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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.

Sein Zorn komme über uns

In exactly one month from now my debut novel will hit the shelves in Germany. I know as writer I should be able to explain exactly how I'm feeling right now but sometimes things are just so extreme there's no single word that adequately describes them. This is one of those times.  

So, after years of writing, pitching, rewriting, editing and waiting, publication day is nearly here. The fact that I won't be able to read it - I don't speak German sadly - makes no difference to the sense of achievement I'm experiencing. 

I've seen the cover design and viewed the book on German websites but, bizarrely, I've not met the person(s) whose decision it was to take it on, let alone the translator. And I've yet to hold a hard copy of the book in my hand. So, even at this late stage, I'm feeling slightly detached from reality.

Last year, I attended the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate where I met the man who would later become my UK editor. Little did I know it at the time, but I hoped, I dreamed, I kept believing. Next week, I will return to Harrogate. I know many aspiring writers will also be there hoping to meet someone in the publishing industry with the power to make their dreams come true. If you are one of those people I wish you the very best of luck.  




I've just returned from a trip to London, an enjoyable couple of days despite wet weather and a disastrous hotel choice. I met up with my agent, Oli Munson, and editor, Wayne Brookes, and was excited to learn that The Murder Wall cover has now been briefed and is in the queue waiting for its slot in the busy Pan Macmillan schedule. 

Other news. Wayne confirmed his intention to publish two novels next year, The Murder Wall in April, Settled Blood in October. And possibly two in 2013, so watch this space . . . although I did point out that Pan Mac hadn't actually bought book four yet! Cheeky, I know, but shy bairns get nowt as they say up here in the north. :)

The main reason for my visit to London - not that I really needed one - was to attend the Crime in the Court event. It was my first visit to Goldsboro Books and my chance to support independent bookshops in Independent Booksellers Week. The event was well attended and I missed a couple of people I really wanted to see but got to chat with many more authors, editors, bloggers and readers. Lucky for us the rain held off. Can't imagine how we would all have got inside! And the good news is we get to do it all over again next year.

Afterwards, I had dinner with Oli and fellow Blake Friedmann authors, Sam Hayes and Michael Ridpath, neither of whom I'd met before. Brilliant time, three brilliant people. And some of us will be meeting up again in a few weeks at the biggest crime writers' festival in the world: Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival which is held in Harrogate and runs from 21st to the 24th July. Hope you'll be there too. 


Team Effort

After working flat out for the past few weeks I've now been given the all clear on The Murder Wall. My editor is happy. My copy-editor is happy. I am happy. The book has been given a clean bill of health, both structurally and editorially. The manuscript has been returned to Pan Macmillan for the next stage in the process: page proofs first, typesetting and then it will go off to a reader . . . 

At each stage, while keeping one eye on what's ahead, I'm learning more and more about the publishing industry. The biggest lesson? The book may have been my creation but bringing it to life is very much a team effort. I count myself very lucky that at each stage in the process I've been guided by a group of professionals who care as much about my debut as I do: local writing agency, agent, literary agency, publisher, editor, copy-editor, proof-reader . . . 

The professionals mentioned above are just the ones I have met on my journey so far! What about the unsung heroes who work behind the scenes: sales and marketing, PR, cover designer? It is very humbling to think that all these people are working so hard on my behalf. Think I might spend the rest of my days shaking hands and giving thanks.

Publishing a book takes almost as long as writing one. So why do I feel like I am sitting on top of a giant snowball that's out of control, rolling downhill, gathering speed? Ah, that must be the excitement, the bit my agent told me about at the very beginning. His words: we're going to have some fun. He's not wrong. If we ever meet, I'll be the one with a big smile on my face. 



Copy-edit hell?

I'm three-quarters of the way through the copy-edit of The Murder Wall and felt the need to pause for a moment and share my thoughts on how I'm doing. This task is new to me. As a debut author it's the very first time I've been through a manuscript word for word, comma by comma. Of course I've taken notes but this is entirely different.

I was a little nervous at first, worried that I might make a mistake and mess the whole thing up. But I forgot one thing. I'm being guided by a professional who is regarded by many as one of the very best in her field; an amazing woman called Anne O'Brien. I've never met Anne but I believe she was once described as 'the Jedi of all copy-editors' by Val McDermid no less. 

When I was told that Anne would be working with me I was gobsmacked. She has worked with BIG names: Val, as mentioned above, Reg Hill, and the late Michael Crichton to name but a few. Wayne Brookes, my editor at Pan Macmillan, was keen to get her on board from the beginning. He described it as 'a fabulous coup ...' and who can argue with that? She truly is wonderful to work with.

Copy-edit hell is not how I'd describe the experience. The process has made me realise that The Murder Wall is not only in the best of hands but it's also in good shape.  


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.   



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.


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.  


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 I wish all of you the very best of luck . . .



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


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.


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 . ..


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.  


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!  


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.


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: 

Or look out for this logo . . .