Monday, May 31, 2010

Holding onto Unreviewed Review Books

It's become crisis point space-wise here at Euro Crime HQ. The books are everywhere and I need to make a cull.

What happens with review books is this:

Books are sent direct to me as co-ordinator of the website and roughly once a week I email a list of received books with synopsis to the review team. They email back with their preferred choices, I post the books to them and await the reviews. I also get emails from publicists who ask about a review for a particular title and I circulate the details and get the book sent direct to the reviewer (this is preferable to me as it speeds the process up and saves me £££ on postage).

But the thing is - what to do with the books nobody has requested? How long do I hold on to them? Do I hope that someone's enthusiasm will be pricked by a review from another source or perhaps that a new reviewer will join the team who might have different interests?

Does there come a point when a review of a book is too late in the day and that slot would be better given to a newer book?

What do other review sites do? Do they send out books on a pot-luck basis to their reviewers and does this generate more reviews or less if you've not been given a choice as to which books you want to review.

Do publicists care/notice if you don't review every book they send, on the site and would they find it preferable, though time-consuming, for books not to be sent until a home is found ie do everything by email first.

This same quandary about hanging onto books applies to one's own to-be-read pile. When do you say - I'm never going to read that book? and thus rehome it.

One final point is that I also get a small number a week of what I call American serial killer books and unfortunately, they are not covered under euro crime so I donate these either to a fellow blogger or my library.

Any thoughts on the above, from reader, reviewer or publicist, welcomed :).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Reviews: Janes, Kristian, McGilloway, Nadel, O'Connor, Sigurdardottir

Closing tomorrow:
Win a copy of Deadly Trade by Michael Stanley (Worldwide)
Win a copy of Bad Penny Blues by Cathi Unsworth (UK only).

Here are this week's reviews:
Maxine Clarke reviews Diane Janes's fiction debut, The Pull of the Moon (partly set in Birmingham);

Amanda Gillies goes back to the Vikings in the second in the Raven series by Giles Kristian - Sons of Thunder;

Michelle Peckham reviews the recently released paperback edition of Brian McGilloway's Bleed a River Deep, the third in this Irish Borderlands series;

Laura Root reviews the latest Cetin Ikman from Barbara Nadel Death by Design, in which Inspector Ikman goes undercover in London;

Terry Halligan reviews journalist Niamh O'Connor's debut If I Never See You Again the first in a series starring Dublin Superintendent Jo Birmingham

and Maxine also reviews the second in the Thora (and Matthew) series from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, tr. Bernard Scudder and Anna Yates - My Soul to Take which has an Agatha Christie style set-up.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found by author or date, here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jeffery Deaver to write James Bond

Quite a surprising announcement this I think but American author Jeffery Deaver is to write the next authorised James Bond story and it is to be set in the present day. I listened to the last one, Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks and though the narration was superb by Jeremy Northam I found the story a little dull.

From The Guardian:
Best known for his quadriplegic detective Lincoln Rhyme, the star of books including The Bone Collector and The Stone Monkey, Deaver has been commissioned to write a new Bond novel by Fleming's estate. Currently known as Project X, the book will be set in the present day, unlike Sebastian Faulks recent addition to the Bond oeuvre, Devil May Care, which took place in 1967.

Apart from its contemporary setting, Deaver was giving little else away about the plot, but revealed it would occur over a short period of time and take 007 to "three or four exotic locations around the globe". He has already started writing the book, which is out next May, and promised it would retain "the persona of James Bond as Fleming created him and the unique tone the author brought to his books", while also incorporating his own "literary trademarks: detailed research, fast pacing and surprise twists".

Fleming's estate was moved to approach Deaver after he raved about the Bond books in an acceptance speech for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award.
There is an official website James Bond Project X.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Herring in the Library

L C Tyler's next book, published in July, is The Herring in the Library, the third in his Herring series after, The Herring Seller's Apprentice and Ten Little Herrings. This comedic series features agent and author: Elsie and Ethelred (or Ethelred and Elsie series as they are known in the US). The fourth book is to be The Herring on the Nile!

I loved the Edgar-Award-listed Herring Seller's Apprentice and it's time I caught up with this series.

Synopsis: "When literary agent Elsie Thirkettle is invited to accompany tall but obscure crime-writer Ethelred Tressider to dinner at Muntham Court, she is looking forward to sneering at his posh friends. What she is not expecting is that, half way through the evening, her host will be found strangled in his locked study. Since there is no way that a murderer could have escaped, the police conclude that Sir Robert Muntham has killed himself. A distraught Lady Muntham, however, asks Ethelred to conduct his own investigation. Ethelred (ably hindered by Elsie) sets out to resolve a classic 'locked room' mystery; but is any one of the assorted guests and witnesses actually telling the truth? And can Ethelred's account be trusted? In the process, we meet one of Ethelred's own creations, the fourteenth-century detective Master Thomas, who is helped in his investigations of a mediaeval crime at Muntham Court by a small and rather pushy Abbess with a taste for honey cakes ...Is it possible that Master Thomas can shed some light on the twenty-first century case, and on Ethelred's own motives for investigating Sir Robert's death? "The Herring in the Library" is another ingenious outing for crime fiction's most mismatched double-act."

It's no coincidence that the covers have some resemblance in style to fellow-Last Laugh nominee Malcolm Pryce's Aberystwyth Noir series:

Monday, May 24, 2010

International Dagger Speculation (2010) - the polls

I have now set up two polls, to close the day before the announcement of the winner of the International Dagger 2010 on 23 July at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival.

The first poll is for:

The book you want to win.

The second poll is for:

The book you think will win.

The polls can be found on the RHS of the blog. We'll see how much correlation there is - and you can see the results of last year's polls here.

CrimeFest Quiz Prize

When the team I happened to be on won the 2010 CrimeFest quiz, the prize came in the form of a large cardboard box full of books, audio books and Lewis DVDs, from which we helped ourselves. Here's what I took:

The James Patterson audio book is unabridged and will fit nicely into my teenage fiction interest. I don't normally listen to abridged books but the Kate Atkinson one is read by Jason Isaacs...

(Thinking it about it now, I have a feeling the Lee Child audio book was in my book bag...and not a prize.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

OT: Cat Photos

I've been copying the CrimeFest photos onto my pc and came across these recent ones of Foxy. In the first one he's cutely curled up on some bubble wrap but in the second you can see why he has the nickname Fangy Fox!

Back from CrimeFest

I had rather a lengthy journey back from CrimeFest at Bristol today (compared to the number of miles I had to go) due to Sunday engineering works and broken down trains, and I haven't unpacked everything yet and I certainly haven't touched my packets. Apparently 12 came in one day - this is rather unusual, possibly even a personal record!

Mark it in your diary - next year's CrimeFest is 19-22 May 2011.

Friday, May 21, 2010

International Dagger 2010 - Shortlist

Finally, the suspense is over. At today's Crime Fest, the shortlist for the 2010 CWA International Dagger Award was announced:
Tonino Benacquista - Badfellas
Andrea Camilleri - August Heat
Arnaldur Indridason - Hypothermia
Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
Deon Meyer - Thirteen Hours
Johan Theorin - The Darkest Room

The shortlists for the Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, Dagger in the Library, Short Story and Debut Daggers were also announced. Details are on the CWA website.

Marcel Belins gives his winner's prediction in The Times

Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2010 - Longlist

From Booktrade:

"A major accolade in the crime writing field, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award is unique in that it is the only one of its kind which is largely voted for by the general public. As of today (Friday 21st May), the public will have three weeks to vote for their favourite title at, and the result of this vote will determine the eight titles that make it onto the shortlist.":
In the Dark by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)
If It Bleeds by Duncan Campbell (Headline)
The Surrogate by Tania Carver (Little, Brown)
The Business by Martina Cole (Headline)
A Simple Act of Violence by R.J. Ellory (Orion)
Until It’s Over by Nicci French (Penguin)
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
Cold in Hand by John Harvey (Arrow)
Skin by Mo Hayder (Transworld)
Vows of Silence by Susan Hill (Vintage)
The Dying Breed by Declan Hughes (John Murray)
Dead Tomorrow by Peter James (Pan Books)
Target by Simon Kernick (Transworld)
A Darker Domain by Val McDermid (HarperCollins)
Gallows Lane by Brian McGilloway (Pan Macmillan)
Geezer Girls by Dreda Say Mitchell (Hodder)
Singing to the Dead by Caro Ramsay (Penguin)
Doors Open by Ian Rankin (Orion)
All The Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson (Hodder)
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster)

Crime Fest Day 2.1

My first panel of the day - I Fought the Law: Authors who write both crime fact & fiction, chaired by Martin Edwards who, though he claims not to be a morning person, led an interesting and lively panel.

L-R: Alison Bruce, Dan Waddell, Martin Edwards, Diane Janes, Frances Brody:

Dan and Martin after the panel:

Of particular interest to me was the fact that Diane Janes's book, The Pull of the Moon, is partly set in Birmingham. Regular readers of this blog might be aware of how unusual this is. Alison Bruce's series has been on my radar for a while as it's set in Cambridge, another of my favourite settings. Dan Waddell has agreed to visit my library to give a talk at an unspecified date as yet but I look forward to hearing more abut his genealogy book and crime series. He introduced the panel (and audience?) to the term "psychogeograhy" when talking about how Rillington Place has been obliterated, rebuilt and renamed but without a number 10. Martin said that Crippen's house was demolished in the blitz but there are similar houses around that he could look at for his book on Crippen. Frances Brody shared a story on how she went to Headingly to find a house for her main character and how the current owner was a bit suspicious about her and didn't offer a tour inside. (Her next book is set in Harrogate). Zoe Sharp won the goody bag for the most interesting question, asking the panel what was the most unusual fact they'd found during their research. Dan said that he's read that a stupid surname shortens life expectancy but he hasn't been able to find any scientific evidence to corroborate the claim!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Crime Fest Quiz 2010

I'm pleased to report that your erstwhile correspondent was part of the winning team, the Monkey Coalition, at the quiz tonight at Crime Fest. The team comprised readers Rik, Carol and myself and authors, Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards and Cath Staincliffe. The prize was a large mixed box of books, talking books and DVDs which we plundered to our own personal satisfaction. I'm afraid I had little to do with our success, rather it was Martin and Rik who stole the show!

Publishing Deal - Cathi Unsworth

I'm currently running a competition to give-away copies of Cathi Unsworth's current book, Bad Penny Blues, but on Booktrade the other day there were details of Cathi's next project, announced by Serpent's Tail:

We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of Cathi Unsworth – the queen of London Noir's - fourth novel WEIRDO.

Cathi's editor John Williams said:

'We're thrilled to be publishing Cathi's new book - her most personal and her most commercial title yet. Weirdo is a psychological thriller set in a seaside town in Norfolk (Cathi Unsworth's home turf), which moves between the eighties and the present, as a Cold Cases detective attempts to uncover the truth about a murder apparently carried out by a teenage goth girl twenty years earlier.'

Cathi Unsworth is a novelist, writer, editor and a regular on the rock'n'roll reading circuit who lives and works in London. She began her career on the legendary music weekly Sounds at the age of 19 and has worked as a writer and editor for many other music, film and arts magazines since, including Bizarre, Melody Maker, Mojo, Wire, Mslexia and Dazed and Confused.

Serpent's Tail will publish Weirdo by Cathi Unsworth in 2012.

Monday, May 17, 2010

International Dagger Speculation (2010)

The shortlist for the CWA International Dagger will be announced at CrimeFest on Friday. As one of the judges, I do know what's on the list so cannot comment but I shall be running the polls as in earlier years, for "what do you *think*will win" and "what do you *want* to win", once the official announcement's been made.

I thought I'd repost the list of titles published during the eligibility period, with links to Euro Crime reviews and perhaps people would like to comment below on which 6 titles would be in their shortlist. (Maxine has reviewed some more of the titles on Petrona):
Boris Akunin - She Lover of Death
Selcuk Altun - Many and Many a Year Ago
Barbara Baraldi - The Girl With the Crystal Eyes
Tonino Benacquista - Badfellas
Mikkel Birkegaard - The Library of Shadows
Sergio Bizzio - Rage
Armand Cabasson - Memory of Flames
Andrea Camilleri - August Heat
Raphael Cardetti - Death in the Latin Quarter
Massimo Carlotto - Poisonville (with Marco Videtta)
Donato Carrisi - The Whisperer
Jacques Chessex - A Jew Must Die
K O Dahl - The Last Fix
Leif Davidsen - The Woman from Bratislava
Tim Davys - Amberville
Tom Egeland - The Guardians of the Covenant
Marjolijn Februari - The Book Club
Marcello Fois - Blood from the Skies
Karin Fossum - The Water's Edge
Eugenio Fuentes - At Close Quarters
Michele Giuttari - The Death of a Mafia Don
Juan Gomez-Jurado - Contract with God
Luigi Guicciardi - Inspector Cataldo's Criminal Summer
Petra Hammesfahr - The Lie
Anne Holt - Death in Oslo
Arnaldur Indridason - Hypothermia
Claude Izner - The Predator of Batignolles
Christian Jacq - The Judgement of the Mummy
Tove Jansson - The True Deceiver
Andrea H Japp - The Divine Blood
Mari Jungstedt - The Killer's Art
Andrey Kurkov - The Good Angel of Death
Camilla Lackberg - The Stonecutter
Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
Giulio Leoni - The Kingdom of Light
Henning Mankell - The Man from Beijing
Dominique Manotti - Affairs of State
Javier Marias - Your Face Tomorrow 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell
Petros Markaris - Che Committed Suicide
Patricia Melo - Lost World
Deon Meyer - Thirteen Hours
Zygmunt Miloszewski - Entanglement
Rita Monaldi & Francesco Sorti - Secretum
Jo Nesbo - The Snowman
Guillermo Orsi - No-one Loves a Policeman
Jean-Francois Parot - The Nicolas le Floch Affair
Arturo Perez-Reverte - Pirates of the Levant
Claudia Pineiro - Thursday Night Widows
Luis Miguel Rocha - The Last Pope
Santiago Roncagliolo - Red April
Emili Rosales - The Invisible City
Frank Schatzing - Death and the Devil
Andrea Maria Schenkel - Ice Cold
Bernhard Schlink - Self's Murder
Mehmet Murat Somer - The Gigolo Murder
Gunnar Staalesen - The Consorts of Death
Johan Theorin - The Darkest Room
Alberto Vazquez-Figueroa - Tuareg
Alberto Vazquez-Figueroa - Coltan
Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Angel's Game
Juli Zeh - Dark Matter

OT: Swift Activity

Last year I posted on the day that the swifts had returned to where I live. Last Monday, the 10th, I spotted my first swift of this year and thought I must see how the date compares to last year. I've been forgetting to look and seeing a group of them this morning has reminded me. Very spookily, I saw them for the first time in 2009 and 2010 on 10 May...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Reviews: Davidsen, George, Hilton, Markaris, Morris, Nova

This month's competitions:
Win a copy of Deadly Trade by Michael Stanley (Worldwide)
Win a copy of Bad Penny Blues by Cathi Unsworth (UK only).

Here are this week's reviews, (lots of third books this week!):
Maxine Clarke reviews The Woman from Bratislava by Leif Davidsen, tr Barbara J Haveland;

Terry Halligan says that Elizabeth George is back on form with This Body of Death;

Michelle Peckham continues to enjoy the Joe Hunter series by Matt Hilton, now on its third entry: Slash and Burn;

Maxine also reviews Che Committed Suicide by Petros Markaris, tr. David Connolly, the third in this Athens based series;

Pat Austin reviews the third of R N Morris's Porfiry Petrovich series, A Razor Wrapped in Silk calling it "a little gem"

and Norman Price reviews The Informer by Craig Nova set in 1930s Berlin.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found by author or date, here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Transatlantic Title Change Alert

It's just come to my attention that Sophie Hannah's The Other Half Lives (at title which I always think of and have to stop pronouncing in chemistry terms) is to be published in the US in June as the more mundane, The Dead Lie Down:

US synopsis:

Ruth Bussey once did something she regrets, and her punishment nearly destroyed her. Now Ruth is rebuilding her life and has found a love she doesn’t believe she deserves. Aidan Seed is also troubled by a past he can’t bear to talk about, until one day when he decides he must confide in Ruth. He tells her that, years ago, he killed a woman named Mary Trelease.

Ruth is confused. She knows first-hand that Mary Trelease is very much alive and takes her concern to Sgt. Charlotte “Charlie” Zailer of the Spilling Police. With her boyfriend, DC Simon Waterhouse, she decides to look into the matter, compelled by Ruth’s fear that something terrible may be about to happen. What she discovers propels her through London’s art scene, and the lives of five very odd people, to the unsettling secrets that bind them all.

This is not the first time this has happened with Sophie Hannah's books as, The Point of Rescue (UK) became The Wrong Mother (US).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Coming Soon from Simon & Schuster (UK)

I've received the latest catalogue from Simon & Schuster (July - December 2010). I'll be adding the following to the forthcoming releases page (if they're not already there):

Michael Jecks - The Oath (Knights Templar series)
Lynda La Plante - Blind Fury (Anna Travis)


N J Cooper - Lifeblood (paperback original, #2 Karen Taylor)
The Medieval Murderers - The Sacred Stone
Ruth Newman - The Company of Shadows
Kevin Power - Bad Day in Blackrock (paperback)


Neil Cross - Captured (paperback)
Jeremy Duns - Free Country (sequel to Free Agent)
Sarah Rayne - House of the Lost (paperback) (with a quote from the Euro Crime review of Ghost Song in the catalogue!)
Bob Shepherd - The Infidel (SAS-type thriller)


Michael Dobbs - The Reluctant Hero (paperback)
Bruno Hare - The Lost Kings (debut, Rider Haggard-esque adventure)
Bernard Knight - A Plague of Heretics (paperback)


Terence Strong - Dragonplague (paperback)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

New Reviews: Eastland, French, Grimes, MacBride, Parot, Stanley

This month's competitions:
Win a copy of Deadly Trade by Michael Stanley (Worldwide)
Win a copy of Bad Penny Blues by Cathi Unsworth (UK only).

Here are this week's reviews:
Rik Shepherd reviews Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland, the first in the Inspector Pekkala series;

Maxine Clarke reviews the latest from Nicci French: Complicit;

Terry Halligan reviews the twenty-second outing for Richard Jury in Martha Grimes's The Black Cat;

Paul Blackburn reviews Dark Blood by Stuart MacBride, the sixth in the Logan McRae series;

Laura Root reviews the latest in the Nicolas Le Floch series, The Nicolas Le Floch Affair by Jean-Francois Parot, tr. Howard Curtis

and Michelle Peckham reviews one of this month's competition prizes: A Deadly Trade by Michael Stanley.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found by author or date, here.

Friday, May 07, 2010

OT: Castle & books

The tv show Castle has become one of my guilty pleasures. It's showing on Alibi on Wednesdays at 9pm. It's along the lines of The Mentalist with a (male) outsider coming in and showing the (female) detective and her team how it's done. In this case Rick Castle is a best-selling crime writer.

I recently found out that there are books being published as if they were written by Rick Castle - the ones that he is writing in the show, his Nikki Heat series. (Almost as confusing as how there are Bones books based on the tv series, which are based on the books by Kathy Reichs.)

In the trailer below, Stephen J Cannell and Michael Connelly join in the fun:

Update: You can read the first ten chapters of the first book in the series, Heat Wave, at the Castle website.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Creme de la Crime - Ebooks & Interviews

The well-regarded specialist press, Creme de la Crime has teamed up with Creative Content Ltd to have their titles made available as ebooks. The first four titles were released under the eCC imprint on 30 April:
Working Girls by Maureen Carter
The Crimson Cavalier by Mary Andrea Clarke
Dead Woman’s Shoes by Kaye C Hill
Broken Harmony by Roz Southey
You can read about each title at the Creative Content Ltd website and the e-books can be bought at the usual places.

To celebrate the launch, the four authors were interviewed and Euro Crime has been granted permission to run the interview on this blog:

Kaye C Hill - Dead Woman’s Shoes

Kaye’s sparky sleuth Lexy Lomax lives on the Suffolk coast where, when not writing, Kaye herself, spends as much time as possible - it’s a place that she finds incredibly mysterious and atmospheric making it a perfect setting for Dead Woman’s Shoes.
Kaye is currently working on her third novel in the series which will be out early in 2011.

Maureen Carter -Working Girls

Maureen has worked extensively in newspapers, radio and television and still freelances in the business… As a journalist she worked closely with the police, covering countless crime stories, interviewing many victims and has reported on several murders…
Originally from Staffordshire, Maureen lives and writes in the West Midlands.

Roz Southey - Broken Harmony

Roz Southey has a passion for the often contentious world of 18th century music-making in the north east of England; in fact, she has a PhD in it!
Roz lives in the north east herself and lectures at the International Centre for Music Studies in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Mary Andrea Clarke - The Crimson Cavalier

By day, Mary Andrea Clarke is a responsible civil servant - but by night, she is a mystery woman! Her love of crime fiction led her to join the vibrant group of readers and writers who organise many events and meetings all over the UK.
She lives in Surrey and has completed her next novel which is due for publication in August 2010.

1. If you could choose any actress to play the lead role on TV or reading an audio version of your titles, who would you choose?

Kaye C Hill

This is a tough one! I think someone who was a tomboy - not glamorous - perhaps Sharon Small who plays DS Barbara Havers in the Inspector Lindley Mysteries ? - as for an audio book reader I would choose someone with a laconic, humorous voice like Jennifer Saunders or Jo Brand.

Maureen Carter

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the actress Liz White playing WPC Annie Cartwright in Life on Mars - I’d never seen her before, but apart from her eye colour, she was Bev Morriss made flesh - she is SO close to how I see Bev in my mind…
As for who’d read an audio book, that’s trickier - voices are incredibly important - the voice says so much about you from the moment you open your mouth - one thing I don’t hear though is a Birmingham accent !
If I had the chance I would LOVE to narrate the book myself!

Roz Southey

Charles Patterson is a real person to me emotionally and I’m quite scared about giving him someone else’s face, because then he will become unreal and merely a character in a book…he is himself and no-one else…
I also think the reader should imagine the character for him/herself - I don’t spend too much time on physical description beyond the basics - the personalities and their interactions are the most important thing…
As far as his voice is concerned I hear him with a Northern English voice with perhaps a hint of Geordie or the North East - definitely educated but very definitely from Newcastle…as far as specific voice, I feel that any decent actor ought to be able to do that sort of voice or accent anyway, but nobody specific comes to mind…

Mary Andrea Clarke

Catherine Zeta Jones! She has a lively and spirited presence which would bring Georgiana Grey to life on-screen.
Anne Cater did an excellent job of reading The Crimson Cavalier and I think my fellow crime writer Linda Regan would also be a good choice - if I had the chance, I would LOVE to narrate the audio myself as I think it would be a really exciting experience…

2. How do you structure the layout and plot lines of your books? Do you have a clear plot line or do things twist, turn and develop as you go along?

