Veronica Heley celebrates the publication of her 71st book in May 2013, having been in the business for over 30 years. She lives in Gt Britain and is currently writing two gentle crime series set in different areas of London. She also produces the occasional short story. She’s involved with her local church and community affairs, likes to break for coffee with friends and does the garden when she has time. She has been a member of a book reading club for 40 years, but has decided that life is too short to read depressing literature any more.
I had a nice surprise the other day. At least, I thought it was a nice surprise at first, but now I’m not so sure, and I’d love to know what you think.
I knew, in a general sort of way, that some of my backlist were going to be re-issued in large print hardback, soft cover and as e-books by Chivers, but I’d forgotten all about them until a package dropped through my door the other day, containing copies of a book I’d written in 1976! Now even I, who am no mathematician, can work out that I wrote that book over thirty-seven years ago. I had a twenty-four inch waist in those days and was a frail little thing. Mm. Well…thirty-seven years on, and approaching 80 years of age, we will not talk about my waist measurement!
The re-issue was for CRY FOR KIT. I looked at the cover, and wondered if I liked it – not that I have had anything to do with the design. But the original cover was about the only one I ever liked from Robert Hale, all those years ago. And then, of course, I was seized with doubt. Was it really such a good idea to reissue books I wrote when I started to learn my craft? Those early books were written for the general market place and I, as a beginner, wrote what I thought was needed to break into that market. But from 1980 onwards I moved into writing books with a Christian background. Some were taken up by mainstream publishers, but most were commissioned by Christian publishers such as Lion, Bible Reading Fellowship and Scripture Union. From 2000 on, I’ve hardly done anything but write the Ellie Quicke Mysteries and the Abbot Agency books, with their specifically Christian background. But those early books…?
So what are my readers going to think of them? Ought I to be ashamed of what I produced then? All right, so Chivers obviously thought they’d be able to sell some copies or they wouldn’t have done anything about it…but…really? So many years on?
I began to read CRY FOR KIT and well, you’ll have to judge for yourselves, of course, but it rattles along at a great pace and yes, hopefully it will still amuse. But I do have to point out that the heroine was not a virgin before she got married. And then, within the week, a second re-issue from Chivers arrived. This was SCREAM FOR SARAH, first published in 1975. So I started to re-read that and…oh dear…this is where sex and violence rear their ugly heads.
I can’t think that fans of Ellie Quicke and Bea Abbot are going to enjoy them. Will they ask for them at libraties, and then be worried about the direction in which my writing is taking me?
Do I panic? Am I in trouble, or can I trust my readers’ good sense?
Or should I just point to the latest Bea Abbot book, FALSE ALARM, which came out in the UK last November and should be available elsewhere in the world as of this minute? This is the 7th in the series and has had some good reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal. It’s available as a hardback at present, but also as an e-book. In this story, Bea Abbot is asked to track down the person who laid a booby trap for the powerful Sir Lucas Ossett in his own block of flats. The tenants include a ‘therapist,’ a sacked employee of Sir Lucas’s, and a cross-section of yuppies and oddballs with life-threatening problems. A cat has met an untimely end, and snow is forecast. Can Bea separate the foolish from the murderous and reveal who it is who has brought death and destruction to this exclusive part of London?
I’d welcome your thoughts on this knotty problem.