Tag Archives: bestsellers

On Writing: Historical Setting with Margaret Dickinson

The latest blog in our On Writing series looks at Historical Setting with bestselling author Margaret Dickinson. Today marks the publication of The Poppy Girls, the 25th novel from the Queen of Saga. 25 novels? Most writers struggle to finish one! Huge congratulations to Margaret and thank you for taking the time to share your incredible author wisdom with us.

The Poppy Girls

When I found Darley Anderson in 1991, it was he who suggested that I should try to write a regional saga and he gave me three very useful pieces of advice, which I still do my best to follow with every book I write.

  • A strong woman as the central character, whom the reader can visualise from the first page
  • The story should ‘breathe’ the place you’re writing about; your readers must feel that they’re walking down the same streets that your characters are walking down.
  • A satisfactory ending so that the reader closes the last page and says, ‘yes, that’s a good ending to that story.’

And that’s all there is to it, really…  Well, not quite!

Regional sagas are traditionally set during the first half of the twentieth century, though I did once go back to the 1850s with Pauper’s Gold so that the background of the pauper apprentice system in the cotton mills was historically correct.  Sagas, too, are usually spread over several years, so consequently the author is always running into one war or another!  However, that can be a very useful way of getting rid of an unwanted character!  And also, there is ready-made conflict in a war situation.  For example in The Clippie Girls, set in Sheffield, I already had the tension of the Second World War; the rationing, the bombing, the blackout, women doing men’s work and the constant fear for the soldiers fighting overseas.  But I wanted more conflict so I invented a household of women; the grandmother, who owns the house and never lets anyone forget it, her widowed daughter and three granddaughters, all with very different personalities.  Once the time, the setting and the characters are all in place, then the story begins to flow.

There is no right or wrong way to write a novel, but this way works for me.  Before I write anything down, even notes, I have my central character and probably one or two more around her.  Then I know when the story takes place, where it’s set and the background; i.e. farming, fishing, tulip-growing, lace-making and so on.  I know how it is going to start and I already know how it will end and I also have a vague idea what will happen through the story, though this may change as the plot develops.  At this stage I don’t do detailed research.  I may make a preliminary visit to places and talk to a few people to make sure that when I do want to do in-depth research I know where to find it.  I also collect numerous books on the subject in readiness.

Then I write the story, going straight through a first draft to the end without pausing to edit or to refine.  This works for me to keep the pace going, though I do make ‘notes to self’ throughout reminding me where more details need to be filled in during the research stage.  (By the way, editors always talk about ‘pace’!)  At the end of a very rough draft that is fit for no one but me to see, I then go back to the beginning and work steadily through the script, doing detailed research and filling in the blanks.  At this stage I will visit museums and speak to experts as well as reading non-fiction books on the subject and researching on the Internet.  Newspapers of the time are a great resource, giving not only the news of the time but also an insight into people’s lives from advertisements as well as articles.

Another read-through of the script will concentrate on the characterisation asking myself questions such as, are all my characters fully rounded so that the reader will believe in them as real people?  Have I got enough emotion into the story?  Is the plot line credible?  Everything that happens must have sound reasoning behind it; editors do not like plots that hang on coincidence or chance!

I believe it is important to get the facts right, especially if you are writing about a real occupation.  For example, if you are writing about a mining community, they have always been very special people and not to represent their lives accurately could be insulting to them.  Even though it is fiction and all my characters bear no resemblance to real people, I like to think I am paying tribute to the kind of people I am writing about.  And, of course, it’s vital to get historical facts right.  Your readers are intelligent, well-educated people, who will soon spot a glaring error and lose faith in your accuracy and therefore probably in your novel too.

As regards the amount of research needed, this will vary with each book and it’s quite a difficult decision to know how much to include.  You want to give a realistic and accurate background and yet not overload the reader with facts that detract from the plotline.  I have heard readers say that if they come to a page of description, they skip reading it!  What I try to do is weave in descriptions and facts amongst conversation and action.  That way, the reader will absorb it without really being aware they are doing so.

But the most important thing to get right is to create a ‘page-turner’ that will keep your readers wanting to know more about your characters and what happens to them until the very last page!

Margaret’s new novel The Poppy Girls is published by Pan Macmillan today, get it here.

Agency Newsletter: July

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Martina Cole’s unstoppable success

It has been 25 years since Martina Cole’s debut novel

Dangerous Lady was published and in a career which has seen her break almost every publishing record there is – she holds more No.1 original bestsellers than any other author with each novel outselling the last – she’s still topping the charts.

