Tuesday, March 18, 2014

meet the NAMELESS HORROR that saved our day


This is all true.

At some point last year, while preparing my Ghostly manuscript for publication, I decided to get an editor to help with the final part of the process.

That week I happened to be wandering around the fiction shelves at my neighbourhood library and came across a science fiction-ish novel that really fascinated me. This was The Levels by UK author Sean Cregan, a dystopian thriller jam-packed with crazy ideas.

When I got home I looked up the author's website. His real name is John Rickards (publishes crime fiction under this), and he also goes online as The Nameless Horror. To my delight I came across a note advertising his editing services. I must admit it felt awkward but I really needed help with the manuscript, so I wrote him a short email, crossed my fingers and clicked "send".

That's the unlikely but true story of how we managed to get an acclaimed author to help us with our books. John has since worked on a bunch of projects, including Ghostly, The Diary of Young Justice Bao and Thor the Greatest. He's great to work with and very generous about providing insightful notes along with his edits. If you're writing any sort of fiction and you'd like some editorial input, his links are available just after the interview below. Do mention that you found out about him through Super Cool Books! :)

Check out this zombie story that John and his son wrote. And look out for his titles to be released by the new Polis Books independent press.


Please introduce yourself and what you do. 
I’m John Rickards. I’m a writer with books sold at one time or another to both majors and small publishers, not to mention self-publisher, a freelance editor, and an occasional trade journalist for the fascinating (warning: may not actually be fascinating) world of the shipping industry. If it involves typing words on a keyboard, I can/have/will do it.

What in your opinion makes a good young adult/middle grade fiction series?
Exactly the same as makes a good series for any audience. You’ve got to have a main character or characters who the reader wants to follow. That they identify with and consequently whose adventures they can really feel when they read, regardless of what the genre or the style is. What makes a story compelling isn’t the fireworks or the setting, but the cast.

Writing fiction in the ebook age: how do you think a budding writer should go about this? 
The digital era has made it a lot easier to put your work ‘out there’, but finding an audience isn’t necessarily any easier than it ever was. First: write better. (If you’re just starting out, read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. It’s probably the best and almost certainly the most readable guide to writing better fiction.) Second: if you’re looking for an audience, find out what works for you, and do that. Most advice is at best barely up to date and for the most part already out of date. Following it is pointless, since avenues grow or shrink on a rapid basis. (For example, old classic advice for finding readers via Amazon was to price stories cheaply and be sure to mention them on Twitter/Facebook nice and often. Both worked in the old days when they were novelties, but now everyone does it and no one pays attention.)

Stick to what suits you and you’ll be happier and better able to keep going than if you try to match what someone else thinks of as an ideal. You also won’t constantly be skating to where the puck is and wasting time and energy on something that’s not likely to do much good.

The Super Cool Books titles you've worked on, how would you introduce them in one sentence?
Quick, punchy adventures for younger readers that don’t mess around.

Find out more about John and his books: