Blog on the Bus pt64 (why I decided to kill Jack Vincent)

Good morning bus bloggers. Before I begin, I should warn you that this post contains spoilers. If you’ve not read but intend to read any of my work, please look away now and stop reading this post.

That’s better.

I feel troubled dear friend: there is a heaviness weighing on my mind and I feel the need to confess to you the real reason that I decided to kill off Detective Inspector Jack Vincent (in case it was troubling you too).

When I started writing Integration (my first formal foray with the written word), I wanted to create a conflict for my protagonist Mark Baines. Baines, as a character, was based very loosely on myself (write what you know, right?) and a lot of the views and emotions he felt were representative of my own. I tried to create a conflicting character that would get under my skin. Who better than the officer investigating Baines for the crimes he was blackmailed into committing?

In my head, D.I. Vincent’s physique (bald and with a ‘tash) was based on David Haig (the actor who played D.I. Derek Grim in Ben Elton’s tv series The Thin Blue Line). Bet you didn’t know that (In fact I’m curious to know how you did picture him?)! I didn’t want Vincent to be a figure of fun (not to the reader anyway). I wanted him to be a character who strived to do the right thing but inevitably got it wrong. All the time. I wanted the reader to dislike him; more for his misinterpretation of facts than anything specific he did.

When I published the story I felt pleased that he’d reached the level of dislike that I wanted.

When writing Remorse, I once again needed a police officer who would jump to the wrong conclusions and so I wheeled Vincent out once more. He delivered for me again.

When I started plotting Redemption, I had in the back of my mind that Vincent would appear but, as the majority of the plot was in London, his role would only be minor. But as I started to write his part in the final shootout at the hotel, something happened: a breakthrough.

I suddenly understood his motivation and emotional dexterity. As I wrote his farewell to Ali Jacobs I was filled with empathy for this man who had dedicated his life to striving for justice and failing more often than he succeeded.

As I started to write Snatched, I knew that this emotionally-enhanced Jack Vincent would end the story as an anti-hero, delivering unconventional justice for protagonist Sarah Jenson.

Some of you will remember that my fifth novel Shadow Line was originally called Dead Drop and only changed as a better-known author had released a story with the same title a month earlier. The original title had been a reference to a code word used by the Security Services but was also to hint at the end of Jack Vincent. But why did I decide he needed to go?

Simple: I’d grown to like him.

Jack Vincent was no longer a character that got under my skin and as such he no longer served a purpose in my writing.

He had to go.

Out of respect for this character I’d come to think of as a relative, I decided to give him an epic send off which was why he took the central role in Shadow Line (it was the least I could do).

But that left me with a void.

Who would replace DI Vincent, the only character to appear in each of my novels (and one of my short stories)? I couldn’t decide who or what I wanted to step into those size-9s. That’s why his position remains vacant in my forthcoming novel Trespass (which you’ll be able to read on 01 December – contain your excitement!)

The good news is: I’ve been interviewing several potential replacements (my imagination is an awesome place) and I can officially announce the position has been filled and D.I. Tony Hunt, one of Northumberland’s finest will make his debut in 2014’s Crosshairs, currently being written.

Anyway, I’ve taken up far too much of your time today. Until the next tie, happy reading!

Stephen

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Blog on the Bus pt 55 (it really is a global world, right?)

Good morning tube-trekkers, bus-bloggers and patient-pedestrians.

I started a new job last week. I can’t tell you what it is (just pretend I’m Jason Bourne or something, will you?) but it is part of a global organisation (how many of you are picturing me stroking a white cat at this point?). I have always known I was part of a global group but I don’t think I ever truly understood what that meant until Wednesday when I attended a team meeting via video phone. I was in London, there were 3 in Mexico, 2 in the USofA, 2 in Hong Kong and 1 in Brazil. We were all talking about the same thing but in our own interpretation of the English language. Being a global organisation, this was not as difficult as you might assume (SPECTRE never had a problem, did they?). But it was the very fact that several corners of the world had come together to communicate that really opened my eyes to the possibilities that technology brings to us (did someone at the back just utter “D’uh”?).

I appreciate I might be a bit slow in reaching this obvious insight, but there’s no time like the present to learn new concepts (unless you’re my mother who still can’t remember how to make a call from her brick-like mobile phone). Wednesday’s meeting reminded me just how important technology, particularly the kind used for communication, is. We are blessed with Twitter, Facebook, SKYPE, LinkedIn and the rest but how many of us truly embrace it? The clue is in the title: World Wide Web. Why are not more of us using it to reach out to others across the globe?

