A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…
First off, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Chelle for giving me the chance to write something for her brilliant blog – it’s a great way for me to introduce myself and let you in on the story of how my book, The Tattoo Thief, came to be published.
I’ve been a writer all of my life – I’ve had a career as a freelance copywriter and as well as that, I’ve always had some writing project or other on the go when I’m not working. So how did I finally come to be published author? All writers will tell you it’s down to hard work, bum-in-seat, long hours at the desk on your own – and this is certainly true. But I think it also takes a little bit of luck – a sprinkling of fairy dust, if you like, or the stars all lining up for one magical moment that carries you from wannabe to published writer.
So, what was my particular lucky break that boosted me across that invisible line?
There were two pieces of luck I had when it came to bringing The Tattoo Thief into being. Firstly, being struck with the idea for the story and, secondly, my route to publication. I think like most other writers, I’m constantly coming up with ideas for stories and books. Some are better than others. There are those that you know straight off simply aren’t going to fly and there are those that you believe, with a lot of hard work, could be turned into a great story. And then there are some that pop into your head, almost fully formed, and make you thinks, yes, this is THE ONE! That happened with The Tattoo Thief. In 2015, I got a tattoo – and lying in bed, too excited to sleep after my first tattoo session, I thought, ‘I’ve got my tattoo now and no one can take it away from me.’ Immediately after that, I thought, ‘But what if somebody did?’ And there was the story idea in that single sentence – what if somebody stole the tattoos off people’s bodies. That, at any rate, was the seed for the novel that became The Tattoo Thief, with a lot of hours of hard work to follow.
My second lucky break was seeing a post on Facebook advertising the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival. I’d never heard of Bloody Scotland before, but the opportunity to pitch my idea in front of a panel of publishers and agents seemed too good to miss. To win a place, I had to write 100 words about my novel. I quickly wrote down my idea and sent it off, with no real expectation of being selected – but a while later I had an email inviting me to come to Stirling to pitch in front of the panel. At this point I felt like I’d won – the opportunity to get some professional feedback at such an early stage, before I’d even started writing the novel, was something that I knew would be incredibly valuable. I honed my three-minute pitch and rehearsed it endlessly before jumping on a plane to Glasgow and heading onwards to Stirling.
I was terrified. I’d never pitched or even spoken publicly before, but now I was going to stand up in front of a crowded hotel ballroom and a panel of experts and try to persuade them all that my as-yet-unwritten novel might be of interest to them. Gulp! Luckily, I didn’t fluff my lines or run over the strict time limit, and at the end of my pitch I was able to answer the questions the panel threw at me. It was an amazing experience and no one was more shocked than I when the panel came back from their deliberations and declared me the winner. That was totally beyond my expectations.
After winning Pitch Perfect, I very quickly signed with an agent, the wonderful Jenny Brown of Jenny Brown Associates and then ended up selling the book to my now-editor Sam Eades, of Trapeze Books, who had been on the Pitch Perfect panel and had taken an interest in the book from the start. Doing Pitch Perfect definitely changed things for me, and if I hadn’t seen that one post on Facebook, I certainly wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now. So, yes, writing a book takes a hell of a lot of hard work, but being open to a little luck coming your way is part of the mix too!
You’re very welcome Alison….it’s been fab that I have had the chance to take part in the tour.