Minor Character Shift

When writing Locked Up, Charlie developed pretty quickly, and soon after I had Teddington too.  But it’s a rare book indeed that survives on just two characters.  Even when you only actually see two, others tend to get referenced.

And since my book is set in an overcrowded prison, I needed lots of characters and I had to know who each of them were.  Some I knew better than others, and some became friends faster than I was expecting.

When I started writing the whole book was to be carried by Charlie; that he would do all the leg work, find out everything.  But the reality of any real investigation is that it is a team effort and Charlie really wasn’t at liberty to go far.

Of course, Teddington was the obvious choice to assist, but even she was limited by her knowledge  (or rather lack of) investigative practices.

Besides, there was Piper.  DCI Piper was always going to be in the book, because procedural checks told me that the police would look into a murder inside a prison.  Originally that was all he was going to do.  Turn up and allow a whitewash.

Then I wrote his opening scene.

Without me really thinking about it, Charlie knew Piper, knew him well. Worked with him.  Admired him. And I knew Charlie.  Charlie wouldn’t admire a bent or even a lazy cop.  He just wouldn’t.  His instincts are good enough he wouldn’t be easily fooled either.

That changed who Piper had to be.  Then I started really thinking about who he was, what he would be like, how he could help.

Suddenly Piper stepped out of the shadows.

And when Piper stepped out, Carlisle stepped out too.  DS Carlisle was a bit of a surprise to me.   Hadn’t expected him to be much more than a couple of “Yes, Sir”s,  but he turned into way, way more.  In fact, it’s Carlisle that keeps surprising me.  I am currently writing book three and Carlisle has taken a path I never expected from a character originally intended to be a nothing more than a procedural prop.

Then there were the other characters; the prisoners and the prison officers.  There had to be enough of them for the population to be realistic, but not so many it confused the reader.   Have to admit I kind of misjudged this one and in the final edit I slashed ten characters out of existence.

Have to also say that there is one minor character in “Locked Up” that I have known for a very long time.  Jack Perkins.  Perkins is a grade A (insert insult of choice – they all work).  He’s  a misogynistic wife beater, a bully of the worse kind.  I know Jack because I know his wife. I wrote two and a half books about her.  They didn’t stand up to scrutiny so you’ll never meet his wife but I’ll always know her and Jack, being the “man” he is, with a back story of jail time, fit perfectly into “Locked Up”, so I used him, it’s what he’d do to any woman he had under his control.  He’s still a minor character, and that is all he’s worth, but I know him very well.

I know many of the other inmates, may be not quite so well, but better than the readers will ever know them. I know what they are in for, their crime, and I know what they are in for, their fate.  The readers won’t necessarily see all that because there are a lot of things that I didn’t put on the page – there is nothing worse than trawling through superfluous information that doesn’t matter.  I also know that I can afford to forget these people now because they aren’t likely to crop up again; unless like Jack they are the piece that fits the puzzle, in which case, knowing the weird way my memory works, I’ll remember them, and if I don’t, they’ll knock on my skull and make me remember them.

Characters really are people, the good ones are real people, and like people, characters can surprise you.  As a writer, I think that makes for better, more interesting characters, which makes for more interesting books, but you, the reader, will be the true judge of that.

While most of the intended to be minor characters stayed that way, Piper and Carlisle did not. That pair have more surprises in store and if you read the Locked series, they may surprise you too.

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Thank You Bloggers!

What they said - On The Shelf Reviews - Lorna Cassidy“Locked Up” was released one month ago today, and it’s been a wonderful whirlwind.  But the reality is that a book launch takes a lot of people.  And yes, there’s all the people from Bloodhound Books that I want to thank, but I’m not going to be doing the Oscar list that lasts forever thing here. Today, I want to say a very special thank you to those who don’t have any vested interest; the independent book bloggers.

As a writer it is only from reviews that I get any idea if what I’ve created is really any good. And the reviews I got were something special.  I tried to thank each blogger, but given that I was away from home at the time of the blog tour, I suspect I will have missed a few.  So here they are all (in alphabetical order – and yes these links do take you directly to what they said about “Locked Up”):

Ali the dragon slayer

Anne Bonny Book Reviews

Books N All

Booksaremycwtches

Bookstormer

By the letter Book Review

Donnas Book Blog

Jessicamap Reviews

Keeper of Pages

Me and My Books

The Writing Garnet

The p. turners book blog

Rae Reads

The TBR Pile

The Quiet Geordie

 

 

These people took the time and effort to not only read my book, but to write blogs, to invest in it and therefore in me and my future as a writer, so I feel the need to say thank you for that.

The fact that they said some absolutely wonderful things about my work only makes it better. I’ve add a few snippets at the bottom of this article so you can see some of those nice things, but please click the links and show these reviewers the respect of reading their full reviews, and I can recommend following them too, they’ve already introduced me to some books I may never have found otherwise.

And this isn’t a love-fest thing.  These reviewers are honest, there was no guarantee they would live my work.  One even shocked me!  The reviewer said they didn’t like my characters, that stopped me, I wondered what on earth I’d done wrong.  Then came the rejoinder – the reviewer quickly grew to love them – which was something of a relief.

Then there were all the gritty references, and the fact that it got classified as hardboiled that really threw me.  I didn’t realise how gritty “Locked Up” was until post publication.  The thing is, I know just how much dark unpleasantry that I either took out or didn’t even put in, so I thought it was fairly light, face paced yes, that I was going for, but hardboiled was surprising. Took a little time, about an hour and a friend virtually clipping my ear for being stupid, but I’m comfortable with “Locked Up” being called hardboiled now. So there is another thing to thank the reviewers for, I am now starting to understand what I am good at, and that has to be good for the future of my writing.

So thank you reviewers.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Here are some of the lovely words they passed on (In no particular order):

“I think this was very accurate of its portrayal of the prison system and the lives prisoners lead.”  (AnneBonney)

“Locked Up is a brilliant piece of writing that ensures the reader is glued to the page in order not to miss anything. By the end of the book I wanted more.” (Ali – The Dragon Slayer)

“A novel that kept me invested in the characters and their stories, with the developments unfolding in a way that had tension, suspense and an edge of fear….brilliant debut novel”  (Bookstormer)

“Wowsers! That was an adrenaline rush and a half! LOCKED UP is a fast paced, sometimes unbelievable (in a good way!), exciting rush.” (The P. Turners book blog)

“…the pacing is really good where something was always happening to keep my interest. I found myself seemingly always on alert reading this book and this was down to the writing, GB Williams definitely kept me on my toes.” (Rea Reads)

“This is a hard-hitting book and is not for the squeamish, especially towards the end.” (Me and My Books)

“the writer has delivered a tale that captures the underlying threat of violence and intimidation that stalks the landings of so many prisons. It gives this novel an edgy grittiness that turns it into a real page turner.”(Booksaremycwtches)

“In the opening pages, I found I quickly disliked Bell and Teddington, and I was worried, how was I going to get into this plot if I don’t like the two main protagonists!? I really need to stop worrying, and trust in this genre I love, because I grew to love both characters.”  (Keeper of Pages)

“This is a very realistic picture of what real life is like inside a prison with no sugar coating. It makes for very hard reading in places and takes the reader on a journey through many emotions as we navigate the twists, turns and dead ends that is this book.”  (Books n all)

“I’ll just say that this book is one you’re going to want to clear out some time for, because once you start, you won’t want to stop!”  (Jessicamp Reviews – great nails in the picture!)

“The pace for the story is spot on and the main characters are strong and work well together to carry the plot along.”  (Donnasbookblog)

“A cut-throat, spine tingling, hair-raising and severely eye-opening novel … This is too good to miss.”  (The Writing Garnet)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Research and Rewrite

Man outlineThanks to a contact, I’ve been in contact with officers from South Wales Police, a Chief Superintendent and a Detective Chief Inspector, to ask procedural questions.

Wow!

Just wow!

I had no idea that they would be as helpful as they were.  I have more than enough information for my current work in progress, and then some.  Books worth if I wanted to go in that direction.

The thing is, every sentence made me think, yep that’s usable, or that has potential.  It’s completely changed the way I see my latest work going.  The main outline isn’t changing – MUCH, but the details will. So I’m going to go spend some time re-plotting and then re-writing.

See you on the other side.  😀

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Stories from the Fringe

As unaccustomed as I am to public speaking…

Yes well, I am unused to it, but I’m getting there.  I need to.  While writing is a solitary activity, writers survive by the words of others.  The words of reviews, and more importantly, word of mouth sells our books, and that is what we all need.

