Back to life. Back to reality. Back to the here and now. (Name that tune.) Back to the city of concrete, cars and kebabs. (That’s not the next line.)
What a truly wonderful holiday we had in Dymchurch on Romney Marsh (not to be confused with Romney and Marsh the fictitious police duo operating out of Dover, not to be confused with Inspector Dover the fictitious police officer creation of Joyce Porter operating out of Scotland Yard). All clear? Good. Let’s move on.
I wondered how to return to the blogging scene after my lengthy but incredibly well-deserved break. I thought that I’d try to generate some interest in my resurrection by including a photograph of myself on Dymchurch’s famous ‘La Plage de Costume D’anniversaire’. I decided against it.
But even that seemed not enough of a re-entry strategy into the blogoshpere. I needed something…suitably…fittingly…special. Then it hit me: why not get the new blogging season off to an explosive, high-octane start by announcing the self-publication of my two Acer Sansom thrillers, Dirty Business and Loose Ends?
How to go about it? A couple of months ago I was contacted by that enormously famous and well-respected online crime and mystery publication, ‘Thriller Ink’. They invited me to take part in a Q&A with them, which, as a desperate and struggling self-publisher, I was naturally keen to participate in. I didn’t have to pay them and they even let me write my own questions – my favourite kind of Q&A. They advised me that the article would be published in August and here is the link for anyone interested. http://thrillerink.com/oliver-tidy-author-interview/
This gave me a great and timely idea. Why not interview myself on my blog for the self-publication of the Acer Sansoms? Let’s face it, no one else wants to do a feature on me, so I might as well grab any opportunity that I can manufacture to talk about me and my writing.
So, I shunned my medication for a day, locked myself away with a tape recorder and this is what we came up with.
Transcript of interview between Oliver Tidy and his alter ego.
Great cover art. Who does it for you?
I thought this was supposed to be about the launch of my new books – my writing. Kit Foster does all my cover art. I can’t imagine asking anyone else. Next.
Are these books like the Romney and Marsh Files?
What? Do we have to talk about the Romney and Marsh books already? This is supposed to be about my new books. This must be how Rowling feels.
Readers will probably want to know.
OK, OK, don’t go on about it. No, the Sansoms are not like the Romney and Marsh Files. The Romney and Marsh Files are police procedurals and the Sansoms are (I hope) more like thrillers.
What do you mean, ‘I hope’? Are they thrillers or aren’t they?
Is it all going to be like this?
Like that Jeremy Kyle off the idiot’s lantern – confrontational.
You want to do this or not?
Thrillers or not thrillers?
(Sigh)That is always going to be a matter for the reader to decide. If I were to stake my reputation on it, I would say that in places both books are thrilling. But I don’t consider either to be white-knuckle, edge of the seat stuff, page after page after page. That would be exhausting not to mention difficult to write.
Where are the books set?
Dirty Business begins in the UK but fairly quickly the action switches to Istanbul in Turkey and then Bodrum, also in Turkey. Loose Ends starts off in Bodrum and fairly quickly the action switches to the UK. Weird that.
Why Turkey? How are you qualified to write about Turkey?
I moved to Istanbul about four years ago. I had wanted to try writing seriously for a while before then, but living in the UK with all its distractions I just never found the time. In Turkey and responsibility free, I found I had time. It seemed natural to utilise some of my knowledge of the city in which I was living. Then I got married…
Sorry, is there something wrong? You’ve gone a funny colour.
I’m OK. Can I have some water? For a couple of minutes there I forgot. Where was I? Oh yeah, so I got married and spent a couple of weeks in Bodrum in Akyrlar, a small settlement that features in the first book. And again it just seemed natural for me to include the geography. Write about what you know they say.
Oh, so you know about guns?
Piloting power boats while under enemy fire?
Have you ever killed anyone?
Have you ever had a fight?
When I was a little boy my sister used to hit me with her dolls.
Right. So, Dirty Business was your first book. I thought that Rope Enough was your first book.
No. They go Acer Sansom, Romney and Marsh, Acer Sansom, Romney and Marsh then Romney and Marsh again. Because I had three in the R&M (Romney and Marsh) series written first I decided to launch my self-publishing career with those.
Did you try to get a traditional publishing deal?