The paperback edition of Betrayal, her twenty-third novel, has gone straight to No.1 not only in the paperback charts but in overall bestsellers chart, holding the spot for two weeks.

Martina’s next novel, Damaged, hails the return of DCI Kate Burrows who is featured in Hard Girls, Broken and The Ladykiller. It will be published in hardback in September this year.

Unmatched in talent and unstoppable in success – she is truly iconic and a true ‘one off’.

Amazon’s Bestsellers 2017

Three of our authors have made the Top 10 of Amazon’s most sold e-books of 2017 so far!

TM Logan’s Lies, Kerry Fisher’s The Silent Wife and BA Paris’ The Breakdown have been fixtures in the Kindle Top 20 since their release and this accolade reflects that fantastic success.

Congratulations to all!

BA Paris – a double NY Times bestseller

BA Paris has conquered the US, again – and with two books.

The Breakdown went straight to No.10 on the New York Times hardback charts and Behind Closed Doors, a hardback bestseller in 2016, shot to No.5 on the paperback charts.

BA Paris has enjoyed worldwide success with her debut novel Behind Closed Doors which, so far, has sold in 36 territories.

The Breakdown has also enjoyed great success, USA Today said ‘A story with a ratcheting sense of unease — a tale of friendship and love, sanity and the terrible unravelling of it.’. BA Paris’ next novel Bring Me Back will be out in February 2018 – we can’t wait.

Tana French wins

The No.2 New York Times bestselling author Tana French was awarded the 2017 Strand Magazine Critics Award for Best Novel for her book The Trespasser.

This marks Tana’s fifth best-novel nomination and her first win.

This year she was up against heavyweight authors such as Michael Connelly and Val McDermid.

Congratulations, Tana!

CWA Daggers 2017

We are thrilled that James Carol has been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger Steel Dagger 2017 for his heart-stopping thriller The Killing Game, published under his pseudonym J.S. Carol.

In The Killing Game, a masked man with a score to settle takes the Hollywood elite hostage – what does he want and why?

Winners will be announced at the Daggers Awards on 26th October.

Congratulations, James!

DA Children’s Agency

Kim Slater’s third outstanding novel has been longlisted for the Ealing Teen Read 2017. The award is voted for by schools in the area by pupils in years 8 and 9.

Congratulations Kim!

The annual Young Adults Literature Conference  saw three DA Children’s authors appear at events. Deirdre Sullivan, Dave Rudden and Olivia Levez took part in panels and workshops across the weekend.

 

 

 

 

Agency Newsletter: June

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Martina Cole – in conversation

As part of Queen of Crime Martina Cole’s anniversary year,Headline put on a very special rooftop book club event in partnership with Woman & Home.

Martina was in conversation with Fanny Blake in the rooftop garden of Headline’s stunning offices. They discussed Martina’s most recent release, Betrayal, and her glittering 25 year career. Guests were treated to funny anecdotes and had the chance to ask Martina their own brilliant questions.

From the evening, we learnt that Martina has more number one original bestsellers than any other authors, each novel outsells the last and her books are the most borrowed in prisons and most stolen in bookshops.

Arthur Pepper triumphs in France

We are delighted that The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick has scooped the prestigious Prix des Lectrices Milady 2017!

The Prix des Lectrices Milady is a readers’ choice award, launched by Éditions Milady in 2014, previous winners include Jojo Moyes but Phaedra Patrick was the clear favourite in 2017!

Congratulations Phaedra!

KL Slater’s LIAR

Hot on the heels of the publication of KL Slater’s third chilling psychological suspense, LIAR, it has shot straight in at No.5 on the UK Kindle charts. It is also a No.2 Kobo bestseller.

Her previous psychological thrillers, SAFE WITH ME and BLINK have also been Kindle and Kobo bestsellers which firmly positions Kim as a rising star in this genre.

Congratulations, Kim!

Lee Child dominates worldwide

The unstoppable Lee Child has continued his success on the UK and US bestseller charts with his short story collection, No Middle Name and the 21st Jack Reacher, Night School.

Four weeks after publication in the UK, No Middle Name is No.2 on the Sunday Times Hardback Fiction list. Night School, an incredible 10 weeks after publication, is now No.5 on the Sunday Times paperback list. Sales for Night School are up by 19% on the last Reacher.

Blatt & Rios in Argentina acquired 2 of Lee Child’s short stories meaning he will be published in South America for the first time!

Jack Ford takes on the boys

The Killing Grounds is the first book in the exciting international thriller series by Jack Ford featuring ex-US Navy-turned-investigator and high asset recovery operator, Thomas J Cooper.

For fans of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series, Clive Cussler and Bernard Cornwell, it has already received some rave reviews Jack Ford studied global political Islam and American politics and went on to take a Master of Science degree in Counter-Terrorism. She has previously published six gritty crime novels under her real name but wanted to turn her hand to writing a thriller that brought her love of Africa and politics together. A huge fan of Lee Child and John Grisham, she also wanted to challenge herself in the male-dominated arena and does a fantastic job!

Congratulations, Jack!

Cathy Cassidy launches

Beloved author Cathy Cassidy’s latest novel, Love from Lexie, was published on 15th June and Cathy has been excitedly meeting all of her young fans up and down the country to discuss her new novel, including a mini-launch with delicious cakes in Balham.

Love from Lexie is the first in a timely and pitch-perfect new series about friendship and loyalty, following six teenagers each with a unique story to tell.

 

 

Agency Newsletter: May

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You Don’t Know Me – a startling debut

A new and exciting voice in the crime and thriller world launched this month with a staggering debut novel.

Imran Mahmood’s You Don’t Know Me is a crime book with a difference: the story is told entirely in the form of a defence speech from a young black man, accused of murder. The reader becomes the jury as the unnamed defendant presents the eight pieces of evidence and only one thing matters – did he do it?

The audio book, narrated by Adam Deacon of Kidulthood, is the fastest selling audio book for Penguin Random House this year.

You Don’t Know Me has received stellar praise from many national newspapers including The Times and Imran was profiled in the Guardian. He also featured as a Simon Mayo book club selection on BBC Radio 2 and was on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

Lee Child’s outstanding contribution

Lee Child will be awarded the OutstandingContribution to Crime Fiction Award at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate this year.

Simon Theakston, who runs the award said ‘Lee is very deserving of this accolade, and will have his rightful place in a pantheon of legendary crime authors who have achieved this honour to date.’

No Middle Name, a collection of all the Reacher stories, published together for the first time, has soared into No.3 on the New York Times hardcover bestseller chart and is No.2 in the UK!

Nobody does it better.

TM Logan – Top 10 for debut

TM Logan’s gripping debut, Lies, has spent 8 weeks in the Kindle Top 10 having previously reached No.1 on iBooks and No.2 on Kindle.

This month, Charlie Spicer at St. Martin’s Press acquired North American rights, he said: ‘Like B.A. Paris’s mega bestseller Behind Closed Doors, TM Logan creates an unforgettable novel of suspense out of a chilling human dilemma: what if you learned your wife was having an affair and you believe you are being set up to take the fall for a murder?’

CWA Daggers

We are delighted to announce that three of our authors have been nominated for a CWA Dagger Award 2017.

Tana French has beennominated for the CWA Dagger in the Library, which acknowledges the author’s entire body of work. Tana’s No.2 New York Times bestseller, The Trespasser, has also been selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club 2017.

Longlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award are Tim Weaver for his outstanding 7th novel, Broken Heart, and James Carol under his pseudonym JS Carol for the exciting thriller The Killing Game.

DA Children’s Authors Win

Two of our fantastic children’s authors have scooped prizes this month.

Deirdre Sullivan’s powerful and poetic novel Needlework has won the Honor Award for Fiction at the CBI Book of the Year Awards 2017.

Caroline Crowe’s heart-warming Pirates in Pyjamas was awarded Best Picture Book at the Heart of Hawick Children’s Book Awards!

Cathy Cassidy in the US

Papercutz, the largest comic book publisher in the US, has published the first adaptation of the internationally bestselling Chocolate Book Girls series by our beloved author, Cathy Cassidy.

Sweeties, the first in a planned series, combines books 1 and 2, Cherry Crush and Marshmallow Skye.

Cathy is published in 26 languages worldwide and her sales top 3 million copies.

 

 

 

Agency Newsletter: April

Some highlights from last month at the agency, hope you all enjoy!

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John Connolly and Lee Child – No.1 Bestsellers

We were incredibly proud to see two of our authors secure the highly-coveted No.1 spot – and even more so that it was simultaneous!

Back with the 15th novel in his outstanding Charlie Parker series, John Connolly soared to the top spot with A Game of Ghosts, beating Wilbur Smith’s War Cry and several other well established authors.

This is the second consecutive year that John has gone straight to No.1 on the hardback list.

And the paperback of Night School, the 21st Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child went straight to No.1 with an emphatic lead ahead of the No.2 bestseller, and it stayed comfortably in the top spot for four weeks.

Both authors held the No.1 spot simultaneously for two weeks.

An amazing achievement for both authors and for the agency.

