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Update: The rest of the Blackthorn series has been signed!

The Rest of Blackthorn is Signed!

I’m uber-thrilled to be able to share that the rest of the Blackthorn series has officially been signed! I’m just as thrilled to be able to announce that Blackthorn will remain with its original publisher, Bookouture.

Having been inundated with queries as to how many more books there will be, I can now reveal that Blackthorn will consist of eight books in total – that means there are four more to come! 

Above: We’re halfway there… spot the “unintentional” giveaway clue on the spine of the books. 

It feels like a long time since I shared Bookouture’s interest in the rest of the series. Before signing a contract though, there’s a lot to take into account. Firstly, I needed to make a final decision as to how many books there would be (the final book could have been broken into two parts, but we opted for an epic finale). I also needed to think carefully about the timescales for when I could deliver those books. Most of you will know that, like most authors, writing isn’t my only job. So when Bookouture offered me a contract for the rest of the series, I had a huge decision to make. Six weeks ago, I resolved to step out of teaching for a while and focus fully on finishing writing Blackthorn. So, as of 2015, I will be a full-time author for the first time ever – and Blackthorn will be receiving my undivided attention all the way through to its conclusion.

Blackthorn has certainly come a long way since its inception back in 1996 when, having just moved to a big city hundreds of miles from all I knew, I got lost on my way home one night. I then spent fourteen years dipping in and out of developing the series amidst working on other writing projects and teaching full time. Back in 2010, I finally bit the bullet and entered the opening chapter of Blood Roses into the international online romance writing competition, ‘New Voices’. Although up against thousands of entries, a combination of editors’ decisions and reader votes saw Blood Roses through to the final. A year later, Blackthorn made it to the final again – this time with Blood Shadows.

For those who don’t know, it was Blackthorn’s success in that competition that brought me to the attention of Bookouture. I’d just started submissions when, out of the blue, they got in touch. A three-book deal soon followed. Just over a year later, back in January, they signed Blood Deep. Blackthorn has gone on to sell tens of thousands of copies, with new readers finding the books every day. It doesn’t mean I’ve ever taken the signing of the rest of the series for granted though. That’s why it still felt momentous signing the last of the books over.

So here they are in Blackthorn’s full line-up: all your heroes and heroines who now have their work cut out in bringing down the oppressive system that surrounds them. I can’t wait to share how they’re going to do it! :-)

And on that note, I’m also pleased to be able to reveal that Blood Dark will be released next Summer* (2015)! Yes, I know it probably feels likes ages away, but I’m afraid a lot of work goes into publishing a book even after I’ve submitted it. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to persuade Bookouture to give away an early book or two like we did with Blood Deep. ;-)

Of course, I’ll also be sharing a summary of ‘the story so far’ before Blood Dark’s release. I get the feeling it might prove useful by then!

Thanks, as always, for your continued support. xxx

*That’s UK Summertime.

Blood Shadows on Audio

A little while ago, I announced that the first three Blackthorn books are going to be available on audio. Well, today’s the day! As of now, Blood Shadows is available unabridged in Audio CD, MP3-CD and Audio Download with Tantor Media (Blood Roses and Blood Torn will follow next month). It’s perfect timing as it’s two years this month that Blood Shadows, my debut novel, was first published.

In the post where I first shared the news, I also said I’d give some insight into what happens during the audio conversion process for those who might be interested…

It was five months ago that Tantor Media emailed to show an interest in acquiring the first three Blackthorn books for audio. It was one of those surreal moments (not unlike when Bookouture got in touch out of the blue) that I never saw coming. With no experience of deals like this, I was glad to have Lorella Belli Literary Agency at the helm to handle it all.

Once everything had been signed and sealed, a narrator was assigned to Blackthorn – British multi-award-winning actress, Anne Flosnik. Lorella had arranged it that myself and Bookouture were to approve the narrator selected for my books, so I was sent a sample of Anne’s work. As soon as I heard the energy and passion in her narration, I knew Anne was right to read Blackthorn. My approval was instant.

