Inside the Outside is One Year Old!

Has it really been a whole year?

My goodness, how time flies. I could swear it was just yesterday I was sitting in my parent's kitchen, talking with my mom, scared to the brink of vomiting at the thought of publishing my debut novel, Inside the Outside. Sitting across the table from her in the middle of the night, I asked, "What if nobody cares?"

When I was writing the book, riding the wave of confidence that comes when there are no expectations, no outside pressure, nobody looking over your shoulder, my only concern was making the book as good as I could make it. In my mind there was no doubt that, as long as I gave it my best effort, readers would find it and enjoy it; and, really, that's all I wanted was for readers to like it. As any author can tell you, a novel is like your child. It comes from you, out of you, and, for years at a time, you nurture it, watching it grow and develop.  You become proud when it takes on a life of its own, taking its first steps, becoming independent.

And then, one night, while your sitting in the kitchen with your mother, you realize it's time to let it go. It's time to send it out into the world, where you won't be there to protect it if it get's bullied by reviewers or teased by bloggers. You want to be there, standing by its side, fighting its battles, only you realize you can't. All you can do is make sure you've written the best book you know how and then you wait and watch and hope for the best.

So, it's funny how before that night in the kitchen, I'd never considered the question: "What if nobody cares?"

All along I assumed people would care, one way or another. I figured readers would love my book or hate it or have ambiguous feelings that they couldn't quite articulate—but I'd never factored in the possibility of people not caring. Worse yet, what if nobody noticed? What if I published my book and nobody bought it? What if it simply got lost in the vast library of books already out in the world competing for the attention of readers?

"Well, you know we'll buy it," my mom said. "That's at least two."

It was sweet and it made me smile, but I still couldn't get past that one looming question. However much it weighed on my mind and however many times I considered turning back from that cliff, I realized I would never get over the regret of not publishing Inside the Outside.

So, on July 9, 2011, that's exactly what I did. That was one year ago today and, boy oh boy, what a year it's been.

Within a few weeks of publication, Inside the Outside broke into Amazon's Top 100 Bestsellers in Horror, peaking at #58. And during that same span of time, it also raced up Amazon's Top 100 Hot New Seller's in Horror, reaching #3.

And then the reviews started coming in...

Will Entrekin, author and Creative Director of Exciting Press, wrote:

"It’s not just the best indie novel I read in 2011; it’s the finest novel I read overall, and that distinction might carry back a couple of years besides."

Cara, one half of the BiblioBabes, wrote:

"It was torturous trying to read faster, to turn the page quicker..."

Kat, the other half of the BiblioBabes, wrote:

"I picked this story up, and I literally could not put it down.  I was reading it at work.  I was reading it at a party last night.  I fell asleep in bed with it in my hands at 2AM two nights in a row.  I was totally hooked, and reading at every possible second."

Book Den wrote:

"I classify Inside the Outside with books such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Patrick Süskind's Perfume: The Story of a Murderer—books that may have violent content or a disturbing premise but appeal to a much wider audience."

Before I knew it, Inside the Outside was a critically acclaimed bestseller. It had (and continues to have) an enthusiastic and growing base of loyal and vocal fans. I got invited to make personal appearances at libraries and prisons and high schools and universities where I read from my novel, talked about writing, signed books, and posed for pictures. It was all just so much and I really couldn't have hoped or asked for anything more.

And then Inside the Outside started winning awards...

One year in and the experience of publishing Inside the Outside has already exceeded all of my expectations. Of course, it hasn't yet exceeded my wildest dreams. My dreams for this book are pretty big and this first year has only served to increase my expectations for what it can still accomplish. But if it were all over today, right now—poof!—no more, well, I'd have nothing to complain about. This past year has been such an exhilarating ride and, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everybody who's helped make this dream of mine come true.

10 Questions for… Richard Jay Parker

Richard Jay Parker has been a professional TV writer for twenty-two years and started by submitting material to the BBC.  After contributing to a wide variety of TV shows he became a head writer, script editor and then producer.

At the age of thirty he decided he wanted to write a novel and have it published. After ten years of rejection, Parker's debut novel, Stop Me, was picked up for publication by Allison and Busby in 2009.

Since then Stop Me has been nominated for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award 2010 and has entered four Amazon Top 10 bestseller charts.

So, without any further ado, here are 10 questions for Richard Jay Parker.

1. What would you like readers to know about Stop Me?

Stop Me is a twisty and dark psychological thriller that begins with a chain email that must be forwarded to ten people otherwise a victim will be murdered. It's not a typical cop/serial killer story and, I hope, confounds the reader's expectations. It was nominated for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award and, to my surprise, got to #7 on Amazon's Thriller chart as well as #14 in the overall bestsellers.

2. Who are some writers that have affected your storytelling sensibilities?

All the authors on my bookshelves - good and bad.  Whether I've admired them or thought I could do better, I expect, like all writers, I'm a product of every book I've read. I think I'm also inspired by movies as much as books.

3. Along with being a novelist, you’ve also written for television. Creatively speaking, how does one genre compare with the other?

I used to write a lot of comedy for television which, outwardly, would appear to have very little to do with writing dark thrillers. But comedy is all about setting up and paying off and that's something you do in thrillers on a grander scale. Writing scripts has also obviously enabled me to refine writing dialogue.

4. What methods and strategies have you employed in order to promote both yourself as an author, as well Stop Me?

I've done the usual signings and library readings. Social media is a fun tool for getting the word out.  Facebook and Twitter are a great way of contacting like-minded readers and writers. The bonus is I've met a lot of good people in the process.

5. Writing a book is such a complex exercise that I imagine no two authors do it exactly the same. Can you summarize your process for me?

I started with a number of ideas I wanted to explore and constructed the plot.  However, I gave myself plenty of latitude to go off on a tangent which is exactly what happens to Leo in Stop Me.  I think it's good to give yourself freedom to explore although I know other writers who stick to a more rigid plan.

6. When you’re not writing, what sort of books do you enjoy reading?

I have very eclectic tastes. As well as books with a dark vein, I also enjoy bios. My favourite book this year was Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre.

7. What drove you to write Stop Me?

I'd already written a couple of dark thrillers which got close with publishers.I had a handful of ideas for new books but incorporated them all into Stop Me, which was great fun. I think that's the key - with such a difficult path ahead at the end of the writing process you have to make sure you enjoy the work. It should be reward in itself.

8. Where do you see your writing career five years from now?

It would be great to combine my script writing with my novel writing and create a screenplay of one of my books. I'm realistic though and just hope I'm still writing material I enjoy, whatever the project.

9. What are you currently working on?

I've just completed a rewrite of book 2 and am developing some other projects which I hope to put out later this year.

10. What advice would you give to an aspiring author who hopes to see their work published one day?

I only have one book published so I don't know whether I'm qualified to advise, but I think the one thing that's paid off for me is perseverance.  It's a cliche but it's true.  Make sure the work you submit is the best you can produce and then get it under as many noses as possible.  If it's not being read, it's not going to happen.

And there you have it. I'd like to thank Richard Jay Parker for taking some time to hang out on Inside Martin. If you'd like to learn more about Richard and his novel, Stop Me, you can visit You can also connect with Richard on Twitter, as well as Facebook.