Bobbi caught a glimpse of the car, saw the blood splashed across the front seats, and felt the nausea rise up. It should have been her who was working last night, not Harriet. It should have been her.
So, it’s almost the end of 2017 and I realize I’ve published five books within the last trip around the sun.
DEAD GONE (Tom Lange #1) was published December 26, 2016. BLACK SOUL, the final book of the Titan series, was published February 3, 2017, followed by BURIED SECRETS on August 18, GONE MISSING on November 16, and TRUTH OR DEAD on December 14. So not all five in 2017, but technically within a year!
That’s a good point – so what. Is writing all about speed? Absolutely not. It just worked out that way.
Like most books, each of these was written well ahead of the publishing date. Dead Gone was written in early 2016, partly in Florida, where the story takes place. Buried Secrets and Gone Missing were written later that year, simultaneously.* (*Meaning finish a draft of one, leap frog to a draft of the other, and so on until completion.) Truth or Dead was written over the first half of 2017.
And Black Soul? Honestly I can’t remember. I’d had the idea for a while that the story of Brendan Healy and Jennifer Aiken didn’t end with Daybreak – in fact the end of Daybreak, while conclusive, does set them up for a follow-on story – and at some point, I wrote it.
I don’t expect the next 365 days will yield as many published novels. Chances are, in 2019 there will be another batch – but who knows. The extent to which I plan all this stuff out is the extent to which I’m not actually sitting down and writing. Everybody is different; I like to venture into the cloud of creativity with one eye squinty and the other eye shut. Then again, maybe 2018 is the year I come to do things differently? The future of my process is just as murky.
Can’t wait to find out.
As always, thanks to all of you amazing readers and supporters. I hope I’ve given some of you something of value with these books. You deserve it. And really none of it would have been possible without you, reader, and without my amazing editors – Abigail Fenton, Caroline Oakley, Jasper Joffe – and all the talented staff at Bookouture and Joffe Books. Happy Holidays to you all; Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all the ways in which you may observe and celebrate this time of year.
By the way, my Christmas tree appears to have opened a portal to another dimension. Maybe that’s what the next book will be about. (Joking…… maybe….)
With love and best wishes,
Tim “T.J.” Brearton
Great News! After solving the murder of an unknown woman in DEAD GONE nearly killed him, Special Agent Tom Lange spent months rebuilding his life and is back on a brand new case…
On her drive to work, Heather Moss gets a phone call which will turn her life upside-down. If she doesn’t do what the caller wants, they will kill her two little girls.
An inmate dies in the county jail. He was a witness who could have brought down notorious criminal Mario Palumbo.
Tom thinks Palumbo was responsible for the inmate’s death. He desperately wants the evidence to point that direction, but it doesn’t all add up, and soon there are more victims.
Can Tom protect Heather and stop a killer? He faces a choice between the truth and getting the result he wants.
Set in tropical Florida, this second book in the Tom Lange series will keep you turning the pages till the tension-packed conclusion.
“Just wow! This book was amazing… had me on the edge of my seat… dark and suspenseful; you could feel the fear radiating off of the pages. I loved this book - if I could give it 6 stars I would.” – NetGalley Review
TRUTH or DEAD comes out on December 14th.
To request an advanced reading copy, click here.
If you haven’t already, sign up for the T.J. Brearton mailing list – it’s quick and easy and you’ll only receive emails when new books are published!
Okay, eleven questions, really, but ten is a better hook. And that’s the point of this interview – what, besides the hook, makes a book successful? And what’s it like to write in a popular subgenre? And how do you possibly crank out such highly-regarded and thrilling books as fast as Stephen Edger does? Let’s find out.
TJB: Stephen, thanks for doing this. How many books of yours have been published?
SE: I have been writing since September 2010 and in that time have written 16 books. I self-pubbed eleven of those, two were published by Endeavour Press and Bookouture have published two with the third due out early 2018.
TJB: Kapow! That’s a lot of writing! Your latest series has Kate Matthews hunting down serial killers – can you tell me what it’s like writing a female lead?
SE: For a long time I avoided writing a series with a female lead as I was worried I wouldn't be able to get her thought and mannerisms right. After all, what do I know about a female mind (it's a mystery LOL). But I was really keen to work with Bookouture who are one of the hottest publishers out there at the moment, and I knew they had a great track record with female-led detective series, so set out to write one. I had completed two books in the series when I submitted to them in an effort to show the series had legs, and it must have done the trick. I'm also lucky to have a female editor who gets first look at my books, and she's able to pick me up when male thoughts start to occupy my lead's mind LOL.
Brilliant. So, how do you structure your writing life? You and I both are married and have kids – how do you make it all work?
I'm pretty good at compartmentalizing my life. I have a full-time job and a young family as well as the writing career, so I'm often asked how I manage all three. I write before my wife and children wake up, during lunch and sometimes in the evenings once the children are in bed. Before they're awake, I'm a writer. When I start work, I'm a worker, and when the family are there, I'm a dad and husband. I'm also lucky enough to be a quick writer, in that I can usually write 1500 words in an hour. At that speed, a first draft only takes 60hrs.
That's an impressive pace. Is your speed facilitated by having an outline, or are you freewheeling it the whole way? To that end, how much of a reviser are you - are you submitting after two drafts or ten or somewhere in between?
I am definitely a planner. I need to know where the plot is going chapter-by-chapter. Think of it as building a jigsaw puzzle, where your first job is to hunt for all the corners, and then the flat edge pieces so you can build the border before fixing the rest of the picture. So, when I sit down to write in the morning, I know the key moments in the scene and where it needs to end. That allows me to get in and out of the chapter and move on. Although I have the chapter's structure in mind, I still have the creative freedom to engage the characters and I have had unexpected twists stem from these moments too, which then require me to alter future chapters.
What’s the thing you’re after for when you’re writing? Is it truth? The narcotic bliss of creation? Protest? Pure entertainment?
It's an escape. When I'm writing, I don't have to be me, I can be any character I choose, make any decision I like, with no fear of repercussions. I can forget all the stress and worries from my real life and spend a couple of hours somewhere else.
Where do you write from – an office, a dining room table, a coffee shop?
I write in an office / spare room in my house most of the time, I can close the door so my wife and children can't disturb me, put on some music and just get lost. I don't like the idea of writing in a café with everyone else's conversations and troubles distracting me.
Do you have a favorite book you’ve written?
Always a tough question as it's like someone asking you to pick your favourite child. I have favourite books for different reasons. I'm proud of my first book (Integration) because it showed me I had the stamina to do it. It's probably one of my worst books to be honest, as I didn't really know how to write and I have certainly improved my craft since then. My fourth book (Snatched) is a favourite as it's my most successful book with more than 200K downloads since publication. That said, again, my craft has improved since then. My favourite book to write was book-12 (Blackout), as I wrote it with no plan. I had the idea for the plot (man wakes in hospital with no memory of the last five years, and is arrested for murder) on a Friday night, started writing it on the Sunday, and was finished within six weeks. It was a thrilling story to write and packed with adventure and harrowing twists. It's a story I may return to at some point in the future, as I think there is more of the protagonist's story to tell.
I love that idea - Blackout. And fitting you didn’t have a plan for that one. I rarely have a plan (though that may be changing). Enough about me – let’s talk about the marketplace. Some reports have shown that the growth of eBooks recently leveled off, and there’s been a slight resurgence of print. What do you think the future holds?
I don't think it matters what format books are in, people will read on anything they can. I tend to read on a Kindle these days, but for some of the traditionally published books, it can be cheaper to buy the reduced paperback in the local supermarket, rather than on Kindle, so I mix how I read.
I’ve heard estimates that there’s an ungodly amount of books published each day – in the thousands. How do we stay afloat in this business? Is “indie” or digital publishing going to wind up with publishers getting even more selective, or will there just be more of them emerging to handle the surge?
There are new publishers sprouting up every day, though a lot of them are yet to have significant successes. I can't criticise the "indie" revolution, as that is how I got started, but I think platforms like Amazon need to take more responsibility for the large cut of the profits they take. At the moment all the editing, beta-reading and proofing is the writer's responsibility. The only role Amazon play is to warn the author to make sure the manuscript is perfect, which is a cop-out to me. Yes, it is the writer's responsibility to make a book as good as it can be, but suppliers like Amazon need to vet some of the quality to help eradicate formatting issues, spelling and grammar troubles, so that the end user (the honest reader) doesn't suffer as a result.
I’m with you. In fact for a time I was a bit obsessed about a writer who was always showing up in my “customers also bought” section, but with very low ratings and reviews that the writing was poor. The thing is, his covers looked really good, and he had the right taglines to hook readers. I definitely think the direct publishing model is exploitable. Readers do catch on, though! But whether it’s a cover or title that initially draws them in, or a catchy premise, an author/publisher brand, or a particular timing (or some combination thereof) – success is hard to predict. So… cut through the confusion for us – what do you think is the number one reason a book soars or sinks?
I don't think there is one thing that makes a difference. I think idea, cover, blurb, and timing all play a critical role in how well a book does. I know all readers like to pretend that they don't judge a book by its cover, but most do (including me). If a cover looks good, I'll read the blurb, if that entices me, I'll look at the review / rating to see what others thought, and if that's good, I'll purchase. But timing is key too. Who knew Fifty Shades would suddenly take off? Or the Harry Potter series? Those books found a hungry audience and soared. To be honest, if I knew what they key to success was, I wouldn't still be working full-time and praying my books make me enough money to quit the day job.
Too true. Hey, I have one last question: What are you reading right now?
I have just finished reading DEAD SIMPLE (Roy Grace book-1) by Peter James, which I really enjoyed, and next up is THE SECRET MOTHER by Shalini Boland, which I've heard great things about.
Stephen’s newest book, the second in his Kate Matthews series, DYING DAY, has just been released. To find out more about it and the rest of Stephen’s books, visit stephenedger.com
Gone Missing is my newest thriller and now available to request on NetGalley. Here's what readers are already saying:
"A fast-paced adventure"
"This book was playing along in my imagination as I read it"
"An excellent mystery"
To request an advanced copy on NetGalley, click HERE
To pre-order your copy for the introductory price of just 99 cents from Amazon US, click HERE
For all purchase options (and a summary of the book) click the image below! Thank you!
Taylor Adams is the author of the huge hit of the summer, the thrilling NO EXIT, which has racked up the five star reviews, dominated the Top 100 list for Amazon Kindle, and was recently optioned by 20th Century Fox to become a feature film.
Taylor, still in his twenties, also a filmmaker, shares a publisher with me - Joffe Books. Shortly after my debut novel HABIT was published by Joffe in 2014, Taylor came out with EYESHOT, a taut thriller about a couple stranded in the desert and pinned down by a ruthless sniper. EYESHOT became a hit in its own right, but NO EXIT has set new and incredible records.
Three years ago this month, Taylor and I decided to ask each other some questions. Taylor's exacting, perfectionist nature was apparent even then, a trait that no doubt helped him to craft a book as successful as NO EXIT has been. For the interview between Taylor and I from three years ago, click HERE. For our follow up interview two years ago, click HERE. To read about details of the book being optioned by 20th Century Fox, click HERE.
If you're not yet familiar with the premise of NO EXIT, a young woman becomes stranded at a rest stop during a blizzard and discovers a potentially abducted child, locked in a van. She wants to help the child, but also has to figure out who among the few strangers stranded with her is the abductor. Click HERE for the book.
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BURIED SECRETS: A newlywed couple discover buried bones leading to murder and mayhem.
“Genius.” – Book Addict Shaun
“Masterfully crafted.” – Goodreads Review
NO WAY OUT (working title) (thriller): A woman must survive the Adirondack wilderness after escaping brutal kidnappers.
THE PROTECTOR (working title) (crime thriller): Tom Lange is back as a special agent for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and up against a ruthless killer.
FEBRUARY 18, 2018:
SUSPICION OF MURDER (working title) (crime thriller): A serial killer is targeting child protective service caseworkers and a young woman, Bobby Noelle, could be next.
‘A story which kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish… Its hook is the naive innocence of Brett; the attempts of Russo to stay on the straight and narrow and still protect his wife and daughter; the conniving drive of Meg. To have captured all of these characters so well is a testimony to the writing of T.J. Brearton.’
>>READ THE FULL REVIEW AT NIGEL ADAMS BOOKWORM
What if your dream home became your worst nightmare?
