Writer, missing in action!

Huge apologies to anyone who follows this blog and has been wondering where I’ve got to – life has been hectic recently. My last post was on publication day for THE FEAR and, since then, I’ve either been out and about promoting it or bent over my laptop trying to finish my next book. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happened and what I’ve been up to…

My fourth Sunday Times bestseller

The Fear with Karin quote

I used to raise my eyebrows when established writers would worry on social media about impending publication. ‘How can you be worried?’ I’d think. ‘You’ve had loads of bestsellers. Of course you’ll have another one. You have an army of loyal fans.’ But that’s where Imposter Syndrome kicks in. So many writers (myself included) worry that our previous books were a fluke and that with this book we’ll be revealed to be the writing frauds that we feel we are.

This isn’t an unusual feeling for me. Even when I was a manager at a university I’d often think, ‘seriously, they’ve given me all this responsibility? Shouldn’t they give that to someone who knows what they’re doing?’ When the truth was I’d worked in eLearning for years, I kept up to date with all the latest developments in the industry and I knew exactly what I was doing. But logic goes out of the window in the run up to publication and when fear kicks in you listen to your ‘monkey’ rather than your ‘human’ (I read a fascinating non-fiction book recently called The Chimp Paradox which talks about how your base emotions/monkey take over in stressful situations and your human/logical side is drowned out).

Anyway, I don’t take anything for granted in this industry. I’ve had enough ups and downs in my career to know that a career in publishing isn’t a linear line so I am incredibly grateful that THE FEAR became a bestseller. A HUGE thank you to everyone who bought, reviewed and recommended it.

Taylor on a Train

Cally Taylor

One of the most exciting and nerve-wracking PR events for the launch of The Fear was a signing I did on the Bristol to Paddington train. Organised by my PR Sabah Khan and Richard Salkeld, Media and Communications Manager for Great Western Railway, I had the most unusual, and amusing, trip to London. I won’t go into all the faff about changing trains because our original train was cancelled and the wild goose chase as Sabah tried to catch up with us but it was brilliant fun. I signed far more books than I ever have at any event and I had some great chats with commuters and readers. And apologies again to the First Class commuters again for all the disruption!

Facebook Live / Fab Night In / Newcastle Noir / Dead Good Book Awards

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Shortly after publication I went to HarperCollins Towers (aka the News Corp building in London Bridge) to film a live interview with Claire Frost from The Sun’s Fabulous magazine. If you missed it you can still watch it on Facebook here:

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Another great event was the ‘Fab Night In’, organised by The Sun’s Fabulous magazine. It was held right right at the top of the News Corp building and featured me, Sarah Pinborough, BA Paris and Adele Parks being interviewed by Fabulous’s fiction editor extraordinaire Claire Frost. We all laughed A LOT.

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In May I went up to Newcastle to take part in a panel with fellow psychological thriller authors Sarah Stovell and Melanie McGrath. As with last year I was made to feel hugely welcome by the organiser Jackie Collins aka Dr Noir and it was a fascinating panel that touched on some interesting topics (Staunch prize anyone?)

Unfortunately I missed Crime Fest in Bristol because I was struck down by a virus days before and spent the whole weekend in bed but I’m hugely looking forward to Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate next month. I’ve been attending as a guest for years and I’m so thrilled to be on the programme this year as a table host at Lee Child’s murder mystery dinner on the Saturday night.

Talking of thrilled, I found out today that THE FEAR has been shortlisted for the DEAD GOOD READER AWARDS which are presented on Saturday afternoon at the festival. It’s shortlisted in the ‘Most Recommended Read’ category which I’m really chuffed about. I’m up against Elly Griffiths again (she beat me last year) so the battle is on to see who gets the most reader votes! If you enjoy my books you can vote for THE FEAR here: https://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/dead-good-reader-awards-2018/

SLEEP edits are afoot

I finished the first draft of my next book, SLEEP, in the third week of May and I’m currently writing the second draft after receiving my edits back a few weeks ago. Compared to THE FEAR this book has been slightly nightmarish to write. Not because of the subject matter (more about that in another post) but because I wasn’t entirely sure what the theme was before I started writing it. I’d plotted it, as I do all my books (since I pantsed THE LIE anyway) but some books flow as you write them and some books don’t. SLEEP was most definitely a ‘bumpy’ read after the first draft and I wasn’t entirely sure why. Thankfully the editorial feedback from my agent and editor pinpointed where the problems lay and now I’m fixing them. On a gut level this book certainly feels like a better, smoother read. Here’s hoping!

So, that’s it for now. If you haven’t read THE FEAR yet it’s currently 99p for the ebook and £3.50 for the paperback (but not forever!). And if you could vote for it in the Dead Good Book Awards that would be great.

See you on the other side of the edits for SLEEP.  Hopefully I’ll have a cover to show you…

 

 

 

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The one about the book tattoo…

It’s publication day for THE FEAR and I couldn’t be more proud of this book. I’ll freely admit that I struggle with endings – I find them the hardest part of a book to get right – but something almost miraculous happened as I was writing the first draft of THE FEAR and I suddenly realised how to tie all the threads of the story together as I hit 85,000 words. I’m also proud of this book because, as a Goodreads reader said, it isn’t just about a dark and disturbing crime it’s also about sisterhood and strong women. If THE LIE was about women turning against each other THE FEAR is about women discovering their lives share a common thread and…well, that would be giving too much away.

My publisher, Avon HarperCollins, commissioned the most amazing book trailer for THE FEAR and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you now. Make sure you have the sound on to experience the full, spooky effect!

And here’s a video of me reading the first chapter (how funny is that freeze frame?!):

As for the ‘tattoo’ in the title of this post. Well, here it is.

scotttattoo accident jpeg

If you bought my first book, THE ACCIDENT, you might recognise it. It’s the illustration from the front cover of the original version. That’s not my leg by the way! Whose leg is it and how does it tie in with THE FEAR? Well you’ll have to buy a copy and read the dedication and acknowledgements to find out!

I’ll be spending publication day writing the first draft of the next novel (28,000 words in and counting) and taking my son to karate grading (which is somewhat ironic given the storyline of THE FEAR…). Tomorrow though should be a much more relaxing day. I’ve got a hair appointment in the morning and my first book launch in nine years (mostly out of choice) in the evening. I’m very excited about celebrating the launch of this books with friends and family. A huge thank you to everyone who’s trekking to Bristol to raise a glass with me.

The Fear with Karin quote

If you live in the UK you can order your ebook copy of THE FEAR from:

Amazon.co.uk

Google Play

iBooks

Kobo

And the paperback from:

Amazon.co.uk

Waterstones

WH Smith

You can also buy paperbacks from the following supermarkets: Tesco, Sainsbury (where it’s just £2.99 for the first two weeks after publication), Morrison, Waitrose and ASDA. It’s also available in WH Smith Travel and High Street and most branches of Waterstones . Select independent book shops also stock copies and if they don’t have it to hand they’ll definitely be able to order it for you.

If you live outside of the UK and The Fear is not available in your country you can buy it from the The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping).

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The one where I got glammed up

Earlier this year I was invited to the Specsavers Nielsen Bestseller Awards to receive two silver awards for The Acccident and The Lie (for sales of over 250,000 copies).

It was SUCH a glamorous affair. The wonderful Mariella Frostrop was the MC and so many amazing authors were honoured with awards including Paula Hawkins, Maggie O’Farrell (I had a bit of a fan girl moment when I realised I was standing behind her in the queue), Peter James, Phillipa Gregory, Dougie and Tom from McFly, Jill Mansell, Clare Mackintosh and so many more. It really was a ‘pinch me’ moment and one of the most magical nights of my career.

Here’s a selection of photos from the official website and by my friend Rowan Coleman who came with me,

And here’s a video of me being interviewed after I received my awards (terrible freeze-frame!).

Not long now until THE FEAR is published (22nd March). I have been so chuffed with the reaction from authors and readers who’ve received advance proofs and am excited and nervous about the book coming out.

I’ve just started writing my sixth psychological thriller and life is becoming increasingly hectic as I try and balance writing the first draft with  posts for the blog tour, articles for magazines and websites, and answering Q&As. I need more hours in the day.

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What inspired your novel?

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Plotting a novel: if all else fails – draw little stick men and women to try and make sense of your idea. It works for me (sometimes).

It’s a question that comes up in interviews a lot:

‘What inspired your novel?’

It’s always a difficult question to answer, not least because it’s normally at least 12 months since I wrote the book and 18 months since the first spark of an idea.

The more novels I write the more I realise how much an idea twists, squirms and transforms after the initial spark. THE MISSING was originally going to be about two boys who run away in different circumstances and their stories intersect when boy 2 finds the dead body of boy 1. Why didn’t I go with that idea? I honestly can’t remember. It’s that squirming thing I mentioned at the start of this paragraph. An idea is a bit like a piece of plasticine. It appears to be to be a certain shape but when you try to find out more about it – when you prod it a bit – it changes shape.

I am currently prodding an idea for my sixth psychological thriller (to be published in March 2019). The initial spark was an eight word sentence in an email of three or four different premises I ran by my agent. Maddy liked it. More than that she got excited by it, so did my editor, but it wasn’t really an idea. It was a setting. Over the last month or so I have been mulling it over in my head. I’ve got the setting but what’s the plot? Who are the characters? What’s the twist?

I’ve swung, pendulum-like, between different possibilities – some clichés, some tired, some ridiculously OTT. I’ve felt lost, panicked and frustrated. What is this book? What is it that I am trying to say?

In a recent newsletter to members of the C.L. Taylor Book Club I admitted that an author often doesn’t know what inspired a novel until years after it’s published. Hindsight allows you to draw parallels between your novels and your life – parallels you couldn’t see at the time because you were too enmeshed in the day to day.

That doesn’t help me now as I try to pull together the threads of a story to create something that will hopefully be gripping, addictive, unpredictable and original with characters that are fascinating, flawed and three dimensional. I don’t mind admitting that I’ve been struggling. Each time I prod this idea it changes into a new shape or else shoots across the room and completely evades me. But I love this stage of the process. It might be frustrating and terrifying but when all the pieces start to fall into place (to continue the analogy – the plasticine begins to take form rather than looking like an amorphous blob) there’s no feeling quite as thrilling.

And I might just have a had a little break through yesterday…

(Thank God)

Before I go – if you haven’t read THE TREATMENT or THE ESCAPE they are currently just 99p across all ebook platforms. But not for long.

Also, THE FEAR has had some amazing reviews from my fellow authors. Check them out here.

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Introducing… The Fear.

Last week I shared the cover for my next psychological thriller on social media but, if you missed it, here it is!

The Fear with Karin quote

THE FEAR is a book I’ve wanted to write for a while. I had the first inkling of the idea after I finished THE LIE but it wasn’t fully formed so I tucked it away in my brain and wrote THE MISSING instead, then THE ESCAPE.

Earlier this year, after I finished writing my YA thriller THE TREATMENT, I had roughly six weeks before I had to start writing again. Normally I need about three months to research an idea and plot and outline it but I didn’t panic. I’d had the basic idea for THE FEAR swirling around my brain for a while. Six weeks was plenty of time. Wasn’t it?

Turns out it wasn’t.

I spent most of the six weeks scribbling in my notebook, trying to pull the different threads of the idea together but the more I pulled the more unwieldy the story became. There was an element to the story I desperately wanted to keep – about the power play between prisoner and captor – but the back story was all wrong. And then it came to me – my main character wouldn’t be confronting the man who was responsible for her sister’s disappearance eighteen years earlier. She would be confronting the man who groomed and seduced her as a teenager and convinced her to run away to France with him. The idea immediately appealed. It was so much more personal, more powerful and – importantly to me – unusual. I ditched the sister angle and started plotting the new back story but ran out of time before I could write an outline. When I started writing all I had to guide me were two pages of bullet points and four semi-formed characters.

For someone who wrote a 12,000 word outline before drafting THE ESCAPE and a 5,000 word outline before drafting THE MISSING it was a scary experience. It took me three attempts (and 6,000 deleted words) to get the first couple of chapters right but then it began to fall into place and the characters came alive.

THE FEAR is the first of my books that doesn’t have one of my fears at its heart and writing it was a challenge but, by not plotting it to the nth degree before I started, there were so many wonderful surprises and twists along the way (not least Wendy who is definitely one of my favourite ever characters). Publication day is 22nd March and I can’t wait.

Here’s the blurb…

Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…

Lou Wandsworth is used to being headline news as, aged fourteen, she ran away to France with her 31-year-old teacher, Mike Hughes.

Now 32, Lou’s life is in tatters – and she resolves to return home to confront Mike for the damage he has caused. But she soon finds that Mike is unchanged, and is focussing his attention on 13-year-old Chloe Meadows.

Determined to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself, Lou decides to take matters into her own hands. But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as she tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that Lou could once again become his prey…

The million copy Sunday Times bestseller returns with a taut, compelling psychological thriller that will have you glued to the edge of your seat.

Pre-order from Amazon.co.uk

Pre-order from Google Play

Pre-order from iBooks

Pre-order from Kobo

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Why I decided to write a YA novel

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A week tomorrow my first young adult novel  THE TREATMENT will be published. It’s a thriller, about sixteen year old Drew Finch who tries to rescue her brother Mason from a residential reform academy after a stranger gives her a note saying that the students are being brainwashed.

The first inkling of the idea came to me in 2011, when I was pregnant with my son. I wrote 20,000 words of what I thought was a middle grade idea about a bunch of kids who develop super powers after a trip to the Hadron Collider goes horribly wrong. The government gather them up and do experiments on them and yes…I know, it’s basically the plot of X Men. What can I say, pregnancy hormones do weird things to your brain. Anyway, I ditched the words I’d written and wrote The Accident instead but something about the idea continued to nag at me. I still wanted to write about kids who were locked up and had to try and escape but I had to ditch the superpower element and come up with something more realistic.

Over the last couple of years the idea for The Treatment gradually came together. I wanted there to be a Prison Break element and there had to be some kind of ticking clock – a reason to hasten the escape. How about something along the lines of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – a treatment that would forever change the inmates? But why?

Writers work in isolation but we can’t block out the outside world and, as I was mulling over ideas, I became increasingly worried about how right wing the UK was becoming. I became genuinely concerned that UKIP could end up running the county. And what then? Tighter immigration control, banning the Burka, a ‘social attitudes’ test? Those were the policies UKIP were admitting to but what, I wondered, might happen if an even more right wing party got into government? A reintroduction of national service, the death penalty, a police state?

I began researching social compliance and control and my research lead me to a website on the brainwashing and mind control carried out by the Chinese on American prisoners of war during the Korean War. Those kind of practices are outlawed now but what if a right wing government secretly used them to ensure that wayward teenagers were no longer a drain on society’s resources? And that’s when the final part of the puzzle fell into place.

Don’t get me wrong, The Treatment isn’t a political book by any means. It’s an out and out thriller about one girl’s attempt to rescue her brother from ‘prison’ but I wanted the ‘bad guys’ to be people who could exist. If not now then in the near future.

It’s a book I felt I HAD to write, regardless of whether it got a deal and, as I wrote it I fell in love with the characters – Drew, Mason, Mouse, Israel and the rest. I put a lot of myself into Drew. I drew on my own memories of being sixteen – of wanting to be in control of my own life, of questioning authority and feeling like an outsider. I remembered how it felt to be bullied, to be lonely and to be scared and then I made Drew a whole lot cleverer and braver than me.

There’s no romance in THE TREATMENT, no love triangle and no hero that swings in to save the day. The hero of my book is a sixteen year old girl. And I loved writing her. Why did I write a YA novel? I couldn’t not.

 

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A ‘Dead Good’ summer

I can’t believe it’s been nearly two months since I last posted on here. In some ways time has flown but I seem to have fitted quite a lot into the last sixty-odd days so here’s a (probably not very quick) round up.

First off was the HarperCollins author party in the V&A. It’s always a treat and this year was no exception. Here’s me and CJ Daugherty in the garden.

meandCJ

At the end of July I headed north to the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate. The weather wasn’t quite as glorious as it normally is but this year was my favourite Harrogate ever because…I won an award! The Escape won the Dead Good Books Hidden Depths award for Most Unreliable Narrator.

With my agent Madeleine Milburn.

My books were shortlisted for Dead Good books awards in 2016 and 2015 and didn’t win and no one could have been more shocked than me when my name was read out this year. I’m surprised my gasp wasn’t heard for miles. Somehow I managed to give a speech but, by the time I had my photo taken outside my legs, were shaking and I may have had a little (happy) sob on my agent’s shoulder when she gave me a hug afterwards.

My legs were wobbling in this shot!

The Dead Good book awards are voted for  by readers and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who voted for me. A dream came true that day and, to say thank you, I’m doing a big giveaway on my Facebook page and a separate one for members of the C.L. Taylor Book Club. More details later on in this post.

