Thursday, 9 March 2017

From The Shadows by Neil White

Series:  Dan Grant #1
Release Date: 9th March 2017
Publisher: Zaffre
Genres:  Crime / thriller


 He hides in the shadows, watching, waiting, until the time is right . . . 

Mary Kendricks, a smart, pretty, twenty-four-year-old teacher, has been brutally murdered and Robert Carter is accused of killing her.

When defence lawyer, Dan Grant inherits Carter's case only weeks before the trial starts, everyone expects him just to babysit it, but Dan's not that kind of lawyer. He'll follow the evidence - wherever it takes him.

But as Dan and his investigator Jayne Brett look into the case, they discover that there is more to it than meets the eye. In order to do their jobs they need to push the limits of the system, even if it means putting themselves in danger.

Together they will get to the truth - whatever the cost . . .


Writing and life are not always compatible, but there isn’t much choice about it. Writing and family life is an even harder mix.
I’ve spent so much of my adult life wanting to be a writer, and I feel so lucky that I have spent the last ten years being exactly that. It isn’t always easy though, because it can be so time-consuming. I must stress, however, that what follows should not be a sign as a moan. It is merely the price to be paid for doing something I love, and that is still a privilege to do.
One of the first things that strikes you when the publishing deal is first signed is that your lifestyle doesn’t suddenly turn into an Ian Fleming thing, with the mornings in front of a typewriter and the afternoons set aside for the pool and Martinis. Life goes on. Jobs, family life. Most of the writers I know still hold down day jobs, and in some ways they keep us all sane.
I’ve been a criminal lawyer for over twenty years, and I still appear in the courtroom regularly. Those days are like a respite, where I think of nothing else but whatever case I have and forget about plot and book worries, because writing a book can be all-consuming. There is always another scene to think about, another angle you haven’t considered, one more roadblock that prevents you getting from where you are to where you need to be.
When I first started out as a published writer ten years ago, I was working full-time, but it was all exciting and new and the time pressures were all part of what I’d chased. In fact, it wasn’t much different to how it had been before I signed the deal, when I spent most nights trying to polish a manuscript or think of a new idea. All that had changed was that I’d swapped a dream for a deadline.
My children were much younger then, which made it easier in its own way, because I wasn’t exactly giving up on a wild life. I lived the life of most parents of young children: I fed them, bathed them, and put them to bed. Once over, the smell of clean babies in my nostrils, the evening became my own. For me, that meant writing.
Mostly, it was at the dining room table, with BBC6 Music through my headphones. Sometimes distracting, but it was the only way I could get into my zone, because the dining room table was also in the same part of the house as the television. There was no leather-topped desk in finest walnut but me on a table, the debris of an evening meal around me, a radio channel used to blot out what else was going on in the house.
At one point, I made the under-stairs cupboard bigger and was able to squeeze a small desk in there, and I turned into a six-foot two Harry Potter. I wrote at least two books in that cupboard, but eventually, we decided we needed somewhere to hang coats and store the vacuum cleaner more than I needed a micro-study.
The children got older though, which helped, as they wanted Playstations in their bedrooms more than the use of the small room we’d set aside as a playroom. Out went the crates of toys and brightly-coloured plastic and in went a desk. I had acquired a study, although I shoved a big television and my own Playstation in there too. No one said I had to work every hour.
The biggest enemy is mental fatigue. For ten years, it has felt like a hamster wheel of working and writing, with my laptop even taken on holidays, but I am easier on myself now. If I am in court all day, I find it harder to write. Court work is mentally taxing, and by the time I’m home I’ve no juice left in the tank. I forget about those nights, it’s only two or three a week, and try to make up for it on the other days.
One thing I have learned is how to write in a more time-efficient way.
If I know what my scene is about, I’ll start it. I’ll go for as long as I can and then stop. Usually just a few hundred words, but it’s a start. I’ve learned not to panic, that the scene will grow, so I’ll take a break, sometimes longer than it ought to be, before I go back to it and add to it. I’ll do that three or four times and then leave it overnight. Somehow, a clear morning mind is best for editing and shaping. One more work-through and then I had it to the Word document that is the “Book Whole”, so I can see how far I’ve got, and how far there is to go.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is that the days not spent in my day job are no longer days off. The weekend, even though it has got longer for me, isn’t just about drinking wine and watching television. It’s the time when I write, but the weekend always feels like when I should be relaxing.
That’s the hard part for the families of writers. I’m the person in the house who always has his face in front of a computer screen, always tapping away, and it’s hard for anyone else to see it as work. That is exactly what it is, but it was also once just a hobby, a dream, and only ever my dream. Every one else had to shape themselves around my dream.
Writing can be a selfish pursuit because of that, but that doesn’t mean I can stop myself. Life goes on, and somehow writing is squeezed into it. They are uneasy bedfellows. 

 Neil White was born and brought up around West Yorkshire. He left school at sixteen but returned to education in his twenties, when he studied for a law degree. He started writing in 1994, and is now a criminal lawyer by day, crime fiction writer by night.

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