Brett and Emily Larson have just moved into a new home, deep in the countryside in upstate New York, when they discover human bones in their garden.
As the police start to piece together the clues, three things become clear:
The bones are recent.
They are not here by accident.
They are a message.
When a mysterious coded note is found nearby, Brett and Emily start to suspect that the bones aren’t the only thing that’s hidden, and the danger may be greater than they thought.
As the investigation progresses, what secrets will be uncovered at the heart of the Larson house? Can Brett uncover the shocking truth – before it’s too late?
Fast-paced, compelling and full of twists, this heart-pounding thriller will keep you turning the pages until the very end.
AVAILABLE AUGUST 18, 2017 -- READY FOR PRE-ORDER NOW!
Took a trip to NYC this past weekend with the wife. First time we’ve been away from the children overnight since… I don’t even know.
We left home at six thirty in the morning, arrived in Manhattan just before noon via the George Washington Bridge, took the Henry Hudson / West Side Highway down to the Wall Street area. We stayed in the original Flatiron building on Pearl and Beaver streets.
We decided to keep our trip simple, not overdo it, so we headed up to SoHo and just walked around, checked out Washington Square Park, searched for a falafel bar where I used to eat, a bar where I used to drink, and a school I’d once attended. Couldn’t find the falafel place, learned that the bar had changed hands so long ago the bartender didn’t even know about it, and the school was no longer there. Just pieces of my life, like drinking itself, now gone.
The subways downtown are a mess, and at one point we were on what should have been the A train but somehow had become the F, on its way to Brooklyn. An odd couple of tourists were trying to get to the World Trade Center and asked me if they’d gone too far. Not too far, I told them, but the wrong direction. I decided to get off at 2nd Ave and take this weirdo train back to West 4th and try to get a different train, and the couple followed us off the subway. They had British accents; he was in his late seventies or eighties, wearing socks and sandals, she was a bit younger, with Asian heritage, and missing an arm.
At some point we realized there were no trains going on the other side of the platform so we had to cross to the other side of the tracks altogether and the couple, who’d been trailing us, mysteriously disappeared. But the wife and I jumped on a train, took it back two stops, got off again, found the 4 train, expected it to take us down to Fulton Street, but it dumped us several blocks earlier at the Brooklyn Bridge so we just got out and walked.
The downtown / Wall Street area is actually rejuvenating. There was a lot of flight post-9/11, but the region is rebranding itself as a residential district, and people are moving in, schools and parks are being built. My wife’s cousin, an entrepreneur working on software to spot Wall Street fraud and help prevent another 2008 crisis, took us on a tour, and we marveled at Frank Gehry’s architecture, strolled around the Seaport, and talked politics and finance.
We ate sushi, went to the movies (I fell asleep watching ‘The Lost City of Z’), and generally had a pleasant, relaxing time, save for the subway fiasco.
The cabs are all converted now, with hybrid engines, smaller and very quiet, drivers using GPS to get around. There are copious “Citibikes,” where you take a bike from a kiosk in one place, pedal it to wherever, leave it at another kiosk when you’re finished. It had been almost twenty years since I lived in the city, and I thought it was really coming along.
On the way back home we went through Westchester County and stopped at some of the old haunts – the apartment in Fleetwood where I lived with my dad for a few years, and the city where I was born, Bronxville, and we grabbed a couple slices of pizza in Yonkers.
Characters in my books are often from Westchester or NYC; Brendan Healy in the Titan series was from Hawthorne, and he returns there to investigate the death of a friend in the book ‘Survivors.’ In ‘Dead Gone,’ agent Tom Lange is originally from Yonkers, where we was raised in the foster care system with his brother, Nick, then they moved to Florida. And in my newest book, 'Buried Secrets,' which comes out this August, one of the characters, Jimmy Russo, is from Staten Island.
I love it all. Not sure if I’d ever want to live there again, but it was truly exhilarating to be back.
It was also nice to return to our little home in the mountains.
First let’s talk about your family. You’re married and have three children. What’s that like, being a writer with a full house?