So when there is an opportunity to promote a book by doing a reading, then a writer has to take that chance.

The truth of the matter is – I don’t like public speaking.  Getting up in front of a crowd is one of the most frightening things I do.  But I did a read in London a few months ago and today I’ve been in Swansea to do another.

This weekend is the Swansea Fringe and there are many and varied activities going on.  So when Cthulhu Cymraeg 2: Off the Page event came up, of course, I had to agree to do a reading, after all, one of my short stories is in the anthology “Cthulhu Cymraeg 2.”

I arrived early (a bad habit of mine), meet Mark Howard Jones, the editor of the volume and other writers and was given slot three to read.

Picking a middle section of the story, “Confluence of Graves”, I read of how the main characters had found tunnels under an abandoned house, and the terrible things that they started to find there.

It wasn’t the world’s largest audience, but I didn’t dare look up from the page in case they looked bored.  I was still near the start when I was put off by the arrival of a woman at the top of the stairs to the room we were using.  I paused and invited her in, but she was just there to take photos.  Now that is another thing I am not comfortable with.  So there I was already uncomfortable reading to an audience, made more uncomfortable by the photographer doing what she’s supposed to do.  Thank God I’d had the sense to put on green base to counter the blushing!

I got through the reading and was applauded (there’s a strange experience), but after, one lady from the audience came up and told me that after the reading she couldn’t wait to read my story and find out what happened.  Now that’s praise!  It may not sound like much to other people, but it matters to me.  I write because I write, I am truly driven to write.  Now I could easily just keep my writing to myself, but I don’t, I want to share it, to show what I really am.  So to have a reader say how much they enjoyed my work means so much to me that I don’t know how to properly explain it.

Then came the other weird experience – being asked to sign books.  That’s never happened before, but I must have signed about ten today, and to add to the piquancy of this experience, I’d cheekily taken copies of two of my other books – “Locked Up” and “Shades of Aether”.  I sold copies of each!

DSCN2085Not a bad days work at all.

Thanks then to Mark for including me in the anthology, thanks for Swansea Fringe for offering us all a spot, thanks to Gamers Emporium for hosting the event, and thanks to those wonderful people who turned up and listened, and a special thanks to those who dug deep and bought a copy of a book, any book.

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Bloody Scotland 2017

20170917_112223I’ve hardly had time to stop and think this month – certainly haven’t had time to stop and recover, but more of that later.

After Asylum – fantastic! – we had ten days in which we didn’t stop because of the usual demands of life and the addition of our daughter having to be taken back to university.

Then on the 7th two things hit – the blog tour for “Locked Up” and Bloody Scotland.  Okay, technically Bloody Scotland hit on the 8th, but it’s a nine-hour journey from my home to Stirling so I have to add a day before and after for the travel. I’m going to split this into two blogs, this one about Bloody Scotland and the next one about the blog tour because they were both big events I want to mark.

This was the sixth year of Bloody Scotland – and I’ve been three times in the last four years.  The year I missed was because it clashed with my son’s graduation day and there have to be priorities in life.  I have to say that I’ve seen changes, the number of people attending, the number of individual events that are on offer, the variety of events on the programme.  All good stuff.  And this year I believe over 8,400 people attended.  That has to be good for crime fiction, crime readers, crime writers and of course, for Stirling.

The opening ceremony was grand, held in the great hall of Stirling Castle it was suitably bubbly. Glad to see that one of my fellow Bloodhound authors, Owen Mullen, was longlisted for the McIlvanney prise this year for “Games People Play”.  It’s a shame he didn’t get further, but longlisted is still a sign of a brilliant piece of writing.  “The Long Drop” by Denise Mina was the ultimate winner, and from what I’ve seen that was well deserved.

After the opening and awards ceremony, there was the torchlight parade from Stirling Castle down to the Albert Halls.  Now here’s the thing, Stirling Castle is at the top of a steep hill, which is largely cobbled.  The people in that group were crime writers and crime readers, those whose imaginations tend towards the murderous.  So it’s little surprise that I wasn’t the only talking about pitchforks and one singing the occasional refrain from Beauty and the Beasts’ “Kill the Beast.” There were so many people there, more than enough for that statistically likely accident to happen, yet it didn’t.  Traffic was stopped, as far as I know, no one slipped, got singed or in any way ‘damaged’ by the event, which caused quite a stir in the city. Then we all filed in to listen to Mark Billingham talk to Ian Rankin about 30 years of Rebus, which was a great way to spend an hour.