Yes, but no one was interested and I got fed up of wasting money on P&P of manuscripts from Turkey to UK and then waiting six weeks for a ‘no’. With the advent of the ebook, I don’t know why anyone bothers trying to get traditionally published any more.
Don’t you want a traditional publishing deal?
Of course. I’d trade my two year old son for a small hardback print run and a complementary paperback edition. Actually, just paperbacks and you can have him. (He’s had all his jabs.) But I’ve stopped begging for it and I find that life is no longer quite so disappointing.
Tell us something about the books? Must they be read in order?
Each works very well as a stand-alone novel, but like the R&M’s, to get the most out of them one should read them in order.
Can I lift a couple of bits from the Amazon blurb for this bit? Yes? Good. It should give the reader a good idea of what to expect.
Dirty Business – The First Acer Sansom Novel
When a British soldier the world thought was dead resurfaces, shot in the guts, in the home of a still-warm dead man an unsavoury story of dirty business and murder begins to emerge.
A politician and a shadowy government security official make contact with him and reveal evidence of where he should be looking for answers to his questions. With their assistance, the soldier becomes embroiled in a mission for retribution and justice. And for some crimes only biblical justice will do.
Dirty Business tells how Acer Sansom returns from the ‘dead’, where he’s been for his missing year and why he is possessed with a single-minded need for vengeance. It follows his journey from the south of England to Turkey on the trail of the men responsible for the fate of his murdered family and his search for the truth.
Acer’s desire for revenge is clear. Less clear are the motives of those helping him and whose hands are soiled with their Dirty Business.
Loose Ends – The Second Acer Sansom Novel
Acer Sansom has had a narrow escape and a taste of revenge, now he’s back for the main course – British justice.
Covertly returning to the UK after a dramatic series of events in Turkey, the carefully woven fabric of the soldier’s welcome soon starts to unravel. The protection he was promised is compromised by his powerful and shadowy enemies who didn’t get where there are by leaving loose ends untied.
Now he must once again rely on his wits, his mettle, his training and his luck to get him out of trouble and to help him honour the debt he feels to a policeman friend, and his dead loved ones.
Loose Ends details Acer’s fight for survival, for justice and for vindication. A twisting journey of action and intrigue leads to a thrilling end and a possible new beginning.
They sound exciting.
Are you being funny?
No. Which is the best of the two?
I like them both. Despite Dirty Business being the first book I ever wrote, I don’t think of it of a typical first book i.e. it’s not shit. Really. Even after four years and many read-throughs and edits there are still points in the story that make my eyes sting. Not with embarrassment but with emotion. Now, I’m not promising that readers will be moved to tears with passages or events in the book, but as the author, even though I know what’s coming I can’t help myself. It’s the same with the video of my son being born. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me. I asked my mum if any of it made her cry and she said only when she opened the parcel and realised what I’d sent her.
As for which is the best – Loose Ends. I honestly think that Loose Ends is the best book I have written to date. Loose Ends is effing brilliant (in places).
Did you prefer writing Romney and Marsh or these?
I like writing. I don’t care what it is. When I’m into a project I don’t want to do anything else.
Writing the Romney and Marsh books makes me laugh out loud sometimes, since I realised – about halfway through Making a Killing (the second book) – where I wanted to go with the series. I don’t laugh at anything in the Sansom books. Just cry as I’ve already explained.
The Romney and Marsh Files have some black humour in them. Is there anything funny in the Sansom books?
No. There is nothing funny in these books. The only funny thing was when I misused a homophone. But that has now been corrected.
What was it?
Can we get on?
Why did you write them?
The first one seemed a good idea at the time. The second seemed like a better idea at a different time.
Where did you get the name of your central protagonist from?
Orignally, Acer Sansom was Patrick Sansom. He was Patrick for a long time until I came across the name Acer somewhere and I really liked it for this part better than Patrick. Obviously. Patrick was taken from Patrick O’Brian my favourite novelist of all time and Sansom was taken from CJ Sansom, author of the Shardlake series of books that I simply adore and have three sets of first editions of – one for each of my children. There. And I bet that CJ Sansom never drops me a line to thank me for immortalising him in eprint. Why should he? He’s a trad-pubbed star and I’m still a self-pubbed nobody. Come to think of it he’s probably made a pretty good job of immortalising himself seeing as he’s traditionally published and ebook published and audio book published.
