Friday 30 June 2017

BLOODY SCOTLAND 2017 : The Programme

As a convention programmer [Bouchercon Raleigh 2015]; I have to say from my professional experience that the 2017 Bloody Scotland programme is remarkable.

Shots were delighted to hear that ticket sales for this year’s event are selling fast, and why are we not surprised?

At the end of June, one month after the programme was launched, Bloody Scotland reveals ticket sales are up 50% on this time last year

Ann Cleeves & Douglas Henshall look to sell out the 700 seater Albert Halls

Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, both celebrating their 30th Anniversaries this year, are close behind.

The ever popular ‘Crime at the Coo’ cabaret night sold out on the same day tickets went on sale so anyone wanting some musical fun should come to the Friday night crime quiz, Never Mind the Buzzcops, which this year will be followed by a gig from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals aka Doug Johnstone, Mark Billingham, Stuart Neville, Luca Veste and Val McDermid

Tickets to the opening reception at Stirling Castle where we will be celebrating the launch of the Bloody Scotland book and announcing the winner of the McIlvanney Prize 2017 followed by a torchlight procession are selling fast. It’s the only event for which press tickets are not automatically available so please buy them if you would like to come along. The price of £20 only covers costs.

Highlights from the Programme

Singing crime writers. Feature about why so many crime writers are frustrated musicians.
Crime at the Coo has already sold out. Val McDermid, Doug Johnstone, Mark Billingham, Stuart Neville and Luc Veste will be appearing in the band - Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers on Friday night and the Slice Girls – a group of female crime writers who don burlesque outfits to perform at crime conventions throughout the world were born at Bloody Scotland a few years ago. Interview Doug Johnstone from the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers or Steph Broadribb from the Slice Girls.

Slice Girls clip from Bouchercon New Orleans 2016

Mark Billingham, Doug Johnstone & Stuart Neville rock the house from Bouchercon New Orleans 2016

Source event: Never Mind the Buzzcops and Crime at the Coo (page 8 & 17)

The rise of the podcast.
Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste are the authors behind the mic of the freshest most in your face podcast in crime fiction. They will broadcast their show live and uncensored from Bloody Scotland with guests Ian Rankin, Eva Dolan and Mark Billingham. This month Ann Cleeves and Chris Brookmyre appeared on the

Guardian podcast talking about their contributions to the Bloody Scotland book (page 17)

Inspirational Scottish locations.
The new book to be published by Historic Environment Scotland features stories by leading Scottish crime writers set in historic locations. Great stories, great names, great photos of iconic Scottish buildings.

Source event: Building Plots with Louise Welsh, Doug Johnstone & E S Thompson (Page 19)

Police work fact & fiction.
Feature based on crime authors & real world crime fighters. Just how close do their notes/characters compare?

Source event: The Policing Behind Procedurals with Alex Gray (page 9)

On the run in the sun.
From Death on the Nile to CSI Miami there is an enduring appeal in crime set in an idyllic location. Robert Thorogood, creator of BBC’s Death in Paradise filmed in the Caribbean, could talk about bringing crime fiction in sun soaked locations to the small screen.

Source event: Watching the Detectives (page 11)

Tale of Two cities
Latter day Sodom & Gomorrah. Two cities (LA and Vegas) that feel more like film sets than real places. Travel/arts feature on the continual lure of these two cities and the inspiration they provide for crime fiction

Source event: From Tinseltown to Sin City: Chris Carter & Mason Cross (page 14)

A Life Less Ordinary.
Born in Brazil, a trained criminal psychologist, toured the world as a professional rock musician and once a part of an all-male exotic dancing group Chris Carter is coming to Stirling and is the author of number one chart topper The Caller his eighth book. Do you need any more angles?

Source event: From Tinseltown to Sin City: Chris Carter (page 14)

Staging the Perfect Crime.
From the Mousetrap, An Inspector Calls to Bloody Scotland's very own stage production featuring Inspector Faro as penned by Alanna Knight long-time supporter and patron of Bloody Scotland. A criminal act - how the stage has played a leading role in the development of crime fiction.
Source event: A Play: Inspector Faro Investigates (page 22)
Download the programme HERE

More information HERE

Tuesday 27 June 2017

The Origin of The Code coming this October

We were delighted to receive news about Dan Brown’s hugely anticipated ORIGIN this October. An amusing aside is that Penguin-Random-house’s Transworld Publishing Imprint have been Dan Brown’s British Publishers introducing Robert Langdon to us well before Tom Hanks immortalised him on the silver screen.

Last year I heard that Penguin-Random-house’s Transworld Publishing Imprint have brought Thriller writer Harlan Coben to their stable. I have been a follower of Harlan Coben for many years, and I recall an interesting exchange back in 2004 we had that related to his own relationship with Dan Brown.

Ali Karim : Keeping on this topic, you were one of the first to champion a little book called ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown – which has been at the top of our book charts for ages. Can you tell us a little about how you got involved with Dan Brown? And what books should we be looking out for?

Harlan Coben : It’s a long story and coincidentally I just a call from my French publishers as Just One Look just came out there and is doing very well at No. 3 with ‘Da Vinci Code’ at No 1 and ‘Angels and Demons’ at No. 2. So I sent Dan an email saying….laughing…. ‘Alright enough now!’….laughing….I hear the same thing happened here in the UK when Just One Look came out in paperback….The hardcover hit No. 1 but the paperback didn’t because there were three Dan Brown books at No. 1, 2 and 3…laughing….I think there was a three-for-two deal going on in some bookshop…laughing….Dan and I actually went to college together…Amherst College….and he actually read my stuff before I read his, this is going back some time. So his editor sent me a copy of ‘Da Vinci Code’ in manuscript form, well before anyone had heard about ‘Da Vinci Code’ – His previous books are now doing really well, but when they were first published they didn’t do as well because perhaps they didn’t get the publishing support or whatever, and so I read the manuscript and thought it was a wonderful read, and I was happy to pass a review and blurb it. I don’t think the success of ‘Da Vinci Code’ is a negative thing, I think that it is a great thing in the publishing world when anything surprising happens and any work that has people buying books is no bad thing so I have no problem with the success of ‘Da Vinci Code’.

So with Origin due out on October 3rd 2017, what has Dan Brown got in store for readers?

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever”. The evening’s host is his friend and former student, Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old tech magnate whose dazzling inventions and audacious predictions have made him a controversial figure around the world. Tonight is to be no exception: he claims he will reveal an astonishing scientific breakthrough to challenge the fundamentals of human existence.
But Langdon and several hundred other guests are left reeling when the meticulously orchestrated evening is blown apart before Kirsch’s precious discovery can be revealed. With his life under threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape, along with the museum’s director, Ambra Vidal. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.
In their path lie dark forces which will do anything to stop them. To evade a tormented enemy who is one step ahead of them at every turn, Langdon and Vidal must navigate labyrinthine passageways of hidden history and ancient religion. On a trail marked only by enigmatic symbols and elusive modern art, Langdon and Vidal uncover the clues that will bring them face-to-face with a world-shaking truth that has remained buried – until now.
As imagery and symbolism is a key factor in Dan Brown’s adventures of Robert Langdon, we were delighted to receive more information from Alison Barrow from Transworld Publishing, so hot off the presses -
Following much online speculation about the location, jacket and content of this eagerly awaited new thriller by global publishing phenomenon Dan Brown, Transworld Publishers release the UK jacket for ORIGIN this afternoon, 27th June 2017.
Since the September 2016 announcement of the publication, excitement has been growing for the release of the new novel featuring Brown’s unforgettable protagonist Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, and has had fans clamouring for more information. Now for the first time, readers worldwide will discover the setting for the action as well as key elements in the forthcoming thriller. Unfolding entirely in Spain — Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Bilbao, the home of the Guggenheim Museum, ORIGIN thrusts Langdon into the intersection of two of humankind’s most enduring questions:
Where do we come from? Where are we going?
In keeping with his trademark style, Brown interweaves codes, symbols, science, religion, history, art and architecture with a decidedly fresh twist; the art is modern and the science taps into the most advanced cutting edge technology available today. Transworld will publish this stunningly inventive new novel from the world’s most popular thriller writer as a Bantam Press hardback on October 3, 2017.
It will also be available as an ebook and an audiobook from Penguin Random House Audio. ORIGIN will be published simultaneously in the US and Canada by Doubleday with a U.S. Spanish language published by Vintage Espanol.
There are more than 200 million copies of Dan Brown’s books in print worldwide, and his novels have been translated into 56 languages.
Shots are delighted to offer a 50% discount on pre-orders of ORIGIN by Dan Brown which can be accessed from this link and we have discounted paperback copies of Harlan Coben’s HOME in PB from our bookstore HERE
More information about the work of Dan Brown available HERE and Harlan Coben available HERE

Monday 26 June 2017

Confessing by Sarah Stovell

I have a confession to make. I am an imposter in the world of crime and psychological thrillers. I have tried to avoid making this confession and pulling some sort of convincing expertise out of a hat when people at festivals have asked me probing questions about the history and characteristics of the crime novel, but each time, I have floundered. So I am coming clean. Before Exquisite, I had never written a thriller and I'd scarcely read more than a bit of Kate Atkinson. There is an assumption in the crime thriller world that if you write it, you must know about it. This is fair enough. I tell my students *all the time* that they can't write if they don't read, but clearly I fail to listen to my own advice. I am, though, frantically and humbly trying to catch up. Erin Kelly and Julie Crouch are two of my recent, joyful discoveries.

I turned to crime writing after several years of writing for the sort-of literary market. I say 'sort-of literary' because I was that little bit too highbrow for the commercial market, but not highbrow enough for the literary market, and so my other books sold about 56 copies each. Probably just as well.

After writing my last novel - a biographical novel about the life of Dorothy Wordsworh (yes, quite) - I decided to ditch the attempts at literature and go for what people like to read: strong, compelling stories with a dark heart.

This was actually easier than I'd imagined. I found I could still be absolutely true to my desire to write character-driven fiction in moderately poetic language. Some thrillers gain their strength from the ingenious plots that twist and turn and keep the reader guessing, but although Exquisite isn't without its twists, it's not in the same league as Paula Hawkins or Ruth Ware in that respect. It's quieter. The characters of Bo and Alice are the driving forces of the action, and this has always been the way I write. I like writing about the darker sides of love: the obsession, the pain and the patterns of loving that are, for better or worse, set in our earliest relationships. Bo and Alice are both damaged women, and this paves the way for an explosive encounter that leads ultimately to disaster.

The actual, recognised crime of violence is only a small element of Exquisite. The real crime, in my mind, is the psychological violence inflicted on one of the characters. Psychological violence is common, but it is not yet and possibly never will be, recognised as criminal. But it is psychological violence that I am most interested in exploring, and how a skilled manipulator can be capable of taking a healthy person to the very brink of madness. There is no punishment for this sort of crime because sadly, the victim is often so deeply distressed that they can appear bonkers to onlookers who have also been taken in by the manipulator. There is a technique called 'gaslighting' which is one of the cruellest and most insidious forms of hell manipulators can put their victims through. One day, when I am ready, I shall write my magnum opus about gaslighting.

In the meantime, though, I cannot tell you how pleased I am to have made the switch to thriller writing. I plan to stay here for as long as my readers will have me.

Read Gwen Moffat's review here

Exquisite, Published by Orenda Books, June 15 2016 PBO £8.99

Buy it from SHOTS A-Store


Sunday 25 June 2017

What Makes Me Write asks Peter Murphy

I’m Peter Murphy.  My day job, from which I’m now retired, was in the law, as an advocate, teacher, and judge.  I worked in England, the United States, and for a decade as counsel at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.  I began writing fiction seriously more than twenty years ago, partly as an antidote to the legal writing that consumed so much of my life, but I’ve only been published in fiction in the last six years.  I’ve published five legal thrillers set in Sixties and Seventies London, featuring barrister Ben Schroeder: A Higher Duty; A Matter for the Jury; And is there Honey still for Tea?; The Heirs of Owain Glyndŵr; and Calling down the Storm.  I’ve also published two political thrillers about the US presidency: Removal; and Test of Resolve.  More recently, I’ve completed a volume of humorous short stories, under the title Walden of Bermondsey.  My publisher is No Exit Press.  

My parents told me that I’d learned to write the alphabet and a few odd words before I went to school.  When I was a bit older, I remember boring one or two baby-sitters by making them read short stories I’d scribbled on a page or two of paper.  In other words, for whatever reason, I’ve always loved to write, and I’ve always loved language.  When I became a lawyer there was ample opportunity to write, as part of my practice and also academically.  I have been widely published on legal topics.  But when I was in my forties, I found that technical writing wasn’t enough. I wanted to write fiction, and I didn’t want to wait any longer.  The novel was a natural form for me, because I’ve always loved to read novels, both older writers like Henry James and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and contemporary novelists.

The first novel I completed was the first in the Ben Schroeder series, A Higher Duty.  I was teaching at a law school in the United States at that time.  It was by working on this novel that I learned most of what I know about writing novels.  But it wasn’t the first to be published.  After re-working it endlessly, as it seemed, and getting equally endless rejection letters from agents, I changed direction with Removal, a political thriller about the American presidency.  When I eventually returned to England in 2007, a chance encounter with Clem Chambers (creator of the excellent Jim Evans series) led me to No Exit Press. They liked Removal.  After Removal had been published, we started the Ben Schroeder series with A Higher Duty. The moral of this is: never give up, however many rejection letters you get.

When I retired from the law in 2015 I was able to become a full-time writer.  I’ve suddenly entered the world of literary festivals and library events – and blogs, which are something of a mystery to many of my generation, myself included.  I enjoy writing just as much as ever.  I’ve recently tried my hand at humorous short stories. I’ve always loved John Mortimer’s books and the great TV series starring Leo McKern.  My Walden of Bermondsey is an unashamed homage to Rumpole.  It is based partly on experiences I myself had as a lawyer and judge, and partly on imagining what Rumpole would have been like as a judge. 

I am often asked what it takes to write a novel, and how to go about it.  I’m never quite sure how to answer that question.  But I have put together a few pages of notes on the subject, which anyone interested can download from the home page of my website

The basic principles, it seems me, are:

1.   You must really want to do it (it’s a very laborious and time-and-energy-consuming process);

2.   You must have a story, or combination of stories, strong enough to keep the reader engaged for 300-400 pages;

3.   You must do your research and prepare a detailed synopsis of the book before starting to write.

4.   Then all you have to do is to sit down and write the book (harder than it sounds).  If you have a good synopsis, this should be a mechanical process of writing each scene as well as you can.  You shouldn’t be having ‘writer’s block’ or sitting around waiting for the ‘muse’ to descend. If you do experience this, your research or synopsis isn’t good enough.  Go back and work on it again.

5.   Never show your work to anyone until it’s finished.  This is controversial – there are many flourishing writer’s groups bearing witness to the opposite idea. It’s just my own experience talking.  With A Higher Duty, I showed the developing text to a number of people, and got so many conflicting comments and suggestions that I ended up feeling that I had to scrap what I had and start again.  Others have different experiences, and I’m not saying that my way works for everyone.

6.   But this is important: don’t revise the book until you’re well over half way through.  If you try to revise too soon, you may have to change back again and you may upset the stability of your synopsis, and if that goes wrong, you’re back to square one.

7.   Finally, don’t worry if you’re not sure how the book ends.  I was at least 75% through Removal before my heroine, FBI Agent Kelly Smith, told me how she would end it.

Calling Down the Storm by Peter Murphy (Published by No Exit Press) Out 29th June.

Calling Down the Storm is the story of two separate but strangely parallel lives: the life of a defendant on trial for murder, and the life of the judge who presides over his trial.  April 1971. When DI Webb and DS Raymond receive an emergency call, a horrific scene awaits them. Susan Lang is lying on the ground, bleeding to death. Her husband Henry is sitting nearby, holding a large, blood-stained knife. In shock, Henry claims to have no memory of the events that led to his wife's death, leaving his barrister, Ben Schroeder, little to defend a potential charge of murder.  Unknown to his strict Baptist wife, Deborah, Mr Justice Conrad Rainer has a secret life as a high-stakes gambler. In his desperation for money, he has already raided his own and Deborah's resources, and now he has crossed another line - one from which there is no return.  To his horror, as the trial of Henry Lang starts, Conrad discovers a sinister connection between it and his gambling debts, one that will cause his world to unravel.