Writing a novel and getting it published
Many people I meet tell me they have a book in them, or that they want to write a novel. They’re always intrigued when I tell them I’ve written a book myself (called ‘Celebrity Chef Zombie Apocalypse’) and had it published.
The two things they always ask me are:
How did I write it? And
How did I get it published?
These are the questions I’ll answer in this article. I’ll also tell you a little bit about myself and my books.
1: How did I write my novel?
When I write novels (I’ve written a few – but more on that later) I always begin with a simple idea that I feel I’d like to write about. I work on that idea and develop it into a story.
I’ll take my current novel as an example.
It began with the thought that a zombie novel could be used to talk about much more than creepy undead monsters attacking people.
I realised that I could draw parallels between a plague of zombies and a terrorist group. I saw that I had an opportunity to write a novel which would be, amongst other things, an allegory for our struggles to eliminate terrorism in the Middle East.
This implied an intelligent, thinking zombie; not a stupid lumbering one.
So I asked myself: what would intelligent zombies try to do? They wouldn’t run amok killing everyone and eating them, because ultimately, that would mean that the zombies would have nothing to eat except each other.
I figured that intelligent zombies would try to enslave humanity and farm us for the dinner table as if we were animals. That way they could ensure the continuity of their food supply.
If they were successful in their aims, we’d have a zombie elite ruling over us.
Who would the elite be?
It seemed natural to me from a storytelling point of view that the zombie elite would come from the food industry. That’s because the people in that industry know about the production of food and that was an essential factor in my tale. I decided on celebrity chefs because I thought I could have a lot of fun with chefs.
When I’d developed my story this far, I had to decide how my zombie onslaught was going to begin, how it was going to end, and how I could craft an opening scene that would grab the reader’s attention.
I decided that I’d use the following ingredients to open my novel and get readers interested in it from the very first sentence: conflict and challenge.
If you follow these links to the Amazon pages for my novel, you’ll be able to read enough of the beginning of it (free of charge!) to see exactly how I used conflict and challenge to achieve my aims:
I’m not going to give away how my novel ends though! – You’ll have to get it and read it if you want to find that out.
2: How did I get my book published?
Over the years I’ve written a number of novels, none of which were published until I wrote this one. (‘Celebrity Chef Zombie Apocalypse’)
In the past I’ve approached literary agents. This is the conventional route to publication.
Literary agents represent the author and try to secure a publishing deal for him. Most publishers won’t even look at your work unless you have an agent to represent you.
The agents have to be convinced that you’re good (i.e., commercially viable) before they’ll take you on as a client.
When you approach literary agents in the U.K., you’ll usually be asked to submit a covering letter, the first three chapters of your novel and a brief synopsis. If they like what they see, they’ll ask for the full manuscript.
In the U.S.A., I believe things are different, and often literary agents want only a query letter in the first instance.
Anyway, I’ve had four agents request a full manuscript from me in the past, but none have wanted to take me on as a client.
I still have those rejected novels saved on my pc. One day I’ll go back to them and polish them up and get them published.
Anyway, when it came to my current novel, I noticed that some publishers, mainly in the field of speculative fiction (that is, horror and science fiction), were willing to accept approaches from writers directly; they didn’t stipulate that an agent should be involved. I decided that as my current novel was essentially a horror story, I’d go down that route and approach a publisher direct instead of trying to get an agent to represent me.
It paid off; and the rest, as they say, is history.
I’m married and I have two grown-up daughters who are both hugely entertaining. My wife is a very funny lady and we make each other laugh a lot. By profession I’m a lawyer and I am making the transition into being a full-time author.
AUTHOR BIO JACK STRANGE:
The reclusive author Jack Strange is an unusual fellow. His exact age is unknown. Those who’ve dared to ask him have never survived long enough to divulge the answer.
His writing is dark and comedic. He has a biting wit, an acid tongue, and some say, hoofed feet. With his leaning towards the undead, he’s a natural for the world of horror and gore.
Jack signed his contract in blood for Kensington Gore Publishing in early 2016; no-one is sure whose.
His first dark, comedic horror novel, “Celebrity Chef Zombie apocalypse” is to be published May 28th 2016. It’s a tale of true love, zombies, sex, cooking, cannibalism, and chasseur sauce.
Jack’s done too many jobs to mention. He could tell you, but then he’d have to kill you. Not because he worked for the secret services as a hit man or an executioner. It’s just that he gets bored very easily.
He has a wife, poor woman, and two lovely daughters who can’t be named for legal reasons.
Oh, and besides all that, Jack Strange lives in Huddersfield West Yorkshire. Need we say more?