Tuesday 25 March 2014

Reviews and soirées

Those advance review copies my publisher sent out are paying off already: a couple of early-bird book bloggers have posted some excellent reviews of The Killing Season.

Fiona Sharp, one of Waterstones top 10 contributors, gave the book a five-star review:

"Hooked immediately. This guy is as good as David Baldacci."

Meanwhile, Liz Loves Books posted a really great writeup on her eponymous blog, saying the book has:

"a terrific supporting cast, the occasional moment that will have you hyperventilating and a magnificent final showdown."

I'm so happy to get a couple of really positive reviews from book bloggers right out of the gate. I know the negative reviews will come at some point - being liked by everyone is almost certainly the sign of a boring writer - but in the meantime it's nice to bask in the warm glow of knowing people have enjoyed my work.

Numbers are looking great for the official launch of The Killing Season at Waterstones Argyle Street, Glasgow on April 23 at 7pm, so click here to get a free ticket soon if you're planning to come: there'll be an interview and questions, a reading and of course a signing - I can't wait.

After the signing, there will be a post-launch soirée (God, that's a great word) just a couple of minutes' walk along Argyle Street at the venerable Glasgow institution that is Sloans Bar (established 1797). We'll be in the first floor space of what is a really cool Grade-A listed building, and all are welcome. Do drop by my Facebook page and let me know if you're planning to be there.

Monday 17 March 2014

Everyday, it's a-gettin' closer...

Just got back from London where I attended the annual Orion author party. It was a terrific evening in an absolutely beautiful venue: the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

Look: pretty.

There were something like seven hundred guests, including Orion staff and authors, various publishers, agents, reviewers and bloggers. It was a fantastic evening, great to catch up with my editor Jemima and to meet lots of other cool and interesting people, many of whom had not only read The Killing Season, but had really nice things to say about it.

Lots of other things seem to be happening as publication day gets closer and closer.

CrimeFest has unveiled its full programme at last, and I'm confirmed for three slots over the weekend: a debut authors panel on Friday, a discussion on hired guns and mercenaries on Saturday, and (most intimidating) the Criminal Mastermind quiz on Sunday. My specialist subject is Lee Child, so I'm going to need to spend some time cramming the Reacher Rules. You can find out more on the events page.

The second Carter Blake book has been through its (hopefully) final round of edits, and is going to be gradually released into the wider world, starting with some in-house people at Orion. Coincidentally, Waterstones has just listed a release date for this one of April 30, 2015, which seems impossibly far away. You can read the blurb for a sneak preview at the Waterstones listing page. It feels good to have the second book in the can before the first is released.

I'm still reviewing True Detective every week over at the Murder Room. The episode 4 review has just gone up, with the bonus of a video clip of the action-packed single-take finale.

Finally, I got a really exciting email on Friday to let me know that The Killing Season is going to be available as an audiobook, downloadable through Audible. Even better, it's going to be read by one of the best talents in the business: Eric Meyers, who's narrated a lot of Harlan Coben books, as well as the recent Wolf of Wall Street audio edition. As a huge fan of audiobooks, I can't wait to get a copy on my phone.

As someone said to me at the Orion party, you always have three books in your head: the one that's being published now, the one you're editing, and the one you're going to write next. Book three is already taking shape in my head. Then again, books four and five are also gnawing away at the outer reaches of my brain as well...

Saturday 8 March 2014

Seven-dollar pens

As you may have noticed, the launch date for The Killing Season has been scheduled.

It's going to be held in Glasgow, on the night before publication (April 23) at the Argyle Street branch of Waterstones. Caron at Waterstones has already been fantastic: suggesting a list of options I have to decide on, coordinating things with Orion, generally giving me tips on everything and making me consider stuff it wouldn't have occurred to me to think about. She's also read an advance copy of the book and liked it, which helps.

The plan is to hold the event in the spacious café area on the first floor. It can be set up cabaret or theatre-style, depending on numbers, so is a pretty flexible space. I went along to Malcolm Mackay's event there this week, which was chaired by crime writer, Bloody Scotland board member, and all-round good guy Craig Robertson, and got a fairly clear idea of how things will run.

I'll begin with a reading from the book. Advice from Caron: try and project and perform the words, rather than just reading them. Advice from Malcolm Mackay: lots of practice, and remember to look up at the audience. Advice from Craig Robertson: pick an excerpt that's not too long, has some action, not too much swearing or sex.

I have a couple of possibilities in mind. The opening chapter would be pretty good, as it ticks most of the boxes, but it's a little too long. To get away from distractions while I practice, I'm going to have to drive out to somewhere remote and read to myself in the car like Travis Bickle or somebody.

After the reading, we'll go to an interview format where someone (tbc) will ask me questions about the book, writing in general, crime fiction, getting published, and the usual kind of things people talk about at author events.

After the interview segment, we take questions from the audience. Having been in the audience for a lot of these things in the past, I have a pretty good idea how that will go - nobody wants to stick their hand up first, but after the first one the questions tend to come thick and fast. A lot of the time the majority of questions come from aspiring writers. If any of them ask me how hard it was to get an agent, I'm going to have to fess up and tell them that it was almost 100% dumb luck on my part.

This should all take around one hour. When we run out of questions, assuming there's anybody left, I'll sign copies of the book and chat to people one on one. Because this is my first-ever event of this kind, I should be able to rely on a good turnout from family, friends and people from work. That's a double-edged sword, because while it's great for my numbers, I'm always much more nervous speaking in front of people who know me. The good thing is, at least I'm the world's number one expert on this particular book.

Regardless of logistics and pre-game nerves, I'm immensely looking forward to the launch because it's one of the major milestones in becoming a real-live writer: my first talk and signing in an actual honest-to-God bookshop. Which reminds me of another big logistical issue: what's the best pen for signing books? Bic? Sharpie? Quill? Suggestions gratefully received. While pondering this, I came across this great quote from the late standup comic Mitch Hedberg:

"I bought a seven-dollar pen because I always lose pens and I got sick of not caring."

Maybe I should take this advice.

Anyway. The event is free to attend, and there will be coffee, juice and wine for everyone. You can just show up on the night, but if you are planning to come, it would really help us get an idea of the likely numbers if you register by clicking here or on the pretty banner on the right hand side of the screen.

See you on the 23rd.

Thursday 6 March 2014

The launch date

You are cordially invited to the official launch of...

The Killing Season

by Mason Cross

7pm, Wednesday April 23, 2014

Waterstones, Argyle Street, Glasgow