Kaye C Hill

I start off with a vague plan…then fill in detail as I go along. Characters appear and do and say things which can surprise me as much as the reader! I usually know who the murderer is but have been known to change him or her when I’m three-quarters through writing the book! I keep a notepad for ideas and often sit in the garden or a nice outdoor place and scribble away ideas and then transfer those ideas to my computer…those ideas can be fleshed out more easily on paper rather than if I used a voice recorder…I also tend to write and check/improve as I go along rather than write a full draft and then return to the start and then re-read and make changes - I think you need to be reminded of what you’ve written as you’re writing…I tend to write more in the mornings and aim to do around a thousand words per day…

Maureen Carter

I generally write a two or three page outline around a central plot and usually, a sub-plot…this also includes major developments in the core characters’ lives both professionally and personally - so I start with clear ideas about the book’s opening, close and several key scenes along the way…but I’m free to go where the fancy takes me!
I always have a notepad with me and by on the bed-side table so that I can make notes and maybe even odd the bit of dialogue…you can get some great ideas in the early hours and if you don’t write them down, you can so easily forget them…
I tend to write in “office hours” and tend not to wait around for inspiration to strike, I like to get on with it, setting myself a minimum number of words per day to keep me on track and I don’t believe in such a thing as “writers block”…

Roz Southey

I start writing with a clear idea of roughly what’s going to happen…but I have thought about the basic idea for some months beforehand and at some point I start seeing scenes in my mind: the opening scene, a couple if climactic scenes in the middle - usually the last scene too - when those characters in those scenes start talking to me, I know it‘s time to start writing…the first draft is always in long hand and then I transfer it to my computer for editing and tidying…I always build the books around a true event, person or trend from the 18th century…
I liken this first draft to the sort of research I do as an academic: I’m not making any of it up, I’m finding out what happened…my subconscious mind is free to offer me all sorts of characters and plot twists that my conscious mind just wouldn’t come up with…
Then I have to plan the novel in detail from the first draft, cutting or enlarging and making sure the plot hangs together an makes sense - this becomes the second draft, then finally when I’m convinced the structure is right I move on to tidying the language etc…
I like to start my writing day around 7:45am and I’ll do an hour or so, then have a walk and then another couple of hours - this is the really serious stuff and I’m at my best in the morning…and then I ease back a little over lunchtime and then get back into it mid-afternoon until around 5pm…and I LOVE Mondays as I always feel fresh, but it’s important to write regularly and treat it in a business-like way…
I tend not to set myself a daily word limit…

Mary Andrea Clarke

I have a general outline for the entire book, but plot each chapter as I go along using a mind map - this helps with tangents and off-shoots…The initial draft for my first book was written in long-hand but now I write direct to my laptop - I spend an hour each day on my commute to work so try to write as much as I can then, but otherwise it’s back on the computer after I’ve had something to eat and working into the night…Weekends are better as I can have a whole day but as far as structure and plot is concerned I either have a notebook or my laptop with me so that I can keep note of ideas and plotlines…

3. Your book is publishing in ePUB/eBook format with Creative Content at the end of April. Do you have any specific views on the digital marketplace as an out let for your titles and what do you think of the new devices like the Kindle?

Kaye C Hill

I think it’s important to move with the times…Much as I love the look and feel of traditional books, I also admire the sleek electronic versions! And also that you can store so many titles on them…I don’t have one at the moment, but we do intend to get one - you can’t fight it and especially the younger generation who are at ease with the technology will embrace it…

Maureen Carter

I’m really excited about the ePub of Working Girls. I want people to read my books and anything which helps readers access my work is - in my book - a good thing…
As for the new devices - yes please! I definitely want a Kindle because it also allows audio downloads and I think this is so important especially perhaps to the older reader who may be averse to an eReader as such, but would be swayed by the audio options - it’s a great thing for them…we would be silly not to embrace the eBook as the sales increases, particularly in the USA are quite extraordinary…

Roz Southey

I do have a reputation for being a little behind with technology..! I love the smell of a new book in my hands, but I do feel however, that anything which encourages people to read is itself to be encouraged enormously and eReaders can be incredibly useful for packing large numbers of books into a small space for travel etc…I may be a little late, but the idea of eBooks is beginning to excite me! It’s interesting also that I teach 18 and 19 year olds that have barely bought a CD in their lives, all of their music comes from downloads, so with this aspect and audio downloading being a feature on some eReaders, it makes for exciting times…and attitudes certainly are changing…

Mary Andrea Clarke

It’s very exciting to see reading moving into the digital world. It’s a helpful option for the reader to have another medium to enjoy books, and which can offer a wide range of titles in an easily mobile format. The Kindle and the iPad can bring a lot more books - even audio downloads to the reader which is a great addition. A great way to take a lot of books on holiday without exceeding the baggage limit!

4. Did you set out to create a series based character or was that accidental?

Kaye C Hill

It was always my intention to make Lexy Lomax the main character in a series of whodunits - the first book provides the background and contains certain strands if intrigue that I unravel from one book to the next…I realised that all the elements of Lexy’s character couldn’t be resolved in the first book so set out to set up certain things that the reader can recognise as they start to read the next book…some aspects can also just run and run from book to book but there are always the connections and sub-plots which are important… I am a big fan of “series” based writing a great example is Sue Grafton who has created a character in her books with an intriguing past and slowly revealed things book to book…I am also very impressed by Lindsey Davis’s writing - she has a PI character set in Imperial Rome…I also very much like Alexander McCall Smith and of course Agatha Christie…

Maureen Carter

It wasn’t my intention to create a series and certainly not a series based around Bev Morriss. She first appeared as a minor character in an unpublished novel I wrote years ago…There was something about her I liked, so when I embarked on writing Working Girls I brought her centre stage - to me Bev is like a breath of fresh - if feisty - air!

Roz Southey

Yes, for two reasons…One is mercenary: a writer’s books are more likely to remain in print if they are in a series - people finding later books always want to go back and read the first ones…and secondly (and chiefly), it allows the writer to develop the main character (or in my case four main characters) over a period of time, showing them growing and changing which makes them much more real…

Mary Andrea Clarke

The Crimson Cavalier was started as a standalone novel, but as the book progressed, ideas developed for other books featuring Georgiana.

5. How do you go about your research?

Maureen Carter

Having been in journalism for over twenty years, so researching and finding things out is second nature to me and if there’s a particular aspect of the plot that I need help with, I tend to phone someone I know who could put me in touch with someone in that specific area - that way you don’t just get the facts, you get some anecdotal stuff as well - I don’t do it ALL when I sit down to write a book, I tend to do some and then for a particular plot twist or something I do more - I tend to like to meet these people and take a portable recorder with me which helps build up a stronger contact…

Roz Southey

I was lucky in that almost all of my research was done before I started writing novels…I did a PhD on music-making in the North East of England during the 18th century - as part of that, I read my way through four centuries worth of newspapers form that period and took out all the references to music…there were also a lot of gossipy stories there, which I couldn’t use in my academic work and it’s these I’ve used as the basis for the novel…I absorbed the 18th century by osmosis so to speak, so the research was done painlessly..!
So many important events occurred during this period I’m always amazed when people say it’s not very interesting as “nothing much happened” this period has always interested me and I’ve learned so much more through doing my PhD…
One of my editor’s comments relating to Broken Harmony was that it seemed that all that people seemed to eat was ale and game pie and nothing else, so I had to separately research that aspect - what people would have eaten..!
The other thing in trying to view a period in the past is to set yourself IN that period and realize that the WAY people thought at that time is simply not the way we think now…and this can only come through reading things like 18th century newspapers and by doing that you start to think as they would have thought - on a daily basis…and having worked around this period for 5 years, I was just immersed in the whole period and the way people thought at the time…

Mary Andrea Clarke

I tended to do the bulk of my research about the period and particularly highwaymen before the first novel and tend to renew and refer back to that as I go along, but if it‘s something I just don‘t know or am not familiar with I would always do the main research before starting to write…and I am always reading - another way to pass the time during my daily commute!
I had read a lot about the Regency period in my youth and that has continued and that has helped a lot when it comes to research and background…

6. Is there any one person who inspired you to become a writer?

Kaye C Hill

I’m not sure whether they inspired me, to start writing but I have always liked the novels of Alexander McCall Smith and Lindsey Davis in particular, but I like to read many different authors.

Maureen Carter

I’ve read voraciously all my life and I always wanted to be a writer…I guess that’s one of the reasons I became a journalist…I can’t pinpoint a single person who inspired me to write fiction, but the opening line of Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell blew me away and I thought when I read it how could anyone not want to read on! Another writer that I am in awe of is John Le Carre - I think his prose is extraordinarily good and A Perfect Spy is a perfect book!
As far as being influenced by a writer, I know a number of writers who choose not to read another author when they are writing themselves - they don’t want to pick up someone else’s style…I totally disagree with that because if you have strong voices and a strong writing style, you aren’t going to be affected…also, if you’re not reading what’s out there, then you’re not really keeping abreast of things…so I say that if you’re a writer, you have to write all the time and you have to read all the time but always keep your own distinctive voice..!

Roz Southey

Well linking to the last question I quite enjoy 18th century writers though I haven’t read any for a while, but I like Ellis Peters who said she was interested in why nice people do nasty things… and that has certainly influenced me in that I am very interested in the relationship between the murderer and the victim…I also read a lot of American crime fiction in general, people like James Elroy and Elmore Leonard - I very much like that gritty style…

Mary Andrea Clarke

I tend to absorb what I can from lots of different writers…when I start to write I think a lot of what I’ve read returns from my subconscious mind, you almost don’t realise you’ve remembered it..!
I used to read a lot about the tudor period from Jean Plaidy and she was always very well researched and could really bring characters to life…she also used to write as Victoria Holt…

7. Is there any one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you?

Maureen Carter

Well I do share an absolute passion for Johnny Depp very much like Bev as he is her fantasy figure! I think he is one of the best actors and he has a wonderful voice and is truly captivating on-screen…

Roz Southey

Well, I’m very much into local history and particularly the valley where I was brought up - we lived in a house which dates back to around the 1520’s and on the window, various people from over the years had carved their names and dates and there were two I remember from 1804 and 1836 I think… so this to me was like history made real when you live there every day and with my very fluid feeling about time sometimes merging into one, past present and future and I think my upbringing was what sparked my interest in history - the house is still standing and I am actually writing about the history of that house…oh and I’m a very keen gardener !

Mary Andrea Clarke

I was in a fencing club when I was at University!

These last two questions were specific to Kaye and Mary

Kaye C Hill

Is a Private Investigator a career you ever saw for yourself and do you know any personally that inspire Lexy’s character?

Writing about a private eye is definitely a case of wish fulfillment…when I was a kid I really wanted to be a private detective and used to go around solving “crimes” in the street with my big tin foil badge saying “Kaye C Hill, Private Investigator” pinned to my raincoat ! I don’t know any private investigators personally but I was approached by one who had read the books and wanted to offer advice - but at a price - I didn’t take up the offer but I think the world of official private investigating is only a few steps away from the world of un-official private investigating which is really what Lexy does - she just keeps stumbling into situations - so there aren’t necessarily any “rules” to learn but it is always useful to pick up any tips whenever I can…

Mary Andrea Clarke

Were you at all inspired by the novels of Georgette Heyer in setting your novels in the Regency period and if so, which of her novels is a favourite?

Yes - her novels did contribute inspiration, but I wanted a different angle…a single woman working around the restrictions of the period to solve a crime…My favourite of her books is Sylvester where the heroine secretly writes a novel…
Many thanks to Creative Content for sharing the above interview.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Translated Crime Fiction Survey - Results

Last September I posted a link to a survey on translated crime fiction which several people commented on* and I hope many more contributed to. My reading group also completed it.

The author has been back in touch to say that his dissertation is now available to read in full. It's in pdf format so can be downloaded - it's 113 pages - here. (*See p37-38 for references to these comments.)

An abridged version, Selling Ice to Eskimos? Swedish Crime Fiction and the World of Publishing, was published in the Swedish Book Review.

Hector and the Search for Happiness

I've just finished Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord, tr. Lorenzo Garcia recently published by Gallic Books. It's not a crime novel but tells the story of Hector, a psychiatrist who sees a lot of patients who are unhappy for no medical reason. So when he goes on holiday he decides to make it a working one and discover what makes people happy or unhappy. His journey takes him from China to Africa, to the country of 'More' (US?) and back again. Told in a deceptively simple style, with self-knowing references this is an amusing and thought-provoking short tale. I did wonder what Hector would have made of Mma Ramotswe if they'd met!

You can read the first chapter at Hector's Journeys.

Having worked in local government all my working life, I was particularly amused by this passage about a management style that was fashionable a while back:

"Hector didn't really see why she [Clara] had two bosses at the same time, but Clara explained that it was because of something called 'matrix management'. Hector thought that this sounded like an expression invented by psychiatrists, and so he wasn't surprised that it created complicated situations and drove people a bit crazy."

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Win A Deadly Trade by Michael Stanley

Win 1 of 5 copies of A Deadly Trade by Michael Stanley - open worldwide.

Set amid the beauty and darkness of modern Botswana, the second in the fantastic crime series featuring the opera-loving wine connoisseur Assistant Superintendant David 'Kubu' Bengu of the Botswana Police Force.

When a mutilated body is found at a tourist camp in northern Botswana, the corpse displays the classic signs of a revenge killing. But when fingerprints are analysed Detective 'Kubu' Bengu Kubu makes a shocking discovery: the victim is already dead. He was slain in the Rhodesian war thirty ago. Kubu soon realises that nothing at the camp is as it seems. And as the guests are picked off one by one, time is running out. With rumours of horrifying war crimes, the scent of a drug-smuggling trail and mounting pressure from his superiors to contend with, Kubu forgets there is one door left unguarded -- his own. And as he sets a trap to find a murderer, the hunters are closing in on him...

Read the Euro Crime review of #1 in the series, A Carrion Death.

(You may need to tab through the last fields to reach the submit button.)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The return of Jan Costin Wagner

I'm so excited about this one. Jan Costin Wagner wrote the haunting Ice Moon which was a big hit with the Euro Crime team a few years ago. At long last a sequel is being published in English in August, translated by Anthea Bell - Silence.

NB. Cover and blurb are taken from the Harvill Secker catalogue and may not represent the final product.

One ordinary summer’s day a young girl disappears while cycling to volleyball practice. Her abandoned bike is found in exactly the same place that another girl was assaulted and murdered thirty-three years previously. The perpetrator was never brought to justice so the authorities suspect the same killer has struck again. The eeriness of the crime unsettles not only the police and public, but also someone who has been carrying a burden of guilt for many years...

Detective Kimmo Joentaa calls upon the help of his older colleague Ketola, who worked on the original murder, in the hope that they can solve both cases. While they are following up leads, the ripples from the impact of the new disappearance spread and Kimmo discovers that the truth is not always what you expect.