To start: Free From All Danger is now out in the US, and available everywhere as an ebook. And The Year of the Gun is available in the US now, too.
And to the heart of the matter…
Sometimes, a novel seems to write itself. The right suggestion at the perfect time and everything falls into place in an instant. I’ve only had that once before, with The Crooked Spire. In the last 12 months it’s happened to me twice, with The Hanging Psalm, out later this year, and The Tin God, which is published at the end of next month (at least in the UK).
After an event, a friend said, ‘Why doesn’t Annabelle run for office – become a Poor Law Guardian?’ And with the, the tumblers clicked and fell into place. It was after the horrible murder of the MP Jo Cox, and the humiliation of Elizabeth Warren in the US Senate. A time, still continuing, when female politicians were subject to massive online abuse.
Annabelle was already a Suffragist speaker in Leeds. After the changes to the law in Leeds that allowed the working class – both sexes – to vote and stand in some local elections, it was a natural extension, one with resonances reaching through time. And this being 2018, the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, when some women received the Parliamentary franchise, the timing couldn’t be more apt.
I’m biased, I know, but to me this is a powerful book. I dearly love Annabelle, and there’s more of her in this than any of the previous five books in the series. But she’s not shoehorned in. It’s natural, and there are many facets of her on display. The political, the personal, and the police all come together.
She’s a real person, very human. Perhaps not real in the sense of having been flesh and blood, running the Victoria public house. But as real to me as anyone I see or speak to. She’s there, in my head. I can sense her. And as the emotional linchpin of the series, it was time she had a book that featured here -but did it in a way that seemed natural. Which, maybe, made her all the more real.
There’s folk music in the book, too (fragments of song lyrics form the clues), with Frank Kidson, a real-life, pioneering Victorian song collector from Leeds, who helps Tom Harper.
To me, it’s all real, it resonates in a way nothing else I’ve written quite does. At the risk of sound pretentious, I feel I’ve written something much bigger than myself. I’ll probably harp on about this a bit over the next couple of months. I hope you’ll forgive me, but…I’m ridiculously proud of this book.
I know that somehow, everything in this book is right. I can taste every moment of it. I’m as proud of it as a parent with a favourite child. Thanks to generous, helpful friends, I’ve been able to pull out all the stops to try and help it find a bigger audience (I love you all, but for this one I’d like more of you, please!).
And so, there’s a favour I’d like to ask, and I’d be very grateful if you could help. When the book is published at the end of March – and believe me, I’ll make sure people know – if you could read it, review it, recommend it, mention it. If you can buy a copy, even better. If not, then take it out of the library.
I believe in all my books, I put heart and soul into every one of them. But this…I’m not sure I can explain it beyond a feeling. I won’t detail all the plans to try and reach a wider audience, but I only hope they work. Ultimately, though, word-of mouth is always the most powerful recommendation. A rave from a friend. I only hope I’ve given you a book worth raving about.
And, to finish, I should give you a taste of The Tin God. Hope you like it (a lot of work went into putting this together, believe me, and my thanks to Thom Ashworth, who let me use part of his version of Work Life Out To Keep Life In).