Moving on, tell your readers about your methods for writing a novel. Do you make extensive plans, draw pictures, mind-map, have walls plastered with little yellow post-its, or anything like that when you write a book? What’s your process?
I make it up as I go along.
Really. That’s it.
Oh. Ever had writer’s block?
There was a moment – a bit of a wobble – when I was signing the wedding register. But I got through it. Mainly thanks to my father-in-law’s shotgun being pointed at my knees. Turns out she wasn’t pregnant after all.
How long are the books?
Each one is 100,000 words minus a couple of hundred. For comparison’s sake each of the R&M books are about 80,000 words.
Why is that? Was it a conscious decision?
With the R&M’s it was. I read somewhere that one has a better chance of getting traditionally published if one’s first book is around 80,000 words. Well that’s three I’ve tried and no one’s beating my door down. Maybe there’s more to it than just word count.
Any news on the publishing front?
Is this going to go on for much longer?
Who would you like to play the parts of your characters in the film versions of the books?
I have a desperate hope that Dame Judy Dench will live long enough to play the part of a certain character in Loose Ends – no names. She’s perfect for it. Just like my mum. But she can’t act. My mum that is. Funny really that, for a drama queen, I mean.
Sean Bean would have been my first choice for Acer Sansom twenty years ago (can you believe he’s fifty-four now?) No one else springs to mind.
Have you had any feedback on the books, yet? Anyone read them and given an opinion?
My mum reads all my books before anyone else. It’s a rule. It’s also a major pain. Self-publishing an ebook is hard enough, but seriously, can you imagine what it’s like trying to self-publish a book in Braille? It’s a mission. And I certainly get through the knitting-needles and paper. She always says that she enjoys them. Mind you I gave her dog biscuits to eat once when I told her I’d baked her some cookies. She said they were great, so I don’t take much notice of what she says any more. I will let the public decide (after they’ve paid for the privilege).
You’ve had quite a bit of reader-feedback regarding errors in your writing haven’t you?
What’s that got to do with this?
I was just wondering whether you have taken any steps to ensure your readers get a smoother read with these books?
Actually, yes. I made some very pleasant virtual acquaintances through the R&M Files and had several readers offer to assist me with proof-reading further work. (Make of that what you will.) Anyway, I have struck up a good online friendship with a gentleman who has been kind enough to work with me in ensuring that the Sansom books are tighter, more polished and professional reads. That said, any errors that do turn up in either of the books are entirely my responsibility, especially as I keep changing things when he’s not looking.
How are you going to price them?
In pounds and pence. Bartering was an interesting experiment, but frankly one can have too many goats, especially living in a city apartment.
Seriously, I have thought long and hard over how to price these. Part of me thinks that I already give one book away for free and the other two together don’t cost a pint of lager. But I want people to read them. Especially, I want people who read this blog and who, therefore, probably have some sort of interest in my writing to have the opportunity to purchase the new books cheaply if they feel they might be something they could enjoy. I think I owe my readers that because I love them and they have been so demonstrably supportive. Don’t believe me? Look around this blog. And, mostly, they’ve made me very happy, if not rich. But it never was about the money.
You’ve received a good deal of hate mail for DI Romney’s apparent misogynistic leanings haven’t you?
How does Acer Sansom feel about women?
I know what you’re trying to do. Acer is a good and decent chap. He respects all women and most of their opinions.
What do you mean, ‘most of their opinions’?
What’s with all the questions?
It’s an interview.
Sorry. Of course.
In Rope Enough you wrote a graphic sex scene involving DI Romney and his girlfriend.
It wasn’t popular with all readers was it?
Are there any graphic sex scenes in the Acer Sansom books?
No. Sorry if that disappoints you. Acer does have sex in the books but it is implied rather than described. He only has sex with consenting adult females, none of whom he is related to. Satisfied?
I think that we should leave it there?
Good because now I must go and update all my online author biographies and profiles to include these new books. Yawn.
If anyone’s interested here are the links for the two books. Cheapest that Amazon will allow me to list for is 77p each in the UK and a little over a dollar each in the US. Get them while stocks last or before I come to my senses and put the prices up. Ten…nine…eight…seven…six…