The hidden Blog Tour: Guest Post by Emma Kavanagh – The Psychology of Police Shootings

HIDDEN cover image

HIDDEN cover image

Today, I’m thrilled that the CTG blog is playing host to Emma Kavanagh’s hidden blog tour. With a PhD in Psychology, and a career working as a police and military psychologist, training firearms officers, command staff and military personnel how to handle extreme situations, Emma’s used her expert knowledge to create hidden – a gritty, tense, page-turner of a book that will be published in hardback on 23rd April.

Here’s what the blurb says: “He’s watching. A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently. Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarty is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman – before it’s too late.

She’s waiting. To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety – both for her, and her young niece who’s been recently admitted. She’s heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman’s next target will be. But he’s there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks.”

Now, it’s over to Emma to find out more about The Psychology of Police Shootings – Attentional Spotlighting …

Imagine for a moment that you are walking through a crowded room. Your senses are assaulted with a cacophony of noise, voices, music, the scraping of a chair on tile. There is food cooking somewhere – you know because you can smell it. And that smell makes your stomach growl, the sound of it vanishing into the chaos that surrounds you.

Then you see something. A flash of metal.

You stare at it.

It can’t be.

A figure moves in front of you, but you don’t see who it is or what they’re doing, because all of your attention is focused on that flash of metal. You bob your head until you can find it again, your heart pounding. You tell yourself that it cannot possibly be.

Then you see it and your mouth goes dry.

He has a gun.

Once you have seen it, once your brain has run through identification options in order to positively identify that this thing in front of you is in fact a weapon, your adrenaline will kick in. The fight or flight reaction taking effect. Whatever else unfolds around you, your attention will be trapped, caught on the hook that is the weapon – the thing that could kill you.

Author Emma Kavanagh (c) Matthew Jones

Author Emma Kavanagh (c) Matthew Jones

It makes sense, doesn’t it? That evolution should design us to pay attention to things that can present a danger to us. We only have so many cognitive resources, and so when something threatening appears in our environment, we often experience what is known as attentional spotlighting – the focus on one particular object with the exclusion of everything else.

Now, imagine what this will mean for a firearms officer. We train them to look for weapons within their environment. Especially guns. A gun can kill them, not to mention the innocent civilians that surround them. BUT! Once they have spotted a gun, their next job is to keep their attention as open as possible. In other words, we’re trying to force them to fight back against the teachings of evolution. Because when your attention is focused on the gun alone, you may not see the child that is running towards you, directly into the line of fire. You may not see that there is another gun, this one closer, its owner with their hand on the grip.

We do this with training, by putting officers in high-stress situations and teaching them to countermand their own natural instincts. We train these officers over and over again, so that, when their lives are threatened, they are able to perform in a way that will save their own lives, and those of others.

A massive thank you to Emma Kavanagh for joining us today and for giving a glimpse into this specialist area of training.

You can follow Emma on Twitter @EmmaLK and for a sneaky peak at hidden hop over to Dead Good Books to read an extract … http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/index.php/extract-hidden-emma-kavanagh/

And be sure to drop by next week to read our full review of hidden.

Also, make sure that you check out all the other fabulous tour stops taking place as part of the blog tour:

Hidden Blog Tour

The Touched Blog Tour: A Writer’s Life guest post by Joanna Briscoe

Joanna Briscoe (c) Jason Alden

Joanna Briscoe (c) Jason Alden

Today I’m handing over the reins of the CTG blog to Joanna Briscoe whose latest novella TOUCHED is published today. Joanna is the author of Mothers and Other Lovers, Skin and the highly acclaimed Sleep with Me which was published in ten countries and adapted for television.

She spent her  early years in ‘the village of the damned’ – Letchmore Heath in Hertfordshire – which was the location for the celebrated 1960 film based on John Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos – and the inspiration for her Hammer novella TOUCHED.

So, over to Joanna …

A Writer’s Life

There is much that is unglamorous about a writer’s life… and much that is privileged. At the moment, I walk through a King’s Cross that changes daily, and have a swim, on the way to the British Library, and this feels amazing.

