Thursday, 28 February 2013

Kerry Wilkinson on being a crime writer (or not!)

Kerry Wilkinson is something of an accidental author.  His debut, Locked In, the first title in the detective Jessica Daniel series, was written as a challenge to himself but, after self-publishing, it became a UK Number One bestseller within three months of release.  Kerry then went on to have more success with the second and third titles in the series, Vigilante
and The Woman in Black.  His new book, Think of the Children, will be available in both paperback and eBook on 28 February 2013.

I am going to be honest here: being a “crime writer” is an uncomfortable label for me. 

That is perhaps a strange admission for a blog post on a site about crime novels when I am releasing my fourth “someone dies, someone figures it out” book but there you go.

Of course, in regards to Think of the Children, that isn’t true anyway because there is no murder to solve – not really – and there is no serial killer; instead…there’s something else.  It is a tale about identity.

The fact one of my friends had to point out that it was a crime book without a “proper” murder should tell you that this isn’t something that I’m an expert in.  My opinion then, as now, is: “Do you need a murder, or can you simply tell a story?”

I suppose I’m about to find out.

When I was writing this fourth Jessica Daniel book, it was sixteen months ago and I had the number one and number two crime books on Amazon UK.  I’d been writing more or less every day for eight months, I hadn’t lost my mind, and I was still enjoying it.  I still do.

Think of the Children begins with a car skidding across a junction on a wet Manchester morning.  My character, Jessica, is sitting at the traffic lights complaining about various things but is straight into action.  The driver is dead but there is something in the boot of the car that doesn’t seem quite right. 

But you’ve heard hooks for crime books before – over and over and over.  Honestly?  Hardly any of it is original.  Something happens, usually a murder, someone figures it out.

Like most people around the country, I’m a very casual reader.  I’ll read on holiday, perhaps on flights, maybe a chapter or two before I go to bed.  Because I don’t read prolifically, I know exactly what I want – something that makes me want to come back.

When I started writing Jessica books, I never thought “I want to write a crime book”, I thought: “I want to write something I’d like”.  If you’re a fan of crime, there’s a massive world out there for you.  If you don’t like one, book try the next.  There’s not a shortage.  I wanted to write something that actually made people want to return and read the next thing.

I don’t believe people read long series of books - or watch a long series of something on television - because they are desperate to know what the next crime is.  Why would they?  They can buy any of the other thousands of crime books or watch any of the other TV shows.  Or do none of that at all and play Angry Birds on their phone.  I believe they come back because they’re invested in the character.  It doesn’t even have to be for a positive reason – they might hate them and hope they get a comeuppance.

Caring one way or the other is important.

The success of the Jessica Daniel books has been terrific – not necessarily because of sales, charts, or anything else (although I’m not complaining) – but simply because there are readers out there who genuinely care.

I have kept all the emails from people where they tell me their stories of how they found Jessica, or why they want to know what happens next.  They tweet me and they write on the Facebook site.  It's lovely.

Some people get the character, some people don’t.  I’m fine with that – but that’s why I’m uncomfortable with the “crime writer” label.  I just write about things I find interesting.  The fact that other people find it interesting too is the utterly wonderful part of doing it.

For more information about Kerry and his books you can follow him on Twitter @Kerrywk or on Facebook at JessicaDanielBooks.


Think of the Children -
Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is first on the scene as a stolen car crashes on a misty, wet Manchester morning.  The driver is dead, but the biggest shock awaits her when she discovers the body of a child wrapped in plastic in the boot of the car.  As Jessica struggles to discover the identity of the driver, a thin trail leads her first to a set of clothes buried in the woods and then to a list of children’s names abandoned in an allotment shed.  With the winter chill setting in and parents looking for answers, Jessica must find out who has been spying on local children, and how this connects to a case that has been unsolved for 14 years

Friday, 22 February 2013

Crime Spree For Harrogate Announced!

Europe’s largest celebration of crime writing has announced its headline Special Guest authors, revealing a strong female line-up.

