I’m Ed James. I write crime novels. You’re reading this because you subscribed to it, or you’re looking at it on Twitter or my website. If you want to get it in your inbox every week, use the box at the bottom of the page.
Well, I spent a bit of time recovering from Harrogate. It really seems to take it out of me and I don’t know why, other than late nights, early mornings and cramming a year’s worth of chat into three days. A few of my tribe came down with covid, but I’ve still managed to (knowingly) avoid it for 2.5 years now (touch wood). Maybe the sore throat for a day and the tiredness is my body fighting it off. Maybe it’s residual hay fever. Who knows!
Anyway. Harrogate always leaves me thinking about stuff in a different way as I come face-to-face with writers at all stages of their careers, from unpublished and never published right through to international bestsellers and prizewinners, and the occasional full-time indie like me. I get that rare bit of objectivity about my career that shows me I’m doing okay. Maybe more than okay. I’m not planning on changing much big just now, but I’m conscious that all my eggs are in the basket marked British police procedurals. When I’ve tried other stuff, it’s not paid off – e.g. the Max Carter books – but I think I’m better equipped to try other stuff, as well as keep delivering on the bread and butter.
So, instead of doing some real bread and butter work, I got lost in a couple of high-concept ideas I’ve had swirling around my head for months. I’ve had a few good ideas over the last two years that I’ve not had time to execute on (thanks to my heart issues), so nudging them on a bit was quite satisfying. One day, I’ll be able to set aside a month or so to really tackle one of them and produce something very different to my usual fare. But the process of just developing the synopsis is quite helpful for any books I do.
Once I cleared my head of them, I managed to finish my editing on FALSE START, a prequel to THE TURNING OF OUR BONES starring DS Rakesh Siyal on his first day in the job. It’s just shy of 30k, but I think I’ve really managed to get a nice, solid story told in that space. What I’m finding with novella-length things is it’s not the right fit for a full-on murder mystery like all my novels tend to be, but it’s great for doing something adjacent that’s a bit different. This one was literally a false start – I’ve got previous with giving myself problems with cursed names – but I think from reading it all back over a few days shows the regrouping I did to focus on the character’s background and adjusting the story around him has paid dividends. Also, I enjoyed getting to know some of the other characters, such as Kirsten Weir, DI Andrea Elliot and DC Jolene Archer, who wasn’t even in the outline for THE TURNING OF OUR BONES but who took on a few major plot points as I wrote it. Also, some of the other characters I used here will have more roles to play in future books. It’s been such a long time since I’ve written brand-new stuff like this that I’ve completely forgotten how satisfying it is.
Anyway, here’s the cover:
What do you think of it? Tell me in the comments!
I’m planning to get it out to my mailing list in a few weeks, once it’s been edited. I hope you enjoy it when it comes!
Quiet one this week as I’m off to Rothesay for Bute Noir this weekend. I’m reading Mike Craven’s THE BOTANIST and Douglas Skelton’s WHERE DEMONS HIDE in preparation for charing their panel on Friday evening. Bute is my favourite literary festival, not just because of the incredible location but because it’s just authors and readers without all of the publisher fandango that Harrogate and Bloody Scotland attract. A good laugh, but extremely well attended. In amongst that, I’ll maybe spend some time on clearing the middle bed in the garden and transferring the two tons of soil over. And if I’m lucky, spending some time on finalising those ideas.
Take care of yourself this week.