Psychological Fiction: The Origins of a Genre

I had recently decided to read something completely different to what I’d normally choose, and picked up a copy of Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, which I highly recommend. First published in 1862, it became widely known in Victorian England as a piece of ‘sensation fiction’ and helped to launch a new genre. This new genre, full of tales of crime and sexual transgression, dominated the market for years, even though critics of the time didn’t favour it. Braddon herself wanted people to look deeper into the genre, asking, ‘Can the sensation be elevated by art?’

Mary Elizabeth Braddon

 

The book covers topics that all go against the norms and values of the time and Victorian womanhood. On one hand a young wife and mother is abandoned by her husband, exploited by her father and has to ensure the safety of her son – thus gaining the readers sympathy. On the other hand, this same woman covers her tracks, attempts murder, is defiant and shows no remorse – losing the sympathy the reader had for her. Continue reading

Giving Abused Children a Voice. The Abattoir of Dreams.

My third novel, The Abattoir of Dreams, was inspired by news that a high-profile figure had been named by a man in his forties as his abuser in a children’s home. Subsequently, the man said he’d made a mistake – no one leaning on him there, then– the whole case was dropped. This made my blood boil. This poor guy had obviously been through hell as a child, and all these years later, the authorities still slammed the door in his face.

There are so many cases of both historical and current child abuse. The case of the Haut de la Garenne children’s home on Jersey, brought to light a catalogue of abuse – sexual, physical and psychological, stretching back to the end of the second world war. Eight people have been prosecuted for 145 offences and seven men and women have been convicted. Many more alleged offenders, some now dead, have been identified by almost 200 former residents.

A forensics tent at the former Haut de la Garenne children’s home in St Martin, Jersey, in 2008. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

The investigation also found there was a culture of fear on Jersey. Residents were afraid to come forward with criticism or information because they were living so closely to those they were accusing. Bob Hill, a former member of the states assembly – Jersey’s parliament, said people had long been afraid to report the abuse because they did not trust that any allegations would be treated in confidence. Continue reading

Warning! This Blog Post Contains Discussions about Trigger Warnings.

Are more warnings needed in book descriptions?

Is book censorship in danger of limiting creativity and freedom of expression?

 

 

 

I recently watched a discussion unfold on Facebook about whether The Abattoir of Dreams should have trigger warnings in its description. The person who started the discussion stated they had finished the book, thought it was good, but that ‘there really should be a statutory warning on book covers and blurbs, if a book deals extensively with child abuse’.

This comment then led to a debate about the pros and cons of trigger warnings. Trigger warnings are defined as: a statement cautioning that content (as in a text, video, or class) may be disturbing or upsetting.

As the discussion was taking place in a crime fiction group, many people didn’t see the need for warnings as they’d expect topics such as murder and abuse to be included anyway. The overall opinion was that the book description should make the content of the book clear, so that readers are aware of anything they’d prefer not to read before buying the book. I think that this approach is easier for both publishers and indie authors to implement

I asked best-selling crime thriller author, Peter James, for his opinion, and he told me that he never would put warnings on any of his books. His personal belief is that we live in an age where there are far too many warnings anyway. Continue reading

5 Things I’ve Learnt as an Author.

Today I’d like to talk about some of the things I’ve learnt since I’ve been writing. I hope sharing my experiences will help other authors.

Don’t pay for things you don’t need to.
There are many people out there who claim to be miracle workers when it comes to marketing books, or getting more book reviews. Most are not, and should be avoided. I had many people approach me when I started writing trying to market my first book, claiming they could send the book shooting up the Amazon charts with no proof of any previous successes.

Book marketing is a steep learning curve that I’m still on, but much of what is offered by these ‘services’ can be done yourself. Offering your book for free on Amazon, for example – you can set this up yourself and make social media posts telling people about it. Book reviews shouldn’t be paid for – Amazon will remove reviews if they believe they’ve been bought, rather than given by a genuine reader. You can approach book bloggers with your book description and cover and ask if they’d be interested in reviewing it for you. Make sure the bloggers you ask read the same genres you write in, to ensure you get more positive responses.

 

Write your book how YOU want to:
What’s the best way to write your book? On Word? With Scrivener? Plan every detail, or just have a rough idea of the story? It’s all up to you – whatever works best. I write in Word because that’s what I’m used to, and I don’t see any benefit from changing to Scrivener. The most important thing is that you’ve got an idea and you want to write it. Don’t feel as though you need to use everything that is suggested to you. If you’ve read books telling you how to write a book and you get something out of it, then great, but it isn’t necessary to read them. You can help yourself though, by reading a variety of authors and picking out what does and doesn’t work in their writing. Continue reading

The Whittle Investigations to be re-released!

I’m thrilled to announce that Bloodhound Books have offered me a 3 book deal that includes the re-release of The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused, as well as the publication of the third and final book in the series.

The re-releases will happen in June and August, and will see both books with new covers. I am currently planning the third book, and hope to write it in the summer.

I’m really happy with this development, and it means that all my books to date will be with Bloodhound. Both The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused have been unpublished from Amazon, but will still be available to Kindle Unlimited users until May.

 

All the best,

Mark.