I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for What Falls Between the Cracks by Robert Scragg. And as part of the blog tour I have a Q&A with Robert about his Road to Publication to share with you. But first here’s what the book is about.
Did she slip through the cracks, or was she pushed?
When a severed hand is found in an abandoned flat, Detective Jake Porter and his partner Nick Styles are able to DNA match the limb to the owner, Natasha Barclay, who has not been seen in decades. But why has no one been looking for her? It seems that Natasha’s family are the people who can least be trusted.
Delving into the details behind her disappearance and discovering links to another investigation, a tragic family history begins to take on a darker twist. Hampered by a widespread fear of a local heavy, as well as internal politics and possible corruption within the force, Porter and Styles are digging for answers, but will what they find ever see the light of day?
ROBERT’S ROAD TO PUBLICATION
Do you find that inspiration strikes you in specific places, or do ideas come to you everywhere?
I wish it was as straightforward as heading for a specific place, but they just pop up at random. There’s a whole host of things that have made me think “what if…” It can be anything from watching/reading a news article, to overhearing a conversation in a coffee shop (in a non-stalker kind of way – I don’t go out of my way to eavesdrop!). It’s the “what if” type of scenario that inspired me to try and write a book in the first place. There were times I’d read a book, and get to the end thinking about what I’d have done differently. That’s not saying my ideas were any better, just an alternative, and it happened often enough that I thought I might as well put my money where my mouth is and give it a go.
What do you usually do after you get the first spark of a fresh idea, is it straight to the computer to write the first chapter or straight to a notebook to start planning?
I’m definitely more of a planner. I usually start with a few pages worth of an outline, capturing the general flow of the story, and characters. After that, I work on a very brief bio for each character that I can refer back to/add to as I go. Once that’s done I like to have a first crack at a list of scenes to write – usually capturing who’s POV it’s from, where and when it takes place, and one or two lines about what happens. All of that will take me a few days, and then I’m good to go.
How long does your first draft usually take to write?
It’s getting quicker with each one so far. The very first book I wrote (one that didn’t get picked up at the time) took a couple of years, writing in fits & starts. What Falls Between the Cracks took around six months, but I was a lot more disciplined about it! The sequel, Nothing Else Remains was around four months, but don’t think I could write much faster that that while I’m still holding down a day job as well! Ideally I’d love to be able to do two a year, which is definitely manageable alongside a day job.
Do you celebrate when you finish your first draft and if so how?
Definitely! Even though I know there’ll still be a lot of work to do around editing, I still feel a sense of relief when I type the last line. Each book I’ve finished so far has been toasted with a whiskey or two.
Is it straight to editing or do you leave your manuscript for a while before you pick up the red pen?
I thought I’d lean towards leaving it in a drawer for a while, but each one so far I’ve not been able to ignore it for more than a few days before I make a start.
How long do you spend editing before your book is handed over to the printers?
I’m still relatively new to this part, having only worked through a full round of edits for my debut. From memory though, I think What Falls Between the Cracks went through six separate edits. That includes three before I signed with my agent, another before I signed with Allison & Busby, and then two more alongside them before it went to print. I couldn’t even begin to guess how many hours that works out at. The latter part of that (i.e. after I’d accepted the offer from A&B) took roughly seven months.
At what point, prior to publication do the nerves start to kick in or do you not get nervous in the approach to publication?
As a rule I don’t generally do nerves with most things, but there were definitely a few in the run up to publication. I’d say they probably kicked in from about six weeks out.
How does it feel when the early reviews start to come in?
This accounted for a big element of the nerves for me. It’s one thing to let your friends and family read your work, but when you start to get complete strangers opinions, you know they have absolutely no vested interest in saying nice things for the sake of it, so I was on the fence between dreading them and getting impatient to see the first few. The vast majority so far have been really positive so looks like the nerves were all for nothing (for now anyway – I’m sure they’ll be back for book two)
How long do you wait after finishing your book before starting on your next project?
I tend to always have something on the go, so tend to start planning out the next one the day after I finish a draft. As well as the two Porter & Styles books, I’ve plotted out the next two in the series, and also finished first drafts of two standalones that I’m busy editing with the help of my agent. I keep a list of all ideas I have, and it’s somewhere in the sixties at the moment so I shouldn’t run out of projects to work on for a while yet. Whether people want to keep reading them is another matter entirely!
And finally how do you celebrate publication day?
I only have the one as a frame of reference so far, but it felt pretty much perfect. I took the day off work, and had a walk on the beach with my wife, our son and our dog. That was followed up by a bacon sandwich at the Surf Café near Tynemouth, then lunch with my family. To top it off, there was a local crime writing event on in the evening, so I was asked to go along and do a reading, and again had my wife and parents in the audience. I have a feeling the beach and bacon part might become a publication day tradition!
Thank you to Robert for taking the time to answer my question and to Ailsa Floyd at Allison and Busby for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. If you would like to purchase a copy of What Falls Between the Cracks, you can do so by clicking the link below.
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Publication date: 19th April 2018 (kindle/hardcover) 20th September 2018 (paperback)
Print length: 320 pagess
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