Today is my stop on Leigh Russell’s Fatal Act blog tour.
Here Leigh tells us what it was like writing her first book.
Writing My First Book
It seems a lot longer than seven years since I wrote my debut, Cut Short, which came out in 2009. Since then so many exciting things have happened, I can’t believe it! Not only being published, but winning awards, hitting bestseller lists, including the #1 spot on kindle, seeing my books translated into different languages around the world… the list goes on. But none of that comes close to matching the excitement of writing.
It amazes me now that I discovered my passion for writing so late in life. An idea struck me one day – you could it a moment of inspiration – and I started to write the story down. Since that day, I haven’t stopped writing. It was like turning on a tap. I wrote compulsively whenever I could, at the weekends, and in the evenings after work, sometimes writing until the early hours of the morning. My family were bemused by my constant scribbling. Yes, ‘scribbling’, because to begin with I wrote everything longhand in pencil before typing it up. With experience, I cut the handwriting stage, and now write directly on a keyboard, which saves a lot of time. I rarely even scribble notes for myself any longer, which saves me even more time trying to decipher them.
Finally, after six weeks, I sat back and thought, ‘I’ve written a book!’ And that, I thought, was the end of it. With no expectation of hearing back, I printed out my manuscript, as we did in those days, put it in a brown A4 envelope, and sent it to three publishers. You can imagine my astonishment when I received a phone call two weeks later from a lady who is still my editor at No Exit Press, the crime imprint of Oldcastle Books. They have published seven of my books so far, with two more due out before the end of this year, another three under contract, and more to come.
Six years after Cut Short was published I am a full-time author, earning a decent living writing fiction. It’s a lot of hard work, but I enjoy every minutbe of it, because it means I can write every day, still sometimes until the early hours of the morning…. My career took off very quickly, but that isn’t typical. These days it’s far more difficult to secure a publishing deal than it was in 2009 when Cut Short came out. Publishers are increasingly cautious about taking a punt on an unknown writer, and the competition is fierce. With thousands of aspiring writers chasing very few offers, it’s increasingly hard for a writer starting out. You have to stay focused and keep your self belief. With multiple book deals I can’t afford ‘writers’ block’. The best cure for it is a publishers’ deadline! If you don’t have such external deadlines, set your own. Challenge yourself to write a set number of words each day. This could two hundred or two thousand words, whatever number works for you. The details will be unique to you, but the principle is the same for all of us.
I was fortunate that a publisher read the first draft of Cut Short, saw the potential for a series, and offered me a three-book deal – the first of four such deals so far. I hadn’t written the story with a view to being published, I just started writing and found myself carried away by the narrative. I think that may be the real key to my success. If you’re writing with a view to being published, you need to rethink. Stop worrying about finding a publisher. Just write what you enjoy writing, and hopefully one day your manuscript will be read by someone who has the power to transform your story into a bestselling book. It happened to me, it could happen to you!
Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent, gaining a Masters degree in English. For many years a secondary school English teacher, she is a creative writing tutor for adults. She is married, has two daughters, and lives in North West London. Her first novel, Cut Short, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award in 2010. This was followed by Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead and Fatal Act, in the Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel series. Cold Sacrifice is the first title in a spin off series featuring Geraldine Steel’s sergeant, Ian Peterson.
“The Sixth and Latest DI Geraldine Steel Mystery
A glamorous young TV soap star dies in a car crash. Returning for her sixth case, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is baffled as the driver of the second vehicle miraculously survives – and vanishes. Another young actress is murdered and, once again, the killer mysteriously disappears. Geraldine unwittingly risks her sergeant’s life in their struggle to track down a serial killer who leaves no clues.”
“All she wanted to do now was get home safely. She drove slowly, looking out for a side road she could turn into. With luck she could slip away before her pursuer realised what she was doing. She passed a turning on the right, displaying a no entry sign. She braked abruptly. Her phone flew off the passenger seat. The van slowed down behind her. Worn out and stressed, she couldn’t even remember why she had been so angry with Piers. It had been a stupid argument in the first place. She wished she was back at home, away from the road at night and its wildness. Leaning forward to retrieve her phone from the floor, she punched Piers’ speed dial key. His phone rang, but there was no answer. She glanced in her mirror and glimpsed the other driver, his face a black mask in the darkness. ”
Genre: Mystery & Detective; Women Sleuths; Suspense; Crime
Published by: No Exit Press
Publication Date: 29th May 2014
Number of Pages: 320pp
Series: DI Geraldine Steel #6; Stand Alone
Don’t miss a stop on the blog, check out the rest of the tour dates here:
Fatal Act by Leigh Russell
Blog Tour 2014!