Crime thriller author and television writer Alex Hyland is my guest this week. Welcome, Alex, I know that your Michael Violet thriller series is currently published by Accent Press, can you share your writing journey with us? What made you want to become an author and how did you achieve that?
When I decided to write my first novel, I did it with a view to self-publication – I had no interest in pursuing a traditional publishing deal at all. I’d been a television writer for a number of years, and was tired of having to juggle notes from producers, editors and executives; having to work in references to Rihanna, because ‘she’s so hot with our target demographic at the moment.’ Admittedly, writing is a business and you need to know your audience, but I was in the mood to throw that all to the wind and just write something for me.
On and off, it took me two years to complete the novel, Black Violet – a thriller about a pickpocket. I gave it to my agent for his opinion with the request that it shouldn’t be sent to anyone. He understood my feelings about self-publishing and the freedom it offered, however, he thought we should send it out anyway just to see what the industry has to say – I could always self-publish. I reluctantly agreed, but gave him a three month deadline. I didn’t want to have to wait around a year just to get a bunch of responses that read, ‘It’s good, but it needs more references to Justin Bieber.’
A couple of months later I was Photoshopping cover artwork ready for my launch into self-publication when my agent called to say we’d had an offer – a series deal. It’s strange. No matter how confident I am in my writing, if someone likes it, it always takes me by surprise me. And they didn’t want just one book, they wanted a number. I was still hesitant about working with editors, but I took one look at my lifeless Facebook page and the useless cover artwork I’d put together, and realized there might be more to self-publishing than perhaps I was ready for. I signed the deal.
It wasn’t long before long the notes from my new editor arrived. I remember the moment quite clearly – an attachment to an email that had me sweating like I was waiting for blood test results. I opened it up and started reading; pages and pages of comments and observations. However, these notes turned out to be one of the more pleasant surprises along my journey. Not only were they clear and insightful, but they were completely in line with my vision for the books. I could work wholeheartedly with them.
Not that it was a completely stress-free process from then on. I found the proofing stages surprisingly nerve-wracking. With it being my first novel, I wanted it to be absolutely perfect of course, but there’s only so many times you can read a sentence before you find yourself staring blankly at the words like they’re alien symbols, ‘That’s really how you spell make? Make? Really? OK.’
It wasn’t until the first copies of the book arrived on my doorstep, with their beautiful cover art and carefully laid out pages, that I realized how many people were now involved with this. Black Violet was now our book. And so much the better for it.
That’s quite a publication story, Alex! Congratulations on your contract for a series with Accent Press.
Born in London, Alex pursued a writing career that took him to Los Angeles where he created shows for Disney, Universal and NBC. After five years in LA, and the constant request for him to come up with a vampire show that was ‘kind of like The Office’, Alex decided to write something purely for his own pleasure. The result is the Michael Violet series published by Accent Press. He is currently writing the third novel in the series.
You can contact Alex here.
Here is the first book in the Black Violet series
You can download it here:
Check in next week to read Colete McCormick’s writing journey.
And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.