My Writing Journey

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So how does someone working in government end up writing a novel?

I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed English way back in my school days – the analysing and critical evaluation of classics from Robert Louis Stevenson, William Shakespeare and Wilfred Owen. I also enjoyed writing short stories ~ and had some reward in achieving publication in the school magazine!

Alas, I ended up studying Business and Finance at university and falling into a career in the civil service, a job I still hold. I am also Managing Director of Saphrim Ltd, a small business that has developed its own brand of fine precious gemstone jewellery based on the beauty of Ireland’s landscape and culture, specifically its literature and music culture.

I have however never lost my love for reading. Early on I developed a particular interest in crime, mystery and thriller genres. When not working I am most likely to be found reading! Friends and colleagues have often asked why someone who clearly has such a passion for reading, and who has an aptitude for writing (albeit government reports) never considered writing a novel.

So consider it I did.

A number of years ago, heavily influenced by Alex Delaware (Jonathan Kellerman), Harry Bosch (Michael Connolly), Jack Reacher (Lee Child) and the stand alone novels of Harben Coben and Linwood Barclay I wrote Systems Failing. This was a novel that followed the oft cited adage of ‘write what you know’ in being centred in the worlds of government officialdom and commerce. It also weaves in my passion for crime, mystery and thrillers. Indeed it proved very difficult for me to decide on the most appropriate genre to categorise the novel given it contained a crime, mysterious circumstances and thrilling encounters!

Systems Failing is available now on Amazon and I am currently editing a follow up novel, Double Figures, which further explores the personal and professional trials and tribulations of the main protagonist Clark Radcliffe.

eBooks v Books

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So, after a lengthy period corresponding with agents and publishers I have taken the plunge and published my first full length novel on Amazon. It seems to have taken years to get to this stage, what with agents’ and publishers’ exclusivity expectations, delay/failure in responding to emails etc (the usual experience by all accounts).

But why did I pursue the route of agents and publishers in the first place?

Well, I suppose I see myself as a traditionalist when it comes to books and reading. I love books. I love holding books, perusing them, turning them over in my hands. I love their smell. I regard books as pieces of art, something to display in bookcases; to admire and cherish.

And then one day my good wife bought me a Kindle. I tried it. I didn’t like it. I missed my books. I threw it in the corner.

Over time friends and colleagues appeared to be moving (en masse) towards e-readers; Kindle, Nook, Hudl, iPad, iPhone, Windows etc, ridiculing me in their wake for my intransigence. I began to take notice too of the number of people about town, in cafes and public transport engrossed in their e-reader. I reflected on my pursuance of traditional publishing and my goal of having an actual physical book available in hardback and paperback.

Maybe I am a bit of a Luddite, I began to think. And perhaps more importantly, maybe I am missing an opportunity as a writer (or author – see previous blog post). Maybe a goal should be to reach as many readers as possible, and if readers have transitioned (or are transitioning) towards e-readers then that is an avenue I need to consider?

So I investigated Kindle Direct Publishing.

And I made a decision.

Systems Failing is now available in eBook format to ‘get it out there’ and to test readers’ reaction. And I must say it has been a move I am not regretting, the feedback both encouraging and motivating. I am now working with Createspace to make a print version available; now in the final proof stages and hopefully available in the next few weeks!

So in conclusion, I will always love my hardback and paperback books but have grown to accept and appreciate that not everyone may share the same view. As long as my writing is being read and (hopefully) enjoyed I should be thankful and grateful irrespective of the medium on which the words appear.

Oh, by the way, I have retrieved my Kindle from the corner and am currently working my way through a couple of ‘downloads,’ albeit alongside reading a ‘proper’ book.

So the future for me is not eBooks v Books, but eBooks AND Books.

Am I a writer or an author?

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Building a Facebook page recently to coincide with the launch of my first full length novel (Systems Failing) I was faced with a dilemma! From the list of category options available do I include my status as a writer or an author? A quick bit of research pulled up numerous articles and comments on the subject which, to summarise, seem to conclude a writer writes and an author is published. There is something too about a writer regularly producing a broad range of material – short stories, poems, newspaper and magazine articles, journals, blogs etc while an author produces books and novels (accepting that an author might produce books of short stories and poems and will be required to ‘write’ articles to promote their work). It is also suggested that ‘writer’ defines the craft of writing whereas ‘author’ does not.

But which am I?

Hmmm…

I certainly write a lot of short stories (which are unpublished) and try to be as active as possible on social media (does this constitute ‘published’ even in the broadest sense)? But writing full length novels is what I like to think is my main writing goal. And my first novel has just launched on Amazon (ergo ‘published’).

I have a day job too. This requires me writing a lot of lengthy papers and reports, something (as odd as it might sound) that I quite enjoy.

So, pulling my deliberations together I have concluded (rightly or wrongly) that while I have ‘authored’ a first novel I write many different things in different arenas. I would like therefore to call myself a writer.

And so ‘writer’ is the category status I have applied to my Facebook page (and incidentally have also labelled myself a writer on my WordPress site).

I still have an Amazon Author page and a Goodreads Author profile though!

Maybe I need to give this some more thought.

It’s just occurred to me. I wonder if I might indeed be a ‘Novelist’…  

Who is Clark Radcliffe?

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Clark Radcliffe has lived in Belfast for many years, from his days as a student to working as a government computer analyst. With a growing reputation he began to receive attention and tempting offers from outside public service. Eventually he succumbed and took the step into the unknown, into freelance computer consulting.

His knowledge of the inner workings of government is not lost on his freelance partners, including the police who draw him into investigating wrongdoing and secrecy in the corridors of power.

If only his personal life had taken a progressive path. Clark enjoys his own company avoiding what he sees as futile casual conversations with colleagues. He does however maintain a small circle of friends for little more than social convenience. He is estranged from his family having drifted away during his student days. And he struggles with women.

His solace is his music; both listening to the classics of the ‘70s and strumming his own versions in the solitude of his bijou home.

Clark’s embarks on his first adventure in Systems Failing, a treacherous trek across Belfast and Dubai in search of answers to a mysterious case involving Milton White, a high profile government official forced to resign in suspicious circumstances.

Double Figures is coming soon! Follow Clark in the City of London as he investigates financial irregularity involving someone very close to him…

Systems Failing

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This is it, my first blog post!

A number of years ago I  came up with the idea for a character who worked within and understood the mechanics of government departments, a character who could solve problems, mysteries and even crime within its ivory towers. I felt this would allow unconventional methods unhindered by traditional and even literary police procedure. Clark Radcliffe is that character!

Systems Failing is Clark’s first adventure, a race across Belfast and Dubai to unravel the mystery of a senior government official implicated in a complex case of embezzlement involving a middle eastern investment company.

Having spent a number of years treading the well-worn path towards agents and  publishers, with some  encouraging success it must be said, I have decided that my immediate publishing future lies with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Systems Failing introducing Clark Radcliffe is now available for download at Amazon.

I hope you enjoy the journey with Clark Radcliffe!

Download Systems Failing

Systems Failing cover 720dpi for ebook