I’ll tell you what having a family is like. It’s like you’re on acid. Or maybe if you’re a more natural sort of person, it’s like psilocybin. I’m serious. When that first baby comes out, that’s when you get dosed. The more kids you have, the stronger the dosage, the wilder the hallucinations, the faster it all goes. That baby comes out, and you’re off, and it starts to build, the trip starts to build up. And you keep thinking This Is It, but it’s not it, you’re not peaking yet. I think peaking happens somewhere right around where I am now – but I would think that, wouldn’t I? I have a twelve year-old, a five year-old and a two year-old. (Right now my two year-old is sobbing because we won’t let her lock herself in the closet.) So that’s a good spread of ages, and we’re really in it, this is the peak of the trip, the heart of it right here, with wild faces and colors and crazy people doing crazy things, all rushing by in a blur.
Now imagine trying to be a writer in the midst of that. That’s what it’s like.
Apologies for a sort of generic question, but what’s your process?
No, it’s okay. I’ll tell you my process: I submit my final draft to the publisher, thinking it’s genius. A few pleasurable weeks ensue. Then the edit notes come back, my brain convinces me that the last book I wrote was a piece of cake, and this one is way harder, and I’m getting worse instead of better as a writer. I work for a while, like a mad doctor on a desperate patient, but there’s too much blood, I can’t stop the bleeding so I snap off the gloves, walk away, and pretend the body is not there, lying on the gurney.
That’s where I’m right now with one of my books.
Yikes. I hope the patient pulls through. But how about before submitting? I mean the process of the work. Do you outline, do you take long walks, do you write two drafts or twenty?
I don’t remember.
You mean you don’t remember…? Don’t remember what? Do you mean each book is different? Or it all blurs together?
(Laughs) Yes, sorry. Yeah, they’re different, but they’re not different either. I’m different, but I’m not different either. I know that sounds moronic. I guess…I really mean it, like my brain resets after each book. Okay, I’ll go back to talking about children; maybe that will help. When you have one, you think you may know the ropes for the second one. But you forget a lot of stuff, and have to learn it over. The basics are there, each kid goes poop and that needs to be handled. But each child is different too. My wife spends a lot of time comparing and contrasting – how much hair did this one have at such an age compared to the other? And who weighed what or was how tall when? And we’ll talk about temperament, and disposition. Each one is different, but it’s in shades. Just like the books, they have different dispositions, they required certain things from me another didn’t.
Okay, I can see by your expression this is not a satisfying answer. (Laughs again) So how about this: I used to power through a rough draft really never stopping or looking back. Then I’d revise and it took however many revisions, I’d say five or seven on average. Now, I’ll stop while writing and change things as I go, so it’s getting harder to really say how many revisions there are. But I’m not always doing that, either. I guess it depends on plot. I’m starting to hate plot. I want to just write about people and have them do whatever and say whatever.
I’m only partly serious, here.
Well, we did so well with that generic question, here’s one more – where do you get your ideas?
I don’t. I really have no sense of what that is. I’m serious. I have no ideas. Over the years I’ve met plenty of people, I’m sure you have too, who’ll say “I have this great idea for a book” or “this great idea for a movie” and maybe they’ll tell you and, yeah, it’s a cool idea. Maybe it’s great. But I’ve never really had that. Well, I shouldn’t say never. I guess I’ve experienced something like that, but for me it’s not what happens. I’ll maybe picture a scene, or get a line of dialogue stuck in my head, or have a thought, an emotion about something, and that’s where I’ll start. Sometimes. Lately my wife has been offering ideas, and I’m more than happy to take those and run with them. In fact, I always dreamed I would have ideas come from somewhere outside me, because either I don’t trust or can’t decide whether my own ideas are any good. They’re just arbitrary. Coming from someone or somewhere else gives them meaning.
(Full disclosure: April Fool's! No one really ever interviews me, so I interviewed myself! But if you want me to interview YOU, drop me a line. I love asking questions and learning about people. For instance, here's my interview with Charlie Gallagher.)
I'm very excited to announce a three-book deal with leading publisher, Bookouture.
Bookouture is home to authors Angela Marsons, Kathryn Croft, K.L. Slater, Carol Wyer, Robert Brynzda, Louise Jensen, Tom Bale, and many more.
My first book with them is slated for an August 2017 release, with the second in November and the third in early 2018.
