Love #crimefiction – grab a #freebie in the CRIME SPREE story giveaway on @Instafreebie

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One day, a group of internationally bestselling crime authors got together to give away some of their best material for free. Readers were thrilled. The authors were delighted. Then the first corpse was discovered …

For one week only (September 30th to October 6th) you can download short stories from Simon Toyne, Harry Bingham, Tammy Cohen, Chris Ewan, Lucy Dawson, Mason Cross, Rebecca Bradley, Mark Hill and me for free. Just pop over to the Instafreebie website, sign up for the author’s readers club, and the story is yours.

From gritty crime fiction, to nail-biting psychological thriller, and rocket-paced action, there’s something for everyone. Download one, some, or all of the stories. All for absolutely free!

Pop over to Instafreebie and see what takes your fancy by clicking here: GET FREEBIES

Happy reading!

 

CTG Exclusive: Chris Ewan talks rebooting the Good Thief’s Guide series

Today the fabulous Chris Ewan – a great crime writer and all-round good guy – is reissuing the first few books in his awesome Good Thief’s Guide… series.  

To celebrate, Chris is taking the controls for the day at CTG HQ to tell us more about the series and how it came about.

Over to Chris…

Just lately, I’ve been in the process of reissuing the first five titles in my Good Thief’s Guide To … series of mystery novels as ebooks in the UK. (I’ve priced them very reasonably! You should totally check them out!) The novels are fun, fast-paced capers about globetrotting crime writer and thief-for-hire Charlie Howard, with each book set in a different international city, ranging from Amsterdam to Paris, Las Vegas, Venice and Berlin.

One of the most interesting parts for me in reissuing the books has been the opportunity to read them again and remember all of the experiences and ideas that went into each one – from the research trips I made to the cities I was writing about, to learning how to pick locks and crack safes, to figuring out (usually after a LOT of swearing) whodunnit and why. As I thought about some of those experiences, it occurred to me that it might be a nice idea to include a letter to readers in the back of each of the reissued books sharing a few of my memories.

Which brings us to the letter below. It’s a slightly amended version of the letter I’ve included in the back of my first Good Thief’s Guide novel, The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam, and it tells the story of how I got published for the first time. It took me a while to get there – a little under a decade – but the story has a pretty neat ending, I think. I hope you enjoy reading about it. And hey, if you fancy checking out one of my Good Thief’s Guides while you’re at it, I’d be doubly thrilled.

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Dear Reader

In 2006, when I was twenty-nine years old, I made my wife a promise. I had spent most of my twenties pursuing my dream of becoming a published author. I had written in the early mornings before work, in the evenings and nights after work, and all day every weekend. In that time, I had written and endlessly rewritten three novels. I’d been taken on by a literary agent but I hadn’t got my break. Eventually, my wife pointed out that I was spending more time in my makeshift study with the imaginary people in my head than I was with her. She was right, and I felt bad about it, and so I promised her that if I wasn’t published by the time I was thirty, I would take a breather for a few years. (I still wasn’t prepared to give up on the dream quite yet).

That year, I happened to be working on a book about a burglar set in Amsterdam. I chose Amsterdam because I had lived there for six months when I was training to be a lawyer and I had fallen in love with the city. I chose a burglar because I’ve always enjoyed crime novels about crooks. And I made my lead character a writer of mystery novels because I wanted to write about my love of the genre. I called the book The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam.

One day, some time around April, I think, when I had just completed yet another draft of the book, a colleague at my law firm on the Isle of Man came into my office and asked me if I had seen that the author Susan Hill was running a competition for unpublished writers. Anyone could submit their work and the winner would have their book published by Susan’s small publishing company, Long Barn Books. I emailed my novel to the competition in the secret hope that if I was very lucky I might get a small word of feedback from Susan, perhaps even a gem of advice.

Many months went by. Then, on a day in September, the same colleague stuck their head into my office to say that I should look at Susan’s website because my book was on the shortlist for the award. A week later, my phone went at work. I picked it up and a voice on the other end said, “Hello, this is Susan Hill. You’ve won my competition. You’re going to be a published author.”

That phone call changed my life. It remains the single best phone call I’ve ever received. And it reached me one week before I turned thirty.

