“SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER?
Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan.
When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat.
As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.”
I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Dancers in the Wind blog tour and let me tell you…this is one fantastic book. Dancers in the Wind is author Anne Coates debut thriller novel and I for one hope there is a lot more to come.
To celebrate the publication of Dancers in the Wind (which happened on 13th October 2016) I have a brilliant guest post from Anne Coates to share with you today. Anne has written a fascinating piece which gives an insight into one of the many processes a book goes through before it reaches publication. What a skill to have!
Gamekeeper turned poacher?
How editing and abridging books has informed my own writing
While I have been writing most of my life, I have also been an editor and an abridger of both fiction and non-fiction. This started with my staff job on Woman’s Weekly and Woman & Home and, after I went freelance, with Reader’s Digest (books) and Orion for their Compact Editions series and as a fiction consultant for a part-work.
I had to undergo training at Reader’s Digest – they have very specific rules and guidelines – and have worked for them for most of my freelance life. Every year they had a huge lunch party in London inviting publishers, agents, authors and celebrities. The first year I was invited I felt like I was the recipient of one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets!
Meeting one of the authors I mentioned that I’d cut his novel. He and his wife exchanged a glance and I cursed myself for being an idiot. Then his wife said, “It was amazing. Try as we might, we couldn’t see what you’d cut out.” And that is what abridgers aim for – a shorter book where the reader can’t see the joins. Needless to say I was chuffed to bits.
Memoirs are often easier to cut as authors tend to give too many people their back-stories which are mostly superfluous. If my eyes glaze over during my first readings, it’s a sign that something needs to be cut.
The effect this has had on my own work is that I write succinctly. This was a perfect style for my short tales with a twist and flash fiction but for my novels I have had to learn to expand and develop both characters and narrative.
My first draft often reads like a series of disconnected scenes and I rewrite and rewrite until I’m satisfied everything works. Even so mistakes can get through – even for the best writers. In Mill on the Floss, the dog changes sex halfway through the book!
Timelines are so important. When abridging a book, I probably read it at least six times and probably am more intimate with it by the end than the author. I found a plot flaw when working on Anna Karenina that would probably (and has) passed most people by. Plus another well-known author had an eleven-month pregnancy in her novel.
But just in case you think I am getting above myself, I realised recently while writing the sequel to Dancers in the Wind, that I’d included a real event, which had actually happened the year before Death’s Silent Judgement is set. It made me think of the biblical quote: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged… Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?”
So please forgive any logs of my own making – although I am sure the pros at Urbane Publications will have eliminated them.
This is a very enjoyable novel which I devoured in the space of 24 hours. No scrap that, it was more like 7 hours which for me, is super speed reading. I couldn’t put it down. Once I became immersed in Hannah and Caroline’s tale, I was hooked! Before starting this book I wasn’t sure what to expect. The cover suggested murder and violence but the title…didn’t! I now know why the book is called Dancers in the Wind and I feel a little silly. It all fits perfectly!
Freelance journalist Hannah Weybridge is working on a feature to coincide with the release of a television documentary featuring young prostitute, Princess and new copper on block, DI Tom Jordan. The interview with Princess opens Hannah’s eyes and she hears things about life on the streets that she would prefer not to. With DI Jordan it’s clear to see the sparks fly but Hannah is far too professional to make anything of it. And DI Jordan has enough on his plate trying to solve the murder of a local prostitute. When the body of a second girl is found Tom is suddenly aware that the first murder was not the work of an overly frisky punter but something much more sinister.
Hannah meanwhile is getting on with her life, having forgotten all about the prostitute and the cop; she has a six month old daughter to care for and being a single mum she needs the phone to ring with more work. But instead of the phone ringing, the doorbell rings late one night. On her doorstep Hannah finds the badly beaten body of Princess, she’s barely alive. Against her better judgement Hannah gives the girl shelter and cleans her up. But what has Princess brought to Hannah’s door? Are Hannah and her baby daughter safe? And will those responsible be held to account for their actions, or are they beyond the reach of the law…?
One of the things that stood out for me in this book is the fact that the main protagonist is a journalist rather than a detective or PI. She’s not really an investigative reporter either, she’s just a normal mum trying to do the best for her baby daughter. That appealed to me and I found it refreshing (surely I’m not growing tired of my grumpy, addiction riddled cops…am I?). Granted, DI Tom Jordan does feature quite heavily but he is by no means the star of the show. This story belongs to Hannah and Princess (AKA Caroline).
It’s a gritty read and in some places quite shocking. My attention was held from the opening chapters to the very end. Once I’d finished the book I felt quite bereft and wanted more (there is a sequel on the way – no pressure, Anne Coates!).
This is another read where you suspect pretty much every character at one point or another. I always enjoy books which use that formula as I’m always keen to hone my detective skills.
Would I recommend this book? I most certainly would. Brilliant characters with heaps of mystery to keep you guessing. A thoroughly enjoyable and absorbing read.
Four and a half stars out of five.
Many thanks to Liz Barnsley, Urbane Publications, NetGalley and Anne Coates for providing me with a copy of Dancers in the Wind in exchange for honest review.
Dancers in the Wind by Anne Coates was published in the UK by Urbane Publications on 13th October 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Urbane Publications |
For most of her working life in publishing, Anne has had a foot in both camps as a writer and an editor, moving from book publishing to magazines and then freelancing in both.
Having edited both fiction and narrative non-fiction, Anne has also had short stories published in a variety of magazines including Bella and Candis and is the author of seven non-fiction books.
Born in Clapham, Anne returned to London after graduating and has remained there ever since. In an attempt to climb out of her comfort zone, Anne has twice “trod the boards” – as Prince Bourgrelas in Ubu Roi when a student and more recently as a nun in a local murder mystery production. She also sings periodically in a local church choir and is relieved when she begins and finishes at the same time – though not necessarily on the same note – as everyone else. Needless to say, Anne will not be giving up her day job as an editor and writer.
Telling stories is Anne’s first love and nearly all her short fiction as well as Dancers in The Wind began with a real event followed by a “what if …” That is also the case with the two prize-winning 99Fiction.net stories: Codewords and Eternal Love.
Anne is currently working on the sequel to Dancers in the Wind.