Tag Archives: Charlie Bell

The Day I Outsold Agatha Christie


Never thought I’d be able to say that, but I can.  GB Williams outsold Agatha Christie. More copies of “Locked Up” sold than did “Ordeal by Innocence” by Agatha Christie.

And I can now say I’m an Amazon #1 bestseller.

Wow saying that feels good too!

Okay, so I only outsold her for one day in a niche market, but it’s a great thing to be able to say. The fact that it happened when I started the day feeling down and utterly useless, only makes it sweeter.

And I have another review since that day, another 5-star review that says:

“I found the author really brought prison life, er, to life, and without stumbling into any horribly hackneyed prison cliches. Certain characters could have easily drifted into stereotype or caricature, but GB manages to just twist her characters that little bit out of the ordinary.

“I admired Ariadne (the epitome of a fish out of water; a woman PO in a prison full of hormonal and deprived men), found her obvious internal conflicts fascinating to watch develop. And a little bit of me wished I actually was Charlie. Same feeling I get when I read Lee Child’s Reacher books – “why can’t I be more like him?” etc. If that’s not escapism, I don’t know what is.”

On the same day I was also the number 2 best seller on the US site – does the happy dance – another thing not to be sniffed at.

So, if you brought “Locked Up” already – THANK YOU!!!

And, if you want to see why Charlie can be compared to Reacher – why not go get your copy?  And if you do – please review, it makes a huge difference to a writer to know what their readers really think of their work.

Thank you!

Please review

Leave a comment

Filed under crime, Uncategorized, writing, Writing Business

Coming out of it

Life is full of difficult moments, tough choices.  I’ve not been around much this last month because I’ve been walking with the Black Dog. That doesn’t mean that I’ve been doing nothing. Mostly I’ve been writing and trying, and I’m going to keep on writing and trying, and who knows sometime it might pay off.

Today I wrote a passage about a character who did something only to feel crushed and embarrassed by the action later. That’s something I’ve done, I’m sure a lot of other people had done the same.  It got me thinking. I’ve been reflecting on how my life shows in my writing. And it does. While I’m not adventurous, I don’t have the courage my characters show, I sure know how to make myself feel bad. I look at the characters that I put on paper and I put them through hell because that’s the crap I put myself through.

Take Charlie Bell.  He’s a copper life – or I – turned into a killer. He ruined his life by making a difficult choice.  He knew what he was doing and it didn’t stop him doing it despite the cost because it was the only way.  Of course, he didn’t realise quite how much it was going to cost him. When he discovers the final payment, he shuts down.  Won’t eat. Won’t communicate. Won’t even move. Everything is too much of a bother.

This is typical depression non-activity. Except for me.  Comfort food is my downfall. Not much stops me eating.

But I get over it, and Charlie is forced to get out of his dark moment too.  To find out what pushed him over the edge, and what brought him back in Locked Up.

1 Comment

Filed under crime, Uncategorized, writing

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.

1 Comment

Filed under crime, Uncategorized, Writing Business

Between the Covers


So how’s you?  Life’s finding me in a much better mood these days, and no don’t thank the tablets – I stopped taking them as they were actually making me more depressed.  But I know that I’m getting better because I can’t stop writing.

April got me four articles on Warped Factor, which makes 31 articles / comic reviews published in four months – took me six months to do that last year.  This is down to the fact that there have been some fantastic new comic titles out this year that I’ve really enjoyed reading and writing about.

I’ve been a bit between the covers this last month.  Not only because I spent a week with actual, can’t-get-out-of-bed, deliriously ill, dehydrating ’flu, but because I’m between books.  You see I’ve deliberately not been writing book three of my crime series featuring Charlie Bell.

Book one is will the agent – fingers crossed it sells soon – and number two spent this month with my editor, Sam.  And number three has been giving me terrible headaches.  I’ve plotted the thing out three times, each time quite differently, and it just never gelled.  I hadn’t found the right story, nothing was falling into place as it should.

Eventually got so hacked off with the situation this month, that I moaned to my boss – Tony from Jefferson Franklin Editing, not the one from the day job.  Then Tony asked two questions:

  1. What’s the philosophical question at the heart of the book?
  2. What’s the hook?

I swear to God I don’t know if I love him or hate him when he asks questions like that.

Thankfully I knew the hook and his advice was that I follow the hook until I stopped dropping off the end and into the abyss.  Did all this philosophising help any?  Actually – yes.  I started putting ideas down and this time they flowed, they made sense and most importantly, they made a bloody good skeleton to flesh out into a book. Thankfully, after the best part of a year of dangling the hook and not getting a bite, I finally caught the tale of the story.  So book three is now plotted, but I haven’t started it, except in my head because that storyteller never shuts up.

Also, I got book two back on 30th April.  God I was nervous about opening that email up.  Not sure why, I’d already had the first 25k edited by Sam just to make sure it was working.  This nervousness wasn’t just the result of general paranoia or depression.  It had its root in the very real memory of being told that the first version of this book was “not as good as it should be”, not by Sam.  Tony – I will never forget having Charlie described as “beige” but that’s because I have to remember never to take him there again.  When I read that phrase, well let’s just say distraught, distressed, disappointed and a lot of other dis- words come to mind.  At which point I basically threw the first version away and re-wrote it from scratch.

The fear of email opening was that I truly couldn’t face doing that again.  I know that there’ll be edits from this review, there’ll be edits once my agent reads it, then there’ll be more if a publisher picks it up, but a total re-write – no I don’t have the where-with-all go through that again.

Luckily, I need not have worried.  Actually Sam was very nice in her comments, so far, I’ve only got as far as Chapter One.  I know there’s lot of work to do, Sam was nice, but that doesn’t mean she let me off lightly, there wasn’t a hiccup she didn’t pick me up for. I’m hoping this coming weekend will allow me to plough on through the amendments – it’s the first weekend in a while that I haven’t got plans that’ll take up all my time.

I should also say that I’ve been working on my steampunk novel, it’s now just under 30k long typed and about half a notebook still in longhand only.  Not sure how it’ll go down as far as publishing goes, but I’m thoroughly enjoying writing it so I’ll carry on and see what the professionals think once I’m done.

Anyway, that’s it from me for now, got some writing to go do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized