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Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Darkest Hour UK release.



     
Hello everyone.

I hope you're all having a lovely evening? I'm busy still working, it's been a crazy old day for me here. The Darkest Hour was released, hot on the heels of the US version, in the UK today.
A really special moment for me to have my first novel released in my home country by Harper Collins after all these years of writing.

To celebrate, I took over the Harper Collins twitter feed to chat with readers and reviewers about the book for a couple of hours and had great fun. I decided to collate some of the highlights of the chat for you to take a look at, you can find them on the below link on Storify. 


Oh, and while I am on, I should mention that the book is only $2 for a limited period in ebook form!

Thanks for your support and have a great weekend!

Tony x






Saturday, 8 November 2014

I love books.


     I love books.

     Honestly, I love them.

     I love the feel, I love the smell, I love the way they change color as they get  older.

     I love the way they fan out, pages like rings on the tree they once were.

     I love running my fingers over spines in book stores, softly, like caressing a  lover's back under the covers when the lights go out.

     I love opening a suitcase and laying them on the bed, wondering which  one to open first?

     I love the same books when I get home and hold them to my nose, and  they whisper of sea breezes, suntan oil and memories.

     I love when a box arrives and I open it and find a note from my publisher,  and precious things bearing my name.

     I love dusty piles of books in corners, waiting to find a home. 

     I love books that are old friends, waiting to picked up and held again.

     I love books on the table, books on the floor, books by a window, books by  a door.

     I love lazy afternoons, silent in the sun, with a book like a fat cat purring  on my chest.

     I love books introduced by friends or lovers given as a gift, something that  they've thought about, something that you wished.

     I love books stumbled on in a store, like a puppy at a pound, waiting for a  home.

     I love the sound of rain on a window, a house creaking, a fire crackling,  and a page turning.

     I love old books, new books, undiscovered books, hidden books, naughty  books, good books, and bad books.

     I love them all.

     
     I love books.



Saturday, 1 November 2014

#NaNoWriMo






     It isn’t the start, that’s the easy bit.

     It isn’t the middle, that’s a little more difficult than the start, but it still isn’t the hardest part.

     The hardest part? That’s getting to the end.

     I’m not the fittest guy you’re likely to meet, if you think about it that’s hardly surprising, I spend my day drinking coffee and sitting at a desk. Even if I stick the coffee at the far end of the kitchen, in the highest cupboard at the back of the shelf, there is only so much exercise I’m going to get.

     Last month I spent some time in the south of England with a friend of mine. He’s a fit guy, he’s one of those people who cycle to work and run up the stairs, even though we have internal combustion engines and elevators.

     You know the kind of person I mean? The really irritating kind.

     Paul took me to a place called Lulworth in the county of Dorset. It’s beautiful there, so beautiful that even though I write for a living, I wouldn’t try tell you how beautiful it is. 

     We got out the car and looked at the view.
     
     “Wow,” I said. “It’s amazing, really beautiful.” (see?)

     “This isn’t it, the view is up that hill,” Paul said, lifting his arm at an alarming angle, pointing at the top of something that I would call a mountain. “Come on.”

     Paul started walking.

     I started whining.

     “I can’t go up there? Look at how steep it is!”

     Paul didn’t answer, he was already about sixty feet away, shaking his head.

     “Seriously, there is no way I can get up there!”

     He carried on shaking his head for the next two hours, as we made our way along the path. I trailed behind, moaning softly to myself, stopping frequently, pretending to admire the view while actually getting my breath back.

     The beginning was hard, the middle was harder, making it to the end nearly killed me.

     But I was glad I did.
    
     Because that was where the satisfaction lay.

     I looked out across the English Channel and I knew the pain of that climb, I knew the time it took, 

     I knew all of the effort and the number of blisters I had.

     And I knew it was worth it.

     A bit like writing a book.

     “I could never write a book.”

     I can’t tell you how many times people have said that to me when I’ve told them I’m a writer (I always wait till I’m asked by the way, I don’t go around shouting “I’m a writer!” at strangers.)

     Whenever someone say it I always reply:

     “You can, anyone can, you just have to sit down and do it.”

     Nobody believes me.

     I get all the excuses:

     “I’m not smart enough…” (A useless excuse, you’ve only got to look at me to see you don’t have to be smart.)

     “I don’t have enough time…” (I was working over seventy hours a week when I started mine.)

     “I don’t have enough of an imagination…” (If you played as a child, if you’ve daydreamed out the window, you can write a book.)

     I feel for those people, I really do, because they’ll never know, the struggle up the mountain, the pain in the middle, and then the hardest part, the final few feet to the top.

     And because of that, they’ll never know how amazing it is at the top of the mountain looking back at what you’ve achieved.

     I guess what I’m trying to say to you is if you are on the mountain that is writing a book, don’t give up, no matter how much it hurts, takes up your time, taxes your brain and causes you sleepless nights.

     Just keep going, it’ll be worth it when you get there.




Buy the Darkest Hour on Amazon.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Robert Crais

When you create an author profile on Goodreads, one of the first things it asks you to do is list your "influences."
They give you a great big box and say "help yourself," and they then stand back while you stop, and then stare out the window, sucking your pen.
I've got to say, I didn't suck for too long before I came up with the top name on my list.
The first book I read by Robert Crais was one of those anthology ones. You know the kind? Those big bulky blocks that have three novels squeezed into them. Those ones that are a nightmare to pick up, let alone open, and read.
Now I’m a fairly big guy, so I shouldn’t complain, but when I got that book I was lying in a hospital bed recovering from an injury I'd received as a police officer. It is fair to say I wasn't really in the mood for lifting great weights. But I was bored, and a guy in the next bed passed me the book (block) across and I wasn’t going anywhere, so I dug in.
Since that morning all those years ago I've read everything Crais has written. In fact, aside from my own, I think it is fair to say his is the only website I check to see when the next book is due out!
What I am saying is that he isn’t just an influence, what I’m saying is:
I love Robert Crais.
What is it that I think makes him special? I could say his stories, which are a mile a minute and packed full of thrills. I could praise him for the way he brings hot and humid Los Angeles to life all around me, even when I’m sitting in cold and wet Liverpool, England.
I could talk about his humour, or his sharp snappy dialogue.
I could say all of that, but the thing for me that sets him apart is the warmth he imbibes into his characters.
That for me, is what makes him special.
Let’s take a look at his main protagonist Elvis Cole.
Elvis is an LA based private dick.
Nothing new there, there are more books about private detectives in Los Angeles than there are actual, private detectives in Los Angeles. Elvis though is different, he is warm, he has depth, he cares for his friends, his clients, and they care for him. Sure he drinks, sure he is lonely, sure he can be violent, but, and this is the thing, he isn’t too much of anything.
And that is where I think Crais gets it just right, he doesn’t try too hard to make his characters interesting.
Elvis, and countless other characters in the book, don’t have too many ingredients. Of course they are complex, but they are like a perfect soup, packed full of ingredients, but too much of anything, the balance is always perfect.
Perfect.
Speaking as a writer it is sometimes easy to drift into giving your characters too much “character.” It is easy to make them pained, lonely, angry, despairing, and sad, and then to set them off into the world with all that hanging out of them like an overstuffed couch.
But the problem is, real people are seldom like that, real people are normal people. Real people exist in ordinary situations, getting through the day, doing their best to get by.
Real people are normal and Crais’s characters are nearly always “normal”, it is just that they are in extraordinary situations.
And that’s why I believe in them.
And although I don’t write about private eyes in LA, I do try to follow his recipe, because I think a reader will care about a real person, and if they care about the character, they’ll care about the book.
I’m not saying there isn’t space in the world for Jack Reacher, of course there is, fourteen million people who buy the books prove that. But what I’m saying is would you miss Jack if you never met him again?

Because I’d miss Elvis.

Thanks for reading.
Tony

The Darkest Hour by Tony Schumacher

Monday, 20 October 2014

HaleNo

I’m a writer.

I’m a blogger.

I’ve got to be honest, up until today I didn’t realize there was that much of a difference between the two things, but then along came #HaleNo.

Last night I read The Guardian piece that kicked all this palaver off, and it made me think about my own book, and the bloggers who’ve reviewed it.

I’ve been lucky, I’ve only had two indifferent reviews from bloggers about my book (so far…), one gave me three stars, and although those three stars stung, I could live with a little sting.

More painful than a sting was the blogger who wrote the following:


Ouch.

I’ll be honest that hurt me more than a one star review.

It was like someone looking at my baby and said “meh…”

Actually, thinking about it, it wasn’t “like” that.

That was exactly what they’d done.

They’d said:

“meh”.

And not only had they said “meh”, they’d said it to everyone who logged onto Goodreads.

I wasn’t angry though.

I was devastated.

I’d put two years into that “meh”.

I’d struggled with a crap job, long hours, two broken relationships (yes two, although in fairness that could be because I’m not as nice a guy as I think I am (there could be another blog post in that)).

Two years, two relationships, totaled up equals…

“meh.”

Like I said, I was devastated.

The thing is though, I’d asked for it.

I’d put the book out there, I’d given it to the world (or rather the lovely people at Harper Collins had, but it is basically the same thing) I’d offered it up to the internet and I’d said “go ahead, I can take it…”

So I had nobody to blame if I didn’t like what I heard back.

Now I’ve learned a little about selling books in the last few weeks, but I’ve learned a lot more about the power of the internet in the same amount of time.

One thing I've learned though is that despite what we all think, the internet is no different from the “real” world in that if I ask for an honest opinion, I shouldn’t complain when I get one.

It’s an opinion, a view formed by a free thinking mind.

Who am I to be unhappy with a free thinking mind?

All I’ve got to remember is there are good bloggers and there are bad bloggers.

Just like there are good writers and there are bad writers.

I can say I definitely fall into two of those categories, but which two?

Well that is a matter of opinion, and if I ask for yours, I can hardly complain if I don’t like what you say, can I?

What I can say is this, in my opinion; people shouldn’t be bullied for having a free thinking mind.

People should be applauded for it.

I do hope you managed to finish reading this blog post though.

Tony

Monday, 12 August 2013

Monday, 24 June 2013

Stephen Lawrence and the shame of a police service.


I joined the Police in 1997. I wasn't one of those people who wanted to be a policeman all their life, I joined because I needed to pay my mortgage and it had a good pension. Plus, I'm a little ashamed to admit, I fancied being able to have car chases every so often followed by the odd punch up.

My first day “in the job” I shuffled around a classroom, balancing a terrible cup of coffee, wearing a tie that was worse than the coffee and a suit that I'd bought for my sister's wedding about five years earlier. It was a bit tight and the trousers were shiny from when I'd ironed them on the wrong heat setting.

I effectively looked like I was cut out to work in CID for the rest of my life.

In my intake of thirty odd Bobbies all were male and white, except for, I seem to recall, five women, and out of those five one was black. Not that I paid much attention to that sort of thing, to me it didn't really matter, I was too worried about the button bursting on my pants.

In 1999 I completed my training and became a "proper" Bobby. My probation was over, I'm a little proud to say I did pretty well, I'd felt like a copper long before I was told I could go out on my own and be one.

I'd got over the thought of car chases and punch ups, I worked with good people who behaved like a copper should. They took care of people, they were honest, they worked hard and were proud of the community they protected.

I once walked through the local town centre with an older bobby called Colin, we were on foot patrol and an old lady stopped us for a chat, nothing more, she just wanted to give us a sweet each and have a chat.

After she went on her way and we carried on walking Colin said to me,

"Do you see how important this is? How we made her feel safe? How she was happy to see us?"

I looked around at the odd one or two people who were smiling and nodding "hello" to me and I realised, I realised that the uniform I was wearing was important, I had a responsibility to behave in a manner that set an example.

I wasn't working in Dock Green, but I wanted to try to be George Dixon.

I realised this around about the time I was branded a racist, or rather, the organisation that I was in was branded institutionally racist.

At the time I was angry, I felt angry because I wasn't a racist (I wasn't even institutionally racist), I felt angry because I believed the people I worked with weren't racist either. I was angry with the Met for casting a shadow on me, and the force I worked for, with a taint that I didn't believe to be true.

I felt that I was being led by good people, I felt that I personally was led by honest people, I felt that the organisation I was part of was essentially a righteous one.

I'm not daft enough to think that there weren't bad apples, I had my suspicions about some people who I knew vaguely. There was one guy who I reckoned might be a bully, but I never saw him do anything untoward. I just heard rumours, and I believed, wrongly, that I couldn't act on rumours.

People don't believe me when I say that I only ever heard one racist comment in the Police, and it was during a riot, literally during a riot when a bobby from another shift called someone a "black bastard." The bobby who said it never apologised, but I do believe he was ashamed by what he'd said.

Whether he was ashamed for saying it, or ashamed that he had been exposed as being racist I don't know, but I do know it was the one and only time I heard something like that.

We were assailed on all sides by courses and literature training us about anti-racism and the equal rights of all. I'll be honest, I was a little fed up by it all. I didn't think I needed it, but I didn't complain, I just went along with it, it was part of the job, after all, we were institutionally racists.

I had good bosses and I had bad bosses, but I always believed them to be honest. I never had cause to doubt them until one day I was slung in a cell for eight hours as a result of a baseless allegation.

While I sat in that cell I honestly believed that right would prevail, I was scared, but I had faith in the system, I was part of the system and I'd done nothing wrong.

The right thing would be done, and the right thing would eventually happen.

I honestly believed that right up until I was taken out of the cell and interviewed.

It was during that interview I realised that the people who were in front of me weren't interested in the truth, they were more interested in what looked good for the organisation. They tried to make falsehoods into facts, they tried to twist me into a situation that had never happened. I knew they were lying, I told them they were lying, but it didn't matter.

They didn't care, they were doing their job, trying to close a matter in a manner that made the job look good.   If it wasn't for the honesty of one other person, someone who wasn't a police officer, coming forward I reckon I would have ended up in court, or maybe worse.

That incident changed me.

I left the police a couple of months later. I resigned with a clear record, proven to be an honest man I walked away with my head held high. 

I was holding my head high, but I was also shaking it sadly. I'd seen the other side, I'd seen what lengths the organisation would go too to get its own ends, I'd seen the rules bend, I'd seen the lying in statements, I'd seen the covering up, I'd seen the closing of ranks and the closing of cell doors and I'd seen I didn't want to be part of it ever again.

What has happened over Hillsborough has depressed me, what has happened recently regarding the Stephen Lawrence family has depressed me, what has happened over undercover officers in various organisations has depressed me.

But what has depressed me the most is that none of it has surprised me.

Every week that goes by it seems that we are discovering that organisations and individuals are essentially operating for the own nefarious ends, organisations and individuals whose sole intent is the protection of their own power to the cost of truth, fairness and most importantly justice.

People have no confidence anymore, like a chalk cliff face we are being eroded by constant waves of revelation, and like an eroded cliff everything at the top will eventually have to come tumbling down.

They can't keep shoring it up for ever.