Thursday, April 6, 2017

Why? Why? For the love of all that's holy WHY?

By Catriona

This week's question is "what prompted you to become a crimewriter?" But yesterday was a bad day for me to answer it.

It started well, with me up bright and early and taking a responsible apporach to the business end, reading through an email from my agent about the UK contract for Standalone Book No. 7. So far, so organised.

Promotion has to be done too. Briefly, before settling down to day's writing, I went on social media and retweeted a photo from London of the first ARCs of Dandy Gilver Book 12. 

And I checked in on Amazon to see if the price-drop was still going on Standalone Book No.1 and No. 2 (It was.)

I went back to email to ask the US editor how long the price drop would run and found a request for back-cover copy for New Trilogy Book No. 1.

Now, I'm quite a fan of the approach that you shovel as you go. How long could the tiny (if weirdly specific) word count of 110 conceivably take? Flippin' ages! That's how long. Those 110 words took me two hours and they were only 104.

This is not the final jacket, but isn't it lovely?
Back on email to send the copy, I saw a query about the timing of the US v UK publication of Standalone Book No. 4 and whether it had an impact on award submissions. So I looked up the rules. They are many and strange.

With my head in London, and the extra trigger of reading a lot of British past winners of various prizes, I remembered some extra people I wanted the UK Dandy Gilver publisher to send ARCs to. Back on email to tell her, I found a couple of submissions for a group blog later this month and read them.

(Lunch - haven't written a word yet.)

Settled down to write 3K words of Dandy Gilver Book No. 13, aka the work in process, ignoring the print-out of Standalone Book No. 7, with US and UK editors' notes, sitting there staring at me.


Went for a walk to think about work in process, but instead had a great idea for Standalone Book No. 8, which doesn't exist yet but is sold. That always freaks me out and I prefer to have some fragment of a clue.

Came back from walk, made a few notes. Told myself sternly to focus on work in progress.

Phone was going mad. 

Midnight Ink editor extraordinaire, Terri Bischoff, had posted a picture of the ARCs of Standalone Book No. 6

I've never seen these in real life and for about five minutes this picture made me very happy. And then came the first online message saying that people have downloaded the e-ARC and are reading it right now. Run! Hide! For a furtive control freak of a writer, like me, who has never been in a critique group or taken a piece of writing to a workshop, this moment  - when a story stops belonging to me and a very few people I trust with my life (husband, agent, editor) and becomes public property - is not a pleasant one. I want to protect these characters I care about from the harsh world.

In dire need of a grip to get, I decided to go to the coffeeshop with no internet, and leave my phone in the car, so I could forget back-cover copy of New Trilogy Book No. 1, pretty ARCs of Dandy Gilver Book No.12, stonking ARCs of Standalone Book No. 6 (and the fact that people are reading it) and contracts and edits and timing of Standalone Book No. 7.

Got into car and discovered it's pledge week on my NPR station. Came back into house and watched some Modern Family gag reels.

Finally, at 4pm, I put my bum in the chair and started working. 

3K words only took twice as long as 110 words.  I was done by just after 8pm. But when I glanced at the question for this blog - "Why are you a crimewriter?" I had nothing. I had not one single word left.

Maybe I'll be able to say something sensible in the comments tomorrow.


Aimee Hix said...

Because you have to be. Isn't that the way it works? :)

Clea Simon said...

I feel your pain (says the woman who, at 3:37 p.m. still has not gotten back to revising series bk #3 due May 1, nor reading page proofs for standalone #1 due, ah, April 17).

Unknown said...

I think you answered the question very well. I'm in awe!

Finta said...

You are a crime writer because you are, and because people like me need you to keep writing for our reading pleasure. Lord, I even listen over and over to your interview with Ann Cleeves and your ever so toastmasterly speech in Phoenix. I've read all the standalones twice and will be forced to do the say with the Dandys this summer, waiting for September.

How fan girl is THAT?

Ann in Rochester