Sunday 28 December 2014

No Other Darkness - a first review

Proof copies went out before Christmas and one or two people have finished it already, which is impressive and a little nerve-wracking. Luckily, the only comments I've seen so far have been good ones. Like one from Northern Crime.
'Anyone who loved ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ will not be disappointed with the new Marnie Rome. Sarah Hilary writes the best crime reads. Emotionally intelligent and compelling.'

Monday 15 December 2014

No Other Darkness, Marnie Rome 2

So what do you think? Are you ready? Proof copies going out this week. Published 23 April 2015.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Someone Else's Skin one of the Observer's Top Thrillers of the Year

Thrilled to be on this list, which includes stellar names like Tana French, Sophie Hannah and Tom Rob Smith.

Alison Flood in today's Observer calls Someone Else's Skin a 'standout of the year' and says I'm vying with Lauren (Broken Monsters) Beukes for 'most unsettling scene of the year' which makes me more happy than is probably decent.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Someone Else's Skin in The Times

Picked as a top read of 2014, by Felicity Gerry QC, no less. Look at the amazing books in the pic. I'm so proud to be in that mix. Amazing times.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Someone Else's Skin on BOLO Books 2014 Top Reads

Especially pleased and proud to have made this list, which reads like a Who's Who of the Best Crime Books of 2014. It includes one of my favourite reads of the year, The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood.
“Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary is a debut novel, but you would never know it from the reading experience.”

Saturday 6 December 2014

Guardian's Best Crime and Thrillers of 2014

Very happy to have made this list, along with two of my fellow debut novelists, Eva Dolan and Ray Celestin. Laura Wilson in the Guardian described Someone Else's Skin as 'assured and perceptive'.

All her picks are excellent, by the way, and you should buy/read them all.

The Guardian's Best Crime and Thrillers of 2014

Thursday 27 November 2014

No Other Darkness US cover reveal

Don't Look Now. Don't Blink. It's the Penguin USA cover for Marnie Rome book 2. Coming in August 2015 in the States. UK cover reveal to follow so watch this space, if you dare...

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Marnie Rome and Noah Jake : up for your inspection

On Wednesday 26 November, Marnie and Noah are taking over my Facebook page to answer your questions. Do come and throw stones, and we'll see how high (and fast) they climb that tree.

Interrogate Marnie and Noah here

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Someone Else's Skin / Books on the Underground

I'm at home in Bath today, but Marnie Rome and Noah Jake are travelling around London by Tube courtesy of Books on the Underground. You can follow their travels here on Tumblr or via Twitter @BooksUndergrnd. Better yet, if you're in London and you spy Someone Else's Skin languishing on a seat, pick it up and take a snap of it (and you). Best snap wins a prize. Ready? Go!

Friday 7 November 2014

In conversation with Susan Wilkins

Today I'm welcoming new crime writer, Susan Wilkins, to Crawl Space to chat about her debut novel, THE INFORMANT, and what makes us tick as writers. Welcome to Crawl Space, Susan.

SW: Hi Sarah, thanks for having me here. SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN has had a great reception and I can see why. It's inspiring to read a page turner that's so well written. DI Marnie Rome is the cop we'd all want on our case – intelligent and feisty – I can’t wait to read more. I've come to crime novels after a long career as a television scriptwriter. I wrote for many continuing drama series (posh term for soap!), including Coronation Street, Eastenders, Casualty, Holby City, Heartbeat. I also created and wrote a detective series for the BBC, South of the Border, which was a bit groundbreaking in its day – the first mainstream BBC1 series to have a black female lead. Scriptwriting taught me a lot about story and structure. How about you? Where did it all begin?
SH: Fascinating that you came to crime novels after a career in scriptwriting. I'm quite envious, as that was always my earliest writing ambition. (After my parents told me I was "too nice" to be a journalist; if only they'd known...) I'm also very envious of your grounding in story and structure, which I still struggle with. I always loved writing dialogue, though, so I guess we have that in common. THE INFORMANT has been praised for its 'faultless plotting and attention to detail' (Mari Hannah). It crosses two genres, which is increasingly popular.
Susan Wilkins
SW: Yes, gangster crime and the police procedural. There are many excellent examples of both. Martina Cole I admire for portraying women, who are struggling in their lives, in their relationships and find themselves embroiled with crime and criminals. In many of her books it is the attraction to the bad boy that is central. I know some crime aficionados are a bit sniffy about Martina. But she has spawned a whole sub-genre – Mandasue Heller, Kimberly Chambers. But I particularly admire Jessie Keane for her focus on the tough female heroine. A woman who fights back. What about you? I know that you turned to various non-fiction sources, which you acknowledge at the end of SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN. Were they more of an influence for you than fiction writers?

SH: I do love non-fiction, it's true, but would never underestimate the impact of certain novels on my love of reading - and writing. So Thomas Harris, Patricia Highsmith, Jonathan Kellerman, Helen Dunmore. All very different, all brilliant in different ways. Tell me about how book two is going?

SW: THE MOURNER is finished. I'm waiting to do the copy edit, but all being well it should publish next year. I'm running two protagonists in book two. One is the main character from THE INFORMANT – Kaz Phelps, reformed villain – the other is the cop, now ex-cop, who was chasing her. So it's a complicated structure. I only hope it works for the reader. I've got my fingers crossed! I'm currently sitting down to write book three, which is probably why it's much more fun to avoid the blank screen and write emails to you!
SH: I know that feeling well..! The books sound great, and your background in TV drama must give you clout in terms of grit and realism. I don't think that sort of story will ever go out of fashion. I also think it's great how crime can straddle genres now (not so long ago it would have been resisted, I'm sure). Look at Lauren Beukes, for example, who manages to make sci-fi and crime work so well without ever compromising the emotional impact that makes crime my favourite genre. And I'm with you all the way on the portrayal of women (or indeed anyone) struggling in their lives. It's something else crime does so well: opening all those different doors into stories that ring true. Not being afraid to look into the dark corners, reminding us of the things we've chosen to forget or overlook. Now I'm going to ask you about your main characters. In my series, DS Noah Jake is openly and happily gay. In fact he's about the only character with an entirely happy home life. How about your cast?
SW: Sexuality is an interesting subject. Gay and lesbian characters (or perhaps we should say LGBT) are cropping up more and more in fiction, a reflection of how much times have changed. And I can tell you, as a lesbian, that I'm still always extremely heartened when I read a character like Noah, who is openly gay and happy about it. So thank you for that. When I started my television writing career most producers, including the gay ones, were still responding to ideas involving lesbian and gay characters with a very cautious 'we don't want to frighten the horses' attitude. There was then a brief spate of dramas in the 90's (written by men) in which a character was revealed (shock horror) to be a lesbian and her butch girlfriend would turn up driving an articulated lorry! Like you I'm a Patricia Highsmith fan. She was by all accounts a difficult woman and an alcoholic with ambiguous feelings about her own sexuality – being a lesbian in the 50s was a hard road. I've spoken to many women about those times and turning to booze was common. Still, whatever Highsmith felt about herself and her life, she used it to fuel some fantastic writing. But now watching a younger generation growing up, without the pressures and judgements I suffered, I wonder how sexuality will figure in individual lives if it really does become an open choice. I've encountered many young women who have a fluid and changing attitude to the sexual partners they choose. And they don't necessarily feel the need to call themselves anything. My protagonist, Kaz Phelps, is released from jail and her main motive for changing her criminal behaviour is to impress her lawyer, Helen, who she's fallen in love with. But Helen has political ambitions and though she is very drawn to Kaz she doesn't think a relationship with an ex-con, released on licence, is going to help her career. I'm interested in following Kaz as she discovers her own emotions and how to deal with her sexual feelings. I'm also interested in doing this in the gangster crime sub-genre so that it will reach the widest audience.
SH: I love what you say about Kaz and the plans you have for her character arc, which sounds fascinating. Yes, I guess what I was trying to do with Noah was to have a gay, half-black DS and it not be remarkable, or the cause of lengthy angst/soul-searching. Which is not to say that I imagine it's an easy gig; I'm sure it's not. But I wanted it be normal, unremarkable even. I'm sure you're right about the generational experience/struggle. And the tendency for the media to focus on aspects of the struggle, often heavy-handedly. Everyone struggles; it's how we respond to those struggles that makes us unique. And, as you said earlier, Struggle is Story. I've really enjoyed our chat, thank you.
SW: It was great, Sarah. Thank you!

Set in London and Essex THE INFORMANT is a story of ruthless criminals, corrupt cops, obsessive love and the villainy that operates on both sides of the law. Published 20 November by Macmillan, you can pre-order it here.

Friday 31 October 2014

No Other Darkness, exclusive extract for Richard and Judy Book Club

Someone Else's Skin is the Book of the Week over at the Richard and Judy Book Club, where they have just put this exclusive extract live online. The first two chapters of No Other Darkness, the second Marnie Rome book. If you're really cunning, you can put these two chapters together with the third chapter, which is part of the extra material at the back of the paperback of Someone Else's Skin which has the Good Housekeeping Reader's Choice tick on the cover.

Thursday 23 October 2014

My Fictional Heroines (for the Richard & Judy Book Club)

Featuring Violette Retancourt, Connie James, Clarice Starling, Flea Marley and more. These are my top girl crushes of all time.
Marnie Rome walked fully formed into a story I was writing two years ago. She was undercover, in biker boots and a black wig, but she was unquestionably Marnie. I recognised her at once. Later, I came to realise how many secrets she was hiding. And I came to realise that she owed a debt, in part at least, to my fictional heroines from page and TV. Not everyone on this list shares a character trait with Marnie Rome, but they are all women who’ve stayed in my head (and my heart) long after I’ve stopped reading and watching.

Someone Else's Skin is the Featured Book in the Richard & Judy Book Club

For one week only! With exclusive material, a podcast and more! Excuse me while I go all starry-eyed and chuck confetti at passers-by.

In all seriousness, to everyone who ever told me to never give up, or nudged me to sub a story or asked me what I was writing (or bought me a coffee or gave me a hug or told me to stick at it) - Thank You. To everyone who read and reviewed the proof copies of Someone Else's Skin, and tweeted and blogged - Thank You. And if you bought a book, or recommended it to a friend, or put a nice review online - Thank You. You're the reason I got this far.

Someone Else's Skin

If you haven't already bought it, this is the perfect week to do so as there are special offers galore, especially at WH Smith where it's less than £4 a pop. I won't go as far as the lovely people at the Heswall Bookshop who instructed all their customers to give it as a Christmas present to everyone they know, but hey. For one week only, go wild.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Richard & Judy Book Club: my Podcast for Someone Else's Skin

Here it is! What a relief to find I didn't waffle half as much as I'd feared. Even if I did confess a bit too cheerfully to having a dark mind... Lovely Richard and Judy were so enthusiastic and supportive. I loved every minute of this.
Sarah Hilary - Someone Else's Skin - Richard & Judy Book Club Podcast

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Someone Else's Skin gets its first video review

This made my morning. Thank you, Lorna Mackinnon.

Monday 8 September 2014

Mslexia, and other milestones

For many years, I kept a copy of Mslexia magazine that had a feature on How to Write Crime Fiction. Like most of the content of this marvellous magazine, it was helpful, insightful and inspirational. Now I've had an article of my own published in Mslexia (issue 63, Sept/Oct/Nov 2014). Dubbed 'Stalking an Agent' by the editor, it's a piece on how we should trust less to luck and more to hard work and determination. Judging from the response over on Twitter, it seems to have struck a chord with many, many writers. I'm glad. I hoped, when I was writing it, to debunk some of the myths about writing and about getting published. Myths which I know held me back, and which I suspect hold others back from their goals. Here's a snippet:
Some time ago, I set my sights on the UK’s greatest crime agent, Jane Gregory. In a piece written for Mslexia, Jane describes very sensibly how tough it is to get published; new authors can spend an average of two years working on a manuscript before it’s ready to be sent out to editors. That’s two years after Jane has decided the manuscript has potential. At this point you might be wondering if I’m a masochist or merely an egotist. What made me think I could beat odds of 5,000 to two (5,000 being the manuscripts submitted to Jane’s agency in an average year, and two being the number of new authors she signs in the same period)? Well, it helped that Jane encouraged me: responding to each of my (many) submissions with a page or more of reasons why I wasn’t ready to be published, suggesting ways I could improve if I was willing to put in the time. There’s another word for these letters: rejections. Like luck, rejection has a mythology all its own. We invite it, but we fear it. Sometimes we fear it so much we daren’t send our manuscripts out into the big bad world. But let’s debunk this myth, while we’re at. Because we can, and we should. Rejection is good for your soul. Without it, how will you ever know how good your writing can get? Or whether you have the staying power for this undoubtedly tough business? You won’t. You won’t know where the bar is set, or how to go about reaching it.
You can read the whole article by subscribing to Mslexia. I was surprised that the cost starts from less than £20 for the year.

