Thursday 27 July 2023

Wish You Were Here: A Journey from Expensive Holiday Resorts to the English Seaside

My novel Wish You Were Here borrows its title from an 80s holiday programme. This featured middle-class presenters who travelled to exotic destinations and reported back to the cold, wet UK. For most people I knew, this was aspirational telly, none of us having anywhere near the money to travel to these places. This didn’t stop us from watching and fantasising. Wishing we were there. They travelled to Praia de la Luz or, as the presenter called it ‘Luge’. I remember the strangeness of the town’s name on her tongue and her incredible tan and how hot and ridiculously foreign the beach looked. It looked like paradise. 

The next time I saw the resort, though, it was not paradise but the scene of a worst nightmare; the disappearance of a young child. The resort felt vaguely familiar as I watched but I didn’t make the connection right away. That came, years later, when I watched a documentary about Madeleine McCann as part of the research for my novel about a missing girl and it included a clip. My memories of watching it at the time came flooding back and from that moment onwards, I knew the title of my book. There’s an 80’s TV connection in the storyline, too, so it made perfect sense. 

The longer I lived with the title, the more it meant. My fictional child was a working-class girl from a single parent family and disappears from the English seaside, a deliberate contrast. So, my title references those English seaside postcards, too. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write about a missing child from this kind of background. As a writer, you’re encouraged to show rather than tell and I wanted people to feel this experience, to feel the injustice that I felt about the way society, the media and, these days, people on social media treat and judge people differently based on a number of prejudices. I’d read Chavs by Owen Jones years before and was struck by the stark contrast he highlights between the way Madeleine’s disappearance was covered compared to that of Shannon Matthews. He even puts a number on the concern shown for the two girls, pointing out that the rewards offered for information leading to their return valued Madeleine’s life fifty times higher than Shannon’s. 

Madeleine had been missing nine months when Shannon disappeared and yet still dominated the front pages, with Shannon featured in minor columns of the same newspapers. The shameless and not entirely unconscious class bias of opinion columns at the time is chilling to read back on. The general take on Madeleine’s case appeared to be ‘this shouldn’t happen to families like us’ and there was even a revealing comment about the resort itself not being a place you would expect to meet ‘the kind of people who wallop their weeping kids in Sainsbury’s’. Apparently, not. Just the kind of people who leave their kids home alone while they go out drinking with their mates, then. 

Inequalities in our society play out in a heartbreaking way via the efforts we make to find our missing children. This was shown starkly in one of the documentaries I watched, a stream of photos of local children who’d gone missing in Portugal around the same time as Madeleine, whose names and photos I had never seen before. Recent research found that missing persons cases in the UK where the victim was Black or Asian were significantly less likely to be solved, the victims less likely to be flagged as at risk or vulnerable even when they clearly were. Such things fall sadly for me under the heading ‘shocking but not surprising’. Systemic racism has been an issue in the UK police force for years, and it’s something I explore in my books via Sian’s partner Kris, a serving Black police officer. 

Of course, what happened next in the Shannon Matthews case neatly fitted the media’s narrative of a ‘shameless’ underclass. But that doesn’t change the stark contrast in the way the girl’s disappearance was covered by the media before any of this was known. An even starker contrast is seen when you look at the lack of column inches given to the disappearance of five-year-old Elizabeth Ogungbayibi, who disappeared the year before the two white girls. I’m sure we care about all the missing children but it’s also a fact that we continue to demonstrate that we care about some of them more. 

Nicola Monaghan is the author of Wish You Were Here published by VERVE Books

DNA doesn't lie. But what if the truth is dangerous?DNA expert Dr Sian Love has settled into running her own investigative agency and living with her partner, Kris. She's also started seeing a therapist to work through her traumatic history - a big step for Sian. Then a teenage girl brings chaos to Sian's office door. She claims to be Courtney Johnson - a child who went missing from a Brighton beach over fifteen years ago - but refuses to let Sian test her DNA. Wary but intrigued, Sian reluctantly revives the undercover skills she learned during her police force days and begins investigating. But revisiting the past has consequences...




Wednesday 26 July 2023

Shari Lapena on Everyone Here is Lying

In Everyone Here is Lying, I began with the idea of a difficult child. I imagined a child pushing her father’s buttons to the point where he struck her, shocking them both. I knew the child would disappear, but that’s all I knew. I wanted to explore family dysfunction (a favourite theme of mine) but this time I wanted to look at parents who had struggled to parent a particularly challenging child and what it had done to each of them and to their marriage. It’s a complex issue. Every family has its problems but this one—parents divided on how to manage their troubled child—was very interesting to me. It gave me scope to explore all sorts of things, and to dive deep into my conflicted characters. The father is also having an affair. But all sorts of people are involved in the disappearance of this child in unexpected ways. I had a lot of fun writing this one.

I like to have unexpected twists in my books, and this one is no different. I like to upset expectations and turn things on their head. Of course, I can’t give anything away here, but there’s a gasp-out-loud moment. There are also some sympathetic characters in this one, characters who you really feel for. Life can be very difficult, and sometimes things are out of your hands, and I explore that—that lack of control, and how it feels. But sometimes people make bad decisions and that’s what I find drives my plots. I like to watch the train wreck that follows from those bad decisions, but I want the reader to understand why the character has done what he or she has done, and to see how it could believably happen. People aren’t all bad or all good; they’re complicated and often irrational, especially when under pressure. I like to get caught up in their emotional crises, complicate things, raise the stakes and see what they do and where their actions take them. Plot and character are so closely intertwined. The character acts, and that’s what drives the plot. But the characters have to act authentically—the characters generate the plot for me. I never adapt a character to suit the plot.

This is why I like to write from multiple points of view—I get right inside the various characters’ heads and experience what they’re experiencing, so it drives what happens next, and makes for a rather emotional experience—both for me writing the book and for those reading my books. 

I also like to raise a lot of questions in my books, questions that the reader wants answered. People are naturally curious, and they will read to find out what they’re dying to know. When I wrote my first thriller, The Couple Next Door, I set out to write a page turner. And that’s what I try to do every time. I love it when readers tell me they couldn’t put my books down.

Everyone is Dying by Shari Lapena (Transworld) Out Now.

Welcome to Stanhope - a safe neighbourhood. A place for families. William Wooler is a family man, on the surface. But he's been having an affair, an affair that ended horribly this afternoon at a motel up the road. So when he returns to his house, devastated and angry, to find his difficult nine-year-old daughter Avery unexpectedly home from school, William loses his temper. Hours later, Avery's family declares her missing. Suddenly Stanhope doesn't feel so safe. And William isn't the only one on his street who's hiding a lie. As witnesses come forward with information that may or may not be true, Avery's neighbours become increasingly unhinged. Who took Avery Wooler? Nothing will prepare you for the truth.

More information about Shari Lapena can be found on her website. You can also find her on Twitter @sharilapena and on Facebook and also on Instagram @sharilapena


Monday 24 July 2023

Murder One, Ireland’s International Crime Writing Festival Returns

After some blockbuster standalone events with international crime-writing stars like Harlan Coben and Karin Slaughter, Murder One, Ireland’s International Crime Writing Festival is back in its weekend format from 6th-8th October in Dun Laoghaire’s stunning dlr LexIcon Library and Cultural Centre, only 30 minutes from Dublin airport and just south of Dublin city.

Former State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy, kicks off the festival on Friday 6th.  Once a name synonymous with breaking news of high-profile crime cases, Dr Cassidy has turned her hand to crime fiction and she will be discussing her debut novel, Body of Truth, in conversation with bestselling crime writer, Liz Nugent. The festival will showcase the cream of Irish crime writing talent with Tana French, Jane Casey, Catherine Ryan Howard, Steve Cavanagh, Andrea Mara, Sam Blake, and Catherine Kirwan among those appearing on a range of solo events and hot-topic panels. UK visitors include the hugely popular, Sophie Hannah, 2023 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, Tom Benn, Alice Feeney, author of the phenomenally successful Daisy Darker, plus cosy crime specialist, British Book Awards winner Janice Hallett, and highly praised debutante, Alice Bell.

True crime fans can look forward to events with Award-winning political journalist, Harry McGee whose book, The Murderer and the Taoiseach, retraces the extraordinary happenings in Dublin’s notorious Malcolm Macarthur murder case while Northern Irish academics, Elaine Farrell & Leanne McCormick will discuss their bestselling book, Bad Bridget: Crime, Mayhem and the Lives of Irish Emigrant Women.  Aspiring writers can also sign up for workshops with all-star panels of literary agents, and editors on Friday 6th October.

Wherever your tastes in the crime genre lie, you will be gripped by the plot of MURDER ONE as it unfolds across three days at Dun Laoghaire’s stunning LexIcon Library and Cultural Centre. With free access to two 3 x 10 Readings in the Studio events that make the Festival accessible to all visitors, plus an onsite bookshop - MURDER ONE will have you hooked from the moment you enter the building.  With views of the sea and Dun Laoghaire harbour, easy access to the DART and bus routes, plus plenty of parking and restaurant options, Dun Laoghaire will be the perfect place to enjoy your favourite crime writers this autumn.

Crime is one of the biggest-selling genres in the book business and Ireland boasts some of the world’s top crime writers, Uniquely, MURDER ONE is run by crime author Sam Blake, who together with festival director Bert Wright, further aspires to establish MURDER ONE on the Irish festival circuit.

Sam Blake explains, “Murder One is supported by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Libraries and that library connection is true synergy for us – bringing new authors to new readers and new readers to authors is at the heart of both the festival and the library’s mission.”

Bert Wright said, “MURDER ONE has established a huge following among Irish crime fans in a short space of time and in a country that boasts so many successful crime writers, it’s a joy to get fans and writers together on an annual basis in an ideal location like Dun Laoghaire.  We’ve put together a stellar programme and we’re looking forward to sharing it with our loyal supports. It promises to be enormous fun.

Catherine Gallagher, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Librarian said “we are delighted to be involved again this year with MURDER ONE and to see this festival continue to develop. Connecting readers and authors is a key part of our remit in dlr Libraries and for our readers crime books are consistently popular. We look forward to welcoming audiences old and new to dlr LexIcon in October.”

Tickets were launched on Monday 17th July. Visit www.murderone.ie for booking details or follow @MurderOneFest on Twitter.


Sunday 23 July 2023

SILVER FALCHION AWARD NOMINEES 2023

 

The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award is meant to honor the Best Books of the previous calendar year. The 2023 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards honor the Best Books of 2022.

Winners in each category will be announced at the 2023 Killer Nashville Awards Dinner on Saturday, August 19, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The complete list of all the nominated authors can be found here.

Congratulations to all the nominated authors.


Friday 21 July 2023

M.W. Craven wins Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2023 with The Botanist

M.W. Craven has been announced this evening as the winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2023, presented by Harrogate International Festivals, for The Botanist, the latest thriller featuring D.S. Washington Poe.

The Botanist, an instant Sunday Times bestseller, follows the disgraced detective as he is tasked with catching a poisoner sending the nation’s most reviled people poems and pressed flowers, whilst his close friend, pathologist Estelle Doyle, seeks his help when she is arrested for the murder of her father.

Multi-award-winning author M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle. He joined the army at sixteen, leaving ten years later to complete a social work degree. Seventeen years after taking up a probation officer role in Cumbria, at the rank of assistant chief officer, he became a full-time author.

He receives a £3,000 prize, as well as an engraved beer cask handcrafted by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.

M.W. Craven said on winning Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year: “This was genuinely the biggest shock of my life. It was a huge honour to be shortlisted among friends. I’m utterly thrilled, this is the biggest award for crime fiction.”

A record-smashing 14,110 readers voted for their winner this year among the six shortlisted authors: Elly Griffiths (The Locked Room), Doug Johnstone (Black Hearts), Fiona Cummins (Into the Dark), Ruth Ware (The It Girl), M.W. Craven (The Botanist) and Gillian McAllister (Wrong Place Wrong Time). The judges, including Simon Theakston, Steph McGovern, Matt Nixson from the Daily Express, journalist Joe Haddow, Lisa Howells and Gaby Lee from Waterstones, met the day before the Awards Ceremony to decide the winner, with the public vote counting as the seventh judge on the panel.

The judging panel had a difficult choice ahead of them and decided to recognise Elly Griffiths as Highly Commended for the penultimate mystery in her bestselling Dr Ruth Galloway series The Locked Room. Set in the early days of the pandemic, Dr Galloway is locked down in her Norfolk cottage, working to uncover why her late mother had a photo of the cottage dated years before she moved in, when DCI Nelson, who is investigating a series of deaths of women that could be murders or could be suicides, breaks curfew to visit her. Griffiths, who was Festival Programming Chair in 2017, has been nominated for the Award six times, and this is her first Highly Commended.

On receiving the Highly Commended honour, Elly Griffiths said: “I’m absolutely delighted, this has been an ambition of mine for a long time. It is the best award and to get Highly Commended is a huge honour.

Craven and Griffiths were not the only writers celebrated at the ceremony, as Ann Cleeves received the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution Award in recognition of her impressive writing career.

Cleeves, the author of more than thirty-five critically acclaimed novels, is the creator of popular detectives Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez and Matthew Venn, who can be found on television in ITV’s Vera, BBC One’s Shetland and ITV’s The Long Call respectively. The TV series and the books they are based on have become international sensations, capturing the imaginations of millions worldwide.

She served as the first Reader-in-Residence at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in 2003 and has played a significant role in the crime writing community since then. Her book The Long Call was chosen for 2023’s Big Read, the North’s biggest book club, which takes the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival on tour to libraries across the north of England to promote literacy and reading for pleasure in local communities. In 2021 she launched the Reading for Wellbeing Project with local authorities in the North East, advocating for reading as a way to improve mental health and well-being and support access to books.

Cleeves is the latest in a line of acclaimed authors who have received the coveted award, with previous winners including Sir Ian Rankin, Lynda La Plante, James Patterson, John Grisham, Lee Child, Val McDermid, P.D. James and last year’s recipient Michael Connelly.

The announcement was made at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, during the opening ceremony for the world’s most prestigious crime writing festival, Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (20 – 23 July), where crime fiction icons including Vaseem Khan, Val McDermid, Lee Child, Andrew Child, Ann Cleeves, Jeffery Deaver, Lisa Jewell, Ruth Ware, Chris Hammer and S.A. Cosby and more will take to the stage at the world’s biggest celebration of the genre.

Ann Cleeves said on receiving the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Award: “The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate has always been a very special festival for me because I was in at the beginning.  I’m delighted to accept this award and to help the team celebrate 20 years of brilliant crime writing.

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, commented: “Tonight’s winners truly represent Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Awards’ well-earned reputation for showcasing the very best crime writing talent. The Botanist is a real encapsulation of masterful crime writing, pushing the boundaries of imagination and crafting narratives that are shaping the future of the genre. Elly Griffiths has kept crime fans alike hooked with Dr Ruth Galloway’s investigations and I’m equally thrilled she is recognised for her ability to keep us holding our breaths until the very last page.

We’re so pleased to raise a glass of Theakston Old Peculier to their wins!

Deservedly taking home the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution prize, Ann Cleeves stands as a paragon of inspiration, and her unparalleled talent has paved the way for countless aspiring crime writers; we’re delighted that we’re with her to celebrate.”

Sharon Canavar, Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, added: “The judges had a tough job to pick just one winner for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of The Year as the shortlist was incredibly strong. Following a lot of discussion, the panel finally selected the incredible M.W. Craven and his locked room mystery The Botanist, and recognised the incredible Elly Griffiths’ achievement with Highly Commended for The Locked Room. 

“We’re also thrilled to celebrate the work of Ann Cleeves with the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution Award. Ann is a beacon of brilliance in this genre, and through her extraordinary characters, atmospheric settings, and masterful plots, she has captivated readers around the world, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of crime literature.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year is run by Harrogate International Festivals and sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with Waterstones and Daily Express, and is open to full-length crime novels published in paperback between 1 May 2022 to 30 April 2023 by UK and Irish authors.