Since then, The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam has gone on to be published in thirteen countries around the world. It has led to four more Good Thief’s Guides, set in Paris, Las Vegas, Venice and Berlin. The books have been optioned for television three times and they set me on my way to realizing an even bigger dream of becoming a full-time writer. I am itching to write more books in the series, and with your support, I hope there may be many more Good Thief’s Guides to come.

But none of this would be possible, or worthwhile, without you. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this book and for becoming such a crucial part of the Good Thief’s Guides story.

These books are brilliant. I recommend you read them right now! As a fabulous bonus the Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam is only 99p on Kindle right now, and the Good Thief’s Guides Box Set just £6.99.

Here are the links…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-Thiefs-Guide-Amsterdam-Guides-ebook/dp/B071F6PBQM/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-Thiefs-Guides-Box-Set-ebook/dp/B072LXDRWB/

And be sure to pop by Chris Ewan’s website and follow him on all the social media sites to stay up to date with his news

www.chrisewan.com

www.facebook.com/chrisewanauthor

Twitter: @chrisewan

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GIRLS ON TOP: SEX IN CRIME FICTION (PART 1) with STEPH BROADRIBB & SJI HOLLIDAY #GirlsOnTop

 

Today it’s time for something a little different. Susi (SJI) Holliday and me, in conjunction with CrimeTime, have been thinking about sex in crime fiction. You can read our thoughts in a few places – the first half of our conversation here on the CTG blog, the second half over on Susi’s blog HERE, and the full article over on the CrimeTime website HERE

Once you’ve had a read, we’d love to know your thoughts – do you like a sprinkling of sex with your crime? And, if you do, what’s the most memorable sex scene in a crime thriller for you? Tweet us at @crimethrillgirl and @SJIHolliday using hashtag #GirlsOnTop to let us know.

[STEPH] Let’s talk about sex. Sex in crime fiction, specifically. Okay, so I’ll go first – I’m not embarrassed – there’s a couple of sex scenes in my debut novel DEEP DOWN DEAD. One is more of a cut away as the action happens, but the other one, towards the end of the book, is very much the action as it happens; my protagonist Lori Anderson riding a male character cowgirl style. I put it in because the scene felt right for the story and (I hope) conveys something about the characters, adding additional conflict and raising the emotional stakes of the decisions they’re about to make and the (negative) consequences they could have for their relationship. That’s a whole lot of subtext to put on a sex scene, but that’s my rationale.

Back when I was starting to write my novel, I was told that sex and crime fiction don’t mix, but that doesn’t seem quite right to me. I can think of memorable sex scenes in the crime thriller genre like Lee Child’s The Affair – Jack Reacher has sex as a train thunders along the tracks – and that chilling sex scene in Gone Girl between Amy and Desi – the book, and the slightly more bloody film version! But, now I think about it, I can’t think of many detective stories that have sex scenes playing out in full in them unless the sex itself is the crime to be solved. Surely there must be more and my memory is just playing tricks on me? To help, I’ve enlisted crime writer S.J.I. Holliday – author of the Banktoun series – to answer the question, do sex and detective fiction mix?

[SUSI] I really don’t see why not. When you ask people about this, you get very mixed responses. Readers (in general) are absolutely fine with serial killers, blood, gore, death and destruction. But throw a blow job in there and they’re skimming the pages faster than a quickie in the stationery cupboard.

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The Slice Girls [L-R]: Alexandra Sokoloff, Steph Broadribb, AK Benedict, Louise Voss, Susi Holliday, Harley Jane Kozak

Personally, I love a bit of sex. Slotted in at the right time, it can help add to the tension of your story, especially if the characters are having sex with people they shouldn’t. In all three of my books, there is a hint of sex – an encounter reminiscent of 9½ Weeks on a kitchen table in BLACK WOOD, where various food items are strewn around the kitchen… In WILLOW WALK, there’s a first-timer’s sex scene down by the river which I thought was quite touching (so to speak) and entirely relevant to the plot. There’s actually less sex in THE DAMSELFLY than in the other two. A thwarted BJ and an illicit scene in a lock-up that’s kept mainly off the page. It totally depends on the story. It definitely shouldn’t be shoehorned in if it doesn’t advance the plot.