Annie Murray is a No.6 Bestseller

It was a record-breaking month at the agency, Annie Murray’s latest novel The Doorstep Child rocketed into the No.6 spot on the bestsellers chart – the highest position in her career so far.

The Doorstep Child is Annie’s 21st book and is the third novel in a trilogy, featuring 2016’s Now The War Is Over and 2015’s War Babies.

All three novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers.

Tana French – Richard & Judy Book Club

We are thrilled to announce that The Trespasser, the sixth Dublin Murder Squad thriller from Tana French, has been selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club Summer Reads.

The Trespasser is a No.2 New York Times bestseller and won Crime Fiction Book of the Year 2016 at the BGE Irish Book Awards.

It was named as one of the best books of 2016 by Time, Guardian, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, among others.

It’s no wonder when Tana can count Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, Kate Mosse, Ian Rankin and Sophie Hannah as some of her fans.

Make sure to check out the R&J podcast in July for an interview with Tana.

Martina Cole – Anniversary Events

Special and exclusive events are happening across the UK to celebrate 25 years of record-breaking bestsellers from the one and only, Martina Cole.

In June, the prolific author will be in London, Scarborough, Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester discussing the iconic Dangerous Lady and her most recent novel, Betrayal.

Don’t miss your opportunity to see the Queen of Crime in conversation, visit martinacole.co.uk for all the details.

DA Children’s Agency News

The Forever Court by Dave Rudden went straight to No.6 in the Irish bestsellers chart!

The second instalment in the exciting Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy was launched with a bang at the packed-out event in Dublin. Eoin Colfer, bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl book and former Children’s Laureate introduced Dave at the event and said that The Forever Court was ‘forged in ginger flames and will transcend expectations’.

The Guardian gave a rave review, saying, ‘Surpasses his award-winning first novel in humour, menace, Machiavellian plotting and crystalline prose’.

 

 

Agency Newsletter: March

Yes, it’s true, there’s two! Here’s the March edition, you know what to do. Again, any trouble with the link to Agency Newsletter: March 2017, don’t worry, just scroll underneath the image for all the articles.

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Chris Carter is a No.1 UK Bestseller

It is an absolute pleasure to announce that Chris Carter’s The Caller is a No.1 UK Bestseller.

His eighth Robert Hunter serial killer thriller has beaten Joanna Trollope, Neil Gaiman and Katie Fforde to the top spot on the Sunday Times bestseller chart.

This is Chris’ first No.1, topping his personal best at No.5, and many of his previous titles in the series have been Top 10 UK Bestsellers. As well as having a loyal UK readership, Chris has also achieved huge international success. His titles have been translated into 17 languages and in Germany, one of the biggest book markets in the world, he is a consistent mega-seller.

Chris’ ability to write such convincing killer novels comes from his previous career as a criminal behaviour psychologist, where he interviewed and studied criminals including serial and multiple murderers serving life. In an article for the Mirror he said, ‘I interviewed killers who were as charming, funny and charismatic as a chat show host.’

Congratulations to such a hardworking author who truly deserves his success.

Gillian McAllister débuts at No.6

Gillian McAllister’s arresting début novel, Everything But The Truth, has soared into the charts becoming a No.6 Sunday Times bestseller.

Published by Michael Joseph on 6th March, Gillian scored lots of pre-publication reviews and has since had her novel reviewed in national magazines and press.

The buzz is rightly huge for this emotionally charged novel which makes you question the line between right and wrong.

DA authors dominate Kindle Bestsellers

The Agency has been riding high in the digital charts with three authors hitting the Top 5.

Kerry Fisher’s absorbing, The Silent Wife, went into No.2 on the Kindle bestseller chart and was also a No.1 iBooks and No.2 Kobo bestseller.

TM Logan’s gripping, LIES, scored a No.3 hit on both the Kindle and iBooks chart. And K.L. Slater’s page-turning, BLINK, went to No.2 on the Kindle chart.

At one time, DA Agency authors made up a quarter of the Top 20 with B.A. Paris’ The Breakdown and Martina Cole’s Dangerous Lady boosting the number to five.

Congratulations all!

Dangerous Lady continues to thrill

In Martina Cole’s 25th anniversary year, her very first novel, Dangerous Lady, has rocketed back into the bestseller chart.

The iconic novel launched Martina Cole’s phenomenal career and has been released as a special anniversary edition in hardback. Dangerous Lady also made a splash on the digital charts, reaching No.12!

We can say with great confidence that is just the beginning of a very special year for the undisputed Queen of Crime.

Needlework nominated

Deirdre Sullivan’s stunning YA novel, Needlework, has been nominated for a CBI Book of the Year Award 2017.