Thursday 20 July 2023

An Evening with Vaseem Khan & Ann Cleeves

 


Ann Cleeves and Vaseem Khan in conversation.


Vaseem Khan and Anne Cleeves will once again be in conversation with each other on Monday 7th August 2023 at St Pauls Church, Whitley Bay, NE26 2TH. Hosted by Forum Books the event is due to start at 7:30pm. 

Ticket information can be found here.

2023 MACAVITY AWARDS: Mystery Readers International

 The Macavity Nominations 2023 (for works published in 2022)

The Macavity Awards are nominated and voted on by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal, and friends of MRI. The winners will be announced at opening ceremonies at the San Diego Bouchercon in late August. 

Best Mystery Novel

Back to the Garden by Laurie R. King (Bantam)

Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone (MCD)

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

A Heart Full of Headstones by Ian Rankin (Little, Brown)

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn (Berkley)

Secret Identity by Alex Segura (Flatiron Books)

Best First Novel

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz (Atria/EmilyBestler) 

Shutter by Ramona Emerson (Soho Crime)

Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler (Crooked Lane Books)

The Verifiers by Jane Pek (Vintage Books)

The Maid by Nita Prose (Ballantine)

Best Mystery Short Story

The Landscaper’s Wife” by Brendan DuBois (Mystery Tribune, Aug/Sep 2022)
Beauty and the Beyotch” by Barb Goffman (Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Jan 2022)

First You Dream, Then You Die” by Donna Moore (in Black is the Night, Titan Books)

Schrödinger, Cat” by Anna Scotti (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Mar/Apr 2022) 

Stockholm” by Catherine Steadman (Amazon Original Stories)

The Angel of Rome” by Jess Walter (in The Angel of Rome and Other Stories, Harper)

My Two-Legs” by Melissa Yi (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Sep/Oct 2022)

Best Mystery Critical/Biographical

The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators by Martin Edwards (Collins Crime Club)

The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie edited by Mary Anna Evans & J.C. Bernthal (Bloomsbury Academic)

The Crime World of Michael Connelly: A Study of His Works and Their Adaptations by David Geherin (McFarland)

Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Crime)

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery

The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur)

In Place of Fear by Catriona McPherson (Hodder & Stoughton)

Anywhere You Run by Wanda M. Morris (William Morrow)

The Secret in the Wall by Ann Parker (Poisoned Pen Press)

One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips (Soho Crime)

Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen (Forge)

Congratulations to all.





Thursday 13 July 2023

Greg Mosse on Inspiration & Routine

In the room where I write, I’m surrounded by books –yet I’m writing another one myself, looking forward to publication of my first Maisie Cooper Mystery, Murder at Church Lodge, then three more in the series over the following twelve months. This isn't some kind of masterplan. It's just how things have worked out. And I don't expect any of my books to be better than those on my neighbouring bookshelves, those by my wife Kate Mosse, Lee Child, Ngaio Marsh, Anthony Horowitz or Vaseem Kahn. But I know that each one of them will be, for better or worse, a unique story crafted by a unique awareness – my own.

That’s the thing about writing. Whatever you’ve got inside you, ‘for better or worse’ that’s the thing you must express. And that means, for me, getting up at six-thirty in the morning on six days out of seven and writing until 10 am – maybe a little later when I’m in the final throes of a first draft, trying to craft a powerful climax, a single crescendo of dramatic events.

My typing is terrible. About a third of each draft page is underlined in wavy red by the helpful software. Plus, at the beginning of the process, the story is skimpy, incomplete. I’m in a hurry so I abbreviate moments of drama, consigning only the gist to the blank but infinitely scrollable digital page. I forget to say how the characters feel as they do things, or what they are doing while they say things. But that’s okay. I can flesh it out later. I once wrote a surprising eight thousand words in ten hours, then spent the next three days making sense of it, ending up with a no-more-than respectable average of two thousand words a day.

Quite often, though, sitting in my bentwood chair with my computer on a lap tray on my knees, I simply press on regardless, until the computer complains that its memory can no longer keep track of all the live mistakes! This wouldn't matter if I wrote in chapters, but I use one big document. So, I’ve had to set a limit. Every fifty pages or so, I review from the start: the timeline, the weather, the character descriptions; which imagined window the sun shines in at dawn, at noon and at dusk. Then, with the energy of all that co-ordinated attention, I write on.

When I say ‘every fifty pages or so’, I mean after fifty, then 100, then 150, then 200. I don't write on until I am sure that everything adds up – especially at 250, when there’s nothing left but the ending and how it is all about to play out, providing a plausible and satisfying denouement – a climax the reader can believe in. The action, finally, explains itself.

I don’t know precisely where I’m going when I start. I know about a situation and a character, a thing someone wants that they do not have. And someone else whose objectives are mutually exclusive – they cannot both be satisfied. Uncertain precisely what questions the last thirty pages will answer, I know from page one what the end will feel like as the (imaginary) credits roll. If it was a film, I know what music would be playing.

Once I’ve got a complete typescript, I edit it for myself. Then I show it to the genius I married, Kate Mosse, so that I can improve it with her advice. Next, the brilliant agent Luigi Bonomi shows me how to make it better still. Finally, the exceptional editor Beth Wickington gives me broad notes. I take advantage of her insight to improve it again, before she gives me detailed notes that pick up on things we’ve all missed. That gets us to draft five or six and we are finally done – just copy-editing and proofreading to go.

