By Simon Miller

A thriller based on a true story of courage, complicity and murder

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

"All You Need is a Girl and a Gun"

This was Jean Luc Godard talking about making movies, but to judge from the profusion of 'girl' in the title he could just as well have been talking about thrillers.  At the last count there were girls "Gone", "On a Train", "With a Dragon Tattoo", "Crow", "With a Clock for a Heart" and (a stunner) "In a Plain Brown Wrapper" - - and for Gun you can read "at risk" or "in jeopardy", essentials if a thriller is to catch fire, even if nowadays thanks to likes of DCI Jane Tennison and Sarah Lund, the woman can take the lead and be more than just victim, hunted or femme fatale.

However the format changes, that element of the thriller cuts across time and culture.  We humans all thrill to the tension of someone we care about being in mortal danger - - and to a plot that is only half visible.  And if the agent who discovered Jack Reacher is to be believed (and his success in picking winners makes him very credible), the paradox is that women are more likely to be drawn to that format of imminent violence than men.  According to him thrillers like Lee Child's get to be best sellers because women like them.  In short, he reckons you can't rely on men to read a book no matter how it's tailored.  Maybe/probably we're just lazier and wait for the movie or box set.

Which is why finding your niche in the market is so important.  Especially with over one million English language titles coming out every year.  Labelling the book, branding it as belonging to a genre, at least gets us out of the flood into some kind of manageable tributary.  EBOLOWA has to be pigeon-holed to find its market.  It's a crime thriller (it's got a girl and more than one gun); it's based on a true story; it straddles the 1950s and 1970s which makes it historical; and its full of political shenanigans and intrigue with the little guy/gal pitted against the expedient machinations of the state.  For any of you familiar with the Crime Writers Association (CWA) Daggers, it means EBOLOWA qualifies for three of their daggers: Ian Fleming Steel (espionage/political), Endeavour Press Historical (set a minimum of 35 years ago), and John Creasey (new blood).

Over a hundred of you pledged your support in getting EBOLOWA produced for the market in the spring, with the gender split at roughly 60/40 in favour of men.  Probably the vast majority of you were supporting me (thank you again) rather than the book itself, although maybe some of you watched the video and read the excerpt.  Now is the time I'd like to pester you for another bout of your precious time to take a second look at them and blast off any thoughts/impressions you might have as to why you want to read the book and what you hope (as a thriller) it will contain - - but most of all, any suggestions or brain waves you might have for a successful marketing strategy.  Me and Unbound have our ideas but we know how crucial it is to have collaboration and critical mass!   Thanks again and best wishes for 2017. 

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Francis Byng
 Francis Byng says:

Interesting posts, especially the need for a real sense of jeopardy which you have mentioned before. Maybe the lure of the sequel means that many of today's thriller writers rarely place their lead character in situations that are genuinely perilous!

posted 10th January 2017

simon miller
 simon miller says:

thanks for this Francis - - there's been a bit of a technical glitch so me and the shed were detached and out of reach - - and I think you might be right about the plague of the sequel - - some reputable scriptwriter was talking the other day about the pressure on authors from being commissioned to do a series on the strength of the opening couple of episodes with no clear projection of where they will end. Elmore Leonard used to say his characters took over and drove the conclusion but he was a wily old bird with decades of hard graft behind him - - - his advice on how to write is well worth checking but for open endings I'd say he was the exception who proved the rule. Hoping the technology is all fixed now and you get this. all the best, simon

posted 23rd January 2017

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