The Judge of the Dead is published – please be careful during the stampede to buy it

Finally, five years after a 1,500 word Open University creative writing exercise sowed the seeds of a 75,000 word novel, The Judge of the Dead is published.

Here’s me and my proofy of egduJ ehT daeD eht fo by nnaCcM naeS:

Photo on 2015-07-29 at 10.10

Excuse the topless shot. I’m in Andalucia, it is corking hot at the mo, and I haven’t been feeling 100% this week.

I actually published on the 26th, but it can take a few days to filter through to Amazon so I delayed the grand announcement, pyrotechnics and whoopwhoops until today; didn’t want to send people scurrying off to eStores only to find it wasn’t available yet.

On that note, the ebook is £3.99 via Kindle , while the paperback is £7.99. That’s higher than intended but (UK) printing costs swallow slightly over 50% of that and Amazon take 40% so it doesn’t leave a lot for little old me. I make significantly more on the paperback if I sell through the CreateSpace eStore so if customers from the Americas can buy through them (ships in 5 days for $3.59 at time of writing) that would be massively appreciated. UK customers might find the quickest delivery is from Amazon UK, but they charge the highest printing costs, much more than or Amazon Europe, so unless you know me well enough to get a copy signed, or you just love the feel of a paperback in your hands, I’d suggest going for the ebook version. It’s cheaper for the reader, and makes more margin for the author, so it is a win-win purely on the money front.

Back to the book itself, I had to choose two genres to categorise it by. I went for ‘Crime’ and ‘Technological thriller’. I think the word ‘thriller’ is daft – I’ve never been thrilled reading a book – but I had to choose something so that was as near as I could get it (more for the ‘technological’ than ‘thriller’). If it doesn’t thrill you, then I apologise, but there wasn’t a category entitled ‘Barely perceptible pulse quickener’.

As I’ve mentioned before, the book may prove somewhat of a challenge for readers used to getting to the end of page 1 and thinking ‘Alright, this is my protagonist, this is ‘me’ for the remainder of this story, I know who I am and what’s going on’. My novel, on the other hand, is told through the eyes of six different first-person narrators, so the reader won’t really have a clear feel for who to get behind until the end of chapter 6, once all the main characters have been introduced. This for me brings a semblance of reality somehow. We all like different people. To my mind there is an obvious hero but readers may decide some of the other characters are attractive in various ways. Some people adore Jeremy Clarkson, whereas I think he needs a biff round the head. Each to their own. I didn’t deliberately set out to write characters that way, but I think ambiguity exists in most people, so your villains with a caring side and upstanding members of the community with a darker side both have degrees of plausibility.

The story will probably appear stylistically uneven from chapter to chapter. Again I feel this reflects the way different people tell stories in real life. Some will stick closer to the essence, while some will exaggerate wildly and perhaps even make bits up to make themselves look interesting, cool, whatever. Honeydew, the escort girl, opens the book. To my mind she is out of the noir genre, a bit like one of the characters from the film Sin City. She is all persona, but there is a real person behind that persona. Magnus takes over in chapter 2 and he presents a world a bit more ‘true crime’, London villain stylee. Chapter three reads more like espionage-cum-technothriller, and so on. You might find you need to feel your way into the story, but by a quarter of the way in the picture should start to reveal itself and build towards the pay-off for the reader. It was written to entertain, in terms of both humour and aesthetics, so I sincerely hope anyone that buys it thoroughly enjoys reading it, as a reward for supporting the little guy.

As a final reminder, here, again, is the cover blurb:

‘A fatal legal misunderstanding leads to human embryos being destroyed. The headlines scream: “Rhadamanthus – The Judge of the Dead”. Devastated donor Afro Eccleston smells a rat and resolves to bring down the judge. The security services are onto her but Lucky Jim Ridgewell has an Achilles heel: escort girl Honeydew, linked to East London organised crime. Online auction fraudster Magnus Gilzean has been grassed up, but there is a curious observer in court. If Afro can circle the connections she will set off a carousel of revenge only one can win…’

Over to you, dear reader…



Readier, and Eddie R

After not getting a response from a certain record company, despite a second request for permission to use some song lyrics, I’ve had to rewrite one of my chapters. You’d think a small independent label would be only too pleased of some free publicity but apparently not. So, sod ’em. I’ll leave the name of the band in as it’s not their fault their permissions man CBA to respond to my mails.

It was only a 110-word rewrite but not having touched the chapter for a few years it was weird, and a little unnerving, getting the pen out again. I’m a great believer that a writer gets on a roll, that it just flows, and that once a particular creative episode has ended it is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to bring it back to life. I’d compare it to waking up during a nice dream, and trying to go back to sleep again so you can pick up where you left off.

That said, the little voice in my head, the one I thought I’d got rid of, reminded me of a couple of sub-plots that it wasn’t entirely happy with. Several of the chapters have multiple time-shifts, jumping back years, jumping forward again, and it’s important to get these right. It sounds easy enough, but it’s actually quite a hard skill to master. Films tend to use captions that say things like ‘Seven years earlier’, ‘fifteen years later’, or whatever, but it’s harder to pull off these shifts in prose. That, allied to the sub-plot not being quite right, and I knew I needed to look at it again. Fortunately, after a couple of hours of 228-word rewrite I’m happy that one of the last nagging doubts has been removed. I’m readier. Almost ready to roll.

On a completely different note, I usually couldn’t give a monkeys about the Oscars, I find the whole thing a bit nauseating and narcissistic, but as much as you can be pleased for someone you’ve never met, I was pleased to learn Eddie Redmayne had done the business yesterday evening. If you could tell how nice a person was just from looking at their face, and I’m quite sure you can’t, then I reckon Eddie R would be a pretty top bloke. I’ve not seen the film, and don’t intend to, but his performance opposite Clémence Poésy in Sebastian Foulks’ <i>Birdsong</i> was outstanding. I rarely eulogise over such things so that really is praise indeed coming from me. Out of all the films I’ve ever seen, the on-screen chemistry between Redmayne and Poésy was, to use a cliché, electric. Actually I’m not sure you can have electric chemistry, that seems to be conflating two sciences, but you know what I mean. I’d go as far as saying it’s the only time I’ve ever watched a film and believed that the actor and the actress were in love with each other. Maybe they were. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a must-watch.