Welcome to a slightly belated edition of the newsletter! It's all go at Mackenzie Towers so I'll keep this one fairly brief, but I have some exciting news to share with you on the subject of my upcoming novel, The Shadow Men. So, without further ado...
On the Writing Desk: The Shadow Men
When's it coming out?
At long last, The Shadow Men, my fourth novel and the third instalment in my Anna Scavolini series, has a release date. Mark your calendars, because The Shadow Men will be coming out on Monday 18th October on Kindle and in paperback.
Pre-order links will go live at a later date, so stay tuned for those.
What's it all about?
I've been teasing The Shadow Men for long enough, but until now I've only dropped the broadest hints as to what the novel is actually about. Well, wonder no more, because it's now time for me to unveil the finished blurb:
They see everything. They hear everything. They know everything.
When a young police officer, Derek Sullivan, goes missing, the detective investigating his disappearance turns to criminologist Anna Scavolini – Derek’s one-time university lecturer – for help. Haunted by the belief that she failed in her duty of care towards her former student, Anna finds herself drawn increasingly deeper into the investigation.
Meanwhile, Zoe Callahan – once Anna’s best friend, now unhappily estranged – becomes preoccupied by unsettling rumours involving her old school. Uncovering a trail of evidence implicating the most powerful men in Scottish society in a scandal stretching back decades, she soon attracts the attention of sinister forces who don’t look kindly on those who disturb the past…
A missing police officer, a highly coveted list of names, a fatal car crash on a rainswept night – what connects these seemingly unrelated threads? And who are the mysterious Shadow Men, whose very name strikes terror into the hearts of everyone who hears it?
Hopefully the above whets your appetite! In a lot of respects, this is the darkest and most disturbing instalment yet (which, if you've read either of the previous novels, I'm sure you'll agree is some achievement!), with twists and intrigue a-plenty and some surprising revelations about characters who've been with us since the beginning of the series. I’m not going to get into spoiler territory here, but suffice it to say that what comes to light in The Shadow Men takes Anna and Zoe right back to the beginning, with events set in motion in In the Silence – and indeed before it – being brought to bear on their present day predicaments.
Stay tuned, because in the coming months I'll be offering my mailing list subscribers an exclusive sneak preview of the prologue and first chapter – available to you, my loyal readers, before anyone else!
What's is going to look like?
It's a little too early, for now, to unveil the cover art – not least because it isn't ready yet! I'm excited to announce, however, that the extremely talented Tim Barber of Dissect Designs has been commissioned to design the cover. As you can see from the portfolio at the link above, Tim has a real knack for creating distinctive, eye-catching designs for a range of different genres, and when I was looking for someone to create the cover for The Shadow Men, it didn't take me long at all to realise he was the obvious choice.
I'm as eager as I'm sure you are to see what the finished result looks like. I'll be unveiling the artwork as an exclusive mailing list sneak preview in a future update, hopefully within the next 6-8 weeks.
Where can I read about it?
Like The Library Murders before it, The Shadow Men will be getting a full promotional tour to coincide with its release date. Kelly Lacey of Love Books Tours has very kindly agreed to organise the blog tour, with a 14-day promotional blitz beginning on Monday the 18th October.
Stay tuned for the full schedule and a list of participating bloggers closer to the release date.
Behind the scenes: typesetting
I know, from the statistics Amazon provides to me, that the bulk of my readers buy the ebook versions of my novels. However, many people – myself included – prefer a physical copy, and for that reason I always devote as much time and effort as possible to making the paperback version as good as it can possibly be.
One major advantage afforded by a physical release is that – unlike the ebook edition, where readers can fiddle with the typeface, text size, margins, justification and even the background colour to their heart’s content – I have complete control over what the end result looks like. Many independent authors delegate the typesetting to a third party or use automated typesetting software like Vellum or Reedsy, but I’ve always preferred to do this part of the process myself. Hard as it may be to believe, I actually enjoy the typesetting process – the challenge of getting everything to look nice and balanced while avoiding widows, orphans, awkwardly placed hyphens and all the other perils and pitfalls associated with laying out a book.
The above is a sample two-page spread from early in the book. The Shadow Men is, by some distance, the longest novel I’ve written to date – approximately 140,000 words, whereas my previous ones have all been in the 95–100k range. Because I didn’t want the resulting page count to be ridiculously high and therefore cost-prohibitive, I ended up going with a smaller font size this time round, which allowed me to fit considerably more words onto each page, but without making everything look too cramped and hard to read. I’m very pleased with the end result and will be looking to do new editions of my previous novels in the same style at a later date.
Incidentally, if you’re wondering what software I use for this, it’s a fantastic program called Affinity Publisher, which boasts much of the same functionality as the typesetting industry standard, Adobe InDesign, but at a fraction of the cost and with a much more consumer-friendly “buy once” pricing model. I picked it up at the time of its release at a generous discount, and honestly, it’s paid for itself many times over. It certainly beats trying to do it in Microsoft Word, I can tell you!
That’s All, Folks!
That’s it for another issue. I’ll more than likely be in touch at some point before the next regular scheduled instalment of the newsletter with more details regarding The Shadow Men, including the aforementioned cover reveal and sneak peak of the novel’s opening. For the time being, though, I’m going to get back to my final typesetting/proofing pass.