Blog Tour: by A Publishing Journey Killing Sin author, K.H. Irvine @KHIrvineAuthor @UrbaneBooks @lovebooksgroup

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Would you surrender your secrets to save a life?

London. It could be tomorrow. Amala Hackeem, lapsed Muslim tech entrepreneur and controversial comedian, dons a burqa and heads to the women's group at the Tower Hamlets sharia community. What is she doing there?

Ella Russell, a struggling journalist leaves home in pursuit of the story of her life. Desperate for the truth, she is about to learn the true cost of the war on terror.

Millie Stephenson, a university professor and expert in radicalisation arrives at Downing Street to brief the Prime Minister and home secretary. Nervous and excited she finds herself at the centre of a nation taken hostage. And then it gets personal.

Friends since university, by the end of the day the lives of all three women are changed forever. They will discover if friendship truly can survive secrets and fear.

Guest Post: A Publishing Journey


If it takes a village to raise a child it takes a small town to have a book published. Publishing is an industry saturated by subjectivity, serendipity and slush piles. I was lucky as I had a great friend who had been an editor and knew how it worked but even then rollercoaster doesn’t do it justice….here’s my story and her’s (the wise woman editor).

Year One – aged 50

Wow, I’m writing a book. I am in a house on the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland and I have newspaper clippings and notes everywhere. I feel such a fraud. The wee girl from the Scottish council estate getting above herself to write a book but the wise woman editor (WWE) that is my friend said, ‘write big, write like no one will read it, write like you deserve to.’ So I try. It takes me all year to get the first draft.



Year Two – aged 51

I send it to the WWE who is kind but honest…I think the sub text is you have a glimmer of a story but it’s drowning in a lot of exposition and showing off your research that makes it incredibly boring (it was the zzzzzz in the margin that gave it away). Back to the drawing board and a few more edits and then we send it to a friendly agent in Australia (where WWE lives). She loves it, she wants it, we have hit the jackpot. She is a serious agent with amazing authors under her wing…I bought champagne. I did more edits.

Then with no explanation said agent changed her mind, sent an email to say ‘no thanks’ and through me back in the wilderness.



Year Three – aged 52

As a mature and well balanced woman I did the only thing possible and sulked. I also drank a lot of wine and developed an addiction to Celebrations (other small chocolates are available). But then I got back in the saddle and WWE said how about we give it my mate who has been an editor for many a year (for some VERY big bestsellers) and see what she makes of it so we give it WWE 2. WWE 2 is incisive and direct but with a great heart and makes it a better book. How many edits now? 15 or 16 I think. God, that rewrite after rewrite is dull.



Year Four – aged 53

The two WWE are in my corner. We are a team and we are going to have a go at getting this damn book published so they combine their little black book of agents from all their years in publishing and try to sell me in, avoiding the slush piles…who knew it would be so brutal. The rejections flooded in. A few of my favourites; ‘I don’t think such high powered women would have friends’ (aagghhh), ‘It’s hard to like successful women, I can’t relate to them.’ (both of these from women) and ‘it seems morally ambiguous, you don’t seem to say what is right and wrong (that’s kind of the point – I never have and will never condone violence of any sort but I do believe we need a better conversation about why so many people are attracted to extremes – not just Islamist).

But then the jackpot – again! You maybe know how this is going to go. This time a huge international agent in London. This time it’s film rights, audio, making a huge impact, being brave….and then it went a bit cold. And then ice like until the ‘it’s not you it’s me email’ (is no one in publishing brave enough to dump you in person I ask??) The email … .’Because whilst it is timely and prescient I feel very squeamish about submitting it at a time when terror attacks of the kind you close the novel with are increasingly likely. I know you would argue, and rightly so, that this is exactly why it should be sold and published…and you are likely to be right, but I just don’t feel I want to represent it in the current climate.’

That was tough.

Year Five – aged 54

I am invited to the BBC – they like A Killing Sin but they are more interested in book 2 which is the rise of the Far Right. I decide to buckle down to right that one.

I decide to apply to be a mentor on the Prevent Programme; mentoring those terrorists, like the 7/7 bombers who are up for parole. I believe we need to look at all options and it feels like a good way to do good and do research. I am interviewed and selected.

Then Urbane came along and had a new model, a new way of working, skipping past agents straight to authors and ballsy enough to take a punt. We shake hands and we publish.

Then…. the Home Office read it and decide some of my points may ‘bring their programme into disrepute’ so they no longer want me. I buckle down to write again. I am super grateful for a chance to get my story out there so I let that door close.

Big thanks to the two WWE and the team at Urbane and no hard feelings anywhere else along the way – I get it – sometimes controversy makes us scared, sometimes it makes us challenge, question and explore…I hope A Killing Sin does that.


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