In other news, Someone Else's Skin just received its 100th review over on Amazon. A 5-star, fantastic review, by Claire Hill. You can read it here.

Thursday 4 September 2014

Marnie Rome book trailer

Very excited to see the new book trailer for Someone Else's Skin up online. If you double-click the play button below, it will play at full-screen size. The soundtrack is especially spooky/effective, I think. See if you agree.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Someone Else's Skin in the Richard & Judy Book Club

I'm finally able to share the news I've been keeping secret for the last few weeks. Someone Else's Skin, which is out in paperback in the UK today, is one of eight books picked for the R&J autumn book club. This means there are two versions of the paperback, one of which is exclusive to R&J and on sale only in WH Smith, with special extra material including a police interview with Marnie Rome, and a Q&A with me. You can read what Richard and Judy thought of the book, here. I was chuffed by Richard's summing up: "deftly takes apart human life at its darkest and most cruel. An excellent recipe for an excellent thriller." You can read the Q&A here. To read the police interview with Marnie, well, you'll have to pop into WH Smith and buy the book (please). I had a very exciting day in London on Tuesday, being interviewed on the sofa by Richard and Judy, for the podcast which will be available to listen to online soon.

As if this wasn't excitement enough, Someone Else's Skin is published in Sweden today, by Minotaur.  You can buy it here.

It really has been an amazing few months, and I'm still pinching myself, in gratitude and amazement. Huge thanks to everyone who reads this blog and who's cheered me on my journey thus far.

Thursday 3 July 2014

Sherlock, anime, anti-heroes, and Marnie Rome

I'm answering questions over at My Bookish Ways today. Look out for some of my darkest secrets, including how I made Sherlock bleed all over John Watson...
When I found out that Someone Else’s Skin would be published, I phoned up my friend Anna (to whom the book is dedicated) and we screamed like schoolgirls.
The picture is of the US audiobook version, read by Justine Eyre and available from Tantor.

US readers can buy the Penguin paperback here, or in good indie bookshops like Sunriver.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Someone Else's Skin is published in the US today

My sister, who encouraged me to write stories when we were both small, reminded me that we used to stand in bookshops and say of the shelves, 'One day, my books will be there...' I was in love with the little penguin in its orange oval, so she would add a footnote to my yearning: 'He'll be on your books one day.'

Today is that day: 24 June 2014. Penguin is publishing Someone Else's Skin, and introducing Marnie Rome to American readers. I hope they like her as much as UK readers do. Thank you, Penguin, for dreams come true.

US readers can buy Someone Else's Skin online here, or from bookshops like Sunriver where it's a Staff Pick.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Book Lovers Supper Club with Sophie Hannah

Very excited about the next stop on my book tour, which will be in Ditchling near Brighton on 18 June with Sophie Hannah. I interviewed Sophie a while ago, never thinking that I might one day be doing an event with her. And supper, and wine. What more could you want? The event is nearly sold out but if you're quick you might be able to grab a ticket.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Someone Else's Skin UK paperback cover reveal

Here it is, starring Marnie Rome in all her secretly-inked glory... I love it. What do you think? Better than the original? Not as good? It's certainly very different. This version will be out in August.

You can buy the large-format paperback, or an ebook or audiobook (narrated by Abigail Thaw, daughter of John Thaw) right now.

I'll be blogging about the different cover designs (five so far, counting UK, US, Holland and Sweden) so do check back here in a little while. Thanks for reading

Sunday 9 March 2014

Someone Else's Skin, Thriller of the Month

After a week of excitement - launching my first book, sharing the stage with R4's Jim Naughtie at Dulwich Books, being told that Marnie Rome is like Saga Norén during an interview for Audible (!!) - I opened today's copy of The Observer to find a HUGE review by Alison Flood, in which Someone Else's Skin is described as the Thriller of the Month and "a superbly disturbing debut". The review is pretty much what every writer dreams of: thoughtful, incisive, packed with quotes from the book. My head is still reeling, and I'm so very happy. Alison Flood absolutely *gets* what I was trying to do in the book. What a wonderful way to end an amazing week.
It's the story that really drives this novel, though, and this is a corker: twisty, tricksy and, on occasion, seriously scary. There is a moment when it is almost impossible to keep reading, the scene Hilary has created is so upsetting, but almost impossible not to, the story is so hell-for-leather compelling. This is a rare thing, for any thriller, and extraordinary in a debut, but then this is an extraordinarily good debut, slipping under the skin of the bad things that happen every day and everywhere. "The house was quiet again, and now she remembered how, from the outside, it had looked like every other house in the street." Utterly creepy, without being gratuitous, and an exciting start to what is intended to become a series about Rome.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Someone Else's Skin... finally here

On Friday, at Foyles in Bristol, I thanked my friends and family for all their support (and patience) as I worked to get where I am: a published author with a debut novel on the shelves. It finally hit home, as I was getting changed into my party clobber in the back office where I used to eat my cheese sandwiches when I worked as a bookseller, about four years ago now. The office smelt just the same and triggered an intense memory of being there, somewhat impoverished and with terrible shelf envy as I stacked and sold books, always hoping that one day mine would be amongst them but without real hope, back then, of such a day arriving. Certainly not in such style. Around eighty people rocked up to help me celebrate, and Foyles sold stacks of books, making it their most successful launch ever. I arrived to find a beautiful box of lilies and roses with a good luck card from Caro Ramsay - just one more piece of proof of the generosity and kindness of other writers. I was overwhelmed by the love and support, not just in the room but on Twitter and Facebook; everywhere. One guest asked me to sign a copy of the book for his brother, who is a writer. 'Can you put, "Never give up writing"?' I was asked. I did, and hope that my story of perseverance will strike a chord. You can buy Someone Else's Skin from Foyles or Amazon or from your local bookshop. If you've read it and liked it, please do leave a review/rating.
Yesterday The Guardian ran a piece I wrote about my mother's life as Emperor Hirohito's poster child. So many people commented or tweeted to let me know how much the story moved or touched them. One wrote that my grandmother would be proud of me, and reduced me to tears. So much to be grateful for; I doubt I shall ever stop counting my blessings. You can read the story here.
On Monday, I shall be Dulwich Books with Jim Naughtie, chatting about debut novels. I'm officially on tour now and will post a list of appearances here shortly. I hope to see some of you very soon. In the meantime, thanks again for the support. I really do appreciate it.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Keeping the Mythic Distance over at Crime Time

Barry Forshaw invited me over to Crime Time to talk about why I started writing crime and what I'm plotting for the Marnie Rome series. Do pop across for a read about zombies, bouncing cop cars, being intimidated by my own heroine and refusing to feel numb about the stuff that matters.
As DS Noah Jake points out in Someone Else's Skin, trying to pick a fight with Marnie Rome is like digging your fingers in marble; you just end up with an ache in your fists.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Someone Else's Skin - new review

Excuse the silly photo of myself aged eight; I thought it was time for a change from the cover of the book. It's such a relief and a pleasure when a reader grasps exactly what you're trying to achieve as a storyteller. I'm delighted with this new review, thanks, Mrs K!
While, as readers, we are trying to discover the truth, what is underneath the skin of the characters, I feel the same could perhaps be said of the book as a whole. We gradually peel away layers, finding surprises, twists and turns, and the truth underneath.

Sunday 12 January 2014

Someone Else's Skin : What's My First Draft Like?

Here's an interview I did for Rebecca Bradley's crime blog. The eagle-eyed among you can spot clues to Marnie Rome book two in my notes... This is one of several interviews where I'm asked about my rituals or superstitions when writing. I don't have any, but am starting to think I should acquire some, to give less boring answers. Suggestions on a postcard please (or in the comments box below).

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Someone Else's Skin - the quotes poster

Crime writers are the best. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. This made me tearful today. So many writers I love and admire on here. Thank you!

And here's an interview I did recently about Marnie Rome and the planned series.