My Radio Job

I discovered the other day, that if you type my name – Jane Killick – into Google, the suggestion for what to type next is “BBC”. Unsurprising, seeing as my day job is working for the BBC, but it made me realise that I didn’t have anything on my website about life on the radio.

That’s now been rectified with a whole page about it. I mostly read the news on BBC Three Counties Radio, so there’s stuff about what I actually do between bulletins, plus a quick potted history of my career.

It’s anyone looking to find out about my radio stuff, or for anyone who reads my books and wonders what else I do.

I seem to have fallen down a rabbit hole

Photo (c) 3Dalia c/o Dreamstime

If you don’t want to lose yourself down a rabbit hole — don’t start thinking about refurbishing your house!

That’s where I’ve disappeared to in recent months. I think I must now have watched every property programme Channel 4 has ever made. I’ve been looking at kitchens and drawing up plans for knocking down walls and building extensions and it takes up a lot of brain power. That’s even before any work actually starts.

It means my writing has been sadly neglected. I have plotted out a new series and the covers are done, but nothing much has happened beyond the first chapter. But I’m getting back into the swing of it now and starting to work on stuff.

I’ve also been behind on admin which is the first thing I’m having to catch up on. The good news is that the Perceivers books are now available in all the major stores online and not just Amazon (they are publishing as I write, it might take a couple of days for them to show up). This is brilliant for everyone who isn’t wedded to their Kindle. I’ve got a few emails to do and some bits and pieces to get out of the way (sorry if I owe you an email!), then I’ll be writing again. I’ve missed it, I have to say.

So what’s up with the house refurbishment? Well it all came to a head when an architectural technician recommended by a local builder came round to look at the house to draw up plans for the proposed extension. He turned out to be the most unhelpful man you would ever have the displeasure to meet. He just stood there and went “NO” a lot and kept saying that it would cost the sort of money I thought it would cost and therefore wasn’t worth bothering with. So I’m not going to employing him to do any work (with his attitude, I wonder why anyone would employ him) and I’m using the services of a nice architect instead. At least she understands how the work will make the house better to live in.

I was getting very stressed about it all, especially after “Mr No”‘s visit. Now, however, stress levels have diminished and I’m back at my computer. Which has to be a good thing.

Making the Perceivers Covers

The raw photo that became the cover for Mind Control

I knew that getting the right covers for the Perceivers series was going to be tough. The usual method is to find a picture from a stock photo site and manipulate to become part of a great cover. But not only doesn’t this give you an exclusive image (as in the many, many ‘woman with bird cage’ covers), you may find it difficult to find the image you want.

Michael starts off his adventures with the perceivers aged 15 and, although he reaches 20 by the fourth book, Mind Power, I still wanted a younger person on the cover. But when I looked through the stock photo sites, there were very few young men to chose from. I did find one or two, but when I looked for more pictures of the same model, the other images weren’t going to work — mostly, they were smiling which wasn’t at all the mood I was after. I spoke to my cover designer and she agreed that images for this age group are very difficult to come by.

The finished cover for Mind Control

Getting my own photos

Then I read a blog post by someone who had had her own photos done for her book covers because she wanted someone of a certain ethnic background (I wish I could find this blog post, but I can’t. If anyone can point me in the right direction, I’ll post a link). This seemed to be my solution. I could get the sort of images I wanted and I could have the same models on all the covers so they looked like a series.

I put an advert on Models Mayhem, offered to pay a small fee to the models plus give them a photo from the shoot which they could use in their portfolio. I wasn’t too prescriptive as to the look of the models as I was never going to get someone who exactly matches the images I have of Michael and Pauline (introduced in Mind Control) in my head. I also decided to go for slightly older models. Firstly, because the rules around working with children present their own challenges, secondly because there are very few teenagers on these model sitess, and thirdly, because a lot of young adult movies (eg, The Hunger Games) actually have people in their twenties playing the parts.

This is the image Emily chose for her portfolio

Of the people who answered the advert, Nick was the best match for a Michael and was very keen. In fact, he had to travel down from Manchester for the shoot and I was sure the train fare was going to pretty much wipe out his whole fee. I asked if he was sure if he was happy to travel so far, and he said he was. The woman I initially chose was a bit nervous at the prospect of nudity, despite my assurances that I wanted her to keep her clothes on! When she stopped answering my emails, I decided I better look for someone else. Fortunately, due to a cock up on my part in not cancelling my ad on Models Mayhem, I had a late application from a dancer called Emily. She immediately agreed to do the shoot, and I had my ‘Michael’ and ‘Pauline’.

This is the image Nick chose for his portfolio

The photoshoot

My photographer was already lined up. I’d chosen someone with a great portfolio on her website, a list of prices upfront and a talent for working with people who were not necessarily experienced models. Charly Woodhouse has her own studio in Southampton (England) and is great.

On the day of the shoot, everyone else got there before me and the models were already in makeup. The first question that stumped me was what sort of makeup I wanted. Not being a makeup person, I just said to emphasise the eyes, as the books are all about telepathy. This involved my cover designer “photoshopping out” some of the eyeliner which the makeup artist put on Nick. Entirely my fault!

The other thing I hadn’t thought too much about was costume. What a character is wearing on a cover can really help evoke a feeling. I just said for them to bring tops and trousers which were plain without any branding and stuff on them. Apparently, such items of clothing are rare in the wardrobes of people in their early twenties.

What I had thought much more about is the sort of poses I wanted from the shoot. I had written down lots of ideas, some of which worked and some of which didn’t. One idea I had was for Nick to put his fingers to his temples like he was focussing his mind, but Charly thought it made it look like he had a headache. Then Nick said he had done some sort of medical photoshoot and had to look like he was in pain and used a similar pose. So that idea was out of the window.

The other unexpected thing was that Nick is a good foot taller than Emily. We got him to take off his shoes and Charly found some high heels for Emily to wear, but Nick still spent a lot of time bending his knees to make himself shorter. If I remember correctly, he’s bending his knees on the cover for Mind Control.

Venturing outside

One of my ideas which was near impossible to achieve in the studio was the pair of them leaning against a wall in an urban setting. This was when we ventured outside and got the shot which became the cover to Mind Power. I had asked Nick to bring a hoodie top to wear, but the item of clothing he’d packed turned out to be an unpleasant shade of salmon pink (sorry, Nick!), so he suggested he wear the coat which he’d worn on the journey down instead. Emily had travelled down in a leather jacket, so I got her to wear that too and we got a great shot.

(Going outside was an impromptu move and the lighting wasn’t great, despite — or, possibly, because of — my lack of ability holding up a reflector to bounce light back into the faces of the models. You can see the original raw image is a bit on the dark side (entirely my fault!), but it was easily lightened up in photoshop).

I sent the results of the shoot to my cover designer and, between us, we picked the four shots for the covers. As Pauline doesn’t appear in the first book, Mind Secrets has just a shot of Nick on it. I always had an image in my head of Michael timidly crouching down as if on the run, so this was the shot we chose for Mind Secrets. It was a difficult look to achieve because I didn’t explain it that well and the photographer couldn’t really get high enough for the shot. She wasn’t too keen on it because she thought it lacked depth of field, but the designer did a great job and I think it works well.

The photo taken against a wall outside the photographer’s studio

The raw photo transformed into the final cover

Definitely worth it

In the end, because I went with older models, I probably didn’t need to go to the trouble of doing the photoshoot. But I’m glad I did. It made sure the people on the covers are the same for the whole series. If I’d gone the stock photo route, that almost certainly wouldn’t have happened. In the end, I got some brilliant covers and, like a crazy person, I’m doing another photoshoot for my next and upcoming series.

Links

Photographer: Charly Woodhouse

Cover Designer: Karri Klawiter

Male Model: Nicholas Harley Naismith

Female Model: Emily Colclough

Perceivers Paperbacks Winner Announced

Congratulations to Gay of Houston in Texas who was the winner of the whole Perceivers series in paperback. Her prize is now on its way.

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition. It was a great success and I hope to run more in the future. Make sure you are signed up to my newsletter to be the first to be notified about my next giveaway.

Perceivers Paperbacks Giveaway

If you loved the Perceivers books — or would love to read them in paperback — here’s a chance for you to get your hands on the whole set of paperbacks FOR FREE!

One lucky person who enters the competition will get the whole series — with a retail value of $47.96 / £34.96 — delivered to their door. Not only is it easy to enter, it’s easy to increase your chances of winning by sharing the competition with friends and followers on social media. For everyone who enters from your shared link, you receive an extra bonus entry for yourself.

Just click here, or on the image above, to go to the entry page.

What happens next? Once you’ve entered, check your email and you’ll find both your confirmation of entry and your individual link to share to get your bonus entries. (Email not arrived? Don’t forget to check your spam folder, or your promotions folder if you’re on gmail).

What happens after that? Once entries have closed, the winner is chosen at random and will receive an email congratulating them on their win. They will need to reply with their postal address so I know where to send the books. Then they’ll just have to wait for the postman to deliver their full set of Perceivers paperbacks.

Who can enter? Anyone who’s over the age of 21, apart from my mum! Well, nearly everyone. Sadly, this contest isn’t open to people living in the following countries: Taiwan, South Korea, Portugal, Italy, Austria, China, Russia, Hong Kong, Greece, France, Japan, Spain, and Czech Republic. My understanding is this due to the legalities of competition rules. For more small print, check out the terms and conditions on the giveaway entry page.

Good luck!

ENTRIES CLOSE WEDNESDAY 20th JULY AT 11.59 BST

Writing of New Series Underway!

Dates with wordcounts written on a whiteboard

My grand white board of writing goals with word counts and targets and everything!

The weird bit on the right is where I write down how much money I haven’t got in my bank account and when my credit card bills are due (I’m glossing over those…).

After far too much pootling around, I’ve starting work on my new novel, which will launch a whole new series.

I’m keeping details under wraps at the minute, but I think it’s going to be bigger and better than Perceivers.

I’m actually really excited about it. I’ve planned out the first book and sketched out follow up novels but, as usual, this is all likely to change as the process continues.

As you can see from what I’ve written on my whiteboard (with pens that were running out!) some word goals. Now if I know me, and I do, I probably won’t stick to this. It’s sort of a guide. I’m going to try to hit some smaller targets on ordinary days and then days when I have time off work (I have a holiday coming up), I’m planning to write a chunk more. Until I get to the horrible bits where I get stuck. I always get stuck. I hate it when it happens, but it’s usually a good thing as my brain has to work its way round a problem in order to find an ingenious solution. This usually makes the story better and a more thrilling ride for the reader. Even if it causes a headache for the writer.

I took this picture a couple of days ago of the empty board. I’ve now started to fill it in. It’s all a bit scary … and exciting!

Too Much Rest for the Wicked

Running up to the finishing line in a 10k race

Me running a 10k race about ten years ago. Still not back at this fitness level (yet!).

Writing a series of books takes a lot out of you. In the last weeks before the final book of the Perceivers series, Mind Power, went to the editor, there were a lot of 5am starts. After all that, I needed a bit of a rest.

I promised myself a week off.

I also promised myself to tidy up all that mess that had accumulated while I busied myself writing with no time to be diverted. One of the messes was my body which had been deprived of exercise as it was full steam ahead with bum-on-seat writing. I can’t say I was eating healthily either. That was something I told myself would change once the series was complete.

My best discovery was low carb / high fat and the overwhelming science that shows the official advice we’ve been given on eating for the past forty years has been wrong. Suffice to say, I have lost about a stone (14 pounds) so far eating real food with lots of fat (like butter) and cutting the sugar.

I managed to get off my bum and, with the better weather, went out for a few walks locally. I thought I might re-kindle my running, but it turns out I’ve lost more of my fitness than I thought. Memories of those three and five mile runs I used to do were swept away by the reality is it’s really quite hard to run when you haven’t done it for ages. I’ve now progressed to a bit of walking/jogging. At least it’s getting out there and getting some exercise.

Meanwhile, my new series of novels has been bubbling. They are all planned out (well, as much as I plan, which is more sketchy).

Golden crusted moussaka straight out of the oven

Homemade moussaka: part of my healthy eating regime

So it’s down to work. I just need to try to keep up the exercise and the healthy eating at the same time. If I can stop bits and pieces accumulating in unsorted piles on my desk and in the lounge, that will be a bonus.

The rolling green hills and blue sky of Dunstable Downs

The view of Dunstable Downs from the top of the hill on my usual walk