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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

Losing the plot

At the moment I’m distilling my thoughts here, wondering what to write. This week has been traumatic for so many people because of the Manchester bombing atrocity. No-one knows, or can explain, what drives these fanatics who kill in the name of some diabolical belief. It has been going on for centuries and is unlikely ever to change. I am old enough to have survived the war in London, knew about the Korean War although as a child I didn’t understand why it was happening. The IRA campaign. Looked on from afar at the conflict in Vietnam. The Falklands War. The so-called “Arab Spring” in which the West became involved and unwittingly unleashed Islamic terror on the world. I have read and studied the Bible a few times, and can see that it all happened thousands of years ago. And so it goes on. As a writer, I can see a lot of mileage in stories that involve pain, heartache, murder, kidnap and bombings, and have used the essence of these in my books. But in those stories I had control over what happened, and could resolve it all happily. Now I find myself looking on desperately sad over what has happened and wishing there was some way I could “resolve” it so that it never happened again. But I can’t; all I can do is pray it is finished — no more, never again.

During the week I had a hearing appointment for my new hearing aids, attended a church house group, went on a coach trip to Eastbourne and continued editing one of my books. So I have had an aural, spiritual, joyful and literary experience throughout the week. And I received an e-mail via my website from a new subscriber. Very nice too. Oh, and another e-mail from one of my subscribers asking if I will review her book. I don’t really have the time to wade through a novel that I wouldn’t normally pick up and read. And I did warn the writer that I don’t usually do this. I also said I was a very harsh critic (that’s why I’m editing my books again!), so not to expect a five star review. And I’m slow. So many negatives, eh? I haven’t had a reply yet. I’ll let you know what happens.

I hope to start a campaign next month to sell more books. But how do I find the right source of readers to aim at? There is so much information and advice out there, that it should be easy. But of course they all claim the same thing: to get you in front of their thousands of subscribers and keep you on their twitter feed for several days. It’s a big business and makes money for those people involved; probably more than they get from writing books. Oh yes, they are usually authors themselves. There are successful ones of course: Nick Stephenson, Mark Dawson and Joanna Penn to name a few, and I know from experience that following their advice means involvement and effort, but it’s needed in spades.

I’ve been changing my mind about my next book. I’ve spoken about Marcus Blake as a follow up to Where the Wicked Dwell, but now I’m thinking of continuing the return of Conor Lenihan (The Eagle’s Covenant). I have some angles popping into my head: some I like, others I don’t, but until I can get my mind focussed on which plot and with whom, I will never get down to writing my next “best-seller”. Wish me luck!

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