Refreshing old stories

This is what a loose, 750 page novel looks like!

This is what a loose, 750 page novel looks like!

Today I have the joy of starting to write one book I first thought up   ten years ago, while also looking at an edit of a book I wrote at about the same time.

I have been a writer for an appalling twenty years now. It’s shocking to think of all those years having passed, all those books sold. And in all that time, not one idea for a Templar series or mediaeval story generally has been rejected by an editor.

Sadly the same is not true for other books I’ve written.

I’ve completed modern day sniper-thrillers, modern crime stories, and police procedurals, all of which languished before disappearing.

There are reasons. Many authors who are considered “literary” are allowed to investigate new themes. You only have to look at Hilary Mantel, Sebastian Faulkes and others to realise that many authors write with a free hand.

However, crime writers and others are all too easily bracketed into specific categories. Editors will tell them that they don’t want to break out into a new genre, it’ll put off their readers. We don’t want to scare the horses, dammit, and writing in a different style may well confuse the poor little darlings.

My view? If I was a keen reader of, say, Michael Connelly, and he embarked on a new series of medieval war stories – I’d be fascinated and keen to try them. I daresay readers of my books would be happy to try books about other genres, if I was to write them.

But of course, this is the problem with editors. They are gatekeepers who are there to stop decent books being published. Everyone knows that editors are the bad guys …

Um. No. Now, having reread and reviewed my old works, I can happily confirm that this earlier book really didn’t deserve to be published!

Time to swallow my pride and crack on with the work, I think! So, this pile of papers above is about to get the detailed Jecks editing job. I have to look at it carefully and figure out which elements of the story can be ditched, which aspects must be moved into a new novel, and what needs to be tightened and clarified in the writing. It will be a tough job, especially since I’ve been given the go-ahead on a collaboration today, and also have the third book of my Hundred Years War trilogy to write, but that’s my problem!

So, first a police procedural, and second a little story based on a new investigator. It will be fun! And I’ll carry this with me tomorrow. Off to London for meetings with some interesting people on a train that’ll give me tons of time to work in peace. Hopefully!

8 Responses to “Refreshing old stories”
  1. geraldine says:

    Sounds like you’re going to be a busy boy, Mike! Don’t forget to take time out to have some fun. :-)


    • Just so much to write and no idea how to squeeze it all in! Hope all’s well with you too.


      • geraldine says:

        Yes, I’m fine. Just in the same position as you — too much to do and not enough time! Working to a pre-order deadline at Amazon of 8 October (Eek!) for one of my backlist. Lost the final disc on this one, so it’s a go through the hb job. Also trying to get on with the next in my Rafferty & Llewellyn series and start the research for my second Biographical Historical. Oh — and finish my annual accounts. Mustn’t forget that! Another deadline. ;-(


      • Urgh! It never gets any easier, does it!


      • geraldine says:

        Double :-(


  2. Jack Eason says:

    Good luck :D


  3. Paul Neimoyer says:

    What Jack said.


  4. Old Trooper says:

    The thing is, you write well and not just in the medieval mystery genre. Perhaps it is the publishers who are the lost ones. I told you of an author who thinks very much of themselves. A fourth in a series got so out of hand that my notes took up four typed pages. That author writes in a narrow historical window of time and is frustrated when people write to them about how things ‘really happened’ in the back pages of the book. Yet, brags about the research and travel done and argues about the right to ‘artistic license.’ Artistic license is one thing but to just place things in the time period that didn’t exist for decades is another. Then there are other gross mistakes which makes one wonder if the publisher has copy editors and fact checkers. The best of luck to you, Michael and I pray that the publishers get part of their anatomy out dark places.


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