It’s true that there are lots of publishing parties, award parties, and I hang out with lots of other authors, but I wouldn’t really wish this career on my children. It’s too solitary, neurotic, insecure… How I dream, so often, about being with other people, in an office, on a film set, in a school. Just being surrounded by people working, instead of labouring in silence, would be amazing.

Yet, as with most writers, I am driven to do this. It doesn’t feel like a choice, rather, a compulsion.

TOUCHED cover image

TOUCHED cover image

TOUCHED has collected some rave reviews and is an eerie ghost story, and a chilling and creepy tale.

Here’s the blurb: “Rowena Crale and her family have moved from London to a cottage in a picture perfect English village. But despite their efforts, the cottage resists all attempts at renovation. Walls ooze damp, stains come through layers of wallpaper, ceilings sag, and strange voices emanate from empty rooms. And then, one by one, Rowena’s daughters go missing….”

To find out more hop over to Joanna Briscoe’s website at www.joannabriscoe.com and follow her on Twitter @JoannaBriscoe

 

The Killing Club Blog Tour: Guest Post by Paul Finch

KC blog tour poster

KC blog tour poster

I’m delighted to welcome Paul Finch to the CTG blog. His latest novel, The Killing Club, is published this week, and today Paul is taking over the reins (or rather the keyboard) to guest blog about the books he has read that have been most influential on his career.

Over to Paul …

It would be very easy, I suppose, to respond to the question which books have you read that were most influential on your career, and, given that my own most successful novels are intense murder investigations, simply reel off all the great thriller writers.

It would of course be untrue to say that I haven’t been influenced by other thriller novelists. Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham, Peter James, Kathy Reichs and Katia Lief are all staggeringly high in my estimation. But I don’t just read within my own genre, and I think it would be an interesting exercise to perhaps consider those other types of books that have blown me away, set me on my current career path, whatever you want to call it.

It’s no secret that, before I began writing my DS Heckenburg thrillers, I dabbled widely in the fields of horror and fantasy. And this wasn’t just during my formative years as a writer, my kindergarten if you like; I wrote lots of this kind of stuff, and still do. I also read in this field enormously. But it’s fascinating now, on reflection, how much these apparently unrelated interests have influenced my DS Heckenburg novels.

For example, THE WOLFEN by Whitley Strieber (pub. 1978) presents us with two tired New York detectives, a man and a woman, investigating the murder and apparent cannibalisation of hobos in the city’s underbelly, and soon reaching the conclusion the perpetrators are not humans, but a highly intelligent werewolf pack.

Now, I suppose there are obvious links here with ‘Heck’: a gang of vicious and relentless killers, a lovelorn boy and girl cop team, and so on. But I think it’s the seamy side of the average detective’s working day that most caught my eye about this striking novel. Strieber really takes us to the backside of New York, the subways and ghettos and derelict lots, and peoples them with hookers, winos and druggies. My own experience as a real life cop taught me these are the places you need to go if you want to catch some bad guys, but here we go way beyond the everyday grim, delving into the world of the true urban gothic: it’s a nightmare landscape, beautifully and poetically described, and yet at the same time filled with such palpable menace that even hardboiled detectives are unnerved.

I make a point of never taking my own crime thrillers into such realms of overt fantasy, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to invoke similar feelings of dread and weirdness in the dark heart of the city.

Another relevant horror novel is surely LEGION by William Peter Blatty (pub. 1983). This is a totally different kind of police story. Again, it follows a time-served detective investigating a series of sadistic murders, though in this case he’s dealing with Satanic ritual. It’s a much subtler tale, ripe with a sense of ancient mystery and slow-burning evil (and that would be real evil, of the distinctly inhuman variety). Yet for all this, the point where LEGION really kicks in is the deep assessment the hero, Lt. Kinderman, constantly makes of himself, examining his own beliefs or unbeliefs, puzzling as to why he exposes himself to this depravity time and again, bleeding inside for the victims. Not exactly Heck, who’s never been much of a philosopher, but the longer you work as a homicide cop, the more you’re going to confront yourself with these issues. There is some really deep character work here by Blatty, which you can’t help but admire.

