Category Archives: Crime fiction Q&A

Cut and Shut by Jonathan Peace – BLOG TOUR Q&A

Today I am absolutely delighted to welcome Jonathan Peace to the blog. Jonathan’s latest novel is Cut and Shut thie third in the series.

Thanks so much for joining me Jonathan. Firstly can I ask have you always been a writer?
Pretty much. Since school when we did our first creative writing after reading a chapter of The Hobbit, I loved the sheer joy of making stuff up. Anything could happen, I was in control. As I grew older I would spend more and more time writing stories – some of these were done by playing with my Star Wars action figures and then jotting down what happened. After falling in love with movies I wanted to write screenplays so I did that for some time, but always eventually came back to wanting to write a book. There were lots of bad stories. LOTS of them, and several false starts on novels, but the urge was always there and whenever I could I would have another stab at it. In all I’ve been writing for about 40 years but it was only in the last three that I truly took it seriously, treating it as a job and not just a fun hobby.

You have some fantastic lead characters in your novels, are they inspired by people you know?
Thank you. People seem to have really taken to Louise, Karla and Beth in my Louise Miller novels, and I’m really glad. I’ve always enjoyed writing female characters, inspired I guess from watching such iconic leading ladies such as Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Sigourney Weaver (Ripley), Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor) and many more. All of my stories have featured strong women and taking a look, I guess this is from being raised by my aunt (whom I call my second mum). A headteacher in Ossett back in the 80s and 90s, she worked really hard but was also there for myself and my cousins (whom I think of as my brother and sister). She taught me a lot about a person’s courage, strength and morality, as did my sister, and I think that each of my main three characters all possess a little of that.

No character is a direct port of anyone I know or have known in real life, however thinking back, I believe I went to school with someone called Louise Miller. No one has been in touch yet though but I’m waiting…

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?
Until recently I’ve stuck to the same schedule every day for about 5 years. Up at 4am (thanks to the cats). Feed them. Have a snooze with them on the sofa for an hour with lots of belly scrunchies, then at my desk by 6am. I would aim to write 6 pages (around 2’200 words) a day, and do a little research for the next book so that when the time came to write it, I would have a basic outline done which I could follow. Sometimes those six pages would be finished by lunch and I’d binge watch a show (my current vice is Star Trek: The Next Generation which I’m up to Season 5 now). I might do a little more research or work on an outline, but I’d be pretty much done. 

But then the world went belly-up (and not wanting cute scrunchies like the cats), prices rose and everything became a struggle. As I suffer from anxiety and depression, the stresses really affected me just after starting book four and it all slowed down, and it became obvious things couldn’t continue the way they were. So I had to go back into full time employment, which I am happy to say I started last week. My plans for writing and releasing three books a year has had to change as at least for the next year my focus has to be the day job but thankfully my publisher is very understanding and agreed to slow the releases down. As you know the third book has just come out and the fourth was supposed to have been handed in January 1 for a May release. Until now I have never missed a deadline in anything I have done – ever – so this was pretty cutting for me, but I realise that mental health has to come first, and while I could just pump out a book in a month, it would be crap, and not what readers should expect.

I now try to get one or two pages done a day. The plan is to hand it in to Hobeck in May for release later in 2023, but realistically I’m leaning more towards a book a year now. We’ll see.

I think alot of people will be able to empathise with that and the importance of mental health can never be underestimated. How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?
My wife and I would go to the Trent Lock near where we live. It’s a wonderful pub/restaurant on the banks of the River Trent. We’d have a lovely meal, go for a walk along the riverside and then go home, snuggle on the sofa with our two cats and watch movies. We’re very nestled, Lucy and I.

Sounds a lovely way to spend time. Can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?
As I mentioned above, I’m working on book four of the Louise Miller series. I’m on the fifth or sixth draft now. Draft four was complete and finished – about 104K words – but I wasn’t happy with it at all and cut it down to 20K that I was happy with and started again. When I got to 40K I let Hobeck read it because I was really struggling. Writing a book whose central theme is about depression and anxiety when you are having an episode of your own is not something I recommend.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?
I’m going to sound like a real arsehole now but it really is as simple as: just write it. 1 page a day. 10 pages a day. It doesn’t matter how much you write. It doesn’t matter what method you use to write it – pen & paper, typewriter, PC, tablet or even into your phone. It doesn’t matter if you plan it all out in advance or just wing it as you go along. What matters is that you write it. Also, stop talking about writing a book and just write it. For too many years from my 20’s right up into my 40’s I told people I was a writer. That I was writing a book, or a screenplay. I would sit in the pub in Ossett with a notebook and pen – “look at him, he’s a writer!” What a dick. In 30 years of writing, I said I was writing dozens of different books or scripts. I finished one screenplay which got optioned, and another that I was commissioned to write. I finished one fantasy novel written for tabletop games company. 30 years; two scripts, one bad fantasy novel. 
It wasn’t until 2019 that I stopped talking about being a writer and just got on with writing and now I have three books published.

What advice would you give to someone who has written a book and wants to publish it?
Don’t be in a rush.
If you have just typed THE END for the first time – do not send this to anyone. Not an agent and certainly not a publisher. It isn’t ready. You’re not ready. Edit it. Then rewrite it. Then edit it again and rewrite it again. Then get some feedback from people you trust – not your parent’s or spouse who will feel obliged to say it’s good – but someone who understands the genre you have written in and can give honest feedback – not just catch all the typos you left in there, and the grammatical errors – but notes on plot, structure, pacing and character. Ideally get an even number of people to read it. If more than half of them pull you up on a single point, then it probably needs looking at. If only 1 or 2 people don’t like something, then that’s down to subjective taste.
In this age of ease of self-publishing thanks to places like Medium, Barnes & Noble Press, Lulu, Ingram Spark, Apple Books and, of course, Kindle Direct Publishing, it is all too easy to rush ahead and get your book published. You don’t have to suffer the pain of submitting to agents or publishers, waiting months for a response which is usually no response at all. You can bypass the gatekeepers who are just looking for the next celebrity to pen their memoir or children’s book or jump on the latest genre trend (selling a celebrity’s book is easy; a newcomer not so much). 
So don’t rush. Make sure it is in the best shape it can be, and then decide how you want to release it. Having a publisher in your corner is great, and I can’t recommend Hobeck enough if your book is in the crime, thriller or mystery genre. They tackle all the dull stuff of cover design, editing and layout, plus all the hassles that dealing with the monolithic juggernaut that is Amazon entails. That’s not to say you can’t do that yourself as an indie author. My wife does, and does it very successfully – but it really is a 24hr a day job. 

That sounds like very good advice! What is your favourite crime novel of all time?
Up until deciding to turn one of those unfinished books I mentioned earlier into a crime novel, I hadn’t read a single piece of crime fiction other than a few John Grisham’s (which are more thriller than crime). So the first thing I did was read several of Ian Rankin’s Rebus books, and then I found Lin Anderson and her Rhona MacLeod series. I fell in love with her writing and have been working my way through her books and am now on the fourteenth, Time For The Dead. It has taken a couple of years to get to this point, and I’ve a couple of books left, so I’m hoping to finish the series this year. I’ve also got a few Peter James books and a historical crime series called The Napoleonic Murders by Armand Cabasson waiting to be read.

Some great options there and you are in for a treat if you haven’t ready Peter James before! Thank you so much for answering my questions Jonathan, and I look forward to seeing book 4!

If you want to find out more about Jonathan and Cut and Shut, visit the other stops on the blog tour:

You can get your copy here:

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Dead and Gone by Sherryl Clark – BLOG TOUR Q&A

I am delighted today to welcome author Sherryl Clark to the blog. Sherryl’s latest crime novel is Dead and Gone, which is the second in her Judi Westerholme series, the first being Trust Me, I’m Dead.

Thanks very much for joining me Sherryl, firstly can I ask have you always been a writer?
No, I was a great reader in school but I didn’t write much other than school work. After leaving school I trained as a librarian (more books!) and then travelled and did other jobs. I really started writing in my late 20s, and went to university then and studied literature and writing. Since then it’s been a constant in my life, mostly short stories and poetry, and then later novels and childrens books.

You have some fantastic lead characters in your novels such as Judi and Heath, are they inspired by people you know?
Not really. It’s more that they are made up of little bits of lots of people, and probably a little bit of me. Judi is much more gutsy than me! I like complex characters who have a lot more going on under the surface than they reveal, so I keep building mine until they feel “right” and real to me.

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?
These days I start with a walk and/or gym first (I used to leave this until last and then forget). After that, it’s a mixed bag. I usually have editing or manuscript assessment work to do, so I keep an eye on their deadlines and work on that on a regular basis, and I write. Neither are for fixed hours – I’m not that disciplined! But I have a writing accountability partner and we check in at the end of each day – that way if I haven’t written any words (or pages of revision), I have to confess. The lock down/self isolating we’ve had to do hasn’t really changed any of that, apart from my gym was closed for ages.

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work? (Pre lockdown of course)
At a great movie, or wandering around good bookshops and spending lots of money on books. I love how movies in a cinema really take you out of yourself. It’s not like watching them at home on the TV screen at all.

I’m definitely with you there on the bookshops! Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?
I‘ve just started Judi Number 3 so very soon I’ll need to sort out more of the plot. I’ve just finished Book 2 in another series I’m working on, and that one was set mostly in Finland, where I had a writing residency last year. I’m waiting for my Finnish policeman to read it and tell me what I got wrong!

That sounds interesting, and I look forward to reading it. Thanks so much for joining me today Sherryl.

If you would like to get your hands on a copy of Dead and Gone you can find it here.

To find out more visit the other stops on the tour:

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An Interview with Leye Adenle – Q&A

A couple of years ago one of the panels I attended at TOPCWF had a late substitute on it in the form of Leye Adenle. Not an author I was aware of at the time, he was such a fantastic addition to the panel that I rushed straight out to buy his book at the book tent. Clearly I wasn’t the only person as by the time I got there they had sold out, so I had to wait a while to get my hands on a copy of Leye’s crime novel ‘Easy Motion Tourist’. Once I did though Leye soon became one of my favourite authors and so as part of October’s Black History Celebration Month I was delighted to be able to do a Q&A with the man himself.

Hi Leye and thanks for your time. Firstly have you always been a writer and who inspired you? Do you prefer writing short stories, novels or articles?

I have always written, even when it was just crayon on the walls of my parent’s home. For as far as I can remember, and since when I was reading, I’ve wanted to be a writer and I’ve written. As a child I started with poems, short stories and even comics that I drew with my brother, then I had many failed attempts to write complete novels, then I did even more short stories and even managed some complete manuscripts that I shall never allow anybody to read. I lost one manuscript that I really loved, and recently, while searching for something else, I found a complete novel I wrote in longhand in a notebook. Of all the forms of writing, I like writing articles the least, but I still like writing them.

The books I read from a young age inspired me to write – it must be that because I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a writer. 

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

My working day starts with the alarm, followed by a mad dash to get to work. I take the long bus route when I’m not running late. This gives me the chance to read whatever book I’m reading at the moment on a upper deck window seat. Each day at work is different, apart from reoccurring meetings, due to what I do. I coach software developers, software development teams, and organisations. After work, depending on the day of week, I either go to the gym then go home to write a few pages of the book I’m writing at the moment, or I go straight home and write a few pages of the book I’m writing at the moment. 

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

The perfect afternoon away from the day job would be spent in my favourite coffee shop on my favourite chair next to the socket to plug in my laptop. 

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again? 

I love books. ‘Wouldn’t be a writer otherwise. These days I read two books at the same time; one fiction and one non-fiction related to my day job. I tend to only read non-fiction when I’m writing which means I go all greedy in-between writing as I catch up with all the titles I’ve been stockpiling. 

I have read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart almost every couple of years for the past twenty years or so. If any unpublished manuscripts of his were to suddenly surface, it’d be like winning the lottery for me.

I cannot stop reading Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. I was crazy about James Patterson but got exhausted trying to keep up. It’s kinda comforting knowing that there’ll always be a new Alex Cross novel.

What is the one thing that you wish people knew about Lagos that no one ever knows?

Lagos is a state, not a city. Yeah, it’s big. Massive. Twenty million people. That’s because its a state! Argh!!! 

Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?

I’m working on some Unfinished Business with The Amaka Series. 🙂

That’s great news and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for that.

This is a series that I would highly recommend for all fans of gritty crime fiction. If you would like to find out how good this Nigerian Crime Series is for yourself then you can find both Easy Motion Tourist and his latest When Trouble Sleeps from amazon.

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Gentleman Jack by Christina James BLOG TOUR – Q & A

When Salt Publishing got in touch to see if I would like to read a copy of the latest by Christina James I jumped at the chance. It is not often that you get a novel set in the lovely(?) fen land near my home town of Peterborough. Gentleman Jack starts with an investigation into the theft of expensive farm machinery (this the fens after all so there has to be a farm involved!) However the story soon turns more sinister as a serial killer makes his mark. I am delighted to welcome Christina to Acrimereadersblog.

Hi Christina and thanks for joining me today. Have you always been a writer?

In a certain sense, I think all writers believe they have always been writers – or at least, have always been both inspired and tortured by writing dreams!  I certainly intended to be a writer well before I left primary school, and was writing (very derivative) Angela Brazil style writing stories at that time.

Are your main characters such as DS Juliet Armstrong inspired by people you know?

All my characters except one – one of the more minor characters who occurs in only two of the books  and is based directly on someone from  ‘real life’ – are either entirely invented or composites of several people I have known.  Juliet comes from my imagination only; Tim Yates, her boss, shares certain characteristics with a couple of people I know – but only traits –  he is very much his own person as well.

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

I have a day job which is quite demanding and involves a lot of travel.  I therefore don’t have a ‘typical’ working day.  But I expect you mean a typical day as a writer – and I do try to block out periods of time when I do nothing but write.  Typically, then, I would write 1,000 – 2,000 words in the morning, revise them after lunch and then either write a post for my blog or do some work for other authors (I’m a part-time editor as well).  The next day I would revise the previous day’s work again before starting on my next 1,000 – 2,000 words – revise, revise, revise is my mantra.  (By this I generally mean ‘simplify’, rather than ‘embroider’.)  Every few days I will also revise the previous block of about ten chapters or so, to make sure the tone is right and I haven’t committed to any contradictions.  On days like this I will also fit in a brisk country walk.

 How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Either going on a leisurely walk in the country or reading a good book.  Or making a cake – I am a keen baker.

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

Absolutely!  I always have several books on the go.  The only author I read time and again is Jane Austen – I read her whole oeuvre every five years or so.  I also return to some of the other classics sometimes – for example, I have just re-read The Moonstone. I read as many books by other Salt authors as I can.  My all-time Salt favourite is The Clocks in this House all tell Different Times.  I also think that The Litten Path is an outstanding debut novel; and there are other Salt authors with whom I am in frequent contact whose work I admire: Marie Gameson, Mark Carew and Catherine Eisner, to name but a few.

Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?

Yes: it is a modern take on a country house crime novel, set on an island in the River Welland, near Spalding, which actually exists. One of my friends suggested the island as the setting for my next novel and I thought it was an inspired choice.  The owner of the island has very kindly shown me round it since I started work on the book.

That sounds fascinating, I look forward to reading it.

Thanks very much for joining me today Christina. To find out more about Gentleman Jack please visit the other stops on the blog tour and pop over to Randomthingsthroughmyletterboxtomorrow for the last stop on the tour:

Gentleman Jack blog tour

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