Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Alison Bruce - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Alison Bruce. She is the author of the Cambridge series of Gary Goodhew crime novels.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Crime

Website: Alison Bruce
Twitter: @Alison_Bruce
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
Alison Bruce was born in Surrey, United Kingdom, and now lives in Cambridge.

I write the Cambridge series of Gary Goodhew crime novels. I'm a plotter, thinker, planner, wife-and-mum, worrying, joking, glass-half-full kinda gal.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: The Calling. Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have two books on the horizon called Cambridge Cry and The Silence. Can you tell us the timeline for their release and give us a little tease?

Thank you. The Calling is the third in the series but actually the first one I wrote. I finished writing The Calling and I went back to write Cambridge Blue and The Siren. This meant that The Silence and Cambridge Cry were the two books that carried on from where I'd left my detective, DC Gary Goodhew, several years earlier! I realize that's a complicated way to write a series but also means that I really knew him and where he was headed by then.

The Silence follows Libby, a student who has lost her only two siblings, Rosie and Nathan, in two separate tragic events. Her parents' marriage is crumbling under the strain and she attempts to reclaim her future and her independence by moving into student accommodation in Cambridge. She isn't there long when one of the other six students, Shanie, is found dead and all the memories of losing Rosie and Nathan are back to haunt her.

In Cambridge Cry we meet Jane who ran away from home at 15. When she reluctantly returns to Cambridge ten years later she finds that her family has been devastated in her absence; her sister has been murdered and the man believed to be responsible is now a free man after being jailed on a lesser charge, her parents have divorced, the family home is empty and something very nasty lurks…

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?

I started using Twitter a couple of years ago and until then I'd mostly used Facebook. I use them both and I think they are both effective in different ways. It can be easy to become overwhelmed with social media so I think it is important to use it well but not to become addicted. My initial following was a local one - a huge advantage to setting books in a real and close-at-hand location and I grew the interest in the books via local blogs and media at first then spreading further as the 2nd and 3rd books appeared. I love doing interviews for blogs and am always keen to do events wherever possible - my first overseas was in Honolulu when we went to renew our wedding vows in 2010.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. 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?

The book covers are the publisher's creation, they are different in the UK and US and, in fact, the UK covers have had a change in design recently. Both the UK and US covers have a similar theme of a lone person walking on a path or bridge, I find them quite eerie and very representative of the isolation of a character under threat.

Several of you novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience? Do you recommend new authors going this route to get more exposure?

I don't actually know the impact on sales but I have had emails from several readers who are only able to enjoy books through audio versions and I've been delighted that the books have been available to them. I would say to other authors that any opportunity to make your work accessible to a wider market is a good thing.

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 am wary of widespread free book offers - running on a special promotion at 99c, or in the UK 99p, gives the reader access to book at very low cost and I think there's something important attaching value to work. Having said that, promotions where a free book is given as a gift of value is different. On a slightly different but connected note, I wrote a DC Gary Goodhew short story for a local newspaper last year, that was free to the paper and published as a bonus to readers, this proved to be a great way of giving readers a taste of my work and resulted in quite a few book sales!

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

This one is with my publisher, but the launch event itself is something I always organize. I host this at a local bookstore that has a great crime novel readership and, with the addition of my own invitees usually results in large sales on the first night. Apart from that it's plenty of social media, and as many in person events as possible.

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 don't use software but perhaps I'm reaching the point when I should. I constantly juggle between the three elements of plot, character and timeline, adjusting one affects another and so I begin with a loose plan and keep tweaking until it becomes tighter and tighter. I usually identify three plot strands and work those out across a timeline, and then weave in the characters. Character motivations / actions always have to stack back for me. Adjusting character, plot and timeline can be like screwing in a panel, you have to keep tightening them gradually to avoid it all going wrong!

Living in Cambridge creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation? Do you publish your books in other languages? How is your audience abroad?

I think Cambridge has the most wonderful combination of being reasonably small but universally known. The DC Goodhew books initially had the biggest audience from locals and ex-locals - readers who were attracted because it was a location they knew, but, more recently the readership has grown into an audience of crime fans. My detective is a policeman and as such the books are sometimes called police procedurals but I think of them in the mystery/thriller category and that seems to be borne out by the fans too. At present the books are in English only but sold in all English speaking territories, the majority of fans are in the UK, USA and Australia.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

I don't chase reviews - perhaps I should - my publisher sends out review copies and I do repost reviews as they appear. As the series has grown I often find reviewers will send the review to me as they publish. I do chase articles though and am always pleased to work with bloggers or newspapers on articles and with the hope that new readers and new reviews spring from it.

