Behind Coal House

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There are just two days left until the promotional sale for ‘Coal House’ on Amazon comes to an end. The support for it has been incredible, amongst my friends, family, of course the publishers at Rudling House and also my Twitter followers who have been so much more engaging and patient than I would have any right to expect, considering they probably follow me more for football/soccer related conversation.

At the time of writing, the book is at #51 in the best-sellers charts for ghost stories on Amazon, which is just crazy! Hopefully it will continue to climb. If so I’ll update this post as and when appropriate.

**Edit- I woke on January 6th to discover the book had jumped up to number 18 in the charts! I’m always wary about when I can describe a book as a best-seller (I had to wait until my two previous were at number 2 and 5), and then I read that as long as a book is in the top 100, it can be classified as such. I guess it’s arbitrary. But number 18? Well, I think that’s pretty safe…?

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I thought I’d write one more post about the book as prompted by my publisher and as I intimated I would earlier in the week. I was asked to explain how I formed the characters and structured the book and I hope that this is either (or, both) interesting to those who enjoyed the book and those who are perhaps writing their first.┬áBear in mind this is completely a personal thing and in no way what I consider ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, it just worked for me, and so there may be something that someone hadn’t thought of that they may find helpful.

First of all, the structure. One of most constructive critiques I had of the book was about the pacing; this was done deliberately, in order to hopefully lull the reader in to the more suspenseful parts. Writing suspense isn’t easy and – though I shouldn’t really admit this – I tend to approach my writing with my own creativity and then read techniques of others later, just in case I find myself influenced too much. And this technique, for me, was the most effective way of achieving a pace that would accentuate the suspense when it came time to slow everything down.

When it came to the characters, well, the first thing I wanted to do was to ensure that the protagonists reactions to every event were believable. How many times do you read a horror story or watch a horror film and find yourself annoyed at the characters for doing stupid things that lead them to terror? So, what I wanted to do was give my protagonist believable reasons for each of his actions. There are additional issues you face when writing about the supernatural. Not everybody believes in ghosts, and so, without wanting to ruin the story, I wanted to write something that might appeal to both those who do and don’t, and challenge rational thought and sensibilities.┬áThe other characters were developed in the same way, as obvious as that may be – considering normal reactions to, at times, extraordinary behaviour, and how those reactions may change and be influenced.

As this will be my last post promoting the book this week, I wanted to close with a personal note of thanks to Karen at Rudling House, who not only made a dream come true by getting this into print, but she also went above and beyond with some personal requests. When it was announced via Rudling House that the book was being published with them, I received congratulatory messages from other authors informing me how wonderful Karen is to work with, and I’m delighted to say I can completely see what they meant.

It’s also a year ago today that I started officially working with Charles Baker, who played ‘Skinny Pete’ in Breaking Bad. He read the manuscript for the book and reviewed it for me so that we could put a comment on the book itself in anticipation of its release. Then he took a picture of it and put it on Twitter. Wow! I still find it unreal that my debut novel has his kudos/encouragement on the front cover.

Thanks for reading!

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