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August 2020: A hot-coal idea and time to take stock

Well, here we are, coming out of lockdown. At least I hope so. Unlike some people, I haven’t been relishing the “stay at home” mantra as I’ve found rather to my cost that my creativity freezes up without external stimulation.

As soon as I was allowed out a little more – even if it was just to the farm shop twice a week rather than once! – my brain kick-started and I finished my manuscript at a gallop. I sent it to my agent who liked it very much (the good news) but didn’t think it was “different or stand out enough” to attract a major publisher (the bad news).

Apparently, because I’m not a debut author, I need an extra-special “something” before a publisher will commit themselves. Being an “established, veteran” crime writer, as I was referred to in print recently, has its downsides, it seems, and producing a good, solid thriller isn’t enough in today’s market, which is as tough as it’s ever been.

It was time to take stock.

Should I change genre? Perhaps combine genres? Fantasy, sci-fi, romance, horror, historical? My mind began to buzz and with no barriers any more, excitement began to trickle in.

And then, out of the blue, one of those hot-coal ideas dropped into my consciousness. One of the ones that I can’t tell anyone about, because once I do, the heat goes out of it and I lose interest in the whole premise.

I did, however, pitch the first chapter to my agent. Who absolutely loved it.

So, this is where I am. I have a first chapter and the burning kernel of an idea. Now all I have to do is find the rest of the book. Because it’s so different, it’s going to take longer than usual, but I’ve decided I’m not going to hurry and let it take shape without pressure. Rather like I did with Blood Junction all those years ago.

Meanwhile, the fourth Dan Forrester is looking for a home. I’ve polished the final draft and am now looking for a publisher. I’ve had so many emails asking for another in the series, it’s nice to be able to say I’ve written it! Cross fingers someone will snap it up because I reckon it’s the best of the lot – not only does Dan come face-to-face with a tragic event from his past, but Lucy gets the opportunity to track down her estranged father. Lots of emotional drama and lots of action to keep Dan and Lucy in shape.

I’ve had so many emails asking for the fourth Dan Forrester that it’s nice to say I’ve written it! (Image: CJ Carver)

Other news… well, I was lucky enough to get away. For two whole weeks! My hub and I took the camper to Northumberland and then the Isle of Skye, places I’d never visited before, and what a revelation. Stunning, both of them. I took lots of photographs but none of them do justice to the scale of the beaches or mountains.

I became a bit of a bird watcher up there. Thrilled to see a Sea Eagle as well as my first Razorbill, and lots of LBJ’s too (little brown jobs).

I’d never seen a razorbill before… (Image by CJ Carver)

While I was away, I was struck by how much things have changed for most of us, how many people feel uncertain over the lack of control in their lives at present – not knowing what’s around the corner, if their job is secure, when will it all end? And what about our own mortality? Consciously or unconsciously all humans have to be grappling with the ultimate question, but where are the answers?

A lot of people turn to books for comfort on a variety of levels, and I’m no exception. I read loads, and also watched more TV. I thoroughly enjoyed Succession on Netflix, following the dysfunctional Roy family who spend their time fighting for control of their father’s global media empire. None of them are particularly likeable but I found it immensely gripping all the same.

An Aussie buddy of mine recommended me to read Alan Carter, and I am so glad he did. Cato Kwong is a detective in a small Western Australian town, trying to find a missing fifteen-year-old girl. The case, however, is much more than it seems, and he soon finds himself wading ever deeper into trouble. Getting Warmer was an excellent read, witty and entertaining as well as a great page-turner.

I devoured Jane Harper’s The Lost Man in twenty-four hours. It is an exemplary crime novel. Her best book yet.

That’s it from the writer’s desk today. I hope you’re all having as good a summer as is possible and that you have some great reading to help distract you as we get to grips with our challenging new world.

All the best,


© CJ Carver 2020