Category Archives: Crime fiction Q&A

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:

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime fiction Q&A

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime fiction Q&A

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime fiction Q&A, Uncategorized

Dead of Night by Michael Stanley – BLOG TOUR Q & A

I am lucky enough to have a hobby that brings me into contact with loads of fantastic books and authors. It is always an absolute pleasure to be contacted by authors and publishers and invited to read their books. However every now and again I get emails that truly send my excitement levels rocketing, and one recently inviting me onto the blog tour for the latest by crime writing duo Michael Stanley was just such an email.

I am a huge fan of their Detective Kubu series having read my first one as part of my TOPCWFC a couple of years ago (after the challenge finished unfortunately) and absolutely love them. Their latest however is a departure from Detective Kubu, still set in South Africa, it introduces us to journalist Crystal Nguyen. When her friend goes missing whilst investigating a rhino poaching ring she is determined to find out what has happened.

I am absolutely delighted therefore to welcome Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip to acrimereadersblog. Thanks so much for joining me.

Firstly I have to ask, what inspired Dead of Night and why the move away from Detective Kubu?

We haven’t moved away from Detective Kubu. We really enjoy writing about him and his cases in Botswana, each set against a different backstory arising from the realities of southern Africa. There are certainly more Kubu books ahead! However, when you write a series, there are some inevitable constraints. Although every story stands alone, the focus always needs to be the series protagonist. And the very features that make the series appealing – the history of the main characters and their development – also constrain where one can go. Finally, a police procedural has an internal structure that must be respected.

Writers always need to be challenged to avoid their work becoming stale and boring, both to them and to their readers. We wanted to write a novel with a backstory of the South African rhino poaching and rhino-horn smuggling, but we wanted it to have the structure of a thriller – quite different from the police procedural. In a thriller, the action and the protagonist have to be believable, but they don’t have to follow the laws and evidence as police procedurals do. The rhino issues are really complex, and we wanted to get right into the action rather than pick up the pieces afterwards, as one does in a mystery.

So we imagined Crystal Nguyen. A strong female protagonist, born in Vietnam, she has a passion for conservation and a strong commitment to the American Gray Wolf. And she is someone who is willing to go beyond the rules when she feels it’s necessary. She is commissioned by National Geographic to visit South Africa to complete an article exploring the rhino-horn trade at the same time as trying to find the National Geographic reporter who disappeared while working on it. It turns out to be a much more dangerous and challenging assignment than she could ever have imagined. 

I’m glad there will be more Kubo, although I have to say I loved the character of Crystal, as someone who on the whole prefers animals to people I certainly warmed to her passion and commitment to conservation!  Have you both always been writers?

Well, Michael tried his hand at science fiction when he was at university, but we came late to mystery fiction. We started working on our debut book, A Carrion Death, in 2003. In another sense, however, we both have always been writers – in the academic non-fiction space. Both of us have written many research papers, and Stanley has written four text books on topics ranging from the use of computers in education to human factors in aviation. And most of our work has been done in collaboration with other people, so it seemed very natural to us to work on a novel as a collaborative project.

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

Michael: I’m involved in a lot of things, including image processing research and graduate students at the university, and being a director of a start-up company in the geophysics area. Then, there are many communication activities around the books, including blogs and reviewing for ITW and the New York Journal of Books. Eventually – usually in the evenings – the dust settles enough to write. I feel very fortunate that I can do all these things for the pleasure of doing them rather than to earn a living.

Stanley: I am not disciplined at all when it comes to daily writing. I, too, have many interests including travel, various sporting activities and attending classical-music concerts. So, I write in between all of these and have developed the ability to write anywhere, even when sitting next to a screaming baby on a plane. I can block out almost anything.

It certainly sounds like you are both busy. How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Michael: Doing what I’m doing right now – sitting by the Olifants River at my place in the African bush near the Kruger National Park, relaxing and appreciating the complete wildness of the area and the beauty of its animal and bird life. The more afternoons like that you put together, the better it gets.

Stanley: Being in the bush would be my first choice too. I think too few people take the time to completely relax for extended periods of time.

That sounds absolutely amazing. South Africa is definitely on my list for places I’d like to visit. One of the things I love about your books are the real sense of the beauty and wildness of the country that comes across in the writing. Are you an avid readers yourselves? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

Michael: Yes I read a lot; most of the fiction is mysteries or thrillers of one sort or another. I write a monthly piece called Africa Scene for the International Thriller Writers in which I feature a book set in Africa and its author. My favourite South African crime fiction author is Deon Meyer. I think his latest book Fever (which is a near future post-apocalypse novel set in the South African karoo) is one of his most powerful books. I’m also a great John Le Carré fan. I think he is one of the best writers in the genre – or in any genre. (Henning Mankel reputedly said that Le Carré is the best author who will never win a Nobel prize.) His semiautobiographical A Perfect Spy is brilliant – I’ve read it several times and keep learning about writing from it.

Stanley: I mainly read mysteries, but also some historical non-fiction. I’m attracted to stories that are in translation, giving me an insight into different cultures. I enjoy Sunshine Noir because I prefer being warm to being cold!

Sunshine Noir is a great term! Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?

We’re writing a prequel in the Detective Kubu series. In the book, Kubu is a new detective joining the Criminal Investigation Department. He has a tough time; because he hasn’t followed the usual route to being a detective, and the current detectives don’t like it. Then the CID is thrown into turmoil by a daring heist of diamonds from the world’s richest diamond mine at Jwaneng. Kubu has to prove himself in short order. Our working title is Facets of Death.

I can’t wait to read that one either. Thank you so much for joining me Michael and Stanley and taking the time to answer my questions, and thanks to the lovely Anne Cater of Random Things for inviting me onto this.

If you haven’t yet read Michael Stanley then you are in for a real treat and I’d highly recommend them.

Dead of Night is available now.

To find our more about Dead of Night and Michael Stanley make sure you visit some of the other stop on the blog tour:

Dead of Night blog poster 2018 (3)

1 Comment

Filed under Crime fiction Q&A, Uncategorized