When a professional hitman turns up at Candy’s World to hide, China Mackie discovers her plan to flee from her abusive father has tragically backfired. A gruesome bloodbath has left four people dead on the streets of a northern city centre on a cold wet Sunday morning. China knows she’s next to die. Unless she is more ruthless than everyone else. She must improvise fast. Seduce her father’s assassin. Plead her case so he helps her escape in a fight to the death where rules don’t matter but the consequences do.
I’d like to thank Damp Pebbles and Andrew Field for inviting me onto this blog tour.
I’m thrilled to welcome Andrew to my blog today with a great guestpost
What’s in a name on a book cover?
One of the key decisions I faced when Without Rules was being prepared for publication this Autumn was whether to use my real name or make one up.
There were two reasons for me to consider using an alias.
The first was because my real name is also how I trade in the business world as a PR, marketing and communications consultant. Existing clients are happy with my work and won’t worry too much about me writing crime novels, unless they mistakenly see themselves somewhere in personality traits of one of the characters (they won’t). New clients might be a different matter. Fact and fiction can have a habit of becoming very blurred. Do I really think like ALL the characters in Without Rules (nope, they are real but imagined)?
The second was because my real name didn’t have the crime fiction stamp of authenticity of an Ed McBain, an Evan Hunter, an Alex Marwood, a Lee Child or a John le Carré. Their names sounded gritty, uncompromising, full of hard-boiled noir promise.
Except, of course, they are all crime fiction pseudonyms.
Flick through Barry Forshaw’s brilliant Rough Guide to Crime Fiction and you will discover that former teacher Salvatore Lombino traded as Ed McBain and Evan Hunter; John le Carré was really called David John Moore Cornwell and Lee Child was plain Jim Grant (actually a better name) from Coventry, best known for the Jack Reacher movie/book franchise.
Surf onto Serena Mackesy’s website and she explains the reasons for her name change to Alex Marwood. “I changed my writing name for a number of reasons, but mostly because, given that I had been killing people with greater and greater frequency since Virtue, my packaging and reputation as an author of romantic comedies was becoming increasingly misleading. I have no brief against romantic comedy – some of the writers I love and admire most write them – but I wanted to write crime novels. I’ve been Alex since 2012, when my/her first book, The Wicked Girls, hit the market and, joy of joys, also hit the bestseller lists.”
J.K Rowling is not only one of the world’s richest authors but she has a wonderful sense of irony to go with her social conscience — “J.K.” is a pen name because Joanne doesn’t have a middle name.Robert Galbraith is her crime fiction name but clearly wasn’t chosen randomly. According to writer Charlotte Ahlin, writing for Bustle, “Robert means “bright fame,” and Galbraith is from a Gaelic word for “British foreigner” or “stranger.” So Robert Galbraith loosely translates to famous stranger. Get it?!”
As you can see, I would be in good company if I decided I wanted to use a different name as my crime fiction brand. And after a long and successful career in PR and marketing, I could see the strategic value behind switching to a killer name that packed a more powerful punch than Andrew Field.
The challenge would be to find a name I liked sufficiently, without it being too crass or contrived. My second and third names jumped out at me for a moment or two: Julian Charles was great for a literary writer such as Stanley Martin Liebe, who found fame and fortune as comic books writer Stan Lee (and stuck with his alias) … but were a bit too middle class for the crime genre.
Constructing an alternative would be like naming any product: writing down as many names as possible and then eliminating them one by one until you get a short list for feedback. If you had the time and inclination you could play with the typography … see how each name looked on dummy book covers (Madcap music producer Guy Stevens picked the name Mott The Hoople because of way it looked on record sleeves and posters — my first introduction to the band was because name was so weird and wonderful).
Once you picked the name, you would have to make sure nobody else was using it. I liked the idea of a surname such as Stone – but Stone is already popular and well road tested used. Vic Rhodes was another choice – named after an Aussie I met I Valencia on one of the funniest nights of my life.
My partner Catherine has pointed out that there is a gender imbalance with the crime authors I like. Male, American, now mostly dead unfortunately: Jim Thompson, James M Cain, Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.
She suggested I should go for a female brand, an alliterative name mirroring Ruth Rendell. She said she could see me as a Barbara Budd, Kelly Knight, Magenta Moon or a Rita Rock (who is a currently a character in my next book, provisionally titled Truth Hurts).
Picking the name wasn’t really the issue — because ‘brand’ names only ever succeed when familiarly translates into affection and long term loyalty. And that process normally involves a big marketing spend in cash and time terms.
However, the biggest problem with changing from my moniker was simple: I am proud of Without Rules and didn’t see any reason not to want to use my real name.
Yes, it contains sex, violence and adult themes but they are there for a reason as the people who get the book will fully understand. Nothing is gratuitous and written for shock jock value.
Yes, there are multiple points of view, but that’s how I want to show the story. You see what is happening exclusively through the point of view of each character as the action unfolds … rather than having an omnipresent narrator telling you what you’re seeing and why. The writing reflects their own individual voices. Extreme violence and quipping like Groucho Marx are rarely complementary skill sets!!
If people don’t understand Without Rules, that is fine with me. After all, we disagree on lots of things from politics and global warming to football and tennis to pop and movies. Why should books be any different. If we all agreed on everything life would be very dull – and we’d have nothing to discuss down the pub or in a restaurant. Now, that would be a true crime.
All About Andrew
Andrew Field has spent most of his working life as a PR and marketing consultant helping raise the profiles of others. Now the roles are reversed as he steps into the spotlight as the author of Without Rules, a crime thriller about vulnerable people forced to do bad things to escape evil people. “Authors, by the nature of what they do, are relatively introverted. They work in isolation. Inhabit imaginary worlds of their own creation. They can spend ages staring at a computer screen bringing their characters to life. Then they have to become a different person to promote their work and market themselves. Writing is the easy part compared to the marketing, especially when crime fiction has become a very crowded marketplace.”
“From my point of view, professional PR people operate best from behind the scenes. They should never become the story otherwise you’re deflecting attention away from the messages you’re trying to communicate,” says Andrew. “The New Labour experiment, for example, was doomed the minute Tony Blair’s media guru Alistair Campbell generated his own headlines. Bragged about ‘spin’. Believed his own hype. Ditto Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci’s 10-day tenure as the shortest-serving White House communications director in history – and his “off the record” expletive-ridden rant about his colleagues in Donald Trump’s White House.”
As a PR, Andrew memorably handled Boddingtons Bitter during its “Cream of Manchester” heyday, developing innovative sports and cultural media partnerships with newspapers and TV stations for the beer brand – but also PR’da fashion entrepreneur who was a convicted armed bank robber and a property developer who did eighteen months prison time for blackmail. “Having a diverse range of clients keeps it interesting. They are all different but the core requirement is to be seen as a believable and trusted information source ready to take advantage of PR opportunities as and when they arise. As a novelist, you look to do exactly the same with your work and yourself.”
“The catalyst for Without Rules was a friend testifying against her father in an abuse case. Although the prosecution was successful, she can never really escape the consequences of what happened to her. She has to find a way of coping for the rest of her life while he was sentenced to two and half years.”
Andrew says crime fiction has a duty to try and educate and as well as entertain. “The memorable books are the ones you’re still thinking about 48-hours after you finished reading.”
Andrew lives, works and plays in Manchester, England, Europe, with his partner, Catherine. He has been a trade journalist in Southampton in his youth. He owned a PR agency in the nineties and early noughties and is now an independent PR, marketing and publishing consultant looking forward to the challenge of becoming the story with the publication of Without Rules.
Where To Find Andrew