime the queens and kings are: Camilla Läckberg, Lisa Marklund, Jan Guillou, Jens Lapidus, Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö, Arne Dahl

Famous novel writers: David Lagercrantz, Lena Andersson, Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Klas Östergren, Katarina Mazetti, Ernst Brunner

And the classical writers who are long gone: August Strindberg, Astrid Lindgren, Hjalmar Söderberg, Stieg Trenter, Lars Widding

Is the location an inspiration or distraction for you?

When I first moved to Stockholm, from my hometown in the far north, I was amazed by all the nice and beautiful inhabitants. That first summer I got to meet a lot of new people, just by walking the city. I was saving for a trip to Europe and had nearly no money to spend. But the summer was fantastic with the bright nights, new friends and never knowing if the evening would end in a party somewhere or just chatting hours away with some inspiring person.

I went off to southern Europe around late August and returned in November. I could not believe it was the same city. This was long before the iPhone entered the world. So I did not have any phone numbers of my new friends. We just used to meet outdoor in the city centre. In the cold November, filled with rain or snow, they were no longer there. At this time of year, you were no longer met by curious eyes and friendly smiles in the street. Everyone was more or less in their own bubble — pale, tired and avoiding eye contact when stressing towards work or home again. All the magic was gone. Until the next summer.

So summertime it is amazingly inspiring to live in Stockholm. I no longer hang around meeting new friends as I used to. But I love to walk the city, especially close to the water. During winter, when there is only daylight between ten in the morning and two in the afternoon, it´s harder. All these hours of darkness make me exhausted. It’s hard to get up in the morning, hard to get out into the cold, hard to muster energy for writing.

What are you writing?

I am writing my second book about Gunvor Ström, a woman who started to work as a private detective in her mid-sixties. She lives in the suburb of Fruängen, in the outskirts of Stockholm. She engages two young friends that have always seen themselves as losers until they start working together. They are not always good at what they do but they struggle to develop and sometimes they really succeed.

My best news today is that my first book “Three Days in September” will soon be published in English. It’s a story about friendship, love and adventure but also manipulation, infidelity, violence and death. As it says in the text on the back of the book: After three days in September there is no way back.

Sum up life in Stockholm in three words.

Beautiful, contrasting, challenging.

Luna Miller is a pretty new part of me that has been living my passion for writing over the last few years. I published my first Luna Miller novel, Tre dagar i September, in Swedish, towards the end of 2015. A few weeks later I followed it with Den som ger sig in i leken (Playing with Fire) – the first book in my crime series, which has been translated into German as Wer sich auf das Spiel einlässt and Spanish as Quien juega con fuego.

Right now, I am working on my second book in the crime series, but at the same time, I am really excited about the imminent release of my first book in English. You will soon be able to find
Three days in September on Amazon and other major e-book distributors.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

60 Seconds with Eliza Green

By Gillian Hamer

Eliza Green tried her hand at fashion designing, massage, painting, and even ghost hunting, before finding her love of writing. After earning her degree in marketing, she went on to work in everything but marketing, but swears she uses it in everyday life, or so she tells her bank manager.

Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Eliza lives there with her sci-fi loving, evil genius boyfriend. When not working on her next amazing science fiction adventure, you can find her reading, indulging in new food at an amazing restaurant or simply singing along to something with a half decent beat.

Tell us a little about you and your writing.

I’m from Dublin, Ireland. I was working as a public servant up until March 2016. I finally quit my job after threatening to do it every year, to write full time. I began writing seven years ago after I got an urge to rewrite a book I was reading. I write character-centric science fiction thrillers.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Living inside a world you created and watching your characters grow up, make mistakes and take shape.

And the worst? 

Killing your darlings.

Why did you choose Sci-Fi as your genre?

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been obsessed with Sci-Fi TV and movies. When I think of new ideas the futuristic ones always pop into my head first. They’re the most fun and the most challenging.

Do you have a special writing place?

At home, at my lovely new desk that’s at least double the size of my previous one. My last desk was no bigger than a postage stamp!

Which four writers would you invite to a dinner party?

Charlaine Harris, Tahereh Mafi, A.G. Riddle, Gillian Flynn. I like variety!

If you could choose a different genre to write in for just one book – what would it be?

Hmm, contemporary women’s fiction. I wrote a book years ago in that genre that I never published.

If you could have written just one book by another author – which would it be?

Any of the Dexter books by Jeff Lindsey. How he managed to make us fall in love with a serial killer is beyond genius!

What are your future writing plans?

Publish book 4 in my Exilon 5 series, available in early 2017. Becoming Human, Altered Reality and Crimson Dawn make up the first three books. Echoes of Earth and New Origin are two new prequels I published in May 2016.

I’m also writing a young adult sci-fi series, starting with Feeder. It’s The Hunger Games meets The Maze Runner. Book 1 will be out in late November 2016.

Thanks, Eliza, for more information please see below and if you'd like to try Becoming Human for FREE follow the relevant link!


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

TLF - The Triskele Lit Fest!

Saturday 17 September sees the very first Triskele Lit Fest!
This is a litfest with a difference. We set out with five aims:
  • trade and indie authors together on the same platform
  • literary fiction on an equal footing with other genres
  • BAME authors talking about their books, not about diversity
  • speakers paid an appearance fee
  • admission free and accessible to all booklovers 

After a tremendous amount of hard work by Catriona Troth, TLF Administrator, plus the generosity of our sponsors, it's actually happening.

From 1pm-6pm, we have panels of authors to talk about their genre. Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction, Crime and Thrillers, and Preserving the Unicorn.

In parallel, we have our trademark pop-up bookshop, where forty different writers will be available to interact with readers, sign books, talk about their work and make new friends.

And we've ticked every box.
  • A near 50:50 mix of trade and indie authors, not talking about routes to publication.
  • BAME authors like Radhika Swarup, Leye Adenle, Sareeta Domingo, Yen Ooi and Sunny Singh, talking about their books, not diversity.
  • Our literary panel – Preserving the Unicorn – brings together literary authors and their editors to discuss working on a manuscript that defies the 'rules' of storytelling.
  • And yes, we are paying our speakers and admission for readers is free.

Triskele Books is all about building bridges.
Words with JAM is a source of ideas and information for writers.
Bookmuse provides reviews and recommendations for readers.
The first Triskele LitFest offers something for everyone.

We know it’s far more important to build bridges than to erect barriers.
Seems people agree - here's an extract from our Tuesday #twitchat #bridgesnotbarriers