Above: Anne Flosnik – Blackthorn’s narrator

I wasn’t sure what to expect after that, but assumed it would all be out of my hands. Produced by a leading audio publishing company, read by a skilled narrator, and knowing Blood Shadows would remain unabridged, I was at ease with it all. The only other thing I had my fingers tightly crossed for was that there would be consistency between the covers of the books and CDs. Gladly that was agreed.

Above: The audio cover for BLOOD SHADOWS

To be honest, I’d convinced myself I wasn’t even going to listen to the audiobooks – the same as I’ve never re-read any of my books once they’ve been published. There was something about someone else reading my work back to me – a secondary voice replacing the one in my head – that felt peculiar.

Above: The synopsis for BLOOD SHADOWS as presented on Tantor Media

That decision didn’t last long though, especially after I received an email from Anne herself. She was well underway reading my books, was getting a sense of where she was heading and was starting to get into the characters’ heads as all professional actors do. Not only was I getting a real sense of how much background work goes into producing an audiobook, Anne had a real passion for my characters and their stories. It all suddenly became very real. This wasn’t some distant project anymore – Anne was keeping me very much involved to ensure she portrayed the books as closely to my original intentions as she could. And, to enable that to happen, she had some questions…

THE ACCENTS

Anne knew I was a British author, so queried if I wanted regional or class accents assigned to my characters. As she knew Blackthorn is a series, this was particularly in relation to any possible revelations in later books. I have to say I loved that she was thinking that far ahead.

My vision from the moment I started writing Blackthorn was that I didn’t want it to be assigned to one specific location. I’ve never even made any direct reference to Blackthorn being British within the actual books themselves, primarily because it’s irrelevant in terms of the story. However, despite not specifying the location, it has always been important to me that Blackthorn retained its British identity – hence the inevitable giveaways in my terminology, grammar and spelling!

So, in terms of accents, I’d always envisaged a neutral RP for my characters (a softer and milder form of the Queen’s English as opposed to aristocratic). Of course, for those readers who have been in touch to let me know their own accent preferences, that’s more than fine too! ;-)

… AND SPEECH CHARACTERISTICS

Anne also checked if I had any preferences for speech characteristics, pitch or tone to help define my characters. This one was trickier to explain beyond such vocal qualities as rasps. After eighteen years of “working” with them, I can hear my characters distinctly. I also have a habit of sometimes reading aloud when writing dialogue (a side-effect of spending my teenage years writing scripts to perform sketches and plays at my local church hall), so know how each line should sound. With my fingers crossed that the text speaks for itself beyond the nuances, I was more than happy to leave it to Anne’s interpretation.

THE PRONUNCIATIONS

But then came the biggie – the pronunciations. I’ve lived with the books for so long, I hadn’t realised just how much vocabulary there was in the stories that is exclusive to Blackthorn e.g. terms like ‘serryns’ and names such as ‘Jask’. Anne broke each unfamiliar word down to stresses in order to meticulously check each one. Here are just a few examples of the ones Anne queried, with confirmations of how they are actually pronounced (stresses in capitals):

Jarin – JAHrin

Tuly – TULee

Arana – AHranuh

Serryn – SEHrin

Amilek – AHmilek (“’i” as in “it”)

Nirus – NIrus

Feinith – FAYnith

Sphariga – SFARigah (“i” as above)

Hade – HAYd

Dehain – duhHAYN

Armun – AREmun

Tryan – TRYan

Marid – MAHrid

MY PART DONE

After Anne had confirmed everything she needed to know, after she had finished prepping, as soon as the recordable text came through, she started the long task of narrating. During the recording process, she very kindly sent me updates, and it was always exciting (and reassuring) to know it was going well. It also helped immensely that Anne was thoroughly enjoying my books personally as well as professionally. I couldn’t have asked for more.

So with copies now heading my way, I can’t wait to see and hear the finished product. As soon as I have them, I’ll take a photo to share with you. And if you download or get a copy for yourself, do let me know what you think!

Oh, and just to give you the heads-up, I have some more very exciting news coming your way in the next few days. Stay close!

Have a great week! xxx