My second guest post today is from author Andrew French.
The Hashtag Killer
Catch a killer or save a child. What would you do?
DI Jen Flowers thought she’d seen it all after fifteen years on the force, but when a vigilante serial killer hits the city and uses social media to gather supporters, she must fight the public and her doubts to catch a murderer and save her daughter.
Suffering from blackouts and abandoned as a child by her father, Ruby Vasquez has been chasing that one scoop to make her an internet star. Living with an alcoholic mother who hates her, Ruby discovers a secret about the vigilante’s first victim, which puts her in the killer and DI Flowers’ sights.
Jen and Ruby have to overcome the secrets in their past while battling each other to discover the Hashtag Killer’s identity. Jen will have to choose between keeping her daughter safe or finding a killer, while Ruby will need to decide if becoming famous is more important than doing the right thing.
One of the dilemmas of the modern age is having to split your time between the real world and the online one. Not that browsing the internet isn’t real, but it obviously hasn’t got that physical sensation that walking on a beach or swimming in the sea has.
Falling down the Research Rabbit Hole is one of the great distractions for a writer online. You think you’ll spend ten minutes finding out crime rates in Victorian England, and two hours later, you have a new lexicon of nineteenth-century insults. I didn’t discover those crime rates, but I do know that a flapdoodle is a sexually incompetent man who is either too young to have had sex or one who is too old to attempt it; that a hedge-creeper was a prostitute, who presumably worked in the countryside; and that a policeman tasked with harrying street prostitutes was called a mutton shunter.
Still, what a wonderful place the internet is for locating information that before you might have had to travel great distances to discover.
But for writers, it can be problematic when we find ourselves spending more time trawling through our social media instead of writing. It used to be just Facebook which was a distraction, but now there’s Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and many others I’m trying not to think of.
And now there’s TikTok, which I’m reliably informed is the next big thing writers need to master. When I looked at it, all I saw were fifteen-second clips of people miming other people’s songs. Yet, I can’t put someone else’s song lyrics into my work without paying a fortune. Because that serial killer really does murder while singing along to Joy Division, and the female lead of my thriller series lives her life with David Bowie as the soundtrack,
I’ll dabble with Tik Tok eventually, but it will only lead to the next big online buzz which myself and other writers will need to consider if we want to cultivate an audience.
Because the audience is the only thing that matters, and as writers we need to reach out to them and not wait until they come to us. I dare say the likes of Stephen King and Dan Brown pay little attention to their Author Platform, even though King is a regular Tweeter, but even the major traditional publishers ask their writers to promote themselves online now.
So getting the hang of the online world, while not embracing its distracting charms, is something all writers have to come to terms with.
The best advice I heard was not to worry about having a presence on every platform but focus on one or two and build your community that way. When you feel comfortable with that, you can explore all the available avenues for developing your online presence.
And build a website for yourself. That’s the one thing you’ll own no matter what. If your social media accounts disappear or suddenly decide to charge you for your content, you’ll still have what you post on your website.
Andrew French is a man of no wealth and little taste. He lives amongst faded seaside glamour on the North East coast of England. He likes gin and cats but not together, new music and old movies, curry and ice cream. Slow bike rides and long walks to the pub are his usual exercise, as well as flicking through the pages of good books and the memoirs of bad people.