The CBI Book Awards are literary awards presented annually in the Republic of Ireland to writers and illustrators of books for children and young people. Previous winners include Eoin Colfer and John Boyne.

Congratulations, Deirdre!

A Seven-Letter Word wins

Kim Slater’s second Carnegie nominated novel, A Seven-Letter Word, has won the St Helen’s Libraries Book Awards (BASH) 2017.

The St Helen’s Book Award is a fantastic regional Book Award scheme for secondary school pupils, celebrating fiction for ages 11-18.

A huge congratulations to Kim!

 

 

 

 

Agency Newsletter: February

Hi again,

A sheepish return to the blog as this newsletter comes a little later than anticipated. However, rest assured the reason for delay is all due to a staggeringly busy couple of months. With the London and Bologna book fairs, this is one of the most exciting times of the year but very much requires an ‘all hands on deck’ approach.

Anyway, it’s here now. I’ll let the newsletter speak for itself, so much exciting stuff. If you are having trouble with the link to Agency Newsletter: February 2017, scroll down for all of the articles.

Happy Wednesday!

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Margaret Dickinson is a Top 10 smash hit!

The Queen of Saga returns with another bestselling novel. Daughters of Courage, the sequel to Top 10 bestseller The Buffer Girls, soared to No.9 after its first full week of sales.

This is Margaret’s 24th novel and second year in a row she has been a Sunday Times Bestseller. Her loyal readership got the chance to meet her at a number of signings which took place across the UK.

Margaret even made an appearance on BBC’s Bargain Hunt, discussing the legacy of the Buffer Girls of Sheffield and how they inspired her characters and their stories.

Margaret is highly regarded by everyone she works with for having an incredible work ethic and Darley Anderson has said, ‘She is the constant professional in everything she does. No one deserves success more than she does.’ We couldn’t agree more.

Congratulations Margaret, here’s to the many more successes to come.

The Breakdown is a UK bestseller

The hotly anticipated second novel from the international début sensation, B.A. Paris, has rocketed into the Bestsellers chart.

The Breakdown soared to No.11 on the Sunday Times Bestsellers, and also made a huge splash on iBooks going straight to No.1 and on Amazon’s Kindle Chart, as a No.6 bestseller. Since first appearing in the Kindle Top 20, The Breakdown has not dropped out!

We are so proud of our author and cannot wait to see what happens next!

DA Children’s Agency News

It’s been a fantastic month for the Children’s Agency. Three of our authors have been longlisted for Reading Rampage 2017. Polly Ho-Yen’s Where Monsters Lie, Kim Slater’s Smart and Vanessa Altin’s The Pomegranate Tree have all been chosen for the city wide event in Leicester which aims to promote Reading for Pleasure to children and young people.

And Dave Rudden’s Knights of the Borrowed Dark has won the Most Read Award at the SLA Great Reads Awards. Instead of a trophy, the students gave him a light bulb as a nod to one of the most memorable parts of the story.

Congratulations to all!

Catherine Steadman joins DA Agency

We are absolutely thrilled to welcome new talent Catherine Steadman to the Darley Anderson Agency! Her novel, Something In The Water, is an unpredictable and darkly funny début, with an utterly compelling voice.

Kate Miciak from Bantam Bell snapped up the US rights at auction and said, ‘From the opening sentence to its final gorgeous revelation, I was enthralled…I read the pages in one greedy gulp…and then couldn’t stop obsessing about it.’ Italian translation rights were pre-empted overnight and Swedish rights have already sold.

Catherine is a Laurence Olivier Award nominated actress and writer based in North London. She is known for her roles in Downton Abbey and Tutankhamun, starring alongside Sam Neill, as well as shows including The Inbetweeners and The Tudors.

Dangerous Lady returns

The first novel from the inimitable Martina Cole, Dangerous Lady, returns in a very special 25th anniversary hardback edition.

Over the course of her illustrious year, Martina has sold sixteen million print copies and 1.2 million e-books.

And Dangerous Lady was the book that started it all.

The Last Night takes Bronze

We are thrilled to announce that The Last Night by Cesca Major won the Bronze Award in the Historical Fiction category of TBC Charlie Awards. The Book Club is an online reading group made up of over 6500 compulsive readers and approximately 900 authors. Every year the TBC Charlie Awards celebrate the authors with prizes awarded in 16 different categories.

Congratulations Cesca!

CWA Dagger in the Library

We are delighted to announce that Tana French has been longlisted for the prestigious Dagger in the Library Award for the CWA Daggers 2017!

The Dagger in the Library recognises the author’s entire body of work rather than just one book.

Congratulations Tana!