This week, I've been putting the finishing touches to Hidden Secrets, book 5 in the Allie Shenton Series, which is out in two weeks. I'm at the proofreading stage - the final, final, final, final, FINAL read through before I upload it ready for publication day on May 27th.
After publishing Broken Promises, book 4 in the series, I've been asked by readers lots of times about why I decided to write about her again. Well, there are six reasons.
I got my rights reverted on the first three books in the series. My contract ended with the publisher, giving me the rights to re-publish them again. This meant three things.
First, I could give them a total re-edit. These books were the first ones I wrote and, obviously after now writing twenty-four books, I have a better idea of what to add and what not! The first book, Taunting the Dead, was far too long and started in the wrong place. So I revamped that, cutting a LOT out. The story didn’t change, even though it started in a better place. None of the stories changed — they were just made tighter.
Second, I fell in love with Allie and her team again. I hadn’t realised how much I enjoyed writing about her and Perry and the rest of the gang. So I thought why not make the trilogy into a series and add a few more books to it.
Third, as I re-edited those first three, it made me realise that as there was a subplot in Taunting the Dead, Follow the Leader and finishing in Only The Brave, it would be good to do the same in books 4, 5 and 6. I’ve written Broken Promises, book 4 and Hidden Secrets, book 5, and I’m now starting book 6, which is quite exciting to write — and challenging to tie everything up.
I come from a working-class city, Stoke-on-Trent, in The Midlands. Stoke is a unique place, yet it’s quite run down in some areas. It’s gritty, but it’s a city with a huge heart. We might not be very glamorous but we’re friendly folk.
I think basing some of my books in my city did me a lot of harm as not all readers like my gritty style. But then I realised I needed to write for my tribe, the army of readers who enjoy my work. So I’ve embraced the grit again!
Writing about Allie, Perry and Sam, and Frankie the new DC, was like meeting old friends. I realised that inadvertently, like I do in The Estate Series, I had created a family, characters that readers caught up with regularly. Checked in with, so to speak. Reading the first three books made me want to know how Allie and her team were going on.
There is a massive community spirit throughout my books, and I’m proud of that. My books show the worst in some people, but also bring out the best in others. Often nasty people change throughout the course of a book. With having Allie in the mix, it shows her determination to do what’s right for as many of them as she can.
I don’t write high concept plots – the ones where you are flipped on your head as a reader by some shocking reveal that made you question everything you had read before.
I like steady reveals, chapter hooks that make you want to read more. I like readers to work things out alongside Allie and her team. This is where police procedurals suit me as a writer. I get my brain working to figure out and solve a murder plot. I then mix the emotion with the grit and the procedural. I create my own Sherratt Shivers.
And of course there is the Stoke humour, which I’m told is one of a kind, with my own turn of phrases. How cool is that!
So, tell me, are you looking forward to Hidden Secrets?