DON’T MISS: Bestselling Crime Writers auctioned in CLIC Sargent Charity Auction!

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Over sixty authors are taking part in this year’s Get in Character eBay auction, an annual fundraiser organised by CLIC Sargent, which provides support for children and young people affected by cancer.

The auction started on Thursday 25th February and runs for ten days ending at 8pm on Sunday 6th March (so there’s still time to bid!) and lots of fab crime writers are taking part by donating meet-and-greet experiences, signed book bundles and the chance to have a character named after you (or a loved one) in their upcoming books.

Crime Writer Simon Kernick

Simon Kernick

You can bid to have afternoon tea with Mark Billingham, Amanda Jennings and Clare Mackintosh; or to have lunch at ROKA with Simon Kernick and Belinda Bauer.

Or, if you’d like to have a character named after you (or a loved one) you can bid to be part of upcoming books from the following authors: Alex Shaw, Ali McNamara, Anthony McGowan & Jo Nadin, Anouska Knight, Catherine Alliott, Clare Donoghue, Denise Mina, Elly Griffiths, Emma Donoghue, Emma Hannigan, Holly Martin, Jane Fallon, Jodi Taylor, Julie Cohen, Kate Ellis, Katie Fforde, Katy Regan, Lisa Jewell, Luca Veste, Lucy Clarke, Paula Hawkins, Renee Knight, Roger Ellory, Santa Montefiore, Sara Gruen, Sarah Hilary, Sarah Morgan, Simon Kernick, Stephen Edgar, Steve Robinson, Tim Weaver, Tammy Cohen.

Since it was launched in 2014 the auction has raised more than £18,000 for CLIC Sargent – the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families, who provide financial, practical, emotional and clinical support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. For more information visit www.clicsargent.org.uk

And to find out more about all the great things you can bid on, check out the auction at www.clicsargent.org.uk/getincharacter

Confessions from the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Harrogate: Part 1

Going to the crime festival at Harrogate is a bit like entering another world – a world populated entirely by crime writers and crime readers. A perfect place for a crime fiction addict like me to hang out!

The Irish Noir panel

The Irish Noir panel

So I arrived on Thursday afternoon in time for the opening party (of course!) and the announcement of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. This year the highly coveted barrel trophy was won by the fabulous Sarah Hilary for her brilliant novel Someone Else’s Skin. [FYI: the partying went on well into the night/morning]

On Friday I managed to make it to breakfast (just before the food was cleared away) and after a few strong coffees was ready to skip along to the Irish Noir panel. This lively event, with Steve Cavanagh, Stuart Neville, Brian McGilloway, Eoin McNamee and Adrian McKinty, saw the authors discussing why they’d chosen to set their books where they had (in Ireland or not, and in the far past, recent past or present), what their writing influences had been, how the troubles had shaped them as writers, the challenges of research – including the danger of being sucked down the rabbit hole by Google and Wikipedia – and many other topics.

Killer Women

Killer Women

Then it was time for lunch and drinks on the lawn where I caught up with some of the wonderful Killer Women (pictured) Anya Lipska, Helen Giltrow, Louise Voss, and Helen Smith.

Then it was time for the Yorkshire Pride panel with moderator Nick Quantrill posing the questions to Lee Child, Steve Mosby, Frances Brody and Peter Robinson around the central topic of Yorkshire. Lee Child spoke of his fond memories buying sweets with his grandma in Harrogate, Steve Mosby spoke of creating a Leeds-like place to set his novels in, and Peter Robinson and Frances Brody spoke about the Yorkshire settings – both present and past – of their novels.

As soon as the panel ended it was a quick sprint along the corridor to the Dead Good Reader Awards – luckily not arriving too late for one of the special ‘The Widow’ themed cocktails (pictured) of blood orange and bubbly!

'The Widow' cocktails

‘The Widow’ cocktails

From the thousands of votes, the winners of the first ever Dead Good Reader Awards were announced as …

  • The Dead Good Recommends Award for Most Recommended Book: The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins)
  • The Lee Child Award for Best Loner or Detective: Vera Stanhope (Ann Cleeves)
  • The Val McDermid Award for Fiendish Forensics: Time of Death (Mark Billingham)
  • The Reichenbach Falls Award for Most Epic Ending: The Skeleton Road (Val McDermid)
  • The Dr Lecter Award for Scariest Villain: You are Dead (Peter James)
  • The Patricia Highsmith Award for Most Exotic Location: Amsterdam – The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die (Marnie Riches)
Award winner Marnie Riches with her agent

Award winner Marnie Riches with her agent

And there was still much to come. The next event was Mark Billingham in conversation with Eddie Izzard. This session, to a packed out audience, was one of the major highlights of the festival. With great banter, packed full of anecdotes and laughs, they talked about some of the stranger venues they’d played on the comedy circuit, what it’s like to die on stage, how to deal with hecklers, through to the need to continuously challenge yourself, and how everyone can keep learning – even if they’re 90. The hour seemed to pass in a flash, and I for one could have continued to listen to them all night.

The final session of the day (starting at 10pm) was The Black Art of Criticism panel with moderator N.J. Cooper posing the questions to panellists Jake Kerridge (the Telegraph’s book reviewer), and authors S.J. Parris, Stav Sherez and Ann Widdecombe. It was a playful panel who debated how they approached reviewing, and how they took being reviewed, with plenty of entertaining discussion.

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The Black Art of Criticism panel

And so, at 11pm as the events of the day drew to a close, I headed to the bar – where I stayed until the early hours of the next morning.

To be continued …

The #KillerWomenLaunch: Criminally Good Writing

Killer Women logo

Killer Women logo

Last night I was thrilled to attend the launch event for the fabulous new Killer Women group. Held at the lovely Collyer Bristow Gallery, with a plentiful supply of gorgeously yummy wine from Naked Wines, it was a brilliant evening.

Set up by Melanie McGrath and Louise Millar, Killer Women is a group of fifteen established female crime writers: Jane Casey, Tammy Cohen, Helen Giltrow, Paula Hawkins, Alison Joseph, Erin Kelly, Anya Lipska, Colette McBeth, Melanie McGrath, Kate Medina, Louise Millar, Kate Rhodes, Helen Smith, Louise Voss, and Laura Wilson.

Between them they write in many sub-genres of crime writing from psychological thrillers to procedurals, to political thrillers and more – just look at the fantastic range of books on display last night (pictured). And as a group they’re looking to connect with readers through a range of fabulous sounding activities from talks at festivals to events at libraries and bookshops, to debates around women and violence, interviews with crime writers and criminal justice experts, and much more.

books by the Killer Women

books by the Killer Women

It sounds like a great idea to me, and I can’t wait to see the Killer Women in action at their next event.

To find out more about Killer Women and their upcoming events, talks, debates, workshops and giveaways hop on over to their website at www.killerwomen.org and follow them on Twitter @killerwomenorg

 

 

Event Alert: Chip Lit Fest – Crime Day, 25th April 2015

Chip Lit Fest logo

Chip Lit Fest logo

The lovely spring literature festival Chip Lit Fest has a day (and a package) especially geared towards crime fiction fans. On Saturday 25th April 2015 you can spend the day soaking up the festival atmosphere and listening to some amazing crime and thriller writers talking about their books and all things writerly.

Here are some of the great sessions they’ve got lined up …

10.00 – 11.00am* New York Times bestselling author Lee Child, creator of the Jack Reacher series, will be in conversation with bestselling crime writer Mark Billingham, creator of the Tom Thorne series.

12.00 – 1.00pm* Breaking Through: hear from bestselling authors Mel Sherratt, Mark Edwards and C L Taylor about what it takes to become a published author.

2.00 – 3.00pm* Nordic Noir: Three of Denmark’s most exciting writers – Sara Blaedel, Kenneth Degnbol and Dagmar Winther talk about the phenomenon that is Nordic Noir.

4.00 – 5.00pm New Voices: meet three new writers who’ve recently made a splash – Paula Hawkins, whose debut thriller The Girl On the Train had a huge buzz around it when it published last month, Renee Knight whose novel Disclaimer was an international sensation, and Jason Hewitt whose novel The Dynamite Room was long listed for the Desmond Elliott prize.

6.00 – 7.00pm* Second Life: SJ Watson, author of the bestselling novel Before I Go to Sleep will be talking about his latest book – Second Life.

Then from 7.45 – 9.30pm it’s the Chip Lit Quiz – hosted by bestselling crime writer Mark Billingham. Test your knowledge alongside writers and festival goers, compete for prizes and celebrate books!

And that’s not all, there are loads of non crime fiction related events, events for children and creative writing sessions for writers – it’s all set to be a fun and informative weekend.

With so many great sessions going on, I’m really looking forward to this festival!

For more information, hop on over to the festival website at http://www.chiplitfest.com/events/package/the-crime-festival and follow them on Twitter @ChipLitFest for up to date festival news.

 

*Indicates the sessions included as part of the Crime Festival package.

 

 

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN cover image

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN cover image

What the blurb says: “Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train.”

This is such an unsettling read. It’s dark, complex and really unnerving – in a good way!

But reviewing the book is rather tough, because spoilers are almost impossible to avoid! What I can say is that it masterfully uses a non-linear timeline and alternating points of view, to create maximum suspense. This is a story that once you’ve started reading defies you to put it down. It lurks in your mind when you’re doing your daily chores, whispering at you to read on (or so I found!).

There’s a closeness to the narrative that plugs you right into the heads of the point of view characters – Rachel, Megan and Anna – and lets you see the situation as they do and experience their emotions blow-by-blow. It doesn’t mean that you like them, though. In fact, I don’t think I ‘liked’ any of the characters in this book, although at times I could certainly empathise with them. But, the fact that I didn’t like them didn’t make them any less compelling to read about.

Grounded in the realities of a crumbling marriage, the inability to move past betrayal, and the secrets they’re hiding – from those close to them, and from themselves – this is an up close and personal view into the three women’s worlds as they fracture apart in the aftermath of a violent and brutal incident.

An absolute must for fans of psychological thrillers.

Highly recommended.

[with thanks to Transworld for my copy of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN]