Ed James writes crime-fiction novels across multiple series.
His Scott Cullen series follows the career of a young Edinburgh Detective investigating crimes from the bottom rung of the career ladder he’s desperate to climb. The spin-off Craig Hunter series focuses on a cop and overcoming his PTSD from his time in the army.
Putting Dundee on the tartan noir map, the DS Vicky Dodds books star a driven female detective struggling to combine her complex home life with a heavy caseload.
Set four hundred miles south on the gritty streets of East London, his DI Fenchurch series features a detective with little to lose and a daughter to find.
Formerly an IT project manager, Ed began writing on planes, trains and automobiles to fill his weekly commute to London. He now writes full-time and lives in the Scottish Borders, with his girlfriend and a menagerie of rescued animals.
Just a comment from a reader on twitter –
@EdJamesAuthor just finished ghost in the machine and I loved it. Have a bit of a crush on Scott Cullen now.
He’s a bad boy and he’ll just break your heart.
Very amazing to get that sort of reaction!
So that’s me finished WHISKY IN THE JAR, a 3,000 word Scott Cullen short story. I’d love to publish it here for you all to read and enjoy but I’ve entered it into the competition on http://www.bloodyscotland.com, the first Scottish Crime Writing festival.
In the end, I’m pretty pleased with it. It’s a short story and quite a lengthy tale so I’ve had to cut a few corners that I’d normally keep squared off. I did a ton of research for it and it’s been a good exercise in getting something new done pretty quickly (in amongst finishing GHOST and picking DEVIL up again) – if I fail in the competition, then I’ll do something with it, either publishing it as is or expanding it out into a novella length. Who knows.
I’m going to pick up FUTURE SHOCK next – it only requires a week or so of effort to publish and it’ll cleanse my palate of Scott Cullen, ready to get the pedal to the metal on finishing DEVIL IN THE DETAIL.
I’ve resolved to get as much stuff out there as possible – I’ve written so bloody much in the last seven years, that it’s worth publishing it. I’m a lot more mature now as a person and a writer and I can make some of the stuff work a lot better.
Had some nice five star reviews on Amazon for GHOST IN THE MACHINE and I thought I’d reproduce them here for “posterity” (ego):
A good read
By Mr Tommo
This book really flowed well from the openning page till the last. It was a change to have a crime novel that had a lowly Detective Constable as the main character rather then a DI or DCI. The culprit was well hidden untill the end and the discriptions of Leith and Edinburgh well done. All of the characters felt real and the interaction between them true to life. I cannot wait for Dc Cullens next outing, I’ll be buying it for sure.
Accessible and entertaining crime fiction
As somebody who struggles with the plot in most crime novels, this was a breath of fresh air. Easy to follow but still with a sufficiently complex plot, reading this book was as entertaining as it was rewarding. Characterization was excellent and I had several laugh out loud moments, not laughing at the wit of the narrator but at the characters themselves, who feel so real that when I drive past the location of the police headquarters, I’m surprised not to see the building so vividly brought to life in this novel. A real page-turner, there was no problem forcing my way through this and none of the ultra-violence that can be so off-putting. For those of you who, like me, are “hard of understanding” and need plots of TV series and films explained at regular intervals, this book is for you. I hope to read more from Cullen, Bain and company in the near future.
great new entrant to Scottish crime fiction
Well imagined and thoroughly thought-out crime novel. Interesting and refreshing take on Scottish policing from the bottom rung of the CID ladder, with good insight into modern office politics thrown in. Looking forward to Ed’s next (hope it’s not too far away!).
I’ve had some good sales in the last month and I thank everyone who has bought it – I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as it infuriated me writing it… If you’ve bought and read GHOST, I’d appreciate some honest feedback and a review either in the comments here or on Amazon or Smashwords.
Just a quick update… I’m actively working on Devil in the Detail, which will probably be a novella length thing. I’m using it as an exercise in getting a really tight plot; I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on style recently in the two other projects I’ve got going – a literary/Irvine Welsh thing, and a sci-fi thing – so this is a chance to step back. It’s very easy to DO, i.e. write, but it’s easier to change a 600 word txt file than a 90,000 word novel, so get your PLAN sorted first. It can be slightly fluid, after all, that’s the fun in writing, but your story needs to be nailed on, at least for twisty-turny crime fiction anyway.
I update my twitter account a lot, so look at that for updates.
So GHOST IN THE MACHINE has now been on sale for just under two weeks. I’m pleased with the sales – 29 copies, including six in the US. I’ve been doing a lot of publicity – I’ve done an interview and it’s with about ten or so blogs for review. I’ve had three five star reviews on Amazon which is fantastic. I’ll let it rumble for another month or so before I do some other promotion.
The main idea is finalising FUTURE SHOCK and giving it away as a freebie. There is probably another couple of thousand words to finish it off. It is crime scifi so it’s got a decent hook into GHOST.
