Author makes history with biggest ever pre-order

Paul Finch
Paul Finch

A WIGAN author has written a new chapter in a publisher’s annals ... when his sequel smashed their all-time pre-order record.

More than 12,825 (and counting) fans have now signed up for a copy of dark police thriller Sacrifice - the second outing for Det Sgt Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenberg with almost as fortnight to go before publication.

This follows the astounding success of award-winning horror master Paul Finch’s introduction to the genre, Stalkers, which hit the shops in February and has now enjoyed a solid stay in the best sellers listings, shifting approaching 160,000 copies.

Previously the highest pre-order in Harper Collins’s history was 12,768.

The former cop and local newspaperman - who lives in Standish - has already signed a new five-book deal with the prestige imprint as soon as Hunted, the last of the current trilogy, is completed.

At least three will be further Heck investigations - and maybe all of them.

The commission will keep him busy for the next three years.

The son of late award-winning screenwriter Brian Finch, the dad of two said he felt “humbled” by the massive appetite Heck fans are showing for his next investigation.

And he says he is still getting used to the sight of the public buying copies from the supermarket shelves or - unknowingly as recently happened on a trip to London - enjoying reading a copy only feet from the author in a Virgin express train.

Paul has already been signed up to appear at Waterstones Liverpool in a month’s time to sit on a special Twisted Tales panel with fellow authors Sarah Pinborough and Alison Littlewood, who will all be reading extracts from their new novels, as well as an extended book signing.

The 49-year-old said: “It’s something you do have a half-think about, of course, because the interest is humbling. But ultimately it is more important to know that the prospects of the long-term figures are good and to know that hundreds of thousands of people are enjoying your work is hugely gratifying.

“It has been quite surreal to see people reading it on the bus or sitting opposite me on a train, as happened last week.

“At times it just doesn’t seem real because I have been writing for some time now but this book and this character seem to have really clicked with so many readers. It has just become a bit of a whirlwind, really.

“When Stalkers was bought by Harper Collins I had a fairly good idea that they were going to market it very energetically.

“There are some people who become fantastically successful with smaller publishers but with Harper Collins you are talking about one of the biggest publishers in Britain and they have the kind of power to put it in motorway service stations, supermarkets and airports and these are places where books sell these days.

“And of course there is also a big online presence which also helps.”

Mr Finch said that the third Heck book is out in February.

And it is now likely that “two or three” of the five new books which Harper Collins have commissioned from him will focus on his further grim and gritty investigations.

A former policemen - he served at Salford Crescent and Swinton stations - Paul draws on his own operational experience to make sure the processes behind crime fighting are accurately told.

But he admits that the gory cases that arrive on Heck’s desk are far more disturbing than he ever came across while in uniform.

He said: “I know the police world, which has certainly been an advantage as an author, although a lot of it has changed now. It is truly very different now than when I was in the force.”