Tag Archives: G.X. Todd

On Writing: Cross-genre novels with G.X. Todd

In today’s On Writing blog, G.X. Todd, the author of the incredible and genre-defying Voices series, talks about the importance of writing what you love and not to a current trend.

Join G.X. Todd tonight for the  event, at 8pm GMT on Twitter, which aims to promote the outstanding female authors in the often underrepresented Science Fiction genre. More details here on her blog.

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Hunted (Voices #2) was published by Headline on 31st May – get it here 

On Writing: Cross-genre stories that defy categorisation

The Voices series falls into a number of genres. The two books so far released (Defender and Hunted) have been described as thriller, science fiction, horror, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, speculative, action and adventure, and probably some more that I’ve missed. I’ve seen them shelved in the Crime & Thriller section and I’ve seen them sharing space on the Fantasy and Sci-fi tables. Did I set out to write books that didn’t easily fall into genre categories? Nope, I didn’t. In fact, it can make things tricky. How will your books be marketed and to whom? Where will bookshops place you? How will the publisher decide on cover designs, etc.?

Well, dear readers and writers, none of those are easy questions to answer. And, really, you won’t have to answer them anyway. It will be your publisher’s job to figure it out. All you need to do is write something that excites you, something that keeps you awake at night thinking about it, something that has been rattling around in your head and insists on being purged in the only way you know how. You, dear writer, need only write what you want to write. Don’t worry about all that other stuff. It’s peripheral and it’s distracting. The truly great stories are the ones that come out of nowhere, that make you feel something, that immerse you so completely that you never want them to end. Who could have predicted that a boy wizard in a magical boarding school would sell millions upon millions of copies world-wide? Who knew that an epic fantasy series, the first of which was published more than two decades ago, would twenty years later become one of the most successful and beloved TV shows ever made? Point is, no one can predict that stuff: not publishers, not bookshops, not even Mystic Meg herself.

There will always be the argument that you should work on something you know might sell. Stack the odds in your favour, as it were. Write that psychological thriller and put Girl or Sister in the title somewhere. Make sure to add a twist, even if it doesn’t fit or it comes out of leftfield and makes no sense. Sure, it could land you an agent – it could even land you that coveted book deal – and congratulations to you if it does! It’s a tough business to break in to and lots of writers fall by the wayside along the way. Making it all the way to publication is a real achievement. But you’ll be swimming in a very busy pond, filled with many, many fish that are all performing similar strokes. And if your dream is to make a career out of writing, you’re probably going to be spending a lot time writing those same kinds of books, over and over and over again.

What this is all building up to is: write what you love. Write the things you want to read. Write the things you don’t think have been written yet. Don’t be scared. Don’t second guess yourself. That can all come later when you’re about to embark on writing book 2 for your brand-spanking-new publisher and you’re holding a beautiful finished copy of your novel in your hands, a novel that no one could have written but you. And if you need permission to go and write that special something that might not easily fit with what all those industriously-swimming fish are doing – which you don’t, by the way – I hereby grant it to you. Go forth and slay.

Head to gxtodd.com and follow @GemTodd on Twitter to find out more about the acclaimed Voices series and #ReadWomenSF

Interview with G X Todd

20180415_222900When her debut came out last year, G X Todd was hailed a talented and original new voice. Defender, a post-apocalyptic thriller ‘already worthy to take its place alongside The Stand in the canon’ (John Connolly), has had readers eagerly awaiting the next installment in the four-part the Voices series.

Hunted, the second book of the series, is out today in hardback. To celebrate her first day as non-debut author, we’ve asked Gemma to look back on life as a new author…

What made you first want to become a writer?

It really comes from being such a massive reader through my formative years. I found the school library when I was eleven and books pretty much became my life. I spent a lot of time in imaginary worlds, daydreaming and making up little stories of my own. Yeah, I was one of those kids. I grew up to be just fine, though… *shifty eyes*

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One of those little stories is now a four-part series! Where exactly did the idea for the Voices come from? 

Initially, I wanted to write something that explored a person’s ability to cope with loneliness. Would it send them mad to not have anyone to talk to? That’s really where the idea of “the voices” sparked from. Survival instincts have always interested me, too. How far would we go to protect ourselves or those we love? Would we run or fight? Maim or kill? I find humans fascinating when placed in such extreme circumstances.

Now for the stories that didn’t get published… Did you write anything before Defender?

I did! It’s what I like to affectionately call “crap”. Defender was the third full novel I wrote. The first was called The Wilds and it was packed with every single idea I’d ever had and, as such, it was 150,000 words of chaotic, messy word-diarrhoea. The second book was a YA crossover called Innocence Falls and, you know, I still really like that book. I might have to revisit it.

What else can we expect from you in future?