Val McDermid, who chaired the first ever festival in 2003, returns as Programming Chair of the 2013 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, to mark a ‘Decade of Crime’

Special Guest authors are Jackson Brodie creator Kate Atkinson, Chief Inspector Wexford author Ruth Rendell interviewed by Jeanette Winterson, Charlaine Harris – whose Southern Vampire Mysteries inspired TV’s True Blood and The Woman in Black’s Susan Hill.  Men hold their corner with Inspector Rebus creator, Ian Rankin, award-winning crime novelist and poet, William McIlvanney and Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels, which recently hit the big screen starring Tom Cruise.

The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is hosted at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, where Agatha Christie was famously found in 1926 after her disappearance sparked a national manhunt.  Attendees are invited to join over 80 of the world’s most celebrated crime authors ‘in conversation, in action and in the bar’ from 18 to 21 July.

Val McDermid said: “When I was ‘persuaded’ to chair the Programming Committee for the first festival all those years ago, what tempted me to take it on was the prospect of helping to showcase the range and quality of contemporary crime writing.  I know that my passion for this genre is shared by the thousands of readers who have attended our events over the years, and we’ve all had some memorable encounters with those writers who have given us so much delicious, disturbing terror over the years.  2013 will be no different.”

The full programme will be announced over the coming weeks, and individual tickets and rovers will go on sale in the springYou can secure your place at the Festival now by booking a Weekend Break Package, which includes 3 nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation and a weekend rover ticket, giving you access to all Festival events.  To book your Weekend Package call the Festival Office on 01423 562303.

Keep up to date with all the latest news and programme announcements at and on Twitter @TheakstonsCrime

The Festival will be releasing details of participating authors every day on their website and through Twitter in the run up to the full programme being announced.

Ann Chadwick
On behalf of Harrogate International Festivals

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Welcome to Le French Book!

Anne Trager recently founded Le French Book, a digital-first publishing venture dedicated to bringing France’s best crime fiction and thrillers to new readers across the English-speaking world. Their motto is “If we love it, we’ll translate it,” and they love a good mystery. She also translated their first three titles—a psychological thriller/legal procedural, a more classic whodunit, and a police procedural set in Paris, along with a bunch of short stories by top French writers. Here she tells us a little more about the venture and what they have in the pipeline.

What if you could discover France while reading the best French crime fiction in English? This simple question sums up the whole project behind Le French Book and probably also my vision of life as an American who has lived in France since 1985. I always loved crime fiction and thrillers and, I must admit, this is almost the only genre I read. After several years in France, I started to discover French crime fiction novels and was amazed by the richness and creativity of a great number of French authors. So I read, I read, I read. Then, I realized that only very few of these books were available in English. I couldn’t stand it that so many good reads were not reaching a larger audience. I had to do something to help English-language readers to discover them.

That’s how we started Le French Book. We are looking to touch people who like a good read, who like to be entertained. I think that what makes the French angle of this venture so interesting is that I am an outsider looking at France not from the outside in, but from the inside out. It's like Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. What made that book work? In part, it was his British perspective on French culture. Le French Book is like that. I have lived in France for a very long time, but I'm an American. My choices of books we translate come from there.

We recently published our first three titles, which are available on the major eBook platforms (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks) and to libraries through Overdrive. They are distributed worldwide. Here’s a little something about them:

The Paris Lawyer by Sylvie Granotier (, a prize-winning psychological thriller that doubles as a legal procedural by an acclaimed master of French crime fiction. It is the story of a rookie lawyer whose first career-making case takes her from Paris to rural France, where she has to solve mysteries from her own past.

Treachery in Bordeaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen (, a classic whodunit set in French wine country, made for television in France. It is the first in the 20-book Winemaker Detective series, which follows gentleman detective winemaker Benjamin Cooker and his sidekick as they basically enjoy food and wine and are while they solve mysteries in this international luxury industry.

