Monday 24 February 2014

New sponsor for CWA Historical Dagger!

The Crime Writers’ Association today announce that Endeavour Press are the new sponsors for the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger which is given to the best historical novel of the year.

Richard Foreman, founder of Endeavour Press said: “Endeavour Press are proud to be sponsoring the CWA Historical Dagger. As both readers - and publishers - of crime fiction Endeavour Press are keen to support the CWA, an association which continues to foster relationships between its authors and the growing readership for crime novels. Also, as someone who has spent the past decade promoting both history books and crime fiction, it also gives me great personal satisfaction to help reward authors for their hard work and talent, whether they be debut writers or more established names.

Lucy Santos, Director, The Crime Writers’ Association commented: “We are delighted to announce that Endeavour will be the sponsor for this award. Working with such an exciting and enterprising company means that this Dagger will be able to flourish and we will be able to celebrate the achievements of those writing historical crime. This is an incredibly strong and vibrant category of crime writing and we are proud to celebrate excellence in this area.”

The winner of the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger will be announced on the 30th June at the CWA Dagger Awards Dinner 2014. This prestigious event will also see the winners of the CWA Short Story, Non Fiction, International and Debut Dagger being presented. This evening will be hosted by Lucy Worsley, who recently explored the phenomenon of our fascination with murder in the BBC television series ‘A very British Murder.’

The short lists for all these awards will be announced at a reception at CrimeFest in Bristol in May.

The Crime Writers’ Association has been running since 1953 and is most famous for the Dagger Awards; the longest-established literary awards in the UK.
Press Contacts
For further press information on the Crime Writers’ Association please contact:
Lucy Santos, CWA Director

Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent digital publisher. Founded by Richard Foreman and Matthew Lynn in 2012 Endeavour Press has published numerous bestselling books by established and new authors alike, including works by Damien Lewis, Saul David, David Dickinson and Rachel Johnson. Endeavour Press is also a leading publisher and promoter of backlist titles and classic books, including works by AJP Taylor, Leo Kessler and John Gardner. For further information see     

Time traveling tricks of the trade for writers of historic mysteries by Kim Cooper

Bio: Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric's popular crime bus tours, including Pasadena Confidential and the Real Black Dahlia. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons of LAVA - The Los Angeles Visionaries Association.  When the third generation Angeleno isn't combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer's homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include "Fall in Love For Life," "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth," "Lost in the Grooves" and an oral history of the cult band Neutral Milk Hotel. The Kept Girl is her first novel.
Thank you, Shots Ezine, for the opportunity to drop by on my February blog tour for "The Kept Girl," a novel of 1929 starring the young Raymond Chandler, his devoted secretary and the real-life cop who is a likely model for Philip Marlowe.

With this post, I'd like to shine a light on a digital search tool that had a profound impact on my writing of "The Kept Girl" and that I think more writers of period mysteries should know about. Properly used, it's like having a phone line that goes directly back into the past, where long-dead writers can offer editorial advice.

When working on a period novel set in Los Angeles in the 1920s, there are numerous useful tools that can be tapped, many of them freely available online.  Archival photographs and film clips illuminate the physical environment, the fashions, signage and transit options. Scans of old menus reveal food prices and popular dishes.  Vintage newspapers spell out the facts of the sensational fraud and wrongful death case that was at the core of my fact-based fictional plot, along with basic facts like daily weather reports. Census records give a precise breakdown of the demographics in a neighborhood. Historic maps show various routes my characters might take, decades before freeways simplified movement around the region.

I used each of these tools and more besides, and they all contributed to the three-dimensional image of the historic city that I drew on while writing this book. But while I appreciated being able to access these research aids online, and enjoyed the speed of digital searching over the old mode of scrolling through microfilm or requesting boxes of archival material from busy librarians, all of these aids could conceivably have been consulted by a writer working in 1980 or earlier.

But there was one tool that truly is born of the digital age, and it's an incredibly powerful one. That tool is Google's Ngram Viewer. A phrase-usage graphing tool drawing on more than five million books scanned by the search engine's now-stalled project to digitize every book ever published, it was released on the web in December 2010.

With the Ngram Viewer, it is possible to "hear" the voices of the early 20th century, or any era, simply by throwing appropriate search terms into the database and seeing what it spits out.  When writing dialogue, I'd sometimes find myself uncertain how a person in 1929 would phrase something.  I knew what I needed Raymond Chandler to say — but how would he say it?

By narrowing my search to the window of English language books published between 1925-1935, I could consult numerous examples of sentences by contemporary writers using the terms I was trying to chose between, and view a graphing chart showing if one term was much more commonly used than another. 

For example, when I wanted one character to tell another than he believed talking with cult priestess Ruth Rizzio might have driven his brother crazy, I initially wrote that she "drove him around the bend." which sounded good to my 21st century ear.  But a check of Ngram revealed that in 1929, this phrase was purely geographical, so I replaced it with "turn cuckoo." Just a small thing, but one that made the voice of the character and the era ring more true.

And when Raymond Chandler first encounters May Blackburn, the leader of the cult, my initial description had him noting that she had "body language" similar to that of a successful businessman.  But something about the phrasing struck me as modern, and on throwing it into an Ngram search, I confirmed that prior to 1970, the phrase would have been meaningless. I cropped out the anachronism and breathed "thank you" to the engineers who developed this clever, useful tool and to generations of dead writers whose work answers questions they could never have imagined anyone asking. 

"The Kept Girl" is a modern novel, written on a MacBook Pro using the Scrivener software program, sourced from ProQuest newspaper archives and cinematic b-roll footage hosted by, designed using the LuaTeX typesetting program, printed on a digital press and available as an e-book for the Kindle. But it is also, thanks to Ngram and a lot of hard work, a proper period piece, deeply steeped in the voice of that fascinating jazz age era.  I like to think that if, through some wormhole in time, a copy found itself on a shelf in Dawson's Bookshop in 1929, a Los Angeles reader could pick it up and feel quite at home in the city portrayed within its pages.

You also can also win a copy of the book

More information about The Kept Girl can be found on the website at and on Facebook


Sunday 23 February 2014

The return of Cotton FBI!

A new time; a new hero; a new mission; Cotton FBI is a modern digital cult-series for a new generation of readers

Published by Bastei Entertainment in bi-monthly instalments
February - July 2014

£1.49 per episode

Cotton FBI is an exciting new eBook series reinventing the hugely popular Jerry Cotton novels, first published in 1954, with over one billion copies sold in Germany alone. The series provides a new way for readers to access and enjoy great crime fiction and will be released in bi-monthly instalments in the coming months.

As with the new James Bond books, the Cotton FBI series re-imagines the stories of a much-loved crime-fighting hero; Jerry Cotton, the world famous fictional detective, is reborn in an eBook series created specifically for the digital reader. Packed full of suspense and drama, Cotton FBI is set in the dark underbelly of New York and tells the story of one man’s mission to fight crime at any cost.

In episode one, The Beginning, a woman is brutally murdered and Jeremiah Cotton, a young cop with the NYPD, is determined to find the culprit. He suspects that the woman is the victim of a serial killer, but no one believes him and he is taken off the case. As Cotton embarks on an unauthorised investigation he encounters a secret division of the FBI, the ‘G-Team’, and the hotter the case gets the more his own fate - and that of his entire nation – hangs in the balance.

The series contains a total of 13 episodes which are on average 100 pages long and can be read as standalone stories. Episodes can be purchased from Amazon, the iBookstore, the Google Play Store, Kobo and NOOK.

About Bastei Entertainment

Founded in 1953 and based in Cologne, Bastei Lübbe is one of Germany’s leading trade publishers. Home of bestselling authors David Baldacci, Dan Brown, Jeff Kinney, Ken Follett, Lesley Pearse and many more, it publishes more than 700 titles a year. In June 2010, Bastei Lübbe started its own digital department: Bastei Entertainment with the aim of encouraging new innovative product development and the creation of a global digital entertainment experience which covers everything from eBooks to apps and digitally enhanced products. With an in-house development team, unique multimedia content is continuously created with recent examples including multiple-language Vatican thriller, Apocalypsis which has been downloaded as an app more than 1,000,000 times in China alone.

For further information OR proof copies please contact Emma Draude or Sophie Goodfellow at ed public relations on 020 8299 4541 or email or

ed public relations
39 North Cross Road, East Dulwich, London SE22 9ET
T: 020 8299 4541/07801 307735

Saturday 22 February 2014

Someone Else’s Skin: The secrets inside a new crime series

Today's guest blog post is by Bath based author Sarah Hilary whose debut novel Someone Else's Skin is published this month. Her novel has received rave reviews from established crime writers such as Mark Billingham, Erin Kelly, Cath Staincliffe, Caro Ramsay, Sharon Bolton, Alex Marwood and Julia Crouch as well as crime critic Barry Forshaw. Here she talks about the secrets within a new crime series.

As soon as I started writing crime, I knew I wanted to write a series. I do love standalones (many of my favourite books are one-off psychological thrillers), but there’s something addictive about a series. I can’t imagine ever tiring of the Ripley books, for instance. Each one peels another layer from Tom’s character, or adds a layer. You can get hooked on a series; maybe it’s the obsessive in me that loves them so much.

Much of the thrill in writing Someone Else’s Skin came from knowing it would be the first in a series; I’d be spending a lot of time with these characters. I wanted readers hooked, enough to read a second book, and hopefully a third and fourth. My characters, as well as being people that readers could warm to, needed layers and mystery. As a storyteller, I had to perform a balancing act between intrigue and empathy. But I love a challenge.

Can we get close to a character who is keeping secrets? Doesn’t closeness require trust, full disclosure? Well, perhaps. That’s where the balancing act comes in. My heroine Marnie Rome is keeping secrets from everyone, including herself. She’s even keeping secrets from me; it’s one of the reasons I find her fascinating to write. In fact, the whole series is predicated on secrets. From the waffle I was calling a synopsis, the editorial wizards at Headline came up with this strapline: “Some secrets keep us safe, others will destroy us.

Marnie made her first appearance in the book I wrote before Someone Else’s Skin. She wasn’t the main character (it was someone else’s story), instead she was the steady anchor – a Detective Inspector but one without any mystery. Great as a bit-player, in other words, but not much cop for a long-running series. When I started Someone Else’s Skin, I began to obsess about the secrets that Marnie was keeping. In the second book (which I’ve just finished), we learn a lot more about her, but it’s still just the tip of the iceberg. She does a mean line in double-bluffing, too.

This, for me, is the secret of a good crime series: the gradual discovery of the central character(s) through an ever-varied set of challenges. Of course, plenty of long-running crime series do splendidly without a notable character arc for their heroes. Sherlock Holmes, whom I’ve loved since I was ten, changed very little over the course of his adventures, but each time there was a flash of something new in his character..? Those were the moments I cherished (when Watson takes a bullet in The Adventure of the Three Garridebs – brilliant). Fred Vargas writes one of my favourite contemporary crime series, about Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, who’s harder to pin down than a cloud on a breezy day, and I love the depth and breadth of the character arc in the Dexter series.

For the Marnie Rome series, I aim to pick my crimes with care, so that the solving of them will bring out the best (and sometimes the worst) in Marnie. The second book in the series is about lost children. We’re going to learn about the kind of person Marnie was when she was sixteen, and the ways in which she’s changed (and the ways in which she hasn’t). We’re told as writers to put our heroes up trees and throw stones at them. Well, in the next book, Marnie might wish she was up a tree being pelted with stones, in preference to the fixes I’ve landed her in. Maybe in time she’ll give up all her secrets, but I can’t help wishing she won’t. I’m having far too much fun hunting them down.

Friday 21 February 2014

Criminal Splatterings!!!!

The Broadcast Press Guild Awards have been announced and according to the BBC crime dramas The Fall, Broadchurch and Top of the Lake have all been nominated.  They are all up for four prizes including best drama.  The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 28 March.

According to the BBC crime writer Lynda La Plante is writing a prequel to her incredibly successful series Prime Suspect.  The book will be published in 2015 and the TV adaptation will air in 2016, the 25th anniversary year of Prime Suspect and will start when Tennison joins the force in the late 1970s or early 1980s.  More information can be found on the Guardian website.

The BBC Two have also announced that they have commissioned London Spy a new 5 part spy thriller by author Tom Robb Smith.  Shooting will start this year with transmission taking place on BBC Two in 2015.  More information can be found here.  The is also a really interesting interview by Jake Kerridge in the Telegraph with Tom Rob Smith and he explains about writing his latest novel The Farm  off the back of his mother’s serious illness which resulted in her being admitted to an asylum for a period of time.

For those that enjoy watching the legal drama Silk the BBC have announced a third series. More information can be read here.

Shetland the drama series based on the novels of Ann Cleeves is set to return to the BBC for a second series.  The three two part series will be based on the novels Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning.

The 2014 Northern Crime Writing Competition is open for submissions.  Entry fees for the competition are: £25 for the novels and £10 for short stories. To find out more about the competition go to the Moth Publishing website.  The winning novels will be published in print and as e-books in 2015. The winning writers will receive a standard publishing contract, a £1,000 advance, and support to editorially develop their work. They will also enjoy a marketing and PR campaign to support the publication of their books. Short story winners will get £100 and their story published in the very first Northern Crime Short Story Anthology.

The finalists for the 34th annual L.A. Times Book Prizes were announced on Wednesday 19 February.  The full list can be found here but the Mystery /Thriller nominations are as follows –

Hour of the Red God by Richard Crompton (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown & Co.)
Sycamore Row by John Grisham (Doubleday Books)
The Rage by Gene Kerrigan (Europa Editions)
The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach, (Viking)

Huge congratulations to (one of my favourite author’s) Italian Crime Writer Andrea Camilleri who was recently awarded the Pepe Carvalho Prize for lifetime work at the BCNegra noir literary festival in Barcelona.  The Pepe Carvalho prize is named after the protagonist of the Spanish writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s detective novels. Camilleri named his protagonist after Montalbán. See here for more information from the L.A. Times.

The winner of the £5,000 Telegraph Harvill Secker crime writing competition for an unpublished manuscript is Abir Mukherjee. His novel, A Rising Man, is set in Calcutta in the dying days of the Raj and opens with the brutal murder of a British burra sahib. Mukherjee's submission was picked from a pool of 400 submissions.

Crime Story a new festival for crime fiction lovers, is coming to Newcastle at the University of Northumbria on May 31st. The organizers have added a fun twist: they've commissioned author Ann Cleeves to invent a fictional crime which will then be investigated by various experts including forensic scientists, police detectives and legal eagles.  Authors Louise Welsh, Margaret Murphy (A D Garrett) and Peter Guttridge will also be in attendance.  More information can also be found here.

According to Deadline.Com Dennis Lehane is adapting the Douglas Perry's new biography, Eliot Ness: The Rise And Fall Of An American Hero, for WGN America. The project chronicles the two decades of the famed prohibition agent following his take-down of Al Capone.

Jada Pinkett Smith has also signed up to be the villain in the Batman prequel Gotham.  According to Gotham which has a series commitment is based on DC characters from the Batman universe and explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon (McKenzie) as an idealistic rookie detective in Gotham City, along with Bruce Wayne and the villains who made Gotham City famous. Smith will play Fish Mooney, an imposing, hotheaded and notoriously sadistic gangster boss and nightclub owner with street smarts and almost extra-sensory abilities to read people like an open book who is not one to be crossed.

According to Deadline.Com Debra Messing who is best known in the UK for the comedy Will and Grace is set to star in the NBC pilot The Mysteries of Laura which is  based on the popular Spanish series Los Misterios De Laura, The Mysteries Of Laura follows the life and relationships of Laura Diamond (Messing), a female homicide detective who can handle murderous criminals — but not her hell-raising twin children.

Deadline is also reporting that Rose Rollins is set as one of the leads in TNT's legal drama pilot Guilt By Association, based on the novels by former prosecutor Marcia Clark, while Jamey Sheridan, (Homeland) has been cast in TNT's action-drama pilot Agent X, starring Sharon Stone.

ITV has commissioned an eighth series of Inspector Lewis with Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox reprising their roles as Oxford detectives. This series will find Hathaway (Laurence Fox) has been promoted to Inspector after an extended break from the force, with the retired Lewis (Kevin Whately) drafted back to renew their partnership.

In the Independent Boyd Tonkin interviews Eva Gabrielsson about Stieg Larsson’s legacy and the announcement that there is to be a fourth book written by David Lagercrantz.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Angel Touch's Silver Jubilee

Shots’ incorrigible ‘Getting Away With Murder’ columnist Mike Ripley (aka The Ripster)is celebrating a personal Silver Jubilee this year.

A new Telos Crime edition of his 1989 novel Angel Touch has been published this week to mark the 25th anniversary of the title winning the first ever Last Laugh Award created by the Crime Writers Association to celebrate comedy in crime writing. Nowadays sponsored by Goldsboro Books and presented during the annual Crimefest convention, winners of the last laugh have included Carl Hiaasen, Janet Evanovich, Christopher Fowler and Ruth Dudley Edwards.

Angel Touch --

London in the late 1980s - the era of Thatcherism and Loadsamoney - is an exciting but
sometimes dangerous place to live. Fitzroy Maclean Angel gets by partly through gigging as a jazz trumpet player, partly through taking illegal fares in his de-registered black taxi cab, and partly through...well, just being in the right place at the right time. And, as he often says himself, it's better to be lucky than good. In "Angel Touch", his second escapade, the streetsmart Angel comes to the aid of his neighbour, the sexy financial analyst Salome, and finds himself carrying out an undercover investigation into an insider trading scam amongst the coked-up whizzkids and mega-rich wheeler-dealers of the City. And things turn even nastier when a fatal car crash turns out to be anything but an accident...