CTG’s TEN (+1) COOL THINGS THAT HAPPENED AT BLOODY SCOTLAND

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Slice Girling it up at Crime in the Coo! [L-R: Louise Voss, CTG, AK Benedict]

Bloody Scotland (9-11 September) was, once again, bloody brilliant!

It’s a super friendly and dynamic festival with a brilliant team of organisers and volunteers.

It’s hard to pick just ten things, but I’ve done my best and cheated slightly by adding an additional thing (so technically it’s now eleven cool things!!) – and added a bunch of photos to show the rest …

  1. Getting picked up from the station and chauffeur driven to the hotel by lovely crime fiction blogger @GrabThisBook after being on a delayed train for over 10 hours
  2. Raising a glass to celebrate Craig Robertson’s brilliant new novel MURDERABILIA and catching up with all my crime writer and blogging friends
  3. Hearing Daniel Pembrey read from his debut novel THE HARBOUR MASTER in front of a massive crowd at the Albert Halls
  4. Laughing till I cried at the (NOT) BORN IN THE USA panel with Steve Cavanagh, Mason Cross, Gordon Brown and Catriona McPherson
  5. Singing with THE SLICE GIRLS (Alexandra Sokoloff, AK Benedict, SJI Holliday, Louise Voss) at The Curly Coo bar as part of the Crime in the Coo event
  6. Marvelling over the mouthorgan playing genius of Stuart Neville (at Crime in the Coo)
  7. Cheering at the bravery of the pitchers at the PITCH PERFECT event
  8. Being fascinated by Neil McKay and Alexandra Sokoloff (chaired by Alexandra Benedict) talking about the nature of evil
  9. Watching a piper shoot fire out of his bagpipes on every top note in Stirling town centre
  10. Sitting back and enjoying the conversation between top-of-their-game crime writers Ian Rankin and Quintin Jardine
  11. The England crime writers team beating the Scotland crime writers team at football (with some great moves – chesting the ball – by Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books; the only lady player).

Find out more about this brilliant festival at www.bloodyscotland.com and be sure to book your ticket for next year – I just know that it’s going to be fantastic.

You can buy Daniel Pembrey’s THE HARBOUR MASTER here

You can buy Craig Robertson’s MURDERABILIA here

Check out the GRAB THIS BOOK blog here

Check out THE SLICE GIRLS on Facebook here

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Happy August: CTG has “Gone Reading”

For the next few weeks I’m having a little blogging holiday. I’ve got a stack of fantastic books to read, some cool interviews to do, and I’m cracking on with writing the first draft of the follow-up to DEEP DOWN DEAD.

I’ll be back on 1st September with a revamped look and bursting to tell you about the books I’ve read.

Until then, here’s a sneak peep at my August TBR pile …

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Until then, you can catch me over on Twitter …

#ThePlea Blog Tour: Guest Post by Steve Cavanagh – Influences. I’ve had a few.

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Huge thanks to CTG for letting me have a guest spot on this great blog. I’ve chosen to talk a little about my influences, and how they may have affected the books that I write, or even the way that I write. Style. That’s the word. At my first ever event as an author I remember being asked by Colin Bateman what I would say my “style” of writing was like. At the time, I’d written my first book, I’d been lucky enough to get a book deal, and I was working on my second novel, The Plea. My answer must’ve been disappointing, but it was honest. I said, “To tell you the truth, I’m not sure that I have a style.”

To me, other authors that I’d read and loved for years, had style. The likes of John Connolly – who writes in beautiful, poetic prose. His Charlie Parker novels are essentially gothic detective novels, but they are shot through with humour, warmth, and a good dollop of the supernatural. Raymond Chandler had style. His language was at times strange and wonderful especially in those extended metaphors. Michael Connelly has an almost journalistic style – a beautiful, unadorned simplicity that somehow transports you straight into the heart of Los Angeles and into the passenger seat beside Bosch. I also love the stripped back genius of Lee Child – with those tripping, declarative sentences that are almost musical. Speaking of music, Elmore Leonard played a tune in dialogue that few others could even get close to – perhaps only Ian Rankin is Leonard’s equal.

So having read all of those authors, and more, what kind of style did I have? At the time, I couldn’t see it. I think that it takes a few books to emerge. At the time I began writing, I never once thought about my style of writing or even trying to create one.

It’s difficult to determine how those authors I’ve mentioned above have influenced me or the books that I write. In asking myself that question, I can only think of one answer. All of them tell brilliant stories. And those stories are told in uniquely brilliant ways.

A style, I suppose, is the sum total of its different parts. So it’s every author that I’ve read, filtered through me. And no-one else can sound like that. If you asked me today what my style is, I’d still have to give a bit of a vague answer. I only know what I like to write. I like stories that start quickly, that move with enough speed to keep the reader hooked, and while all the fireworks are going off, I like to try and make the reader think. My language is fairly simple because I like it that way. I do aim for a twist or two, because as a reader I enjoy twists and turns. Most of my style probably comes down to character. If I can get my characters to tell the story, rather than me – the writer, then I think I’m going in the right direction.

Influences are like parents, you can’t really choose them. I’ve been lucky in that the writers that have influenced and inspired me the most are some of the greats of the genre. There’s not a bad book in any of them. Apart from the pleasure I get from their work, they also drive me to try and be a better writer.

That’s really all the influence you need.

 

A big thank you to Steve Cavanagh for making the CTG blog today’s stop on his blog tour.

THE PLEA is out on May 19th in Trade Paperback, eBook and Audio. It’s a tremendous read and an absolute must for all thriller fans. Here’s what the blurb says: “When David Child, a major client of a corrupt New York law firm, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to secure Child as his client and force him to testify against the firm. Eddie’s not a man to be coerced into representing a guilty client, but the FBI have incriminating files on Eddie’s wife, and if Eddie won’t play ball, she’ll pay the price. When Eddie meets Child he’s convinced the man is innocent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the plea, Eddie must find a way to prove Child’s innocence while keeping his wife out of danger – not just from the FBI, but from the firm itself.”

Pre-order THE PLEA here from Waterstones or from Amazon here

To find out more about crime writer Steve Cavanagh hop over to his website at www.stevecavanagh.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @SSCav

 

 

What happened at the brilliant #BloodyScotland Crime Writing Festival 2015 (Part 1)

Whose Crime Is It Anyway? (c) Eoin Carey

Whose Crime Is It Anyway? (c) Eoin Carey

The Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival is one of those festivals that goes from strength to strength. This year the organising team, led by the ever sparky Dom Hastings, put on a fabulous programme of events from panels to interviews, an awards dinner, a pub cabaret, and a football match – there really was something for everyone. In fact, it was so good it’s taken me a week to recover enough to blog about it!

The weekend kicked off with Val McDermid and Peter May in conversation, followed by Whose Crime is it Anyway? – with TV presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli throwing out the challenges to crime writers Christopher Brookmyre, Kevin Wignall and Caro Ramsay to improvise on the spot. Once the opening events finished, as ever at crime writing festivals, the rest of the evening was spent in the bar at the Stirling Highland Hotel with a glass of wine (or two, or three …).

Scotland v England

Scotland v England

On Saturday, I wasn’t able to get to many events as I was in training for a special performance with The Slice Girls at the Crime in the Coo event later that evening. But I heard great things about the Killer Women panel – Louise Millar, Helen Giltrow, and MJ McGrath – who discussed whether the Woman is deadlier than the Male? The thought provoking Self Publishing session with Alexandra Sokoloff and Allan Guthrie, and the New Crimes panel with debut authors Lucy Ribchester (The Hourglass Factory), Chris Dolan (Potter’s Field), SJI Holliday (Black Wood) and Mark Legatt (Names of the Dead) – which all sound like fabulous reads.

In the afternoon, in a brief pause between practices, I did get along to the Breaking the Law panel which had dynamic law buffs Steve Cavanagh, Neil White and Jeffrey Siger, along with Craig Sisterson, talking about the difference between the law in crime thrillers and crime fact, how they draw on their real life experiences in their writing, and the legal thrillers that they especially admire. After that, it was a quick sprint to get ready for the Crime in the Coo before meeting my fellow Slice Girls for one final practice (more about that on the blog tomorrow!)

(c) Eoin Carey

(c) Eoin Carey

After a late, late night on Saturday, my start on Sunday wasn’t especially early! The first event I got along to was the Thriller panel with Simon Kernick, Tom Wood, G.J. Brown and Mason Cross. In a lively debate they talked locations – whether to visit them or not, and the perils if you don’t, the fun of writing “lone wolf” characters, and about their routes to publication (the key, so they say, is not to let rejection stop you).

Then, with the sky getting darker by the minute, it was a short walk up the hill to the bowling green at Cowane’s Hospital where the Bloody Scotland Crime Writers Football Match: Scotland v England was happening. After Scotland’s convincing win last year there was a lot at stake, and as the game kicked off both teams looked very determined. In a tense game, where the players had to contend with alternating sunshine and pouring rain, the two sides looked pretty evenly matched with goal keepers Luca Veste (England) and Craig Robertson (Scotland) kept busy as both sides battled it out to win.

(c) Eoin Carey

(c) Eoin Carey

At the end of the match, the score was 5-5.

The Scotland goals came from Mark Stanton, Christopher Brookmyre, and Doug Johnstone (3). For England the scorers were Vincent Holland-Keane (2), Col Bury (2) and Howard Linskey. The team captains – Ian Rankin (Scotland) and Simon Kernick (England) held the trophy aloft and then, as the rain got heavier, it was time to trot back down the hill (to the bar!).

The final event of the festival was Literary Agent, Jenny Brown, interviewing bestselling crime thriller writer, Linwood Barclay, who was on his first visit to Scotland. To a packed audience, Linwood talked about his writing career, his latest book Broken Promise – the first of a sequence of three connected stories – and on creating a story with a killer hook. Very interesting and highly entertaining, this was the perfect session to end the festival with. Then it was back to the bar, for one final night, before setting off home the next morning.

Jenny Brown interviewing Linwood Barclay (c) Eoin Carey

Jenny Brown interviewing Linwood Barclay (c) Eoin Carey

Next year the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival runs from 9 – 11 September 2016. If you love crime fiction then you absolutely need to be there – put the dates in your diary and book a hotel, now! Trust me, this is one festival that you won’t want to miss out on.

But, of course, there’s something that I haven’t told you about in this blog post – just what happened at Crime in the Coo on Saturday night.

If you want to know, pop back tomorrow for my “(Not so) Secret Diary of a Slice Girl post. 

In the meantime, here’s a sneaky peep …

The Slice Girls on the bar at The Curly Coo (c) Eoin Carey

The Slice Girls on the bar at The Curly Coo (c) Eoin Carey

Events Alert: Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival, Stirling on 11 – 13 September 2015

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This week the marks the official launch of the 2015 Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival. The wonderful event runs this year from 11-13 September in the historic Scottish town of Stirling and is fast becoming one of the top crime writing festivals.

The fabulous programme, announced this week, features exclusive appearances from Martina Cole and Linwood Barclay, and a brilliant range of events from interviews to panel sessions with best selling authors including Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Ann Cleeves, Arne Dahl and over 50 other authors.

There’s also some great evening entertainment including ‘Whose Crime is it Anyway?’ with Hardeep Singh Kohli, Christopher Brookmyre, Kevin Wignall and Caro Ramsey, ‘Crime at the Coo’ – an evening of readings, poems, stories and songs hosted by Craig Robertson – and the gala dinner where the fourth annual Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year Award will announced. On Sunday lunchtime, there’ll be the return of the infamous Scottish vs English All-Crime-Writers football game, with the English team hoping to settle some of last year’s scores!

The festival will also celebrate Agatha Christie’s 125th anniversary with an spellbinding event looking at the grande dame of crime fiction’s obsession with poisons. Dr Kathryn Harkup, author of the book A is for Arsenic, and Christie expert Ragnar Jonasson, who has been Christie’s Icelandic translator since he was seventeen, will discuss the art of chemistry Christie used to kill the vast majority of her ‘victims’.

For those looking to write crime fiction there’s the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Masterclass – a full day of workshops including ‘The Craft of Crime Writing’ with Denise Mina, ‘Self-Editing for Crime Writers’ with Allan Guthrie, and ‘Screenwriting for Crime Writers’ with Alexandra Sokoloff. And for those ready to pitch their novel, there’s the popular ‘Pitch Perfect’ session where a line-up of unpublished authors get the chance to ‘live pitch’ to a panel of industry experts.

I’ve been to this fantastic festival twice before and I’ve already booked my tickets for this year. Always a super-friendly festival, and with such an amazing star-studded programme, Bloody Scotland 2015 is going to be tremendous.

To find out more about this wonderful festival pop on over to their website at www.bloodyscotland.com

And be sure to follow them on Twitter @BloodyScotland for all the latest updates

Your chance to win: FACE OFF – stories by Lee Child, Peter James, Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin and more (ed. David Baldacci) #bookgiveaway

FACE OFF cover image

FACE OFF cover image

It’s not due to be published in paperback until the 29th January, but this week those lovely people at Sphere have given me a copy of FACE OFF to give away to one lucky winner. Here’s some more about the book …

The Prize: FACE OFF

What the blurb says: “Twenty-three of the world’s best-selling crime writers and your favourite series characters FACE OFF in eleven original short stories. Never before has such a glittering array of the world’s bestselling crime writers brought their series characters together in a collection of co-written short stories … FACE OFF includes the first meeting of Ian Rankin’s Rebus and Peter James’ Roy Grace; a case for Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, as well as a page-turning mystery starring Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller. Edited by international bestseller David Baldacci, this exclusive page-turning collection is one of a kind.”

It’s a fantastic book of short stories, each one just perfect for reading over breakfast, or taking with you to read at lunchtime as you eat your sandwiches, or for a sneaky bit of procrastination when you should be doing something else!

