Monday, 25 October 2021

A Character in Search of a Story


Driving home late on a blustery and rainy night, my route took me past the magnificent lighthouse at St Matthew's Point. Lighthouses are mysterious and wonderful constructions, prone to inspiring writers, which was maybe in the back of mind when I decided to stop and take a closer look. I'd just come to the depressing realisation that the first book I'd written was not going to be the one that catapulted me to the top of the Sunday Times Bestseller List. I was going to have to write another. Anyway the lighthouse did its magic for me that night, when the opening scene of On The Edge - a woman hanging, unconscious and dreaming from the viewing platform of a lighthouse with no idea how she got there - came to me. That opening scene has never changed although its writing has improved over the years it took me to finish the book. 

My protagonist, Jenifry (Jen) Shaw must have been waiting for me at the lighthouse too, because she slipped into the car and started talking as I drove away. By the time I reached home I knew almost everything about her. And most important of all, I knew exactly how she spoke and if you know how a character speaks, you know how they think. Characters sometimes arrive more or less full formed to me - the ones that don't, I've learned how to work with to tease out - but none of them have sprung so full-bloodedly to life as Jen did that night. 

Anyway I had an opening scene and a character desperate to talk to me. What more did I need? I started writing the next day letting my imagination take me where it will and it took me to a lot of strange places. A few months later the first draft was on paper. A bit of tidying, no, a LOT of tidying and On The Edge Version ONE was ready for beta reading. I was still not that far along my 'learning to write' journey, so I honestly thought there'd be a bit of prose finessing to do and maybe a couple of scenes that didn't quite hit the mark. And I was ready to tackle them, to perfect my book before sending it out to the agents and publishers who I was sure would be eager to claim it for their own.

The truth when it came was difficult to swallow. While readers loved Jen, the plot left them cold. It was wild, they said. 'All over the place' is another phrase I remember. I took a deep breath - I am nothing if not tenacious - and rewrote. I eliminated the worst of the excesses: the woman who lived in a tree in Hyde Park; the stolen and hidden baby; and many other plot delights. Then I reread but even I could see what was left was no good, a weak tale, full of unlikely coincidences and plot holes. 

I despaired. I considered abandoning it. Everybody loved Jen. Everybody found the opening intriguing. There were some great sequences. And some of the characters were promising. But without the glue of a story to hold the whole thing together it was a waste of time. What I had wasn't a book but a character in search of a story.

It was time to learn the hard work of writing and I tried. I gobbled up every book I could find on structure. I became familiar with the three-act structure and the five-act, the hero's journey and meaning of midpoint and inciting event. I learned how to turn a scene and build tension. It was all fantastic stuff but none of it gave me Jen's story. 

A wise woman told me to stop worrying about plot and to trust my instincts again. I had an array of characters as well as Jen. Why didn't I work on them and see where that led me. I did as she suggested and plunged myself into background work on one the minor characters who was eluding me. This involved researching the history of tin mining in Cornwall - no hardship because it's an absolutely fascinating subject. While I was researching, I came across Rosevale Mine. It's a small mine, abandoned since before the first world war but in recent years a small band of volunteers has been restoring it using traditional methods - a long, hard tedious job. 

Something about the notion of a small group of people undertaking such a project lodged itself in my head - indeed I have since though that I could write a whole novel about it - and wouldn't let go. Eventually it showed me a whole different side to the character I was working on and from this came the germ of an idea for a different story. A simpler one, that somehow tied the characters, the setting and the action sequences together in a way my previous plot hadn't. 

This story lay underground in all senses of the word. In things hidden beneath the surface and in the dark. In private passions and secret motives. I itched to start writing but I stopped myself. Instead I mined its possibilities. I tracked and planned. I examined each idea and made sure it wasn't leading me down a dead end that I'd struggle to escape from. And then I wrote it. 

I'd love to tell you it was snapped up by a publisher straightaway but the truth is it still needed refining, developing and tightening, although the seam of story pinning it together has stayed the same. 

On The Edge taught me a lot about everything to do with writing and a lot about myself as a writer. How it's a mixture of sweat and inspiration, of unconscious connections sparking naturally but needing to be developed critically. And about how I struggled with the latter. 

On the Edge by Jane Jesmond. (Verve Books) Out Now.

Jen Shaw has climbed all her life: daring ascents of sheer rock faces, crumbling buildings, cranes - the riskier the better. Both her work and personal life revolved around climbing, and the adrenaline high it gave her. Until she went too far and hurt the people she cares about. So she's given it all up now. Honestly, she has. And she's checked herself into a rehab centre to prove it. Yet, when Jen awakens to find herself drugged and dangling off the local lighthouse during a wild storm less than twenty-four hours after a 'family emergency' takes her home to Cornwall, she needs all her skill to battle her way to safety. Has Jen fallen back into her old risky ways, or is there a more sinister explanation hidden in her hometown? Only when she has navigated her fragmented memories and faced her troubled past will she be able to piece together what happened - and trust herself to fix it.

More information about the author can be found on her website. You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter @AuthorJJesmond





Sunday, 24 October 2021

November Books to Look Forward to from Bookouture

 

The girl in the photo was laughing, her head thrown back, her lips painted a bright red. Jessie could feel the simple joy reflected in that moment. And as she looked closer, she saw the same gold cross and chain that had adorned the first victim’s neck. When a young woman falls to her death from a parking garage, the Boston police department rule it as a suicide. But when Jessie Novak examines the scene, she isn’t so sure… The girl’s delicate hands are bruised and her fingernails torn: evidence of a struggle. Did someone push her from the roof? Then a second young woman is found dead, this time at the foot of her dorm building, her hands injured in the same way as the first victim’s with a gold cross and chain clutched in her fist. Jessie is convinced there is a connection and that a twisted killer is on the loose. Just as Jessie thinks she is closing in on the culprit, her worst fears are realized: a third girl is found dead. The gap between murders is closing: the killer is getting more confident. He will never stop until he is caught. But little does Jessie know that, while she works to pick up the trail of her suspect, he is already on hers. She is the only one who can stop this monster before he kills again—but to save the next innocent life, is she prepared to risk her own? Her Mother's Cry is by Roberta Gately.

The Second Marriage is by Jess Ryder. ‘They’re lying,’ my little stepson whispers, his blue eyes shining with tears as I tuck him into bed for the first time. ‘They think I’ve forgotten, but I remember everything. I know my mummy is still alive.’ My best friend warned me that it was too soon to marry Edward, a widower with an adorable but troubled little boy. She said we were moving too fast. But all I could see was a kind, loving man, struggling with grief, who needed my help. Yet as storm clouds gather above our small wedding ceremony, my hopes and dreams fall apart. None of my husband’s family turn up to support us. Instead of a honeymoon, we have a quiet night in. My wedding bouquet is placed on his first wife’s grave. And then my new stepson tells me he’s sure his mother is still alive. What does Noah remember and why is his father trying to make him forget? Have I been completely wrong about my husband? What happened to the woman who came before me, and how far will he go to stop me finding out the truth?

Recognition hits me as I look at the woman lying in the long grass. It’s my sister. Her hot-pink nails are chipped and caked with dirt, her blue eyes are cold and vacant. I desperately shake her, even though I know. She’s gone. Fresh out of the Military Police, Georgia Fell has returned to her Michigan island hometown a decade after she ran away. Late to meet her younger sister at a bar on the isolated tip of the isle, she arrives to her worst nightmare: Rachel dead, purple bruises around her slim, beautiful neck.When the police rule out murder, Georgia knows it can’t be true. Reluctantly, she must turn to the person she’s been avoiding since she came home. Georgia can’t forgive single dad Lincoln McNamara for his betrayal the night she left, but he has an in with the dangerous crew operating out of the roadhouse where Rachel was killed. The question is, can she trust him? But before she can convince Lincoln to help her, another local girl goes missing. How deep into the darkness of island life must Georgia go to find out the truth? And with an innocent girl’s life on the line, does she even have a choice? The Dark Water Girls is by Maegan Beaumont.

You think you know the people next door… What if they know you better? I always dreamed of moving back home to Ridgeview Pines, with its white fences and sloping lawns. I wish it had happened under different circumstances, but now I’m here I feel safe and ready for a fresh start with my little family. The first thing I do every morning is pick up my phone and check The Neighbour List—our local message board. Maybe the people next door know a little too much about where their neighbours are and what they’re doing, but it’s safer that way, isn’t it? And my husband—he wouldn’t dare sneak behind my back with so many eyes watching. Just when I’m beginning to relax, a woman I’ve known since I was small is found dead on the white tiles of her bathroom floor. I watch messages of condolence flood my screen. No one else suspects a thing. But I know that among all these friendly people, watching out for one another, someone knows more than they’re sharing. And I wonder—how far back do they remember, and who’s next? We Live Next Door is by Laura Wolfe. 

Missing Daughter is by Kiersten Modglin. When I wake up with the sun in my eyes the morning after my daughter’s birthday party, I know something is very wrong. I go straight to her room but feel a surge of panic when I see an empty bed. Downstairs everything is totally quiet, and the front door is locked. Why didn’t I hear her scream? Who took our little girl? My husband says I’ve been struggling since Skylar was born and that sometimes I forget things. But I remember every moment of my daughter’s party—including him locking the door after our family and friends left. Yes, we both had a drink and I slept heavily but I know I would have heard my child cry. A good mother always does. My therapist says I need to stand up for myself. She wants me to confront my husband about the woman I heard him talking to the other night when he thought I was asleep. And about the child’s toy that I found that does not belong to Skylar. Is he hiding something? But as the hours race by I soon realize I was totally wrong about everything that happened that night. I thought I’d put my past behind me long ago but I was wrong. All I know is this: I’ll do whatever it takes to save my child.  Will you believe me?

The Safe Place is by L A Larkin. Her heart pounds at the sound of footsteps outside her cabin in the woods. The snap of a twig tells her someone is close by. As she treads lightly towards the back door, she says a silent prayer—don’t let him find me… Ever since Jessie Lewis reported her boyfriend, fire chief and local hero, for beating her, she’s been an outcast from the small town of Eagle Falls. And when someone sets fire to a house in the woods, killing the entire Troyer family, the locals turn on her again, taking her very public argument with Paul Troyer as proof that she lit the match. Devastated that anyone could think her capable of murder, Jessie turns to Ruth. New in town, and an ex-FBI agent, Ruth could be the exact person Jessie needs to smoke out the murderer. But can she trust her with her life? Days later, another house linked to Jessie is set ablaze. Combing the ashes for answers, she catches sight of an inscription she hasn’t seen since her childhood—since she lost someone very close to her. Is the killer is coming for her next? As local wildfires take hold of the town and everyone is evacuated, Jessie knows she must put herself in unthinkable danger to catch the killer. And when she does, will she have the strength to take them down first?

25 years ago he took a girl. Today he takes another. One August afternoon, eight-year-old Grace Lennard skips into the garden of the childcare centre she attends and vanishes into thin air. Hours before, Steven Harte walks into Halesowen police station and confesses to having information that will lead Detective Kim Stone to Melody Jones – the little girl who was taken from a playground exactly twenty-five years ago. But something about his confession is off and Kim dismisses his claims. Arriving at the scene of Grace’s disappearance, Kim finds a chilling piece of evidence: the heart bracelet belonging to Melody. Now Kim must play Steven’s twisted game if she is to find Grace alive. But they’re going to play by Kim’s rules. With only twenty-four hours to make every second of Steven’s interrogation count, and scan his behaviour for hidden clues, Kim and her team soon link Steven to the abduction of several vulnerable girls – two were kept for a year and then released, unharmed – but where are Melody and the others? Then small bones are discovered in the grounds of a local park, and Kim fears the worst. Kim may be close to convicting a killer, but there’s another who wants revenge against her – Dr Alex Thorne – the evil woman Kim did her best to keep behind bars. Alex is about to reveal a shocking secret to Kim that will hit her where it hurts the most. And if Kim lets Alex mess with her head, she might not be able to save Grace and find the other missing girls in time. Stolen Ones is by Angela Marsons. 

My husband was not a monster. No matter what they say… The day my husband, Michael, stepped in front of a lorry after being questioned by the police, my world fell apart. He was devoted to me and our six-year-old daughter. But they’d connected him to the disappearance of a young mother from our tiny village. Now I stand at Michael’s funeral, clutching my little girl’s hand, with tears in my eyes as I insist to all our friends that he died an innocent man. Yet the questions have started, and nothing I say will stop them digging for the truth. But none of them can read the secrets in my heart, or know about the phone I found hidden in his toolbox… I’m determined that my daughter will not remember her father as a monster. I will erase any hint of wrongdoing in this house whatever the cost. Because to keep my daughter safe, the last thing I need is for people to start looking at me… The Widow is by K L Slater.

The New Family is by Victoria Jenkins.  Can you really trust the family next door? Brooke is delighted when Oliver decides to rent her old family home with his three-year-old son Finley. Finally someone to bring happiness to the rundown house across the street. They seem like the perfect tenants, but Brooke is a little unnerved when they move in with just a single bag between them. Where are their belongings? When Brooke asks Oliver about his past, he quickly changes the subject. Her best friend tells her to leave it, after all Brooke has been through enough trauma in her life. But Brooke can’t shake off the feeling that something isn’t right. Why aren’t her new tenants’ names listed anywhere online? Then Brooke arrives home to find orange flames dancing in the upstairs windows. As her whole life goes up in smoke, she is convinced it wasn’t an accident. And when she finds Finley drawing a picture of an angry burning house with terror in his eyes, her blood runs cold. What is Finley so frightened of? And why does Oliver snatch the drawing away the moment he sees it? Brooke is convinced Finley is in serious danger, but given her past, she’s not sure anyone will believe her. Is Brooke ready to face up to her own demons to save the little boy? And when the truth is finally revealed, who is really the one in danger?

You can never truly know what goes on behind closed doors… My darling son, Sam, is marrying his childhood sweetheart and I couldn’t be prouder of the man he’s grown into. Walking out on his abusive father all those years ago was the best thing I ever did. And today he stands, tall and handsome, saying ‘I do’ to my dream daughter-in-law. If I hadn’t pushed them together all those years ago, he might never have found a girl as perfect as Lauren. It’s true what they say, mother always knows best. But weeks later, Lauren is dead and police cars fill the driveway of their idyllic countryside home. As they question Sam, I sense he’s hiding something. Why won’t he look me in the eye? And who does he rush off to meet as soon as the police are gone? Desperate, I do what every good mother would do: I let myself into Sam and Lauren’s bedroom. What I see, I will never be able to forget. My son’s beautiful new wife was hiding a dangerous secret. Can I clear my son’s name? And could my life be in danger now too? The New Wife is by Sue Watson.

Hurrying along the dark, snow-covered path, she knows she’s not alone when she hears the light tread of someone behind her. Panic rising in her chest, she picks up the pace. But she doesn’t even have a chance to scream before everything goes black. When a beautiful young woman is reported missing from her hotel room on the outskirts of Black Rock Falls, Sheriff Jenna Alton and her deputy David Kane are devastated to discover her pale, lifeless body trapped beneath a frozen lake nearby. It’s Jenna who finds the single pearl earring buried in the frosted grass that gives them their first lead. Just as Jenna has the remaining hotel guests safely back in their rooms, the killer strikes again, and another victim is found in one of the hotel’s lakeside cabins. Next to his bloodied body is a second pearl earring. What does it mean, and why is the killer leaving them for Jenna to find?Interviewing witnesses, Jenna discovers that both victims were seen arguing with other residents hours before their deaths. Could the murderer be out for revenge, and how many more bodies will follow before they are truly satisfied? As a blizzard cuts the hotel off from Black Rock Falls, Jenna and her team are trapped with the killer. Then she receives a terrifying call from a teenage girl who thinks the murderer was in her room as she slept. Can Jenna save her from becoming the next victim? And how many more innocent lives will be taken before the snow thaws? Fallen Angel is by D K Hood. 

Death on a Winter's Day is by Verity Bright. Christmas at the castle with holly, handmade gifts, snowflakes and… is that a body under the tree? Someone call Lady Swift! Winter, 1921. Lady Eleanor Swift, amateur sleuth and reluctant lady of the manor, has been invited to spend Christmas in Scotland, at the beautiful castle of her dear friends Baron and Baroness Ashley. Even her favourite companion, master of mischief Gladstone the bulldog, is coming along to share a slice of turkey. As snow begins to fall outside, the rather mismatched group are cozy by the roaring fire, sharing a tipple over a plate of Mrs Trotman’s famous mince pies. But after what was supposed to be a fun party game, Mr Eugene Randall is found dead at the feast. A somewhat unpopular business associate of the Baron’s from across the pond, it seems Mr Randall has certainly upset somebody. Was it what he said about Scottish whisky? The killer must be in the castle… and when the Baron is arrested, Baroness Ashley begs Eleanor to investigate. Determined not to let her friend down, Eleanor sets about questioning the remaining partygoers. All too swiftly, someone else is found dead, having apparently fallen from a high balcony. As if one murder wasn’t enough to put a twist in the tinsel! Eleanor knows she’s skating on thin ice now. And when she discovers a hidden document that points the finger of suspicion at the unlikeliest of suspects, she realises there’s more to the story. Can Eleanor catch the killer before it’s time for Christmas dinner?

You get us what we want. Or your wife dies. And we will make it hurt.” Jerome Prentice is a good guy. Loyal to a fault, he always stays on the right side of the law. But everything changes the night he is awoken by the sound of masked kidnappers entering his home. Holding him at gunpoint, they drag his beloved wife Alicia out of the house with a promise to kill her if he goes to the police. Their demand: betray the company he’s worked for his entire adult life. They think he’ll do anything to save his wife. But they don’t know that they’re messing with the wrong man. Because Jerome might be a good guy. But betrayal doesn’t come easily to him. And he’s not a man who will go down without a fight. What’s more, he will hunt the people who’ve taken Alicia to the ends of the earth. And if they’ve hurt even one hair on her head, he’s going to make them pay… The Hostage is by John Ryder.

From behind the curtains, Sarah spotted the man coming out of the house, followed by the woman. It would be strange seeing people in the property. She wondered how much it would change their lives. For now, she would bide her time and hopefully get to know them better. She needed to gain their trust. When I met Richard, I fell for him instantly. He was able to give me everything I had always wanted, the dream house, security and above all, love like I’d never known. We lived a quiet life in the middle of nowhere; we didn’t need anyone else. So, when the empty house next door is sold, I am wary. Will our neighbours invade the perfect life Richard has built for us? As soon as I meet Juliette and Danny, I am reassured. Overwhelmed by grief after the death of their young daughter, they have moved in search of a quiet life and a chance to start again. Over dinner one evening, we hit it off instantly and I know they are just the neighbours we need. All is well until Juliette spots a young girl in our garden. Richard convinces her that she is seeing things, that it’s the grief taking over. But Juliette won’t let it go. She is sure she saw a child. She believes that Richard is threatening her. She starts to think that I’m not safe. I need to convince Juliette that she’s imagining it. I need to keep Richard happy. If I am to protect everything I have built for myself, she must never find out the truth. That my perfect life is built on the deadliest lie. The Life She Wants is by Mel Sherratt.






Saturday, 23 October 2021

Newcastle Noir 2021

 

The panels for Newcastle Noir have been announced. 

Panel 1 - 10.00 – 10.45 In the Line of Duty

Robert Scragg, Howard Linskey and Tariq Ashkanani

There’s something about a police procedural that takes the reader to the heart of the crime and up close and personal with those bringing law and order to dark, disturbed places. With three authors who set their investigations locally, nationally and a bit further afield, we kick off NN2021 by examining what makes a successful fictional detective and why we’re ever drawn to watching them uncover the truth.

Panel 2 - 11.15 – 12.00pm Murder She Wrote… and So Much More!

LJ Ross, Judith O’Reilly and Fiona Erskine

Creating protagonists that linger long after the last page is turned, capturing the essence of place, bringing us plots that keep us twisting and turning, but what if an author’s crime writing was not their first calling? These best-selling authors all had a life before thrilling us with their gloriously dark tales and this session will look at how these earlier experiences may have influenced the text and why crime fiction is now so important to them.

Panel 3 - 12.30 – 1.15pm From Whitley Bay to Blackwood Bay

Ann Cleeves and SJ Watson

The crime scene is an integral part of crime fiction and the impact of the evil committed there is even greater when it happens right on our doorstep. In this panel we’ll discuss writing home or away, creating fictional close-knit communities, and portraying ordinary lives turned upside down by unexpected, shocking events. Oh, and if we’ve time, we’ll ask these highly acclaimed authors what happens when your gripping page-turner of a novel becomes all-important viewing. Not to be missed!

Panel 4 - 1.45 – 2.30pm North by Northwest

Rob Parker and SE Moorhead

From across the Pennines, we bring you crime writing that packs more of a punch than Tyson Fury. An ex-soldier and ex-convict on one last mission for an old friend, a detective sergeant with the heart of a lion, and a neuropsychologist whose new technology might just catch a menacing serial killer. No, we’re not talking about the authors, but rather the protagonists they have created who are willing to risk everything to see justice served.

Panel 5 - 3.00 – 3.45pm Will We Ever Get Out of Here?

Chris McGeorge and DL Marshall

Edgar Allen Poe, Agatha Christie and Gaston Leroux first showed us the criminally delicious tension and intrigue that was to be found in the locked-room mystery. Fast forward 80 years and our authors on this panel will demonstrate the tremendous flexibility of this mystery subgenre. Nowadays the scene of the crime has grown to encompass actual areas, like houses or islands. The suspense lies in knowing that you may be next!

Panel 6 - 4.15 – 5.00pm Don’t Look Away!

Michael J Malone, Louise Beech and Sarah Sultoon

Writing stories that dare us to consider what we often prefer to ignore takes great skill and sensitivity. Given the overwhelming success of a similar panel at previous NN festivals, we wanted to explore further how fact informs fiction when treating such highly sensitive issues. To that end we have brought together three thought-provoking authors who are highly accomplished in bringing the reader face to face with the shocking and unthinkable.

Panel 7 - 5.30 – 6.15pm Something Wicked this Way Comes!

Matt Wesolowski and ES Thomson

What do a curious Victorian apothecary and an elusive contemporary podcaster have in common? With their darkly atmospheric and chilling tales, we’ll hear how these authors have written award-winning and critically acclaimed crime fiction with a grippingly Gothic touch. We’ll also consider how the creepy, the macabre and the sinister continue to fascinate and resonate down through the centuries. Not for the faint hearted, dare you join us?!

Panel 8 - 7.00 – 7.45pm Daring to be Different

Mari Hannah, Trevor Wood and Harriet Tyce

Crime fiction is often thought to be a highly predictable and formula-driven genre, yet our closing panel brings together authors whose writing has proved this is not always the case. Every so often a voice comes along daring to break the mould, offering us award-winning, critically acclaimed stories with a refreshing edge. Come celebrate Northern crime writing with us in the company of three authors who write with the courage of their convictions.

Tickets can be bought here.

Date:- 

Sunday 5th December 2021

Time:-

10:00am – 20:00

Location:-

Newcastle City Library

33 New Bridge Street West

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE1 8AX


Friday, 22 October 2021

Andrew Wilson Book Launch and literary talk

 

Andrew Wilson, author of Beautiful Shadow, the first biography of Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr Ripley, Carol), talks about Highsmith’s life, her newly published – and at times shocking – diaries, and her influence on writing his own thriller Five Strangers. Five Strangers has just been published too.

Signed books will be available!

Details

Date: 26 November 2021

Time: 6:30 pm - 11:30 pm

Cost: Free

Sign up here.


Thursday, 21 October 2021

A Crystal Clear Crime - The Glencairn Glass Short Story Competition


 The Glencairn Glass launches its first ever crime short story competition with the theme:

“A Crystal Clear Crime”

For the past two years, the world’s favourite whisky glass – The Glencairn Glass – has featured as headline sponsor of the prestigious McIlvanney and Bloody Scotland Debut crime-writing prizes, celebrating the finest in Scottish crime writing talent. This week The Glencairn Glass is building on this creative collaboration by launching its very own crime short story competition, in partnership with Scottish Field Magazine.

The Glencairn Glass is looking to celebrate up-and-coming literary talent through this exclusive competition from October to December.

The competition opens for entries on 20th October and runs until 31st December, inviting all budding crime writers to build their stories around the theme: ‘A Crystal-Clear Crime’ in no more than 2000 words.

The judging panel for the inaugural competition will comprise Deborah Masson, 2020 winner of the Bloody Scotland Debut Crime Novel of the Year with her book ‘Hold Your Tongue’, Peter Ranscombe, Scottish Field’s drinks columnist and author of the historical thriller ‘Hare’, as well as Glencairn’s marketing director Gordon Brown, who has written eight crime novels with his latest, ‘Thirty-One Bones’, written under the pseudonym Morgan Cry. Gordon is also one of the founding directors of the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival.

Gordon Brown commented: “We’re very excited to be launching the Glencairn Glass crime short story competition, supported by the team at the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival along with the Culture and Business Fund Scotland, working with Scottish Field. We are delighted to invite both experienced and novice authors, alike, to take a stab at entering (excuse the pun!) and wish all entrants the best of luck.

Three prizes will be available for the winning trio of authors: the first prize winner will receive £1000, whilst the two runners up will each receive £250. All three winners will also receive a set of six bespoke engraved Glencairn Glasses to enjoy their favourite dram with. The overall winning entry will be published by Scottish Field in spring 2022 as well as on The Glencairn Glass website.

All short story entries must be uploaded at www.whiskyglass.com/crime-short-story-competition with the competition closing at midnight on the Friday 31st December 2021. Details can also be found at www.scottishfield.co.uk. The winners will be announced in March 2022.

Blood Ties and the return of Ben Devlin by Brian McGilloway

 

In 2011, I wrote the final words of The Nameless Dead, the fifth in the Ben Devlin series. It was a strange experience. I already knew as I wrote the book that my publisher at the time would not be continuing with the series. The book then, while always intended as another instalment in Devlin’s story, also revisited some of the characters from Borderlands, bringing the series full circle in a way so that, if it was the end, it could serve as a satisfying conclusion.

My leaving Devlin behind also reflected the status of the Border itself in some ways. When I started Devlin, in 2002/2003, the Good Friday Agreement had, in effect, facilitated the removal of the last of the military infrastructure off the border crossings. Still, after so many years, the border was still a very real presence, at a psychological level at least, even after the border posts had gone. But, as I wrote the Devlin books over the next seven or eight years, charting the development of his growing friendship with Jim Hendry in the north, that psychological border began to weaken too. In the real world, I drove back and forth across the frontier without any awareness of its presence. My children were growing up, not really knowing what it meant in any concrete way. That may be why, by the time I’d written four Devlins, I turned my attention to the North and introduced a new character in Lucy Black with Little Girl Lost. I went back to Devlin for that fifth novel in 2011 to round out his story.

And then he stopped speaking to me., just as the border itself seemed to vanish.

The Nameless Dead came out in 2012 and, with that, I was out of contract. And then, for some reason, a year later, Little Girl Lost began to take off, both here and in the US, selling over half a million copies in a few months between the two territories and offering me a chance to keep telling stories. But the readership, and my focus, seemed to be on Lucy and her stories. Once or twice, I began to write a new Devlin story but found his voice was not there. The story was not his.

Brexit changed that. All at once, the border became a feature of conversation again, of discussion in the media – over here at least, though, strangely, seemingly not in Britain. Sides were redrawn, tribal identities reasserted. The psychological border reappeared. And with that, Devlin re-emerged in my consciousness.

Devlin has always been a punchbag for me – a chance for me to work out how I feel about things, and to explore my own responses and reactions based on his. Two years ago, I lost my dad after a short illness. It left me reeling – we were very close and Devlin’s kindness and decency were very much a reflection of my father, a truly kind, gentle man himself. So, while I did not set out to write a book that reflected on the loss of my father, it was natural that when I heard Devlin’s voice again, had his story begin to compel itself on me, it should be a story of loss and grief. One that looks at how family changes over time and the relationship between fathers and their sons.

It was important to me that Devlin should be the voice who tells that story in Blood Ties. The Devlin books have always explored the borderlands – the grey areas between certainties – and Devlin himself has always reflected an awareness that, here in the border area especially, there are no simple answers, no simple definitions. Devlin is father to both his son and his own father in this book, and yet also still a son himself, learning from both his parent and child. But now his children are moving on to college and his parents have passed: all the things by which he defined himself have changed. And, in the book, he must redefine himself. Or, at the very least, learn to accommodate those changes in his own sense of self-identity.

So, identity became the key theme of the novel, as reflected by the epigraph from the wonderful Elizabeth Jennings poem of that name. Issues of victimhood and the habit (in Northern Ireland especially) of creating a hierarchy of worthiness among victims, as if one person’s grief is more deserving than another’s, feed into that same theme of how we create an identity for ourselves and how it is created for us by others. In this book, the lines between victim and perpetrator are blurred and Devlin must constantly reassess how others are defined by his community even as he tries to redefine himself.

I am grateful to have found Devlin’s voice again, though in all honesty, it is not far from my own. I’m grateful to have him as a way to work out how I feel about the world. And I’m hugely grateful that anyone else would be kind enough to continue following both of us on that journey by reading one of these stories.

Blood Ties by Brian McGilloway (Constable) Out Now 

How can a dead woman avenge herself on her killer twelve years after her murder? This is the puzzle facing Ben Devlin in his latest case. He is called to the scene of a murder - a man has been stabbed to death in his rented room and when his identity is discovered Devlin feels a ghost walk over his grave as he knows the name Brooklyn Harris well. As a teenager, Harris beat his then-girlfriend Hannah Row to death, and then spent twelve years in prison for the murder. As Devlin investigates the dead man's movements since his release it becomes apparent Harris has been grooming teenage girls online and then arranging to meet them. But his activities have been discovered by others, notably a vigilante, who goes straight to the top of Devlin's list of suspects... until he uncovers that Harris was killed on the anniversary of Hannah's death - just too big a coincidence in Devlin's books. So Hannah's family join the ever-growing list of suspects being interviewed by his team. And then forensics contact Devlin with the astounding news that blood found on Harris's body is a perfect match to that of Hannah Row's. Yet how can this be; the girl was murdered many years ago - and Devlin doesn't believe in ghosts.

More information about Brian McGilowaay and his books can be found on his website. You can also follow him on Twitter @BrianMcGilloway.



Wednesday, 20 October 2021

More Classic Hardboiled Crime From Telos

By popular demand, Telos Publishing is reprinting two more of the classic pulp 'hardboiled' Hank Janson detective novels from the 50s. Written by and starring the Chicago Chronicle reporter Hank Janson, the books sold in their millions back in the day, and were also subject to various 'obscenity' trials and court cases for their content and 'salacious' covers.

The two new titles, Milady Took the Rap and The Jane with Green Eyes hail from 1951 and 1950 respectively, and the latter title particularly is noteworthy for it's stand on racism, with several of the characters being particularly nasty examples of the type, and a racially-motivated trial taking place.

Both titles are being reprinted intact, with a warning that the content may offend modern readers, and they also have their original cover art from acclaimed artist Reginald Heade on the front. In the case of Milady Took The Rap, this is reissued complete for the first time with the sensational cover artwork that was intended for its original September 1951 edition but was dropped prior to publication in an act of self-censorship.

'Hank Janson' was in fact a pseudonym for British author Stephen Frances, who enjoyed much success with his novels in post-war Britain.

The two titles join the others already reprinted by Telos, and also herald the publication in December of Hank Janson Under Cover, a sumptuous large format, full colour, guide to every cover that the Hank Janson books have enjoyed world-wide, including many rarities and hard-to-find editions. Author and Janson collector Stephen James Walker has scoured private collections and libraries world-wide in his search for the titles, and this book is an unparalleled work, guaranteed to appeal to pulp paperback collectors world wide.

Milady Took The Rap and The Jane with Green Eyes are published on 26 November 2021

Hank Janson Under Cover is published 4 December 2021

For more information please contact David J Howe - 07905 311 733 david@telos.co.uk




Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Capital Crime Amazon Publishing New Voices Award Winner Announced


 



CAPITAL CRIME ANNOUNCES DARREN BOYLE AS WINNER OF 2021 AMAZON PUBLISHING NEW VOICES AWARD 

Capital Crime has announced London-based journalist and writer Darren Boyle as winner of the 2021 Amazon Publishing New Voices Award for his thriller The Black Pool

He will receive a £1000 cash prize, a trophy, and a potential offer of publication from Thomas & Mercer, the mystery and thriller imprint of prize sponsor Amazon Publishing, whose authors include Mark Edwards, Claire McGowan, Dreda Say Mitchell and Damien Boyd. The announcement was made by judges Victoria Haslam and Tariq Ashkanani during a digital event hosted by Capital Crime Festival Director Lizzie Curle and broadcast today. It is available to re-watch here.

Boyle has more than 20 years’ experience working in the national media in Dublin and London. The Black Pool is set in contemporary protagonist who ventures deep into the murky world of gang- is he willing to risk for the ultimate story? 

Boyle has more than 20 years’ experience working in the national media in Dublin and London. The Black Pool is set in contemporary Dublin and features a journalist protagonist who ventures deep into the murky world of organised tiger raids gang- How much is he willing to risk for the ultimate story? 

Victoria Haslam, Amazon Publishing editor and New Voices Award judge, said: ‘It’s been a complete pleasure to read our finalists for the Amazon Publishing New Voices Award – the exceptionally high standard of entries has made this an incredibly difficult decision. However, Darren’s storytelling, setting, and authentic voice really shone, and he is an exciting new voice in the crime fiction world. I am delighted that we are crowning Darren our winner for 2021! 

Tariq Ashkanani, Thomas & Mercer author and New Voices Award judge, said: ‘It was absolutely fantastic to be a part of the Capital Crime New Voices panel this year. Finding new writers that can bring their unique voice to the crime genre is so important, and is a wonderful way to shine a light on the diverse talent that’s out there. Darren Boyle’s novel The Black Pool was an instantly gripping story, told with a fabulous, quirky voice and brilliantly sharp dialogue. But the quality of all the entries was incredibly high- trying to choose a favourite was very difficult! 

Haslam and Ashkanani, together with members of the Capital Crime Advisory Board, chose the winner from a list of 10 finalists. These were announced on 13th September and decided by popular vote, with members of the Capital Crime community, including Book Club members and all Festival passholders, voting for their favourite entries online. 

The Amazon New Voices Award is open to unpublished mystery, thriller, and crime fiction manuscripts in English from writers around the world. 

In acknowledgement of the quality of this year’s entries, the judges gave two honourable mentions to the shortlisted writers Patti Buff, a native of southern Minnesota who has lived in Germany for the last twenty years (for The Ice Beneath Me), and Casey King, an Irish crime writer from County Cork (for No Time to Cry). 

Generously sponsored by Amazon Publishing for the first time this year, the New Voices Award is a flagship event of Capital Crime, the UK’s leading year-round celebration for crime and thriller fiction. Capital Crime’s live festival will return to a new and tented venue in a central London park from Thursday 29th September to Saturday 1st October 2022. The celebrated crime and thriller festival will feature a wide-ranging line-up of events focused on accessible, mainstream fiction loved by readers around the world. Limited early-bird tickets are now available to purchase here. 

Lizzie Curle, Capital Crime Festival Director, said: “We’re very proud to be able to champion the next generation of voices in the crime fiction world with the help of Amazon Publishing and readers. Readers and crime fiction fans are at the heart of everything we do, and the Amazon Publishing New Voices Awards uses an innovative program which allows for them to vote for the book they’d like to read. Darren Boyle is their winner and we know he, and the other shortlisted writers have an exciting road ahead of them. A heartfelt thanks to all who have entered and voted in this year’s awards. 

The response to this year’s award was overwhelming: hundreds of entries from around the world, with writers from countries including France, India, Canada and the Netherlands. 

Join the conversation via capitalcrime.org | @CapitalCrime1 



Monday, 18 October 2021

Books to Look Forward to From Headline

 January 2022

Opals… In the desolate outback town of Finnigans gap, police struggle to maintain law and order. Thieves pillage opal mines, religious fanatics recruit vulnerable youngsters and billionaires do as they please. Bodies… Then an opal miner is found crucified and left to rot down his mine. Nothing about the miner’s death is straight-forward, not even who found the body. Homicide detective Ivan Lucic is sent to investigate, assisted by inexperienced young investigator Nell Buchanan. But Finnigans Gap has already ended one police career and damaged others, and soon both officers face damning allegations and internal investigations. Have Ivan and Nell been set up, and if so, by whom? Secrets… As time runs out, their only chance at redemption is to find the killer. But the more they uncover, the more harrowing the mystery becomes, and a past long forgotten is thrown into scorching sunlight. Because in Finnigans Gap, nothing stays buried for ever. Opal County is by Chris Hammer.


Real Easy is by Marie Rutkoski. It’s 1999, and Samantha has danced for years at the Lovely Lady strip club. She’s not used to taking anyone under her wing – after all, between her disapproving boyfriend and his daughter, who may as well be her own child, she has enough to worry about. But when Samantha overrides her better judgment to drive a new dancer home, they are run off the road. The police arrive at the scene of the accident – but find only one body. Georgia, another dancer, is drawn into the investigation as she tries to assist Holly, a detective with a complicated story of her own. As the point of view shifts from police officers and detectives to club patrons, the women circle around a list of suspects, all the while grappling with their own understanding of loss and love. As they get closer to the truth they must each confront a fundamental question: How do women live their lives knowing that men can hurt them?

February 2022

All That Lives is by James Oswald. An archaeological dig at the old South Leith parish kirkyard has turned up a mysterious body dating from around 700 years ago. The experts wonder if she wasn’t murdered and dumped, but some suspect that this gruesome discovery is a sacrifice, placed there for a specific purpose. Then a second body is unearthed. This victim went missing only thirty years ago – but the similarities between her death and the ancient body’s suggest something even more disturbing. Drawn into the investigation, McLean finds himself torn between a worrying trend of violent drug-related deaths and uncovering what truly connects these bodies. When a third body is discovered, and too close for comfort, he begins to suspect dark purpose at play – and that whoever put them there is far from finished.

March 2022

Winter, 1607. A man is struck down in the grounds of Battle Abbey, Sussex. Before dawn breaks, he is dead. Home to the Montagues, Battle has caught the paranoid eye of King James. The Catholic household is rumoured to shelter those loyal to the Pope, disguising them as servants within the abbey walls. And the last man sent to expose them was silenced before his report could reach London. Daniel Pursglove is summoned to infiltrate Battle and find proof of treachery. He soon discovers that nearly everyone at the abbey has something to hide – for deeds far more dangerous than religious dissent. But one lone figure he senses only in the shadows, carefully concealed from the world. Could the notorious traitor Spero Pettingar finally be close at hand? As more bodies are unearthed, Daniel determines to catch the culprit. But how do you unmask a killer when nobody is who they seem? Traitor in the Ice is by K J Maitland.

April 2022

It Starts at Midnight is by Harriet Tyce. New Year’s Eve, when the clock strikes twelve. A lavish party in one of Edinburgh’s best postcodes is sent spiralling into chaos when two guests fall tragically from the roof, impaled on the cast iron railings below. For Tess, it was about more than reuniting with long lost friends. Recently diagnosed with an illness that could be terminal, it was her last chance to make things right. Having grown apart from her husband Marcus, she knew this would be the perfect opportunity to renew their vows, surrounded by everyone they love. Their time is running out. Tess’ closest companion Sylvie knows this better than anyone. She’s trying desperately to offer her friend some closure from the guilt that has plagued them both for decades. But as midnight approaches and the countdown begins, it becomes clear that someone doesn’t want a resolution. They want revenge.

From the detective who helped catch the Golden State Killer, a memoir about investigating America's toughest cold cases, and the rewards - and toll - of a life spent solving crime. For a decade, from 1973, The Golden State Killer stalked and murdered Californians in the dead of night, leaving entire communities afraid to turn off the lights. Then he vanished, and the case remained unsolved. In 1994, when cold-case investigator Paul Holes came across the old file, he swore he would unmask GSK and finally give these families closure. Twenty-four years later, Holes fulfilled that promise, identifying 73-year-old Joseph J. DeAngelo. Headlines blasted around the world: one of America's most prolific serial killers had been caught. That case launched Paul's career into the stratosphere, turning him into an icon in the true-crime world. But while many know the story of the capture of GSK, until now, no one has truly known the man behind it all. In Unmasked: Crime Scenes, Cold Cases & My Hunt for the Golden State Killer Paul Holes takes us through his memories of a storied career and provides an insider account of some of the most notorious cases in contemporary American history, including Laci Peterson's murder and Jaycee Dugard's kidnapping. But this is also a revelatory profile of a complex man and what makes him tick: the drive to find closure for victims and their loved ones; the inability to walk away from a challenge - even at the expense of his own happiness. This is a story about the gritty truth of crime solving when there are no 'case closed' headlines. It is the story of a man and his commitment to his cases, and to the people who might have otherwise been forgotten.

June 2022

The Gatekeeper is by James Byrne. Dez’ Limerick is a “retired” British mercenary, checking out sunny Southern California when he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time, interrupting the kidnapping attempt of a military equipment corporation CEO’s daughter. Helping her to uncover a deadly plot buried within her own company, Dez exposes a sinister conspiracy that turns out to be bigger, more dangerous, and more personal at every explosive turn. 

The tide’s coming in. Every wave seems to lap a little higher. Erasing, bit by bit, the traces of what I did. Kenna arrives in Sydney to surprise her best friend. But Mikki and her fiancé Jack are about to head away on a trip, so Kenna finds herself tagging along for the ride. Sorrow Bay is beautiful, wild and dangerous. A remote surfing spot with waves to die for, cut off from the rest of the world. Here Kenna meets the people who will do anything to keep their paradise a secret. Sky, Ryan, Clemente and Victor have come to ride the waves and to disappear from life. But what did they leave behind? And how will they feel about Kenna turning up unannounced? As Kenna gets drawn into their world, she sees that everyone has their own fears to overcome and secrets to hide. What has her best friend got involved in and can she protect her? Because there’s one thing that each member of the tribe keeps telling her: nobody ever leaves. A word of warning. This place isn’t perfect, nor are the people here. There’s a darkness inside all of us and The Bay has a way of bringing it out. Everyone here has their secrets but we don’t go looking for them, because sometimes it’s better not to know. The Bay is by Allie Reynolds.






Sunday, 17 October 2021

Books to Look Forward to From HarperCollins

January 2022 

All For You is by Louise Jensen. Lucy: Mother. Wife. Falling to pieces . . .Aidan: Father. Husband. In too deep . . . Connor: Son. Friend. Can never tell the truth . . . Everyone in this family is hiding something, but one secret will turn out to be the deadliest of all . . . Will this family ever recover when the truth finally comes out?

They all have opinions, they all have secrets. In a small town like West Burntridge, it should be impossible to keep a secret. Rachel Saunders knows gossip is the price you pay for a rural lifestyle and outstanding schools. The latest town scandal is her divorce - and the fact that her new girlfriend has moved into the family home. Laura Spence lives in a poky bedsit on the wrong side of town. She and her son Jake don't really belong, and his violent tantrums are threatening to expose the very thing she's trying to hide. When the local school introduces a new inclusive curriculum, Rachel and Laura find themselves on opposite sides of a fearsome debate. But the problem with having your nose in everyone else's business is that you often miss what is happening in your own home. Other Parents is by Sarah Stovell.

February 2022

Take Your Breath Away is by Linwood Barclay. It's always the husband, isn't it? One weekend, while Andrew Mason was on a fishing trip, his wife, Brie, vanished without a trace. Most people assumed Andy had got away with murder, but the police couldn't build a strong case against him. For a while, Andy hit rock bottom - he drank too much, was abandoned by his friends, nearly lost his business, and became a pariah in the place he had once called home. Now, six years later, Andy has put his life back together. He's sold the house he shared with Brie and moved away for a fresh start. When he hears his old house has been bulldozed and a new house built in its place, he's not bothered. He's settled with a new partner, Jayne, and life is good. But Andy's peaceful world is about to shatter. One day, a woman shows up at his old address, screaming, 'Where's my house? What's happened to my house?' And then, just as suddenly as she appeared, the woman - who bears a striking resemblance to Brie - is gone. The police are notified and old questions - and dark suspicions – resurface. Could Brie really be alive after all these years? If so, where has she been? It soon becomes clear that Andy's future, and the lives of those closest to him, depends on discovering what the hell is going on. The trick will be whether he can stay alive long enough to unearth the answers...

March 2o22

The Haven is by Amanda Jennings. Winterfall Farm, spectacular and remote, stands over Bodmin Moor. Wanting an escape from the constraints of conventional life, Kit and Tara move to the isolated smallholding with their daughter and a group of friends. Searching for a purer existence, they live off-grid and work the land, and soon begin to enjoy the fruits of their labour amid the breathtaking beauty and freedom of the moor. At first this new way of life seems too good to be true, but when their charismatic leader Jeremy returns from a mysterious trip to the city with Dani, a young runaway, fractures begin to show. As winter approaches, and with it cold weather and dark nights, Jeremy's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic. Rules are imposed, the outside world is shunned, and when he brings a second girl back to the farm, tensions quickly reach breaking point with devastating consequences.

You get away with murder. In a remote sea loch on the west coast of Scotland, a fisherman vanishes without trace. His remains are never found. You make people disappear. A young man jumps from a bridge in Glasgow and falls to his death in the water below. DS Max Craigie uncovers evidence that links both victims. But if he can't find out what cost them their lives, it won't be long before more bodies turn up at the morgue...You come back for revenge. Soon cracks start to appear in the investigation, and Max's past hurtles back to haunt him. When his loved ones are threatened, he faces a terrifying choice: let the only man he ever feared walk free, or watch his closest friend die... The Blood Tide is by Neil Lancaster.

April 2022

Breakneck Point is by Tina Orr Munro. CSI Ally Dymond follows the evidence wherever it leads. Her commitment to justice has cost Ally her place on the major investigations team. After exposing corruption in the ranks, she’s stuck working petty crimes on the sleepy North Devon coast. Only when the body of nineteen-year-old Janie Warren turns up in the seaside town of Bidecombe can Ally put her skills to good use. Yet the evidence she discovers contradicts the lead detective’s theory. And no one wants to listen to the CSI who landed their colleagues in prison. Time is running out to catch a serial killer no one is looking for — no one except Ally. What she doesn’t know is that he’s watching, from her side of the crime scene tape, waiting for the moment to strike. When he does, Ally will be forced to question the true nature of justice like never before.

A nightclub singer with more than one secret hastily leaves London on The Queen Mary after her best friend's husband is murdered...only to discover that death has followed her onboard, in this thrilling locked-room mystery. London, 1936. Lena Aldridge is wondering if life has passed her by. The dazzling theatre career she hoped for hasn’t worked out. Instead, she’s stuck singing in a sticky-floored basement club in Soho, and her married lover has just dumped her. But Lena has always had a complicated life, one shrouded in mystery as a mixed-race girl passing for white in a city unforgiving of her true racial heritage. She has nothing to look forward to—until a stranger offers her the chance of a lifetime: a starring role on Broadway and a first-class ticket on the Queen Mary bound for New York. After a murder at the club, the timing couldn’t be better, and Lena jumps at the chance to escape England. But when a fellow passenger is killed in a strikingly familiar way, Lena realizes that her greatest performance won't be for an audience, but for her life. Miss Aldridge Regrets is by Louise Hare.

May 2022

To The Grave by John Barlow.is the second in the series set in Leeds featuring half Sicilian detective Joe Romano.

June 2022 

Such a Good Mother is by Helen Monks Takhar. Rose O'Connell is barely surviving. Her relationship with her husband is on the rocks and their son has isn't fitting in at his new school, the prestigious Woolf Academy. Their tiny flat in a rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood--the very place Rose grew up as the daughter of an infamous local con artist--can barely contain her family. Rose can't catch a professional break either, trapped in the same junior bank teller role for years. Life as the only mom in a name tag and uniform at The Woolf's shiny school gates isn't easy. Not so for those in the elite and secretive Circle, a tight-knit group of mothers who rule the school, led by the charismatic and glamorous Amala Kaur. In exchange for supporting The Woolf's relentless fundraising and public image drives, the women enjoy lucrative business opportunities, special privileges for their children, and the admiration of the entire community. After the mysterious death of one of The Circle's members, Rose dares to hope that filling the vacancy could set her family up for success. And when Amala makes the shocking decision to invite Rose into their clique, her fortunes, self-esteem, and status soar. But the deeper Rose gets inside The Circle, the darker the secrets lurking within every perfectly Instagramable life. Far from being a dream come true, being inside The Circle could prove Rose's worst nightmare...