Category Archives: Crime fiction Q&A

The CWA Anthology of Short Stories – Judith Culter Q and A BLOG TOUR

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for the latest collection of short stories by Orenda Books, The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour. For those who don’t know the CWA stands for Crime Writers Association and membership includes some of my favourite authors whose short stories appear in this fantastic collection. The book is a complete mystery tour that takes you from Glasgow to South Africa to the Ukraine. Each of the stories as you suspect has a rather murderous intention behind them, or do they? One intriguing story with a rather clever twist was from Judith Cutler and I’m delighted to welcome her to acrimereadersblog to talk about short stories.

Welcome Judith. I loved your story in A Mystery Tour. What was the inspiration behind it?

I just hope life doesn’t decide to imitate art, in this case. My husband, Edward Marston, and I are privileged to be invited to take on a lot of speaking engagements. We almost always do these together – we call ourselves Murder Ancient and Modern. Some call us the Morecambe and Wise of writing… However many events we do, and however well we’re prepared, there’s always a frisson of anxiety: is this the right day? Will we have an audience? Once I was ready to speak – to find an audience of zero. Last time I was in the USA I shared a signing session with C J Box and Jeffrey Deaver – an exercise in humiliation since none of my books had reached the conference and their fans formed queues pretty well round the block… So far, however, I’ve not turned up to find the event cancelled at the last minute.

It must be very nerve wracking doing events like that, fingers crossed your story stays as a fiction one rather than influencing real life! Do you prefer short story writing or full length novels?

Predictably, since I had success with the short form at the start of my career but didn’t feel I’d “arrived” as a writer till I saw my first novel on bookshop shelves, I’m going to say I like writing both. A novel is a Test Match of an endeavour: you’re going to live with characters who grow and develop over many chapters – and sometimes several novels. There is time to slow down, time to accelerate. I might be tempted to continue the image: a short story is more like T20 cricket –swashbuckling and speedy, with a rapid outcome. But I’d say a short story requires, in proportion, more concentration and effort than a novel. Each and every word must carry its weight – not a punctuation mark must be wrong. A story demands to be put away for a while to mature, so you come back with fresh eyes and can prune even more.

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

It used to be very much the standard 9.00 to 5.00 working day that thirty years of college work had got me used to. Sadly about three years ago I injured my right hand so badly (at a church fete – don’t ask!!!) that I’ve had to reduce my time at the computer. Now I limit myself to about a thousand words a day, and spend the non-writing time doing things to keep the rest of my body fit: Pilates, ballroom dance, gardening and tennis (I’ve taught myself to play left handed though thank goodness the right hand is beginning to work again).

An injury at a church fete sounds like an ideal short story plot, although glad to hear you are on the mend. How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Having played tennis in the morning, I’d go on to a cricket match. I love the game so much I dedicated my latest book, Head Count, to the cricket charity for young people called Chance to Shine (www.chancetoshine.org). I’d round it all off with a concert given by the wonderful City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (with luck conducted by their brilliant young musical director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla) in Symphony Hall.

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

Like many writers, I want to read a lot more than I do. One problem is that many writers are better than I am, so I end up feeling downhearted about my own work. One or two aren’t as good as me, so why read them? This applies at least as much to so-called literary novels as to so-called genre-writers. But for consistent pleasure, can you beat the dear late Reg Hill for his amazing use of language in entirely the appropriate setting? I also love Kate Ellis, Amy Myers, Martin Edwards, Priscilla Masters – and many others whom I’m honoured to call friends. Oh, and there’s Edward Marston, of course – and I get to read his before anyone else does! As for old favourites, Jane Austen and George Eliot take a lot of beating, and when I’m feeling down who better to cheer me up than Georgette Heyer?

I think that applies to us readers too, there are always too many books and not enough time. That’s why short stories are so great as they can be dipped in and out of. Finally, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on next?

I’m working on the third in the Jane Cowan series I’m writing for Allison and Busby. Jane’s a survivor of extreme domestic abuse. Finally she’s building a life away from her ex-husband who’s currently serving a prison sentence for what he did to her. She’s now a headmistress in Kent, running not one but two village primary schools. Times are tough in education, with staffing and finances under enormous pressure. In this novel it’s not pupil behaviour that’s an issue, however – it’s that of some of her new neighbours…

That sounds really intriguing Judith, I’ll keep an eye out for it. Thanks very much for joining me.

The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour is out now and is well worth a read.

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Hell to Pay by Rachel Amphlett – BLOG TOUR

I am a big fan of Rachel Amphlett and have read all of her series featuring detective Kay Hunter. Therefore it is a great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for her latest book Hell to Pay. I’m very pleased to be able to welcome Rachel to acrimereadersblog.

Thanks for joining me Rachel. It must be incredibly exciting to have a novel published, so how do you spend the night before publication day and what do you do on the actual day?

Publication day for me is a bit weird, as I’m in a completely different time zone to a lot of my readers. I’m originally from the UK, but Australia is currently home. So, after I get up in the morning in Brisbane, feed the dog, and make the first cup of coffee of the day, it’s still late afternoon the previous day in the UK!
The night before, I’ll have checked all the links to my books are working on the different retailers, and I’ll prepare the newsletter to go out to my Reader Group, so I don’t have to worry about that – everyone who joins my Readers Group gets the chance to buy the book at a discounted rate, so it’s really important to me to have that ready to go.
For the past four releases, I’ve had a number of book bloggers kindly take part in a book tour for me, and by the time publication day comes around, that tour has typically been running for a week.
I get a flurry of activity on social media as the rest of the world starts to wake up (I’m a very early riser, so that means 5:30am for me!), but before I do anything else, I hit my word count on my current work in progress – that way, I can concentrate on the launch of the previous book without feeling guilty!
The rest of the morning is spent responding to emails and social media shout outs from readers and the incredible book bloggers that support my new releases.
The action really kicks off once the UK is wide awake and continues through the night as most of my book blogging buddies are in the UK and North America – I can get a bit overwhelmed trying to keep up with all the notifications, but it’s a lot of fun, and I really appreciate the support everyone gives to authors in this way.
I don’t get much sleep that night, either – again due to time differences, my Facebook launch party usually starts pretty early the following morning for me, even though it’s still only 8pm in the UK. I don’t mind though – I know for at least 48 hours I’m going to be running on pure adrenalin!
Once the Facebook party is over, it’s a case of monitoring emails and social media for any notifications – I try to respond to every shout out I receive from readers and bloggers, and I always respond to every email I receive from readers. I wouldn’t be here without any of them.
The blog tour runs for another week after publication day to help me spread the word about the new book, but in the meantime, it’s back to business as usual for me, and that of course means finishing the next book!

Sounds like a very busy day, but completely worth it of course. Hell to Pay is out now and is a great read either as a stand alone or as part of this excellent series. I would throughly recommend them, and a huge thanks to Rachel for taking the time to join me today.

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Scorn – Q and A with Paul Hoffman – BLOG TOUR

Today I am pleased to welcome Paul Hoffman to acrimereadersblog. His novel Scorn is being released today. Scorn is about a physicist who turns to eating priests.

Thanks for joining me Paul. What was the inspiration behind Scorn?

A few years ago I was watching a news item on the BBC where its Vatican correspondent concluded by saying that the Catholic Church must deal with the issue of child sexual abuse in order to regain its moral authority. The response to this, it seems to me, is to ask: what moral authority? Answering this question is where the book begins with two rather unusual policemen (when they were soldiers together in Iraq they were known as The Butchers of Basra) investigating the hideous murder of several priests. I wanted to write about my Catholic upbringing in boarding school but do so in an entirely different way – not as a litany of horrors visited on children (though some of that is inevitable) but to celebrate our resistance to the faith that tried any means possible to control our every thought, word and deed. We mocked them (not in their hearing, of course), made up sermons in which appalling eternal tortures were visited on small boys for ridiculous dietary infractions (eating bats was one I particularly loved) and so on. I’ve always loved a good police procedural and I wanted to use the pleasures they give to go into territory not usually associated with crime novels.

Have you always been a writer?

My writing draws heavily on my past and the more than twenty five jobs I’ve had as an adult ranging from boardman in a betting shop, lift attendant, frozen food packer at 10 below zero, teacher in one of the worst and best state schools in England, businessman, and screenwriter. The most interesting of these was the ten years I spent as a film censor at the BBFC. It was there that I started writing fiction but not until I was already in my mid-thirties. I was also writing a screenplay simultaneously based on part of the novel I was writing. This was made into another cop thriller starring Jude law as the very peculiar but charming murderer and Timothy Spall as the sly cop caught between his liking for the man he’s investigating and his determination to get to the bottom of the deaths for which he could be responsible. Sadly a great cast was squandered by terrible direction. It was the second worst experience of my life.

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

Amazingly dull. I write for a couple of hours a day usually. I always stop as soon as I feel I’m having to make an effort to go on. Writing is rooted fundamentally in playing. No child, or golfer, or reader for that matter goes on playing or reading when they’ve had enough of playing or reading. They just stop. And that’s what I do. I write with the intention of all times of giving pleasure by taking pleasure in what I do. Despite this I find writing very tiring as if I’ve been using up huge amounts of energy. I’m ashamed to say that I spend the rest of the time sleeping or generally lazing about and thinking.

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Generally lazing about and thinking. I find enormous pleasure in just wandering about in my head. This was a habit I picked up in boarding school because as well as being violent it was also very boring. I constructed enormously long novels in my head in which I was, of course, the central character and therefore brave, noble and heroic, and kept them going for months at a time.

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

I used to be a voracious reader but not so much now because I find – it’s not true for a great many authors – that writing fiction drains the energy for reading it. It’s a pity, but there it is. The priests used to describe me as wicked and lazy and they may have had a point. Now I tend to dip into my reading habits of the past when I want to look at how someone I admire pulled off some tricky piece of storytelling. In the past month I’ve gone to Ecclesiastes, Catch 22, The Secret Agent, a scene in Julius Caesar where Brutus and Cassius row and then make up, and a scene in one of George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman books where he has a conversation with Abe Lincoln. But I’ll steal from anywhere: one of my books has a line I took from a shampoo advert

Finally, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on next?

I’m just about to finish the fourth part of The Left Hand of God trilogy called The White Devil. The first three books deal with the violent life of precociously cunning but psychologically damaged fifteen year-old Thomas Cale as he slips back and forth over the line between good and evil and the thousand shades of grey in between. The fourth book sees him twenty years later having been blackmailed into assassinating John of Boston, a character who is part JFK and part Abe Lincoln.

Thanks very much Paul. 

Scorn by Paul Hoffman is published 7th September by Red Opera, £7.99 in paperback

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Death in Dulwich – Q and A with Alice Castle – BLOG TOUR

Today I am delighted to welcome Alice Castle to acrimereadersblog. Alice is the author of Death in Dulwich, which I was lucky enough to read on a recent train journey down to London.

Death in Dulwich introduces us to single mum Beth. She has recently got a job as an archivist in a local school. However her first day doesn’t really go to plan when she discovers the body of her boss. Obviously Beth is one of the first to be a suspect so she sets out to clear her name.

Thanks for joining me Alice. I enjoyed Death in Dulwich, and thought the character of Beth was great. Did your writing skills come naturally or did you have to attend courses to help you develop that creative side?
I’ve always loved to write. When I was about ten I started my first magazine, Good Mousekeeping. By the age of eighteen I had a holiday job on Woman’s Own. My first newspaper article was published in the Sunday Telegraph when I was twenty. When I left university, I started work on various newspapers including The Daily Telegraph, The Evening Standard, The Daily Mail, and The Times. I worked on The Daily Express as a feature writer for six years, then moved to Brussels and worked on both the English language magazines there, The Bulletin and Away. Brussels inspired my first novel, Hot Chocolate, which was initially published in German. Then when I returned to the UK I started editing and writing for the European Commission and then eventually produced Death in Dulwich.

Good Mousekeeping sounds a great read! What books/authors inspired your writing journey?
The first book I fell in love with was The Horse and His Boy by C S Lewis but I loved everything by E Nesbitt, Nancy Mitford, and P G Wodehouse, then progressed to crime via Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, P D James, and Ruth Rendell. There’s nothing nicer than discovering that an author I click with has written a whole series for me to devour. I do read more hard-boiled crime, like Jo Nesbo and Patricia Cornwell, but I have a special place in my heart for cozy crime, where the puzzle is more important than blood on the carpet – or walls.

Do you have any writing rituals? What are they?
I always write first thing in the morning, even though I’m not really a morning person. I write at least a thousand words a day if I’ve got a book on the go. Sometimes that can be done in a flash, sometimes it can take hours. If I’m at the editing stage, I do as much as I can bear!

If you could have written any literary character, who would it be and why?
Oh, I’d love to have written Elizabeth Bennett. She’s a wonderful heroine whose firecracker spirit has resonated down the years and inspired so many other writers and film makers. She grows so much during the course of the novel and her scenes with Darcy are some of the finest and most complicated prose I’ve had the pleasure to read.

Within your genre, is there a subject that you would never write about? What? Why?
I don’t think I would ever dip my toe into writing about really sadistic killings. I just don’t enjoy reading about torture, and I think I would hate writing it too – though of course a simple stabbing is absolutely fine!

Thanks very much Alice. Death in Dulwich is out now:

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Marked for life – Q and A with Emelie Schepp BLOG TOUR

Today I’m delighted to welcome Emelie Schepp to acrimereadersblog. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Emelie’s great new novel Marked for Life. This is the first in a trilogy set in Sweden featuring public prosecuter Jana Berzelius.

Thanks for joining me Emelie, I thought Marked for life was a great novel dealing with some very harrowing events. What was the inspiration behind Marked for Life?

Thinking of a good story it is not always about how a victim was murdered, it is the characters and the interaction between characters that readers remember. And in my debut novel MARKED FOR LIFE I wanted to write about a woman that was odd. But I did not know how odd she was about to be until I read an article about child soldiers. In 2012 there was a huge debate about child soldiers after the viral movie “Kony 2012”.  The movie was about Joseph R. Kony who is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) a guerilla group that formerly operated in Uganda. He has been accused by government entities of ordering the abduction of children to become child soldiers. Over 66 000 children became soldiers. As I read the article I remember starting to question myself: “What happens when a child is forced to be a solider? And what if that solider wants to be a child again? Is it even possible?” I also started to think about what would happen if there were child soldiers in Sweden. If I wanted to use the child soldiers in my novel, where in Sweden would I find these children? I know it sounds very strange, but I had to find children that no one would miss, nor search for. Abducting a child in a playground leads to a media storm and I  did not needed the abduction to take place in secret, without anyone knowing.  

One evening as I watched the news I saw a truck with a container that had overturned on a highway. And when the police arrived at the scene they found several refugees in the container. They had not been registered at the border. They were illegal. No one knew they were in Sweden. So, I went down to the port of Norrköping and looked around. When I saw all the thousand containers I realized that anything could be hiding in them, including children, that’s how I come up with the story about Jana Berzelius. 

Do you have a ‘day job’? Or do you write full time?

I have now sold almost one million copies of my books in 29 countries around the world, so I am lucky to be a writer full time today!
Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you? 

I usually get up at 06.15, making coffee before waking up my kids and getting them to school. Then I sit down in front of my computer and write. The time between 8 am and 12 am is my writing time. I usually never answer my phone or any e-mail, I just write. At 12 I have lunch with my husband and he usually walks me through my author schedule – travels, signing-tours, book-fairs, and such. I am very blessed to have my husband working full time with me. We are partners in crime, business, and love. 

After lunch, I read the text through, and do some editing. Around 3 pm, me and my husband go for a walk or run, discussing the plot, a character, or a scene. 

At 4 pm, our kids come home from school and then we help them with homework or drive them to their soccer, or tennis practice. 

After dinner, or when our kids have fallen asleep, me and my husband work for a couple more hours. Then we always end the day watching a tv-series or a movie. 

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

For me, the idea of an “extra” day is simply too good to let pass by. I have tried so many times but I am really bad at doing nothing. If it was a sunny, warm afternoon, I would definitely spend the afternoon with my husband and kids, preferably we would have a picnic on the beach. 

A picnic on the beach sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon to me! Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

Yes, I am an avid reader. My favourite authors and recommended reads are Jo Nesbø’s Phantom, Lars Kepler´s The Sandman and Roger Hobbs’ Ghostman. 

I’m a big fan of Jo Nesbo too, I haven’t read any Roger Hobbs though so will look out for him. Finally, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on next?

Right now, I am reading, editing and polishing the fourth book in the series about Jana Berzelius and it is called Daddy’s Boy. The book will be available in Sweden August 21, 2017. Hopefully it will be available in UK in a couple of years. I am really looking forward to having Marked for Revenge and Slowly We Die available in UK and I do hope that readers will enjoy the first in the series: MARKED FOR LIFE.

Thanks very much for joining me Emelie, I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Emelie Schepp’s Marked for Life is out 6th July (HQ, £7.99)

Find out more at her website http://www.emelieschepp.com

Instagram @emelieschepp

Twitter @emelieschepp

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The Silence – Q and A with Katharine Johnson BLOG TOUR

Today I am delighted to welcome Katharine Johnson to acrimereadersblog. Katharine is the author of The Silence, a great novel about secrets and lies.

Thanks for joining me Katharine. I thoroughly enjoyed The Silence and thought it was a great story. Did your writing skills come natural or did you have to attend courses to help you develop that creative side?

I’ve always liked writing and I’ve been a non-fiction writer for years but when I decided to look more seriously into writing fiction a few years ago I did a writing course with the Writers Bureau. I also read lots of advice pieces about creative writing because the rules change all the time. Things that were acceptable or even encouraged a few years ago are frowned on today,  like using exclamation marks and adverbs.

What books/authors inspired your writing journey?

So many! Whenever I read a good book it makes me want to write one.

I know that feeling! How does it feel to know that your books inspire others? Whether readers with a response to the content or other aspiring authors?

I’m not sure that’s happened yet but being able to connect with people in this way is a lovely thought.

Do you have any writing rituals? What are they?

Not really – I just write when the I get the chance.

If you could have written any literary character, who would it be and why?

Great question! I suppose Rebecca – such a vivid character and we never even see her.

Great answer! Thanks very much for joining me today Katharine. If you want to find our more about Katharine’s novel the Silence make sure you look out for other posts on this tour. Tomorrow visit:

https://keeperofpages.wordpress.com/

https://cluesandreviews.wordpress.com/

http://www.mistimoobookreview.co.uk/

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Only Daughter -Q and A with Anna Snoekstra BLOG TOUR

I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Only Daughter and it is a pleasure to welcome author Anna Snoekstra to the blog. Only Daughter is a gripping read set in Australia. In 2003 Rebecca Winter goes missing, 11 years later a woman appears claiming to be the missing Rebecca. What follows is a twisty read with a really surprising ending.

Thanks for joining me Anna. I really enjoyed your book. What was the inspiration behind Only Daughter

I was interested in the gap between the ages sixteen and twenty-five, the things that happens between those times in your life which can’t be taken back and will shape the person you become.

Do you have a ‘day job’? Or do you manage to write full time?  

I resigned from my job working at a cinema in September 2015, so it has been exactly one year that I have been writing full time. On weekends I often nanny, which is a great way to get a bit of extra income as well as have some fun outdoors! I love children and writing can be solitary, so this is a great balance for me.

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

I write out of a shared warehouse space, which gets freezing in winter and blisteringly hot in summer. I try to get there by 8.30, but often fail. Usually I’ll spend my first hour or so replying to emails, tweets and messages. Since I live on the other side of the globe to my publishers and agent, I usually wake up to a very full inbox.

By ten I try and turn the internet off and put my phone on the other side of the room. I’ll pour a coffee and look back on where I left my writing the day before. At the moment I’m working on editing. I work very visually, so I make huge boards with cards for each chapter pinned on them as well as notes and questions. I’ll usually stare at this for about an hour and pull my hair out a bit before getting started.

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work? 

Me and my husband love taking mini- day trips. If I had the afternoon off, it would be nice to drive to a little town out of Melbourne. There are so many beautiful little country towns only an hour’s drive away. Maybe if it was an extra special afternoon off we’d stop off at a winery.

That sounds like a lovely afternoon off, especially the winery! Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

I always have a to-read pile towering on the side of my bed. I attempt to read at the very least a book a fortnight, although it’s always tricky to find the time. For crime writers I can’t go past Tana French, she is just amazing. Although, I’ve never re-read any of her books. They were traumatic enough the first time! I always come back to Stephen Kings book On Writing. Every time I re-read it I learn something new.

Finally, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on next? 

Yes! I’m so excited about my second novel, Dolls. It’s about a young woman who desperately wants to be a journalist, and how far she’ll go to get her story. It will be bigger in length and scope than Only Daughter, but will be dealing with similar themes of young women going to very dark places.

I’ll look forward to that coming out. Thanks very much Anna, its been a pleasure hosting this stop on your tour.

A review of Only Daughter will be here soon, and to read more about Anna visit her other stop today at Alba in Bookland tomorrows tour stops at Gin Books and Blankets and Stephs Book Blog

 

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