I'm delighted to welcome Mary-Jane Riley to my blog today, to talk about Terrible Twos - that dreaded second book syndrome. Mary-Jane's latest book After She Fell was published by Killer Reads on 26 April 2016.
By Mary-Jane Riley
It’s true what they say – writing a book is like having a baby. There you are, writing it over several months, nourishing it, worrying about it, then pushing it out into the world, fearful things will go horribly wrong. So it was with my first book, The Bad Things. When it appeared on my kindle last August on publication day I expected to feel euphoric. I’d done it! But the overwhelming emotion was worry. Would people like it? After all, that was the main reason for this whole rocky journey (not to be too X Factor about it) – to have people enjoy reading the book. My best friend rang me in the evening. I burst into tears. Overwhelmed. Then I drank champagne (my agent told me to celebrate every stage with champagne. I took her at her word. Still do). As the days and weeks went on, people did read it and enjoyed it. Friends and colleagues were so proud of me and for me – they knew I had wanted this for some time. The reviews were great. I was determined not to obsess about the slightest critical word in a review (there is one reviewer who is a swear word in our house). It did really well in various the kindle charts in the UK and the US. I was a proper author. Then I held the paperback in my hand. Photographed it a lot. Tweeted and Face-booked until my head was spinning.
And I wasn’t going to have second book dread. Absolutely not. No way. What do you take me for? Worry about doing it all over again? Come on! Okay, so I’d had months, years of preparing for my first book. I could sit and dream and think about accepting awards, of being on panels of being able to do what I had always wanted to do. Now I could begin to think about the next one –
‘You are writing the second one?’ (My agent.)
‘Er…yes.’ (Me, looking at the doodles in my notebook.)
‘Because you can’t hang around, you know. This is what you do.’ (My agent – not known as The Fearsome One for nothing)
So I tried not to hang around. I chatted to the dog (she always listens, though occasionally appears bored). I sat my bottom in front of my computer (only way and if you’re not careful it can get quite large) and began to shape the doodles into words. Sentences. Paragraphs. Chapters. A book. After She Fell. The main character the same as in The Bad Things as I felt there was more of her story to tell – though I did move her out of her home town of Sole Bay to avoid it becoming like Midsomer with bodies everywhere.
Are the characters just standing around drinking coffee?
Do they spend most of their time in the pub?
Does anything actually happen?
What if I’ve lost the ability to write?
What if nobody likes it?
What if it doesn’t sell as well?
Is it as good as The Bad Things?
Do I have enough gin in the house?
My agent loved it. My editor wanted it. After some more shaping and honing and polishing, it was pushed out into the world too.
I had a fabulous publication day. Went out to lunch with my husband. Drank champagne in the evening. Didn’t cry this time, I knew what to expect. And yet. And yet.
It was like having a second baby. First baby gets showered with teddy bears and rattles and cute clothes. Second baby gets a pair of bootees. Knitted by a maiden aunt. Friends and colleagues made appreciative noises and have, I hope, bought it. My family are still extremely proud of me though I do accept it’s not as exciting for them this time round. The good reviews are beginning to appear, though I have weaned myself off refreshing the Amazon/Kobo/iBooks/Goodreads page every few minutes (it’s a wonder I write anything). But still the doubts, the worry. See? Like having babies. But that’s life. And I am privileged to be able to do this, so damn lucky to have the opportunity a great many people dream of.
The phone rings. It’s my friend – the one who I cried down the phone to last August.
‘Well done,’ she says. ‘I’m so proud of you.’
‘But I don’t know whether it’s going to be as good… do as well…’
‘I am very proud of you,’ she says firmly. ‘You have written and published two books. Two. Books.’
She’s right (she always is).
Now for Book Three.
About Mary-Jane Riley
Mary-Jane Riley is an ex BBC journey and crime writer. Mary-Jane loves wine. And dogs.
Readers can find out more about Mary-Jane Riley on her Facebook page. Follow Mary-Jane Riley on Twitter - @mrsmjriley
After She Fell
By Mary-Jane Riley
Published by Killer Reads (26 April 2016)
There are so many ways to fall…
Catriona needs help. Her seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her boarding school. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona isn’t convinced.
When her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, arrives in Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at private boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest.
Amidst a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between school and village, no one is quite who they seem to be, and there are several people who might have wanted Elena to fall…