I wish to thank Emily Burns of BonnierZaffre for supplying a feature from Mike Thomas for this Blog Tour for his new book UNFORGIVABLE
Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .
In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .
MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.
But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.
HERE IS A FEATURE FROM THE AUTHOR
How Nothing – Not Even Handling Dead Bodies or Fighting Drunks – Can Prepare You for Interviews and PR
‘You definitely need media training.’
The woman who said it – way back when my debut novel was about to be released – looked rather concerned as she gawped at me, but I shrugged it off. At this point I had nearly twenty years in the police, and was used to dealing with all sorts: violent prisoners, Friday night drunks, screaming protestors, decomposing corpses and – ugh, the worst – angry bosses who’d point and stamp their feet as they told me off for not wearing my clip-on tie during a massive pub fight (someone had ripped it off, but I couldn’t be bothered to argue).
Anyway, this was said to me during a meeting with the PR people at a Very Respected Imprint in a large publishing house, who were vying with others to sign me up as their author. The chat was going well, I thought, until it became clear I had just been rather too forthright when answering their questions about policing and what I had got up to over the years.
The head of PR winced, and said those words at the top of the page. And, as I’ve mentioned, I shrugged it off. I mean, after all I’d been through – see above, again – how hard could it be to answer a few questions over the telephone, or speak to someone on stage at a book festival?
For me: harder than I thought, as it turned out.
It began with such high hopes. I was wined and dined in front of booksellers and book store reps, taken to places where they shaved gold leaf into bulbous cocktails and charged £35 for a curried pigeon leg entrée. I had free books thrown at me, was invited to swish ‘canape evenings’ on the rooftops of ridiculously opulent hotels in Londinium. I was regaled with amusing – and shocking – anecdotes about the peccadilloes of some of the literary world’s biggest names.
And so, I thought, we were all set.
It began with the recording of a video. A little ‘book trailer’ of gritty backdrops and wailing sirens and me, shrouded in mean and moody shadow, introducing myself and giving a flavour of the novel. It should have been an hour on a notorious London housing estate, filming among the high rises and low-slung council maisonette stock, then back to the pub for ales and laughs. Instead it took five hours – because I literally froze. As soon as the camera was rolling and my mike went live I couldn’t get my words out. For the first time in almost two decades – two decades spent performing in a strange uniform in front of thousands of members of the public – I didn’t know what to do. I’d waited so long for something like this, a life’s dream – you’re an author, being filmed! – coming true, and now it was happening and I couldn’t handle it.
And then the sun went down, and the temperature plummeted, and I couldn’t stop shivering, then the locals – all hoodies and spitting on the floor while grabbing their gangsta crotches – began circling us, eyeing the expensive video equipment. My friend from the publishing house kept his hand on his mobile, 999 already keyed in and ready to dial.
The camera team and my publishing chum struggled on valiantly, but I could see I was, to be blunt, getting on their tits. It made things so much worse. In the end they decided
to go with what they had, and as it turned out – despite my awful efforts – the edits and effects they used managed to salvage the trailer.
This, then, was the ignominious start. From this point, over the next few months I:
· Had my first book signing where two people – a husband and wife – arrived, and I managed to accidentally insult them, so they left. The only other people to show up – during two interminable hours – were my mother and aunt, who hid behind a bookshelf while they smiled and waved.
· Did an interview in The Guardian building with a frightfully upper class chap, but got flustered when Mariella Frostrup sat next to us for a chat – they didn’t run the interview.
· Gave several live readings where literally five people turned up, and one of them – bless her – came up to me afterwards and said, ‘I thought you’d be more interesting.’
· Developed a dry, nervous cough for months, meaning I couldn’t go anywhere for readings or events without carrying at least fifteen litres of water and twenty-seven packets of throat lozenges.
· Learned that I say ‘um’ a lot. And not just ‘um’, but a long, drawn-out, nasal ‘uuuuuhhhm’ every time someone asked me a question.
· Gave several radio interviews while sitting, alone, in a soundproofed room in the local BBC studio, surrounded by strange equipment, not knowing what the hell was going on. The first three or four were atrocious – cue the dry cough and lots of ‘uuuuuuhhhm’s – but by the final interview I’d pulled myself together. I chatted amiably, threw in a few jokes, got some laughs, really enjoyed it, then thanked the presenter for having me on: ‘Thanks very much, Steve!’ I grinned. Nailed it, I
thought. Then as the studio cut the feed I remembered the presenter’s name was Graham.
I’ve improved now. You live and learn. Time and experience mean you get better and better. Readings are a doddle (and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that author readings can never be short enough). Live Q&As are fun, especially if you throw in some (a lot) of wine. I enjoy prepping for shows and events.
But no, those first few months weren’t easy. I quickly discovered a newfound respect for people who willingly stick their face in front of a camera, or crowd, or microphone on a daily basis. They must, to be frank, be mad.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Thomas was born in Wales in 1971. For more than two decades he served in the police, working some of Cardiff’s busiest neighbourhoods in uniform, public order units, drugs teams and CID. He left the force in 2015 to write full time.
His debut novel, Pocket Notebook, was published by William Heinemann (Penguin Random House) and longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year. The author was also named as one of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for 2010. His second novel, Ugly Bus, is currently in development for a six part television series with the BBC.
The first in the MacReady series, Ash and Bones, was published in August 2016 by Bonnier Zaffre. The sequel, Unforgivable, is published in July 2017.
He lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife, two children and an unstable, futon-eating dog.
More details can be found on the website http://www.mikethomasauthor.co.uk