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IndieView with Ray Britain, author of The Last Thread

I’m often frustrated by the inaccurate and improbable representation of crime investigation in the many television dramas on TV. Whatever the complexity of the crime they’re always solved within impossible time frames and, seemingly, with the most sophisticated technology immediately available. 

Ray Britain – 23 October 2017

The Back Flap

Accused of pushing a boy to his death, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s enigmatic smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must look on helplessly as an incompetent colleague intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.

Weeks later, a man is found savagely murdered. Taking a professional risk, ACC Steph Tanner throws Stirling the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation and appoints him to lead the investigation. But with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling’s investigation has far too many “loose threads” as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?

Things are already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, somehow connected to the murder?

About the book

What is the book about?

The Last Thread is in the genre of Crime Fiction> Police procedural with some adult content.

When did you start writing the book?

I made a serious start on it two years ago, put it away when the sun started shining last year and returned to it over the winter of 2017/18. I’ve spent much of this year proof reading, editing, and then having it converted to e-reader formats.

Where did you get the idea from?

I had a very successful and interesting career in the Police in both uniform and detective roles. I completed my career in a high rank but, throughout, the investigation of crime and the camaraderie of detectives was my preference. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) I led complex crime investigations. I was a police Negotiator too, on top of ‘the day job’.

I’m often frustrated by the inaccurate and improbable representation of crime investigation in the many television dramas on TV. Whatever the complexity of the crime they’re always solved within impossible time frames and, seemingly, with the most sophisticated technology immediately available.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Not in the writing so much as the proof reading and editing which is incredibly tedious, but essential.

What came easily?

I enjoyed crafting the plot’s twists and turns and laying down false trails to keep the reader engaged in the story and to challenge them in trying to work out the solution until close to the end.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

Apart from drawing on memories of my Father for the lead character of DCI Doug Stirling, the rest of the ‘cast’ is entirely of my imagination but they are drawn from my experience as a professional investigator over many years and working with some wonderful professionals.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I’ve read avidly since I was a child and it’s hard to say one author, alone, influenced me. If pressed to name some who stand out in my memory, they are: Steinbeck, H E Bates, Sebastian Faulkes, George Orwell and Stieg Larsson who was an exemplary crime writer. So sad that he died before he became famous.

Do you have a target reader?

Readers who enjoy intelligent crime fiction which is grounded in the reality of investigating crime and who enjoy a love interest threaded through it. My book does have some adult content.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

Yes. I spend a lot of time plotting my story in mind-mapping software to capture all my ideas, my thoughts, and any research that is required all in one place, to make sure I can ‘see’ the connections or create them as required. It helps me avoid getting sloppy and so avoid inconsistencies. That’s underpinned by a timeline to ensure sequential integrity and to maintain an accurate sequence of events, just as I would have done in a real investigation.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I didn’t in my first book, The Last Thread and I wrote far too much. In my second book which I’m writing now, I’m approaching it in a more structured way with a set number of chapters and an approximate word count per chapter. Hopefully, it will make the editing process much more manageable.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

As I go, to a point. However, when I go back and make changes I invariably re-introduce grammatical errors and typos so the main proof read is at the end.

Did you hire a professional editor?

No. I edited it myself before and after some ‘test readers’ read through it. Professional editing is very expensive for a new Indie author who has no guarantee of selling sufficient copies to recover the outlay.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Classical music and cool jazz, usually.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

No. I made an early decision to self-publish through Amazon. Later, I discovered Smashwords and I have published through them to reach Apple iBook readers, KOBO and the like.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

