#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

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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.”

My verdict: PAGE-TURNING. ATMOSPHERIC. NOIR.

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 REVIEWS: BLACK NIGHT FALLING by ROD REYNOLDS

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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

CTG EXCLUSIVE: NIGHT MARKET by DANIEL PEMBREY LAUNCHES & ‘Mirakel van Amsterdam’ GIN #GIVEAWAY

 

After a cracking start to the week at a super fun speakeasy event downstairs in The Vault at Milroy’s of Soho we’re on an alcohol theme here at CTG HQ.

On Tuesday night, Daniel Pembrey, Rod Reynolds, Michael Grothaus and me chatted about ‘Spirits in Noir Fiction’, moderated by expert noirist Barry Forshaw. There was bookish conversation, whiskey cocktails (I can recommend the Smoking Gun) and the fabulous folks from South Ken Books created a pop-up bookstore around one of the fireplaces! [Hop over to the lovely Joy Kluver’s blog here to read a full write-up from the event]

At the event, Daniel Pembrey talked about his new book NIGHT MARKET which is out in e-book today. This is the sequel to the fabulous THE HARBOUR MASTER and Detective Henk van der Pol is hitting the Dutch gin. As you may already know, Henk likes to have a beer and a gin chaser; it’s sometimes called a kopstoot in Amsterdam (headbutt), or a duikboot in Flanders (submarine).

You can buy NIGHT MARKET on Kindle here

THE COMPETITION: To toast the launch of this Harbour Master sequel, Daniel is giving away a bottle of Mirakel van Amsterdam – single old grain, Henk’s favourite, and originating from centuries-old independent Amsterdam distillery Van Wees. Trust me, this is a bottle you want in your drinks cabinet – though don’t have it within too easy reach if you want to keep temptation at bay! (I believe the seal is unbroken.)

TO ENTER: email Daniel, danielpembrey@gmail.com, saying where you found the first occurrence of Henk ordering a beer-with-gin-chaser in Night Market

The winner will be picked on 5th February.

Good luck!

 

[Please note the winner needs to provide a UK address for shipment and to be aged over 18 years]

 

FANCY SOME BOURBON & BOOKS? CTG DOES “SPIRITS IN NOIR FICTION” MILROYS OF SOHO – 24 JAN 17

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How about some bourbon with your books?

On Tuesday 24th January I’m joining the fabulous Daniel Pembrey, Rod Reynolds, Michael Grothaus, and noir grand master Barry Forshaw (who’ll be cracking the whip) to talk about spirits in (and in the writing of) crime fiction.

As well as the alcohol based discussions, you’ll find out which of us:
– partied with the Hollywood A-list and has dirt on all of them
– trained as a bounty hunter in California
– has Jilly Cooper on speed dial
– has interviewed the world’s top authors and -literally- wrote the book on crime fiction
– has a terrifying stare but is really a pussycat

Tickets are FREE but space is strictly limited so jump over HERE to sign up – takes 2 seconds.

Hopefully see you there!!

CTG Reviews: BLACK NIGHT FALLING by Rod Reynolds

 

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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 Southern 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 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 here

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

 

CTG’s TOP TEN “MUST PACK” #CrimeFiction SUMMER READS

 

 

If you’ve been stressed out and counting the hours (minutes, seconds …) till your holiday the last thing you want is more stress from picking the right books to take with you!

But there are so many red hot sizzlers of reads out there, how do you pick the books to pack into your luggage? It’s a tough call, so to help you out I thought I’d do a top ten selection of my favourite reads from the past few months to give you a bit of a head start.

And so, after A LOT of deliberation, these are my top ten “must pack” reads.

**drum roll**

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If you love super smart and sparkly fun non-fiction … then REACHER SAID NOTHING by ANDY MARTIN is the perfect companion to lie back on your beach towel with.

Through Andy’s eyes, you’ll get a backseat view of Lee Child as he writes his most recent bestseller – MAKE ME. It’s a captivating snapshot of the life of Lee Child during the writing process – illuminating how his life and his writing feed into each other – and a lesson in thriller writing distilled through the expert observations and analysis of Andy Martin. REACHER SAID NOTHING is an honest, access-all-areas study of a writer at the top of their game, and a damn entertaining read – an absolute must for Reacher fans and aspiring writers too. If you’re a fan of crime thrillers this is a book you just have to read!

Read my review of REACHER SAID NOTHING here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Andy on Twitter @andymartinink

 

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If you love your crime to come with a heavyweight emotional sucker-punch … you’ll need IN HER WAKE by AMANDA JENNINGS in your rucksack when you head off to the British seaside.

It’s a remarkable book – part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age story, it entices you in with a gloriously rich web of secrets and mystery, and holds you spell bound right through to the final heart-wrenching revelation. Beautifully written, IN HER WAKE is a story of toxic relationships, family betrayals and self-discovery. It’s both gritty and tragic, and achingly emotive and heart-warming. A stunning read.

Read my review of IN HER WAKE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Amanda on Twitter @MandaJJennings

 

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If you love a classy whodunit with a psychological twist … be sure to take DIE OF SHAME by MARK BILLINGHAM with you when you load the truck to drive Route 66 on your road trip.

Told across two timelines, the story follows the police investigation, led by no-nonsense DI Nicola Tanner, into the murder of a member of a North West London addiction therapy group in the ‘NOW’. While in the ‘THEN’ it shows the group, and its members’ lives, as they were in the weeks leading up to the murder of one of their own. It’s a book that explores the lasting effects of addiction, the guilt of having to live with the consequences of actions you may have little recall of taking, and of each person’s battle to find and keep (or get back) their place within the world. It also shows the lengths that some people will go to in order to hide their secrets and take their revenge. For police procedural fans, the investigation narrative is as rich with detail and as tensely pacey as you’d expect from a crime-writing master of the genre. Gritty, thought provoking and utterly addictive!

Read my review of DIE OF SHAME here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mark on Twitter @MarkBillingham

 

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If you love a modern luxury twist on the classic locked room mystery … take THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by RUTH WARE along for the ride when you journey on the Orient Express.

It tells the story of Lo Blackwood who has been given the career opportunity of a lifetime – attending the press launch of a new boutique cruise ship and writing about her experience on its maiden voyage. But in the days leading up to the cruise her flat is burgled while she’s sleeping, and her relationship with her boyfriend, Judah, hits the rocks. Unsettled and exhausted, Lo makes her way to the ship, convinced some rest and recuperation will help her feel better. But things don’t work out like that. Against the backdrop of ultimate luxury – white velvet, raw-silk, chandeliers with over two thousand Swarovski crystals – and the breath-taking natural beauty of the Norwegian fjords, Lo finds herself facing the possibility she’s trapped on a boat, cut off from the outside world, and one of the other passengers is a murderer. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 brings the classic locked room mystery bang up to date, with creepiness and ever increasing dread oozing from the pages. It’s packed with suspense and twisty with tension to the final page.

Read my review of THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 over on the @deadgoodbooks website here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthWareWriter

 

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If you love gritty American noir … a copy of BLACK NIGHT FALLING by ROD REYNOLDS is essential reading while you’re waiting for your date to arrive in that back street whiskey bar.

The second book in the Charlie Yates series is another noir-drenched belter of a thriller. “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.” 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, authentically compelling, this is a flawless treat of a thriller.

You’ll be able to read my review of BLACK NIGHT FALLING when in comes out in August. In the meantime, click here to pre-order it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Rod on Twitter @Rod_WR

 

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If you love seeing beneath the cash and the glitter thrillers … then EXPOSURE by AVA MARSH will keep your eyes wide open as you lounge by the rooftop pool.

At the start of the book, porn star Kitty Sweet is in prison for double murder, but she’s never told the secret of what really happened. When a long lost friend visits, bringing some upsetting news, Kitty’s offered some sessions with a therapist. She figures why not, she’ll turn up and play along. It’s hard to squeeze EXPOSURE into a single sub-genre – it’s a thriller for sure; a tale of deceit, and exploitation, and murder. It’s also a tale of friendship, of love and of heartbreak with a real emotional core. And the twist at the end, well, let’s just say it’s not many books that can make me cry – and this one did!

Read my review of EXPOSURE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ava on Twitter @MsAvaMarsh

 

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If you love high adrenaline action thrillers … then you’ll want to take THE TIME TO KILL by MASON CROSS with you when you jet-ski back to your yacht.

This is the third book in the Carter Blake series, and it’s one hell of a read! The story starts with Blake accepting a new job – finding an employee of an internet tech company who’s gone AWOL with a piece of ground-breaking software. But as he starts tracking his target, Blake isn’t aware that he himself is firmly in the sights of his old employers – Winterlong – and that they’ll stop at nothing to neutralize the threat they now believe him to be. THE TIME TO KILL is an adrenaline rush from the first page to the last. Packed with stunning set-piece action sequences, and an emotional punch as you discover more of the rather mysterious Blake’s backstory, this cinematic action thriller is like reading Reacher crossed with Bourne plus added fabulousness.

Read my review of THE TIME TO KILL here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mason on Twitter @MasonCrossBooks

 

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If you love your police procedurals packed with ghostly wonder … you’re going to need JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVDIENCE OF GHOSTS by AK BENEDICT to accompany you on that London city getaway you’re planning (maybe you’ll even be tempted to try some mud larking).

Every once in a while you read a book that enthralls you, wrapping you up tight inside its world and holding you spellbound throughout the entirety of the story. For me, this is that book. “Maria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it. Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways. Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never know. To find the truth they’ll have to listen to the whispers on the streets.” Quirkily original, with deeply drawn unique characters and a brutally magical London setting, this story has you traversing all the emotions from darkness to delight with a gut wrenching honesty – rather as if you’ve been kissed and sucker punched all at the same time, but in a good way.

Read my review of JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVIDENCE OF GHOSTS here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Alexandra on Twitter @ak_benedict

 

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If you love twisty-turny legal thrillers … take THE PLEA by STEVE CAVANAGH on your New York city break – you could even visit some of the locations in the book while you’re there.

The second book in the Eddie Flynn series, THE PLEA, sees con-man-turned-criminal-defence-lawyer Eddie Flynn facing another terrifying situation: persuade social media genius David Child to become his client and get him to plead guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, or the FBI will make sure Eddie’s wife goes to prison for involvement in an illegal scheme operated by her law firm that she had no direct knowledge of. But Eddie suspects that David Child is innocent, and he won’t send an innocent man to jail. Eddie sets out to prove David’s innocence, and to protect his own family. Problem is, there is more than one bunch of bad guys after David, and some are closer to home than even Eddie might think. With an urgent, time pressured feel from the get-go, electric courtroom scenes, stunning action sequences and the witty and unique character of Eddie Flynn, THE PLEA a tremendous read.

Read my review of THE PLEA here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

 

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If you love heart-racing creepiness in your thrillers … WILLOW WALK by SJI HOLLIDAY is the book to pack for that walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands.

This is the second book in the Banktoun trilogy. Set in a small town community in Scotland where everyone knows each other’s business and secrets are deeply held, Sergeant David Gray is investigating a series of deaths linked to legal highs, while also trying to work out what is going wrong in his relationship with girlfriend, Marie.

This twisty, turning police procedural has a strong psychological twist, and tackles some controversial issues. It’s a gritty tale of obsession, revenge and escape. Chillingly nuanced, and pulse-poundingly suspenseful, it’s totally unputdownable.

Read my review of WILLOW WALK here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday

 

So don’t forget to pack your books in your suitcase (or pack them virtually onto your Kindle) and have a fab summer hols!