Friday, December 20, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Deadly Deceit by Mari Hannah...

Title: Deadly Deceit (DCI Kate Daniel Series #3)
Author: Mari Hannah
Genre: Mystery/Detective
Publication Date: December 17, 2013
Published By: Witness Impulse an imprint of HarperCollins
Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.

Four a.m. on a wet stretch of the highway: a driver skids out of control. Quickly arriving on the scene, detective Kate Daniels and her partner, Hank Gormley, witness a horrifying display of carnage and mayhem that proves to be one of the worst traffic accidents in Northumberland’s history. But as the casualties mount, they soon realize that not all of the deaths occurred as a result of the accident …

At the same time, on the other side of town, a house goes up in flames and its two inhabitants become charred corpses. Except for the timing, there is no evidence to connect this incident with the traffic accident. But it soon becomes apparent that all is not what it seems, and that Kate and her colleagues are always one step behind a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Note: Can be read as a stand-alone novel.

From Probation Officer to Crime Writer - From the UK to the US.
My Journey by Mari Hannah
My journey began when an assault while on duty ended my career as a Probation Officer eight years after completing my studies. It left me with a dodgy right wrist but I refused to be a victim. In order to get my hand working again, I began typing on a keyboard and never stopped.  
I chose to write crime because it’s what I know best, my knowledge of the criminal justice system informing my work. I tried different forms of writing. If you have aspirations to be a writer, you should too until you find the one that best suits you.
Struggling to write prose, I turned my hand to screenwriting after a chance meeting with American writer, Heather Jeurgensen. She encouraged me to try something different. I then built up a body of work in the hope of getting a foot in the door of the BBC. I had some cracking feedback too – comments that made me keep the faith – but my first break was still a long time off.
In 2005, I was accepted on a scheme to write a feature film. I chose to write a romantic comedy. Yes, I know I’m a crime writer but that’s another story. I’m very proud of my film which one day I hope will go into production. Ahem . . . any film producers out there? I’d love to hear from you!
Working on that feature was a fantastic experience. It taught me the process of editing, critiquing the work of others, taking notes on my own projects, collaborating in the development process – all of which served me well when it came to editing my debut, The Murder Wall and getting my book out there. The main thing was I was having fun, meeting new people, doing something productive again.
I decided to keep writing both prose and TV scripts so long as something good happened each year to show I was on the right track. In 2006, I heard about the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, in particular ‘Creative Thursday’ a day of workshops and talks from writers, agents and publishers. It sounded right up my street. It was a hundred pounds for the day but it turned out to be worth every penny, an inspirational event.
That year, delegates of Creative Thursday were asked to submit ‘Opening Lines’ and mine were read out. I was SO proud . . . and in 2008, I was chosen for a BBC Drama Development Scheme and my debut novel was consigned to the backburner once more. I seemed to be making more headway with the TV stuff. Be warned, the whole time I was trying to get into television was unpaid, apart from a small BBC bursary.
Working with the BBC was thoroughly enjoyable – let’s call it my apprenticeship. So, I found my niche. What next? For those trying to break into television, it’s a hard road. Even though I was a graduate of the drama development scheme, I soon learned that to get an original piece of work commissioned was almost unheard of.
I wrote to every producer whose name I could get hold of and spent thousands of pounds attending writing events in order to network my head off. The way into TV in the UK is either through soaps or on shadow schemes, both of which are very hard to come by. I ended up with a number of finished pieces of work: a feature film, several original TV pilot episodes, radio plays, short films – enough to make your eyes bleed.
Quit while you’re ahead? Not my style – time to go back to the book. When it was finished, I sent it out. A top London agent asked for exclusivity of the material (hooray!) and gave me notes (double hooray!) a good sign she was interested. She gave me criticism too: also good because writing is constantly learning and re-evaluating. Three drafts later, she bowed out. Her verdict: she didn’t know if I had it in me to do what was required. I was sure I did. We parted company but I’m so grateful to her because by then I knew then I had something.
Gutted but undeterred, I sent the manuscript out again to no avail. Rejection after rejection followed. Writers meet rejection a lot. Some agencies just said no, but if an agent took the trouble to write anything positive, I seized the moment. Back then, it seemed that I couldn’t get an agent or publisher for love or money. One day, I saw an article in my newspaper about a local publisher. I got in touch and he offered to publish my book. By now it was August 2008. Yay! I’d made it . . .
Wrong. I did more work on the book. That was okay. I was living on the adrenalin of being published. But at the point of writing acknowledgements, I realised that something was very wrong. I tackled the publisher and found out that he couldn’t publish in the contracted time. I was desperate . . .
A glimmer of hope arrived when my regional writing agency rang me up and asked if I’d like to go to London to their annual summer party where recipients of the Northern Writers’ Awards get to pitch to agents and publishers, a kind of speed-dating for writers. I had twenty-four hours to practice my pitch and research the people who’d be there. I can’t stress how important research is in those situations.
That party turned out to be the most important event in my writing life up to that point. It was where I met agent, Oli Munson, who agreed to read my manuscript. He was really enthusiastic and offered representation – this was August 2009.  
So, I found my kick-ass agent: what next?  Time to start over . . . I revised my book and just kept on writing my Kate Daniels series as my agent submitted The Murder Wall both here and abroad. Then, in March 2010, there was a mini auction in Germany and I was offered a two-book translation deal.  A few months on, major publishing house Pan Macmillan became interested. I was told the publishing director really ‘got’ the book. I was due some luck - it landed on his desk in the same month as I won the Northern Writers’ Award for my second novel, Settled Blood.
A few tips here if I may for any aspiring writers out there – indeed for anyone in the creative industry be it the arts, music, whatever. Have the confidence to show your work to others. I know that’s easier said than done but it’s a necessary hurdle. Do enter competitions. Even if you don’t win, you‘ll enjoy the experience. Look out for competitions and awards. They make such a difference to your CV if you win, as I did. I very nearly didn’t send my entry in!
If like me you write crime, enter the CWA Debut Dagger. It makes you work really hard to get your material in good shape. It’s not easy getting over the initial embarrassment of sending your work out with a little voice inside your head telling you it’s not good enough. But logically, you can only move forward if it stands up to independent scrutiny.
Network your head off, attend festivals, take every opportunity you can to meet agents, publishers, and/or producers if it’s screenwriting you’re into. You may be nervous – in fact you WILL be nervous – but remember you only have a few minutes to impress: so practice your pitch. Above all, don’t sell yourself short. If you have an interesting background, put it in your submission letter and always read the submission guidelines or your hard work will hit the bin.
And study the industry you are aiming at. You wouldn’t try joining the police force without knowing what they do. It’s the same in publishing. If that ‘hobby’ is ever to become your profession you need to know what it is you are entering and how it works. Above all, be patient: the wheels turn very slowly in publishing. There is no quick fix, no easy way in. Waiting and taking advice is all part of the process.   
The day I learned that Pan Macmillan wanted to sign me was a cause for celebration after years of hard work following a traumatic end to a career I loved. An initial three-book deal was followed by a two-book deal. Forgive me if you know this already but, for those who don’t, when a publisher takes you on it’s usually two years before a book sees the light of day. It isn’t the end of the journey, it’s just the beginning – it’s where the real collaboration begins.
And as Tuesday 15th October draws near, I’m eagerly awaiting the launch of The Murder Wall in the US by Witness Impulse, digital imprint of William Morrow/Harper Collins who will also publish two more books before the end of this year. I may have taken the scenic route to being a crime writer but I got there in the end. Whatever your ambition, perseverance is the key. Best of luck with your own projects - I wish you every success.  
This is where I hang out:
And also on Twitter here: @mariwriter

About the Author
Mari Hannah was born in London and moved north as a child. Her career as a probation officer was cut short when she was injured while on duty, and thereafter she spent several years as a film/television screenwriter. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner, an ex-murder detective. She was the winner of the 2010 Northern Writers’ Award and is a nominee for the 2013 Polari First Book Prize.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry for your wrist, but it's a great story, glad you finally got to publish your work :)