Robert Craven's blog

So now you've published your book - what next?

Books are like the stock market, sales rise and fall over your title’s shelf life. At the mercy of fickle readership, your publication in many ways is no longer art, but a commodity, a product for sale. The trick is to bring your buyers to the stall and at least look it over. For my novel, A Kind of Drowning , I planned for the year, with one eye on the summer market and the end view of Christmas sales I marked out a calendar into three blocks...

How the story arc of JAWS gave me the perfect noir thriller

The man standing at the funeral in bubble-gum pink hair is P.J. Crowe. His career as a detective is in tatters - he's facing dismissal, and his wife's about to leave. Lying low in a small seaside town he spots a ‘Help Wanted’ ad in the kitchen of a local café. It offers him an escape and it's where Thea Farrell worked – until she was found dead at sea. And herein lies the problem: Thea was an Olympic medallist, silver for swimming and Crowe’s...

The Nine Books that inspired me to write (9 of 9) # 9 Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

Imperium (1993) Kapuscinski is a hero of mine, Imperium isn't a novel, but a biography of growing up under Moscow Rule and a series of essays and observations. Kapuscinski traveled around the satellite countries of the USSR post collapse of the Berlin Wall. It is the last book of the the 9 books that inspired me to write . Imperium is a travelogue, reportage but more than that; Kapuscinski takes far flung countries and weaves their beauty into...

The Nine Books that inspired me to write (8 of 9) # 8_ London Rules by Mick Herron

London Rules (2018) London Rules is the 5th novel in Herron's Slow Horses series, and the first book of his I had ever read. After it, I literally bought the whole Jackson Lamb series. It is the penultimate book of the 9 books that inspired me to write . 'Slow Horses' refers to members of MI5 who have for various disciplinary reasons, are moved into Slough House, a dilapidated building in the borough of Finsbury. Its a limbo, far away from the...

The Nine Books that inspired me to write (7 of 9) # 7_ Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential (2000) I have a framed autograph over my writing desk, signed by Bourdain. I happened to be sitting with my family in the departure lounge of Charles de Gaulle in 2013, after a week in EuroDisney. He too, it turns out ,was flying to Dublin to shoot an episode of his TV show, The Layover . They say you should never meet your heroes, but he was gracious and modest, in a certain light, he had the measured gumshoe cool of a...

The Nine Books that inspired me to write (6 of 9) #6_ Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Moby Dick (1851) What is left to be said about Moby Dick ? Not much at this stage, In Melville's lifetime it only sold a handful of copies. It wasn't until 1917 as America entered WW1 that the book's popularity took hold. It became a staple read with US troops crossing the Atlantic. Its revival in the early 20th century long after Melville's death earned it the reputation as one of the Great American Novels , I came very late to this book, I...

The Nine Books that inspired me to write (5 of 9) #5_ Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller

Ingenious Pain (1997) My father died on the 28th of January 1998. No matter what age you are, the death of a parent is a hammer blow; the first crack in the secure pillars of life. Also, not long after, I went through a painful break up. I needed to just get away. I tallied up that I had nearly 30 days leave to use and looked around for a package. By sheer chance, passing a travel agent along Dublin's quays, I saw a three city rail journey from...

The Nine Books that inspired me to write (4 of 9) #4_ The Constant Gardener by John le Carre

The Constant Gardener (2001) Scott Fitzgerald once said, "There are no second acts in American lives" , the 4th book on my list of the 9 books that inspired me to write , The Constant Gardener , proves that in literature, this isn't the case. Le Carre's incredible return to form opens with the brutal murder of a British national, Tessa Quayle and her driver, Noah, in Nairobi. Her husband, Justin, is a diplomat who sets out to find out what...

The Nine Books that inspired me to write (3 of 9) #3_ Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson

Kolymsky Heights (1994) The American poet, Kenneth Koch once said ,"You cannot not be influenced by great writing", and this book was one of those 'turning points' in my writing. Steven Spielberg, before filming, always watches John Ford's The Searchers , when I start planning to write, I always read Kolymsky Heights . I think its the best thriller ever written. Kolymsky Heights is the third book on my list of the 9 books that inspired me to...

The Nine Books that inspired me to write (2 of 9) #2_ Legion by William Peter Blatty

Legion (1983) Long before it became a tourist attraction, Dublin's Temple Bar in the 1980's was a ramshackle collection of dilapidated warehouses, earmarked for demolition. The area was hidden behind a stockade of music postered hoardings. Along the street amid the buildings was a bookshop called The Alchemist's Head (sadly gone now). It was a long, narrow shop with shelves full of fortean magaines. movie magazines and a healthy stack of sci-fi...

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