A Word from the Author ... PL Kane, author of Her Last Secret.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of publicity lately for my genre releases, like the Cursed anthology, my short monster novel The Storm, my novella Blood Red Sky and The Colour of Madness movie tie-in – yes, there’s a feature coming soon based on something I wrote, it’s all very exciting! But when Liz kindly asked if I’d do a piece for Crime Warp I figured it was an opportunity to pen something about being a new crime writer who is not only launching crime novels in lockdown, but currently writing my third thriller.
When all of this chaos was kicking off, my better half Marie and I were down in London dealing with a family emergency I won’t go into here. We’d just done a signing at Forbidden Planet for Cursed, and my first crime novel as PL Kane – Her Last Secret, which Liz has said some lovely things about… thank you again, Liz – had just come out in paperback. We were looking ahead to putting on the literary convention, StokerCon™, which was meant to happen in April and has now been pushed back, and thinking about events to promote Her Last Secret. I’d already done a few blog posts and tours back in January when the ebook had landed, but wanted to get out there and chat to readers, and sign some copies of that as well.
I’m not a newcomer to crime fiction, having been a massive fan all my life and having compiled a collection of my crime and psychological short stories called Nailbiters for Black Shuck Books, plus an anthology of crime shorts called Exit Wounds put together with Marie and published last year. These two came out under the name Paul B. Kane to differentiate them from my other work, like the YA stuff as PB or just the general genre fare as good old Paul.
To all intents and purposes, however, these books – coming out under yet another pseudonym – were unknown quantities. It would be a bit like starting from scratch, although people have been quick to catch on and connect the dots with my other releases. When Her Last Secret dropped, though, and people were reviewing it who didn’t know me or my fiction from Adam, it was nice to see that mostly the reception was good. The first novel was a bit of a departure for me in terms of theme as well, being a domestic noir drama where a distraught father is looking into the murder of his estranged daughter and trying to make up for not being there when she was alive. I’ve said this a lot in the past, and it especially applies to the genres of SF, Horror and Dark Fantasy for which I’ve mainly been known – my most popular books, the Hooded Man series, are post-apocalyptic SF, but let’s not go there at the moment; they’re too close to home, literally… But characters, emotions, and relationships are the key to any story. In fantastical genres it’s even more important to ground your tales in the ‘real’. That way readers will follow you when everything goes crazy.
And I’ll tell you, for a time back there it was almost like I was living a version of one of those stories. Catch me at a future event, I might even tell you how Marie and I barely got out of London before lockdown happened, a dash across the capital to make it back home while we still could; we’re based in the Midlands. If I had a pound for the amount of people who told me at that point ‘it’s just like one of your novels, Paul’… all right, I’d probably have thirty or forty quid, but it’s still there.
So, while things were going to pot all around the world I guess we felt like we’d escaped something and got back to our family, where life on a day-to-day basis hasn’t changed that much. Our natural state as writers is to be in lockdown with our imaginations – which can be a bad thing if they spiral out of control, and I can definitely sympathise with a lot of my contemporaries who have been feeling anxious at this time. But it can also be a good thing, because it gives us something to retreat into and focus on other than what’s happening out there. It definitely depends on what you’re writing, though – I’m glad I’m not spending time with Robert in Sherwood after the A-B Virus – but if you’re writing about serial killers or cults out in the middle of nowhere, you’ll probably feel like I did. Happy to immerse yourself in a totally fictional world, that in a lot of ways is preferable to reality.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not been easy for a few reasons. We’re all at home self-isolating, and we’re a big family so it isn’t always easy to concentrate on writing – or, indeed, have any privacy. I’ve found headphones are my best friend at the moment, and help me get into whatever zone I need to be that results in, at the time of writing this third book, 4,000 words a day, 20,000 a week. Why am I setting myself such a task in such trying times? Well, I’m behind on writing this one for a start due to some of the stuff I was talking about earlier, and when we first went on lockdown I owed a crime novelette to my editor – which actually continues Jake’s tale from Her Last Secret – and the director of one of my short scripts called The Opportunity, Lewis Copson, was interested in working with me again, so I wrote another mini-film for him. Once I’d finished those and got some admin out of the way, I was able to fully throw myself into the third thriller: the outline of which was signed off on around February.
What also helped with a bit of a boost was seeing the cover to the second thriller, Her Husband’s Grave, and the positive comments about that one; seems people are really keen for the next PL Kane, which is great news! I’d handed that in towards the end of last year and have also been going back and forth on edits/rewrites, which has also helped to keep my mind occupied. That one launches as an ebook from HQ Digital late June, with a paperback to follow in September.
So, writing and editing in lockdown: it’s been pretty much business as usual, workwise, a welcome distraction from what’s outside. I’m lucky in that I learned to see this all as a job about twenty-five years ago when I first started. I was a journalist first for a local paper, which helped massively in that respect. And I’ve been doing my job, all these weeks – we’re into week eight now – because that job has actually been helping me to cope with what has been, let’s face it, a shitstorm of a year so far. I know many folk have been struggling with it, especially if they have little ones, and that’s okay as well. We’re all different, and there’s no right or wrong way to cope. Fingers crossed it all gets better soon, and that when we emerge from this we can meet up and have a jar or several. One of the things I was really looking forward to was getting to know more of the crime community over drinks at the various crime writing festivals, and hooking up with people I already know well. The writing world really is a small one, when all’s said and done. It’ll be my round when the time comes, guys!
In the meantime, keep safe and well, and if you can and it helps you, keep on writing.
PL Kane (Paul Kane) is an award-winning author and editor, who has worked in the fields of SF and Dark Fantasy (most notably the bestselling trilogy, a post-apocalyptic reworking of Robin Hood – as Paul Kane – gathered together in the sell-out omnibus) and the Y.A. market ( and White Shadows as P.B. Kane). He penned the well received Sherlock Holmes stories ‘The Greatest Mystery’ and ‘The Case of the Lost Soul’, and the critically acclaimed full-length mass market novel, (which appeared on several ‘Best of 2016’ listings and won an SFSF Skadi Award). Kane is also the author of the serial killer chiller, , the #1 Amazon bestseller , and he has a collection of crime/psychological stories out called – introduced by bestseller Paul Finch. His most recent co-edited anthologies from Titan are , all new stories revolving around Poe’s detective C. Auguste Dupin, and – which features tales from the likes of Lee Child, Dean Koontz, Alex Gray and Dennis Lehane. He has been a guest at many events and conventions, and his work has been optioned for film and television (including Lions Gate/NBC, who adapted one of his stories for US network TV). Several of his stories have been turned into short films, he is currently adapting his novel into a movie for a UK production company, and Loose Canon Films/Hydra Films have just turned his story ‘Men of the Cloth’ into a feature, . PL’s audio drama work for places such as Bafflegab and Spiteful Puppet/ITV features the acting talents of people like Tom Meeten ( ), Neve McIntosh ( / ), Alice Lowe ( ) and Ian Ogilvy ( ). His crime website can be found at www.plkane.com and his other site www.shadow-writer.co.uk has welcomed Guest Writers such as John Connolly, Dean Koontz, Lauren Beukes, Thomas Harris, Mark Billingham, Mo Hayder, Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Kathy Reichs, Charlaine Harris and Stephen King.