That Mystery Book Explained

Books

Some while back I set out to write the kind of book that’s fairly alien to me in its construction; a psychological thriller. While I love them (especially those by Margaret Millar, a forgotten author just coming back into print), I don’t usually write them. I tend to construct matrices of facts rather than delving into the minds of two or three characters and putting them through the emotional wringer. This is partly because I don’t usually write first person narratives.

But I really wanted to try it. Four year later, 14 drafts in, after dozens of reworkings from every angle, the book was bought by Quercus and will be published this summer. But for the first time I’ve experiencing how a really thorough edit can reshape and improve a book; it’s the largest edit I’ve received on a manuscript and the most complex, because the book is about memory and emotion, and each editorial change pulls apart the next. Think of a jigsaw in which two thirds of all the pieces are missing one edge and you have some idea of the difficulty level involved in reassembly. But it’s been a fascinating challenge.

And my Quercus editor was as excited as I was, so as the book is a very big departure for me they had a plan for it. We’ll do it as an e-book to start out with, and once it reaches a certain level of sales it then becomes a print book.

First – as it’s not written in my usual style – I came up with a pseudonym; LK Fox. It’s non-gender specific, will sit right next to my regular books (FOW-FOX), and happens to be my mother’s initials. Next it needed a title and an image. That’s how ‘Little Boy Found’ was born.

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And it’s already up on Kindle and charting without regular readers (i.e. not you lot, the ones in the know) knowing it’s by me. This is all much to my amazement, but such is the mysterious way of the electronic word. It gets sold at a super-low price (£1.99) because you’re buying it on trust.

If a book has so much editing, does that make it a collaboration? Not really, because the editor makes suggestions and the writer still decides what goes in and stays out. So here’s the synopsis for you;

The thriller with the twists you’ll never see coming!

One rainy morning, just after Nick drops his young son off outside the crowded school gates, he has a minor collision with another car. The driver won’t surrender his insurance details, so Nick photographs the licence plate.

When he gets home, he enlarges the shot on his phone and sees somebody else in the picture – his son in the back seat, being driven away by a stranger.

Nick thinks he knows what has happened to his boy, but losing him is not as terrible as the shock of finding him, and reliving the nightmare all over again.

However this is not another missing child story. What happened to Nick and his son is far more surprising…

I’ll be keeping the book’s identity a secret except on this site, where I’ll keep you abreast of developments. It’s to be published on July 6th but you can pre-order it now for the ridiculous price of two nicker – and by doing so you push it toward its (more expensive, I hope) print incarnation.

Two quid for a book that took four years and fourteen drafts to write. Blimey! That’s what I call a snip. (Do people still say that?) Actually it’s just been pointed out that the book is even cheaper. Stone the crows you’re right? What can you buy for ninety nine pee these days except THE SWEAT OF MY BROW!?

19 comments on “That Mystery Book Explained”

  1. Jan says:

    Best of luck with it Chris

  2. Wayne#1 says:

    Sounds interesting. I hope it does make it to Print. In the mean time I may pop over and order the electronic edition, at less than the price of a Sandwich you can’t go wrong can you.

  3. Wayne#1 says:

    I just ordered it and it was on at £0.99 so even better value…

  4. Rachel Green says:

    Currently under a quid!

  5. Chris Webb says:

    So you’re saying this is written in the first person? Quite a difficult decision for a writer as it restricts you to describing what is in the narrator’s actual experience, and you might get near the end and find you want to describe something external. I suppose you could always do a replace of “I” to “he” or “she” and “me” to “him” or “her” to convert it to third person!

    I have only read three first-person books where it was actually necessary for the story, and in all three the protagonist descends into insanity!

    Engleby by Sebastian Faulks. Well written but creepy and not exactly enjoyable.
    God’s Own Country by Ross Raisin. Ditto.
    Underground Man by Mick Jackson. Quite endearing but rather sad.

    Going off-topic, I am currently reading London A Travel Guide Through Time by Dr Matthew Green, which is a set of guided tours through London at various periods in history. I have only read the first so far (1603) and already picked up some interesting facts, eg the original Globe was in Shoreditch and was called The Theatre, but due to a dispute with the landlord was dismantled and reassembled near the location of the current Globe. Also, that stone spike at the southern end of London Bridge marks where severed heads were put up on spikes to deter wrongdoers. Excellent book – a bit like getting into the mind of Arthur Bryant.

  6. Martin Tolley says:

    Thanks for the heads up Mister F. Got the bargain basement 99p pre-order.

  7. Jo W says:

    Chris,I hope the e-book does well and is published on real paper, then I can buy it. 🙂

  8. John Howard says:

    okey dokey, lets give this “new” writer a go. kindle edition now bought

  9. Brian says:

    Struth! 99p is all you folk have to pay? Just checked on Amazon here in Australia to find it is priced at $11.99 which is about 7 quid. Who would pay that much for an unknown writer?

  10. Brian Evans says:

    Chris Webb-I’ve just finished A Travel Guide Through Time by Dr Matthew Green. Like you, I thought it very good. It is an original take on history.

    I’m looking forward to Little Boy Found. As it is not yet out, it gives me time to save my pennies up to the 99p.

  11. admin says:

    Thank you all for your vote of confidence. I’ll finish it tonight right after I’ve done the hoovering.

  12. Stephen Winer says:

    Will this be available in America? I don’t see it at Amazon.

  13. Steveb says:

    Mr Fox is an author! Ordered his book.
    Underground Man is a good book.
    In ‘genre’ there are three books by John Franklin Bardin which are worth trying and might appeal to B&M fans.
    In sf Gene Wolfe wrote many books where you have to ‘interpret’ the narrator in one way or another, often with regard to memory.

  14. Steveb says:

    Forgot to say to Admin: good luck! Fingers crossed for the’real’ book 🙂 good cover btw

  15. Roger says:

    As in crazy LK Fox?

  16. Sandy says:

    Thank you for the US link, mel. Placed my order and look forward to being able to read this in July.

  17. davem says:

    ordered … with interest and anticipation

  18. Adam says:

    Marvellous – ordered!

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