Here is the official press release on the publisher's website!
What readers are saying:
“Crying. This book is terrific. Going through the ins and outs of the case was engrossing. I'm crying because of Tom’s situation at the end. It takes a good book to pull you in so deeply. I am a new fan of T.J. Brearton.”
“This is the first book I have read by this author and I couldn't put it down. I loved the characters and the setting. I live in Florida so a lot of streets, cities etc were familiar to me. A really good read.”
“A well-researched mystery, good until the very end!”
Also by T.J. Brearton:
“Brearton is new to me but already on my top 10 recommended list. His characters are so incredibly flawed, so human you'll be angry at them but love them at the same time. The multiple twists and turns in the story are breathtaking. You won't want to put the book down! Excellent story by an excellent writer.”
“You just really didn't know what was going to happen next. Riveting, exciting and convoluted. The very BEST of a good read.”
“Fantastic author weaves a great story full of twists and turns and emotional characters.”
Habit (Titan Trilogy Book 1)
“This was a five star read in my opinion due to the story coming from a refreshing change. Just going to begin the second in the series and have a feeling nothing else will be getting done at my house.”
“This was a very good story with many twists and turns. It kept me thinking and studying the whole time. The actual murderer surprised me as well.”
“Fast-paced shoot-em-up with a flawed hero that I grew to love. And now I am moving on to the second book in the trilogy - Survivors! Worth the read!”
The Titan trilogy:
Rookie detective Brendan Healy is on his first murder case. A young woman in a remote farmhouse has called 911 on an intruder and is killed. Who did it?
Healy learns about the death of an old friend and comes out of hiding to privately investigate. His friend’s death was not accidental, but connected to dark forces in high places.
Healy hunts for Leah Heilshorn, the daughter of Rebecca, the murdered woman from HABIT. Meanwhile, Justice Department Agent Jennifer Aiken must navigate a complex underworld to find the truth behind the company called Titan and its real relationship to the country.
Charlie Gallagher is a UK-based writer. He is also a police officer. His new book, BODILY HARM, has just been released and is part of a new crime series.
Charlie shares a publisher with me – the amazing Joffe Books. Like me, he is married and has two little girls.
But Charlie is not his real name.
I’ve been emailing with “Charlie” over the past four months while he's been working on edits of the Langthorne books with our publisher. And I started pestering him with questions.
TJB: You have a secret identity...will you ever let the world know who you *really* are?
CG: I really don’t know. It’s a strange one, that one. The reason is simple - I don’t want to get fired from the day job. I don’t like the idea of being ‘known’ either, I actually think I’m a more confident in the stuff I put out and a lot less bothered by reactions to my work because it doesn’t carry my face! Although writing in the face mask and cape is starting to become a little uncomfortable.
TJB: What do you write about?
CG: I write about what interests me and as a cop I will daily come into contact with people who are having their own ‘story.’ I’ll step off a road busy with people going about their business into of an ordinary looking terraced house where a man has overdosed on heroin and maybe his family are already on scene, already going through the pain and realisation. It's massive to them but just another call to me. That's what fascinated me most when I started the job, having your eyes opened just a little bit to what is really going on all around us. To those relatives, in that house it's a massive day - one they will never forget, to me and the other agencies involved it's another hopeless addict succumbing to his lifestyle and no longer a drain on our resources. That contrast really appeals to me and my creative side.
I try and write drama and I think that contrast is the lifeblood of drama - good and evil, old and young, the worst day in a mother's life compared to the ordinary cop who's waiting for his lunch. I see life as a series of small stories and they can all be fascinating in their own ways.
How long does it take you to write a book?
6 years to write the three books in the series. But it would be an interesting (for me at least) graph. Four years for the first one, 6 months for the second and just over a year for the third. I take long gaps, do it in clumps. The fourth is the first one where I've felt the pressure to do it when I haven't really had the time or energy, but after signing with Joffe Books I wanted to get the series completed as soon as possible so I could concentrate on working with Joffe to make it as good as it can be. It will be interesting for me to see if the fourth book has suffered or benefited from a little pressure - in other areas of my life I seem to work better under pressure but forcing stories is a bit different. That said, for me writing is very much about momentum, I suit writing every day and once I stop doing that and I lose momentum I can fall very quickly back into watching Only Fools And Horses and Topgear re-runs on the tele box!
