I’m delighted to welcome Jim Alexander with a guest post to celebrate the recent release of his second novel ‘the Light’. Jim’s debut novel ‘GoodCopBadCop’ is garnering four and five star reviews on Goodreads.
Just before I hand you over to Jim, here’s the description for ‘the Light’
‘the Light’ explores a world where you wake up and know this is the day you die. How would such a world shape the way we think, our views on each other and society, how we conduct our personal and financial affairs; how we live and how we will die?
On a daily basis, people are required to take the Light; a device that ascertains whether this will be their last day. The story alternates between showcasing and building up this new world and telling the story of an ordinary person having to cope in extraordinary circumstances. We will see through his eyes a world so achingly similar to our own, but different in one shattering, all-pervasive way.
When approaching death, whether it’s dying in your sleep or experiencing your whole life flashing in front of your eyes, in the end it is no longer a case of floating towards the light. The Light wants to find you first.
Now over to Jim…
You know the expression where does the time go? For me 2019 was a year of two novels. That’s where the time went. Here’s a glimpse of my year in writing broken down in digestible monthly chunks.
My first novel GoodCopBadCop, released in November 2018, is still stretching its legs. The book is a modern crime take on Jekyll and Hyde where the ‘good cop’ and ‘bad cop’ are the same person.
I still can’t work out if the pitch should actually read is the same person. I hope someone either in print or verbally will set me straight. No one has as of yet.
Not that I’m resting on my laurels. Plans are afoot to publish my second novel the Light for the end of the year. There’s still a lot of work to do, at least one more draft before it’s ready to go to the editor. For want of a better phrase it’s still not oven-ready, not yet. But the end of the year is still a long way off, so I reassure myself there’s no need to panic.
I live in Scotland and we’re in the grip of winter, so I tend not to venture outdoors too often in February. Part of my promotion for GoodCopBadCop is to reach out to every contact I’ve ever had on e-mail and social media. I’m contacting everyone individually, no group e-mails, so it’s a pretty onerous task. In the process I’m contacting people I haven’t been in touch with for decades. These type of e-mails begin with I’m still alive, hopefully you are too. I’m hoping if there’s one thing they remember about me it’s my off-kilter sense of humour.
GoodCopBadCop reaches its peak in terms of sales at 30,371 in the Amazon Bestsellers ranks. I’m so pleased I take a screen print and put it up on social media. People ask me what the top 30,370 books are. It doesn’t take long for the book to drop back down to its usual position of one and a half million.
I finally make a tentative start on the final draft of the Light. Progress is slow, a little too leisurely. I experience a left/right brain conflict where part of me urges me to increase the pace while another part assures me that the end of the year is still some way off.
It is spring and I venture out all the way up to Asylum Books and Games based in Aberdeen. I’m there for most of the day and offer to read an extract to someone who turns up to buy the book. ‘I need to be at work in half an hour,’ he tells me. He’s out the door before I can clear my throat. You can’t argue with such dedication.
I see Mrs Mary Stanger has given GoodCopBadCop a four-star rating on Goodreads. My favourite review is from Meredith Rankin who includes in her post a helpful glossary of Scottish words, which pop up throughout the book, such as numpty, Ned, and manky.
I’m vaguely aware instead of reading reviews I should be doing something else. There’s something needing to be done for the end of the year, which come to think of it doesn’t seem that far off. Not anymore…
I’ve been advised I should seek a celebrity endorsement so I spend a couple of weeks trying to track down Sam Mendes. For the life of me I cannot track the fella down. Sam if you’re reading this can you send on your contact details?
It finally dawns on me–reality crashes down on me like a guillotine from on high–that the end of the year is no longer that far off. Also I don’t want to actually publish my new novel for the end of the year. Ideally it should come out early November so I have the opportunity of promoting it before the festive shutdown. I set up a plan. It is tight. It’s not without its pressures, but sometimes an impending deadline that doesn’t allow any kind of leeway at all is the only way forward. It takes the form of a constrictive thing, throttling the life out of any notion of breathing space. With such newfound conviction I’m finally ready to move forward–as opposed to moving backward or sideways.
I see for the first time the cover for the Light. I’m bowled over. It is perfect. I had no idea what I wanted for the cover until I saw it and then I knew instantly that this was the one. Part of the inspiration cover artist Alex Ronald took came in the form of a short extract from the novel describing one of the main characters:
‘The woman from before was sitting across from him. Her scarf was down around her neck revealing a lightly freckled face. She was ash blonde; had an undercut hairstyle, hair swept to the side. How old was she? Eighteen? Twenty? She was impossibly young, but something told him she had already lived a life. Her eyes danced and picked up the light.’
the Light is now with editor Kirsten Murray and she’s sending notes tightening up plot and pointing out the obvious stuff the writer should have picked up on but alas up until this point had not. One added bonus is the fact that Kirsten lived in London for a couple of years. Part of the Light takes place in London, so her local knowledge has proven invaluable. Case in point in an earlier draft I make a reference to waiting for a number 74 bus for hours only for several to turn up at the same time. Kirsten suggested instead routes 327, 442, and 385 as genuine London alternatives. Wow, now that’s what I call editorial input.
The book is done!
Well, not quite done. I have the final text, which I upload to Pressbooks. There’s still the typeface stage to successfully navigate. Specifically I need to make sure widows and orphans are behaving themselves. Once that’s done, the hyphenation rules are to be observed. I’ll spare you any more details, just to repeat the well-worn phrase absolutely no one is using, you’ve written the story, now you need to build the book.
And it’s out! With an official publishing date of 11th November, or the 10th depending where you look, the Light explores a world where you wake up and know this is the day you die. How would such a world shape the way we think, our views on each other and society, how we conduct our personal and financial affairs; how we live and how we will die?
In terms of theme and scope it is something of a departure from my previous work. But I think it’s one of the best things I’ve done.
I’m writing this post on the 1st of December, so if you will indulge me I’m about to look into the future. Sam Mendes eventually gets in touch. We arrange to meet for a latte at the Bijou Coffee House in Barton on Sea. the Light reaches as high as number 3 in the New York Best Sellers list. The Queen in her Christmas message names the Light as her favourite book of 2019.
There you have it my year of two novels comes to a triumphant close. Maybe you might be tempted to pick up one or both novels? Thanks for listening. Have a lovely Crimbo and a very Happy New Year.
Thanks so much, Jim – a very happy Christmas to you and all best wishes for 2020!