Today our blog puts the Spotlight on bestselling Author T. D. Griggs. Also, he is a corporate writer and freelance journalist sometimes writing under the name Tom Macaulay.
Tim Griggs - Writer
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T. D. Griggs's psychological crime novel Redemption Blues went into six languages and sold a million copies across the world. This was followed by The End of Winter and The Warning Bell (this latter written under the pseudonym Tom Macaulay). His fourth novel, Victorian epic Distant Thunder (by T.D.Griggs, Orion Books, 2012), was published last year.
Redemption Blues has just become available in the USA for the first time, initially as an e-book.
It will soon be followed by the first US e-book release of End of Winter. Print copies will also be available soon.
Tim Griggs has written extensively as a freelance for magazines and papers including a long-running column on innovation in The Australian. He holds a BA in English from Leeds University, and a Masters in Archaeology from University College London. He was British born and raised, holds dual Australian and UK citizenship. Tim speaks French, German and basic Spanish.
“I've always been a lucky guy.
I was very lucky indeed to know from the start exactly what I wanted to do: I wanted to tell stories.
That's partly because my Dad was a published writer back in the 1950s. He wrote novels about wholesome teenagers on camping holidays who unmask spies in creepy houses on cliff tops.
The equivalent kids today, presumably, would be impersonating vegetarian vampires so they can score with chicks.
I was also driven by a yearning for adventure. I longed for a world in which intrepid chaps wrestled endangered wildlife and won swordfights with scoundrels. I hope some of that love of adventure has found its way into my books.”
Tim also works as a corporate writer, undertaking editorial projects for major companies, universities, and government bodies, and contributes articles to magazines and newspapers in the UK and abroad.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
What do you have on the drawing board next? Will it be a follow up to Distant Thunder? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
I’ve got two things on the boil right now. One is a follow-up to DISTANT THUNDER, and that will trace the fortunes of Frank Gray and Grace Dearborn through the later 1890s, and will focus on the Boer War. That involves a good deal of research, but I hope to have it finished within a few months and it should be available sometime next year. The other will happen much more quickly. My contemporary crime novel THE END OF WINTER, which was a big hit in mainland Europe but has never been published in English, is to come out as an e-book and as a print-on-demand hard copy in the next couple of months, if all goes to plan. That should be exciting - for me, of course, but also for readers, I hope!
Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I certainly do all of the above. Unlike quite a lot of authors I really enjoy it. I speak a good deal at reading groups, which are pretty common here. However it’s hard to see how I could make personal contact with many of your followers, since I imagine most of them are in the US and I’m in Oxford, UK. The best way of staying in touch with me is via my website www.tdgriggs.co.uk. But I’m also up for long-distance speaking engagements: I recently ‘dropped in’ on a reading group in outback Australia, via Skype, and that was a great success, despite me having to get up at some ungodly hour because of the time difference. If any of your followers are interested in me doing that, I’d be happy to talk about it. It’s quite easy to set up.
You have stayed away from Social Media. Do you plan on giving that a shot when you become more well-known in the States?
Actually, I’m not quite sure where this came from. I’m quite active on social media. That’s taken a bit of adjustment, since I grew up with the old school publishing industry, but it’s evident that the traditional model is collapsing around us and authors simply must engage through social media more and more. It’s their shop window. Readers can find me on Facebook, and Linked-In, and they can follow me on Twitter (@TDGRIGGS1). I also contribute regularly to various blogs and sites like this one - special interest areas are Crime and Historical Fiction. If anyone has any ideas for raising my profile in the USA, where I’m not well known, then I will listen VERY ATTENTIVELY!
You have great book covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?
I’m glad you like them. Generally the covers come from the publisher’s art department - different publishers for different language groups, so there are many more covers than you’ll see on my site. The Italians, Germans, French, Polish and Dutch all used different designs for the same books. They generally ask me my opinion, but they don’t always listen to what I say, and I usually allow myself to be ruled by them: I’m not a designer. The Germans presented a design I hated, they went with it anyway, and sold the book in truckloads, so I have learned not to argue to loudly! But quite often I’ll have some level of choice between alternative designs, and naturally I have my favourites. I don’t really know how to involve my readers in this process - though I guess that’s becoming more feasible as communications improve - but I do ask the opinions of people around me, which might include family and friends, my agent, or random people pulled in off the street (much to their surprise).
What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process? Are they based in England?
I belong to a local writers’ group in Oxford, which is mainly for social purposes (ie, going down the pub and drinking too much beer). But I’m also a member of the Society of Authors in London, which is quite an august body and is extremely professional, offering advice to authors on every aspect of the publishing industry. In between, I’m a member of the Historical Writers Association (HWA) and the Historical Novels Society (HNS), and both have proved helpful for research and for marketing tips, as well as for social contact, which is very valuable. The HNS is an Anglo-American organization, so your readers should be able to find it and join if they care to. HWA is based in the UK, but I’m sure it accepts overseas members, too.
Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans?
Yes, it’s making a big difference. It’s a revolution, in fact. As you know, my first book, the million-selling crime drama REDEMPTION BLUES, has just been re-edited and re-issued as an e-book for the first time, which puts it within reach of a whole new audience - including those of you in the USA. That’s very exciting. It makes a big difference these days, when people find their books via Amazon’s algorithms, as it were, rather than by browsing through bookshops. I don’t know if it’s going to be better or worse in the end, but different it certainly is. I’m hoping the destruction of the Old Order in publishing will prove to be creative.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
I’m just about to have an e-book giveaway on Amazon of REDEMPTION BLUES: that should happen in the next month or two. My understanding is that these promotions are extremely effective in boosting overall readership and thus sales, but I’ll wait to see. In principle they must be a good idea. Exposure is everything. The whole point is to get the book to critical mass - I define that as the point at which people are talking about it at dinner parties. If you have to give away a few hundred copies to achieve that it’s a price well worth paying.