And that was just the opening night.  The rest continued apace.  There were so many things on, that listing all would fill many a blog, but suffice to say I had a brilliant time.

I meet up with some old friends, made new ones, too many to list and I’m bound to miss someone and I don’t want to upset anyone.  I promoted my book, got offered a slot at another event, which of course I took up, and generally had a great laugh – and caught a cold.  A real one that even now, a full week later, I can’t shake.

What matters though is that I had a great time.  I love Scotland, love Stirling and love Bloody Scotland.  The event gets better every year and I can’t wait until the next one.

Hope to see some of you there.

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Lunatics have fun at the Asylum

I am late posting this because I’ve had a lot of painful diversions this week, which I’m not going to go into in this post.  Anyway, I wrote this at home last Monday.  My achy feet up, the corset off, I was surrounded by evidence of cogtourrets having infected the whole household.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about – let me explain. We; me, my husband and our daughter; attended the Asylum Steampunk Festival 2017.

Asylum has been running for 9 years, and is officially the largest steampunk festival in the universe – a NASA scientist says so, and it did attract in the region of 120,000 visitors. The event is held in Lincoln, this year it was split between the Campus of Bishop Grosseteste (no I don’t know how to pronounce that properly either) and a few venues in the old town part of Lincoln. Look you want to know the details and history of the event, here’s the website – www.asylumsteampunk.co.uk – go check it out, I’m only going to report what I experienced.

I heard about the weekend from a friend, and as soon as I looked into it, I thought “yes, I’m going.” It didn’t take much to persuade my husband to come too, or our daughter. I was a little worried in case they didn’t find stuff that they were really interested in – but that didn’t concern didn’t last long once we got there.

Trio of steampunksFirst things first, the second we got there – I for one felt underdressed. Everyone dresses up for the Asylum. Costumes galore in all colours and fabrics and forms. People of all ages, abilities, shapes and colours were there deep in the fun. All manner of punks. From Powderpunk to Dieselpunk; WesternPunk to Apocopunk; Superheropunk and pretty much every other type of punk beside – there was even a guy with a spike mohawk for those of us who remember when punk was just Punk music in the late 70s and early 80s.

There were more corsets than you could shake a cane at, and there were plenty of canes to shake, more toppers than you can tip. Any number of goggles, jet packs, fascinators, fans, faux weapons, chariots, cycles and computers. And that was just the attendees.

Full R2D2There are hundreds (think over 200) individual events in the programme.There were talks for makers, I listened to ones on Daleks and Droids, and another on a computational engine (yes that is a steampunk computer).

Now I’m not much of a maker, I can make clothes if I have to but haven’t for years; my creativity lays is more about the written word. But in the talks, there were tips on making and how to repurpose things. These were ideas that would never have occurred to me and will come in very handy for next year and the costume stuff my husband and I are going to put together for. But by the way, is cogtourrets, starting sentences with “next year [at Asylum]…”

Since I write steampunk novels and the next one includes airships, I attended the talk on designing airships given very ably by a young man who I think said he was a naval engineer by day. That was something that surprised me, the sheer number of people I meet and found out that they were ex-military. Or maybe that’s just the kind of people I attract, who knows. Anyway, I got loads of ideas that would never have occurred to me without the talk. Too many ideas in fact. There was a great talk on the history of bicycles too, and that led to an another unexpected idea for my next book.

Jet pack racerThere was teapot racing, Wacky Races, Wacky Pararaces, a Dinorun, Military Parades, the Queens Parade, music events, writers talks, makers displays in The Great Exhibition, life costume drawing, comics, fashion, facial hair fight outs, High Noon shootouts. Modified Nerf guns everywhere. There was even a jet pack race, which was utterly brilliant, the one guy really hammed it up, played for the crowd – such a laugh!

Steampunk Iron ManThere were many cross-over costumes too. The Doctor Who stuff was kind of to be expected, what I wasn’t expecting were all the Star Wars crossovers, the gaming crossovers (a couple of Assassins Creeds at least), there were manga costumes, androids, Alice in Wonderlands, and a whole league of superheros.

And then there is the promenading. Not organised, but just those in costume wandering around the city as it the Queen were still Victoria. Apparently, over 120,000 people were expected to attend. Yes, you read that right, 120,000 people. That’s why it’s the biggest. What’s wonderful is the rules, the rules being: be “splendid, friendly and polite.” Who can’t remember that right? And everyone was.

Hopefully, this shows that there is so much going on there is simply no way that anyone can possibly attend all the organised events. So pick your programme carefully. I’d made several choices, only to find that I didn’t have time to get between the events on campus and those at the top of town on time. Now, this is NOT the organisers fault, it’s entirely my fault. Firstly I couldn’t find one of the venues, simply because there were so many people around (and I’m not the tallest person you’ve ever met), that I couldn’t see the signs for it. Then there’s the fact that I’m not the fastest of walkers, especially after that many steps, and that many blisters. Again the blisters are my fault, thought those shoes would be okay, but apparently not. Also, there was a bus service – yes the organisers aren’t stupid or inconsiderate – they actually put on a bus service – I just didn’t find out about it until day 3. My bad (oh my very bad feet!).

The old town of Lincoln is connected to the new part of town by a street called Steep Hill, and trust me, they are not kidding! Which is why one of the things to watch was the assent of Steep Hill. I didn’t manage to see it, but I’ve seen photos and it looked great fun.

I went as part of a family and we each got something very different out of the weekend. My husband now has some projects in mind for building next year’s costumes and props. I’ve got comics to review (see later posts), costumes to make, books to write. And our daughter, well she’s studying photography and one of her projects this year has been portraiture. Not just any portraiture, she’s specialised in cosplay, which is why she wanted to attend the Asylum. While she got some great portraits, she also got a whole lot more than that out of the event. In the market are there was a stand for Dark Box Photography (www.darkboximages.com). They guys were doing authentic Victorian wetplate photography. They were printed on both glass and tinplate. Now, individual photographs were not cheap, but they are quality, unique, and so fitting for the event and the costumes. As each photograph is taken, the photographer, Gregg McNeill, talks the subject through the process and it’s fascinating even to me and unlike my daughter and husband I have no interest in photography. The resulting picture, however, I liked.

It has to be said that the city of Lincoln has so taken this festival to its heart! The shops along Steep Hill all get their steampunk on. There’s even an ice cream shop that stays open 20 hours a day for the punks. Every room in town gets booked up to accommodate the number of visitors. In short, it’s not only good for the attendees, it’s great for the city’s economy.
This was my first Asylum, but it won’t be my last. The organisers did a fabulous job. I enjoyed four days, they saw the culmination of a year’s work. And for all the work they will have put into everything, I want to say a big THANK YOU! For anyone who has never organised an event before, believe me, the amount of work is incredible. A big event like this – you start planning the next one as soon as the current one is finished. And here’s the real kicker – it’s all voluntary. The organisers are not paid for their efforts, but they are meticulous in their arrangements.

To sum it all up, there’s only one word I can for what I saw, experienced and enjoyed – Splendiferous. (Considered Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, but that’s indubitably a bit difficult to say!)

Next year I hope to be in a position to actually sell my books there too; there you go, more cogtourrets. But a word of advice. If you are to attend the event in the future – remember – aspirin, comfortable shoes, blister plasters, superglue for costume repairs, and a smile you can wear all day – your face will ache. And I for one am going to get into training for all the walking involved. Hope to see some of you punks out there in 2018 too.

 

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Cover Reveal – Locked Up

Locked-up_cover

STORY INFORMATION

A prison officer and a convicted killer must work together to solve a brutal murder and expose conspiracy inside a prison.

Ariadne Teddington is surrounded by people who lie but that is to be expected when you work in prison where every man claims to be innocent.

Charlie Bell, an ex Detective, now finds himself in that prison serving time for murder after having taken the law into his own hands.

When a fellow inmate is killed Charlie is asked to investigate the case from the inside. Soon Charlie finds himself working with Ariadne but she is a guard, he is an inmate and some lines should never be crossed…

Can two people on different sides of the law come together to solve the case?

And do the answers lie closer to home than anyone ever imagined?

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