Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Coming in September: If It Bleeds

I’m excited to share the cover of If It Bleeds, coming from Orca Books September 2014.

Part of Orca’s Rapid Reads series under their Raven Books imprint, If It Bleeds is the first book to feature Nicole Charles, a young Vancouver reporter reluctantly relegated to the society beat. From the publisher:
Nicole Charles didn’t go to journalism school to become a gossip columnist, but the job fell into her lap right out of school and her immigrant work ethic just won’t let her quit to find something she’d like better. It’s a good job, but she struggles with the stigma attached to her position by other reporters. More than anything, she wants to be a real reporter, but it looks like she’s never going to get a chance.
Then one night while covering a gallery opening, she discovers a dead body in a dark alley. An up and coming artist has been stabbed in the throat with an antique icepick. Nicole is right in the middle of the biggest story of the year. It’s the chance of a lifetime. Too bad someone had to die to make it happen.
If It Bleeds is the first novel in a series of mysteries featuring rookie reporter Nicole Charles.
I’m very happy to be adding a book to this series and truly felt honored to be asked. The mandate of the series links terrific storytelling with adult literacy. Again from the publisher:
Rapid Reads are short novels and non-fiction books for adult readers. In our increasingly fast-paced world we believe there is a need for well-written, well-told books that can be read in one sitting. Rapid Reads are intended for a diverse audience, including ESL students, reluctant readers, adults who struggle with literacy and anyone who wants an high-interest quick read.
So the mandate and my challenge was to write a compelling story with twists, turns and strong characters, but to do it at a shorter length and a lower reading level than is usual for me. And it was a challenge as well as a truly eye-opening experience.

You don’t think about how many of the words we use aren’t actually needed until you must. The tone of the book is noir, so that was a jump-start, but still. I found myself sanding every paragraph as far as I felt it could go, then coming back the next day and sanding some more, carefully working through each syllable, simplifying sentence structure, choosing less complicated words. I’m so proud of the result and in so many ways. And I don’t think I’ll ever look at a sentence in the same way again.

I’ll post more about the book when it comes out in the fall. Meanwhile, If It Bleeds is available for pre-order here and here.

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