The 7th Woman by Frédérique Molay, who has been called "the French Michael Connelly" ( This police procedural won one France’s most prestigious crime fiction awards and was voted Best Crime Fiction Novel of the Year. It is an edge-of-your-seat police procedural set in Paris, where Chief of Police Nico Sirsky and his team race against the clock to stop a serial killer preying on women in the French capital. This is the first of a series.

We have a number of other exciting projects, including 52 short stories by seven of France’s top authors, which are available on our website now, free of charge (, and two really fun spy novels coming up. The Bleiberg Project, by David Khara ( is full of action, humor and likable characters, and Greenland: The Thriller by Bernard Besson revolves around the geopolitics of global warming with lots of action and an entertaining team of freelance French spies (just imagine…). The author is the former chief of staff of the French equivalent of the FBI (I like to think of him as the for right hand man for the French M, but I don’t think that is entirely accurate). He was involved in dismantling Soviet spy rings in France and Western Europe when the USSR fell and is a specialist in economic intelligence, in addition to writing prizewinning thrillers. A recent blog post interview his about fact and fiction in spy novels.

And this is just the beginning. We are now working with more translators and scouting for more great books to translate.
News briefs:

"Brilliant,” “Captivating” Thriller, an Instant Success in France, Soon in English from Le French Book

Le French Book announced the upcoming release of a prize-winning spy novel that took France by storm reaping superlatives: “Spellbinding,” “exceptional”, “staggering,” “fascinating,” “astounding.” The book has sold over 100,000 copies already and catapulted its author into the ranks of the country’s top thriller writers. The eBook will be released in April.

Le French Book Giving Away a Full Year of Good Reads: Fifty-two Stories from Seven Top French Authors

Le French Book is giving away a full year's worth of good reads: 52 short stories by seven of France's top authors, including two Goncourt prize winners and one of France's most-read writers. They are not strictly crime fiction, but a lot of fun to read. 

Le French book can be found on Twitter @lefrenchbook and on Facebook here. Email Anne Trager here.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

New Titles from Ostara Crime

The first three titles in the Ostara Crime imprint for 2013 all feature award-winning author Janet Neel (Baroness Cohen of Pimlico) and her series characters: police detective John McLeish and high-flying civil servant Francesca Wilson originally published between 1988 and 1993: Death’s Bright Angel, Death of A Partner and Death Among the Dons

Janet Neel’s crime novels were the first to place the traditional English detective story in the contemporary world of business, boardroom politics and Whitehall influence. She introduced the investigative duo of a thoughtful, unassuming London CID inspector and a confident – sometimes over-confident – well-connected civil servant in the Department of Trade and Industry. Not only did Neel give them both fascinating back stories, but from their first appearance in Death’s Bright Angel there was a clear chemistry in their relationship which was to develop into romance as the series continued.

This combination of strong characters, unusual but totally credible settings and the subordinate on-going themes of romance, infidelity, the claims of family, the role of women in business (and academia) and her obvious love of choral music, all combined to win Janet Neel a faithful readership on both sides of the Atlantic.

Her debut, Death’s Bright Angel, won the John Creasey Award for best first crime novel of 1988 and both Death of A Partner (1991) and Death Among the Dons (1993) were shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger. Death Among the Dons was described by the critic T. J. Binyon as “probably the best crime novel set in a women’s college since Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night.”

Janet Neel, the maiden name of Baroness Cohen of Pimlico, read law at Newnham College Cambridge, qualifying as a solicitor in 1965. She worked in the USA designing war games for the Department of Defense and in Britain as a civil servant in the Department of Trade and Industry before moving in to a career in merchant banking. She established two successful restaurants in London and remains a non-executive director of the London Stock Exchange as well as chairman of the Cambridge Arts Theatre. In 2000 she was appointed to the House of Lords to sit as a Labour peer with particular interest in trade matters, industry, taxation and communications.

Mike Ripley, the series editor of Ostara Crime, has known Janet Neel for over 25 years. For the story of how they started as rival crime writers but ended up “Partners in Crime”, follow the Ostara Crime links on the  to any Janet Neel title and click for further information and the feature A TALE OF TWO ANGELS. Or go direct to: