Rose McClelland learned the hard way that penning a best-selling novel is as much about running a business as it is about a creative pursuit
After her first three romantic novels failed to make an impact, Rose switched genres and changed her approach to include a professional marketing strategy.
Now after 15 years of writing, the Royalties are rolling in after her first thriller Under Your Skin (launched last year) shot to the top of the Amazon best seller lists in the UK, US and Canada.
It was also chosen by the Belfast Telegraph as one of our top reads for 2020 and attracted widespread critical acclaim.
Now readers are in for a treat as she features the two main characters from her best seller – Belfast detective inspector Simon Peters and detective Kerry Lawlor – in her newest book, Out of Your Head.
Released last month, it offers more twists and turns in a case that sees the two detectives investigate if a fatal road accident is a hit and run or was in fact, murder.
A six-year-old dies in a car driven by her father who barely survives. The mother is out of her mind. If losing her daughter is not enough, why is she being stalked?
Central to the story is the child’s father Liam who we learn is battling a drug addiction.
While entirely a book of fiction, Rose (46) bravely admits that the addiction storyline is one which is very close to her heart.
She came through a battle with alcoholism in her late 20s and early 30s and hopes that by tackling the subject in her novel it will help shatter some of what she sees as general misconceptions around addiction.
She explains: “A lot of people see addiction as someone lying with a needle sticking out of their arm.
“Addiction can cover a whole range of things from an old lady taking too much prescription medication to a functional alcoholic who still manages to do their job while drinking the bit out every night.
“In most cases there is childhood trauma behind it and it is linked to issues like anxiety and depression.
“Thankfully I am in a good place now. It was about 15 years ago but I still take it one day at a time and I am very mindful not to take any alcohol at all as I will never be able to drink successfully.”
Rose believes partying at university started her in a downward spiral into alcoholism.
As her 20s went on she developed anxiety and depression and was soon drinking just to help take the edge of her illness.
At one point she was drinking every night but still holding down a job as a personal assistant before eventually beginning her recovery in her early 30s.
She says: “I realised I was drinking to cope with anxiety and not for social reasons and that I needed to get help with it. I am very careful about my mental health and life is far better now, but addiction remains a subject very close to my heart.”
Rose, who is originally from Londonderry, has been writing since the age of 10.
She lives alone in Belfast with her two “fur babies”, cats Toots and Soots, and writes part time while working from home as a virtual personal assistant.
She published her first book, a romantic novel eight years ago and two more books quickly followed before she decided to change genres.
It was after her recovery from alcoholism around 15 years ago that she started to take her writing seriously and focus on becoming a published author.
She says: “It’s crazy to think it has taken 15 years, but I do really love writing. I studied English and drama at university and did think I wanted to be a journalist, but I did a module in journalism and failed wonderfully at it.
“I was told not to expect a fortune from writing and after I received the royalties from my first book I did think ‘oh dear they weren’t lying!’
“This is very much a business as well and as much a marketing game as a writing game.
“My first three books came out very quickly and I was very gun hoe about it and then I lost motivation and didn’t write for a while.
“About four years ago I started to work from home, and it gave me the idea for the story for Under Your Skin which is about a woman trapped indoors.
“I came up with the characters Sam and Kerry and found myself really enjoying the writing which made me realise this was my genre.
“I researched a lot about how other thriller writers worked and used what I had learned to create the twists and turns.
“It made me realise I was more suited to writing about dark, mysterious, weird people and not so good at writing about any form of romance!”
Her first thriller Under Your Skin was published last March and almost immediately enjoyed widespread acclaim by well-known book critics and bloggers.
Its success spurred her to spend the past year in lockdown working on her second thriller Out of Your Head, released last month.
She says: “When Under Your Skin was published there was such a good reaction to it and so many good reviews and ratings and it made many bloggers best book 2020 list.
“I had learnt a lot about promoting my books especially how the business side of Amazon and Kindle works which has really helped.
“I have been working with a businessman who has been helping me to learn about that side of writing. If any writers are reading this, I would advise that they try approaching it as a business rather than just a creative pursuit.
“I think it has taught me you get out of it what you put into it.”
Now well in her stride and fast becoming an established thriller writer, Rose already has book six “In Too Deep” ready to go to the publishers and a seventh novel underway.
She adds: “I am a bit of an introvert and I actually really enjoyed lockdown and used the time to get focused.
“I love writing thrillers and I just hope people enjoy reading them as much as I am enjoying writing them.”
Mind Your Head by Rose McClelland is available on Amazon