I’ve been getting stuck into revising DEVIL IN THE DETAIL. At the moment it’s pretty much a 28,000 word sketch and I’ve got about three or four big ideas to expand it. I’ve spent a while sorting out the start of the book and I’m really pleased with it do far. As a story, I’m really happy with it – it’s tight and full of twists. All it needs is more complication. And more Bain…
Less than a week on sale and I’ve now sold ten copies. Not earth shattering but it’s a long game I’m playing here.
I’ve sold ten through amazon uk, one through amazon us (work colleague from Seattle who lives in London) and one on smashwords (plus three sample downloads). I’m pretty sure of eight of the purchases (friends, family and coworkers) so two are ransoms.
My uncle posted on my Facebook – “now on chapter 23 and loving it. You are an excellent writer.”. I hate seeing family based quotes but fuck it, I’m having that!
The easy bit of writing is the writing. It’s hard, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the most difficult bit. The hardest part is publishing. One, trying to go down the traditional routes – get an agent, get a publisher – well, I tried that and almost got somewhere. Two, go the self-publishing on Kindle route – I’m trying that and I don’t think I’ve got any more hair left…
Seriously, though, I noticed that the formatting of the book looked a bit crap so I’ve spent the last two days trying to fix it. The method for publishing is not easy – you write in Word, you export an HTML file, you upload that and Amazon do some shizzle to it and you can download it and review it. After several iterations, I’ve FINALLY managed to get it looking good.
So – there is a new version of GHOST IN THE MACHINE getting uploaded right now, should be up tomorrow morning. I believe that anyone who has bought it will get notified – I hope this doesn’t piss you off, but believe me, it’s less than the mental pain I’ve just gone through. ; )
I’ve just published to Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/152297
They are a really good service that publishes their own books but acts as an aggregator for other services – Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, etc, all for no upfront money.
Up to four sales on Amazon, which is probably more than I expected at this stage, so I’m reasonably please.
In actual writing news – Whisky in the Jar is off to my editors, and I’ve started the next draft of DEVIL IN THE DETAIL (adding a prologue which frames the story, a follow-on from GHOST) so I’m not letting up.
I’ve finally finished it. GHOST IN THE MACHINE is now on the Amazon Kindle Store. Visit http://amzn.to/IoEQBg to buy it, or even just preview it.
To say I’m pleased with it is an understatement, or even an overstatement. The fact of having published something that people can buy is immensely pleasurable, but the relief in just having finished is staggering.
Been a slightly frustrating experience getting it up as the Amazon international banking server kept crashing – my own bloody fault for not doing it earlier when I set the account up.
Anyway, it’s been a tough week of editing – considering that I’d only done 1/3 of the book from my girlfriend’s edits this time last week, to have got up to publishing this week is amazing.
It’s taken we since January 2009 to get this book done. It’s by no means perfect but I think it’s bloody good, way better than the draft I submitted to literary agents in October 2009. I’ve learned a whole lot from the process, and become a much stronger writer and plotter.
Now that I’ve got it out there, I can keep the momentum up. I might not be getting paid a fortune to do it, but I do control this series and the writing. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into DEVIL IN THE DETAIL and I aim to get that published by mid-July or mid-August. It’s a stronger story than GHOST, I think, but it needs a bit of effort to extending and fleshing out to book length. There’s some good stuff to add that comes out of the back of GHOST and will lead into its sequel DYED IN THE WOOL but it’s very much the mid-point of the initial trilogy of Scott Cullen.
Anyway, enough for now – I’m off to do something other than writing for a bit.
So that’s it – finally finished GHOST IN THE MACHINE. Two months of writing, two months of editing from my editors then a few weeks of me finalising.
Got some stuff to close out – cover, formatting – but I hope to have it up on the kindle store this weekend.
Some wine, I think.
I’ve got two editors (my dad and my girlfriend, but they are pretty aggressive and honest) and I’ve had them doing a proof read. I’m just finishing off the edits from the first of them. I anticipate a publication date (finally) of two weeks time.
It’s very very useful having people go through it and it’s something I’ve used to eke out my strange writing habits (right, sigh, smirk, etc) and has made me much better as a writer, over and above my development as a plotter and my own self-criticism.
So, yeah, two weeks. Ish. I do need to get this out there – it’s been an ordeal. The next ones will be much easier.
My blog was down for a week or so due to an admin error. Fortunately it’s back up. The post from yesterday was actually from two weeks ago but it didn’t get reinstates till last night.
I really like wordpress – it’s free, has a great iPhone app, isn’t google and is widely customisable. That was very frustrating so I’ll let them off this once.
Anyway, normal service is resumed.
Spent yesterday researching a short story idea for a competition to support Bloody Scotland, a tartan noir crime writing festival.
While the limit is 3,000 words I think I’ve come up with a satisfying little tale. I’m struggling to cut it down in some ways but it is good discipline to get into. Also creating a backstory and plot from scratch flexes muscles I haven’t flexed in a good while. If it goes nowhere then I can dust it off and expand it to a novella but I think it’s good as a short.
