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Stephen Fry and I are thrilled to be working with Mari on bringing the extraordinary Kate Daniels to life - Gina Carter.
Thursday
Apr212011

Life of Crime

Life of Crime is the title of an article by Jo Haywood in the May issue of North East Life - on sale now. It begins: Talk to anyone in the North East writing fraternity and the name Mari Hannah crops up . . . which comes as a surprise even to the author herself as her first novel is not due to hit the shelves in the UK until spring 2012.

That is SO true. But the clever sub-heading made me think: Jo Haywood talks to Corbridge author Mari Hannah about her chances of going straight (to the top). If only it were that easy . . .

As anyone who's ever aspired to write for a living will tell you, it takes years to create a book good enough for publication, sometimes longer to find an agent willing to take you on. And even after you've managed to jump those particular hurdles, there's no guarantee of finding a publisher willing to put their money where their mouth is and offer you that all important first deal.

I was luckier than most. In my case it was my first novel, my first attempt, albeit re-written a million times. But I am aware of writers who've written three, four, or even more books before hitting that all important jackpot. I know of one writer - she wouldn't call herself that but that's exactly what she is - who has a finished manuscript but never shown it to another living soul, a book I'd personally love to read. That is a massive amount of work and commitment for anyone. Who knows? It could be a bestseller lying in the corner of her room gathering dust. If you are reading this Muriel, I challenge you to share it.

After the euphoria of the deal comes the self doubt and confusion over what happens next. Will I be able to cope with the demands of being a professional writer when I have more to think about than sitting at my computer enjoying myself, making up stories? There are legal contracts to consider, learning how the industry works, author questionnaires, editors to please, cover designs to consult over. If you are in any doubt, read Carole Blake's From Pitch to Publication and you'll see what I mean. I read it before I began this journey and I'm now reading it again.

Writers write because they'd rather do that than talk, don't they? But, these days, it's simply not enough. An author is expected to promote themselves, engage with the press, meet the public, talk to crime fiction fans face to face. Networking is the name of the game and that is seriously scary. So, it does come as a surprise, not only that I'm being talked about a year before THE MURDER WALL is launched in the UK, but that anyone would be interested in meeting me, talking about ME! But just in case anyone out there wants to know more, you can read Jo Haywood's full interview by clicking on the link on my Reviews page.   

 

Friday
Apr082011

A busy week

This week I've been editing the set up for Monument to Murder before moving on to the confrontation and finally the resolution. I know a lot of authors prefer just to bash it all down and then start again at the beginning but that just doesn't work for me. I edit as I go along, each day reading through the previous day's work. Only when I am satisfied do I carry on with the story. That's just how it is.

I took a break on Tuesday to give an interview to Jo Haywood of North East Life magazine for the May edition. One of the questions she asked me was: what you would write if you didn't write crime? Answer: children's books. Then I sped off for my first public engagement . . .

. . . a fun 'gig' at a local nursery school. I chose Stick Man - written by Julia Donaldson and beautifully illustrated by Axel Scheffler - a story that made me cry the first time I read it. It doesn't take much! This time, however, I managed to read it with a smile on my face and the kids were enthralled, though I suspect a few had heard it before.

To end the week, I heard about an event 'Crime in the Court' being hosted by Goldsboro Books in London on 21st June, a chance to mingle with crime fans and fellow crime writers. I already have my ticket so I might just see you there.

Saturday
Mar262011

Thanks . . . 

Yesterday, I wrote the dedications and acknowledgements for THE MURDER WALL. It took longer than expected and ruined my mascara in the process. It's such a emotional thing to do.

This morning, it occurred to me that it's impossible to thank everyone who helped me write this book. I am of course referring to fellow writers whose books I've enjoyed reading myself, authors who've inspired me over the years to hone my craft and strive to tell the most interesting story I am capable of. 

And then there are those who have unknowingly contributed, people whose conversations I have overheard snippets of in shops, on trains, whilst standing in queues. People I met along the way who said or did something that prompted an idea, whose physical appearance or presence formed the basis of an interesting character in the book.

