Explore the Venice of The Garden of Angels

We’re just a few days away from the release of my new book, and already some copies are out there in the wild. So for those of you reading the work here’s an extra… a Google Earth project that will allow you to explore some of the real-life locations in the story.

It’s not the same as being there. But since few of us can actually travel anywhere now it’s as close as any of us is likely to get. Just click on the image below and explore.

And for those of you unfamiliar with the wonders of Google Earth a tip… Click on the yellow man, below, and you can walk around the same streets as Paolo Uccello and his fugitive partisan friends all those years ago…


Another quick revision tip for Scrivener

Set the status for every chapter and scene in your manuscript

Since I’m now back revising in Scrivener (for the first time in a few years) I thought I’d add tips as I rediscover them. Here’s an invaluable feature easily missed.

At the bottom right of every element in your manuscript you can find a status label. As I go through the revise process I change the status to mark the stage of the revision. So I have a simple way of seeing where I am with each scene.

You can also see the status in the corkboard view.

To do this you need to activate these settings.

Finally, there is a way to use these stamps to show you immediately any scenes that remain unfinished. Set the Status label to ‘Needs work’ on those scenes. Search for them on the basis of the status stamp.

Then create a collection based on that search.

You’ll now see the features below at the top of the left column. You can switch between the Binder showing the whole manuscript and to a list of those scenes needing more work in an instant.

The Collections feature is a bit tricky to master so I’d read the manual and get the hang of it. When you have your preferred way of working – fonts, styles, this kind of thing – for pity’s sake save it all as a template so you don’t have to do it all over again. Setting up Scrivener for the way you want to work is laborious in my experience and best not repeated.

Collections isn’t a new feature. You will find it detailed in my ebook on Scrivener which is dead cheap on Amazon. The book was written about version two, not the current Mac three. But a lot of the general advice about understanding the way Scrivener works remains current.

This is very powerful software but also very complex, even for someone who’s been using it for many years. The advice I gave here a long time ago remains: it’s one of the few pieces of software around that’s best mastered by finding the tools you want and ignoring the rest.

Try to understand everything it’s capable of and you may a) go nuts and b) never finish that book.


Quick revision tip for Scrivener

I finished the last scene for the current work in progress today. At least what I think is the last scene. As someone once said, art is never finished, merely abandoned. Before I abandon this one and try to sell it though I have to complete a thorough revise. And for those of you who use Scrivener (which I did for this project) here’s something I find invaluable.

It’s important for me when revising never to be in fear of taking a sharp scalpel to absolutely everything on the page. It’s also important for that editing to be ‘non-destructive’. Or to put it another way… I want to be able to revise freely but change my mind and go back to the old version if I wanted.

In Word and other word processors there’s track changes, of course. Which is fine but I hate all those coloured lines on the screen.

Scrivener has something called snapshot (Command-5 on a Mac). This makes a backup of the entire document you’re working on. You can compare old with new, roll back to the old version, and, very handily for me, name each snapshot to give you a clue where it sits in the editing process.

There are similar functions for other writing apps such as Ulysses. Whatever you use, I recommend the ‘feel free to cut like hell but always have an easy route back’ approach.


First review of The Garden of Angels… ‘one of his best’

Mike Ripley, the veteran critic of Shotsmag, is the first to offer an opinion on The Garden of Angels. Very flattered to have impressed Mr. Ripley. No idea how many reviews I can expect in the weeks to come in these extraordinary times. As I said earlier, if you want to get your hands on a physical copy of the book, you need to plan.

Here’s an extract from Mike Ripley’s piece. You can find the full review here. Many thanks to all at Shotsmag which has been doing such a sterling job for many years.

…this is not a straightforward thriller of wartime heroic. Yes, there are heroics, sometimes in the most unlikely way, betrayals and great tragedies, proving that in such a situation, nothing is straightforward and passive inaction might just be the greatest sin. The Garden of Angels is populated by complex, superbly-drawn characters and Hewson cleverly creates sympathy for even the most unlikely ones, but the star of the show is Venice itself, its dank, cramped alleyways and faded glories. This is not the Venice of tourists sunning themselves in St Mark’s Square or on lazy gondola rides, but of an icy winter in a city under occupation where fishermen, weavers, policemen, café owners and disillusioned priests struggle to survive and do the right thing, whatever that is.

David Hewson has written some excellent thrillers. This one, by turns suspenseful and achingly sad, is one of his best.