Thursday, 30 May 2013

King's Joyland launches in Bristol

On the eve of Crimefest, we’re delighted to hear of Titan / Hard Case Crime’s UK launch of Stephen King’s JOYLAND at the Bristol based convention.

So here’s the information, and we hope to see you at Crimefest -

Best-selling author Stephen King returns June 7th with JOYLAND, a breathtaking mystery novel set in an amusement park in the 1970s, published by the award-winning Hard Case Crime imprint of Titan Books.

JOYLAND will be published in original paperback and will only be available in print edition in keeping with the author’s request, in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, for people to “stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore.”

Encouraging UK book lovers to act on King’s call to arms and buy paperback copies from traditional retailers, a team of ‘Hollywood Girls’ from the world of JOYLAND will be touring shops and literary events during the week of the book’s publication to give away free JOYLAND-branded bags of popcorn. Bookstore shoppers will also be able to win free books and exclusive JOYLAND prizes by tweeting pictures of the Hollywood Girls.

Sales Director of Titan Books, Tim Whale, elaborates: “We believe that the excitement galvanised by the Hollywood Girls with their popcorn machine will ensure that fans will respond to King’s rallying cry and buy their copies of JOYLAND from their local bookseller”.

Dressed in the costume designed by Glen Orbik for the cover of the book, four ‘Hollywood Girls’ and their vintage popcorn machine will start their tour at Crimefest in Bristol on June 1st and end at Stoke Newington Literary Festival on June 9th. They will travel via Foyles Charing Cross Road [June 4th] and Forbidden Planet Shaftesbury Avenue [June 7th].  There will also be 50 bags handed out by booksellers on June 4th at Foyles Royal Festival Hall, Foyles St Pancras, Foyles Westfelds Statford City and Foyles Westfield White City.

About JOYLAND and Hard Case Crime

With the emotional impact of King masterpieces such as The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, JOYLAND [Hard Case Crime, original paperback, June 7th 2013], is a whodunit and a heartbreaking tale about love and loss, growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time.
Titan Books will be publishing JOYLAND in paperback format. Stephen King explained: “I loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being.”
JOYLAND is published by the award-winning line of pulp-styled crime novels published by Titan Books, Hard Case Crime.  Stephen King’s last title for Hard Case Crime – The Colorado Kid – was an international bestseller and inspired the TV show Haven, about to go into its fourth season on the SyFy network.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

William Ryan in Conversation with Lloyd Shepherd.

In the fifth of a series of conversations, author William Ryan talks to author Lloyd Shepherd.

Lloyd Shepherd is the author of two acclaimed historical crime thrillers set in Regency London.  The first, The English Monster, was shortlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel award and for the Historical Writers Association/Goldsboro Crown for Debut Historical Fiction.  The second, The Poisoned Island, was published in March 2012, and Christopher Fowler in the Financial Times had this to say about it: "Shepherd adroitly blurs fact and fiction with a hint of the fantastic, creating his own superior blend of historical crime fiction”.  Shepherd was educated at Sevenoaks School and Peterhouse, University of Cambridge.  He formerly worked as a journalist and digital media producer.  He lives in South London with his family.

William Ryan was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and the University of St Andrews and worked as a lawyer before taking up writing full-time.  His first novel, The Holy Thief, was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, The CWA John Creasy New Blood Dagger and a Barry Award.  His second novel The Bloody Meadow was shortlisted for the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year.  His latest novel, The Twelfth Department, was published in May 2012.  William lives in London with his wife and son.

WR: Your novels are set in 1810s London, at the dawn of organised criminal detection, and feature the redoubtable John Harriott, magistrate of the Thames River Police, and his incisive assistant Charles Horton.  It is a fascinating period, which you bring to life with real flair - and they are as intriguing and alluring a pair of protagonists as any reader could want.  So which came first?  The characters or the setting?

LS: The setting, but in an odd way.  I was driving back from East Anglia years and years ago, and I took a left when I should have taken a right, and I ended up in Wapping.  I had never been to Wapping before, and it immediately struck me as one of the oddest places in London.  This was in the late 1980s, when development of the Docklands had only just got going, and Wapping was a combination of abandoned cobbled streets, pubs that looked like they could have played a role in The Long Good Friday, and ugly modern development.  However, most of all, it was empty.  There were no people.  It was almost spooky.  The main characteristic of the place was absence, and digging around a bit later on I knew what that absence was: the docks.  They had been filled in, but they are everywhere: walls, meandering roads, odd little channels of water, huge chunks of ironware, empty warehouses.  It was the most haunted place I'd ever been to in England: haunted by its past and its present.