Sub-question: How much time do you spend on a rough draft, how much time revising, how many drafts, to what extent do you or don’t you outline?
I don't outline at all. Usually I'll be out walking my spaniel with some decent guitar music on and I'll suddenly picture a scene and I think, how cool would that be as an ending! Then I sort of write towards it. It's like being a very amateur captain of a big ship, you point it at a destination, go off course loads, abandon parts of it along the way but end up getting where you want and it looks a bit similar to what you thought you saw from a distance.
This method of sort of moving along from one scene to the next with a general direction in mind means that I revise as I go. I’ll get to a significant point and stop and edit it until it’s as good as I can get it and then take a break, think about where I want to go next - I’ll walk the spaniel with some guitar music - and then when I’ve got a clearer sense of direction I get back to it. I know authors who smash out a first draft in its entirety and then go back over it from the start. I couldn’t do that, editing for any length of time is soul destroying for me, I want to get back to steering the ship sort-of-loosely-forwards!
When do you write?
Whenever I can. I work shifts, have two little girls and a wife who needs some attention at least, so it's tough to find time. You have to love it, I definitely do so I make time. I've seen all the Only Fools reruns a thousand times anyway.
I do try and write something every day now though. Even if it’s just a couple of hundred words of dialogue that will be central to the next part when written in full. It’s that momentum thing again.
Why do you write?
As above. I love it. Personally I start with an idea - maybe an end scene (which often moves to the middle) and move towards it using the characters to kinda evolve with it and push the story along. Or [I’ll have] the opening scene in my mind and then moved away from it. I genuinely find out what's happening as I go. I killed someone and fired another completely accidentally in one of the books - this was as much a surprise to me as it would be to a reader, but the scene was going on and I suddenly realised I had been building towards these outcomes the whole time. I should say, the ‘accidental death’ scene stopped me writing completely for a good month whilst I rejigged the ship's path in my head but it worked out really well. I think at least. And the spaniel got a lot of exercise.
Where do you write? As in, where do you physically arrange yourself to peck at the keys?
My favourite question! Mainly because this gave the opportunity to read it out to my wife and watch her roll her eyes!
I moved into the spare room once and converted it lovingly my office. My two girls were together in bunk beds in the larger bedroom (because they said they wanted to be). It lasted for less than a week and I lost the space, the little one move back in. Then I had a section of the utility room. This now belongs to the dog. Then I had visions of a cabin at the end of the garden. Now there’s a shed painted pink where the girls play in the summer.
So I type this sat on a corner desk in the dining room, facing the wall. Like some odd take on the end of the Blair Witch project.
When I can I like to work in cafes, libraries and public places. I find I’m a lot more productive. I think there’s a lot to be said for getting away from the house.
How has family life mixed with (or not mixed with) your writing life?
I could refer you to the question about writing space! The girls have taken over my life and in every sense. This isn’t something I have resisted and I absolutely love it. I tend to try and work when they’re in bed or at school/nursery. I know the wife gets frustrated at times, she wasn’t at all supportive to start with (by her own admission) but when you’ve got a new born kid mewing in your face, you’ve barely slept in days and your husband is sat at a computer because he 'wants to make his daughters proud’, I can understand her being miffed. She’s much more supportive now. We don’t get much time together - some days we get in bed with a cup of tea at 10pm and that’s our only conversation!
Do you feel competitive with other writers? If we’re being honest, do you ever envy the success of others?
I hate J K Rowling. Everyone loves her, she should share some of her success out evenly right!!? In all seriousness I’ve never read a Harry Potter or seen a movie. I’m not sure if that’s jealousy - it probably is right?
I literally couldn’t be any earlier in a writing career as right now. I definitely envy those who write full time, that’s part of the dream for me. It might be that I can tread the same path but right now I'm working 40 hour weeks as a cop and whatever’s left as a writer. It's an interesting question for me - would I write better stuff if I was able to do it 8 hours a day as a job or am I better because I suck up an experience from work then hurriedly write the basics of what happened in a notebook I take into the toilet!? (Don't you judge! Maybe it was a scary experience!)
Would you agree that digital media (i.e. Kindle, tablets) have ‘democratized’ publishing? If so, what, in your eyes, are the pros and cons of such a publishing revolution?
Yes I would agree. I think it's great, a new author may not be able to get shelf space next to Stephen King or Lee Childs but people buying those books may be more likely to try less established authors based on price, good marketing and a hook. I just want to be read, to get feedback and to improve - the changes in publishing mean that anyone can do that. I was self-publishing before Joffe books came along and I was beginning to see how that could work too. It’s hard work from a standing start but I think the most positive summary I can give of publishing right now is that if you’re stuff’s good and you’re willing to put the work into the marketing side of things - you can get read. That wasn’t the case before the digital revolution - the big publishers are no longer able to decide what’s ‘good’ and what isn’t. For any type of art that has to be right.
In other words, what do you think it means to be a writer today? Are chances better at getting published (i.e. less cost prohibitive and so a lower barrier for entry)?
Maybe the chances aren't better. There are probably more people giving it a go now, the fact anyone can publish themselves has its problems, of course. A good book with the right feedback and support can be made great and then released to a well-deserved positive response but on the other side of the bat a good book self-published straight off the first draft will sink and that author’s aspirations and reputation may go with it.
I do think there's less emphasis on getting published - I wasn’t actively trying, I was committing more and more to the self-publishing route, it’s hard work but I’m confident I would have made an impression. That said, I am happy to be where I am now, where I can let Joffe Books do all the bits I’m not good at, I can learn off them and at the same time concentrate on writing stories.
Neil Postman said we're “amusing ourselves to death.” The typographic era became the era of television, and now it is the internet age. Where does reading fit in? What do you see in store for writers and readers in the future?
One of my blogs is a frustration about social media and people choosing to take their phones to the toilet rather than me. I mean TAKE ME TO THE TOILET PEOPLE!
There is still the demand for stories and there always will be. I read books on my phone too so you can see how the Internet age is providing us with choice but also with options to access great literature. I try not to think too much about spending a year writing a book which is then sold for less than a good coffee or an ‘ app' that swaps your face with that of your family pet. I mean who would pay for that? I looked ridiculous as a spaniel.
CHECK OUT BODILY HARM, AVAILABLE NOW:
For more, see Charlie at writercharliegallagher.com
What happened to Brendan and Jennifer after the Titan trilogy?
Some stories aren't yet finished...
Living under the names William Chase and Hanna Becket, the ex-cop and and ex-lawyer fled the U.S. and have been working with anti-traffickers around the world.
The work is taking a toll on their relationship, and on William's sanity.
When they're called to investigate the disappearance of a girl in Roatan, Honduras, William and Hanna soon find themselves in the dark underbelly of paradise. William discovers startling evidence of human traffickers and begins down a path to try and rescue all the victims he can...
...No matter the cost.
Or, what it might do to his soul.
Ultimatums and Breakfast
Often, I’ll give the kids an ultimatum when they’re complaining about their options and I’ll say, “You want this, or do you want nothing?” They might be trying to get two cookies, or three, and I’ll say, “You want one? Or none?” (They almost always go for 'one.')
Today my five-year-old was trying to give her two-year-old sister that same ultimatum over some cereal the younger wasn’t eating, but she wasn't getting the math quite right.
“Sabine – do you want zero, or none?”
She kept repeating it in a stern voice. “Zero? Or None??”
I thought, what a great name for a company – “Zero or None Productions.”
I also imagined a satirical skit where some mobster is laying down the law for a bunch of lackeys. “Hey, fellas…youze guys got two options. Zero? Or None?”
One guy yells out, “Zero!”
And another nudges him in the ribs, muttering, “You idiot.” Then he calls out, “None!”
And so on.
In other news at the breakfast table this morning, I was alternately spoon-feeding my youngest her Kix cereal while I was shielding my orange slices she was trying to steal (she’d already eaten a whole orange and half of mine). It struck me that eating at the table with my kids is a cross between being at a prison and a nursing home. On the one hand you’re protecting your shit from being jacked, on the other hand, you’re spoon-feeding the reluctant mouths of people who have a habit of pooping in their pants.