Friday, 20 November 2015

My Writing and Publishing Journey: a guest post by Daniel Pembrey

I would like to welcome Daniel Pembrey to my blog today. Daniel's Amsterdam detective series, The Harbour Master, is being published by No Exit Press in 2016.  His pre-Xmas short story - The Lion Hunter - was published on 19 November 2015 and is available from Amazon. 

My Writing and Publishing Journey
By Daniel Pembrey

Thank you for having me Vicki! Please allow me to introduce myself via my new book, which will help me tell you more about my background.

I’ve just released a new, pre-Xmas short story called The Lion Hunter, which was inspired by a combination of Cecil the lion, a recent trip to Tanzania and my re-reading of Hemingway’s African short stories. It’s about a newly married British couple who meet a Texan trophy hunter at a remote game lodge. The lion hunting turns out to be less morally straightforward than the husband expects. It really is short at approximately 40 pages. I loved writing it, and I love the creature it’s based around (I’m a Leo!).

The storytelling process has, for me, been a circular one – involving reading what I love to write, and writing what I love to read. I have always enjoyed thrillers, but I’ve equally appreciated good travel writing. When I visit a place, I relish reading a strong story set there.

I also gravitate towards novellas and short stories. I like nothing more than being gripped by a story during the course of a plane or train journey. And as an author, I feel lucky to be living in an era when there is a viable market for them. (Before e-books, novellas were the realm of Hemingway and perhaps Stephen King; now, with programmes such as Kindle Singles – Amazon’s curated, short e-book programme – they’re flourishing.)

A few years ago, I started visiting Amsterdam; a close sister had moved there with her husband. I was struck by the dearth of crime fiction set in the Dutch capital in English translation. This surprised me because it’s one of northern Europe’s great port cities, lending itself so well to the genre.

I began writing a series of novellas about a stoic Dutch police detective called Henk van der Pol. He was inspired by the maverick cop stories of Michael Connelly and Ian Rankin, not to mention the Scandinavian masters such as the late Henning Mankell. I was fortunate to have the first two books accepted as Kindle Singles. They sold well, the first one becoming the number one short story on Amazon UK, and this in turn got me picked up by a good agent – Kirsty McLachlan at David Godwin Associates.

The very ingredients that had brought me initial success – the novella length e-books, the high-selling Kindle Singles – turned into a headache as my agent began submitting to publishers. While the publishers gave complimentary feedback about the story, they questioned how they could publish collections of novellas as novel-length print books (especially novellas that had already sold as e-books).

This summer, I took part in BritCrime, the online crime writing festival, founded by the wonderful Helen Smith. As well as being tremendous fun, the event created renewed focus on my Harbour Master series among bloggers and readers. Not long after the BritCrime event, my agent received offers from two publishers, one of which was the specialist crime publisher No Exit Press. They looked past the format of the individual books to see one continuous story. The Harbour Master will be re-published next year.

In parallel, I’m continuing with the Kindle Singles programme – namely, The Lion Hunter. And I’m fortunate to have found support in a remarkable man named John Rendall, who walked a lion on London’s King’s Road back in the day! You may have heard of John; he ended up becoming a YouTube phenomenon. For the full story, see here … I’d encourage you to check out the video embedded in the article, it is the most remarkable story of separation and reunion. John Rendall now does amazing conservation work in Africa, helping save species that are otherwise vanishing from in front of our eyes.

What my experience has shown me above all is to pay close attention to what truly enthuses us. For me, that was novella-length tales with themes that I identify with and with a strong sense of location – a hybrid of travel and crime writing, if you will. Those are the stories I love to read, and also the stories I love to write.

About Daniel Pembrey

Daniel grew up in Nottinghamshire beside Sherwood Forest. He has since lived in Edinburgh, Paris, Seattle, Luxembourg, Berlin, Amsterdam and London. Daniel is drawn to psychological suspense stories with a strong sense of location. His Amsterdam detective series, The Harbour Master, will be published by No Exit Press in 2016. Besides reading, writing and traveling, he loves to meet interesting people.

Find Daniel on his website and on Twitter - @DPemb

Find The Lion Hunter on Amazon UK and

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