I want to write everything. Is that allowed? Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Thriller, Teen, YA, Romance. Okay, maybe not Romance, but definitely the others. I’d love to have one of those ‘Also by’ pages at the front of a book that lists fifty of my previously published books. That’s The Dream™.

Every writer has their own routine – so how do you actually get it done? 

No writing in the mornings. Seriously, I’m no good before 10am. So I generally start around 11-12pm. If I’m writing a first draft, I write until I have at least 2000 words down, whether it takes me three hours or eight. During the editing or redrafting stage, it’s not often I can work for more than five hours a day. My brain dies if I attempt to do more. I generally try to write six days a week (Saturday is my day off), but I can be flexible if I need to be.

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Do you sit down with a plan, or let the story write itself?

Well, I don’t really plan. I have scenes that I want to get to at some point, and a destination where the characters need to go or people they need to meet (and I often have an ending in mind). But other than those basic bones, I tend to just sit down and let the characters lead me where they want. I find it’s always the characters that speak to me most loudly, rather than, say, plot or story arcs. So I can have a first draft in around four months. Then subsequent drafts are used to backwards plot – where I develop themes, insert better formed ideas, and flesh out characters, etc.

Did your writing change in the process of writing Defender? 

I think I learned a lot about voice (no pun intended), and how to really get into the heads of characters. I didn’t hold back with exploring the darkness inside people, either. I really let my imagination run free with Defender and the Voices series, more so than with anything else I’ve written. It’s been quite the journey so far.

What have you found most difficult as a new, published author?

Having to be extra social. Ha. I’m actually fairly decent at being sociable, but the sheer volume of social events I have to navigate now is x1000 to what I’ve been used to up to this point. Oh, and the edits. For me, the edits are rarely any fun at all.

Finally, what would be your one piece of advice for a new author?

People will tell you that you’re a literary wunderkind and that you’re shooting rainbows out your butt. And you’ll read reviews that say your writing is awful and that your book should never have been published in the first place. Positive or negative, it’s important to keep your feet on the ground and a realistic head on your shoulders.

 

Agency Newsletter: January

Hello!

Although a little later than usual, this is the first agency newsletter of the new year!

A slightly different format going forward, I know that the viewer on phones isn’t always compatible with software we use to upload the file. Underneath the file, you will find all the copy from the newsletter. Then you can run home, turn on your computer and see the finished product in gorgeous technicolour!

Have a lovely week.

Kristina

January:

Martina Cole: Nielsen|Specsavers Bestseller Awards

Click Here

Tana French continues to triumph

The sixth novel in the Dublin Murder Squad series, The Trespasser, continues  captivate audiences around the world.

It went straight in at No.2 in Germany and later held the No.1 spot for two weeks on the Spiegel chart.

Tana has also been longlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library 2017. The Dagger in the Library is one of the most prestigious crime writing awards in the UK and previous winners include Alexander McCall Smith and Elly Griffiths.

Lee Child in New Zealand

Jack Reacher continues to conquer the bestseller charts all around the world.

Night School was New Zealand’s  top selling international title in 2016 beating The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

New Zealand was the first country where Lee achieved success and went to No 1. This was many years ago, long before his success in either the UK or the US.

It would be fair to say that New Zealand discovered Lee first.

Defender is a hardback bestseller

The startlingly imaginative début novel from G.X. Todd went straight on to the UK bestsellers hardback list at No.25.

Defender has received outstanding reviews, impressing both Lee Child and John Connolly. It has been chosen as one of the best sci-fi, horror and fantasy releases of the year so far by the Guardian.

Eric Brown of the Guardian said, ’Defender is lifted way above other novels in the over-subscribed post-apocalyptic subgenre by Todd’s sympathetic characterisation and superb pacing.’

Lies is a bestseller

Lies, the manically twisting debut from T.M. Logan, shot up the eboook bestseller charts soon after its release.

It rose to No.3 on iBooks UK chart and No.11 on the Kindle UK paid chart.

The paperback it published 4th May.

Congratulations T.M. Logan!

B.A. Paris wins Gold Award

The début phenomenon of 2016, Behind Closed Doors, was awarded the Gold award Nielsen | Specsavers Bestseller Awards for sales of  500,000 copies. B.A. Paris was the only début fiction author to win a Gold award. 7 other DA Agency titles won Gold: 4 were by Martina Cole and 3 were by Lee Child novels

Agency Newsletter

Hello there!

This month our newsletter covers the all the news from the lead up to Christmas and celebrates a fantastic year for our authors.

The Bestseller lists have been rounding up the top titles of the year and we are very pleased to see both our debut and experienced authors make the cut, several times!

There are awards, milestones and exciting film news included and we look to 2017 to show you which new titles you must look out for the in coming year.

Wishing you all a restful and happy holiday. We’ll be back in 2017!

