On November 21st, I published my seventh book of 2020. Everyone who hears that seems surprised. During such a rotten year, how did I get so much fiction written and released?
I couldn’t have predicted it either. I went into 2020 intending to finish a “big” novel I’d been working on for eight months. I then planned to search for an agent, as my previous one had retired.
That was it. Actually releasing stuff was not on the agenda.
So how did it happen?
In January 2020, I took a break from my big novel to write a short one called Hit and Run. I wanted it to be a trashy, action-packed thriller that shot the reader towards the last page at 500 mph. It was fun to write and I liked how the story turned out. I had no plan to do anything with it, though. Unless you write literary fiction or you’re Stephen King, no one is very interested in publishing novellas.
When the pandemic intensified, my plan for the year died. I hadn’t finished my big novel (I was struggling to even get the title right), and I no longer felt interested in querying agents or publishers. I needed something more immediate to occupy myself with.
I wrote another novella, The Forbidden Room, set in West Cork. It was a short, nasty thriller and great fun to write.
After doing some research, I released The Forbidden Room myself at the start of April. I’d never had the slightest interest in self-publishing, but I had to entertain myself somehow. Some people baked sourdough. Thrillers were my thing.
A reader who wanted to review The Forbidden Room asked me if I could list the book on Goodreads. It was a pretty good question. I’d never even glanced at Goodreads. But an hour later, I had an author profile set up.
I wrote another novella, The Hostage, and released it at the end of April, not giving myself time to worry about the “difficult second book” problem.
In May, after some editing, I released Hit and Run, the novella I’d written in January.
With each release, I was refining my methods, making adjustments to how I did things. Not just the writing, but the publishing too.
I wondered what to release next.
I still had the manuscript of a novel I had written some years earlier. Out of Nowhere had won the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair competition, got me representation, and generated interest from a number of publishers. But in the end, it hadn’t been published.
I dug out the manuscript and read it over, immediately seeing why it had been rejected. Clearly, when I wrote it, I had no understanding of pacing. And there was an earnestness to the prose that was a real turn-off, even to me. But I still liked the story.
So I edited the book.
I cut down the interminable Dean Koontz-influenced verbiage and deleted every unnecessary passage. In the end, over 100 pages were cut, resulting in a leaner, faster book. A mystery thriller which I thought people might enjoy.
I released it in June.
Then I moved on.
Dark Tales, a collection of short stories, followed in July. Also in July, I put together an anthology of my novellas, called The Thriller Collection.
I did some work on my “big” book, switching some first-person chapters to third person (still struggling with the title), then took another break and wrote a different novel from start to finish. Better Confess came out in September. To the best of my knowledge, it’s the only thriller ever written that’s set partly in Claremorris.
To mark Halloween, I wrote a short story called Last Train. I sent it out (for free) to everyone who had signed up to my mailing list. To my surprise, some kind souls nonetheless bought the story on release day, and on October 31st, Last Train became the #1 New Release on Amazon.com in the “short thrillers” category. It was the best Halloween present I could have asked for.
Meanwhile, I was completing my big book and I’d finally found the perfect name for it: The Kindness of Psychopaths. A complex, fast-paced thriller about a woman who disappears from her Donnybrook home one morning, leaving nothing behind except her fingers. The book follows a detective’s efforts to discover what happened.
This was the book I had originally planned to contact agents about, but, during the year, I’d got used to writing and releasing. When I finished The Kindness of Psychopaths, I put it out myself.
Almost immediately, I was asked if there would be a sequel. The fact that people even raised this possibility made me realise how far I’d come. During 2020, I began to build a readership. Hearing from people who enjoyed my books has been incredibly rewarding. Along the way, I’ve made friends with some wonderful people: readers, writers and bloggers around the globe. Maybe, in one small way or another, we all helped each other to get through the year.
At the end of December, I was lucky enough to appear on four bloggers’ “best books of the year” lists. It was wonderful, especially since my books are not stocked in any high-street shop or hyped by any publicity team. Even more remarkably, the bloggers had each chosen a different book. The Kindness of Psychopaths, Better Confess, The Hostage, and The Thriller Collection each got a mention.
It’s been a hell of a year.
Throughout the months, I have tried to keep my attention on things that I can change. I built a website, set up social media accounts, made trailers, designed covers, formatted paperbacks and e-books, wrote some terrible blurbs, was a podcast guest, Zoomed ineptly, and talked to book-lovers around the world.
I also wrote.
As 2021 begins, I’m excited to share more stories. Whatever way my books are released in the future, I’d love for you to try them.
(c) Alan Gorevan
About The Kindness of Psychopaths:
How far would you go for those you love?
When Valentina López Vázquez vanishes from her home one morning, it’s obvious that she was taken by force. What happened to her next is not so obvious.
The disappearance forces two men on a gruelling search for the truth: Barry Wall, Valentina’s frantic husband, and Joe Byrne, the nihilistic detective in charge of the investigation.
They are locked on a devastating course that will take them to places darker than they ever dreamt – places without limits…
Don’t miss this page-turning thriller. Perfect for fans of Shari Lapena, Peter Swanson, Jennifer Hillier, and Linwood Barclay.
Order your copy online here.
Book trailer for The Kindness of Psychopaths on YouTube: