Friday 31 August 2018

NoirWich Crime Writing Festival celebrates 5th year with block buster line - up

A star cast of crime writers has been confirmed for Noirwich as the festival returns to celebrate its fifth year from 13- 16 September 2018. The event brings together crime-writing giants Val McDermid, Nicci French, Paula Hawkins and Elizabeth Hayes, alongside panels celebrating killer debuts and cutting edge writing from across the genre.

Organised by the National Centre for Writing and the University of East Anglia (UEA), the events form part of a city-wide celebration of activities in Norwich, England’s first UNESCO City of literature. The long weekend is also set to include writing workshops, crime themed cocktails and a murder mystery musical from new Poirot novelist Sophie Hannah.

Kick starting Noirwich 2018 are married couple Nicci French, who will celebrate their 21-year crime writing career discussing Day of the Dead, the much anticipated finale to their Freida Klein series. Queen of Crime Val McDermid will deliver a talk on violence and gender within the genre for this year’s Noirwich Lecture sponsored by The Times and The Sunday Times Crime Club; acclaimed literary novelist John Banville will discuss his double life as crime fiction writer Benjamin Black; and global sensations Paula Hawkins and Ruth Ware will be in conversation about their chart topping thrillers.

Not-to-be missed events also include an insightful session with experts from UEA who will explain the facts behind fingerprints, forensics and postmortem evidence; a spellbinding hour on witchcraft and superstition with authors Syd Moore, Cathi Unsworth and Roz Watkins; an in-conversation with novelist and screenwriter Robert Thorogood about his BBC One hit Death in Paradise; and a panel on books to screen with Sarah Pinborough, Jane Lythell and Matt Wesolowski.

Avid crime readers can enjoy the best new and cutting edge work the genre has offer, as the festival showcases upcoming, debut and boundary-pushing authors. UEA’s MA Crime Fiction graduates will launch their anthology Postmortem at local pub The Murderers; Amer Anwar, Claire Askew and Stuart Turton will discuss their distinguished debuts; and Leo Benedictus, Jacob Ross and Louise Welsh will talk about their recent work and creating something new in the genre. The festival will conclude with a fun hour of readings to celebrate its fifth birthday headlined by New York Times bestseller Elizabeth Hayes.

Chris Gribble, Festival Co-Director and Chief Executive of the National Centre for Writing, said: “Crime fiction is phenomenally popular and has become the UK’s top selling fictional genre this year- beating all others put together. Noirwich is a wonderful celebration that brings people from far and wide to our UNESCO City of Literature for a four-day spectacular of the most exciting and diverse crime writing that the world has to offer.”

Henry Sutton, Festival Co-Director and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the UEA added: “Noirwich is at the cutting edge of the most exciting, dynamic and popular literary and filmic genre in the world. But it’s so much more as well; it’s a place for great, timely and entertaining discussions in the friendliest of environments. Meet the people who shape imaginations and who can make you laugh. Crime writers know how to have fun.”

The Noirwich Crime Writing Festival draws on its setting as a site of significant cultural heritage to offer a unique city-wide experience, with events and fringe activities complementing Norwich’s existing local attractions. Between panels, visitors can discover local food with a crime twist, follow the city’s crime and punishment walking tour, stay at Agatha Christie’s favourite hotel, browse one of Margaret Atwood’s favourite bookshops (The Book Hive) or take a trip to the dungeons at the medieval Norwich castle.

2018 Ned Kelly Awards

The Australian Crime Writers Association announced the winners of the 2018 Ned Kelly Awards at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Best Crime
Crossing the Lines by Sulari Gentill

Best First Crime
The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

Best True Crime
Unmaking A Murder: The Mysterious Death of Anna Jane Cheney by Graham Archer

Monday 27 August 2018

A Murderous Legacy: The Storytelling Secrets of Agatha Christie

--> Step inside Bloomsbury Publishing as they celebrate how the writing legacy of Dame Agatha Christie is still influencing today's mystery writers and readers.

For one night only, they bring together two very modern mystery writers to share how the "Queen of Crime", often considered a masterclass in suspense, plotting, and characterisation, has inspired so many of the world's greatest crime authors and entertained millions of mystery readers.

They are delighted to present this literary evening at Bloomsbury that looks a bit deeper into the secrets of Christie's devilish storytelling. After all, we all love to be the first to solve a good mystery!

Their guests:
Stuart Turton, author of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (Bloomsbury, 2017)
Andrew Wilson, author of A Talent for Murder (Simon & Schuster UK, 2017)
Chair: Danuta Kean, book news correspondent at the Guardian and books editor of Mslexia.

Happening on Thursday, September 13th from 6:30pm inside Bloomsbury HQ at 50 Bedford Square. Doors open at 6:00pm for a complimentary drinks reception before the talk.

Ticket information can be found here.

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Dead Edge

Two explosions at the same time.  In two different cities.
Ex-US Navy-turned-investigator Thomas J Cooper knows this is no random coincidence. This is a carefully planned attack calling for war on the US government.
The clock is ticking, and Cooper must stop the perpetrators before the threat of further bombings becomes a deadly reality.
With estranged wife Maddie working beside him, they travel from Washington to Burkina Faso in a dangerous trail to track down the killers. Engulfed in a murderous game, they must be the players with the winning final move…
Meet Thomas J Cooper. Unpredictable. Unbreakable. Unstoppable.
Dead Edge by Jack Ford….
Yet I’m also Jacqui Rose the author of gritty gangland novels, but first and foremost I’m a writer of all stories whether it be Geo-political thrillers such as Dead Edge or gritty gangland novels or even quirky accessible literature, you name it, I love writing it.
My head is filled on a daily basis with stories which don’t fit into the same genre box and therefore when I started having the ideas for the Thomas J Cooper novels, I knew I had to take a break from the Jacqui Rose books - I wouldn’t be able to juggle writing two gangland books a years as well as research and develop the Thomas Cooper series, so I took the brave or foolish step- however way you want to look at it - and took time out.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I love the gangland books, they’re so fun to write but I wanted to try a different style of writing as well as challenge myself, and rather than write under Jacqui Rose and ask my readers to come with me in a totally different direction, I thought it was important to approach the series with a blank canvas.
It was scary to think after beginning to establish myself and having a loyal band of readers I was going to basically start back at the beginning – a debut author as it were.
A lot of people said I was crazy as it was hard enough for authors to sustain their career in today’s competitive market let alone start from scratch but as strong as their arguments were, I didn’t set out to write, merely to pay the bills. I write stories because my life makes sense when I do, and my head is filled with characters who are waiting for their voice to be heard. Thomas J Cooper was one of them.
I remember where I was sitting when Thomas came into my head. I was in a field with one of my horses and this presence of energy overwhelmed me. Right there, I imagined this guy on a ranch, alone but filled with his own personal demons. I knew personally the struggle of PTSD and I knew how hard it was at times to keep on keeping on. I imagined how even more difficult it would be if you’d been brought up in a way and had the kind of career which didn’t allow or didn’t encourage you to speak of your feelings, yet the monster of PTSD still lived in your head. And the more I thought about it, the more Thomas J Cooper began to develop….
Intelligent, brave, connections to the White House, a job where people relied on you and where it often came down to life or death situation, yet crippled with mental health issues and guilt to the point it debilitates life and the circle of self-medication and drinking becomes part of the problem rather than the solution. The secrecy, the self-denial, the self-loathing yet the burden of wearing the veil of normality and reliability are as difficult to carry as the PTSD. Welcome to Thomas J Cooper.
Part of my (extensive) research to write these books was to take up a Master’s degree in Counter Terrorism as well as exploring American politics – one of the characters in the book is the President of the US – President John Woods - and basically the challenge was to make him sound authentic as well as sounding like a regular guy rather than the stereotypes people tend to write when they portray Presidents. It boiled down to - I had to know what the President knew and then some! I also studied political Islam which I loved, to the point of learning to speak Arabic, sadly I have since discovered that speaking a different language is not one of my strong points! However, whilst I was studying political Islam, the story of Dead Edge began to form….
I wanted to write about what was happening in the world through the eyes of Thomas J Cooper and his investigation team; looking at the human cost of terror groups, the refugee crisis and some of the conflicts behind it, exploring the less than clean ways as well as the hypocrisy some countries go about fighting the war on terror. What I didn’t want to do was lecture, I wanted to put both sides out there and let the reader come to their own conclusion; who were actually the bad guys? And in situations like the one in Dead Edge are there really any good guys at all? 
Writing Dead Edge was complex, at times frustrating - many times! and I often asked myself why I had even set myself the challenge of this book as it pushed me to my limits but ultimately I loved the whole process, and I’m very proud of the book; from a small idea and knowing very little about politics and certainly nothing about Terrorism or Islam, I have learnt so much and met so many interesting people along the way, as well as having grown as a writer. I just really hope the readers will enjoy meeting Thomas J Cooper and his team as much as I did.

Friday 17 August 2018

St Hilda's Crime and Mystery Conference . - Friday 17th August 2018

So, it is St Hilda’s Crime and Mystery Weekend! Technically speaking it does not really start until 6:45pm when we all gather on the lawn for a drinks reception.  The regulars will of course know the drill.  But for me St Hilda’s started earlier today when I caught the coach from Victoria to Oxford.

This year we have a wide range of speakers under the brilliant chairmanship of the lovely Andrew Taylor.  With the theme being Sharks Circling: Politics and Crime it is bound to be a fascinating weekend. 

So far things have been pretty quiet as people are slowly arriving. I have been put in my favourite room that looks across out onto the River Cherwell and I have already managed to nip into town to have lunch with a friend.
View from my room at St Hilda's © Ayo Onatade
 As I said drinks on the lawn heralds the start of the weekend and luckily this year whilst the weather was balmy at least it was not raining.

It was of course lovely to see so many old friends and quite a number of new faces as well.

Dinner was as usual a lively affair and I found myself on the same table as a historian Judith Flanders, Shona historical crime writer and CWA dagger winner (SG MacLean), Committee members Natasha Cooper and Jake Kerridge, Louise Welsh, Zoe Strachan and Chris Brookmyre.

After dinner Andrew Taylor introduced Lindsey Davis who was the after dinner speaker to everyone and she gave a lively and topical speech on A War of Just the Right Size which included references to Domitian and a number of other famous Roman rulers to the current #MeToo movement along with a rather pointed attack on the state of politics and politicians today both here and abroad.

Meeting in the SCR (senior common room) after dinner is not exactly de rigueur but it is a tradition that has been taking place since the conference started and once again after dinner most of us made  our way to the SCR where we caught up with friends, made new friends and generally hung out until we decided to go to our various rooms.

So, tomorrow is another day and St Hilda’s College Crime Fiction weekend starts in earnest. It is wonderful that it has been going for over 25 years and most pertinent that with the state of things today that the theme this year is politics and crime.