The story came later.  I first read about the Ratcliffe Highway murders in Alan Moore's graphic novel From Hell.  They resonated with me, and I looked for PD James' account of the murders, The Maul and the Pear Tree.  And my obsession grew from there.  These were the archetypal modern murders, the prototype for our notion of serial killing, and they happened seventy years before Jack the Ripper danced with his knife through Whitechapel.  And like the Ripper case, they gain a power from being apparently unsolved, though a murderer was identified, probably wrongly.  Moreover, it all happened in Wapping.

The characters came last (I know one is not supposed to say that, but there you are).  John Harriott, the magistrate, is a particularly vivid figure in James' account, not least because he was a very vivid person in reality.  In addition, he wrote an autobiography, which is always helpful.  Therefore, his character and history are drawn from fact.  Charles Horton, his waterman-constable, is little more than a fragment.  He received a reward for his work on the Ratcliffe Highway case, and I discovered his name in the River Police logbook, but that's it.  Everything else about him is invented by me.  When I submitted the book, I thought Harriott was the most sharply drawn, but most people - including my agent and the book's editors - responded more strongly to Horton.  I don't know what to make of that!

I am interested to hear your answer to your own question.  I was struck when reading The Holy Thief by two things: what a brilliant creation Korolev, your investigator, is; and how rich your description of the Soviet Union is, and how surprising, because I had a picture in my head of what 1930s Moscow was like, and it turns out to be wrong.  And why 1936, particularly?  Such an interesting time, such an interesting choice!
WR: A bit like you, I stumbled upon a fascinating time and place - and one thing led to another.  The starting point was reading Isaac Babel's brilliant Red Cavalry stories, just as the Soviet Union was collapsing in on itself.  I wanted to find out more about him but not even the year of his death was certain until the KGB archives were opened a few years later.  All the same, I began to collect any references to him I could find in memoirs and histories, with the half-idea of writing something about him.  Nothing came of it directly, but I had the good fortune to begin my research just as a lot of new information began to become available and my interested broadened.  I began to wonder about the dilemmas ordinary people must have faced in a society where individuality was frowned upon - particularly in 1936, at the height of the Great Terror.  Korolev didn't come fully formed and is still, even in the third novel, an enigma in some ways - even to himself - but that's partially because to survive at that time you had to suppress doubts and concerns about the regime even from yourself - and believe in things which seemed impossible.  I think some readers expect completely transparent characters - but I think an interesting character is often a little opaque.  And the opaqueness is what creates the interest.  I think that is what is so attractive about Horton, as it happens - the fact he has so many conflicting and dark aspects to his personality.

In your second novel, The Poisoned Island, we get to see more of him - and his relationship with Harriott seems to shift as well.  Is he perhaps stepping away from Harriott's shadow now?
LS: I think Horton's relationship with Harriott does shift, and there are good practical reasons for this.  Harriott was an old man during the time I'm writing about, and there is the maudlin matter of his imminent death to deal with in a few years time (if I'm still writing them then).  That is actually a really weird thing to have to deal with, knowing that one of your characters is chained to a timescale over which you have no control.  It's one of the things I like about writing things set in the past and sticking to the past's given timeframe; it forces you to be creative, but it also supplies a structure on which you can hang things.  Also, Harriott represents the 'past' of British policing - the time when magistrates essentially relied on hearsay and witnesses and rewards to prosecute crimes, and did little which we might recognise as ‘investigating.’  In the world of my books, Horton is the future - someone who relies on a chain of evidence, who understands motive and opportunity.  Harriott is not of that world, though he recognises it is coming and encourages Horton in it.  It is emblematic of the period - that transition from the rural to the industrial, from Island Britain to the British Empire, from superstition to science. 

However, I'm really interested in what you say about Korolev being an enigma 'even to himself'.  Is he an enigma to you?  Are you uncovering him as you go along?  Because I really get that with Horton.  I did not write a 'bible' for him, or much of a back-story.  I supply it as it's needed, and it makes him come more and more alive to me.  I completely agree that opaque is interesting - but is there sometimes a danger that we are enjoying ourselves at the expense of a reader's understanding?  I do worry about that, a bit.

WR: I suspect it wasn’t unusual for ordinary Russians to hide elements of their character so as to appear loyal to the Party – in fact, I’d imagine it was almost universal.  Korolev, given the tricky positions he finds himself in, needs to believe that a Soviet paradise on earth is just around the corner, even if all the evidence is to the contrary.  I think part of the reason his character is interesting is that deliberate self-delusion.  At least I hope it is - I’m always surprised what readers see and don’t see in my novels.  However, I think that is because reading and writing are two halves of a conversation – and every reader reads a slightly different version of each book, depending on what they put into it.  If you asked ten readers to describe Horton, you would probably get ten different answers – but that’s good, isn’t it?  Readers do not want every single detail laid out for them, mainly because it slows down the story - or, in your case, stories.  In both The English Monster and The Poisoned Island, you have two parallel plots running through the novel, which complement each other in interesting ways before they come together at the end.  Was it difficult to make them work so well together?  And is there a particular reason you choose to tell write the novels that way?

LS: I think that's very well put - novels are so huge that any author's particular intention is bound to be accompanied by dozens of unintended consequences, and readers can pick up on those as they so choose.  The other thing that always surprises me is how like Marmite some books can be - how the thing that one reader loves is the one thing , which wrecked the book for another reader. 

On the matter of parallel plots - I do not think this was necessarily deliberate; the stories just came out that way.  In my first book, The English Monster, I was particularly interested in how England's history had stained its character.  In that book, the particular history was slavery, and the way his involvement in slavery coarsens Billy Ablass is a not-particularly-subtle metaphor for the way it coarsened England.  So a parallel past story is a good way of doing that.  And when both stories - the parallel and the contemporary - take place in the past, I think that adds an interesting effect.  When I'm reading an historical novel, I'm always comparing the then with the now - the whole thing is in effect a parallel story.  It's why I think Hilary Mantel's novels are so masterful; they describe the past vividly, but seem to have a very modern sensibility, as if in commentary on the past.  How aware are you of the modern circumstances of Russia, when you are writing about the Soviet Union? 

Is this hard to do?  I don't think it's easier or harder than anything else involved in writing a book.  I do think it puts strains on the reader, keeping track with these parallel tracks, but I think it creates a unique rhythm as the two stories come together, which I can't help but love. 

WR: I think the endings, in both your novels, worked very well – and I liked the way the two strands in each story offered different perspectives on the underlying themes.  The Ablass story in The English Monster had a grim inevitability to it – it was never going to end well for him, was it? 

Slavery was one of the themes in The English Monster and in The Poisoned Island; you look at some of the less positive aspects of the initial contacts between Europeans and the rest of the world.  Given London was always a city at the heart of Britain’s colonial past – when you spoke earlier about Wapping being hunted by its past, I wondered if that’s what you meant.  I mean – if you’re setting an historical novel in London, that past is very much present today – and relevant.  Do you feel you might also have a different perspective on things from the writing and researching of the novels?

LS: I certainly think England's memory is faulty.  It's more like England's dreaming, to quote Jon Savage and Johnny Rotten.  I got particularly exercised during the general outpouring of warm feelings which accompanied the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in 2007, when I was in the early stages of planning The English Monster.  We were inundated with a stream of books, TV shows, and even films which celebrated the Abolition Act, but which somehow glossed over the centuries of appalling behaviour, which preceded it.  They also concatenated 'abolishing the slave trade' with 'abolishing slavery', even though existing slaves were not emancipated until many years later.  For me, slavery is the quintessential British hypocrisy, the point where making money trumps human dignity.  Moreover, I hardly have to point a recent example of finance trumping humanity, do I?

So yes, historical novels have something to tell us about the present.  However, I think they also give us the opportunity to project human behaviour onto a different canvas; they are very analogous to fantasy novels, in lots of ways.  I think a historical setting allows a novelist to discuss issues - such as slavery and human dignity - at a warped angle to the modern day, and that creates good opportunities for fiction.  I was struck, for instance, by the notions of capitalism and greed, which you introduced into The Holy Thief; those notions would have to be treated differently in a contemporary novel, and wouldn't resonate in quite the same way. 

However, there continues to be this strange snobbery about historical fiction.  Even after Hilary Mantel's amazing success, I still have people asking me 'when are you going to write something contemporary?’ As if I have been cheapening myself somehow.  I find that very odd, don't you?

WR: That faulty memory is one of the reasons the past is so interesting for writers, I think.  Every country has a tendency to view their past in a flattering light and it has to be tempting for writers to explore the reality - and why having that rose-tinted view of, say, a colonial past, may explain aspects of a country's present that would otherwise be inexplicable.  And it can also remind us why a country that, say, compared capitalism to gangsterism - might have a problem with criminality when it decided capitalism wasn't so bad after all.

However, I think you are right about historical novels being a medium for discussing human behaviour in a different context.  One of the reasons I don't have much desire to write a contemporary novel is because the world we live in is so safe relatively, at least in the part I live in, and the day-to-day problems we're faced in are so insignificant in historical terms.  That does not mean I do not think the modern world is not faced with terrifying problems - it is.  Climate change, the way the internet has transformed the world we live in, not always (in fact not really at all) for the better and the surprising way in which the very rich have managed to soak up percentages of wealth not seen in a very long time, along with much of the power that goes with it.  But they're difficult issues to address in fictional form.  The fact us the stakes are just that much higher in historical fiction, by the nature of the periods we write in - and the moral choices our characters face are a great deal more charged.  We live in cosseted times in comparison but I think readers want to explore the issues we raise and why historical fiction is becoming more popular.  I mean, you have just been shortlisted for The Author's Club Best First Novel Award, which has to be a good sign - and obviously, the wonderful Hilary Mantel is going from strength to strength.

That point about contemporary novels though still intrigues me.  I know you used to be a journalist and I think that is a medium that deal with the contemporary very effectively, but perhaps in a circular way.  Do you think your move to writing fiction set in the past might have been a reaction to that?

LS: I do not think journalism deals with the 'present' at all well, actually - particularly current journalism.  That 'first draft of history' idea always seems to me to be misplaced.  Modern journalism is either incredibly partisan - be it in the Daily Mail or the Guardian - or constipatingly 'balanced', as with the BBC.  In addition, balance brings its own distortions - witness the current success of UKIP, which is at least partly down to the BBC's desire to be even-handed and give Nigel Farage a platform.  It's all a bit odd.

I really understand your point about the present day being 'safe' - I think it's a really useful thing to discuss.  Of course, it's not particularly safe in lots of places (is modern Russia safer than Stalinist Russia?  Discuss!)  - but certainly in the West it is increasingly non-violent and prosperous, financial crashes notwithstanding.  Therefore, there has been a trend in fiction to the internal - to dramatisation of feelings, relationships, emotions, even insanity.  There has also been a trend to fictionalise a more violent world.  Add up all the deaths in a year's worth of crime novels, and the streets would be empty.  Moreover, you are right, the past does bring its own landscape of violence, threat, terror - the stuff of narrative fiction.  And, of course, there's a healthy and growing market for fantasy fiction - for an escape away from this dully safe world into one containing dragons.

However, I do still feel a kind of obligation to at least think about addressing the present day, at some point and in some way.  I feel like I have escaped into the past, a bit, and it is fine and I am having a lovely time there.  But shouldn't we also seek to create fiction about the present day?  Does it always have to be symbolic, refracted through the lens of the past?  I do not know.  I'm still working on that one, a bit.  A live example, for you: Putin seems to be in the business of resurrecting Stalin's reputation, somewhat.  As someone who writes about life under Stalin, doesn't that tempt you into the Now?

WR: I do not think Stalin's resurrection is at all surprising - to be honest.  He is so tied up with The Great Patriotic War, as World War 2 is known in Russia, that memories of him are always going to be complex.  Yes - he was a heartless leader - but he was also the leader who led them to victory over a genocidal invader.  It's also true that the Soviet Union was a superpower under Stalin and that it's arguably been in decline ever since - and as we know from our conversation, people can often look back at their history and see what they want to see.  If Putin were to rehabilitate Stalin, he would be pushing at an open door with a surprisingly large proportion of Russian people.

That having been said, this conversation has made me think again about writing in the present day - there are some issues that fiction is very well placed to address.  All I need to do now is to come up with a story...

So, one last question - what's next?

LS: What's next?  Well, there is another Charles Horton story in the works, this time dealing with madness, witches and transportation.  It is a bit different to the first two in ways, which I hope are interesting.  What I have discovered while researching the history of madhouses is how, once again, the Regency period is in this strange interim between two worlds.  There was a growing awareness of the Mind as an organ, which could become injured or ill, but there was scant idea of how to treat it.  Mesmerism came along at the end of the 18th century and, from this distance, looks perversely like magic, but was in fact a precursor to two things we now take for granted: the relationship between psychiatrist and patient; and the reality of hypnotism.

After that, there is a contemporary story I'm working on which may or may not come to anything, but I do want to try and write something that isn't historical.  I am enjoying it.  When you have been living in the past, the present can seem suddenly strange and interesting.  I am pretty sure there'll be more Horton stories, if people remain interested in them.  There is at least one more I want to tell, linking in to the 200th anniversary of Waterloo in 2015.

And you?  Will Korolev go on and on?  Or are there other bodies in the transept?

WR: Madness, witches and transportation (whether by mind or sea) sounds like a great basis for a book to me.  In fact, in an ideal world, I would like you to have it ready by Friday evening please (I am in need of a cracking read for the weekend).  As for me, there is another Korolev novel coming to a bookshop near you fairly soon - and after that another, stand-alone novel, also historical but not really a crime novel.  I'm slowly spreading my wings - perhaps.

Anyway, it has been great talking to you - and best of luck with The Authors Club First Novel Award...

More information about Lloyd Shepherd can be found at and for William Ryan can be found at

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Murder in the Gutter and the History of Lies

The first in Robert Wilton's Comptrollerate-General series won the Historical Writers' Association/Goldsboro Crown for best historical fiction debut.  The latest, Traitor's Field, has already been described as surpassing it, setting 'a new benchmark for the literary historical thriller with a panache unmatched in modern writing', and 'exhilarating, passionate, inspiring and literate'.  

The assassination of Colonel Thomas Rainsborough is a mystery centuries old.  The documents that form the basis of Traitor's Field strongly suggest the solution, but we still cannot be sure.

We are not used to real murder mysteries in history.  In history, death is commonplace and sordid, and the murders that we know about tend to be little village tragedies or grand public affairs of politics.  It is rare to look at the accumulated historical record of a death and still have to say 'we don't know'.

Colonel Thomas Rainsborough was one of the highest-profile and controversial figures to come out of the British Civil Wars.  He sailed to the Americas, and won fame for his military exploits during the war.  However, when he was sent back to the Navy as a Vice-Admiral, there was a mutiny.  For he was best known as a leading figure among the Levellers, who were pushing for the kind of political liberties that we take for granted today but which seemed inconceivable to many at the time.  He represented one of the great fears of the age, and its great aspiration.  Thousands marched in his funeral, wearing rosemary sprigs to commemorate his memory and mark their Leveller loyalty.

The details of his murder seem well established.  One of the commanders of the siege of Pontefract, among the last of the Royalist strongholds holding out in 1648, he was quartered in nearby Doncaster.  At daybreak on 30 October, a raiding party of Royalists cut their way into Doncaster and dragged Rainsborough and his adjutant from their beds; the two men were killed in the street.  Sources like the old History of Pontefract, available online, give a clear narrative of the event: those involved, the scuffle in the gutter.

However, the questions, and the mystery, have lingered.  From the beginning, some wondered about complicity within the Parliamentarian ranks.  The growing divisions in that cause made this plausible, and made the controversy worse.  Britain was in chaos; the country was splitting on a series of issues, and the continuation of any kind of government was in doubt.  Many different interests were served by the death of this man.

Now the secret archive of the Comptrollerate-General for Scrutiny and Survey throws new light on the assassination, and offers a possible solution.  Traitor's Field is the latest in a series of dramatizations of the documents in the archive, using its extraordinary records as the skeleton for a narrative of what was really going on in the shadows, behind the history that we think we know.

Colonel Rainsborough's death is a critical part of Traitor's Field; the explanation of his death
at the end of the book explains a great deal more about the ebb and flow of fortune between Royalist and Parliamentarian at the climax of the war.  More widely, the book describes the extraordinary battle of espionage that changed the fate of the nation.  At heart, it's a contest between two men: an old, ruthless Royalist prepared to do anything to protect his cause, and a young official rising in Cromwell's service and beginning to understand the true scope of secret intelligence threatening his new world.  Sir Mortimer Shay and John Thurloe were the men behind the scenes; the pullers of strings, the masters of codes, the whisperers in ears, the figures in the shadows.

Their contest is what drives Traitor's Field.  It's fought on the battlefield, in the noise and stench and horror of hand-to-hand combat; it's fought in secret rendezvous between men who cannot be sure of each other's loyalty or even identity; it's fought in a series of remarkable documents - propaganda, forgery, code, and lie.  It is the story of the contest for the future of Britain, the soul, and it is full of violence, intrigue, passion and peculiarity.

During the process of finalizing the first book in the Comptrollerate-General series (The Emperor's Gold, newly out in paperback as Treason's Tide), Angus the extremely patient Editor e-mailed saying that while he thought the final scene - a confrontation on a beach, the timbers of a wreck clutching out of the sand, layers of deception being exposed and an epic of revenge reaching its climax - had great atmosphere and power, he thought it needed further cutting because it 'resembled an Agatha Christie-style denouement'. I had to reply that I like Agatha Christie-style denouements.  I think there is something fundamentally human about wanting to find out the truth.  I think we like to be puzzled and then have the puzzle explained.  In a world of uncertainty filled with unpredictable people, sometimes it helps to believe in the power of human logic to overcome chaos - to believe that if you review the motives and consider the cigarette butts and the blood-stains and the depth the parsley melted into the butter you can put two and two together and prove that the butler did it.

Traitor's Field is a mystery, as well as a dramatic narrative of espionage and an insight on a world in flames, when all of the old certainties of politics and religion were smashed, and when two remarkable men took advantage of the chaotic battle for truth to deal in lies.  Moreover, like the rest of the Comptrollerate-General books, it allows us to answer some of history's more curious puzzles.  As much as we can ever be sure… 

There is more at, and you can participate in the seedy shadows where history and espionage meet on Twitter @ComptrollerGen.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Month-Long Crime Wave Predicted To Hit UK in June - National Crime Writing Month is Back!

The Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Director, Lucy Santos, explains why it would be criminal to miss the UK’s fourth annual celebration of crime writing old and new.

‘ From Bristol CrimeFest at the end of May to the annual CWA Dagger Awards Dinner and the presentation of the Diamond Dagger to LEE CHILD, we will be working in partnership with many organisations, volunteers and our own Crime Readers’ Association to bring a wide range of killer events to crime fiction fans.

‘From Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight (plus Le Havre’s 11th Ancres Noir Festival) libraries, bookstores and literary venues will be putting on talks, signings, displays and events exploring the latest and best crime-writing, as well as giving readers the chance to discover (or rediscover) many classic writers.’

You can find details of all the events around the country on the CWA microsite:

‘There is a wonderful range of over one hundred events,’ Lucy says.  ‘For instance, Killers, Glenn Chandler’s new play about Britain’s worst serial killers is on in Brighton.  Ann ‘Vera’ Cleeves will be Inside the criminal mind at Cheltenham Science Festival (just one of her many events) and self-styled ‘pathology poet’ Valerie Laws will perhaps be rhyming ‘autopsy’ with who-know-what in Hartlepool!

‘Then there’s retired detective Inspector R C Bridgestock turning Crime Fact into Crime Fiction on the Isle of Wight; a plethora of crime writers at Felixstowe Festival; Kate Charles describing A Year In The Life of A Crimewriter at the Ludlow Fringe Festival; and Pauline Rowson and Peter Lovesey putting the CSI into Basingstoke Festival.

‘Perhaps Southwold Library’s Slaughter in the Scout Hut has the most intriguing title, although Nottingham Library’s Crimewriters And Other Liars might tell it like it is.’

But that isn’t all.  The CWA is proud to announce that the National Crime Writing Month has a major virtual presence thanks to the Crime Readers’ Association.  CWA members and readers will be blogging three times a week and there will be at least six giveaways.   Also, on our Facebook page each week, we’ll be asking for your views on the crime writing genre.

‘2013 is also the CWA 60th anniversary so during National Crime Writing Month we will be launching other events and initiatives to celebrate this Jubilee and look back over the history of the CWA.

‘And, finally, crime writers from around the country will gather for the CWA Dagger Awards dinner to see the presentation of dagger awards including the Debut, Non-Fiction, Dagger in the Library, International, Short Story, Ellis Peters Historical Dagger and the Diamond Dagger, which this year will be awarded to Lee Child. On that occasion we will also be announcing the longlists for the Gold, Steel and John Creasey Daggers.’

The main website – - gives more information about each of these as well as details of past winners.

Any questions please direct to Lucy Santos 07921252951

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Erased but not forgotten

Jeff Peirce at the Rap Sheet features an extensive interview with PI Thriller Writer Thomas Kaufman, an author who started his career behind the camera lens – and we’re sure you’ve seen some of his work. With his recently released eBook collection Erased and Other Stories , it’s time to sample his written work, with the Willis Gidney thrillers Drink the Tea and Steal the Show. Help support Shots by buying these remarkable PI thrillers from the links [above] from our online bookstore [in partnership with Amazon].

Here’s an extract from the interview –

AK: Tell us a little about you series lead, Willis Gidney. Where did he spring from? And why use Washington, D.C., as the stories’ backdrop?

TK: Let’s answer your question with a question: Are you troubled by unsightly back story? Do you wish those troubling details could all be erased?

That’s what I thought when I was creating Willis Gidney. Why bother with back story? Just invent a guy who doesn’t have one. So Willis Gidney is a product of an author’s laziness. I decided to make his early life forgotten. Since I’d worked on Promises to Keep, I thought it’d be a good idea for Willis to have grown up homeless. Traumatic childhood, memory gone. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. It turned out I had quite a bit of research to do, relating not only to homelessness, but also D.C.’s juvenile justice system. Of course, this was a good thing in the long run, but lots of heavy lifting. Hey, I got into this racket for the easy money and loose women. Still waiting for both, I’m afraid.

AK: I hear that George Pelecanos, another writer who uses the U.S. capital as a backdrop, enjoys your work.

TK: George has said nice things about what I’m doing. He’s one of the best writers in America, in my humble opinion. He’s also a neighbor, and over the years he’s offered solid suggestions and insights about what I’m writing. George’s D.C. is different from mine, but that’s because we’re different people. I love his work, and reading his descriptions of D.C. is like reading great reportage. The only other writer I've read who is as insightful about D.C. is Edward P. Jones (check out his Lost in the City).

AK: Recently, Scottish author Ian Rankin, when he was being interviewed by the BBC about the return of protagonist John Rebus [in Standing in Another Man’s Grave], said that he might not get on with Rebus if he actually met the man. Might that same thing be true if you encountered Willis Gidney in a bar?

TK: Willis has got some issues, but it would be hard not to like the guy. I often think of him as a nephew who doesn’t take advice terribly well. But I think we’d get along. We’re a lot alike. In fact, if I were taller, younger, better looking, and had faster reflexes, we could be twins.

Read the complete interview from The Rap Sheet here 

Photo (c) 2012 A Karim "Tom Kaufman at the PWA Shamus Awards held during Bouchercon Cleveland"

Criminal Splatterings!

 According to The Bookseller, publishers Century have acquired two thrillers by US author Neely Tucker.  The first set in Washington DC in the 1990s is based on the Princeton Place murders in DC in 1998.  The book is entitled The Ways of the Dead.  More information can be found here.

Congratulations go to Cathi Unsworth whose novel Weirdo has had the film rights snapped up.  More information can be found here.  Weirdo was published in July 2012 by Serpent’s Tail

Interesting news!  Swedish husband and wife duo better known as crime writer Lars Keppler have launched a literary agency.  According to The Bookseller, the venture will be headed up by Head of Zeus rights director Elisabeth Brännström.

Debut crime novelist Luke Delaney’s novel Cold Killing has been optioned as the basis of a multi-part TV drama.  More information can be found here.

According to Bitter Lemon Press have acquired the rights to a literary crime novel set in Bangalore.  Cut Like Wound by Anita Nair will be published in May 2014 and will be the first in a series featuring Inspector Gowda.

For those of you missing Dan Stevens, the late, lamented heartthrob of the wildly popular Downton Abbey, he is slumming it these days, portraying a drug trafficker in a new film currently being shot in Brooklyn.  Stevens stars in the film, A Walk Among the Tombstones, with Liam Neeson, who portrays a private investigator Stevens' character hires to uncover who murdered and kidnapped his wife.  The film, which will be released next year and is being written and directed by Scott Frank, is based on a Matt Scudder crime novel by Lawrence Block.  Scott Frank is well versed in the crime genre having writing credit for Get Shorty, Out Of Sight and an episode of Karen Sisco.

Interesting article on the BBC website where writer and philosopher John Gray talks about Tom Ripley and the meaning of evil.  This was discussed on BBC Radio 4’s A Point of view.  The podcast can be heard here for a limited amount of time.

The BBC is to have a new season of drama and documentaries exploring the Cold War.  Staring off the season will be the film Legacy, which is based on the novel by Alan Judd and is set during the height of the Cold War in 1970s London.  More information can be found here.

Bill Nighy is set to reprise his roll as MI5 spy John Worricker in the second and third parts of the Worricker trilogy.  Unfortunately, the BBC have not yet said when it will be shown on BBC2.  However, more information can be found hereTurks & Caicos and Salting The Battlefield follow Page Eight, which was shown back in August 2011.

As a result of winning the Best Single Drama at the recent BAFTA awards for the drama, Murder the BBC have commissioned a series based on it.  More information can be read here.

In more drama news from the BBC, it has been announced that BBC3 have acquired Orphan Black a suspenseful thriller from BBC America.  In Orphan Black, Sarah Manning, an outsider and orphan finds her life changing dramatically after witnessing the suicide of a woman who looks exactly like her.  She assumes her identity, her boyfriend and her bank account.  A second series of Orphan Black has already been announced by BBC America.