I told one of my writer friends, Marnie Riches, that if I won the champagne was on me and, as I was queuing at the bar, I turned round and spotted a familiar face. I’m not normally the sort of person to talk to a celeb but I’d had a couple of glasses of Prosecco by this point and, before I could stop myself, ‘Are you Jeremy Vine?’ popped out of my mouth. When he said that yes, he was, I gushed about how much I enjoyed his Radio 2 programme.

Me (slightly drunk) with Jeremy Vine.

We got chatting and he asked if I’d mind doing a live Facebook video for his page (you can see it here). The next day he sent me a tweet showing me that he’d bought a copy of The Escape and he even gave me a quote after he finished it, saying he hadn’t read a book as gripping since Gone Girl.  Such a nice man!

A couple of days after I got back from Harrogate I was off again – this time to London for YALC (the Young Adult Literary Convention) at Olympia. HarperCollins HQ had arranged a proof signing event for me and I turned up expecting to sign a handful of copies of The Treatment. Instead I arrived at the stall to find a queue of eighty YA readers patiently waiting for me to sign their copies. It was surreal. I’ve never signed so many books in my life and I’m sure I won’t again. It was a wonderful convention, full of excitement and enthusiasm for books and stories and several readers I spoke to were dragging suitcases full of books they’d bought or brought along for authors to sign.

After all that excitement it was time for me put my head down and finish my fifth psychological thriller for adults. We’d booked our family holiday (a week in Cornwall) for 12th August and I gave myself a deadline of 11th August so I wouldn’t have to write while we were away. Because I finished the YA novel in February and did a lot of events in March and April to promote The Escape I didn’t actually start writing the new book until May. I was about 70,000 words into the first draft by the end of July giving me 11 days to write another 20,000 odd words and finish the book. Knowing I’d have to write flat out I temporarily abandoned my family and booked myself into Retreats for You in Devon for five days.

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My room at Retreats for You, Devon

I had a wonderful stay, hugely productive and, by the time I left, the word count was up to 85,000 words. I delivered the finished 91,000 word draft to my editor on 11th August with just enough time left to pack before our holiday.

My edits are due back next week so, this week, I’ll mostly be tidying my study (it’s a tip!), decluttering the house and prepping for some masterclasses I’m running later this year. On 8th September I’m delivering a crime writing masterclass at Bloody Scotland, Stirling with Sophie Hannah and Doug Johnstone. Tickets are available here. Then, on 2nd December I’ll be in Plymouth talking about establishing plot and pace for the Writers & Artists ‘How to Get Published’ conference. You can find out more here. I will also be appearing on a panel with Clare Mackintosh and Sarah Pinborough at Bloody Scotland, appearing on a panel at the Killer Women festival in October and reading in the ‘caves’ for the Bristol Festival of Literature. More details on my events page.

This morning the postman brought me a big box full of copies of my YA novel THE TREATMENT. They’re gorgeous. Not long now until publication day – 19th October.  It’s strange, having two books published in one year but I’m really excited about this book. I put a lot of my teenaged self into the main character, Drew – particularly issues I had with authority and the feeling that I didn’t have any control of my life. Drew is a lot braver than I was though! I’ll write a blog post talking some more about what inspired THE TREATMENT as it gets closer to publication date.

Quick aside – if you haven’t read THE ESCAPE (my fourth adult psychological thriller) yet you’ve got until the end of August to get the ebook for 99p and the paperback for £2. The prices go up again on 1st September.

And now for details of my giveaways…

Over on my Facebook page I’m giving away NINETEEN prizes including three signed copies of The TREATMENT, three signed copies of Dead Simple, bookmarks, pendants and some very cool custom printed flash drives. They’re pens but also 8GB USB sticks with ‘C.L. Taylor – gripping psychological thrillers’ printed on the side. You’ve got until one minute to midnight on 3rd September to enter that giveaway.

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I’ll also be running another ‘thank you’ giveaway for members of the C.L. Taylor Book Club where I’ll be giving away my CrimeFest and Harrogate goody bags, signed copies of THE TREATMENT and Dead Simple and some more pens/USB sticks. Sign up now if you don’t want to miss out. It’s free, you can unsubscribe at any time and you’ll receive my 9,000 word story THE LODGER as a thank you just for signing up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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