I’d heard stories from friends and others of people spending years trying to get a publisher to pick up their manuscript, let alone publish it. Self-publishing is exceptionally hard work, particularly in getting yourself noticed, but it is a cost-efficient route to market.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I hired a professional photographer. We arrived at the final image through a collaboration of shared ideas and his technical skill.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I’ve done a lot of research on the web and found some successful authors who are incredibly generous in sharing tips based on their, often painful, marketing experiences. That led to me developing a professionally composed and presented publicity ‘flyer’ which I emailed to numerous book reviewers and bloggers. It undoubtedly gained their attention and confidence that they were dealing with someone who was serious about working with them and would make it as easy as possible for them to ‘introduce’ me.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Be prepared to work hard at getting yourself noticed. The easy bit is writing the story.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I’m a UK citizen, more specifically, English.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I had a very successful and interesting career in the Police – in the UK – in both uniform and detective roles. I completed my career in a high rank but, throughout, the investigation of crime and the camaraderie of detectives was my preference. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) I led complex crime investigations. I was a police Negotiator too, on top of ‘the day job’.

Why have you adopted a pen name?

For privacy mainly, but also for family security. I locked up many criminals during my career, some of whom were unpleasant characters with long memories and failed to appreciate it was their actions which led to their imprisonment. And later in my career I was increasingly involved in discreet, national law enforcement capabilities so discretion remains important.

 You were a police negotiator?

 Yes, for about fifteen years. The full title is Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator, a voluntary role in addition to one’s day to day responsibilities. And for no financial reward, either, which often meant being ‘called out’ of a warm bed in the middle of the night to drive many miles to support police colleagues facing a variety of difficult situations.

 Why did you want to be a negotiator?

 To help people and because it’s endlessly fascinating. You never knew what you would be facing next. Often it was within a firearms incident where negotiators try to achieve a peaceful resolution such as a controlled surrender to armed officers. More usually it was responding to an incident where someone was threatening to take their own life and then spending time, sometimes many hours and often in precarious situations whilst persuading them to step back to a place of safety and to get them help. Less often, fortunately, it was negotiating the release of frightened hostages by someone holding them at gunpoint or using other weapons.

End of Interview:

For more from Ray, visit his website, follow him on Twitter, or like his Facebook page.

Get your copy of The Last Thread from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

IndieView with Susanne L. Lambdin, author of Seeker of Magic

I believe if you write about what you know, and what you actually experience in life, even when placed inside a fantasy story, that readers can feel this emotion, and often relate to it, and this makes your characters real to them. 

Susanne L. Lambdin – 19 October 2017 Continue reading

IndieView with Gabe Riggs, author of Punk Love Foucault

I had to be a different person when I wrote the book. I couldn’t be me. There was no way I could write about my life unless I was somewhat detached …

Gabe Riggs – 16 October 2017 Continue reading

IndieView with Winnfred Smith, author of Murder Finds a Home

I used to travel a lot. All over USA. I saw homeless people sleeping on sidewalks in several cities including LA, SF, NY, Omaha, Denver. I saw a shelter in Denver and while I didn’t go in, the whole idea stuck.  

Winnfred Smith – 12 October 2017 Continue reading

IndieView with Steven Arnett, author of The Summer of Robert Byron

After reading about different publishing options, I decided that the indie approach was best for me

Steven Arnett – 9 October 2017 Continue reading

IndieView with Mark Hibbett, author of Storm House

In the pub one night one of my friends asked why I was writing something that even I found a bit run of the mill. ‘Why don’t you write the sort of thing you actually like?’

Mark Hibbett – 5 October 2017 Continue reading

IndieView with Gary Corbin, author of Lying in Vengeance

… agents and editors kept telling me that they couldn’t sell my book (Lying in Judgment) because they couldn’t sell a book whose protagonist was essentially the bad guy. I knew the book could sell – but they did convince me that they weren’t the ones to do it.

Gary Corbin – 2 October 2017 Continue reading

IndieView with Preston L. Marshall, author of When Darkness Reigns

One day in a high school civics class, I wadded up a piece of paper and tossed it down on my desk. For whatever reason, I thought the wadded-up piece of paper looked like a pill bug holding a riot shield in one hand with a cannon strapped to its other arm. That inspired me to draw a picture of this weird insect-like creature and before I knew it, I’d started sketching the ants and hornets that the characters encounter in the novel. 

