Writers and Reviews
It’s an exciting time, publishing my first debut psychological thriller. Having found the agent, then the publisher, it’s now the books turn to find its readers and that is both thrilling yet terrifying at the same time. The early reviews are starting to flood in. Upwards of sixty people secured a copy via NetGalley – a website where avid readers of books are encouraged to read and review pre-publishing date.
Like any new author, I obsessively and secretively checked the review page daily as it started to make waves to see if I’d pulled it off or not. The sheer joy of reading a brilliantly positive review is something one cannot put into words, says the writer who should be able to put absolutely anything into words! It’s a real moment that makes you feel it was all worth it. It took two years to write this book and it was devoured in two sittings. There’s oddly something satisfying in that.
Then came the first negative review. I won’t lie. It stung. It’s not easy to take that kind of criticism when you’ve labored over it for hundreds of hours, putting your all into it. Having tried your best to make an entire world out of just words. I found myself Googling ‘how to cope with bad reviews.’ And to my delight I found a best-selling author saying she felt exactly the same way, but that in all honesty there is always someone who doesn’t like it and instead of just passing on writing a review they have to have their say. The more people who read it, the more negative reviews there will inevitably be, but on the upside and to my relief the good reviews outnumber the bad.
As the reviews started to stack up I came to realise that in actual fact the negative reviews were just as helpful as the positives. I started to see a pattern in the criticism, which has ultimately informed me on aspects of my writing and story telling which I can improve on. I’m a work in progress as are all writers. I think we like the constant challenge of personal development. Of constructing and deconstructing our thoughts. So I decided to see the positives in those negatives and turn that into an opportunity for growth as a writer. So this is a personal thank you to all who have commented on the book. I deeply appreciate it.
Alex South, my protagonist isn’t for everyone. She is a tricky customer. And as most readers have commented her character is the driving force in the book unlike most thrillers. One review I read the day before publication really summed up what I tried to do with Alex. “I’m not sure if it was intentional, but I thought this carefully crafted novel sent out a powerful message about the dangers of alcoholism. A mix of excitement and nerve-wracking! There was humour, four dead bodies and loads of suspects. It’s a food-for-thought novel.”
A food-for-thought novel. Yes, I wanted I NEVER LIE to kick-start a positive conversation around alcoholism in this country having lost a friend to the bottle, but obviously I wanted it to entertain too. It is a tricky combination to get right. I have always felt that art and literature have the power to transform society unlike the other business I’m in, the news business, which in my opinion is often more to do with keeping power accountable. I still remember scenes I read in novels fifteen years ago that touched me and shaped my grown up self.
You will be in utter despair with Alex, frustrated by the voice in her head, and often sad for her, but ultimately she is just flawed, living in a constant state of denial. We track how that can create all kinds of problems. It’s her character that drives the plot, which is characteristic of my writing. Whatever you make of her, please do leave a review good or bad for it is in these moments of commentary I find a new sense of development as a writer, which hopefully shall help shape my future writing!
Is she the next victim? Or is she the culprit…?
Alex South is a high-functioning alcoholic who is teetering on the brink of oblivion. Her career as a television journalist is hanging by a thread since a drunken on-air rant. When a series of murders occur within a couple of miles of her East London home she is given another chance to prove her skill and report the unfolding events. She thinks she can control the drinking, but soon she finds gaping holes in her memory, and wakes to find she’s done things she can’t recall. As the story she’s covering starts to creep into her own life, is Alex a danger only to herself – or to others?
Jody Sabral is based between the South Coast and London, where she works as a Foreign Desk editor and video producer at the BBC. She is a graduate of the MA in Crime Fiction at City University, London. Jody worked as a journalist in Turkey for ten years, covering the region for various international broadcasters. She self-published her first book Changing Borders in 2012 and won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2014 for her second novel The Movement. In addition to working for the BBC, Jody also writes for the Huffington Post, Al–Monitor and Brics Post.