Friday, 29 January 2010


Last night, as I watched Steve Jobs unwrap the iPad tablet on the TV news, a thought struck me – I don’t care.

Not that I don’t care about new technology. If it can enhance and advance the quality of human life then I’m all for it and will probably be up for one in the near future. I’ve also taken a more than active interest in the new formats that may impact on me as a writer. It’s just I don’t care for the inevitable Jekyll and Hyde debate it will spark about technology, publishers and authors.

It’s been raging for some time now and only a cursory glance of the Internet will offer up opinions that range from ‘This is the most exciting frontier publishing has ever witnessed’ to ‘The world of publishing is about to come spinning off its axis and crash into the sun.’

It swings from sensational headlines about book apps and Google deals to authors wailing, gnashing their teeth and painting an infernal, Bosch like picture of the future with writers impaled on the stakes of technology.

The truth lies somewhere in between the two extremes – not as hellish as the pessimists paint it and not as spectacular as the sales pitch would have us believe.

In the meantime, whether people want to read their books on tablets, phones, screens the size of fingernails or have them projected onto the butt cheeks of a hippopotamus the stories still need to be good. Personally, I’ll let the people qualified to comment (instead of cluttering the legions of people who aren’t) get on with it and concentrate on writing. Truth is nothing I say will control any of the formats or the rights deal that are being negotiated by the big companies.

There’s a lot more hot air to gush out of this thing but sooner or later readers will make their own minds up. Whichever way you view it – the new story and the writer who creates it are still a vital component. We just have to hope that this human element isn’t lost in all the excitement about an inanimate object - even if it is less than 500 dollars.

Richard Jay Parker

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

o for a muse of fire

Even Shakespeare prayed for inspiration.

A reader mentioned on my author blog ( that she takes a walk in the woods when she's stuck for ideas. I agree, a change of scene can be very stimulating, and walking in the fresh air is helpful, but I'm not sure I can identify any one location or situation where I feel inspired. I usually have ideas after I've gone to bed. Up I get, scurry over to my notebook and scribble furiously, often illegibly.

When I first started writing – (is it really over two years ago now?) – I used to jot down all my ideas as they occurred to me, worried I would forget my gems of inspiration if I didn’t record them. I ended up with hundreds of incoherent notes which I couldn’t decipher. I now subscribe to the forgetability principle. If an idea is good, I trust I will remember it. If I forget an idea, it wasn’t worth much in the first place.

But I still get up in the night to scrawl pages and pages of my best writing. Perhaps during the day there are too many distractions. In any case, isn’t the night the best time for writing crime fiction… in the dark… when you can’t see who might be prowling outside … and discover ideas lurking within…

Leigh Russell

Friday, 22 January 2010


I've often wondered what literary riches we readers have missed out on because of timing and fate. What unseen classics ended up in dusty lofts because the author couldn’t get them published? It’s easy to get disillusioned by rejection, so how many writers prematurely consigned work they’d slaved over to a bin because they quickly became convinced it was worthless?

There must be a whole raft of great books stuffed away or floating around as ash in the atmosphere because it was submitted at the wrong time/an agent never took it on/an editor was hung over etc etc. I don’t doubt there’s a lot of work that gets submitted that shouldn’t see the light of day. There’s also a lot of intelligent people reading manuscripts who pluck the right ones out, champion them but have to reluctantly discard the project for myriad reasons other than anything to do with the quality of the writer’s work.

Publication is a chain of events with a fallible human at the helm of every stage. But writers are equally to blame. Are we missing a great writer because they got fed up with the cost of posting their work or because they were put off after a couple of knock backs? The onus is on the writer to get his work out there. It’s more in their interest than anyone else’s. And, if they believe in it, they’ll keep submitting it to agents/publishers until they’re blue in the face.

It’s the only way to stop these classics falling through the cracks.

Richard Jay Parker

Friday, 15 January 2010


Although my agency, Conville and Walsh, are very enthusiastic about stand alone thriller book 2 which is now in their capable hands it still seems very fresh in my mind and moving to stand alone thriller book 3 seems very hard on its heels as I'm still waiting for publisher feedback.

Moving to the next project is the best option though. I have a concept which I've been thinking about for the past six months and was about to start writing it when I had notes from the agency re book 2 and had to put it to one side while I concentrated on those.

I was very keen on the idea but my concern was whether I could generate enough suspense with it. I've now come up with some characters to populate the plot which should keep it rattling forward at the pace I want so I've decided to commit to it and commence writing.