I’ve written books set in the future and in the past. The Maisie Cooper Mysteries begin in southwest Sussex in a cold February 1972 – power cuts, class consciousness and terrible English food. I remember it well. I was eleven and I was there. My memories are so vivid that they seem tactile, that I can smell and taste them. I hope they enrich every page, just as I hope that I have depicted, with respect and understanding, the flawed humans that make up my cast of characters in Murder at Church Lodge ...

... and that Maisie Cooper will work out ‘whodunnit’ before you do 😊In the room where I write, I’m surrounded by books –yet I’m writing another one myself, looking forward to publication of my first Maisie Cooper Mystery, Murder at Church Lodge, then three more in the series over the following twelve months. This isn't some kind of masterplan. It's just how things have worked out. And I don't expect any of my books to be better than those on my neighbouring bookshelves, those by my wife Kate Mosse, Lee Child, Ngaio Marsh, Anthony Horowitz or Vaseem Kahn. But I know that each one of them will be, for better or worse, a unique story crafted by a unique awareness – my own.

That’s the thing about writing. Whatever you’ve got inside you, ‘for better or worse’ that’s the thing you must express. And that means, for me, getting up at six-thirty in the morning on six days out of seven and writing until 10 am – maybe a little later when I’m in the final throes of a first draft, trying to craft a powerful climax, a single crescendo of dramatic events.

My typing is terrible. About a third of each draft page is underlined in wavy red by the helpful software. Plus, at the beginning of the process, the story is skimpy, incomplete. I’m in a hurry so I abbreviate moments of drama, consigning only the gist to the blank but infinitely scrollable digital page. I forget to say how the characters feel as they do things, or what they are doing while they say things. But that’s okay. I can flesh it out later. I once wrote a surprising eight thousand words in ten hours, then spent the next three days making sense of it, ending up with a no-more-than respectable average of two thousand words a day.

Quite often, though, sitting in my bentwood chair with my computer on a lap tray on my knees, I simply press on regardless, until the computer complains that its memory can no longer keep track of all the live mistakes! This wouldn't matter if I wrote in chapters, but I use one big document. So, I’ve had to set a limit. Every fifty pages or so, I review from the start: the timeline, the weather, the character descriptions; which imagined window the sun shines in at dawn, at noon and at dusk. Then, with the energy of all that co-ordinated attention, I write on.

When I say ‘every fifty pages or so’, I mean after fifty, then 100, then 150, then 200. I don't write on until I am sure that everything adds up – especially at 250, when there’s nothing left but the ending and how it is all about to play out, providing a plausible and satisfying denouement – a climax the reader can believe in. The action, finally, explains itself.

I don’t know precisely where I’m going when I start. I know about a situation and a character, a thing someone wants that they do not have. And someone else whose objectives are mutually exclusive – they cannot both be satisfied. Uncertain precisely what questions the last thirty pages will answer, I know from page one what the end will feel like as the (imaginary) credits roll. If it was a film, I know what music would be playing.

Once I’ve got a complete typescript, I edit it for myself. Then I show it to the genius I married, Kate Mosse, so that I can improve it with her advice. Next, the brilliant agent Luigi Bonomi shows me how to make it better still. Finally, the exceptional editor Beth Wickington gives me broad notes. I take advantage of her insight to improve it again, before she gives me detailed notes that pick up on things we’ve all missed. That gets us to draft five or six and we are finally done – just copy-editing and proofreading to go.

I’ve written books set in the future and in the past. The Maisie Cooper Mysteries begin in southwest Sussex in a cold February 1972 – power cuts, class consciousness and terrible English food. I remember it well. I was eleven and I was there. My memories are so vivid that they seem tactile, that I can smell and taste them. I hope they enrich every page, just as I hope that I have depicted, with respect and understanding, the flawed humans that make up my cast of characters in Murder at Church Lodge ...

... and that Maisie Cooper will work out ‘whodunnit’ before you do 😊

© Mosse Futures Ltd 2023

Murder at Church Lodge by Greg Mosse (Hodder & Stoughton) Out Now.

Maise Cooper is no detective, thank you very much, Buch she might just solve a murder. Maisie left the picture-perfect village of Framlington years ago. But when her brother asks for her help out of the blue she soon finds herself back among the windy lanes and open green fields. But it's not the family reunion she hoped for - upon arrival she learns that she's too late. Stephen is dead. And not just dead – murdered. Frustrated by the slow police investigation headed up by handsome Sergeant Wingard, Maisie determines to start asking questions herself. In a village where everyone knows everyone, surely someonehas some information about Stephen. But the longer Maisie stays, and the deeper she digs, the more she begins to sense something sinister at the heart of the village. What secrets are the residents so desperate to keep hidden? And what exactly was her brother going to tell her before his mysterious demise? And when another death rocks the community, Maisie fears that she needs to catch the killer before they catch her..

More information can be found on his website. He can also be found on Twitter @GregMosse and on Facebook.



For all rights enquiries contact Luigi Bonomi – Luigi@lbabooks.com

Wednesday 12 July 2023

In The St Hilda's Spotlight - Robert Goddard

 Name:- Robert Goddard

Job:- Author

Twitter :- @RobertGoddardUK

Introduction

Goddard's first novel, Past Caring, was published in 1986. Into the Blue, (1990) the first of the Harry Barnett novels won the first WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award, Long Time Coming which was published in the UK in 2009 won the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Original Paperback and was nominated for the 2011 Anthony award in the same category In 2019, Goddard was awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger by the Crime Writers' Association. He has also received acclaim for his historical Wide World trilogy, set in Europe and Japan during 1919, and featuring the intrepid ex-flying ace James ‘Max’ Maxted.He has since written more than twenty novels; the majority have been Sunday Times Top Ten best-sellers in the UK.

Current book? (This can either be the current book that you are reading or writing or both) 

I’m currently immersed in a lot of background reading for a new novel in which we will return to some of the characters who featured in This is the Night They Come for You.

Favourite book: 

It’s a close call between The Calculus Affair and The Castafiore Emerald - Hergé’s greatest achievements in his Tintin series that so captivated me as a child. 

Which two characters would you invite to dinner and why? 

Bearing in mind my previous answer, I think it should probably be Captain Haddock and Bianca Castafiore. Sparks are likely to fly, but Haddock’s fondness for whisky has blinded many to his appreciation of fine wine - plus he can entertain us with anecdotes culled from his nautical career and, late in the evening, perhaps a sea shanty or two, accompanied by the Milanese Nightingale herself. 

How do you relax? 

Walking, watching cricket and loitering in pubs. 

Which book do you wish you had written and why? 

I’m not really sure how to answer this question, as we all write in our own way and if I wrote somebody else’s book I’d end up re-writing it in my particular style. 

What would you say to your younger self if you were just starting out as a writer. 

You really are going to be able to sustain a career as a writer! 

How would you describe your latest published book? 

The St Hilda’s event is set to coincide with publication of my latest novel, The Fine Art of Uncanny Prediction, which features a second appearance by Japanese detective Umiko Wada and sees her drawn into a nest of mysteries concerning her former boss Kazuto Kodaka and the troubled past of Japan itself. 

With Celebrations: innocent parties, guilty pleasures being the theme at St Hilda's this year, which are you three favourite psychological books and why? 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, The Magus by John Fowles and The Secret History by Donna Tartt - classics of psychologically intriguing storytelling all three. 

If you were to rewatch a psychological film which film would it be and why? 

Picnic at Hanging Rock - there’s a chance that one day I’ll be able to work out what actually happened at Hanging Rock that summer’s day in 1900, even though I realize the scriptwriter didn’t know himself.

What are you looking forward to at St Hilda’s? 

The unexpected! 

The Fine Art of Uncanny Prediction by Robert Goddard (Transworld Publshers Ltd) Out 17 August 2023

Umiko Wada never set out to be a private detective, let alone become the one-woman operation behind the Kodaka Detective Agency. But so it has turned out, thanks to the death of her former boss, Kazuto Kodaka, in mysterious circumstances. Keen to avoid a similar fate, Wada chooses the cases she takes very carefully. A businessman who wants her to track down his estranged son offers what appears to be a straightforward assignment. Soon she finds herself pulled into a labyrinthine conspiracy with links to a twenty-seven-year-old investigation by her late employer and to the chaos and trauma of the dying days of the Second World War. As Wada uncovers a dizzying web of connections between then and now, it becomes clear that someone has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the past buried. Soon those she loves most will be sucked into the orbit of one of the most powerful men in Tokyo. And he will do whatever it takes to hold on to his power...

Information about 2023 St Hilda's College Crime Fiction Weekend and how to book tickets can be found here.



Tuesday 11 July 2023

Vikki Wakefield on How to Make a Monster

Nothing drives my imagination quite like opening up to the questions surrounding an intensely personal fear—and nothing scares me more than the thought of losing a child. When I started researching and writing After You Were Gone, I was drawn into the heart-breaking world of parents and families of missing children. To lose a child is devastating enough, but to endure a lifetime of not knowing what happened to them?

This is the terrible limbo of ambiguous loss. 

In death, there is finality; there are processes, rituals, and a gradual progression through the stages of grief. To suffer ambiguous loss is to enter a relentless cycle of unresolved grief and hopelessness, and it takes strength, support and unity to survive. Rightfully or wrongfully, a degree of judgement and suspicion comes along with being the parent of a missing child and, while tragedy is the thread that ties some families together, it can also become a wedge that pushes them apart.

After You Were Gone is a psychological suspense thriller centred around a missing child, an abduction case gone cold, and a fractured family trying to find their way back to each other. The story opens with a wedding celebration: six years after her daughter Sarah was abducted, Abbie is getting married to a man she loves, and who loves her. While her loss is as raw as the day Sarah went missing, she is determined to move forward. But, within hours, Abbie’s life changes abruptly for a second time and she is faced with a choice: destroy her new life by following the instructions of an anonymous caller offering closure or maintain her fragile peace and continue the cycle of not knowing. 

What would you do if the unthinkable happened? What would you give up? How far would you go to know the truth? 

These were the questions driving the development of Abbie’s character and those of the people surrounding her in grief. As a writer and a mother, I was compelled to strive toward knowing what happened; as a consequence, Abbie makes unhinged decisions. While some will find her to be an unlikeable protagonist, I see her as a manifestation of flawed but unwavering parental love. Her desperation to know what happened to her child is deeply human and relatable, and it takes incredible courage to wander alone into an abyss. For Abbie, there is no other choice but to let herself fall—it’s the only way to break the endless cycle of grief.

Modern literature is littered with unlikeable and unreliable narrators. Readers either love them, hate them, or love to hate them, but the real test of an unlikeable character is: do they force us to test our own morality, and can we relate? During my research, two refrains common to many suffering ambiguous loss rose above the rest. The first was that the pain never stops. Without closure, there is no clear way forward; the finality of death is withheld. The second was that the parents of missing children would do anything—anything—to know what happened, even if it meant accepting that their child was never coming home.

Here’s the thing: men have been writing unlikeable female characters for centuries. Why then did it feel dangerous to write a character like Abbie, who not only self-destructs but takes the people who love and support her down with her? In these moments of doubt, I remember this quote by Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs:

If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities.”

After You Were Gone explores themes of responsibility and blame, guilt and atonement, and examines familial relationships under extreme circumstances. It’s a character-driven psychological thriller, as much about the connections between mothers, daughters and sisters as it is about the mystery of a missing child. Set over three timelines—Before, After and Now—the story follows Abbie’s life from pregnant teenager to grieving mother, and to the present, when she must become a monster to defeat a monster.

No one is innocent. Everyone will be judged. The clues to solving the mystery of Sarah’s disappearance are all there, shrouded in the past, but the only way for Abbie to find the answers she craves is to sacrifice her future, and herself. 

What would you do?

After You Were Gone by Vikki Wakefield, No Exit Press £8.99 Out Now 

What happens to a family when a child goes missing? In a busy street market, Abbie lets go of six-year-old Sarah's hand. She isn't a bad mother, just exhausted. But when she turns around, her daughter is gone. Six years on, Abbie is in love and getting married. But her fragile peace is constantly threatened: not knowing what happened to Sarah. Then she receives a phone call from a man claiming to know what happened, but if Abbie tells anyone she'll never find out the truth. How far would you go to find your child?

Sunday 9 July 2023

Japanese Maltese Falcon Award

Congratulations go to S.J. ROZAN who won the Japanese Maltese Falcon Award for Paper Son. The award is given by the members of the Maltese Falcon Society of Japan for the best hardboiled novel published in Japan. Paper Son came out in 2019 in the U.S., but came out in Japan in 2022. 

Friday 7 July 2023

THE FINGERPRINT AWARD NOMINEES ARE...

 

Since our schedule announcement last week our festival tickets have been selling like hot cakes (or whatever the crime equivalent is)!

To keep the crime-celebration going we've announced our nominees for the 2023 Fingerprint Awards!

The Fingerprint Awards are the awards where you, the crime and thriller fan, get to choose the winner. Every year we will be featuring the best in the genre, as selected by our Advisory Board, from the year before but it's up to YOU to decide who wins in each category.​

Voting is free and open to all! 

Vote here

The winners will be revealed at our festival on Thursday 31st August live at Capital Crime 2023 and via our social channels.

To toast your winners in person book your ticket to Capital Crime 2023!

Book Your Tickets Here







ABOUT CAPITAL CRIME



There's only one place to be from 31st August - 2nd September 2023 and that's the Leonardo Royal St Paul's Hotel, where we will be celebrating the best genre in town.

Get ready to mingle with crime fictions biggest stars and latest chart toppers as we're honoured to welcome Richard Osman, Lisa Jewell, Joanne Harris, Kate Atkinson, "Happy Valley" creator Sally Wainwright, Dorothy Koomson, Chris Carter, Peter James, Liz Nugent, Imran Mahmood, Will Dean, Nicola Williams, Richard Armitage, Yomi Adegoke, Mark Billingham, M W Craven, Steve Cavanagh, Adele Parks and many more of your favourite authors to Capital Crime this year! 

For our full line-up and schedule head to our website

Tickets can be purchased via our website, along with full details about accommodation, discounted tickets (Frontline Workers/Librarian/Students/Local Residents) but if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team at info@capitalcrime.org and they'll be happy to help.

Thursday 6 July 2023

2023 CWA Dagger Awards Announced

 

The winners of the 2023 CWA Daggers, which honour the very best in the crime writing genre, have been announced.

The prestigious Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Daggers are the oldest awards in the genre and have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century. 

Vaseem Khan, Chair of the CWA, said: "This year's CWA Daggers, in the CWA’s 70th jubilee year, continued the tradition of recognising both the broad appeal of the genre, and the wide spectrum of writers now operating within it, showcasing the full creative range of modern crime writing."


George Dawes Green receives the CWA Gold Dagger for The Kingdoms of Savannah.

Judges praised the ‘intricately constructed’ novel as a ‘timeless fable.’ A masterpiece of Southern Gothic noir, George Dawes Green’s sprawling mystery explores class and power structures after a brutal murder. He is best known for his runaway bestseller The Juror, the basis for the movie starring Demi Moore. 

William Shaw, co-Vice Chair of the CWA, said: “After a fourteen-year hiatus, George Dawes Green’s triumphant return with The Kingdoms of Savannah is a bravura demonstration of the extraordinary power of crime fiction. Peopled with vividly-drawn characters from every Southern walk of life, this compelling mystery achieves something remarkable in peeling back the skin of Georgia’s troubled history to expose a society whose opulence was always built on something very dark.”

Past winners of the CWA Gold Dagger, which recognises the best crime novel of the year, include John le Carré, Reginald Hill, and Ruth Rendell.

The winner of the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger is John Brownlow for Agent Seventeen.


Awarded for best thriller, the Dagger is sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, the Fleming family-owned company that looks after the James Bond literary brand.

Agent Seventeen, a debut thriller from the British-Canadian screenwriter, centres on an elite hitman who must remain one step ahead of his many rivals if he wants to stay alive. It was praised by the judges as a ‘deceptively layered’ blockbuster thriller and ‘roller-coaster’ tale. Brownlow is best known as a screenwriter of Sylvia, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig, and the TV series, Fleming.


The anticipated ILP John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger highlights the best debut crime novel. This year, the accolade goes to Hayley Scrivenor for Dirt Town, praised by the CWA judges as a ‘haunting mystery.’ Dirt Town, which follows the case of a missing girl in small-town Australia, was described by The Guardian as “outback noir that lives up to the hype.”

The CWA Historical Dagger goes to DV Bishop for The


Darkest Sin
. Set in Renaissance Florence, The Darkest Sin is an atmospheric historical thriller that judges praised as ‘well-researched’ and ‘gripping to the end.

The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction goes to Wendy Joseph for Unlawful Killings: Life, Love and Murder: Trials at the Old Bailey. The revealing, humane and gripping stories from Wendy Joseph, a retired Old Bailey judge, were praised as a ‘rare glimpse beneath the wig,


with significant observations on the justice system.

The Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger, sponsored by former CWA Chair, Maxim Jakubowski in honour of his wife Dolores Jakubowski, goes to Javier Cercas for Even the Darkest Night, translated by Anne McLean. The leading Spanish literary author was commended for his ‘complex characters’ and ‘striking sense of place.’

The CWA Daggers are one of the few high-profile awards that honour the short story. Hazell Ward scoops the award for Cast a Long Shadow, an emotional tale of murder that leads to a man condemned by suspicion by a whole village. Ward delivers a, ‘truly emotional ride with a twist.’

The Dagger in the Library is voted on exclusively by librarians, chosen for the author’s

body of work and support of libraries. This year it goes to Sophie Hannah. 

The Sunday Times bestselling writer is published in 49 languages and 51 territories. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide. Hannah is the author of the new Poirot mysteries with the blessing of Agatha Christie’s family and estate.

One of the anticipated highlights of the annual Daggers is the Debut Dagger competition, sponsored by ProWritingAid. The international competition is open to uncontracted writers. This year, the award goes to Jeff Marsick for Sideways, about a 26-year-old army veteran, Gage, suffering from PTSD. 

The Dagger for the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, goes to Viper (Profile Books). 

Viper’s books include Sunday Times bestsellers The Appeal by Janice Hallett and The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward, and Reese Witherspoon Book Club sensation, The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave.

A CWA Red Herring, for services to crime writing and the CWA, were awarded to Gary Stratmann and Corinne Turner.

Maxim Jakubowski, former Chair of CWA, said: “As the husband of crime writer Linda Stratmann, a past CWA Chair, Gary Stratmann has accidentally found himself at the heart of our community and has taken it to it like a fish to water; ever supportive, convivial, he has become the de facto CWA photographer, social gadfly, and visual historian.

On Corinne Turner, Maxim said: “As the head of Ian Fleming Publications, Corinne Turner has not only been a stalwart CWA sponsor, but has also lent her knowledge, business advice, sensible management experience and invaluable financial know how to our board. She has been a major factor into making us a more professional body, and has always been available with a smile on her face."

The CWA Diamond Dagger, awarded to an author whose crime-writing career has been marked by sustained excellence, is announced in early spring each year and in 2023 it was awarded to Walter Mosley. 


One of the most versatile and admired writers in America, Mosley is the author of more than 60 critically acclaimed books, that cover a wide range of genres. His work has been translated into 25 languages. 

The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner at the Leonardo City Hotel in London on Thursday 6 July. The ceremony was compered by bestselling authors Victoria Selman and Imran Mahmood. Charlie Higson, the Fast Show actor, comedian, and author of the recent James Bond novel On His Majesty's Secret Service and many Young Bond volumes, was the after-dinner speaker.

One of the UK’s most prominent societies, the CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasey; the awards started in 1955 with its first award going to Winston Graham, best known for Poldark

Dagger Winners 2023

CWA GOLD DAGGER

The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green (Headline Fiction, Headline Publishing Group)

CWA IAN FLEMING STEEL DAGGER

Agent Seventeen by John Brownlow (Hodder & Stoughton)

ILP JOHN CREASEY (NEW BLOOD) DAGGER

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor (Pan Macmillan, Macmillan)

CWA HISTORICAL DAGGER

The Darkest Sin by DV Bishop (Pan Macmillan, Macmillan)

CWA ALCS GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION

Unlawful Killings: Life, Love and Murder: Trials at the Old Bailey by Wendy Joseph (Transworld)

CWA CRIME FICTION IN TRANSLATION DAGGER sponsored in honour of Dolores Jakubowski

Even the Darkest Night, Javier Cercas translated by Anne McLean (Quercus, MacLehose Press)

CWA SHORT STORY DAGGER

Cast a Long Shadow’ by Hazell Ward, in Cast a Long Shadow edited by Katherine Stansfield and Caroline Oakley (Honno Press)

CWA DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY

Sophie Hannah

CWA PUBLISHERS’ DAGGER

Viper (Profile Books)

CWA DEBUT DAGGER sponsored by ProWritingAid

Sideways’ Jeff Marsick

THE CWA RED HERRING for services to crime writing and the CWA

Gary Stratmann

Corinne Turner

DIAMOND DAGGER

Walter Mosley