Ian Parson, the author of A Secret Step and The East End Beckons has written numerous articles and been published many times in a variety of magazines both in the UK and abroad.His new novel ‘The Grind’ will be published by Linkville Press in 2018. We caught up with him to find out more about his new publishing contract and how he divides his time between London and the South West.
You’ve just gained a publishing contract for your latest novel – can you tell a little bit about the book and your experience of taking it from concept to contract.
My latest book is set in the Victorian East End. Back then there was a street in Spitalfields that was regarded by the authorities as officially ‘the worst street in London’. Its residents were classified as criminal/semi-literate. I had to visit. It was tiny. I counted my steps from one end to the other, 120 paces. Yet this used to be home to over a thousand people every single night. This I found interesting and began to research.
I have to admit there is some truth to the claims. The police would not enter Dorset Street alone. It saw numerous murders including one by Jack the Ripper. Yet at the same time to many people it was simply ‘home’. The Grind is the story of two young girls who lived there.
As far as the contract side of things is concerned, I’ve been extremely lucky. Linkville Press in Oregon published my last novel and I already knew they were interested. Fortunately they liked the manuscript.
You’ve been published by ‘mainstream’ and ‘indie’ publishers. Can you tell us a little about the benefits of each?
I would say the benefit of a mainstream publisher, especially as I was new to the process, was their experience with distributors and bookshops. However the publication of my first novel A Secret Step was pure luck. I got talking to a guy at a party who was a partner in a publishing company. They specialised in technical manuals but wanted to move into novels. He told me the subjects I was covering were regarded as popular. East End, Jack the Ripper, The Blitz etc. He ended by saying that when I had finished he would like to see the manuscript. He liked it and they published it. Their help with the editing process also taught me an awful lot.
Once A Secret Step was out I was approached from the United States about joining Linkville. They specialise in novels. I liked the offer they made and I am still with them for The Grind. They also got my books into Wal-Mart (Which was amazing).
You split your time between the South West and London – how does that impact on your writing?
I find this impacts very well on my writing. Being in London is inspiring. Having meetings with people, giving talks, or just exploring the backstreets. It all offers food for thought, gives me a feel for places I am trying to describe. However, it is so busy that the actual process of writing, for which I need a certain amount of calm, is much easier in Devon. I should also include the travelling back and forth. For me this has become an invaluable time for digesting new information that needs a few hours to analyse before trying to include in any story.
Can you describe a typical writing day?
For me a typical writing day does not start early. I need at least two coffees whilst I think about the overall picture of whatever I want the whole book to convey. By mid morning I will read over what I last wrote. Then I will have another coffee. Only then will I carry on from where I left off.
I normally do a couple of hours at a time. Interspersed with coffee breaks, which is really thinking time. This will continue until I reach a point that requires more attention than my brain can manage. I’ll stop at a major scene knowing that I will be more likely to do it justice when I’m fresh. It’s normally late by then and if its gone particularly well, I’ll have lost all track of time.
If you could offer one piece of advice for new authors just setting out – what would it be?
If I was to offer one piece of advice for new authors it would be – Just finish the first draft.
Once you have a first draft the story exists. It is no longer simply an idea. You can physically touch it. Well, look at it on a screen. This can than be moulded, added to, improved with each new draft until it is the best it could be. After that who knows what might happen, good luck.