There seem to be as many theories about third books as that difficult second book. One theory is that many readers don't take a gamble on a new writer and that it's their third book which makes their name familiar enough to generate interest. Another theory is that the first book introduces you, the second is the favourite and the third divides your readership.

Both are probably true in terms of different authors but it's pretty pointless to try and second guess how your work is going to be received. Best just to try and write something better each time.

So...back to it!
Richard Jay Parker

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Hooked on Writing

Matt Lynn asks whether writing is an intrinsically depressing profession.
Depression is an ambiguous word. In our own ways, most of us feel depressed at times. This can be caused by external circumstances, not the same as clinical depression which, like any other illness, strikes for no reason.
Creative problems can trigger feelings of depression. Is this an external trigger?
I arrived home yesterday after driving on icy roads in a journey horrendous by anyone's standards. My car wasn't a wreck. I was. Dinner, favourite TV comedy, a nip of whiskey, utterly failed to restore my equanimity.
Ten minutes on my keyboard, another chapter done, and I returned to my usual faintly warped state of mind.
For me, writing isn't depressing. Not writing is.
Leigh Russell

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Is Writing Depressing?

by Matt Lynn

Sympathy is obviously in order to Mirian Keyes, who has admitted to suffering from a depression so severe that she no longer feels able to write. One hopes she gets better soon. It prompts an interesting question, however. Is writing an intrinsically depressing profession?

There is certainly quite a wealth of scientific evidence to suggest that they might. And there are certainly plenty of anecdotal examples of writers who have been through periods of mental illness.

It is not that hard to understand why.

Writers are by their nature introverts. You have to be to do the job.

It is solitary. You inevitably have to spend a lot of time by yourself in front of a screen.

It is intensely personal. You have to put a lot of yourself into the work. And everything you do is subject to constant criticism.

It is insecure and pressurised.

None of those are recipes for a healthy mental state.

That doesn't mean that all writers suffer from depression. But I'm sure if we are being honest we will admit that we all have quite a few down days. And you need to be pretty resilient to do the job.

Friday, 8 January 2010


Met up with my agent just before Christmas. The agency had a good year but he was clearly exhausted and wondered where he was going to find an extra gear for 2010. It struck me that everyone is finding the need for that extra gear – whatever it is they do for a living. Is it because there aren’t enough hours in the day to service the 21st Century expectations demanded of us? That’s a whole different discussion.

Of the writers I know it’s certainly true that 24 hours just doesn’t cut the mustard. Writing is only one part of the process. It’s a competitive market out there and hoping that readers find our work isn’t an option for anyone who wants to earn a living writing commercial fiction. There’s certainly more onus on writers to promote themselves now. Is this a good thing? Maybe not for our physical and mental health but being part of and having some control over how well our own work performs – via promotional websites, blogging, interviews etc - is a fascinating process that has kept me engaged with my work long after publication. It’s also a great way to gauge reader reaction and get the sort of instant feedback writers wouldn’t have had in the last century.

But I’ve just hit a tricky milestone with STOP ME. The trade paperback has been out for four months and appears to have done well in terms of sales and this Monday sees the release of the mass market paperback. It’s very exciting and the actual book feels like it’s a different entity because of its electric blue cover. Plus Allison & Busby have secured a coup with a WHSmith Travel promotion which will certainly help sales.

However, I’m going to have to find an extra gear myself in terms of promoting it. Everyone I know has now bought their copy so it’s a case of now having to brainstorm some new ideas to help promote the paperback. All suggestions for finding new converts to the Vacation Killer are most welcome!

Book 2 is completed and with agent and I’ve started jotting down ideas for 3 so it’s also a question of juggling writing duties with promo for STOP ME. You won’t find me complaining though – even if the gearbox is making a worrying clunking sound.

Wishing you a blissful 2010.

Richard Jay Parker

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

My very own ISBN Number - Chapter 2

I have just seen ROAD CLOSED on amazon, publication 2nd June.

I've just remembered how I felt when I saw CUT SHORT listed.
What if no one likes it? What if everyone hates it?

My head is well and truly above the parapet now. There's no going back. That road is closed...

Oh all right, I admit it, I'm very excited at seeing my book on amazon. I'm now entering the period of waiting when I know that Road Closed is on track, and I don't have to worry for a few months about readers' reactions. I've got 5 months to wallow in self congratulatory limbo...

(But what if no one likes it?!?)