Preston L. Marshall – 28 September 2017

The Back Flap

Every kid around his age had dreamed that they were one of the children born of the Paladin Project. But when Lumar Lee’s eighteenth birthday had come and gone without anyone taking him away to join the ranks of Adepts at Season, he knew he wasn’t one of them. Nobody from Sangent ended up being taken by Season. His entire generation was a disappointment. Even living with shattered dreams, Lumar knew life could be much worse. He’d dodged the draft unlike the other seventy-five percent of his generation, who were shipped out to god-knows-where to spend the rest of their short lives fighting an unending war.

At least after he turned eighteen he got to see daylight everyday. He had a job, and even an apartment above ground. He’d been born in the dark, living underground in hiding with the rest of Sangent until last year. Last year they let people move out of the bunker. The Government gave Sangent the all clear. The enemy had retreated. The nuclear fallout didn’t reach as far north as Kansas. They were safe. The fighting was far away. Their little town would never be a target.

But humans are prey and a predator can only be tempted for so long.

About the book

What is the book about?

When Darkness Reigns is the first book in my science fiction epic the Lion-Blade Saga. The novel follows the journey of Lumar Lee as he is swept up into humanity’s tooth and nail struggle against the unrelenting horde of the Sarsaul, creatures from another world that want nothing more than to devour all life on Earth. Lumar has to learn to cope with transitioning from civilian life to military life while trying to stay alive and get revenge on the Sarsaul for stealing his old life.

Breakneck action, blood, guts, military political intrigue, and a war in both the physical and supernatural world make When Darkness Reigns a gripping and fast read that leaves you hungry for more.

When did you start writing the book?

I’ve been working on the Lion-Blade Saga since high school so probably since 2005, almost twelve years ago. It took me a while to grow up and actually write a book well.

How long did it take you to write it?

By the time I graduated high school, I already had the rough draft of the first five books so honestly not very long, maybe six months or so for each installment. Taking those rough drafts from high school and getting them ready for publication took about a year.

Where did you get the idea from?

One day in a high school civics class, I wadded up a piece of paper and tossed it down on my desk. For whatever reason, I thought the wadded-up piece of paper looked like a pill bug holding a riot shield in one hand with a cannon strapped to its other arm. That inspired me to draw a picture of this weird insect-like creature and before I knew it, I’d started sketching the ants and hornets that the characters encounter in the novel. Before I knew it, I had devised an adversary and before long I started building a world and a story around fighting those creatures. Sadly, the pill bug thing isn’t in the books, but I think at some point, I might drop it in as an easter egg somewhere.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

The biggest struggle has always been keeping the thing from being too long. For whatever reason, I got it in my head early on that I wanted to write something like a science fiction Game of Thrones with massive 300k+ word volumes that only the extremely dedicated could ever sit through. Finally giving up on that unrealistic dream allowed me to create a much more palatable sized novel that I think reads fast and fun instead of the slow and arduous pace of something like George R.R. Martin’s work.

What came easily?

The action has always been the easiest and the most fun parts of working on When Darkness Reigns. A huge chunk of this book is a handful of battle scenes and they were extremely fun to write. Since I’ve been mulling this over for so long, I think it’s helped me keep a firm idea of where this story is going in my head so it’s really just fun to connect the dots and get this story finally on paper and in front of people.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

They are mostly fictitious. I borrow names more than anything else. I’ve used names from people I know and have met in the past because I just liked the spelling or sound of their names, but I’m not really trying to put people I know into this story. One, because this story is pretty dark and there’s a lot of death and pain surrounding the main characters and two, because I wanted to create characters that weren’t colored by thoughts or ideas I have about people I actually know.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

C.S. Lewis and Garth Nix are my top two, but I’ve been heavily inspired by books, games, and movies like Ender’s Game, Starship Troopers, Halo, Gears of War, and Blue Gender. Basically, I take inspiration from anything that excites me in the futuristic military genre.

Do you have a target reader?

This book targets the New Adult age group. The main age group to me is the older teenagers through early thirties, but anyone who loves a good action-packed story will enjoy this series.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

Yes, generally my process revolves around consistently scheduling my writing time. As long as I make a point to sit at my computer every morning with my document pulled up, something good will happen. Even if it’s no more than a couple sentences. Beyond that, if I get stuck, I skip ahead to the next scene I know I want to put in and then go back and fill in the blanks when I do the next draft.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

Yes, I have a fairly extensive outline of my series. I already have a pretty good idea that the Lion-Blade Saga will run ten books or so. I have titles for all of those and a list of major events and a few key scenes written out for guideposts when I get to those future volumes.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I believe heavily in doing several drafts before trying to publish a book, so I don’t edit as I’m writing. It usually takes about five drafts for me to finish a book. The first two or three are mostly adding content and “writing” while the last two are exclusively editing and tweaking scenes to make them read better.

Did you hire a professional editor?

Not personally, my publisher GenZ has provided me with editors.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Yes, when I’m writing those first drafts I listen to music as much as possible. I really enjoy metal bands and those intense lyrics and tempos really fuel the action scenes I write.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I spent about two years reaching out to Agents with no success. After reading hundreds of websites, I feel like the majority of Agents aren’t that interested in people that have never been published before. Now that I’ve got some books out, I might start looking for one again and see if that makes any difference.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

It was definitely a gradual thing. I was hoping to go the more mainstream route with an Agent and then getting published, but it just didn’t happen that way. I found GenZ through Twitter and they’ve really done a lot to help me get my work presentable and get it out there.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

It was professionally done. GenZ has some artists they use.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I have a general plan that mostly revolves around pursuing interviews and reviews with websites like this. I’m also starting to get some book signings in my local area set up so I’m getting some exposure there as well. Right now it’s all about getting my name out there and trying to get my book in front of some people that will read it.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

There are three things I think everyone in this line of work needs to know.

One: Don’t get discouraged. You’ll probably get rejected a lot, but that doesn’t mean you suck or that your work sucks. This is the most subjective business on Earth. Everyone who tells you no is just saying that the book isn’t what they’re looking for at that moment.

Two: Have someone else look at your stuff. It doesn’t have to be a professional editor or anything, but anyone who reads a lot can give you great feedback to help you improve your writing and to flesh out the story.

Three: Be flexible. Whatever you’ve written so far may not end up being what you can ultimately publish. You don’t have to throw the whole thing out if people don’t want it right away. You can break it into smaller volumes. You can cut scenes that aren’t working or change a genre if it makes the story better. There really are no right or wrong answers about how to tell a story, so be open to explore different options.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Where do you live now?

I moved away for a while, but I’m back in Oklahoma City. It’s not where I’d like to spend the rest of my life, but it’s not a terrible place to live.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I’m a giant nerd. I love anime, video games, board games, books, superhero movies and shows and just about anything else you can geek out over. I always enjoy connecting with like-minded individuals. You can find me around the web at:

Twitter: @omnustechni

Facebook: LumarLionBlade and The Lion-Blade Saga

Goodreads: Preston L. Marshall

Amazon: When Darkness Reigns (Amazon US or Amazon UK) and Remembrance (Amazon US or Amazon UK)

What are you working on now?

Currently, we’re in the process of getting Regicide, the third book of the Lion-Blade Saga edited up. I’m hoping to have it all ready to go in early 2018. Beyond that I’m working on promoting the first two books and before too long I’ll get start on book four, The Waking.

End of Interview:

IndieView with Bri Marino, author of Somewhere Only We Know

I wanted to give people a story in which victims of abuse try to find hope and healing so that my readers can try to find the same hope and healing in their own lives, no matter what they’re going through. And my passion for this is what kept me going even through the tears.

Bri Marino – 25 September 2017 Continue reading

Reviewer IndieView with O of O.D. Book Reviews

A bad ending can ruin a book for me and a good ending can redeem one.

O – 23 September, 2017 Continue reading