Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Bristol Post interview

Chuffed to open today's Bristol Post expecting to have to search for a tiny snippet resulting from a phone interview earlier in the week (about how I love writing in cafes), only to find most of page 8 taken up with an article about Marnie Rome and my Adventures So Far in getting published. You can read it online here. The reporter took some years off my age, in case you were thinking that all that coffee has aged me terribly.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Flashbang 2014

Three years ago, I came up with the idea of a crime flash fiction contest to see whether anyone could pull off a great crime story in just 150 words. They could, and they did.

Our first ever winner was Iain Rowan, who wrote what is still one of my favourite pieces of flash fiction, the stupendous Search History. Then we did it all over again, and more gems emerged, like this by Debra Ramsdale.

Now it's time to knock our socks off for 2014. The prizes include a pair of weekend passes to Crimefest and other festival goodies. I'm still stupidly pleased with the strapline I dreamt up, during a fit of insomnia: "Bang, Bang. You're Read."

Get flashing!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

My new Facebook Author Page

With thanks to my lovely team at Headline, who did something very clever with the cover of Someone Else's Skin so that Marnie Rome's feet are walking on the other side of the page, so to speak. Did I mention how much I love Marnie Rome's feet on my cover? They're exactly right.

Now the FB page just needs lots of "likes" please. Click here? Thank you!

Ninety-nine days to go until publication. And there are still 15 days left to enter the Goodreads Giveaway and win one of fifteen proof copies. There's a link to the right for anyone who wants to enter, or click here. The deadline is 5 December.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Someone Else's Skin - Goodreads Giveaway

My lovely UK publishers, Headline, are giving away 15 proof copies of Someone Else's Skin to readers in the UK.

There's a link to the right for anyone who wants to enter, or click here.

The deadline is 5 December.

Good luck!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Someone Else's Skin - UK cover reveal

This may be the moment when I give up all pretence of being cool and professional about this and squeal like a school-girl (the school-girl who dreamed of this day, for all those long years). Headline have played a blinder, I think. What do you all think? And here is a link to the back jacket blurb (currently showing the US cover image).

Friday, 18 October 2013

Someone Else's Skin, Penguin US edition

Hot on the heels of the new UK proof copies, here is the draft cover for the US edition of Someone Else's Skin. Penguin are publishing it in July 2014.

The UK edition will be published by Headline in February.

More info including back cover blurb for the UK edition is here.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Someone Else's Skin

These beautiful new proof copies arrived on my doorstep this morning, and I have five to give away after I read the opening chapter in Bristol on 23 October. Do please come along if you can.

The back cover blurb can be read here.

Coming soon: first look at the Penguin cover for the US edition..!

Friday, 4 October 2013

I'm interviewed by Lloyd Paige about Someone Else's Skin

I was lucky enough to be invited for an interview over at Lloyd Paige's excellent website, to talk about Someone Else's Skin, the first book in my Marnie Rome series. Lloyd asked great questions, including one about Stephen, Marnie's foster brother, and I very much enjoyed coming up with the answers.

Link to interview

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Crime in the Caves (Unputdownable) and Discover Short Stories

I'm chuffed to be chairing Crime in the Caves on 21 October, as part of Unputdownable, for the Bristol Festival of Literaure. Early signs are that it will involve wellies, a headlamp torch and crime's coolest beard-wearer, Stav Sherez.

Our third adventure underground. The depths of crime should never see the light of day. Or should they? Highly gifted authors from indie publisher Faber, on the dark side of humanity. With Bristol professional actors voicing the performances.

In the meantime, I'm all about short stories:

"An evening with five local authors and entertaining performers - Philip Douch, Louise Gethin, Kevlin Henney and Sarah Hilary are introduced by the Winterbourne short fiction writer Pauline Masurel. Listen to their short stories and why they love the rich variety of the short story form. Booking required, cost £2, refreshments available, not suitable for those under 14."

Who could resist? I'll be reading Udumbara in Lytham St Anne's and hoping not to upset any of the over 14 year olds in the audience who own caravans and know a thing or two about chemical lavatories. I'll also be jamming with the other writers about why short stories are so damn good. This could take a while. Do come if you can.

In other news, I've now moved to Bath which is a city so enticingly lovely it's a bit of a struggle to sit down and write. Luckily, there are any number of great cafes to work in; failing that, I may hire a houseboat on the canal, or ask our neighbour to build me a writing shed.

Next up: I'm doing an interview for Lloyd Paige about Someone Else's Skin and its follow up. More about that very soon.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Someone Else's Skin #review by Susi Holliday

Susi Holliday aka SJ Holliday (because all great crime writers need a pseudonym) has written the sort of review every writer dreams of getting for their first novel: thoughtful, sensitive, in touch with the characters and with an instinctive feel for what, as a writer, I was trying to achieve. This absolutely made my Saturday. Thank you, Susi.
Even though I flew through the pages, Sarah Hilary's incredibly assured debut, Someone Else’s Skin is a difficult read. Not because it’s not well written (the language and style is quite beautiful and unique, and I put this down to Sarah’s skills as a short story writer, her ability to tell a story using the perfect words in a shorter medium) but because the subject matter – domestic violence – is a difficult one to let into your head.
Susi Holliday is represented by Phil Patterson of Marjacq. She is working on her debut psychological suspense, Black Wood. Read about her adventure so far, here.

Friday, 2 August 2013

You Heard It Here Second

The Last Properly Shaved Man in Britain (not my words but those of MC Beaton), Jake Kerridge, has written a properly excellent round-up of the magic and mayhem that is the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival for Shots Mag.

Find out who won the coveted Shirt-Most-Likely-To-Be-Seen-From-Mars Award! Don't find out who won the Harrogate Quiz! Learn Jake Kerridge's biggest regret! And place bets now for the likelihood of Stav Sherez heading up a cosy crime panel...!

(The only thing missing is the story of Barry (Barrington) Forshaw's early exploits as an illustrator for my favourite girl's comics. But I expect Jake (Jake) Kerridge preferred to draw a veil.)

Otherwise, it's all here, including the various excuses dreamt up by those in the know to address thorny questions like How Crime Writer, Why Crime Writer? It's either because we're all deranged misfits living miserable existences, or we're very, very nice. Take your pick. And be glad you were given a choice.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Someone Else's Skin : a sneak preview

UPDATE: My first reader review is now online at Rebecca Bradley's blog!

What's more thrilling than seeing proof copies of your debut novel in the delegate bags at the biggest crime festival in Europe? Seeing proof copies of your debut novel in delegate bags NEXT TO the new special edition of The Silence of the Lambs... I'm so happy I've gone a bit dizzy. As Mark Billingham said, "You and Tom Harris? Like THAT," and crossed his fingers. This time last year I was at Harrogate without a book deal, without even significant optimism about getting one. Now here I am, writing book two and seeing book one begin to take serious shape. A big shout-out to all new writers out there: Never ever ever give up.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Forty-eight faces, Lost & Found

Two snippets of non-novel writing news. It's been yonks since I had a new story published online, but Forty-Eight Faces (inspired by researching the Szondi Test) is in the Ilanot Review.
I had a terrific evening in Chester on Tuesday, where the Cheshire Prize anthology, Lost & Found, was launched. It's a handsome little volume (I'd love the artwork as a tablecloth), packed with great stories from the likes of Barbara Corfield and Rich Lakin. I read my story, Udumbara in Lytham St Anne's, almost without a hitch; seem to be getting better at this reading in public lark. The Cheshire Prize team not only run an exemplary contest with a huge prize (two thousand smackers) but they have resisted the temptation to charge an entry fee, which is pretty damn amazing in this day and age. Do enter their 2013 contest, for poetry. They have Roger McGough reading at the prize ceremony in November.

ETA: And a snippet of novel news: I'm very excited that Someone Else's Skin will be published in Swedish by Minotaur and in Norwegian by Cappelen Damm.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Penguin USA to publish Someone Else's Skin and Long Gone

My happy news of the week is that Penguin have bought the US rights to my first two crime novels. My sister put it like this, "Penguin! Remember all those Penguin Classics on the bookcase when we shared a room, growing up? And now you're going to be one of them!" Well, not quite, but I know what she's means and I'm just as excited. My editor, Emily Murdock Baker, is Sophie Hannah's editor in New York, and she recently co-edited the Pulitzer Prize winning, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Between Penguin in the States and Headline in the UK, I feel very lucky to be in safe hands for this big adventure.

It occurs to me that I've said very little about the two books themselves, so I'm linking (below) to my agent's website which has a synopsis for each book:

Someone Else's Skin

No two victims are alike

DI Marnie Rome knows this better than most. Five years ago, her family home was a shocking and bloody crimescene. Now, she's tackling a case of domestic violence, and a different brand of victim. Hope Proctor stabbed her husband in desperate self-defence. A crowd of witnesses saw it happen. But as the violence spirals, engulfing the residents of the women's shelter, Marnie finds herself drawn into familiar territory. A place where the past casts long shadows and she must tread carefully to survive.

Long Gone

Being the perfect family has become a deadly pastime

In other news, I'll be at CrimeFest in Bristol from Thursday 30 May to Sunday 2 June. I'm looking forward to meeting up with fellow crime writers. Then I'm off to Crime in the Court in London on Thursday 4 July, which will be my first time at this infamous gathering hosted by Goldsboro Books in Cecil Court - an old haunt of mine from when I lived in Westminster. Finally, I'm returning to Harrogate for a second year of the marvellous mayhem that is the Theakstons old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, from 18 to 21 July (that's my brilliant agent, Jane Gregory, on the left of the group photo). My last year as an unpublished crime writer, so I must make the most of the anonymity...!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

What Lies Within by Tom Vowler

My review of Tom Vowler's debut novel, What Lies Within, is up at Eurocrime today. It's a great debut and I look forward to reading what Tom writes next.

The choice of a haunting backdrop for the story - deep into Dartmoor - is a perfect fit for Vowler's prose which is rich in places with the lilt of mythology, but pared down when the plot demands it. His choice of subject matter brings its own discipline.

I'm not sure exactly how many crime novels I've reviewed since I began, but this will be my last for a while.

My debut novel, Someone Else's Skin, will be published by Headline in February 2014 and it seems sensible to step back from reviewing for a variety of reasons. Do I think I will review differently when I'm a published author? No, but I think readers might expect me to. And, quite reasonably, the editors of the sites where my reviews appear want to avoid any conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise.

I'm very happy that my last three reviews were all of such stonkingly good books. Poppet by Mo Hayder, and The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by the marvellous Fred Vargas being the other two.

Jack Caffery has grown up quite a bit since BIRDMAN... Flea Marley is a fantastic character, as damaged in her way as Caffery, and the dance performed by the pair as they step around the untold truths of earlier stories is painful and poignant to watch.

You care, deeply, for Adamsberg and Danglard and their team. You care for poor besieged LĂ©one and her sugar-hungry hound, Fleg, and for the crazy Vendermots... Damn it, you even care for the crippled pigeon that sleeps (and craps) in Adamsberg's shoe.

It's been great fun, I feel I've learned stacks from both reading and analysing these novels. I wholeheartedly recommend reviewing as an excellent pastime for any aspiring write. Lastly, I hope to continue reviewing short stories for the wonderful website, The Short Review, although possibly not crime anthologies. Luckily, there are so many brilliant short stories being written that I'm spoiled for choice.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Vanessa Gebbie interviews me about itchy wrists and never giving up

I was lucky enough to travel to Bantry in 2008 with Vanessa Gebbie, a supremely talented writer who also happens to be one of the most supportive and generous people I've ever met. She predicted my publishing deal long, long before I believed it would happen - and was one of the first to celebrate when my good news broke a couple of weeks back. She invited me over to her blog for a natter about how it felt to stick out the dry years of rejection, and how it feels now, to have reached where I wanted to be for so long. Vanessa always asks the most intriguing questions, and I enjoyed our chat very much. Do pop along for a read.
I know that what you’re writing Right Now might feel like the best thing you’ve ever written, and so it should. I know you’ll feel proud and protective of your story and especially your characters, and that’s okay. It’s allowed. What’s not allowed is letting that pride and protectiveness stop you in your tracks.

Vanessa's novel, The Coward's Tale, was published by Bloomsbury to critical reviews in 2011. A.N. Wilson picked it as one of his Books of the Year.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

It's a crime! (Or a mystery...)

Rhian Davies, stellar in the crime scene, has blogged about Crimefest's Flashbang contest at her excellent blog, It's a crime! (Or a mystery...). I contributed my Top Five Tips for writing winning entries, in this case stories under 150 words long. Here's a sneak peek:

Get your title right. It’s the first thing the judges read. Is it eye-catching? Does it intrigue? If it’s one word, does it have at least two meanings? The best titles complete the story, by holding or revealing its secret. Good writers will spend even longer on the title than they do on the story, especially if it’s flash fiction.

I interviewed Rhian here at Crawl Space last year, when she talked about TV adaptations, debut novels and chance encounters in the M&S foodhall.

You can enter Flashbang here - the deadline is 1 March, so get cracking.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Crawl Space welcomes Mark Dexter

Mark Dexter is a RADA trained actor whose credits include Ripper Street, Father Brown and The Bletchley Circle, one of my favourite new TV crime dramas in 2012. In it, Mark plays Timothy Gray, husband to Susan Gray (played by Anna Maxwell Martin) who spent her war years as a code cracker at Bletchley Park and must now return to civilian life as a housewife. Welcome to Crawl Space, Mark!

Q. One of the things I love about The Bletchley Circle, apart from its evocative production values, was the credibility of the characters. Timothy doesn’t have whiff of posthumous political correctness to him. He believes in himself as Susan’s provider and protector, and sees no reason why his wife shouldn’t be content with her role as mother and wife. You could say the way he rewards her curiosity and intellect – by saving the crossword puzzles in the paper for her to finish – is patronising, but only if you try and force twenty-first-century hindsight onto the beautifully structured script. How did it feel playing a post-war husband? Did you find yourself wanting to display a more modern, nuanced understanding of Susan’s frustration?
I was told by a casting director the other day that male actors are usually far more concerned about ‘appearing sympathetic’ than their female counterparts, who are often more inclined to go the opposite way and find as many flaws in their characters as possible. Although I was shocked to hear about this curious gender divide, I do have to admit it was definitely a concern of mine with regard to Timothy. But at the end of the day I realised that 1950s society placed pressure on men to ‘play’ roles too, and I tried to show that Timothy was as much burdened by expectation and a need to conform as Susan was. There is a discomfort on both sides at having to live as your fellow citizens expect.
Q. Yes, that discomfort definitely came across onscreen. What research did you do for the role?
I’m more familiar with certain eras than others, and I’ve done a bit of stuff set in this period before so that wasn’t the main focus. Fortunately my job was to know absolutely nothing about code breaking or the goings-on at Bletchley Park – as the whole point is that Timothy is kept totally in the dark about all that. Mostly I looked at the effects of the war on the psyche of the men returning from it. Facing death on a daily basis and then coming back to crusty suburban life is a much harder transition than many of us realise.
Q. I’ve heard rumours of a second series… Can you confirm or deny? What would you like to see happen between Timothy and Susan in a second series?
I can confirm those rumours, we’re due to start filming in May. Major developments are in store for Timothy and Susan but that’s probably all I should say at this point!
Q. Intriguing! Since Bletchley, you’ve played a bounder in Father Brown and a psychotic toff in Ripper Street. Are you having as much fun as I suspect you are?
Your powers of deduction are impressive! Yes it’s been a very busy, very enjoyable year or so, and it’s good to explore your darker side after playing a woolly tank-top-loving civil servant! As well as playing those unsavoury types you mentioned, I’ll also be seen playing a ‘national hero’ in a later instalment of Mr Selfridge, so I don’t think I’ve been typecast just yet!
Q. Not a chance of that happening, I should say. This is a crime blog, so I have to ask: do you have a favourite crime writer? And is there a character in a crime book you’d love to play on stage or screen?
I’ve always been a fan of classic movie versions of classic crime novels. The Big Sleep being a favourite, which first drew me to the books of Raymond Chandler. Phillip Marlowe is one of those parts you’ll always find on an actor’s wish list. He’s certainly on mine.

I love Marlowe – read all Chandler’s books when I was a student and am due a re-read, so thanks for the prompt, and for the interview!

You can buy the first series of The Bletchley Circle on DVD now - highly recommended! You can follow Mark’s adventures over at his brilliant blog, The Bottled Beer Year “an insight into the dark, murky real life of a British actor, hell-bent on exploring the rich and varied world of finely crafted beer when he really ought to be learning his lines”, and on Twitter where he’s @BottledBeerYear

Thursday, 31 January 2013

I have a publisher!

I am thrilled to bits to be able to say that Headline will be publishing my first two crime novels.

SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN will be published in the UK in February 2014. LONG GONE will follow in 2015, with a third book also optioned. With thanks to my lovely agent, Jane Gregory, and her fabulous team for keeping the faith. If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you will know that I have been chasing this prize for some time. The pieces of the puzzle finally fell into place this week, and I couldn't be happier. More to follow soon! The image, by the way, is of the Udumbara - that miraculous flower found under a nun's washing machine on Lushan Mountain in China. Isn't it astounding?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Entries for Flashbang 2013 are now open!

Flashbang is a writing contest sponsored by CrimeFest, who are providing the first prize of two free passes, as well as other top prizes. Hersilia Press is sponsoring the third prize: four of their Italian crime books.

Flashbang gives eight lucky writers the chance to be published on websites read by crime buffs the world over. All the details of how to enter and what’s up for grabs, can be found here, together with tips from the judges on what they’re after in a winning entry.

NB: Flashbang was devised by writers for writers, and is administrated and judged by writers. Hurray!

If you're after inspiration, take a look at the winning stories from 2012, including the outstanding Search History by Iain Rowan, which scooped the top prize.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

My favourite crime discoveries of 2012

My favourites are up at Eurocrime today, both TV dramas.

Good Cop blew me away, and made me even more eager to see Warren Brown return in Luther this year.

Bletchley Circle has a second series in production, which is great news.

My Top Five Crime Reads of 2012 will be up at Eurocrime shortly. It was a good year for crime. Those narrowly missing my Top Five include Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah, and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Here's a sneak preview:

1. The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood - my review is here
2. Finders Keepers by Belinda Bauer - my review here

3. To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey - an author I rediscovered last year, who reminded me how wit and humour in crime can pay huge dividends
4. What Lies Within by Tom Vowler - my review coming shortly over at Eurocrime
5. Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder - my review is here

Please link me to other top lists for 2012!