Moving from horror into science fiction and fantasy, there are two other titles I’d like to mention. The first of these contains the most obvious link to those matters I’ve mentioned previously. It is Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi masterwork, DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP (pub. 1968). Most folk will know this as the movie, BLADE RUNNER, but though there are some similarities, the book goes way beyond the limited scope of a Hollywood adaptation. In Rick Deckard, another dogged man-hunter and, thanks to his wife’s depression, a sad loner, working his way through a world gone mad and yet adding to it with his own role, which conflicts him deeply, there is genuine pathos. The movie, of course, had a strong noirish feel – it was almost Chandleresque – which is not prevalent in the book, but the strong central character is still a great blueprint for the fictional lone-wolf detective. For me, heroes always need to be vulnerable: stricken by self-doubt, and with enemies on all sides, some of whom they thought were friends. I’ve never had much time for men of steel, undefeatable icons of hunky machismo, like Superman or Batman. If I took anything from DO ANDROIDS DREAM … it had to be that deep introspection, that guilt, that conscience. It makes our heroes so much more interesting.

On that same subject, the fantasy novel I’d like to nominate is GRENDEL by John Gardner (pub. 1971). I guess we’re all familiar with the tale of Beowulf, the Viking warrior, and his defence of the hall of Heorot against the ravages of the faceless devil, Grendel, who for no reason other than twisted pleasure, came nightly to slaughter the innocent.

As I say, I’m not big on superhero stories. I loved BEOWULF as a kid – it was probably the first spooky tale my late father told me – but as I grew up, I found the monster more interesting. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, Grendel is the prototype serial killer. So in many ways, GRENDEL the novel takes us to the other end of the crime thriller spectrum, Gardner depicting his antihero first as an abused and lonely child, later showing him suffer rejection by those he sought to befriend, and finally having him retaliate with homicidal fury, which at last introduces him to a lifestyle of his liking – if he can’t have everyone’s love, he’ll have their terror. There isn’t as much Norse myth woven into this novel as you might expect. Instead Gardner gives us philosophy, social commentary and, a decade before the FBI commenced offender profiling, the psychology of the reviled. Talk about streets ahead of the game. Of course, we all know what happens at the end of BEOWULF, and it’s the same in GRENDEL, so don’t expect any surprises – apart from the dark joy this narrative will elicit as it works its way through the tormented mind and hideous satisfactions of a creature driven solely to hate.

It’s a strange thing that we think we know ourselves so well, our thoughts, interests and aspirations. And yet clearly there are many subliminal strata to our thinking. Even as I wrote this blog, it became more apparent to me how relevant to my current writing so many of these themes explored by earlier authors actually are. I won’t go over them again, because I think they speak for themselves – they certainly will, I hope, if you get the chance to read any of my DS Heckenburg thrillers, STALKERS, SACRIFICE or, most recently, THE KILLING CLUB. On which note, I suspect it’s a good time to end this monologue. Whichever way you go, please enjoy your reading and writing. There are no finer pleasures.

Paul Finch

A huge thank you to Paul for spending time here at the CTG blog today and telling us about the books that have most influenced his career.

To find out more about Paul and his books, including his latest book – The Killing Club – hop on over to his website at http://paulfinch-writer.blogspot.co.uk/

And don’t forget to follow him on Twitter @paulfinchauthor

 

CTG Interviews: Author Jessie Keane

Author Jessie Keane

Author Jessie Keane

Today I’m really excited to be joined by bestselling British author, Jessie Keane, crime writer and creator of several crime series including the Annie Carter crime novels featuring the fabulous strong female lead character Annie Carter. 

So, to the interview …

What inspired you to create Annie Carter?

Annie Carter sort of appeared in my head when I was at a very low ebb. I wanted to write something entirely for my own pleasure – I didn’t care whether it got published or not, this was for me. So I was able to let rip and let aspects of my own personality come to the fore when I created Annie. She’s not so much me, as everything I would really like to be. Forthright, beautiful, a firm friend and a deadly enemy. She’s tough, and I like that. Not perfect, but a real trooper. She dominated Dirty Game, my first crime novel, and she’s been chucking her weight about ever since.

Did you plan the Annie Carter series from the outset?

Emphatically, no. Once I’d written her in Dirty Game, it just seemed a natural progression to continue her story in Black Widow, and then I got excited about her and the Mafia in Scarlet Women, and then Playing Dead, and Ruthless.I would love to do another Annie book, and when I get that crucial idea, I will.

Dive right in, or plan the story first?

I so admire writers who plan everything first! I have friends who do this, and I wish I did too, and I’ve tried … but it just doesn’t work for me. If I try to plan, I find I’m bored with the story before I’ve written even a handful of chapters; whereas in my own style (strictly seat-of-the-pants) I rush up to my study every morning, keen to get started on whatever comes next.

RUTHLESS cover image

RUTHLESS cover image

What advice can you give to new crime writers trying for publication?

Make sure you love writing crime. Always write what you love and what comes easiest to you, what really suits your writer’s ‘voice’. You’ll know it when you find it. And persist! That’s really boring advice, I know, but you’ll get rejection slips (unless you’re very lucky) and some downright rude refusals. Take it on the chin. Keep going.

And, finally, what does 2014 have in store for you?

Publication of LAWLESS, the second Ruby Darke book (sequel to NAMELESS) in July. Lots of interviews and festivals and fun, in between which I’ll be writing a brand new book (my 10th) with a brand new heroine, the deadline for which is November. So it’s going to be a full year, and by the end of it I’ll be starting out on my 11th book, so it’s all go!

Sounds great – and lots to look forward to reading.

Many thanks to Jessie Keane for popping by and answering our questions.

You can find out more about Jessie and her writing over on her website at http://jessiekeane.com/

And check out our review of RUTHLESS, the most recent Annie Carter novel, here

Events Alert: Jakob Arjouni book launch & Pancreatic Cancer UK Fundraiser

No Exit Press, in conjunction with Pancreatic Cancer UK, are holding a crime fiction event on Tuesday 26th November at Daunts in Holland Park, London, to raise funds and awareness for the disease and to celebrate the life of author Jakob Arjouni. The event will also mark the publication of his final novel: Brother Kemal.
Author Barry Forshaw will be hosting the event, and there will be German food and drinks in honour of Jakob’s nationality.
If you’re free on Tuesday night, why not pop over to Daunts to celebrate Jakob Arjouni’s literature, and help raise some money for a great cause. Here are all the details …
Crime Event Invite

Crime Event Invite

Events Alert: So You Wanna Be A Crime Writer?

Crime Author, Nick Quantrill

Crime Author, Nick Quantrill

As part of the Heads Up Festival in Hull, on Saturday 28th September crime author Nick Quantrill, published by Caffeine Nights and the creator of the Joe Geraghty series, will be joined by fellow crime writers David Mark and Nick Triplow to investigate what it takes to be a crime writer, in the session ‘So You Wanna Be A Crime Writer?’

It promises to be a lively event, with a combination of readings, conversation, panel debate and audience interaction. And what’s more, it’s FREE!

To find out more, pop over to the the festival website at http://ensemble52.com/news/show/61 

Event Alert: The Bookmarks Festival, Helmdon, on Sunday 25th August

Crime Writer Adrian Magson who is speaking at the Festival

Crime Writer Adrian Magson who is speaking at the Festival

 

The Bookmarks Festival, a not-for-profit event held in the Northamptonshire village of Helmdon near Towcester, runs this year on Sunday 25th August.

The main feature of the afternoon will be readings from three fabulous authors: Adrian Magson, Alison McQueen, and Garry O’Connor. Not only will each author being doing a reading from their own work, they’ll also be taking part in a Q&A panel and signing copies of their books.

It sounds like a great event and what’s more it’s FREE!

There’ll also be books to buy, literary related stalls, competitions and refreshments.

So hop over to the festival’s website to find out more about what’s going on and the authors themselves at http://www.bookmarksfestival.co.uk