Anneke and Bill: beta readers extraordinaire
These two shifty-looking characters lurking in a dark corner have held the secret of who killed Ephialtes since 2007. That's when they first read the manuscript and gave me advice and asked the tough questions that had to be answered.
Anneke Klein is Dutch. English is her second language, which doesn't stop her from being the most amazing beta reader. I tell her she should be doing manuscript assessment for a living, she's that good. Anneke asks all the tough plot, theme and character questions that I really wish no one had noticed. To this day I have not published or sold a word of fiction that she did not see first. Which means yes, she's already been through The Ionia Sanction and she asked all the tough questions that made me rewrite parts. She also has one astonishing talent: if Anneke likes a story, it sells; if she doesn't like it, it doesn't sell. I've never known her to be wrong, and I have unsold short stories lying about to prove it. These days Anneke runs the flash fiction site Rammenas. Her own first fiction publication will be a short story in an upcoming anthology.
Bill Kirton is a master of craft. His critiques are always so depressingly right, and so crystal clear that you'd almost think he taught writing as a profession. Which, actually, he did. Bill taught creative writing and French literature at Aberdeen University. He's also been an actor, a playwright, and a BBC scriptwriter. His novels are The Figurehead (an historical mystery!), The Darkness, Material Evidence and Rough Justice. The last three are police procedurals starring DCI Jack Carston. (I was dead sure I had Material Evidence solved. I was wrong.)
Thanks guys. It wouldn't be a book without you.