Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Fireman - My Second Book

I wrote my second book, The Fireman, while I was working as the Business Editor of the South China Morning Post.  Like Pay Off, it was written in the first person.   The main character, a journalist who flies to Hong Kong to find out why his sister died, is very much based on me.  It was set long before Hong Kong was handed back to China so it has dated a bit, but it still gives you the feel for what Hong Kong was like under British rule.

Like Pay Off, The Fireman had a very short print run and the original editions are collectors items. Hodder have republished the book and it still sells, and does particularly well as an eBook.

I really enjoyed my time in Hong Kong and sometimes wish that I had stayed longer. I was there for three years an I don't think I've ever worked harder or had such fun.

The Fireman didn't sell particularly well when it was first published - Stephen Leather wasn't a brand name back then - so I asked my then editor what I should do. She suggested that I started writing in the third person and to make the books 'bigger', both in terms of content and length, and that's what I tried to do with my third book.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My First Book

The first book I wrote was a thriller called Pay Off.  I sent it to half a dozen publishers and two - Collins and Macmillan - asked me in for a chat about it. I ended up being published by Collins and I began my career as a professional novelist.  The original cover was very simple - a shotgun with a couple of cartridges next to a glass of whisky. They are now collector's items as it was a very short print run, but by the age of 30 I was Stephen Leather, published author.  It would be another four years before I would be Stephen Leather, full-time author.  Writing is a craft that has to be learned, and just because your first book is published doesn't mean you have what it takes to make a living from it.  The sale of Pay Off was just a small step in my publishing career, though obviously a step in the right direction!

Years later, Hodder and Stoughton republished Pay Off and it still sells well, especially as an eBook.  It has dated a little (I did write it almost 30 years ago!) but it's still, in my humble opinion, a good fast-paced read.  Every now and again I think about updating it.  It's on my to-do list!