[STEPH] Seems like Susi and me are on the same page about sex-on-the-page, but what about other crime writers, what do they think? We asked a few to find out.

Neil White – From the Shadows (Bonnier Zaffre) – said, ‘Never written a sex scene. Too buttoned up. My mum will read it’ and Mason Cross – The Time To Kill (Orion) – said, ‘I’ve only included PG13 sex scenes so far, although I may need to change that for plot reasons in the new one. But Jeez, my dad reads these!’ So it could be the fear of family members reading intimate scenes is in the forefront of some writers’s minds (and limits them going all the way) but that’s not all. Chris Ewan – Long Time Lost (Faber) – said, ‘I almost wrote one yesterday and then … just cut away again. Performance anxiety.’

It also depends on the character. James Oswald – Written In Bones (Penguin) – said, ‘I don’t put much sex in my books. Tony McLean is incredibly repressed anyway, so there’s that too … on the other hand there’s auto-erotic asphyxiation and death by priapism in my latest, so maybe I do write sex after all.’

Andy Martin – Reacher Said Nothing (Transworld) – said, ‘Sad to say there are few explicit sex scenes of note in Reacher Said Nothing. I only looked over Lee Child’s shoulder while he was writing Make Me. I think there is the occasional manly handshake. But Lee – as straight as a die – had some wry remarks to make on the subject. “Never sleep with someone you know,” still resonates in my mind. And more recently he said that the most erotic experience he had ever had was a brief encounter on a train. They shared a moment but had no actual language in common. I think I may have been influenced by Childean minimalism, that “zero degree” of writing recommended by Roland Barthes. I was at a Norman Mailer writers colony in Wyoming recently when a brilliant Indian writer devised an elaborate sex scene about a dozen pages long. I wrote one, rather shorter, that went like this: “We had sex.” It’s not exactly lyrical or spiritual but it gets the job done.’

It seems, from the guys we spoke to, that male crime thriller writers generally prefer not to write on-the-page sex and to cut away before the act takes place. Mark Edwards – The Devil’s Work (Thomas & Mercer) – bucks this trend, he wants more sex in crime fiction, and said, ‘we Brits are notoriously squeamish when it comes to the squelchy bits. Wouldn’t it be nice if more of our great detectives were as skillful in bed as they are at solving crimes? Don’t you think there should be more people handcuffed to beds in thrillers because they like being handcuffed to beds?’

To find out what the female crime writers thought, why Susi hates ‘panties’ and what the trick to writing a good sex scene is, hop over to Susi’s blog HERE then come find us on Twitter @crimethrillgirl and @SJIHolliday and tell us your thoughts on sex in crime fiction using hashtag #GirlsOnTop

And check out the article in full on Barry Forshaw’s CrimeTime at www.crimetime.co.uk  and check out his Rough Guide to Crime Fiction here

Buy DEEP DOWN DEAD by Steph Broadribb here

Buy THE DAMSELFLY by SJI Holliday here

And you can buy books by our contributing authors by clicking the book titles below:

Neil WhiteFrom the Shadows (Bonnier Zaffre)

Mason CrossThe Time To Kill (Orion)

Chris EwanLong Time Lost (Faber)

James OswaldWritten In Bones (Penguin)

Andy MartinReacher Said Nothing (Transworld)

Mark EdwardsThe Devil’s Work (Thomas & Mercer)

 

More about Steph and Susi:

Steph Broadribb is an alumni of the MA Creative Writing at City University London and trained as a bounty hunter in California. Her debut novel DEEP DOWN DEAD is out now. Find out more at www.crimethrillergirl.com right here!

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday grew up near Edinburgh and now lives in London. She works as a statistician in the pharmaceutical industry and writes books set in a creepy and claustrophobic small town in Scotland where the crime rate is apparently higher than in New York. BLACK WOOD, WILLOW WALK and THE DAMSELFLY are a mix of psychological thriller and detective fiction, featuring the terminally unlucky in love, Sergeant Davie Gray. You can find out more at www.sjiholliday.com

 

#GIVEAWAY: RT for your chance to #WIN a book bundle of #LongTimeLost #WillowWalk #TheEvolutionOfFear #ARisingMan

 

It’s Friday, so I reckon that’s a good excuse for another competition! And you’re in for a treat as the giveaway today is for a book bundle of four of this weeks awesome new crime thriller releases – Chris Ewan’s Long Time Lost, SJI Holliday’s Willow Walk, Paul E. Hardisty’s The Evolution of Fear, and Abir Mukherjee’s A Rising Man. Plus I’ll even throw in the sampler for my own thriller Deep Down Dead and Michael J. Malone’s A Suitable Lie.

HERE’S MORE ABOUT THE BOOKS …

LONG TIME LOST by Chris Ewan: “Nick Miller and his team provide a unique and highly illegal service, relocating at-risk individuals across Europe with new identities and new lives. Nick excels at what he does for a reason: he’s spent years living in the shadows under an assumed name. But when Nick steps in to prevent the attempted murder of witness-in-hiding Kate Sutherland on the Isle of Man, he triggers a chain of events with devastating consequences for everyone he protects – because Nick and Kate share a common enemy in Connor Lane, a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if it means tearing Nick’s entire network apart.” Rapid paced, and packed with tension, twists and turns, this is a must read for thriller fans. You can find out more about Chris Ewan and his books here and follow him on Twitter @chrisewan

WILLOW WALK by SJI Holliday: “When the past catches up, do you run and hide or stand and fight? When a woman is brutally attacked by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s increasingly bizarre behaviour. As Gray investigates the crimes, he comes to realize that there has to be a link between Marie and the man on the run. It’s the only thing that makes any sense. But he also knows that if he confronts her with the truth, he risks losing everything.” Chillingly nuanced, pulse-poundingly suspenseful, this is a great second book in the Banktown Trilogy. You can find out more about SJI Holliday and her books here and follow her on Twitter @SJIHolliday

THE EVOLUTION OF FEAR by Paul E. Hardisty: “Claymore Straker is a fugitive with a price on his head. Wanted by the CIA for acts of terrorism he did not commit, his best friend has just been murdered and Rania, the woman he loves, has disappeared. Betrayed by those closest to him, he must flee the sanctuary of his safe house in Cornwall and track her down. As his pursuers close in, Clay follows Rania to Istanbul and then to Cyprus, where he is drawn into a violent struggle between the Russian mafia, Greek Cypriot extremists, and Turkish developers cashing in on the tourism boom. As the island of love descends into chaos, and the horrific truth is unveiled, Clay must call on every ounce of skill and endurance to save Rania and put an end to the unimaginable destruction being wrought in the name of profit.” Gripping, exhilarating and frighteningly realistic, this is a great second book in the Claymore Straker series. You can find out more about Paul E. Hardisty by following him on Twitter @Hardisty_Paul

A RISING MAN by Abir Mukherjee: “Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Culcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatize to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj. A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues – arrogant Inspector Digby and British-educated, but Indian-born Sergeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID – embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.” Atmospheric and packed with intrigue, this is a fabulous debut novel. You can find out more about Abir Mukherjee by following him on Twitter @radiomukhers

AND THE SAMPLER …

The sampler gives you a sneak peep at the first chapters of two books:

A SUITABLE LIE by Michael J. Malone: “Some secrets should never be kept … Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match … and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it. A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything …” A Suitable Lie will be published on 15th July in eBook and 15th September in paperback. Find out more about Michael J. Malone and his books here and follow him on Twitter @michaelJmalone1

DEEP DOWN DEAD by Steph Broadribb: “Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as a single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s form mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past. Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.” Deep Down Dead will be published on 15th October in eBook and 5th January 2017 in paperback.

 

*** THIS COMPETITION HAS ENDED AND THE WINNER HAS BEEN NOTIFIED ***

 

HOW TO ENTER …

For a chance to win, all you need to do is tweet the link to this post (using the Twitter button below) OR retweet one of the CTG tweets about the giveaway. You’ll also need to follow us @crimethrillgirl on Twitter so we can send you a direct message should you win.

Rules: (1) One entry per reader (2) UK residents only – due to postage costs – sorry! (3) We will draw the winner at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The competition closes for entries at 11pm GMT on Friday 6th May 2016 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Good luck!

Confessions from Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (Part 2): The Football Special

The Ref and The Players - The North (in Red/Black) The South (in Yellow/Blue)

The Ref and The Players – The North (in Red/Black) The South (in Yellow/Blue)

One of the great new additions to the festival programme this year was the football match. At 6.30pm on Saturday evening two teams of brave crime writers lined up to be counted in a passionate and thrilling match for the Harrogate Crime Writers North vs South Challenge Cup.

The teams, pictured here at the start of the match with Referee Mark Billingham, were:

  • For the North (sponsored by Fox Spirit): Luca Veste, Craig Robertson, Nick Quantrill, Col Bury, Howard Linskey, Vincent Holland-Keen, Dan Stewart and Graham Smith.
  • For the South (sponsored by Crime Files): Tim Weaver, Chris Ewan, James Law, Graeme Cameron, Tom Witcomb, Adam Hamdy, Ian Ayris and Darren Laws.

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With a large crowd of spectators assembled to watch them the match kicked off and right from the start the competition was fierce. The North, with great form from their convincing win at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writers Football Match last year, started strong, but the South were determined to give them a challenge and at first possession seemed equally held.

Then the first goal came – from Luca Veste for the North – and from then on the goals from the North kept on coming.

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A short time later it seemed like the South might shorten the gap with Tim Weaver putting the ball in the back of the net. But the goal was disallowed because it occurred after Craig Robertson saved a goal from Tom Witcomb – whose momentum took him illegally (but accidentally) into the box where he illegally (accidentally) flattened Craig – both players were still on the ground when the ball went in the net). Despite some player protests, Referee Mark Billingham stood firm in his decision to disallow the illegal goal, and the teams played on.

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The action was fast and the teams were cheered on as they chased the ball up and down the field with vigor and determination right to the final whistle. Although the South played valiantly to the end, this match was all about the North – with the final score standing at 6-0 to the North. The goals scored by Luca Veste (1), Howard Linskey (2) and Col Bury (3). Craig Robertson saved two penalties.

The match was a real crowd pleaser, with the enthusiastic crowd cheering on the teams the whole way through. But this sporting event didn’t pass without the sheading of blood, sweat and (probably) tears. Confirmed injuries included a fractured wrist (Graeme Cameron) and a fractured ankle (Luca Veste) – and it’s worth noting the grit of these players as they played on with their injuries, Luca still managing to hit the bar and post after his.

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As the triumphant North held high the Harrogate Crime Writers North vs South Challenge Cup later that evening, talk was already turning to the 2016 rematch, and the rigorous training schedules that the players would be putting in place in preparation.

Massive kudos to all who played. It was a fabulous event and one that I’ll be super excited to see return in 2016!

Val McDermid presents the cup to The North (photo credit: Fenris Oswin)

Val McDermid presents the cup to The North (photo credit: Fenris Oswin)

[with thanks to Kat Miller and Luca Veste for the excellent action photos]

Events Alert: BritCrime 2015 – a free online crime fiction festival on 11-13 July!

BritCrime Festival logo

BritCrime organiser and author, Helen Smith

BritCrime organiser and author, Helen Smith

BritCrime 2015 is a brand new sparkly crime fiction festival that will run for the first time from 11 – 13 July 2015. Instigated by author Helen Smith, the festival will feature more than forty crime authors taking part over the three-day festival.

The free festival – yes, that’s right – FREE – will take place entirely online. There’ll be live Q&A panel discussions on the BritCrime Facebook page as well as ‘Meet us in the (virtual) Bar’ sessions for late night chat and japes.

In the run up to the festival there’ll be lots of exciting things going on – giveaways, video sessions and interactive Google Hangouts. You can also sign up to get the festival email updates – and be entered into the draw to win a Kindle Paperwhite.

Participating authors include Quentin Bates, Jenny Blackhurst, Rebecca Bradley, Graeme Cameron, Steve Cavanagh, Tammy Cohen, Mason Cross, Julia Crouch, Eva Dolan, Steven Dunne, Mark Edwards, Chris Ewan, Paul Finch, Helen Giltrow, Sarah Hilary, Susi Holliday, Jane Isaac, Amanda Jennings, Emma Kavanagh, Anya Lipska, Colette McBeth, M J McGrath, Fergus McNeill, Clare Mackintosh, Michael J Malone, Ava Marsh, Alex Marwood, K T Medina, Daniel Pembrey, J F Penn, Nick Quantrill, Marnie Riches, Craig Robertson, Mel Sherratt, Alexandra Sokoloff, Helen Smith, C L Taylor, Simon Toyne, Luca Veste, Louise Voss, Sarah Ward – that’s A LOT of authors!!

