I Have A New Book Out Today!
Today is my publication day for ‘Little Boy Found’. It’s my first e-book although (as I’ve probably mentioned several thousand times) it will see regular paperback print if/when we hit our reader target, and it’s the first I’ve written under a pseudonym. So, thank you to everyone who has ordered this in advance; you did it on trust and I really hope you enjoy it. Plus, you got it at an early cheap price! Please forgive me if you’ve heard all this before – it’s an unusual year, with four books out (‘Wild Chamber’, ‘Frightening’, ‘The Book Of Forgotten Authors’) – but this is my biggest stylistic departure so far.
I wanted to write the kind of book that’s utterly alien to me in its construction; a psychological thriller. Good psychological thrillers fascinate me, from Ira Levin’s ‘A Kiss Before Dying’ to Gillian Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’. Bad ones fascinate too, for the lessons they teach in learning what not to do.
The creation and sustaining of suspense is a completely different discipline to constructing a mystery, and within the field there are further sub-genres, one of which we now call ‘domestic suspense’, which usually has a female protagonist and barely involves a police investigation. A favourite of mine is ‘Mischief’ by Charlotte Armstrong, which seamlessly unfolds in real time, as a woman staying in a hotel starts to suspect that a child is in danger. The novels of Margaret Millar, a forgotten author just coming back into print, are even better, but reading them is very different to writing 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.
Four years later, fourteen drafts in, after dozens of reworkings from every angle and a hundred titles selected and discarded, the book was bought by Quercus. Now I experienced how a really thorough edit can reshape and improve a book; it’s the largest I’ve received on a manuscript and the most complex, because the story is about memory and emotion and loss and obsession, and each editorial change pulls apart the next. Think of a jigsaw in which two thirds of all the pieces are missing an edge and you have some idea of the difficulty level involved in reassembly. But it’s been a fascinating challenge.
My editor was as excited as I was, so the novel became a big departure for me. The strategy was to start it as an e-book, then bring it into print. 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.
I wanted to see if I could bring a new twist to the genre, and came up with a couple of angles I’d never seen in this kind of novel. Did I succeed in ringing the changes? Perhaps you’d best be the judge of that. If it works well, there will be others in the LK Fox line – I already have a killer suspense idea lined up to follow this, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens to ‘Little Boy Found’ first.
PS I’m not – for once – having a launch party. I’ll save that for when we hit paper. Old habits die hard.