Monday, February 16, 2015
Between February 2013 and January 2015, six Jessica Daniel novels were released. That’s a book every four months!
I’ve long thought crime books in particular could be easy to churn out for a lazy writer. The structure could be retained, change a few names and settings, chuck in a couple of new jokes and, hallelujah, a new book has been created.
Whenever I start plotting a new Jessica book, I go out of my way to try to come up with something new. For instance, some readers tell me Behind Closed Doors is their favourite Jessica story because of the emotional element and the structural change; others don’t like it because Jessica is moved away from the support cast of Izzy/Dave, etc, and readers miss that. Both viewpoints are, of course, fine – but I’d rather try something a little different and give readers something new as opposed to stealing your money – and a living – by rehashing the same old stuff.
With a Jessica book every four months for the past two years, something has to give – and, in this instance, it is the release schedule. What has gone before is not sustainable for many reasons. I want Jessica to have a long literary life, to be writing about her years into the future, but that won’t happen with a new story every 120 days. She’ll burn herself out and I’ll run out of stories I can tell about a person while retaining the merest degree of realism.
Writing police procedurals is limiting in the sense that, broadly speaking, Jessica has to operate within the confines of being a police officer. Of course I take certain artistic licences but there are many stories I can’t tell from her perspective.
With that, I started the Andrew Hunter series with Something Wicked. He’s a private investigator and doesn’t have to work within the same limitations. In addition, he doesn’t have the power to arrest or interview witnesses, so has to find other ways to do things.
Andrew and Jessica exist in the same world – and I want to tell other stories around them that don’t necessarily include them.
This autumn, DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN, a standalone crime book, will be released as a hardback and ebook.
The events that occur in that novel not only happen directly because of the outcome of THICKER THAN WATER but then influence future Jessica books.
There’s more, too. For those who have read my short story, JANUARY, you’ll know it contains a character named Chris Green. Chris’s brother, Jason, is the main protagonist (or antagonist!) in DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN.
You don’t have to read everything as each story stands by itself but, if you do read the lot, you’ll hopefully find a richer tapestry around Jessica’s world that doesn’t necessarily include her directly.
Unaffected by all of this crime talk is my young adult/fantasy Silver Blackthorn trilogy – which has a regular one-a-year release schedule.
This all means that the way Jessica books are released with such regularity will change. The below is provisional but this is broadly what to expect from me through the UK and Commonwealth in the coming months:
– 7 May 2015: Renegade | paperback & ebook (Silver Blackthorn 2) link
– 16 July 2015: Something Wicked | paperback (Andrew Hunter 1) link
– Sept/Oct 2015: Down Among The Dead Men | hardback & ebook (standalone)
– Jan/Feb 2016: For Richer, For Poorer | paperback & ebook (Jessica Daniel 2:3 / 10)
– May 2016: Resurgence | paperback & ebook (Silver Blackthorn 3)
– 2016: Down Among The Dead Men | paperback re-release
– 2016: Something Hidden | paperback & ebook (Andrew Hunter 2)
– 2016: No Place Like Home | paperback & ebook (standalone)
– Future: Jessica Daniel 11, 12, 13
– Future: Something Borrowed | (Andrew Hunter 3)
So, there’s no storytelling let-up … it’s just that not everything I release is going to be a Jessica book. That doesn’t mean she won’t show up in the odd unexpected place…
DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN
September 2015 (hardback & ebook):
‘I’m going to do you a favour: I’m going to tell you my name and then I’m going to give you thirty seconds to turn and run. If any of you are still here after those thirty seconds, then we’re going to have a problem.’
Jason Green’s life is changed for good after he is saved from a mugging by crime boss Harry Irwell. From there, he is drawn into Manchester’s underworld, where stomping into a newsagents and smashing the place up is as normal as making a cup of tea.
But Jason isn’t a casual thug: he has a plan that doesn’t involve blowing his money on the usual trappings. That is until a woman walks into his life offering one thing that money can’t buy – salvation.