Author, Mason Cross

Author, Mason Cross

And you can ask them anything! Want to know what sparked the idea for a book? – you can ask them; want to learn how to pick locks or how to turn your teenage diary into a murder story? – there’ll be tips for that too; wondering what it’s like to go from real life detective to crime fiction writer? – that’s something you can ask as well.

On Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th July the live Q&A sessions will run from midday to 10pm (UK time) with the ‘Meet us in the Bar’ sessions live after the panels from 10pm to midnight.

On Monday 13th July there’ll be highlights from the BritCrime Festival, a report from ThrillerFest (New York), BritCrime authors on tour: looking forward to Harrogate, Bloody Scotland and Bouchercon, and ‘What’s next for BritCrime? – more exciting stuff to come.’

Author, Eva Dolan

Author, Eva Dolan

So whether you love murder mysteries, police procedurals, private investigators, thrillers, romantic suspense or domestic noir (or all of them!) by getting online and involved, you’ll be able to take part in this fantastic new festival wherever you live – and FOR FREE!

So be sure to follow @BritCrime on Twitter, and then hop on over to the festival website at www.britcrime.com to find out more, register, and start thinking of all the questions you’d like to ask the authors …

See you at BritCrime!

Confessions from CrimeFest: Part Two

L-R: Kevin Wignall, AK Benedict, James Oswald, Anne Zouroudi, Ben Aaronovitch

L-R: Kevin Wignall, AK Benedict, James Oswald, Anne Zouroudi, Ben Aaronovitch

I did indeed get up in time to make it to the first panel of the day, but I didn’t manage breakfast. Still, it was worth it. The Debut Authors: An Infusion of Fresh Blood panel was great fun and all the panel members were surprisingly perky for a nine o’clock start. Moderator Jake Kerridge talked to panellists MJ Arlidge, Mason Cross, Jake Woodhouse, Kate Griffin and Colette McBeth about their debut novels and the route they’d taken to publication.

Next up, was the Death in High Heels: Women as Victims panel. MR Hall, Jessica Mann, Jessie Keane, and Martyn Waites (who also writes as Tanya Carver) debated the issue of how women are portrayed in crime fiction, especially when the victim of the crime is female. It was an interesting and thought provoking discussion covering everything from at what point violence becomes ‘torture porn’ through to the use of female images on book covers.

I then had time for a swift coffee (black, no sugar) before heading into The Modern Thriller panel. As thrillers are my absolute favourite of the genre, this was one of the panels I’d been most eager to see. Moderated by Doug Johnstone, the panel of Belinda Bauer, Helen Fitzgerald, Chris Ewan and Simon Kernick talked about what constitutes the modern thriller, and how it differs from a crime novel. Defining characteristics seemed to be agreed on as pace, and a sense of urgency. They spoke of their own favourite modern thrillers, with Harlan Coben’s Tell No One coming out as a popular choice.

I didn’t stop for lunch, instead going straight on to watch the Things That Go Bump In the Night: Magic, Paranormal & All Things Supernatural panel. Moderated by Kevin Wignall, with Ben Aaronovitch, AK Benedict, James Oswald, and Anne Zouroudi, this was a lively panel with some great discussion about mixing crime with the paranormal. I particularly enjoyed some of the more random questions poised by Kevin Wignall to the panel (which were questions he had been asked by children when doing author events) – these included: ‘Can you tell me a story about a hamster?’ And ‘What would be your X-Man name and superpower?’ Fabulous.

By that point in the day I was rather panelled-out, but managed to find the energy to head along to the drinks reception that evening to watch 2014 CWA Diamond Dagger Recipient Simon Brett in performance. Then it was off for a fabulous curry with the Icelandic crime writers before heading to the bar for a few last orders drinks (and beyond!).