We writers should not forget that most people who read our books don’t pay for them anyway: for every one that is sold another is lent, or given, or passed on to a charity shop, or borrowed from a library. Sixty percent of all readers never pay for the privilege, and certainly don’t contribute to the author’s bank balance. A book giveaway is no different: it’s just a way of getting in front of a reader who will tell other readers.
Your books are long. How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?
I have always worked out the plot in advance (naturally) but I must admit it doesn’t always stay worked out. Generally it forms and re-forms several times, often many times, before the finished article is produced. The basic dramatic situation remains constant, but I allow myself scope for developing different ways into and out of this situation, and I think this flexibility is a strength - though it can be very frustrating for me, like handling a living thing Very often the characters will tell me what they will, or more often will not, do. The more defined a character has become as writing progresses, the more difficult it is to make him/her do anything which is counter intuitive. That again is a plus: it means the character has a life of his or her own. I don’t use software for structuring but I write copious notes, in longhand before and during the writing process, and always carry a notebook for this purpose. Long bus journeys are great for formulating the next couple of chapters.
You have published Redemption Blues in several different languages. Do you plan on converting all your books? When will The End of Winter be available in English? Where is your biggest audience in Europe?
R BLUES appeared in six foreign languages because publishers in those language areas bought it and translated it: that’s how it works here. My UK publishers only have English language rights for UK and Commonwealth. So separate publishers bought it for Germany, The Netherlands, France, and so on. I had very little to do with the translation. THE END OF WINTER is being prepared for English publication right now and I expect the e-book at least to be available within weeks. It’s already been a big hit in foreign languages. I’d be happy for foreign publishers to take up my other books, too, and that’s a hope for the future.
My biggest European audience for R BLUES and END OF WINTER was Germany. Why Germany in particular? I wish I knew. But the Germans have been enthusiastic and loyal fans for these two books and I hope will be for my others.
Did following along in your father’s footsteps create any problems? Did it help with your large European audience?
No, it was neither a help nor a hindrance, really. It certainly had no effect on my European sales, where Dad wasn’t known at all. He has been dead for nearly 50 years, and his success as a writer was way back in the 1950s, when I was a very small child. By the time I came along no-one had really heard of him (although I read a gratifyingly flattering review of his work last year by someone who must have dug through the archives to find him). In fact Dad used to tell me that on no account should I try to become a writer! He knew from hard experience how difficult it is and how little money and security there is in it. Didn’t stop him, - and it didn’t stop me. I rather suspect he knew it wouldn’t….
Author's Book List
Set at the end of the nineteenth century, this sweeping, epic love story traces the doomed relationship of two young people against the backdrop of a British Empire bracing itself against political opposition. As a boy, Frank had to leave his beloved India when his mother was assaulted by a British officer and accidentally shot when Frank tried to intervene. After his father dies of shame and a broken heart, Frank must make his way to England, sustained only by the determination to revenge himself on the man responsible for destroying his family as soon as he's old enough to become a soldier himself. Grace is the privileged daughter of an industrial magnate, but following her heart and her head makes her a champion of those oppressed by masters of the empire like her father, and so she too finds she has lost her family. As the pair fall in love, there is only one thing standing in the way of true happiness - Frank's vow of revenge…
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The Warning Bell
France, 1944. Pilot Officer George Madoc is tasked with a covert mission to the occupied coast of Brittany: under cover of night, he must ferry a French secret agent - an assassin - across the St Cyriac Shoals. It is an encounter that changes him for ever. Over sixty years later, his son Iain is offered the key to the mystery which has forced a wedge between him and his father. George`s wartime launch has been found and the past is coming back to life. Iain travels to France, desperate to discover the truth, but the village of St Cyriac will not give up its secrets easily. For some, the past is still dangerously alive, and Iain may pay the price of uncovering it…
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CHRISTMAS, and it’s the end of the road for Matt and Lauren Silver and their tempestuous marriage. Rock star Silver has been touring abroad once too often, neglecting Lauren and their twin daughters, Gudrun and Freya. In a desperate attempt to put things right, he cancels his tour and comes home - but instead of the reconciliation he longs for he triggers a tragedy which will shatter all their lives forever. In a terrible accident Gudrun is killed and Silver vanishes, assumed dead. In fact, badly injured, he disappears into the shadows of underworld London, desperate, traumatized, and unable to face what he has done. Lauren is crushed by guilt, and her surviving daughter Freya is so emotionally scarred that no-one can reach her.
No-one that is, except Inspector Sam Cobb, the detective sent to investigate the tragedy - a man with scars of his own. He reluctantly enters the Silvers’ bleak world, but when he does he brings hope. Hope of recovery. Hope for the future. Hope of redemption.
Matt Silver, meanwhile, disfigured and desolate, has found comfort of a kind, thanks to the humanity of new and unexpected allies. Despite himself he has begun to heal, to grow stronger. To think of emerging from the shadows.
And because of this, for Sam Cobb, Lauren and Freya there will come a time when hope alone is not enough.
‘An excellent read and Griggs keeps us guessing right up to the great twist at the end.' The Times
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