DA Agency

 

An Interview with G.X. Todd

G.X. Todd, agented by our Camilla Wray, is the newest author to join the Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency! Gemma’s debut series was snapped up in a knockout six-figure pre-empt by Headline’s Publishing Director, Mari Evans. Translation rights have also already sold to Brazil. (Full summary of the series below!)

Emma Winter was able to catch five minutes with Gemma between writing and her day job (*coolest job ever alert*  mobile librarian) to discuss Pilgrim, heroes and everything in between. 

Gemma Todd May 2015

Emma Winter: Firstly, congratulations! How does it feel to know that there are going to be lots of people reading your book?

G.X. Todd: Well, I was ecstatic when I got three people to read it, so the thought of more is…what’s a better word than ‘ecstatic’? That.

EW: How did you develop the idea for DEFENDER? Did you always know it was going to be a series?

GT: I like writing about isolation. I like putting people into harsh situations. And, most of all, I like writing about things that interest me: in this case, the human psyche, loneliness, and the psychology of violence.

I wrote the first book as a standalone, but as soon as I typed The End, I thought ‘You know what, I love these characters. There’s so much we can do with them, do with the world. Let’s run with it.’ So I ran, and I’m still trying to catch up.

EW: Could you give us a little summary of the series – how do you see it panning out across all four books?

GT: 21st Century life no longer exists. Mankind has disintegrated. A locked part of the human psyche has been awakened, and the Voices have emerged. In a desolate world, paranoia and survival are the new laws of the land, and when dangerous factions of Voice-hearers begin to gather their numbers, bent on eradicating anyone who can’t hear a Voice of their own, it comes down to a chosen few to stand up and fight.

In essence, I’m seeing it pan out in epic terms, but on a very individual, human level. The core characters (Lacey, Pilgrim, Alex, Addison, etc.) are the real heart of series, and it’ll be in their struggle, their fight, that the story truly lies.

EW: All of the characters are very compelling, did they arrive fully formed in your head or did some take some work to become fleshed out?

GT: Pilgrim came fully-formed as if he’d been waiting for me to find him. He’s fun to write, too, because he’s pretty cantankerous. Lacey is what I think my eldest niece might be like in another 8 years (and if we suffered a catastrophic event), so her head took some work getting inside. Alex was maybe the hardest of them all because she’s the most unlike me. And finally Voice is a smart-ass. Strangely enough, writing Smart-Ass comes naturally to me.

EW: How did it feel to be told your book was going to be published?

GT: *add ALL the superlatives here* Exhilarating and terrifying in equal measures. And when the big emotions settled, I felt sad because my dad isn’t here to share it with me. He’d have been really proud.

EW: How long did it take to write DEFENDER?

GT: The first draft took maybe six months. It was a pleasure to write; it came out all in one go. It’s the redrafting that can be a slog. It began life at around 90,000 words, and is now hitting 120,000.

EW: By day, you’re a mobile librarian tell us a little bit about your amazing job; what are the best bits, what are the worst bits?

GT: Best bits: the books (obviously); the people I work with; having enthusiastic conversations with customers; the pride that comes from squeezing the library van through a tiny gap without demolishing any car side-mirrors.

Worst bits: Seeing how isolated and lonely some of our elderly borrowers are. Government cuts. Bad drivers (they’re everywhere).

EW: Where do you get your inspiration for writing from?

GT: The belief that it’s possibly the only thing I’m decent at. So I’d best make the most of it.

EW: Which authors do you most admire?

GT: This list could be endless. Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Karen Joy Fowler, Miriam Toews, Jim Thompson, John Wyndham. (Honourable mention: Richard Laymon.)

EW: If you were going to have a literary dinner party, who would you invite?

GT: I have this answer already prepared! Margaret Atwood, JK Rowling, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury (if he were still here).

EW: Do you have any tips for writers?

GT: If you’re writing a series: PLAN EVERYTHING IN ADVANCE. It’ll make your life so much easier.

Generally, though, just keep the faith. If you believe you’re writing something that deserves to be read, don’t give up.

EW: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

GT: Peel your bananas from the bottom. It’s how monkeys do it. They know what they’re doing.

EW: What do you think are the key things for debut authors to keep in mind?

GT: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification. You’re not alone anymore – you have a team of people who want you to succeed.

Keep writing stuff you enjoy, and stories that excite you. Because believe me, you have to love it – you’ll be reading the damn thing a 100 times over before you’re done.

EW: What are you most looking forward to on your publication journey?

GT: Definitely meeting the readers. It’s such a lonely job. To have someone outside of your own head read it, experience it, and then want to talk to you about it. That’s pure magic.

EW: Who inspires you most?

GT: My mom. Cheesy, I know, but she’s the strongest person I know. Brain surgery at age 42, living daily with disability, and losing my dad three years ago to cancer, and she’s still getting on with it. Rock solid.