Many authors (for that is what I pretend to be when I’m out of the office) will blog about the means they use to build their social network and this usually revolves around a kind of paying it forward strategy where you scratch someone’s back in the hope that they’ll return the favour. More often than not this seems to work relatively successfully. I take my hat off to anyone who can find the time to scratch all the backs out there to indirectly promote their work. I’ve been fortunate to have my spinal itches caressed by others and have endeavoured to return the favour but have struggled to join this group of successful indie authors who reach out and use their fingernails for more than just chewing.

Ultimately, it’s easy to be a writer but it’s bloody difficult to be a successful one. The writing community is warm, kind, gentle and supportive (certainly in my experience), however, the publishing industry is competitive, harsh and not something I would wish upon my worst enemy (even those bastards who called me names in school!). To be a successful writer requires 50% good story and 150% brawn, effort, back-scratching and sheer damn luck (maths skills not so essential thank goodness!). So where does that leave indie author Stephen Edger (that’s me in case you’d forgotten)?

In a dog-eat-dog world I fear that I will only wind up in someone else’s toothpick but despite my reservations about what the future holds I can rest safe in the knowledge that I’ve published 5 of my stories and in doing so I’ve left my digital footprint on the world.

So let’s all raise a toast (orange juice or Champagne – you choose) to those embracing the World Wide Web and hope that we don’t get left too far behind.

Until the next time, happy reading,

Stephen

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 48 (sun, sun, sun)

Good morning all. I hope you are making the most of the glorious sunshine and the mini heat wave we appear to be experiencing. I appreciate it’s getting to the point where we want to start complaining that “it’s too hot” and that we “wish it was cold again” but resist that urge and declare from the hills “it’s pretty good for England!

Let’s not forget that usually at this time of year it’s pissing down with rain (think of all those rainy Wimbledon interruptions down the years). But for once we are getting the summer of sun we deserve.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt rotten yesterday, with a persistent headache that just wouldn’t dissipate, having spent the entire day in the sun on Sunday. But what’s a bit of sun stroke right? I’m sure things will be better today!

As a writer who is required to spend at least 2 hours per day in doors, hunched over a computer (typing you understand, not surfing), it is hard to maintain discipline. It would be far easier to bin it off and go and sunbathe but then I wouldn’t get anything written! If anything, this glorious weather is a good test of my writing discipline: if I can continue to type with this kind of distraction, I can beat anything!

Incidentally, for those with an interest (I’m sure you all are), the new writing project is up and running with 10k words on the digital page. How many of them are any good or in the right order is anyone’s guess, but they’re there.

I’ll go now and let you get on with topping up your tan. Alas, for me, my pasty white skin either remains milky or turns a bright shade of crimson, so it’s probably safer to bash away at those keys.

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 46 (branching out)

To my regular followers, the Blog on the Bus represents an insight into the mind of an up-and-coming author. I should point out, that like all competitive entrepreneurs, I have a tendency to blow my own trumpet (in the metaphorical way, you understand – all my ribs are in place!) I try, where possible, to share what goes on in my day to day thoughts and how all my thoughts, dreams and wishes return to the same thing: writing.

In that way I thought I should share an insight into what I observed during a manic visit to the emporium-also-known-as Peppa Pig World.

For the uninitiated non-parents, Peppa Pig World is Britain’s answer to Disney Land. It houses rides for children including Grandpa Pig’s Train, Daddy Pig’s Car and Miss Rabbit’s helicopters. If you’ve never been to Peppa Pig World then I’ll leave it to your imagination as to what these rides might look like.

As with all successful / popular shows these days, there is various Peppa Pig themed merchandise available in the park’s shop and online. They sell t-shirts, aprons, hats, socks, teddies, toys and much more. Peppa Pig toothbrush anybody?

What I noticed, while whisking my two year-old daughter swiftly through the shop, before she could pick anything up, was that their variety is somewhat limited.

Sure you can buy a Daddy Pig or a Mummy Pig t-shirt but where are the Granny Pig and Grandpa Pig t-shirts?

Opportunity missed.

Where are the t-shirts and socks emblazoned with characters like Danny Dog, Pedro Pony or Candy Cat? What if your child prefers Emily Elephant to Peppa and George? Where are those items?

Opportunity missed.

It got me thinking. What if someone out there wanted to read one of my books but doesn’t own a Kindle? At the moment they would be out of luck.

Opportunity missed?

Well not for much longer.

That’s because, as of 01 August 2013, my novels Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line will be available to download on the B&N Nook, the Kobo and through the iBookstore. They will still be on Kindle and in paperback through Amazon, so don’t fret. The cost of the digital copies of my works? £1.99 on each of the platforms, so nobody will be disadvantaged.

Give the people what they want!

I am moving with the times and would strongly encourage my fellow indie writers to follow my lead. Who knows, maybe they will sell Mark Baines toothbrushes one day?

Until the next time, happy reading.

Stephen

Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 44 (kindness of strangers)

Good morning and welcome back to the ‘X4’. It’s been a week or so since I was last aboard this rickety old bus and you’ll be as pleased as me to hear there’s been little change: the regular bus dwellers are all still here and we’re all ignoring each other as per the norm.

The reason for my absence? I’ve been on a lovely holiday away. Before you think ‘it’s alright for some’ or ‘bloody rich author away in tropical climate!’ I should point out the week was on the Isle of Wight. I do hope one day to be an internationally-recognised bestselling author with more money than sense, but for now a week off work in the coastal town of Shanklin is how far my pennies will stretch (I should point out that we’ve just enjoyed a week of 20•C heat while we’ve been away, so I’m not complaining!)

It was a fantastic trip in which we’ve been to the IOW zoo, the Seaview wildlife park (my daughter just loves animals) as well as garlic tasting, chilli sauce tasting, cider tasting, wine tasting and ice cream tasting (if you’ve never been to the Garlic Farm and tasted their garlic beer or garlic ice cream, I highly recommend it). It’s been a week where I have not thought about books or writing and have focused on my family and I’ve loved every second of it.

But alas, all good things must come to an end and now I’m back on the bus bound for the office and the ‘day job’.

While away I met 3 different types of people. One night when I was out walking the dog, my wife discovered a purse strewn on the floor. It was open and contained a debit card and a membership card for the local Conservative Club. Being a good sport I located the club and handed the item in. One of the members overheard what happened and gratefully shook my hand, thanking me on behalf of the purse-owner. I’d been happy to oblige but appreciated his gratitude.

The next day I was trying to get my daughter to sleep in her pram and was boarding the Shanklin lift (which takes you from the top of the town straight down to the beach and vice versa). The journey was only £1 but the lad operating the lift waived the fee as I had a pushchair. What a thoroughly nice thing to do I thought.

On our final day we were sat at our cottage having lunch when the doorbell rang. I opened it to find a man and woman looking troubled. I asked how I could help and they immediately started laying in to me because our car, whilst parked on the driveway, was partially obscuring the pavement. I tried to explain to him that we had been unable to park correctly as somebody else had parked their car too close to the property (not in a designated bay, I added) so we had done what we could. ‘Well it’s not good enough,’ he declared, ‘we were trying to get a wheelchair down the pavement and couldn’t. I expect you to move it.’ I said I would see what I could do but felt angered by his attitude (not prepared to listen to reason) and his bluntness (interrupting our lunch).

The road our house was on was very narrow and had some parking bays marked on our side of the road with double yellow lines the other. I could have pointed out to him that he and his wheelchair (not sure there was one as I couldn’t see it) could have easily used the pavement across the 1-lane road. I could have pointed out that it is extremely bad mannered to make demands on a stranger without understanding the bigger picture. I could have told him how much of a struggle it had been to park the car where it was because of the other vehicle, but he refused to listen. As far as he was concerned, we were wrong and he was going to take pleasure in pointing it out and judging us. That kind of character is the type which leaves bogus reviews of books, films and other products without appreciating the amount of time, effort and love that has gone into its production. I wish I had pointed out to him that he should have been wearing a hat to protect his bald head from getting burned, or that he should wear sunglasses to stop UV damage to his eyes. I wish I had told him that his blue polo shirt did not complement his green shorts and that his wife might burn more calories if she smiled once in awhile.

But I’m not like that.

I don’t take pleasure in picking out others’ flaws. I’m the sort of person who hairs off into an unfamiliar town to return a lost (or maybe stolen) purse.

Which of the 3 strangers are you?