The character pairings and full list of authors are:

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher + Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller

Ian Rankin’s John Rebus + Peter James’ Roy Grace

Michael Connelly’s Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch + Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie

Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme + John Sanford’s Lucas Davenport

Linwood Barclay’s Glen Garber + Raymond Khoury’s Sean Reilly

Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper + Steve Martini’s Paul Madriani

Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone + James Rollins’ Gray Pierce

Lisa Gardner’s D.D. Warren + MJ Rose’s Malachai Samuels

T. Jefferson Parker’s Joe Trona and John Lescroart’s Wyatt Hunt

Heather Graham’s Michael Quinn + F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack

Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child’s Aloysius Pendergast + R.L. Stine’s Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy

 

** THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED **

So, to the competition …

For a chance to win a copy of FACE OFF 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 on Twitter, so that 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 9pm GMT on Sunday 25th January 2015 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Good luck!

Bloody Brilliant Scotland 2014

 

The Female in Crime Fiction panel being introduced

The Female in Crime Fiction panel being introduced

Last weekend was Bloody Scotland 2014. This hugely friendly and welcoming crime writing festival is going from strength to strength. Now in its third year, the festival played host to a plethora of crime writers in three days of entertaining, informative and massively fun events.

Having spent the best part of seven hours on trains travelling from my home to Stirling, I met up with some friends at the Stirling Highland Hotel and then headed over to Hotel Colessio for Mark Billingham and Stuart McBride’s Dead Funny event. As with the Billingham and Brookmyre double act last year, Billingham and McBride answering questions from readers (allegedly) made for a hilarious evening with McBride’s dark poetry, and the skilful answering by both authors of some rather random questions from the audience, real high spots.

Next morning, Saturday, I helped out SJI Holiday (acting as her notetaker) at an interview with Kati Hirekkapelto, author of fabulous book The Hummingbird, before having a quick walk around Stirling – seeing the Castle, the city walls, and peering into the old Gaol.

Then it was off to the New Blood/Fresh Meat panel featuring Eva Dolan, Hania Allen, and Mason Cross. Each of the panel began by reading from their debut novels – three different styles and stories, and all super gripping. Then, led by moderator Peggy Hughes, they spoke about how they got the idea for the novel, the research they did, and what their route to publication was like.

At the same time, the Scotland versus England 5-a-side Football match was taking place. With Ian Rankin captaining Scotland and Mark Billingham captaining England there was a good turnout to watch the battle commence and the #BloodyScotland twitter feed was alive with score updates and photos. After a tense game, the final score was Scotland 13 – England 1, and the magnificent silver trophy went to Scotland.

Next up, I went along to The Female in Crime Fiction (in association with Glasgow Women’s Library) panel with Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Lin Anderson, and Catriona McPherson. The panel debated female protagonists in crime fiction (including how many crime books would pass the Bechdel test which looks at whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man), the joy of reading a thriller that compels you to turn the page (crime writing top tip – always keep the secret withheld as long as you can!), and why it might be that women make up more than half the readership of crime fiction.

The next panel featured Luca Veste, Michael Malone, and Martyn Waites, chaired by Mark Billingham. This lively and entertaining panel discussed their most recent books, the importance of location and why they’d chosen to locate their books where they had, how they go about doing research, their route to publication and how Martyn Waites came to take on his alter ego – Tanya Carver.

The final event of the day was Ian Rankin in conversation with Kathy Reichs. This session in the Albert Halls seemed to fly by with Kathy Reichs talking about her route to publication, what it’s like working on a long running TV show (having to think up new murders after 200 episodes being one of the challenges!) and what it’s like co-writing a YA series with her son.

Then it was off to dinner with friends at the amazing Maharaja curry house before chatting in the bar well into the early hours.

On Sunday I was actually part of an event rather than just watching. Having submitted a 100 word synopsis for the Pitch Perfect session I was excited (and terrified) to hear that my story was one of seven that had been picked to be pitched. Along with the other six pitchers I was ushered into the green room and introduced to the wonderful Jenny Brown who chaired the session. From there it was on to the event with publishers Alison Hennessey (Harvill Secker), Krystyna Green (Constable & Robinson) and Tricia Jackson (Pan MacMillan) on the panel. Each pitcher had three minutes to pitch their story. There were some great pitches, and I think it was probably the longest three minutes of my life! But good fun and I’d definitely recommend it. The panel were friendly and their feedback hugely helpful, and Margaret Stewart was a most deserving winner.

And then it was over.

As I set off on my journey home, I reflected on what a fantastic weekend I’d had – great panels, a fabulous location, a warm and friendly atmosphere and the chance to catch up with all my writerly pals.

The seven hour trip was definitely worth it.