#crimewritersincafesprocrastinating – Rod Reynolds shares his procrastination pitfalls and confesses he’s a reluctant plotter @Rod_RW


Today crime writer Rod Reynolds is joining me for Crime Writers In Cafes Procrastinating. As the title suggests, this feature is all about the lengths writers go to procrastinate when they should be writing, and how they (eventually) manage to win against the temptation of the path of procrastination to finish their books.

Rod’s latest book – COLD DESERT SKY – is the third book in his acclaimed Charlie Yates series published by Faber.

Welcome Rod, so tell me all about your latest book – Cold Desert Sky?

Cold Desert Sky is the third book in the Charlie Yates series. It finds Charlie obsessed with the disappearance of two aspiring starlets, while trying to stay ahead of infamous mob boss Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, who’s tearing LA apart trying to find him. But Charlie’s investigation leads to him getting caught up in a murderous blackmail racket, targeting Hollywood bigwigs.

The action moves to Las Vegas, right around the time Siegel was completing his masterplan: The Flamingo Hotel, which laid the foundation for the city as we know it today. Yates finds himself caught between Sigel’s outfit and a rogue FBI agent, and as his chances of getting out alive dwindle, his only care is to find out what happened to the missing girls while he still can.

How long did Cold Desert Sky take to write?

I spent a couple of months researching the historical facts and locations featured in the book, then about four months writing the first draft. Then I spent another couple of months editing and polishing before I let anyone read it. That’s about normal for me – I’d be quicker if I didn’t have to fit writing in around school runs, nursery runs, and playground trips!

What’s your favourite writing/procrastination spot – home, café, bar, other?

I prefer to write at home – I think because it offers the most options for procrastination – but I quite often have to decamp to get some peace and quiet, so I tend to either go to a cafe on the high street near me, or the library. The problem with the latter is that there are all these books I want to read just staring at me from the shelves…

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?

I started out pantsing, but I’ve plotted more with each book I’ve written – so I guess you could call me a reluctant plotter. I used to worry that planning would stifle creativity and stop the story from developing organically, but I’ve come to learn that having the spine of an idea still leaves plenty of room for both those things to happen, and actually saves me a lot of time in the long run. It’s like that old cliche about having a destination in mind but figuring out the route as you go.

When you’re writing, do you find you procrastinate more at the beginning, middle or end of the draft, or equally across all three?

Definitely the middle. The start of a book is always great fun to write, because it’s a blank canvas (even if you’re writing a series) and the possibilities are almost limitless. And I always find the end stages take on a momentum of their own. Whereas I think most writers find the middle the toughest because you’ve got to sustain the plot, keep the pace up, keep the characters developing, all while holding back the really juicy stuff for the end. So my twitter trigger-finger tends to get itchy between about 30k and 70k words.

Do you prefer first drafts or edits (and why)?

I know a lot of writers think this is a binary choice, but I’m not averse to either. I like the freedom of a first draft, and I like the precision of the editing stage. If I had to choose, it would be the editing stage though. It’s the difference between laying the first bricks building a house, and polishing the doorknob and choosing the furniture when its all finished.

When you’re procrastinating, what’s the activity you turn to most?

Social media’s a the obvious one – it’s just so easy. Especially twitter, because the crime-writing community is so strong on there, so it’s easy to jump into a fun conversation. But I also try to put procrastination to a good use, so I try to exercise or go for a run, if I can summon the willpower. Running is one of my best methods for working through plot problems or getting some headspace to think about whatever I’m working on, so it can be really helpful, if I can tear myself off the chair…

When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice?

Coffee – although not as much as I used to drink when I was working in advertising. I tend to work better in the mornings, so I’ve never really tried writing with a glass of wine or anything like that; I’m not sure I’d be very productive! And I try to avoid snacking when I’m at my desk, so I usually aim to get by on a handful of nuts or some fruit. But when my willpower drops, I can eat a packet of biscuits without stopping for breath. And then get started on the cake.

And how do you celebrate the completion of the book (you winning against procrastination)?

I don’t think you ever win against procrastination! I usually take a few weeks off from writing when I finish a book, and certainly a few beers will be drunk, but you can’t ever really go nuts because there’s always something else to do – and I tend to get the urge to start something new before too long.

Huge thanks to Rod for letting me grill him about his procrastination (and writing) habits. To see what happens when his Twitter trigger-finger gets twitchy follow him on Twitter @Rod_WR

And be sure to check out his fabulous new book – COLD DESERT SKY. Click on the book cover below to find out more over at Amazon:

CTG’s #threewordbookreview – Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds

Des Sky

Today’s three word ‘micro’ book review features the latest in the wonderful Charlie Yates  series – COLD DESERT SKY by Rod Reynolds.

Here’s what the blurb says: “Late 1946 and Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie have returned to Los Angeles, trying to stay anonymous in the City of Angels. But when Yates, back in his old job at the Pacific Journal, becomes obsessed by the disappearance of two aspiring Hollywood starlets, he finds it leads him right back to his worse fear: legendary mob boss Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, a man he once crossed, and whose shadow he can’t shake.”


This is one of my favourite thriller series and Cold Desert Sky is a fantastic read – perfect for fans of all things crime thriller and American noir.

Cold Desert Sky is out now from Faber. To find out more and buy the book click the cover below and hop over to Amazon:

CTG’s #threewordbookreviews – DARK PINES by WILL DEAN



Today in my new feature series – three word book reviews – I’m reviewing DARK PINES, a debut scandinoir-esque thriller from crime writer Will Dean. Dark Pines was published in January by Point Blank books (Oneworld).


To find out more and buy the book in ebook, paperback or audio format click this link to AMAZON




To celebrate Rod Reynolds’s BLACK NIGHT FALLING being published in paperback today I’m re-running my review of this fabulous book…

What the blurb says: “Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late …”

The second book in the Charlie Yates series is another noir-drenched belter of a thriller.

When Charlie gets a call from Jimmy Robinson, a shady reporter from Texarkana – a place Charlie just wants to forget – asking for help, his gut instinct is to hang up. But when Jimmy hints that the trouble that chased Charlie from Texarkana could be connected to murders in Hot Springs, Charlie finds himself agreeing to make the trip. But when he lands at Hot Springs things aren’t at all what he’d expected, and a bad situation turns dire fast. Charlie feels driven to discover the truth of what’s going on and starts to investigate. He soon finds out that beneath it’s party town exterior, Hot Springs has a darker, and much more dangerous side.

Picking up a few months after Rod Reynolds stunning debut The Dark Inside ended, Black Night Falling oozes authenticity and a whole lot of deeply dark menace. The prose is a delight, and I adored the rhythmic cadence.

Reporter Charlie Yates is a great character, and in this second book of the series he’s doing his damnedest to move on from his past – his exile from New York, his failed marriage, and the brutal events in Texarkana that nearly claimed his life – by making a new life for himself in California. But it seems no matter how hard he tries, trouble always finds him! He’s still rather brooding and a bit mysterious, but he’s got a little more hope about him – or at least he’s trying to have!

I think that if Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald had co-written a book it might have been rather like BLACK NIGHT FALLING. Darkly gritty and authentically compelling, this is a flawless treat of a novel.

A must-read for all thriller fans. I recommend that you get it right now!

(And if you’ve not read The Dark Inside – get that too!)

BLACK NIGHT FALLING is published today! You can buy the book here from Amazon or from Waterstones by clicking on the store name.

To find out more about Rod Reynolds and his books go to his Amazon author page here and be sure to follow him on Twitter @Rod_RW




As Crime Thriller Girl I’ve hosted stops on loads of blog tours, but it feels kind of strange that it’s now my debut novel that’s getting a tour!

Strange but very cool!

I’ve been blown away by the number of stops on the DEEP DOWN DEAD blog tour and am totally indebted to the fabulous bloggers who are taking part. There’s going to be reviews, interviews, giveaways and guest blogs from me (and some double acts with a few of my writing mates).

Check out the dates above for details.

Wooooohoooooo – we’re off and rolling!


CTG REVIEWS: TALL OAKS by Chris Whitaker


What the blurb says: “When three-year-old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town. Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect. Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to extreme measures. Teenage Manny, whose absent father has left him with strange ideas of how to make his mark. Photographer Jerry, who’s determined to break away from his controlling mother once and for all. And, investigating them all, a police chief with a hidden obsession of his own …”

OMG this book! It was my top crime novel read of 2016 and one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve finished it.

Set in a backwater town in America, it’s quirky, secretive and unputdownable. It reminded me of Twin Peaks and Fargo, crossed with Stephen King’s Under The Dome, but it has its own special kind of magic too, its own special kind of terror.

Because spine-chilling, heart-pounding dread is something that Chris Whitaker is a master at creating. You want look away, but he hooks you with brilliantly unique characters like the distraught and troubled Jess, noir gangster obsessive Manny, isolated photographer Jerry, cake creator extraordinaire French John, car salesman and looking for love Jared, and troubled Police Chief Jim and you can’t stop, you just can’t stop – you have to know what happens to them.

Also there’s a clown. A really scary-as-hell clown!

And there are lighter moments too. Chris Whitaker traverses darkness and light in a super skillful way, bringing a little lightness through dark humored moments between characters. The pace is face, the twists are plentiful, and the end revelation had me gasping out loud.

In short this is a must-read crime thriller, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Buy it now!!

You can buy TALL OAKS from Amazon here

To find out more about Chris Whitaker follow him on Twitter @WhittyAuthor

CTG EXCLUSIVE: Kati Hiekkapelto author of The Exiled talks her 5 Favourite Crime Writers


Today I’m delighted to be joined by the fabulous Kati Hiekkapelto for the latest stop on her Finnish Invasion blog tour. Kati’s latest book The Exiled is out now, and like all great crime writers she is also a big reader – in her post today she talks about the five authors at the top of her list.

Over to Kati …


  1. Leena Lehtolainen is probably the most successful Finnish crime writer to date. She published her first novel at the age of twelve, and has written about thirty books (not only crime). Her work has been translated into twenty languages and her career has truly inspired me. Her Maria Kallio series (which includes My First Murder, The Lion of Justice and Copper Heart, amongst others) has been adapted for TV, too. Well worth reading for their stark, very Finnish setting, and labyrinthine plotting.
  2. Åsa Larsson sets her stories in Northern Sweden and that is one of the reasons why her work resonates to me. They are beautifully written stories in cold, harsh Lapland, exploring religious small community life and individuals trying to cope within it – something that is very familiar in Northern Finland, too. But that’s where ‘real life’ ends. There aren’t that many murders committed in either Swedish or Finnish Lapland!
  3. Karin Fossum is, quite literally, a researcher of human mind. Her (extensive, quite wonderful) Inspector Konrad Sejer series takes the form of a police procedural with deep psychological threads. I remember the feeling when I first read one of her books – a big wow, and probably the moment when I began to understand the flexibility and possibilities of crime fiction.
  4. Eva Dolan is a new, young and rebellious voice from the UK. I am tempted to say ‘angry’. I love her style, her characters, her incredible sense of social justice – the whole package. Her Zigic & Ferreira series is set in the Hate Crimes Unit of a police department in Peterborough, and I’m sure she’ll have no shortage of material over the coming years. Classy, beautifully written, confident crime fiction with a freshness that I admire.
  5. Enid Blyton is my childhood favourite, and worth mentioning. I’m sure that the books we read when we grow up are much more influential than we can even imagine. In fact, I suspect that they are as crucial for the imagination as healthy food and PE is for the body. I could list dozens of childhood books and writers that I loved, but Enid Blyton is the one that stands out. I vividly remember George (from The Famous Five), a girl who wanted to be a boy. How revolutionary for that time!

A huge thank you to Kati for stopping by and sharing with us who her top 5 crime writers are. I’m also a huge fan of Eva Dolan, and read many of Enid Blyton’s books as a child. 

Kati’s latest book is The Exiled – here’s the blurb: “Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes? Chilling, taut and relevant, The Exiled is an electrifying, unputdownable thriller from one of Finland s most celebrated crime writers.”

You can buy The Exiled from Amazon here

To find out more about Kati Hiekkapelto and her books pop over to her website here and be sure to follow her on Twitter @HiekkapeltoKati 

And don’t miss all the other great stops along the way of The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour …