Bar a complete change in artistic direction or a total mental breakdown, I’ll be revealing The Quisling Orchid to the world this month. I asked the ridiculously talented Janet Robinson of ScribbleLeaf to design the cover for me, and unsurprisingly she’s done another bang-up job.
Saying that The Quisling Orchid is ‘multi-faceted’ doesn’t really do the justice. It’s been quite an undertaking, involving a number of very talented editors to make sure that it was the best it could be. It was a lot to reflect in a cover, so instead of telling the whole story on the front, I decided to just focus on the relationship between two of the main characters: Silje and Freya.
I was aiming for stark simplicity, so trying to tell more of the story here would have made the design too cluttered. Besides, the story starts and ends with Silje and Freya, so I was okay with just having two figures on the cover.
In my opinion, both Watchmen and V for Vendetta are outstanding pieces of work, so any advice this chap gives is well worth listening to.
The article from Digital Spy makes a huge deal of his advice to self-publish, but for me, the standout piece of advice was to keep writing: rework until you are completely happy with what you’ve done, and when you get down to it, you’re the only person who will know for sure when it’s right.
But on the topic of the publishing industry, he had this to say:
As far as publishing goes, my first tip is publishing today is a complete mess. I know brilliant authors who cannot get published… Most of the book publishers don’t want to take a chance on publishing fiction when they can publish an autobiography of The Stig or something like that… The best way these days is publish yourself, it’s become easier and easier.
I certainly agree that publishing is easy; the problem is selling what you’ve published.
Watch the video, and if you’re in one of those ‘what the hell’s it all for’ kind of a rut then watch it again.
Well, she can certainly churn them out, I’ll give her that.
I’ve bumped a couple of books out the way so I could get to this one: the third in the Cormoran Strike series, skilfully penned by J.K. Rowling’s alter-ego. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two, and so expectations were running pretty damn high for book number three. And I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed… for the most part anyway.
This episode has our hero wading through the dregs of human society to solve find a serial killer who’s struck a little too close to home. The book follows much the same setup as the previous two (why change a winning formula): a gentle intro for the newcomers, a grisly murder, then a classic whodunnit skilfully woven around a tale of unrequited something. Epic stuff, and I would have enjoyed it as much as the first two books, except for one small thing: too many words.
Now it could be because I’m focussed on editing my own stuff at the moment, so perhaps I’m a little sensitive, but I did find that the book meandered around a bit. Every location was described in poetic prose that was a little strained at times, and the omnipotent viewpoint could have been smoother. I’ve never been a fan of leaping from brain to brain over the course of a few sentences. It’s wonderful device when you can pull it off, but we can’t all be Virginia Woolf, so I did find the overall effect a little jarring in places.
The pace was much much slower than previous books in the series, which gives the reader time to reflect on the changing relationship between Strike and his partner Robin (female – just sayin’). They continue to be wonderfully believable, flaws and all, as were the rest of the cast: the heroes were instantly likeable, and the perverts were about as scummy and unpleasant as you can possibly get.
The plot was intricate, beautifully crafted, and burned slowly up until the last few pages when someone lit the blue touch paper and we cannoned to a conclusion I hadn’t seen coming. (From about a third way through the book I was convinced I knew who the killer was; now I know that I was cleverly steered in the wrong direction).
As I said, the book had a few problems that could have been sorted out with a few more rounds of editing, but on the whole it was a cracking good read, not so much for the thriller aspect as the fascinating relationship between Strike and Ellacot.