It has been a while since we signed up a new author to the Hobeck Team and today, we can reveal we have just done that.
For one month only, we opened our doors back in September. We were flooded with submissions, over 50 in all. We were humbled and amazed. From that 50-odd submissions, we requested a number of full manuscripts to read (and we are still going through those). It is taking some time. It is a big decision on both sides so we don’t want to rush things.
One of the first submissions we received was from today’s announced new author, Jonathan Peace.
We often say in these blogs about our signings that we go on gut feeling over and above any sort of checklist or practical considerations. In terms of gut, Adrian and I both had a good feeling about Jonathan’s submission, the first book in a new series starring WDC Louise Miller. However, as it turns out, we came to realise after speaking with Jonathan that in terms of practical considerations, welcoming him to the fold is a good thing from many perspectives.
As well as standing out as a good writer, the main element that set Jonathan’s series apart from some of the other submissions was his skill in scene setting. The first book in his Louise Miller series starts in 1987. Adrian and I are of a similar age, with 18 months apart, and we remember the late 1980s with fondness (and a certain degree of teenage angst). All the other Hobeck authors either write in a contemporary setting or they have picked a significant historical period. What we liked about Jonathan’s book is that his series starts in a year that perhaps doesn’t feature much in history books. It was a year that many people of a certain age remember well. The year was on the cusp of some very dramatic historic events, but as of itself, it won’t be remembered for its significance.
As I started reading Jonathan’s submission, the first book in the series, I felt myself quickly transported back to my teenage years in the middle of England (even though his book is set a bit further north). If an author can capture a time or place through their story then I believe they will easily capture loyal readers. I know Jonathan’s books will capture those readers. People love to escape into a time / place, especially one they feel nostalgia for. I really enjoyed spending time in 1987 and can’t wait to start Book Two (I have it ready).
It is attention to detail that makes such a difference when you are writing about a time and or a place: the way people perhaps addressed each other that was of that time; the way men and women engaged with each other, particularly in a work setting; the pace of life; the anxieties people had; and the things people ate (boil in the bag dinners).
In addition to his gift at scene setting, Adrian and I were very impressed with Jonathan’s long-term plans for his series. Having a plan is proving to be a key ingredient to the success of crime writing. Jason Dalgleish and Simon McCleave both cited this in their podcast interviews with Hobeck. They are both firm advocates of the ‘quick release’ philosophy. We also heard Rachel McLean, another prolific crime writer, expound the same idea just the other day on Mark Dawson’s podcast. Jonathan agrees with them and he has a plan. We feel honoured that Jonathan is entrusting his plan with us. There are lots more exciting books to come after the first which will be published by Hobeck in May.
So, the main thing I want to thank Jonathan for at this point is for the nostalgia. Reading his book had me wondering whether some of the objects I remember, some of the things he writes about, from 1987 are still available. I am pleased to say some are (surprisingly). However, not everything is. I’m not sure that you can still buy a boil in the bag dinner. That is a great shame. Still, there are many other great things that have survived the decades.