Michael May is losing it. Long ago, he joined the Metropolitan Police to escape his father’s tyranny and protect people like himself. Now his father is dead, and he’s been fired for punching a suspect. Afraid of his own rage, he returns to Trowchester—and to his childhood home, with all its old fears and memories. When he meets a charming, bohemian bookshop owner who seems to like him, he clings tight.
Fintan Hulme is an honest man now. Five years ago, he retired from his work as a high class London fence and opened a bookshop. Then an old client brings him a stolen book too precious to turn away, and suddenly he’s dealing with arson and kidnapping, to say nothing of all the lies he has to tell his friends. Falling in love with an ex-cop with anger management issues is the last thing he should be doing.
Finn thinks Michael is incredibly sexy. Michael knows Finn is the only thing that still makes him smile. But in a relationship where cops and robbers are natural enemies, that might not be enough to save them.
Guest post from Author Alex Beecroft...
In all my Trowchester Blues books you can tell what the weather was like while I was writing, because it's the same weather the characters are living through. I wrote Trowchester Blues in the months before Christmas 2013. It's actually a speedily released book, but a year between writing and release is turning on a dime for a publishing company. As an author you have to do one or two more revisions to that finished first draft, sometimes more. Then you have to send the manuscript out to publishers. Then the editors at the publishing houses have to find time to read it. If they like it, I believe that it then goes out to other acquisition editors or something of the sort. They read it too, and if they like it, everyone gets together and decides to offer the author a contract.
After that, there's cover art to be done. That can take two or three different tries before the cover artist comes up with something eye-catching that seems to reflect the feel of the book and which the author also likes. I remember we tried three different models for Michael on the cover of Trowchester Blues until the cover artist found one that made me go “Oh, he's perfect.”
The first version of the cover didn't have the fantastic wrap-around picture that allows Finn to be on there as well, but once it did that meant another model I had to OK. But Finn was right on the first go.
I like the logo, with the tea cup and the gun. I had some qualms about it, since Michael is an ex-cop in Britain, where our policemen do not carry guns as a general rule, and most of them aren't even trained in their use. There isn't actually a hand-gun in the book, but there's a hot farmer with a shotgun, and a not-so-hot arsonist with a rifle, so I felt the gun on the cover was true to the spirit of the thing, if not to the nitpicking pedantry.
(It's a little harder to justify in Blue Eyed Stranger, although there are rifles and shotguns in that one too. And there's full on murder in Blue Steel Chain. So, you know, there's a certain theme throughout that justifies it.)
While the cover art is being done, there are also numerous rounds of edits. First you get a content edit, in which the editor is looking for big things like plot holes, continuity errors, characters with motivation that makes no sense, time lines that skip months because the author got too excited and rushed forward where angels fear to tread. Things you dread to hear at this stage are “I didn't feel there was much chemistry between the leads. Can you beef the romance up a bit?” But of course it's good to tackle that before it releases. Much better than let it go out and fall flat.
After that edit, there are two or three rounds of copy editing, to try to catch all the typos, misplaced colons, comma splices, grammatical awkwardness and all those places where I've used the word 'little' fifteen times in the same paragraph. This is the point where hopefully someone will spot that Bert McGuyver spent three chapters under the name of Alf McGuiver and demand that he should settle on one name throughout.
Once that's done, the cleaned up manuscript gets sent to a proof-reader, who will basically do the same thing again, only with a fresh pair of eyes, and mostly concentrating on the grammar rather than the story.
After that, the author can relax (or in reality, the author can go back to writing whatever work in progress they were in the middle of when they got their edits). But the publishers are still hard at work, creating and laying out the inside of the book and marrying that with the cover, sending out advance review copies to print magazines and attempting to get the book into bookshops and libraries. Also setting up blog tours like this one :)
So there's little surprise that with all of that to do, it can take a full year to go from finishing a novel to seeing it out in print, but it does mean that when it comes out, I get to relive those months.
I was told recently that Trowchester Blues was a great book for comfort reading on a rainy day, and I think that's probably because I wrote it for comfort on a succession of rainy days from October to December 2013. I hope it brings you too the sensation of being indoors, wrapped in a blanket while the snow floats down outside the window, and you are safe and warm.
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
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Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for an e-book from Alex Beecroft's backlist (excepting Trowchester Blues). Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 15. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.