Book Launch

Book Launch

A guest post from author Bill Todd to celebrate the launch of the latest Danny Lancaster thriller…

You’d imagine that crime writers were at each other’s throats, circling warily, tensed to slip in the knife to gain an advantage or steal a plotline.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. At festivals and on social media they are the most friendly and approachable  people, happy to talk books with all comers. I’d almost call them cuddly but that might be a chalk outline too far.

They are all lovely people but they do worry me.

Most celebrate the publication of their latest book, work their socks off through the promotion phase, confess to a small holiday, then crack on with the next project.

Every writer has their own system. Some plot every twist in forensic detail, others hop on the back of an unbroken mustang of an idea and hold on tight for the wild ride to an unknown conclusion.

I’ve had very positive reviews for my six Danny Lancaster crime thrillers but when each was complete I lived in fear of the black hole of a void where the next should sit. As soon as I finish a final draft my personal Spanish Inquisition breaks down the door and bursts in. Are you capable of another? Would it be better than the last? Can you summon the strength? The energy? The concentration? Answer now! Answer! Answer!

All this can be pretty intimidating. My technique, which took time to realise, is to ignore it. Answer! ‘No’. Answer! ‘I’m busy’. Answer! ‘Sorry, have to pop out for avocados and teabags’. I push back as hard as I can against the relentless, invisible demands for as long as I can.

Then my ‘ooh’ day comes, my ‘what if?’ moment. An idea springs from nowhere and I can’t help myself thinking ‘what would happen if this came up against that’? or ‘that snatch of dialogue sounds promising. What story might it fit’?

And from that time I am no longer the master of my days. Not sure if they are the gods of crime writing or the demons but I am their instrument until the task is complete. Once in the zone I don’t write to a rigid regime but discipline is essential.

I work from a list which outlines brief details of what needs to happen in each scene. Each has a notes file covering research, key elements, scraps of dialogue, anything else that might be useful. The note files are the ingredients. The scene lists are the recipes.

I try to write in sequence but it doesn’t always work. If I hit a brick wall I batter away until the headache really hurts, then move on to something new and weld the elements together later, a bit like modern shipbuilding.

The aim is 2,000 WPD but quality is more important than volume, even for a first draft. My best ever day produced more than 8,000 good words but that was done sitting by a Cretan swimming pool, perfect blue sky above, sunshine on the water and the scent of oleander on a cool breeze.

My output might also have been assisted by raki. Not to be confused with the Turkish absinthe beverage of the same name, Cretan raki is a ferocious clear spirit distilled from grape skins left over from winemaking. It is said to cure all known ills but I suspect it causes a few too.

I have tried to replicate that wonderful 8,000 WPD ambiance in Brighton but succeeded only up to a point.

One great lesson I have learned from other writers on social media is the joy of alfresco writing. All my early Dannys were written in a dingy back bedroom/cupboard/domestic dump short on daylight and oxygen. My record in there is 16 hours punctuated only by loo breaks and the brewing of soldiers’ tea.

When one writer started a Facebook thread about where writers write it opened my gummy eyes. With a compact tablet and keyboard or small laptop you can go anywhere. Danny6 – Godlefe’s Cuckoo – was written inside and outside at cafes, pubs, beaches, trains.

In the past I have spent long hours in great reference libraries. I still do when necessary but now have the means to write and research anywhere. I’m just getting to know my new Samsung Tab S3 which is shaping up as a cracking piece of kit. Paired with my folding Bluetooth keyboard, smaller than a paperback, I may yet see another 8,000 word day. New tech is hugely liberating for a writer and I am very grateful to the writers who opened my eyes.

That said, I might still be a bit wary of them standing silently behind me.

I’m a journalist and travel writing has taken me to more than 40 countries from Arctic Finland to the deserts of Namibia, Jordan and Australia. I love wilderness. There’s something timeless and thought-provoking about them. I won the Ed Lacy travel award in 2007.

I have written six crime thrillers featuring wounded ex-soldier turned investigator Danny Lancaster and was amazed to be voted one of the 100 best crime authors in a WH Smith readers’ poll in 2015. I’ve also written three short family military histories and am working on a travel book based on my 500,000-word diary. I have a busy schedule but it’s been disrupted recently while I make raspberry noises to entertain new grandson Theo.


Big Eddie Archer is throwing a celebrity party for the reopening of The Bellerophon public house. When singer Paul Toopen, star of TV reality show Dreamboat, goes missing there is only one man the pub’s guv’nor can call on. 
But Danny Lancaster is off his game after overdoing Eddie’s free hospitality at last night’s dress rehearsal. Fans besiege the pub and the media are everywhere. This could be a public relations disaster but Eddie reckons if Danny can crack the case before closing time it will make the new Bellerophon famous.
Danny’s head is pounding but Eddie’s star guests might just be trapped in a pub with a killer. And the clock is ticking down to last orders. #TheBigBellBash


The Wreck Of The Margherita: Someone is killing to recover a lethal shipwrecked cargo .

Death Squad: Who shot Seventies rock legend Mickey ‘Tattoo’ Carpenter?

Rough Diamond: Diamonds are not always a girl’s best friend.

Rock Hard: ‘The heat was murder but that wasn’t the worst of it. There were the bodies’.

Gargoyle Pixie Dog: How do you find a homeless girl who lives off the grid? + 6 short stories.

Godlefe’s Cuckoo: If Danny Lancaster isn’t dead he soon will be.

All six Dannys are available as ebooks and paperbacks. The first, The Wreck Of The Margherita, is free – .

All the other ebooks are  99p/99c each.






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