Delighted to be joining the blog tour today for Death Will Find Me, the first Tessa Kilpatrick mystery from Vanessa Robertson, published on 20th February, and available for kindle and in paperback. My thanks to Kelly at #LoveBooksGroupTours for the support, and for inviting me to join the tour. Let’s take a closer look…
Meet Tessa Kilpatrick; heiress and war-time covert operations agent.
Finding her husband – the feckless James – with another woman at a 1920s country house party, she demands a divorce. But when his body is discovered in a lonely stone bothy the next morning, Inspector Hamish Rasmussen sees Tessa as his only suspect.
Back in Edinburgh, links to another murder convince Rasmussen of her innocence. He enlists her help and together they set off on a pursuit that will bring Tessa once again face to face with the brutality of war as well as revealing to her the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect those they love.
Will Tessa be able to prevent a final murder or will she become the killer’s latest victim?
This book will be perfect for anyone who’s enjoyed the work of Catriona McPherson, Sara Sheridan and Jessica Fellowes.
I’m really sorry I couldn’t fit in the reading of this one – it certainly appeals, and I do hope to catch up with the series later. But it’s a real pleasure to welcome the author as my guest today here on Being Anne, to tell us about her publication journey. Over to you, Vanessa…
Back in 2015, I was a winner at Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect event. It was terrifying and exciting and the first time I had ever said publicly that I was a writer. It gave me a lot of confidence and that idea I pitched and the three chapters I’d written became Death Will Find Me and in 2017, I was signed by an agent who was hugely positive about the marketability of my novel and the rest of the series.
We had amazingly positive feedback from editors at publishing houses – my dialogue is apparently ‘sparkling’, the plotting ‘perfectly paced’, the denouement ‘sorrowful yet satisfying’ and so on. However, publishers were reluctant to actually buy the book because, apparently, historical crime fiction isn’t an especially popular genre at the moment. That’s fair enough as what matters to publishing houses is their balance sheet and those rooftop terraces overlooking the Thames don’t pay for themselves.
In the year that I was agented and my manuscript was looking for a home, my confidence nose-dived. I found it impossible to write the next in the series because I was aware that a publisher would want edits of the first that might require a lot of rewriting of the second. And so I wrote something contemporary that my agent hated and last summer we parted company.
That was a shock and I was really upset for a while. But fortunately I already planned to have coffee the next day with a book trade friend and she was fantastic. She read the email from my now ex-agent, raised her eyebrows in a telling manner, and by the time I left an hour later I had a plan. Trust me, every writer needs a get-a-grip friend like her!
I submitted the manuscript to a few publishers who take direct submissions from writers and had more of the same feedback (“we love it, but…”) and then another friend pointed out that with years as a bookseller behind me, and experience of running a small publishing company, why didn’t I just cut out the middle-man?
So, last week, I self-published Death Will Find Me. When I first decided to do this, I knew that it was important for me as well as readers that my book could hold its own against traditionally published books. I could have asked a sharp-eyed friend to proof-read it and designed my own cover but those aren’t my strengths – self-published doesn’t necessarily mean DIY-published, although some people do very well like that.
I hired a professional proof-reader and a fantastic cover designer, bought my own ISBNs, set up a blog tour and so on to promote the book and crossed my fingers. And so far, it’s going well – I think historical crime is more popular than publishers blinded by the dazzle of psychological thrillers think!
That first 5 star review, the emails and comments from readers who are enjoying the book, watching the Kindle Unlimited page reads creep up, seeing the royalties accruing are reassuring me that I’ve done the right thing. A friend who now self-publishes told me that since he went indie he’s happier creatively and much better off financially and I can see why.
For me, there’s a huge amount of satisfaction in being in control and able to make my own decisions. It’s harder work, sure, but I’m enjoying writing again and knowing that readers are enjoying the world I’ve created is wonderful.
That’s a really uplifting story Vanessa – wishing you every possible success with this book, and in your future journey.
About the author
I grew up in the Midlands where my main interests were horses and drama. Being a writer was a dream from childhood but I gave up on the idea of writing when I was a teenager, not long after I abandoned other childhood ambitions of being a trapeze artiste or a spy. After acquiring a couple of degrees and trying various ‘proper jobs’, I realised that I am fundamentally unsuited to office politics, bad coffee, and wearing tights.
My husband and I founded The Edinburgh Bookshop, winner of many awards. Bookselling is a wonderful profession and a good bookshop is a source of pure joy to me. I love independent bookshops and the amazing job they do in championing reading, supporting authors, and building communities. But, after a few years, it was time for a change and we sold the bookshop to make way for other projects.
I took the opportunity to start writing again and was a winner at Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect event for unpublished authors in 2015. It was a fantastic opportunity and getting such positive feedback about my ideas gave me the push I needed to take my writing seriously.
I live in Edinburgh with my husband, our teenage son and an unfeasibly large Leonberger dog. I can usually be found walking on windy Scottish beaches, browsing in bookshops, or tapping away on my laptop in one of the scores of cafes near my home.