Author's Book List
The Silence - A Gary Goodhew Mystery
A rash of unexplained suicides. An old woman’s baffling illness. A brutal murder. Detective Gary Goodhew must figure out what's connecting them—or die trying . . .

The esteemed Detective Gary Goodhew must solve a disturbing puzzle when he stumbles upon a circle of friends who seem to be afflicted by a plague of teenage suicides. Poor Charlotte Stone . . . her whole life she has been burdened by grief. First her terminally ill mother dies and then, just weeks later two of her childhood friends take their own lives.

Detective Goodhew begins to realize that this web of tragedy is not woven by coincidence. In his search for the link between this series of deaths, Goodhew is forced to recall deeply buried memories of a murder investigation that went cold years ago—memories that lead him to Charlotte Stone. Together they must stop the course of events set in motion years ago . . .

In this unforgettable novel, Alison Bruce twists a shocking tale that will thrill fans of Deborah Crombie and Tana French.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

The Calling - A DC Gary Goodhew Mystery
Kaye isn't the first. And she won't be the last.

Kaye Whiting went out to buy a birthday present and never came back.

She was a promising young woman with a bright future ahead of her—and no enemies. DC Gary Goodhew is unsure where to begin … until he receives an anonymous call promising more disappearances.

Then Kaye's body is found, and that mysterious phone call turns out to be the only clue the police have.

Soon Goodhew is hunting a sadistic sociopath with a penchant for destroying nice young women …

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

The Siren - A DC Gary Goodhew Mystery
Sometimes the past just won't stay buried.

DC Gary Goodhew is on a pub crawl when he smells smoke. He rushes to the scene and finds a raging house fire, too far gone to stop. The blaze leaves two corpses, but a young boy—who was also inside—is now missing.

As the investigation deepens, it becomes clear that the boy's mother, Kimberley, knows much more than she is letting on. With the clock ticking on a child's life, Goodhew begins to sift through the ruins of Kimberley's past—and uncovers an unsettling picture of deceit, murder, and accelerating danger. Fans of Deborah Crombie and Elizabeth George will relish this gripping page-turner.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Cambridge Blue - A DC Gary Goodhew Mystery
A medieval city.

A modern murder.

In the legendary university town of Cambridge, the strangled corpse of a young woman is found splayed in an ancient meadow. For Gary Goodhew, the youngest detective in the local police force, it’s a case that could make his career … or end his life. As the body count rises and blood flows through the hallowed halls of the colleges, Goodhew must exorcise his own demons if he’s to survive his first year on the job …

Suspenseful and atmospheric, this mesmerizing thriller will rivet fans of Deborah Crombie and Elizabeth George.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Hazardous Unions - Two Tales of a Civil War Christmas
Twin sisters separated by war, bound by love…

After the death of their father, twin sisters Maggie and Matty Becker are forced to take positions with officers’ families at a nearby fort. When the southern states secede, the twins are separated, and they find themselves on opposite sides of America’s bloodiest war.

In the south, Maggie travels with the Hamiltons to Bellevue, a plantation in west Tennessee. When Major Hamilton is captured, it is up to Maggie to hold things together and deal with the Union cavalry troop that winters at Bellevue. Racism, politics and a matchmaking stepmother test Maggie’s resourcefulness as she fights for Bellevue, a wounded Confederate officer and the affections of the Union commander.

In the north, Matty discovers an incriminating letter in General Worthington’s office, and soon she is on the run. With no one to turn to for help, she drugs the wealthy Colonel Cole Black and marries him, in hopes of getting the letter to his father, the governor of Michigan. But Cole is not happy about being married, and Matty’s life becomes all about survival.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Under a Texas Star
Disguised as a boy, Marly joins a handsome Texas Ranger in the hunt for a con man and they must bring the fugitive to justice before giving up the masquerade and giving in to their passion.

When Marly Landers is fooled by con man Charlie Meese, she's determined to bring him to justice--even if it means dressing up as a boy and setting off across the plains to find him.

Texas Ranger Jase Strachan is also after Meese, for crimes committed in Texas. He joins forces with the young boy in a journey that takes them to Fortuna, where a murder interrupts their mission. Jase is duty bound to find the killer, no matter the cost.

Marly carries out her own investigation and comes to the aid of Amabelle Egan, the sister of one of the suspects. But appearances are deceiving, and Marly is mistaken for Amabelle’s suitor, making her a target for the killer. Not to mention, Charlie Meese is still out there.

Under the Texas stars, Marly and Jase are drawn together by circumstances beyond their control, yet fate plots to tear them apart. Will Marly finally get her man?

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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