Until the next time, happy reading,

Stephen

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and the forthcoming Shadow Line. Find his work here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 43 (et tu adversity)

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God [it’s] free at last!” And so echoed the words of the unforgettable Martin Luther King. A man ready to stand up in the face of adversity. Clearly he was referring to his fight against racism in the States in the 1960s but I don’t believe he would mind me para-phrasing to echo the point of Death Toll.

That’s right fellow bus dwellers Death Toll is free to download this weekend.

Before you threaten to lynch me for stealing an inspiring anti-racism mantra, I wish to argue the point of why I believe it is still befitting of today’s blog.

Adversity.

Modern writers walk in the face of it everyday. Every time I write a new word of a project I am slapping adversity in the face with a glove; challenging it to stop me.

“You’re not good enough.”

“Your story is unoriginal.”

“Your characters are paper thin.”

“You’re just not the sort of author we’re looking for.”

Okay, so my name’s not Brown, Grisham or Rowling, but does that still mean I don’t deserve the right to share my soul’s inner thoughts, feelings and dreams with the world and let them decide?

If you’ve never read any of my work, statistically there’s a 16% chance* that you’ll hate it and condemn it as the worst book you’ve ever read. (*based on the number of 1* / 2* reviews on Amazon).

Of course that leaves an 84% margin that you might just enjoy it.

I’ll let you be the judge.

But for all those rejection notices received from agents who don’t believe my writing will make them millions in commission, there is an audience (albeit a potentially small one) who actually think I’m pretty good (I’m sure they must all be on prescription medication).

Now this is not an uncommon feeling amongst the ever-growing number of indie writers out there battling to get their voice heard over the clamour.

Death Toll is a project where 5 such independent authors (Alex Shaw, Liam Saville, J H Bográn, Howard Manson and Stephen Edger) decided to link arms and stand in the face of adversity together. Death Toll is the first anthology of short stories published by a contingent of indie authors. Does that make it bad then? Well internationally best-selling authors Jake Needham and Stephen Leather don’t believe so. Jake has written the introduction and Stephen contributed 2 of his own stories.

Death Toll is available for free download from today (31 May) until Sunday (02 Jun). We are asking you to link arms with us and to help this movement grow stronger. As Martin Luther King spoke up for his cause in the 1960s, so I am standing up for talented but under-appreciated indie authors everywhere.

Join the cause.

Download a copy today.

Tell your friends about this great collection of short stories.

Re-blog this.

Tweet links to the books.

Scream it from the rooftops!

Every copy of Death Toll downloaded is a slap in the face of the major publishing houses. It’s a slap in the face of adversity too.

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and the forthcoming Shadow Line. Find his work here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 40 (if you get lost, go back to the beginning)

Good morning dear reader. It feels like an age since we interacted and quite frankly I’ve missed you. Just to give you a catch up on the last week for me, here it is in rhyme:

Diagnosed with shingles (itchy and sore),
Still hobbling about with a broken toe (kicked a door),
May have early signs of a hernia (terribly raw),
Been to London to visit friends (didn’t break the law),
And finally decided on a new book title (hip hip hoo-raw!)

It’s the oddest feeling when I’m not writing; when I’m between projects. Gone is the desire to wake up early to rush to the office to get some writing in before work. Suddenly, I have free time for lunch but find I have nothing to do. It’s like some kind of author’s limbo.

Although the current book isn’t due for release until June, there is little I can do with it until the proof readers complete their reviews. I wouldn’t dream of starting a new project until the current one (Shadow Line) is live so this waif-like state remains.

The outline for the next project is drafted (just a couple of kinks to work through and some additional research) and I’m looking forward to starting it. But as I said I’m not due to commence that until July.

I wasn’t sure what to blog about this morning but then I noticed that this is the 40th blog entry I’ve made (if I had £1 for every blog I’d have…not much money!), so I went back and re-read the first blog post (Blog on the Bus pt 1) to see how I have changed in the last year. My spelling has improved since I turned off predictive text so that’s at least one lesson learned.

It’s strange though: I only started on this road to author-dom under three years ago and now I sit here with 5 books and 2 short stories to my name with sales in the region of 20k. This writing malarky has certainly changed my approach to life and I feel incredibly proud of how my writing is improving with each punt.

What I’ve realised since that inaugural blog entry: if I keep believing, keep trying, keep reading, keep writing, keep reviewing then one day, maybe…just maybe…I might just make it!

Thanks for dropping by. The bus driver has been glaring at me for the last two minutes. The bus is empty and I think he wants a smoke so I better alight.

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen