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Publishers worried Angela’s Black Country settings would put readers off, but three million sales later, the former security guard lives her dream

By Heather Large | Entertainment | Published:

Her detective series has achieved close to three million sales and been translated into 26 languages around the globe.

Angela’s no-nonsense character Kim Stone has resonated globally

But Black Country author Angela still she still has to 'pinch herself' every time she receives a royalty payment.

Becoming a successful novelist has been a 'rollercoaster ride' for the 50-year-old from Brierley Hill.

She was left fearing she would never see her writing in print after parting ways from a top London literary agency and suffering a string of rejections from publishers.

The feedback from traditional publishers on her crime thriller series, which features no-nonsense Detective Kim Stone, was always the same: ‘we love it…but not enough.’

Some worried about the Black Country setting, others were concerned that readers wouldn’t warm to her formidable lead character.

With her confidence shattered, Angela, who pens all her first drafts by hand, couldn’t even pick up a pencil to write.

But in October 2014, Angela received an email which was to make her dreams come true. The reader she had worked with at the literary agency, Keshini Naidoo, was now a commissioning editor at a digital publisher, Bookouture – and was interested in publishing Angela's work.

"It was a lifeline for me – I didn’t have any expectations about what I’d sell, I thought maybe a couple of hundred copies, but I just wanted to see what readers thought. I wanted them to enjoy it," says the former Merry Hill shopping centre security guard.

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Her debut novel Silent Scream, set in Rowley Regis, has gone on to sell over a million copies and was the number one Amazon bestseller in the UK for over a month.

It also reached the top 5 in the US and has secured rights deals in more than twenty-six countries, from Germany to Lithuania.

Her follow-up novels, Evil Games, Lost Girls, Play Dead, Blood Lines, Dead Souls, Broken Bones and Dying Truth have all hit the Amazon top ten, with many of them shooting straight to the Amazon No.1 spot on pre-orders alone.

Total sales for her detective series are now close to three million but it's the feedback from readers that Angela has found most rewarding – with more than 13,500 five-star reviews to date.

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"After the feedback that I’d had from traditional publishers, I was worried whether readers would be put off by the setting of my books – but I get emails every single day from readers all around the world telling me that they love Kim Stone and can’t wait for more.

"It’s so exciting to have that kind of feedback – I’ve been in tears more than once at the messages that I’ve received."

Angela says she struggles to get her around the fact that she has become an international bestseller almost overnight.

"The dream for me was always to write for a living, and I just feel so privileged that I can do that now. Every time I get a royalty payment, I have to pinch myself. Never could I have imagined selling 3 million books. I am so lucky to work with such a talented team of people at Bookouture.

"From the wizard that is Oliver Rhodes to my supremely talented editor Keshini Naidoo and the unstoppable Publicity Manager, Kim Nash. Not only did they make all my dreams come true, they made new dreams and aspirations and then propelled me towards them, demonstrating a faith in me that I could only ever dream of.

"The last two years have been a journey of awe and discovery which continues to excite me every day. I remain truly thankful to the bloggers, reviewers and readers who have passionately supported both me and Kim Stone."

Angela still writes every first draft with A4 notebooks and pencils. "I love to write at the dining table looking out on to the garden. I like to get up early and write before the world comes alive and I also love writing late at night when the world is going back to sleep. It gives me an intimacy with the process," she says.

The massive eBook success of the Kim Stone books led to a major print deal for Angela’s first three novels with Bonnier Zaffre.

More recently Bookouture’s print partnership with Little, Brown Book Group’s Sphere imprint has continued her paperback success for the next books in the series, bringing a whole new audience through bookstores and supermarkets in the UK and worldwide.

The global success of her books includes translation deals in Arabic, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese to name a few.

Angela's advice for anyone looking to follow in her footsteps is to keep their first draft under wraps.

"I would advise aspiring writers not to share their first draft with anyone. The first draft is the sandpit, where you can do anything you like without any comments that might stick in your head. The first draft is the writer’s time to bond with the story before sharing it with anyone else," she says.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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