Revision on Ghost based on editor comments is 1/3 complete…
So that’s me finished draft 5g of “Ghost in the Machine”, the penultimate one. I’m just printing it out now to give to my girlfriend to proofread. I expect it’ll be ready to go in a month’s time.
I am very pleased with it – it’s been an ordeal but I’m so happy to have taken it to this point. Some times I never thought I’d get there and I had given up on it. It’s much stronger for the persistence and I’m a much stronger writer for it. It’s not perfect but I need to publish it and just move on.
Time for a break. After I finish some notes for the redraft of Devil in the Detail…
Not quite ready for 14-Feb then…
I’m at 75% just now of the latest draft which has been a fine tooth comb edit.
I’m not going to rush things and set some unattainable deadline but the tasks are:
Pass to editor
Redraft devil in the detail
Finalise ghost in the machine
About a month, but I’m not rushing it.
I’m going to publish “Ghost in the Machine” by the 14th February 2012, but here is an advance of the book cover:
It was created in GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/) from a photo I took in Dunfermline Abbey last April on my iPhone 4. I will crop it if and when I need to.
The main typeface is migraine, available for free from stereotype (http://www.stereo-type.net/).
Other than the fact that I wrote it in Microsoft Word (I own Office 2007), I could have written and published it using entirely open source software if I’d used LibreOffice or OpenOffice.
I use Notepad++ (http://notepad-plus-plus.org/) for my notes – simple txt files are the best bet in my experience and this blows away anything else – when I used Excel I went down some rabbit holes of OCD! In fact, that’s a blog post all of its own.
I am just about to finish the latest draft – three scenes left to edit. Then I want to review the last third of the book. Then my girlfriend will review it and I’ll do another edit based on that feedback but three weeks to go and it will be published. Finally.
Three years ago to the day, I started writing Ghost in the Machine.
Funnily enough, I’d picked up the hardback of Iain M Banks’ The Algebraist, only to discover on the train that it was Mark Billingham’s Scaredy Cat – hardbacks all look the same without the dust jackets. I romped through it in days and thought “I can do this.”. I’d written two novels previously – one to be forgotten about, one I’ll revisit soon – but writing police fiction really interested me. I’d loved Ian Rankin’s Rebus series for years and the idea of creating my own… Well.
I started it on New Year’s Day 2009. I finished draft one in March. I was ill. I wrote another draft and submitted it to agencies in August. I had interest from one – a swift third draft in November. And rejection in February.
August 2010 saw a replan but no work. At this time I’d written and finished Devil in the Detail, a very good sequel to a novel no-one wanted to publish. I was busy with work.
June this year saw me dust it off again. I got though 55,000 words of the edit but got fed up. Working 12 hour days doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing.
August saw me redraft Devil, and then try to redraft Ghost as a novella. Again, fed up hit again.
As per my most recent post, I picked it up again last week.
As of 1.22am on 01-Jan-12, I’ve completed draft five.
All that remains is two proof edits and then I’m done with it. A monkey off my back – up on kindle.
With writing, momentum is everything.
Bloody hell, I can’t make my mind up.
I spent a month turning Ghost in the Machine into a novella (at a plot level) and kind of burnt out with it – I was really busy with work at the time and was a bit frazzled.
I never quite got Devil in the Detail finished or published – it’s definitely a sequel and to turn it into a prequel would mean adding a load of exposition and world-building.
Anyway, I was out with my copper mate for some drinks just before Christmas (we were at uni together, it’s not like I’ve latched on to him). He was surprised that I had given up on it as he’d enjoyed the previous draft. It’s easy to see the failings in your work – lack of credible baddie, too long – and hard to recognise the good things. He said its realistic – DCs do the graft, it’s bloody hard to get promoted – and the plot was unique and original.
Enthused, I’ve taken a look at where I’d got to. The novel was actually more complete than I thought – 55k – and the novella had a good solid villain and tight ending. I’ve managed to weld the two together reasonably easily – its amazing how little you have to change in terms of word count to change a lot in terms of plot.
Got 15 scenes to write of which five are redrafts then a couple of proofs and then publish it.
So I’m a massive Smiths fan.
Just recently got “The Sound of the Smiths” double CD edition. It is incredible. The problem with the Smiths has generally been sound quality, from the 80s CD editions through to 2007’s “The Very Best of” – totally disowned by the band; it features a truly horrible version of “the boy with a thorn in his side” which has a ridiculously loud clonk park.
There’s a lot of noise about digital remastering – and the VBO is testament – but this sounds absolutely incredible. The bass and the drums – often weak and limp in previous releases – are now thick and driving, elevating Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce to the upper echelons of the rhythm section world (the Stone Roses, Led Zep, The Verve, The Who, Nirvana to name but a few). The guitars are sparkling, losing the tinniness and harshness from previous releases. And Morrissey is as dominant as ever.
If you’re a fan, get yourself a copy. Or wait for the release of the new box set…