Tag Archives: locked up

Psychopaths Panel

Llandeilo LitFest 2018Should start by stating that the panel was about Psychopaths in Literature, not a panel of psychopaths.  Though…

Tonight I am back from a weekend of Llandeilo Litfest – it was a blast!  My first ever experience of being on a panel and I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a great hour.

The panel was led by Thorne Moore, writer of psychological crime novels, many of which are based here in Wales.  She did a great job of asking pertinent questions that set the rest of us off into interesting discussions.

My fellow panellists were John Nicholl and John Thompson. Now John N is an ex-police officer, and John T is a barrister, which left me feeling a little out of place – I’ve never worked in any of the law enforcement or legal occupations.  I’m an office bod who specialises in system design (Excel and Access mostly), so least qualified there.

What I enjoyed was that the three of us didn’t always agree which makes for lively conversation, all good-natured.  It was also lovely to get some really good audience participation going with an open floor and some back and forth.

To find more about these lovely people try:

 

It was also great to see some old friends and make new ones.  People that I’ve connected to on the internet, I finally got to meet in real life. New people that I met for the first time too.  All the writers were lovely people and everyone willing to lend a hand at all points, writers are just about the most supportive group of people I have ever met. Then there were people who I know through Swansea and District Writers’ Circle, lovely to see everyone again.  Had some great chats at the Book Fair and managed to sell a few volumes too.

Thanks to all who made it a great weekend.

 

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The Day I Outsold Agatha Christie

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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

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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.

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The Journey To Publication

When I was asked to write some blogs to promote Locked Up, I couldn’t think what to say, so I sent a couple of ideas to the publicist and asked if there was anything else she thought I could cover.  One of the ideas that came back was The Journey To Publication.

Now I have deliberately capitalised that, because that’s what it sounds like to me.  It’s like an epic line, like “I Am Spartacus!”  Like it should be said by that deep throated bloke who does all the film trailers; read the next bit in his voice to see what I mean.

It was a time of worry.  It was a time of nerves.  Would there be acceptance or rejection?  A book or an empty shelf?  It was – The Journey To Publication.

Do you hear it now?

Yeah, okay, I am being taking it to extremis, and should dial down the sarcasm seeing as the idea has turned into this blog. Yet the fact remains that it’s one of those things that we’ve all already read about, and probably written about. It felt a little old hat and not something I can bring anything new too. And even as I sit typing this up, I’m still not sure I’m saying anything that hasn’t been said a thousand times before.  Except maybe that speech above – am oddly proud of exercising my humour on that – you know what they say about little things pleasing little minds.

What you won’t have heard before is the actual story in Locked Up, that’s far more original, you really should go read that, that’s very engaging.

So here it is, my Journey To Publication.  I’ve always written, been receiving rejections since I was a teenager.  Largely gave up on myself as a writer because there were more immediate struggles – university, marriage, kids, life – but I never stopped writing.

Finally, the time came when I was ready to properly put myself and my writing out there again.  I’d been doing so kind of half-heartedly the whole time, and have the requisite drawer full of rejection slips to prove it, but at last I was ready to really go for it.

Guess what happened…

Nothing.

Just more rejection.

I finished Locked Up and thought, you know, this is really good, this should sell.  So I went to Winchester Writers Festival, meet with some agents.  Four of them.  Had all four ask to see the full manuscript.

Woo-hoo!  Right?

Right.  Yes – I got my agent.

He told me I’d have to be patient because getting published takes a long time.  And I was patient. For two years.  Not a dickie bird.  Not a hint, nor a whisper, not a whiff of interest.  Got some rather nice rejections, but they were still rejections and that’s never nice.  At the time the industry was going through some major changes, culling commissioning editors left right and centre, it’s still changing and that is likely to last a while.  The agent said that I probably wouldn’t get any luck until those commissioning agents were replaced.  The issue for me was that there was no guarantee that they would be replaced and I didn’t want to wait until I was in my fifties to get published.

It was time to take back control.

So I did.

I wrote to my agent, thanked him for his hard work and we politely parted company.  I sent my manuscript to Bloodhound Books and got a yes please in a few days.  Thank God I was sitting down when I read that email!  And I had to re-read a couple of times it to make sure it was saying what it was saying rather than just what I wanted it to say.  The point was, within a week of being told that nothing was likely to happen for ages – I had a publishing deal.

Hooray!!

(And for once that isn’t sarcasm)

Rejection got replaced with acceptance.  The shelf will stop being empty.

The worry and the nerves however, they are very much still here.  Yes, I’m getting published, Locked Up came out on September 7th. But now I have to find readers, I have to find all you lovely people out there, strangers I have never met, and persuade you too read my book.  I have to hope you’re like it – actually I hope you’ll love it, rave about it to a load of other readers who’ll also love it – and that makes me nervous.  If it helps, I do have some great recommendations from other crime writers:

 

Caro Ramsay, author of the Anderson and Costello series, says:

“Tense and claustrophobic, with a spine chilling denouement!”

 

Katherine John, author of “By Any Name”, recently made into a stunning Amazon Prime video, says this:

“A brilliant new and authentic voice in crime fiction – GB Williams knows how to tell a story and tell it well.”

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Seven In One

Yesterday was the first time I ever attended a convention as a trader, and it was quite an experience.

This was BristolCon ninth year, and another writer friend of mine, Will MacMillian Jones, had suggested it would be a good place to promote my steampunk stuff.  Well, I’m always up for that kind of thing, especially something that it’s a million miles away from home.

So I contacted the organisers and booked half a table, got to the venue and set up – which took all of ten minutes.  Well, it was never going to take long, I only have one steampunk book written!

Of course, I didn’t want to look like a complete newbie, as well as Shades of Aether, I took copies of two other books to sell; Locked Up, my contemporary crime novel; and Cthulhu Cymreag 2, the anthology I have a story in.  I wasn’t entirely sure that these were appropriate, but one should never miss an opportunity.

Turns out having additional books was a great idea, table would have looked bare without, especially when it turned out that the person how had the other half of the table dropped out at the last minute, and I got to spread across the whole table.

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So I was there, copies of three different books to sell, all I had to do was wait was customers.

Sounds easy, but it never is.  Engaging with people is actually rather difficult.  It was easy to engage with other traders, with them we are all in the same boat, stuck together for however long the day lasts.  Potential customers, however are much harder to catch, especially when you have three books to glance at their covers and your sandwiched between the Oxfam Book Shop with tonnes of second hand books and Grimbold Books, with their many and varied new titles, their cute mascots, and their award – all very impressive.

Still, I engaged enough to sell, though I was a little surprised to find that at a Sci-Fi convention the first thing to sell was Locked Up. By the end of the day I’d sold two Locked Up, two Cthulhu Cymreag and three Shades of Aether. Seven books in one day is not much, but it’s good for what I had to sell.  It also means that I sold enough to cover the cost of the table, which is what you need to do at these things because it’s really about exposure.  I made some good contacts and booked another table for next year, I might even be on a panel or two.

So I will be at the 10th Anniversary BristolCon next year, and hopefully, I’ll have more titles to sell.

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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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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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