guest author, short story

#ShortStory Time Served by Jaime Raven author of The Rebel. @Sabah_K @AvonBooksUK

 

therebel
The Rebel by Jaime Raven.

Today I have a great short story written by Jaime Raven, author of The Rebel which is published by Avon Books. I love a good short story and I’m sure that you’re going to enjoy this one!

 

Blurb:

Jaime Raven

The Rebel

From the author of The Madam and The Mother comes a gripping new thriller that will have everyone talking!

Sometimes you have to take the law into your own hands…

 DI Laura Jefferson will do whatever it takes to bring down London’s most notorious crime boss. When her team receive a deadly threat – stop their investigation or the police and their families will be targeted – but they aren’t willing to back down…

Then the killings begin.

A new body is turns up every day, and with no leads, Laura knows she has to take action. Her family is innocent and she’ll stop at nothing to protect them.

When someone close to her is hurt, she’ll break every rule in the book to get vengeance.

Short Story:

TIME SERVED

BY JAIME RAVEN

Author of THE REBEL

The day has finally arrived and it’s been a long time coming. Fifteen years, seven months and three weeks to be precise.

But having served my time I’m now going to walk out of those prison gates never to return. Sure, I face an uncertain future, but then so does everyone.

At least I’ll no longer have to endure daily threats and taunts and the endless cycle of violence.

I can still remember that bitterly cold December morning when I arrived. It was such a shock to the system that I didn’t think I’d be able to cope.

There were those awful smells that were impossible to identify and the cacophony of noise that gave me headaches.

I found everything about the place intimidating, especially the cold grey eyes of the man who for no particular reason took and instant dislike to me.

Tommy Butcher had already been banged up for five years of a ten year sentence for armed robbery. And he had a fearsome reputation as an uncompromising thug.

‘So what’s your name then?’ he asked me when I encountered him that first day in the prison canteen.

‘Samuels,’ I told him. ‘John Samuels.’

He gave me that creepy, gold-toothed grin that became so familiar, and said, ‘Well I’m gonna call you redtop on account of your ginger hair.’

Much to my dismay the name stuck.

‘Count yourself lucky,’ Bill Simpson said to me more than once. ‘They call me Homer and I hate it with a vengeance.’

Bill has been my best pal throughout. I’ll miss him, and I know he’ll miss having me around.

‘It’ll be my turn to get out next year,’ he tells me as we have our last conversation in the prison’s high-security wing. ‘And I really can’t wait.’

‘I don’t suppose you’ll be as nervous as I am right now,’ I tell him.

He laughs. ‘Try to relax, mate. You’ll be fine. You’ve so much to look forward to.’

I shrug. ‘It doesn’t seem like it. But then I’ve only got myself to blame. I messed up big time.’

We both fall silent and it gives me time to reflect on my mistakes and how much my life has changed since that day fifteen years, seven months and three weeks ago.

Susan divorced me, my only son got married, his wife gave birth to my grandchild and my ginger hair turned grey.

And so much around me changed as well in that time. Conditions inside the prison deteriorated as a result of overcrowding and underfunding. Violence reached an all-time high, and now it seems like every day is a riot waiting to happen.

I’ve managed to survive, though, despite everything that was thrown at me. And that’s no mean feat.

‘You’re still young enough to make every moment count from now on,’ Bill says, but I find that hard to believe.

And yet I know I’m incredibly lucky to have reached this point. Not everyone who’s in for the long haul comes out relatively unscathed.

Jaime Raven

About The Author:

James_RavenJaime Raven is a full-time author living in Southampton UK. Jaime spends some of his time writing at his second home on Spain’s Costa Calida. He has three daughters. He was born in London and grew up in the gritty streets of Peckham where his family were well known street traders.

 

 

The Rebel by Jaime Raven is out now in the UK and available from Amazon UK, you can pre-order The Rebel from Amazon US now.

 

 

 

blog tours, guest author, guest post, how to

#BlogTour #Content Tips for writing about the past by Tiit Alexsejev #LBFBALTICS #BALTICBOOKS @midaspr

From today in London there’s a very big event happening for the book world, it’s the London Book Fair. They’re focusing on celebrating literature from the Baltic Countries and I have a guest post by Tiit Aleksejev talking about writing historical fiction. Enjoy!

Baltic Books Blog Tour

Guest Post: Tips for writing about the past – lessons from a historical fiction writer.

Tiit Aleksejev (1968) is historical fiction writer and playwright. He won the European Union Prize for Literature for his novel The Pilgrimage, which accounts the First Crusade. Since April 2016, Aleksejev has also been the chairman of the Estonian Writers´ Union. Estonia and the Baltic Countries are the Market Focus at this year’s The London Book Fair.

Aleksejev provides some tips on approaching the difficult historical subject matter and turning it into accessible fiction.

  • Do your own research into the period you are writing about. Then forget most of what you have learnt, the reader is not interested in your knowledge; but he or she cares about authenticity. Small errors kill the credibility, an accurate detail can be a cornerstone. Check the details but don’t overload your writing with them
  • Read as many resources as you can: chronicles, accounts, battle reports, songs, poems etc. Most will be inclined or distorted, they are written in favour of someone or something. For example the medieval conception of truth and veracity is completely different from ours. But you may find authentic fragments and voices; it is all about voices.
  • We don’t know how the ancients spoke, we know how they wrote, but this writing was done by a limited social group. So, you have to reconstruct – to invent in most cases – spoken language. Avoid anachronistic speech. It was probably not “O thou noble boy, hand me over this golden chalice!”. Distinguish everyday talk and ceremonial talk. Do your characters speak like priests or beggars? Or do they speak like people who surround you? If you are not sure how they really spoke, go for the brevity and laconic dialogues.
  • Find original names for your characters which suddenly sound right to you. Chronicles is a possibility. Or tomb stones if you are not afraid of the dead.
  • Visualize space: a room, a house, a street, a city. You need to see what is in the room. Pieces of furniture may be unaccustomed to us e.g. shelves for the scrolls. Maybe the room is empty. Then you have to see it empty.

The Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – will be the Market Focus for the London Book Fair 2018 (10th – 12th April).

About The Author:

Tiit Aleksejev

Tiit Aleksejev in 2011

Tiit Aleksejev (born 6 July 1968) is an Estonian novelist and playwright.

Aleksejev was born in Kohtla-Järve. He studied history at the University of Tartu, and served as a diplomat in France and Belgium.

His debut novel was a thriller called Valge kuningriik (The White Kingdom, 2006). It won the Betti Alver Prize for best first novel. His second novel was a work of historical fiction, set in the time of the First Crusade. This novel called Palveränd (The Pilgrimage, 2008) won the EU Prize for Literature and was translated into several languages subsequently (e.g. Italian, Hungarian, and Finnish). In 2011, he published a third novel Kindel linn (Stronghold). Palveränd and Kindel linn are the first and second part of what is to become a trilogy.

His first play Leegionärid (Legionaries), about the fallen soldiers of the Estonian Legion, appeared in 2010 and premiered in 2013 in Rakvere. It received the Virumaa Literary Award in 2011. Another historical play, Kuningad(Kings) was published in 2014 and is about the murder of the four Estonian kings during the St. George’s Night Uprising (1343).

Aleksejev lives in Tallinn.

blog tours, guest author, guest post

#BlogTour #Content 88 North by J.F. Kirwan. @kirwanjf @RaRaResources #thriller #spythriller @HQDigitalUK

 88 North Full Banner
Today I am delighted and excited to be part of the blog tour for 88 North by J.F. Kirwan. Readers of my little blog will have seen my reviews for the first two books in this series, 66 Metres and 37 Hours, both of which were very enjoyable, fast-paced, thrilling reads. I agreed to take part in the blog tour for all three of the books without having read any of them, something that is quite a big commitment for any book blogger that is inundated with requests to read and review books. I was relieved when I read the first one and really enjoyed it and when I finished the second one I asked whether I could have a copy of 88 North so that I could also read and review it, along with the guest post that I’d agreed to post. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to fit in reading 88 North yet, but I absolutely and most definitely will. This is a good series!
And I love this guest post where the author talks about his writing and how he gets his ideas. I like it because he is like me and doesn’t plan much, that he knows the beginning and the end but has no idea about the middle, just as I do and it seems that he does his best thinking in the bath, which is almost the same as me, because I hate baths and shower instead. Perhaps I’m not doing it all wrong then?!!

Guest Post:

Writing and Russian Roulette

by J F Kirwan

People always ask me if I know the end of my next book. I always reply yes, because I do, and that I also know the beginning. However, the middle 300 or so pages are a different matter. It’s like being able to see a house on a faraway mountain, but the valley before it is shrouded in mist. As a writer, having promised a book to a deadline, it kind of feels like Russian Roulette, because there’s a chance that the inspiration simply never comes… I believe this tension travels down through my fingertips into my laptop. I also believe it’s essential, at least for me. If I had it all plotted out, I’d get bored and my writing would be flat. Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of writers turn out fab thrillers and plot everything out meticulously beforehand, but it just wouldn’t work for me.

After 66 Metres and 37 hours, which have the same protagonist (Nadia) but are slightly different books in style, I wanted the third one also to be different still. For about a month I was keen to start the next book, but after writing the Prologue I stopped, because I couldn’t see the twists and turns I would need to make this one stand-alone from the others and not simply be ‘more of the same’. Mostly, I couldn’t see the overall arc of the protagonist. If you’ve made it to the end of 37 hours, you pretty much know what Nadia needs to do. But what challenges would she have this time, possibly her last? It had to be something new. Luckily for me, my Sony laptop broke (the keyboard – I get carried away and sometimes I can’t type fast enough) – and I had to wait 10 days for a replacement (a Mac – 10 days? I live in France – just don’t ask).

And then, following in the great footsteps of Archimedes, I was sitting in the bath one evening thinking about nothing in particular, and the plot came to me. Just like that. Like it was hiding in plain sight and I’d missed it all this time. I got out, vaguely dried myself and began scribbling notes. This went on for 10 minutes, then I sat back. It would work. Already the shape of the book started to form, the clouds lifted from the valleys, and I could see the road, the places Nadia would travel, the obstacles in her way, and how it would change her. I didn’t go any further, because I still needed that uncertainty to drive me forward.

I also play Russian Roulette with my characters. Quite a few of them die in my books. One in particular, a real innocent, is someone Nadia saves in 88 North. In the initial draft she lived, and my fellow writers applauded. But the more I thought about it, it lessened the dramatic tension, and I knew Nadia’s nemesis, Salamander, would do everything he could to put Nadia off her game. So I killed the innocent. This led to one of the most dramatic scenes in the book, in Sudan, where Nadia finds out, and goes on a killing spree fuelled by revenge. One reader told me she punched the air while reading that scene. Had I planned it all out, and stuck to the plan, it never would have happened.

The ending was also re-written several times, as was the epilogue. I don’t mean edited, where the basic frame stays the same, I’m talking about major-rewrites here (even if the same characters remain standing at the end). But you can’t rewrite too much. Russian Roulette is a good analogy. Six chambers, one bullet. After three pulls of the trigger, you are really pushing your luck…

Blurb:

88 North

The deadliest kind of assassin is one who is already dying…

As the radiation poisoning that Nadia Laksheva was exposed to in Chernobyl takes hold of her body, she knows she has mere weeks to live. But Salamander, the terrorist who murdered her father and sister has a deadly new plan to ‘make the sky bleed’. Nadia is determined to stop him again, even if it is the last thing she ever does.

The only clue she has are the coordinates 88˚ North, a ridge in the Arctic right above one of the largest oil fields in the world, three thousand metres below the ice. If Salamander takes hold of the oil field, he could change the climate of the whole planet for generations to come…

But can Nadia stop him before her own time runs out?

The gripping third and final novel in J.F. Kirwan’s brilliant spy thriller series. Perfect for fans of Charles Cumming, Mark Dawson and Adam Brookes.

About the Author:

KIRWAN Barry 01 ret 6x8J.F. Kirwan is the author of the Nadia Laksheva thriller series for HarperCollins. Having worked in accident investigation and prevention in nuclear, offshore oil and gas and aviation sectors, he uses his experience of how accidents initially build slowly, then race towards a climax, to plot his novels. An instructor in both scuba diving and martial arts, he travels extensively all over the world, and loves to set his novels in exotic locations. He is also an insomniac who writes in the dead of night. His favourite authors include Lee Child, David Baldacci and Andy McNab.

Website: www.jfkirwan.com 

Blog: www.jfkirwan.com/blog 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kirwanjf/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kirwanjf

88 North by J.F. Kirwan is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

 

 

blog tours, guest author, guest post

#BlogTour: Guest Post Veronica’s Bird by Veronica Bird and Richard Newman. @Authoright

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When I first heard about Veronica’s Bird I was immediately intrigued and I wondered what would it be like to be one of the only women working in a men’s prison. So that is what I asked Veronica Bird to write about. I hope that you find it as interesting as I did.

Guest Post:

‘Being a woman among male prisoners’

Veronica’s Bird

 Veronica came to male prisons following several years in female jails – some would say she was taking on a far harder job, solely because the cells were filled with men.  But, one should understand that running a female prison is just as difficult, and certainly as dangerous. One female inmate managed to put all six of her nurses in hospital with broken limbs, and described by the doctors as: ‘capable of attacking with murderous severity.’ As she was escorted to a prison van she required six prison officers to attend to her.

Men may be physically more powerful, but one can die from a well-placed shard of glass, as a squeeze to the throat. It is, perhaps, the sheer bulk of some of these men, the silent ones especially, who are the most intimidating, but staff are well-trained to understand each prisoner’s characteristics and react accordingly.

Veronica’s time with men began when she took over at a male young offender’s prison where they stood deferentially when she entered a room. Packed with testosterone they often got up to high jinks, but it was just that, and she began to earn their full respect. This was never more clear than the time she arranged for Frank Bruno, the heavyweight boxer at the height of his fame, to spend a day in the prison, flying in by helicopter to be met by almost hero worship. Frank spent the day talking with the inmates, exhorting them to stay on the straight and narrow. His visit must have been worth a hundred visits by official visitors’ groups and when he left at the end of the day at least one prisoner was heard to say to Veronica: ‘…that was the best day of my life, Miss.’

In Veronica’s experience over thirty-five years, she found men would respect a Governor if she was to keep her word on pledges made. Fairness as well as strict attention to the rules to both staff and prisoners, allowed prisoners to see where she was heading and they, along with her. In all of her time as a serving Prison Officer, she was never assaulted, though, naturally she has never down-played the inherent danger of her job. She had two mantras: never to find out what they were in for, and always to honour a promise to help a prisoner with a particular problem in life. Her plan was to get the inmate through his term with as little disturbance to the life of the prison as was possible.

Some prisoners show a curious mixture of gentlemanly behaviour, being polite and co-operative and at other times they could ‘lose it’, making restraint a task for half a dozen burly officers. Charles Bronson was one of these, a man who Veronica looked after for a month, to give Wakefield Prison respite from the day to day stress which arose from his conduct. Bronson, now renamed Salvador, after his hero artist, is one of the best-known prisoners in the country with a documentary film to his name, his paintings sell all over the world. He has written books with proceeds from sales going to charities of his choosing. Reputed to carry out two thousand press-ups a day and built like a bull, this same man who would politely discuss the time of the day with Veronica through an open cell door, could also wreak havoc when ‘…the demons take hold of me.’ She was never allowed to come too close to him, but Charlie was always a gentleman and never swore.

To be a woman in a male only prison means understanding each and every one of one’s charges, getting to know their foibles, fears and faults in equal measure but refusing to allow them to overstep the mark. There is a red line which, from time to time, they may lap against, but Veronica never permitted them to cross to the other side. It is probably not surprising, therefore, to find that, given a ‘basket case’ of a prison to take over, with no extra money, she turned it around in a year making it into a model against which all others would be judged.

Male or female, they both have their own demands, their own strengths whether it is physical or mental; both have to be watched just as carefully as the other, for unpredictability is the watchword.

Veronica’s Bird   –  Copyright © Richard Newman 2018. Authors Veronica Bird and Richard Newman. Publisher Clink Street Publications January 23rd 2018.

Blurb:

Veronicas Bird CoverVeronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the Fifties as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. However, a glimmer of hope revealed itself as she, astonishingly to her and her mother, won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates.

A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness. That was until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the fire.

He soon began to take control over her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as cheap labour on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away from him and applied to the Prison Service, intuiting that it was the only safe place she could trust.

Accepted into the Prison Service at a time when there were few women working in the industry, Veronica applied herself every day to learning her new craft even training in Holloway Prison where Myra Hindley was an inmate. With no wish to go outside the prison, Veronica remained inside on-duty. While her colleagues went out to the pub, the theatre or to dine she didn’t feel able to join them.

Her dedication was recognised and she rose rapidly in the Service moving from looking after dangerous women prisoners on long-term sentences to violent men and coming up against such infamous names as The Price sisters, Mary Bell and Charles Bronson. The threat of riots was always very close and escapes had to be dealt with quickly.

After becoming a Governor, Veronica was tasked with what was known within the Service as a ‘basket case’ of a prison. However, with her diligence and enthusiasm Veronica managed to turn it around whereupon it became a model example to the country and she was recognised with an honour from the Queen. With this recognition the EU invited her to lead a team to Russia and her time in Ivanovo Prison, north east of Moscow, provides an illuminating and humorous insight into a different prison culture.

Through a series of interviews with Richard Newman —author of the bestselling A Nun’s Story— Veronica’s Bird reveals a deeply poignant story of eventual triumph, is filled with humour and compassion for those inside and will fascinate anyone interested in unique true life stories, social affairs and the prison system.

About the Authors:

After thirty-five years working for the Prison Service, Veronica Bird is now retired and living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She is still an active proponent of the justice system and continues to lecture across the country and is a supporter of Butler Trust, which acknowledges excellence within the prison system.

A qualified architect and Swiss-trained hotelier, Richard Newman enjoyed a forty-year career designing and managing hotels worldwide before retiring in 2001. Since then he has gone on to publish a number of novels: The Crown of Martyrdom, The Horse that Screamed, The Potato Eaters, The Green Hill, Brief Encounters and most recently The Sunday Times bestseller, A Nun’s Story. He is currently working on a new novel about retirement and an autobiography of his time in the Middle East. He lives happily with his wife in Wetherby, West Yorkshire where he enjoys being close to his family.

Veronica’s Bird is released on 23rd January 2018 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, guest author, guest post, how to

#BlogTour The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd. @AmyLloydWrites #TheInnocentWife @ClareJKelly

Blog Tour (1)

Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd. I haven’t read this book….yet, but I will be doing so. The blurb alone makes me want to read it, let alone all the great reviews the book is getting. Amy has stopped by to tell us about unlikeable narrators and difficult characters. I hope that you enjoy it!

Guest Post:

Unlikeable Narrators and Difficult Characters

Poor Samantha gets a lot of stick for being an unlikeable character. She’s got extremely low self-esteem and makes some terrible choices but this is why I found her so interesting to write. I don’t want characters that do exactly what they’re supposed to, what fun is that?!

When Sam and Carrie first meet in the novel they riff on the idea of what a ‘strong woman’ is. There’s a temptation to make every woman character in your novel a kind of role model, a feminist badass who we can all look up to. Or at least to make them ‘likeable’ (*shudder*), relatable and inoffensive.

I’m here to fly the flag for the deplorables. I say, Let women be awful too! Aren’t we all a little awful sometimes?

Male characters are allowed to be flawed but we hold women in fiction to a different standard. Take, for example, the way Hannibal Lecter was received when Silence of the Lambs was in cinemas. Some audiences applauded each time he appeared on screen. They revelled in his evil; they loved to be afraid of him.

Compare that to reactions to Amy in Gone Girl. I’ve seen her character called misogynistic and misandrist, depending on which Reddit forum you’re looking at. My own reaction to Amy was one of excitement. Finally! I thought, now women can be real villains too. Not an evil stepmother or a Lifetime movie mistress but a bon-a-fide psychopath just out there doing her thing. Progress!

So I was dismayed to see so many think-pieces devoted to analysing how her character reflects on all women. We accept that Hannibal Lecter is an evil character and we celebrate him but we are afraid to do the same for Amy because, as a woman, she is representative of her gender as a whole.

I’ve always found it fun to not like characters in fiction. I like to feel conflicted, frustrated by a protagonist’s flaws and to follow a murderer or a liar down the wrong path. I read so I can live different lives and have alternate experiences, so this was also how I wanted to approach writing.

It would be easy to dismiss Sam as weak or pathetic but she’s more complicated than that. Many people have said that there are moments where they related to her and those moments reminded them of when they were their worst selves.

We meet Samantha at a low point in her life. She is broken after a terrible relationship and she’s taken a huge leap that she’s not entirely confident in and this is what makes her so vulnerable and why she allows herself to be treated so badly by Dennis. This is hard to accept and it should be! We want her to find her strength and stick up for herself but will she? Or is there something more sinister about her motivations…

Blurb:

You love him. You trust him. So why are you so scared?

Her obsession started eighteen years after the first documentary … As the story
unfolded on screen everything else started to fade away. At the heart of it the boy,
too young for the suit he wore in court, blue eyes blinking confused at the camera,
alone and afraid. It hurt her to look at him … barely eighteen years old, alone on
Death Row.
You’re in love with a man who’s serving time for a brutal murder on Florida’s
Death Row. He’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a
frenzy online.
You’re convinced he’s innocent, and you’re determined to prove it. You leave your
old life behind.
Now, you’re married to him. And he’s free, his conviction overturned.
But is he so innocent after all?
How do you confront your husband when you don’t want to know the truth?

About the Author:

Amy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan
University. Her writing combines her fascination with true crime and
her passion for fiction. The Innocent Wife is her first novel and was
borne out of a course module in university. She lives in Cardiff with
her partner and two cats.

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, guest author, guest post

#blogtour #guestpost Shadows by Paul Finch @paulfinchauthor @harpercollinsuk @Sabah_K

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Sometimes a book comes along that you really want to read but you know that you will not be able to read it by the date needed. So when that happens if I can I offer to take part in the blog tour with a guest post, Q&A or extract.

So today I have a guest post from Paul Finch whose latest book, Shadows, is out now. I’ve no doubt that it is a great read as Paul Finch is a great author. And for us, he has written a post about a question that he is often asked, what kind of crime fiction he writes. Thanks for stopping by Paul!!

Guest Post:

WHAT KIND OF CRIME FICTION DO YOU WRITE?

 One question I’m often asked is … what kind of crime fiction do I write?

This presupposes that there are lots of different kinds. But while I’m not a big fan of pigeon-holing, I’ve no option but to basically share this viewpoint.

Most genres contain sub-genres. I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to say that. But certainly, where crime fiction is concerned, the lines between them often blur. There are many overlaps. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a few ways to illustrate this point.

For example, take the Village Green murder mystery, which has long been a staple of traditional crime fiction. On this front, one may consider the rules of US mystery writer, SS Van Dine (creator of the ultimate ‘golden age’ blowhard, Philo Vance), wherein …

crimes by house-breakers and bandits are the province of the police department – not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives, and where …

servants – such as butlers, footmen, valets, game-keepers, cooks, and the like – must not be chosen by the author as the culprit … The culprit must be a decidedly worthwhile person,

Such class-based stipulations often meld comfortably with the classic Whodunnit formula, in which the author undertakes to set out a list of viable suspects and the lead detective gradually works his or her way through the entire cast before he or she can name the villain. As I say, this is an age-old system. Crime writers of a certain era loved this. It came natural to many of them to merge it with the quaint traditions of the Village Green. But even today, there are perfect examples. Look no further than successful TV shows like Broadchurch, Grantchester (based on James Runcie’s hit short stories, of course), and Midsomer Murders.

But none of that really applies to me.

I’m certainly not loath to use rural or semi-rural settings. Dead Man Walking (the Lake District) and Hunted (Surrey) should demonstrate this amply. Though I can honestly say that I’ve never consciously done the Whodunnit thing. Okay, it’s always nice to catch your readers unaware if you can; to finally unveil the murderer and leave everyone gasping with shock. But I have never willingly constructed a roll-call of suspects, and provided each one of them, no matter how respectable they may appear on the surface, with a good motive for murder – before working my way through them systematically.

SS Van Dine, real name Willard Huntington Wright, said that the detective novel was ‘a game’.

Erm, no. Not mine.

In fact, it’s rarely the case that I ever build my books around a single murder. Quite often in my Heck novels – which concern the National Crime Group, who have a remit to cover all the police forces of England and Wales – the hero is on the trail of cults, societies and secret groups who are perpetrating repeated heinous crimes, while in the Lucy Clayburn novels, which are set in urban Manchester, the opposition often comes from organised crime. For example, in the new one, SHADOWS, she’s on the trail of a gang of vicious armed robbers, rather than a one-off murderer.

Of course, while this may specifically answer the question what kind of crime fiction do I NOT write, it doesn’t tell you exactly which kind I DO write.

Well, there are other crime sub-genres to consider.

The Police Procedural is another very popular form. And as both my investigative heroes – DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg and DC Lucy Clayburn – are operational police detectives, I think we’re now getting warmer. However, the Police Procedural often relies on an accurate, fact-based portrayal of everyday police protocols. We see the correct ranking structure and legalities, authentic depictions of police station interiors, of shift patterns, of crime scene procedures etc, and now, in the 21st century, the new fangled ultra-sensitivity that police chiefs like to imagine their officers have the time to show in a supposedly more sophisticated age. If all that sounds like a drag in that it means – for both writer and reader alike – wading through a mass of largely irrelevant minutae, I should point out that there is a huge appetite for it. Police Procedural remains as potent a form of crime writing now as it did when Dixon of Dock Green first hit our black and white TV screens.

And anway, just because you’re being factual that doesn’t mean you can’t tell a rattling good story. When I wrote for The Bill in the late 1990s, a TV series which had taken great pains, including the recruitment of senior police advisors, to ensure that it was as authentic as possible, while we writers were often told that facts were good, we were also advised that ultimately, they must not get in the way of a good tale.

The Police Procedural, of course, is a sub-genre much abused by writers, because while TV shows like The Bill may be an exception to the rule, and were admirable for their everyday accuracy, many authors who produce it still find it too much of a distraction to get heavily into the day-to-day detail. And I must confess that I’m increasingly one of these.

I like to be correct in my depiction of modern police-work, but I cut corners and leave out what I consider to be less interesting stuff. I alway say, when challenged on this, that I don’t write police textbooks. I write fiction, and ‘fantasy fiction’ at that, and again, I don’t think this is too controversial a statement. To my delight, a very fine police superintendent once came to my defence on this. When a punter at a literary event commented that depicting ‘fantasy policing’ was irresponsible, the super chipped in with: ‘Well, can anyone tell me where fantasy policing ends and real poilcing starts, because I don’t know and I’ve been in the job 30 years? People get up to all sorts to make this job work. Sometimes, what you call fantasy policing may be closer to the truth than you realise.’

But no, despite all that, I don’t really write Police Procedural any more. At least, not since I left The Bill.

 So, what’s left in crime fiction that could accurately categorise me?

Well, I think we’re getting much closer to the mark if we start looking at the twin schools of Noir and Hard Boiled.

Noir, of course, is another quite specific term. It first emerged in America in the 1940s, as a description of the movie thrillers fashionable in that era. Its main criteria were a melodramatic storyline, usually an urban setting – which invariably would be dark and sinister, hardbitten central characters, and back-stories concerned with corruption, exploitation and organised crime. By definition, the term also applied to the authors who created the moods that these films were trying to capture, the likes of Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and Dashiell Hammett.

The style is much aped in modern crime fiction by both writers and movie makers alike, to the extent that we now have the offshoot sub-genre, NeoNoir. This more or less ticks all the original boxes, but gives them a distinctly contemporary spin – and now I think we’re really on home soil. I simply love my dark, shadow-filled cityscapes, and utilise them whenever I can. I also love my tough, cynical, uber-conflicted heroes; both Mark Heckenburg and Lucy Clayburn are children of the industrial north, and they display this in their opinions and attitudes. At the same time, though police officers, they are often at odds with their superiors, Heck because he simply doesn’t rate them, Lucy because her own father is a gangster and through her affiliation with him, she has learned just how inherently corrupt the system can be.

If you add a bit of the Hard Boiled to that, you’re almost completely there.

From the outset, the Hard Boiled sub-genre has sat alongside Noir, presenting us with authentically dangerous criminal worlds that are webs of deceit and viciousness, where cruel and violent thugs invariably work for much smoother criminals higher up the food-chain. This often takes us out of the realms of policework altogether, and presents us with lead characters who are reprehensible antiheroes – men like Jack Carter in Ted Lewis’s seminal Jack’s Return Home, or women like Sara Paretsky’s mean-talking, hard-hitting private eye, VI Warshawksi. These are characters you are asked to root for even though they will quicky resort to the same depths of violence as their opponents in order to mete out their own brand of justice.

Okay, my characters are serving cops, but I think most readers would agree that this could also be a fair description of Mark Heckenburg, and possibly, to a lesser extent, Lucy Clayburn.

Well, we’re basically there now. But I suppose there is one other sub-genre of crime fiction, which, if you added in a small doses to what’s gone before, would be the final piece of the jigsaw where my work is concerned – the Action Thriller.

I’ve always felt it important not to go too overboard on this front; the Arnie and Stallone movies of the 1980s now feel like a glaring anachronism. While they’re great fun, they are essentially an imposition of the Wild West on modern US cities, in which completely lawless lawmen engage with hordes of caricature bad guys. The result is earthquake-inducing car chases and thunderous, balletic gun battles in which thousands of rounds of ammunition are expended, and body-counts soar into the high hundreds. In the light of current tragic events, particularly in the States, I think it would be especially tasteless, not to say irresponsible, to indulge in too much of that. As such, in all my books thus far, there has been an action element – but only that, an element.

I’ve always gone out of my way to make my car chases exciting but realistic, to make my confrontations with violent suspects, even the protracted ones, as non-gratuitous as possible. Whether I’ve succeeded in these ambitions, I suppose that’s up to my readers to decide. Thus far, I’m glad to say, they seem to think it’s okay.

Anyway, there we are. For those who are interested, pick up a copy of SHADOWS (or any of my other books, though SHADOWS is the latest) and you’ll get a whole helping of NeoNoir/Hard Boiled, and a generous – though not too generous – dollop of Action.

Blurb:

shadows

‘A born storyteller.’ PETER JAMES

The SUNDAY TIMES bestseller returns with the second book in the PC Lucy Clayburn series – a must for all fans of Happy Valley and M.J. Arlidge.

 

As a female cop walking the mean streets of Manchester, life can be tough for PC Lucy Clayburn. But when one of the North West’s toughest gangsters is your father, things can be particularly difficult.

When Lucy’s patch is gripped by a spate of murder-robberies, the police are quick to action. Yet when it transpires that the targets are Manchester’s criminal underworld, attitudes change.

Lucy is soon faced with one of the toughest cases of her life – and one which will prove once and for all whether blood really is thicker than water…

About the Author:

paulfinch

Paul Finch is a former cop and journalist, now turned full-time writer. He cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, The Bill, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation and for Dr Who. However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers, crime and horror. His most successful works to date are the six-novel DS Heckenburg crime series, and the new Lucy Clayburn series, the first instalment of which, STALKERS, reached no. 7 in the Sunday Times best-sellers chart.

Paul lives in Lancashire, UK, with his wife Cathy and his children, Eleanor and Harry. His blog can be found at at www.paulfinch-writer.blogspot.co.uk, and he can be followed on Twitter as @paulfinchauthor.

Shadows by Paul Finch is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

blog tours, guest author

Blog Tour: Hunting Angels Diaries by @ConradJones #huntingangels

Hunting Angels - Banner

 

As part of the blog tour for Hunting Angels by Conrad Jones, I have Conrad telling us about his favourite things.

My Favourite Things by Conrad Jones.

Animal

My favourite animal is my Staffie … I love the way Staffies smile when they look at you. They’re such loving animals.

TV show

The Walking Dead …I’m zombie mad!

Film

The Shawshank Redemption, Saving Private Ryan and Law Abiding Citizen.

Meal

Lamb Chops or Thai green curry.

Dessert

Cookie dough from Pizza Hut!

Holiday destination

So far, Cambodia or Vietnam.

Town/city

Rome

Breakfast cereal

Ready Brek!

Item of clothing

Blue jeans, polo shirts.

Childhood toy

Jacko my monkey.

Memory

Playing cricket with my dad. I miss him …

About the author:

Conrad is the author of seventeen novels, eight author guides and two biographies. He has three series;
The Detective Alec Ramsay Series; seven books Gritty Crime Thrillers
The Soft Target Series; Gritty Thrillers six books (Reacher Style)
The Hunting Angels Diaries; three books Horror Thrillers
You can find out more; http://www.conradjonesauthor.com
jonesconrad5@aol.com

I am Conrad Jones, a fifty-year-old author, originally from a sleepy green-belt called Tarbock Green, which is situated on the outskirts of Liverpool. I spent a number of years living in Holyhead, Anglesey, which I class as my home, before starting a career as a trainee manger with McDonalds Restaurants in 1989. I worked in management at McDonalds Restaurants Ltd from 1989-2002, working my way up to Business Consultant (area manager) working in the corporate and franchised departments.
On March 20th, 1993, I was managing the restaurant in Warrington`s Bridge St when two Irish Republican Army bombs exploded directly outside the store, resulting in the death of two young boys and many casualties. Along with hundreds of other people there that day I was deeply affected by the attack, which led to a long-term interest in the motivation and mind set of criminal gangs. I began to read anything crime related that I could get my hands on.
I link this experience with the desire to write books on the subject, which came much later on due to an unusual set of circumstances. Because of that experience my early novels follow the adventures of an elite counter terrorist unit, The Terrorist Task Force, and their enigmatic leader, John Tankersley, or `Tank` and they are the Soft Target Series, which have been described by a reviewer as ‘Reacher on steroids’; You can see them here.

I had no intentions of writing until 2007, when I set off on an eleven-week tour of the USA. The Day before I boarded the plane, Madeleine McCann disappeared and all through the holiday I followed the American news reports which had little or no information about her. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the terrible kidnap would inspire my book, The Child Taker years later. During that trip, I received news that my house had been burgled and my work van and equipment were stolen. That summer was the year when York and Tewksbury were flooded by a deluge and insurance companies were swamped with claims. They informed me that they couldn’t do anything for weeks and that returning home would be a wasted journey. Rendered unemployed on a beach in Clearwater, Florida, I decided to begin my first book, Soft Target. I have never stopped writing since. I have recently completed my fifteenth novel, ‘Brick’, something that never would have happened but for that burglary and my experiences in Warrington.
The Child Taker was the 6th book in the Soft Target Series but it also became the first book in the Detective Alec Ramsay Series when I signed a three-book deal with London based publishers, Thames River Press. The series is now seven books long with an average of 4.8 stars from over 2000 reviews. The first two books are always free with over 1100 5-star reviews. You can see them here
As far as my favourite series ever, it has to be James Herbert’s, The Rats trilogy. The first book did for me what school books couldn’t. It fascinated me, triggered my imagination and gave me the hunger to want to read more. I waited years for the second book, The Lair, and Domain, the third book to come out and they were amazing. Domain is one of the best books I have ever read. In later years, Lee Child, especially the early books, has kept me hypnotised on my sunbed on holiday as has Michael Connelly and his Harry Bosch Series.

 

Blurb:

When an author is asked to help the police with the investigation into a double murder by identifying occult symbols, which had been carved into the victims, he is plunged into nightmare and forced to go on the run. Hunted by law and a powerful cult, he has to stay one step ahead to survive.

Buying links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US