Sam Blake writes writes bestselling thrillers – her latest Keep Your Eyes on Me has been in the Irish top ten for eight weeks (and is currently 25% off at Easons with free shipping!) but she didn’t get there by accident. When she started writing way back in 1999, she quickly realised she needed to learn fiction writing technique – everything they don’t teach you at school- so she set up Inkwell, running workshops for writers. She wanted to hear from bestselling authors and she needed workshops she could get to on a Saturday. Inkwell was the first provider in Ireland of one day intensive fiction writing workshops and she understands the benefits of hearing about other writers’ practice and technique. As she explains,
“As a writer you are always learning and every time I listen to other writers speak at events, on YouTube and podcasts, or read an essay in a book like The Danger and the Glory, I learn something new. Whether something story related gels in my head, or I have a new idea, or I hear a writer explain their technique and am able to harvest an element of it to improve my own writing, I grow as a writer.
‘The wonderful thing about creativity is that each of us is unique, our writing voice is unique, and they way we deliver story is unique. In the same way that the product is unique, each of us needs to develop our own process – through listening and adapting, and learning enough of the rules so they can be broken.
‘I’m lucky that I know a lot of writers and over the years have organised and sat in on hundreds of workshops, I’ve honed my own technique in developing ideas, plotting and planning and in creating character through listening to others – Irish crime writer Alex Barclay has shaped my plotting and Jane Casey constantly inspires me to try and stretch my writing. With every book I read, I continue to learn.”
Writing.ie was set up to help develop new writing talent – writers from every genre help new authors with articles about their inspiration and technique, but Writing.ie is a text based platform and that doesn’t suit everyone. Conscious that audio is a rapidly growing platform, Sam wanted to explore it: “Writers kept emailing me asking about the best writing podcasts, and I felt it was an area we needed to be in. Writing.ie gives writers a global platform to help promote their books, and podcasts do that too. There are quite a few superb book podcasts, but none from authors revealing what acutally goes on when they are trapped behind their keyboard – and that’s what Behind the Best Seller aims to show.”
Teaming up with the fantastic Headstuff podcast team, Sam launched Behind the Bestseller in January, releasing new interviews every two weeks.
Chatting to authors from every genre, Sam kicked of with multi award nominated bestseller Catherine Ryan Howard in a brilliant, and hilarious, discussion about where her ideas come from and how she plots her complex thrillers. Next up Shane Dunphy talked about his memoir based ground breaking non fiction, his move into audio true crime, and the differences he finds when he’s writing fiction. Claire Allan explained the personal circumstances that got her writing and then switching to a life of crime, and Ruth Long revealed exactly what romance is, and gave some brilliant tips on writing fantasy. Just released, in a bumper edition, Sam Blake talks to literary agent Sallyanne Sweeney.
Sallyanne is one of the agents who will be coming to Dublin for the Date with an Agent event on 25th May and who is very much looking for new Irish talent. The closing date for submissions is 31st March, so get your work ready now! In this episode of Behind the Bestseller, Sallyanne explains covering letters, how some books make it and some don’t and the thrill of finding a new author.
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(c) Sam Blake
Sam Blake* has been writing fiction ever since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book. Her debut novel ‘Little Bones’ (Bonnier 2016) was No 1 in Ireland for four weeks, remained in the top 10 for another four, was nominated for Irish Crime Novel of the Year and launched the bestselling Cat Connolly trilogy. Moving away from police procedurals (but not forever), Sam is keeping a focus on strong female characters in her first psychological thriller.
*Sam is a character from the imagination of Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, founder of Writing.ie, the multi award winning writing resources online magazine, The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the Murder One International Crime Writing Festival. She is a member of the board of directors at the Society of Authors (UK), a member of the CWA and a fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. She was previously chair of Irish PEN. She is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but had lived at the foot of the Wicklow mountains for more years that she lived in the UK.
Follow her on social @samblakebooks. Visit www.samblakebooks.com for news and events, and get a bonus free short story in audio & text when you subscribe to her newsletter. Sam hosts the Behind the Besteller podcast – find it on all podcast platforms.