Monday, 26 September 2016

Books - To Keep or not to Keep?

When it comes to books, are you a Keeper? Do you hoard the books you've read - or are they ear-marked for a friend or the charity shop as soon as you reach the last page?

The Library at Kingston Lacy, Dorset



During the process of moving house, I had to strip my bookshelves and bundle all my books into boxes. For several weeks, due to refurbishing and decorating, most of them have stayed in their containers. Yesterday, I couldn't bear to have all my books hidden away for so long, so I filled out a bookcase in my study and in doing so, I began to see how significant my bookshelves are.

The urge to get some of my books on shelves is too great!
To me, bookcases are not merely places to keep sources of information or stories in their own right, they are containers for something far deeper and significant. The books I've read represent the 'timeline of my life'. When I see my books lined up across the wall, I can track the history of my life in stages. Each one has its place in a different era in my past.

Early books

Like many who grew up in the sixties and seventies, the first books I read were by Enid Blyton: Five on a Treasure Island and First Term at Malory Towers spring to mind. In terms of my childhood, these books came at a specific stage - after my phase of hiding magazine clippings of Queen Elizabeth II under a rug beside my bed (ahem) and before my 'Donny Osmond period'! Then came my absolute favourite, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Sadly, I have none of these books left (they were often borrowed from school friends or came from the library), but just hearing the titles or seeing the old covers again takes me straight back to the heady excitement and discovery of being around eleven years old.
Aged eleven...

During the time I was studying for my A levels, books about Schumann, Elgar and the poetry of Baudelaire began to populate my shelves and by the time I went to university, I'd started building a motley collection of non-fiction books about modern art and philosophy, as well as thrillers such as Catch 22, The Day of the Jackal and The Cradle will Fall. Since then, my books have mapped transitions; moves to new cities, shifts in careers and ultimately they showcase an entire life-journey. Only when I packed them away did I notice that they were like little signposts charting their own story of my past.

Bookshelves can trace the path of a lifetime. My tall, apparently random stacks of volumes stand silently around a room like coded maps only I can read. Visitors can dip in and out of my collection, but no one else can take in the whole picture like I can. My shelves unlock secret doorways to reveal where I was, what I was doing and who I was with, at any given time. They embody a complexity that even I was barely aware of until the books disappeared into cardboard boxes. They show my interests and passions and feature the questions I've asked. They highlight the route I took through life and reflect aspects of all the 'selves' I have been on the way - like a diary. By glancing at the shelves, I can see the person I have been, the roles I have played, the stages that have shaped me. They show my journey from school interests in art, crafts, embroidery, Olga Korbut and yoga (I started when I was twelve), through to classical music and modern art, psychology and personal development. There are novels by Hermann Hesse and Sartre, as well as early psych thriller writers, Minette Walters and Nicci French. There are books I bought this week, by Clare Mackintosh and Belinda Bauer.  Each book is a little landmark on my trail through creativity, the search for identity - culminating in my latest expedition towards the realm of  writing fiction.

Books in boxes - can't wait to find them a home!
To me, books are for keeps, especially now I'm a writer myself. The novels on my shelves provide perpetual lessons in plot, structure, prose, characters and so on. They are a course in the craft of writing in my own living room! I use libraries a great deal, but if I really value a book that I've borrowed, I'll buy a copy of it to keep. At times, people ask me: 'Come on - are you  ever really going to read The Celestine Prophesy again?' - the point being that if I'm not, then why keep the book? The answer is, even if I don't necessarily plan to re-read a book, I might do, one day. I might need to refer to one or want to find a phrase or piece of information - they are always to hand. Besides, as I've mentioned here, my books are the building blocks of who I am and to remove one here - and another there - feels like it would be prising away parts of my personality!

Secondhand books

I don't keep every book I read - only the ones that strike me in some way. I've given plenty of books to charity shops, but I'm careful about those I let go. I'm also mindful if I lend a book to someone...more often than not, I'd like it back, please!

Ebooks

For me, ebooks can never embody the same value or generate the same attachment as a physical book. A thumbnail on a screen doesn't have the same resonance for me - it feels impersonal and transient; it can be wiped out at the press of a fingertip. With a book made of paper, you can feel the weight of it, smell the pages, trace the texture of the cover with your finger - more of your senses are involved. A book carries substance and takes up space in your home. A book becomes part of your domestic landscape and ultimately - an extension of you!

What about you? Are you a keeper?  Or do you let books go? Do you also feel protective and nostalgic about your CD or DVD collections?


If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE SHARE it. Thank you!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Inside the Whispers is the latest Psychological Thriller from AJ Waines. 
You can PRE-ORDER it HERE NOW



  •  Over 1/4 Million books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  a Number One Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015)
  • The Evil Beneath Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' (UK Kindle charts)
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK (2015)
Find AJ Waines at: 
Blog *  Website  *  Twitter  * Facebook  *  Pinterest  * Goodreads  * Google+  

Join AJ Waines' Newsletter HERE or below:


Thursday, 15 September 2016

In Conversation with AJ

Here's my first attempt at a Video blog all about my new book, Inside the Whispers. Don't miss the out-take at the end!



 If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE SHARE it. Thank you!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Inside the Whispers is the latest Psychological Thriller from AJ Waines. 
You can PRE-ORDER it NOW



  •  Over 1/4 Million books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  a Number One Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015)
  • The Evil Beneath Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' (UK Kindle charts)
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK (2015)
Find AJ Waines at: 
Blog *  Website  *  Twitter  * Facebook  *  Pinterest  * Goodreads  * Google+  

Join AJ Waines' Newsletter HERE or below:


Friday, 26 August 2016

My Obsessions Laid Bare!

When I moved house recently, I realised there were clocks in every room - sometimes more than one. Having checked with friends, I found this was rather excessive! Being a former psychotherapist, I wondered why I needed so many clocks! Why do I constantly need to know the time? But clocks weren't the only items that were popping up in every room! Let me explain...

Clocks

During my training as a therapist, I underwent a psychological profile test (Myers-Briggs) and discovered that I came out with a preference for ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking and Judging). The latter indicator refers to a desire to be organised on a day-to-day basis. People with the 'Judging' preference want things to be neat, orderly and established as opposed to the opposite type (Perceiving) who want things to be spontaneous, with plenty of scope for flexibility. 'Judgers' want things settled, 'Perceivers' want things open-ended. My score for 'Judger' was nearly off the scale!

Having a clock in every room completely fits with my 'type'! I like certainty, I like to be early for appointments (I hate being late), I like to orientate myself within the day and measure how much time I can allocate for activities.  If I have a dentist appointment at 9am, for example, I know I'll have to leave at 8.30am, and have breakfast before 8am, and so on. I perpetually have my watch set a couple of minutes early - which has been a life-safer at times, when I've had to make a dash for the local train!

I have friends who leave the house without a watch. Can you imagine that!? They spend the entire day without a watch! Now, to me - that is like leaving the house without any clothes on. How do they catch their trains, avoid parking fines when their tickets run out or get anywhere on time? To some of you (also Judger types), this will sound totally familiar and common sense. To the Perceiver types, my way will feel prescriptive and OTT.

As a light sleeper, I need a clock in the bedroom that's completely silent (not a flicker of a tick is permitted) and not bright in the dark. However, I do want to know what the time is during those brief moments if I wake during the night. Having spent years trying to find the perfect clock, I now have a digital one that shines the time on the wall beside me. Problem solved. I LOVE it!
 

Mirrors

As we packed up to move house, I noticed that mirrors had been reproducing around our house like flies. There was at least one mirror in every room in the house. In some rooms - ahem - I counted three... So what's the story with having mirrors everywhere? I believe this is also about certainty in a more existential way. To some of you, this may sound wacky, but I can only feel solid and fully 'real', if I can see myself! I don't mean all the time, but just checking in every now and again, at least once a day. Being a very 'visual' personality, 'seeing' literally is 'believing' for me and I start to feel disoriented if there are no mirrors around me. It's not a vanity thing. It's not about 'how' I look, it's more to fully check that I am there at all; that I exist. Sound crazy? Mmm...that's just the way it is.

Thermometers

I have one in the garden, two in the house (upstairs and down), one in the medicine drawer and I often refer to the one on the dashboard in the car. Normal, right? It is for me. I'm one of those people who feel the cold. Terribly. No matter what time of year, I always seem to need two more layers than everyone else! Being able to judge what I'll need to wear in order not to freeze is therefore a daily requirement. It's another 'measuring' tool - like a clock - that lets me know where I stand.

In my new book (currently available to Pre-Order), Inside the Whispers, another of my obsessions comes to light, but you'll have to wait a while to find out about that! In the meantime, what are your obsessions and why do you think you have them?!

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE SHARE it. Thank you!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Inside the Whispers is the latest Psychological Thriller from AJ Waines. 
You can PRE-ORDER it NOW



  •  Over 1/4 Million books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  a Number One Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015)
  • The Evil Beneath Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' (UK Kindle charts)
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK (2015)
Find AJ Waines at: 
Blog *  Website  *  Twitter  * Facebook  *  Pinterest  * Goodreads  * Google+  

Join AJ Waines' Newsletter HERE or below:


Monday, 15 August 2016

Inside the Whispers - What's it About?

My NEW chilling thriller is on PRE-ORDER NOW!

For those who'd like to know what it's all about, here's the story:

Where the most Dangerous place – is inside your own head…

Following a London Tube disaster, three traumatised survivors turn to clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby, for help – but she’s mystified when their stories don’t add up. Her confusion turns to horror when one by one, instead of recovering, they start committing suicide.

When her partner, Conrad, begins to suffer the same terrifying flashbacks, Sam is desperate to find out what is causing them and a mysterious and chilling crime begins to unravel.

Then the flashbacks begin for Sam…

The first book in the Dr Samantha Willerby Series, INSIDE THE WHISPERS is a tense, haunting Psychological Thriller that will leave your nerves in shreds.

You can pre-order it now at only 99p/$1.29:

 and all Amazon outlets worldwide

Released on 20 October in ebook and paperback

Friday, 12 August 2016

Judge a book by its cover?

My new Psychological Thriller, Inside the Whispers, was revealed yesterday and is now available to PRE-ORDER!


The Design

I’m very honoured to have an excellent cover designer, Christa, at Paper & Sage in Kentucky, who manages to put together exactly what I’m looking for. I usually have a strong idea and image in my head for each book and that's how it was with Inside the Whispers. The story involves an incident on the London underground, so I wanted an image to reflect that: a Tube train coming into a station, surrounding by billowing smoke… Is it a bomb? Is it a fire? Is it on the train or in the station? Stop the questions right there – because this story is NOT what it seems..! (I like to involve a deep mystery and twists in my stories and you'll certainly find that, here).
I find that a lot of books have similar covers (especially psych thrillers!), often involving a lone young woman looking vulnerable, her back to camera, in the misty distance. I prefer to have covers that give more of a setting for the story and the focus here is on the ‘thriller’ aspect – although the title, Inside the Whispers, has a curious, chilling angle, too. After all, in psychological thrillers – the biggest threat comes from what is going on in the mind! It can be the mind of the lead character or the baddie(s), or both. This leads to uncertainty, doubt, then a sense of vicarious jeopardy in the mind of the reader! That's the nail-biting edge-of-your-seat feeling we all love. 

Amazon US ($1.29)
Amazon UK (99p) 
Amazon Canada ($1.99) 
(and all other Amazon outlets worldwide)
 More than anything, the cover needs to be eye-catching and has to SELL the book. This means it must be simple but striking, especially at thumbnail size. The image mustn’t shrink to a blur once it is reduced to the size most readers will see when it's advertised in an email ad, blog post or Amazon listing. Too much detail gets in the way and adds clutter. 

Early minimalist Penguin covers,
1930s


Covers for different genres

Ebooks don’t ‘need’ covers, but they all have them, so that you get a snapshot of the feel of the book when you’re browsing online. The Penguin cover here (from the 1930s) relies entirely on the title and author to grab the reader; the jacket is more about the brand of the publishing house than to entice you into the story. Nowadays, covers give distinct visual cues to indicate book genre. Take chick lit, for example – the font style is curly, the colours are soft and pastel, the image is jaunty. Thrillers (especially in the 70s) are hard-hitting using angular shapes, often in metallic colours. The cover for a psychological thriller needs to show the suggestion of what might be in store. There is a hidden element, something unknown and scary, covert, to be discovered. 

In the 1990s, when I first started reading novels by Minette Walters and Nicci French, the term ‘psychological thriller’ was gaining ground as a genre title. The covers were often based on black (the ‘noir’ edge) with single provocative images, such as these:

The Brand

Producing books with a similar look is important for writers. Readers want to glance at a cover and know immediately it’s the latest one written by their favourite author, regardless of the content of the story. The font becomes a trademark for many and when I first suggested a lower-case font for the titles to Christa at Paper & Sage, she came up with the brilliant distressed font I use for all my books.

Original cover of 
Girl on a Train, 2013
The original cover of Girl on a Train in 2013 was chosen from limited stock photos. It's got an erroneous old-fashioned feel to it; maybe it's a little chilling, but it doesn't tell us much about the story. When I re-released the book in 2015, I was able to give it a revamp with my own ideas! This was part of my brief to the designer:
2015 cover
with 'brand' theme

I'm looking for an image of a 'worried woman looking out of a train window'- it's June, but raining...

Christa came up with this excellent cover, which really says to me that the passenger has 'seen something that worries her' out of the window - you can see the component parts here.

I like having a tagline on the cover, too, a little teaser to draw the reader in. For Inside the Whispers the tagline is:

     Where the most dangerous place - is inside your own head...

 – and that pretty much sums up a psychological thriller to a tee!

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE SHARE it. Thank you!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Inside the Whispers is the latest Psychological Thriller from AJ Waines 
(and FIRST in the Dr Samantha Willerby Series)


  •  Over 1/4 Million books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  a Number One Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015)
  • The Evil Beneath Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' (UK Kindle charts)
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK (2015)
Find AJ Waines at: 
Blog *  Website  *  Twitter  * Facebook  *  Pinterest  * Goodreads  * Google+  

Join AJ Waines' Newsletter HERE or below:


Thursday, 11 August 2016

'Inside the Whispers' Cover Reveal!

I'm delighted to reveal the cover today 
for my new Psychological Thriller, Inside the Whispers...
 

It’s on Pre-order from Amazon NOW (99p/$1.29) 
 For release on 20th October (ebook and paperback)


Click to pre-order:
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
(and all other Amazon outlets worldwide)

An insight into the 'making of the cover' coming tomorrow...

Saturday, 6 August 2016

New Release on its way...

Ooohh - the Countdown begins...

Watch this space...


All will be revealed on 11 August 2016