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One of the things common to us all is that at some point in our life we will have been under pressure. Be it a moment that jumped up in front of us, say a bank robbery or seeing someone about to be hit by a car. Or whether it’s the slow build up of a situation which requires us to endure some sort of pain to see it through. Whatever it is, we all experience pressure.

How do you convey pressure in fiction?

When writing, especially action and adventure, or dark fantasy, there are situations where the characters are in wild moments I have never faced. One wonders how they would react. Personally, I have never looked a demon from the deep in the eye, swung from a hangman’s noose or faced strange creatures intent on taking my head off. The only way I know to generate these feelings is to drift into the characters shoes, drawing on my own reactions to horrors I have had in my own life. Not that my life has been a rollercoaster of disaster, it’s been bloomin’ good to be honest. But we all have the well of dark moments to draw from.

Sometimes people say my books would make a great movie, or that they could see it as a TV drama. I think I know why. When I write, I write describing the movie in my head. The creatures move for me, I hear the drop in the noose, I look into those demon eyes. And I then feel what comes. I don’t see words, I see pictures and then the job is to put that picture into words. The further distillation by the reader reversing the process hopefully brings the movie back to life.

Character development, making the unreal seem real

It begs the question, are my characters real to me? Only in my head, only in the movie. And that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want a mad cap professor summoning up who knows what, an emotional father pulled from his family by every woman that walks past, or an ice cold winged femme fatale. Life is weird enough. When you put these people under pressure the real emotions come out. Hopefully then the real life heroic decisions we make or fail to make surface.

If you haven’t got it already, then you can purchase the first Austerley & Kirkgordon novel “Crescendo!”. The follow up “The Darkness at Dillingham” has just been released.

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Getting the professionals – my first cover with a hired cover artist!

Getting a book out to the general public these days is exciting, fun but also hard and plentiful work. Having self-published a short poetry book and a book of short stories, I am engaged in putting out the first of a series of novels based on my paranormal investigators, Austerley and Kirkgordon.

My first two books were completed by myself on a shoestring budget and were self-edited and the cover produced using my own and friend’s photographs.

I used Createspace’s excellent tools to produce these and you can see the results on my website, amazon, createspace or at a number of other outlets. But for my novels I wanted to produce something more.
The idea for driving the quality of the books came when I attended a one day workshop with Ben Galley, self-published author and entrepreneur. Ben showed the ways and the means to achieving a book or e-book which looked and read like a novel you would expect from a top 5 publisher. I’ll not steal his thunder check out his website for more!

From various options I choose to hire a cover artist from Reedsy, a website where you can pitch your cover idea and receive quotes and ideas for the work in consideration. That’s when it hits you, we’re now talking real money and investment in your dream. But then this is a business I’m engaging in, isn’t it? From the returned offers I choose Jake Clarke, an american artist. Jake’s can-do, proactive attitude complimented his reasonable pricing. There were other artists whose art work was also of a high standard but Jake engaged into my vision of a cover and I believe this is key to achieving what you want from your cover. To give the artist the flexibility to use their talent but also to steer their creative juices towards your dream cover.

Jake put forward a few cover ideas and then drew some for me when I gave feed-back on these ideas. As someone whose drawing ability is less than adequate, having the images realized helped me steer Jake. Jake also read significant parts of my novel and a prelude I have written. He even gave me this cover for my prelude!

The first return on a book cover was excellent, showing his design talent, but also produced an exchange which took the cover from an good first stab to what I wanted. Characters were honed and logos adapted. Graphics from other designs were incorporated.

With Jake in America and myself in the UK, he would work while I slept so that on waking I desperately checked my email for the next update. Covers are such a thrill in development but to see your book realized as it will be on a shelf or reading device is amazing. You can talk about your novel, maybe even read a bit but everyone wants to see your cover work! You can see the result. Jake did me proud!