To all of them, I say a special thank you here.  

Tuesday
Mar222011

Don't hold back!

As a recipient of a The Northern Writers’ Awards in 2010 I'd like to acknowledge the support of New Writing North, Arts Council England and the Leighton group who sponsored the awards last year.

The silly thing is I very nearly didn't enter. It was around this time last year. I was busy with yet another draft of THE MURDER WALL and sent my entry off at the very last minute . . .

. . . and won! Since then, my writing has really taken off. I've moved forward in so many ways. I've been mentioned in trade magazines, interviewed by local newspapers - even crowned Echo Woman by one! I've also come to the attention the Hexham Book Festival director who is keen to promote my work even further when my books are out in print. IN PRINT? Crumbs! Did I say that out loud?

I won the Time to Write Award for my second novel at a time when my debut had sold in Germany but not in my home market. But, three months after winning, I was offered a three book deal (UK and Commonwealth rights plus Canada) from one of the most sought after publishers, Pan Macmillan. The first two novels (THE MURDER WALL and SETTLED BLOOD) are scheduled for publication in 2012, such is the enthusiasm for the series.

Only this week, news that an earlier local award winner Dan Smith has been short-listed for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2011 further demonstrates how important these awards are to local writers. Who knows? Perhaps the Northern Writers’ Award will be the first of many for me too!

I'm extremely grateful to New Writing North for supporting my work. It's not the first time: their generous staff played a significant role in my securing a top London agent at Blake Friedmann after several years trying to do this on my own.

I'm delighted to have been able to give a little back by promoting the Northern Writers’ Awards 2011 in the press and on social networking sites recently. Without them, there would be few opportunities for new writers to break into what is a very difficult market to conquer. 

So if anyone out there is holding back as I was, too self-conscious or too busy to enter, there is still time. Just go for it! Details on www.newwritingnorth.co.uk I wish all of you the very best of luck . . .

Thursday
Mar102011

Brilliant!

German book cover has arrived and it looks great. This is so exciting. Definitely worth celebrating. Now where's that bubbly?

Wednesday
Mar022011

Good news all round . . .

After several days without a computer I'm finally up and running again. On Friday last, I received edits for THE MURDER WALL from Pan Mac publishing director, Wayne Brookes. He described it as 'a bloody great novel' and is writing down jacket ideas. He says 'WE'RE ON OUR WAY!' His lovely email made me cry.

Saturday
Feb262011

Food for thought?

I abandoned my desk yesterday in favour of a day out, travelled north to the fabulous Northumberland coast in the name of research for MONUMENT TO MURDER, book four in the Kate Daniels series. Took a flask of soup - good. Had cream  tea on the way home in Alnwick - very bad! But mission accomplished nevertheless. It's a hard life . ..

Saturday
Feb192011

It's raining . . .

Been playing with website content before we go 'live' - see Forthcoming Books. Need to check with Oli (agent) and Wayne Brookes (Pan Mac publishing director) that I can include a short 'unofficial' blurb on each book before it disappears into the ether.  

Wednesday
Feb162011

Until we meet again . . .

Gutted to learn today that Lorissa Bouwer is leaving Blake Friedmann and returning to South Africa in a few months time. Thanks for all your assistance, Lorissa. You will be sadly missed!  

Wednesday
Feb162011

German debut.

Looking forward to receiving the jacket for my debut novel which is due out in Germany in September. I'm told it's imminent. So exciting! Title over there: Sein Zorn komme über uns.

Wednesday
Feb162011

Getting to grips with Twitter . . .

Going for a crash course on Friday with my good friend Liv Chapman at New Writing North. Missed the course she ran last year. Wish I hadn't!

Check out their website: www.newwritingnorth.com 

Or look out for this logo . . .

 

 

Saturday
Feb122011

London Calling

Been in London this week. Had dinner with my agent Oli on Thursday night. Good news: he's just finished reading book three - THE LAST DECEPTION - and loved it. Phew . . . not that I was nervous or anything! 

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