ITV have also announced that there is to be a second series of the well received The Bletchley Circle.  Set a year later in 1954 the ladies are reunited for their second case in the first two-part story when former Bletchley Park colleague, Alice Merren is accused of murder.  More information can be read here.

Fans of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple will be pleased to learn that filming has started on Endless Night. Once again, featuring Julia McKenzie playing Miss Marple, Endless Night is the third Agatha Christie Marple adaptation following A Caribbean Mystery and Greenshaw’s Folly to be commissioned by ITV.

Still on a Miss Marple roll, if you have not seen it yet then it is well worth seeing Murder, Marple and Me which got rave reviews whilst having its run at Edinburgh Fringe last year and has now transferred to London and is being shown at Ambassador Theatre for a very limited run. CWA Short Dagger Winner Stella Duffy directs murder, Marple and Me.  My review of the preview can be found hereMurder, Marple and Me will have a run at The Ambassador Theatre from 11 June 2013 until 19 June 2013.  Contact The Ambassador Theatre for tickets.

Brilliant Twitter fiction by Sabine Durrant in the Guardian!

Interesting interview with Mark Billingham can be found in the Independent.  His latest novel is The Dying Hours.  The Independent also have an interview with James Runcie whose second novel in the Grantchester mysteries Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night has just been published.  The series has already been optioned for television by ITV. A recent interview with James Runcie can also been found on the website.

Russ Litten also talks about the day he saw his double in Prague.

According to the Daily Record, Ian Rankin has for the first time revealed the home address of his famous fictional detective John Rebus.  Rankin had previously revealed his most famous character lived in Arden Street in Marchmont, Edinburgh but this time he has gone further and actually named identified the flat number.

Over in The Daily Mail, Ian Rankin has named his top ten greatest literary crime novels.  The full list can be found here and includes such names as Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Brighton Rock by Graham Greene and The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.  The Daily Mail also has a list of top ten criminal mastermind crime writers.  The list includes some well-known names such as Patricia Cornwell, Harlan Coben, Ian Rankin and Lee Child.  The rest of the list can be found here.

According to The Scotsman Ian Rankin is joining Mark Thomson, artistic director of Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum, in writing the stage play Dark Road, which will premiere at the theatre during its 2013-14 season.  The play explores the disturbing world of serial killers.  It will be Ian Rankin's first foray into the playwriting.

According to publishers Allen & Unwin, Norwegian bestselling author Anne Holt’s novels are being developing as a series.  BBC1 is due to start with her novel 1222, which sees Detective Hanna Wilhelmsen looking into the mysterious deaths of survivors from a train crash, which took place high in the Norwegian mountains.  In more Anne Holt news, Yellow Bird production company have bought the film rights to Anne Holt’s three crime novels What is mine, What never happens and Madam President. The books are centred on inspector Yngvar Stubø and Inger Johanne Vik – a psychologist and lawyer with a previous career in the FBI.  They cooperate to solve different kind of crimes, such as kidnappings, murders and terrorist conspiracies.  Yellow Bird is best known for such films as the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the original Wallander series and Jo Nesbø’s Headhunters.

Yellow Bird are also according to producing a 10 part original series based on an idea by bestselling Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbø.  The political thriller will be entitled Occupied and is described as a political thriller set in a not so distant future where Russia has staged a "silk-glove" invasion of Norway to officially secure the oil import for the rest of the world. also reports that Stephen King's next thriller, Joyland, due to be published next month by Hard Case Crime, has been optioned for film, with Tate Taylor adapting the book and directing.  The project deals with a murder in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973.

And, if you are not already fed up with all things Dan Brown and his latest novel Inferno, here is a quick set of links to various things a lá Dan Brown or Inferno.  Jake Kerridge review of Inferno for the Telegraph can be found here.  One of course cannot ignore the article by Michael Deacon imploring us not to make fun of Dan Brown.  James Legge reports that with the publication of Inferno Dan Brown’s publishers aim to have the biggest sales since the Harry Potter series.  Boyd Tonkin’s review of Inferno in the Independent can be found here.  A nice round up of a number of reviews can also be found here.  John Crace in the Guardian has reduced Inferno to an easily digestible 600 words!  And if you still haven’t got anything else to do and would like to test your knowledge of Dan Brown, you might want to take the quiz on all things Dan Brown!

John Dugdale has an interesting article in the Guardian where he writes about the fact that bestselling writers know that image counts when it comes to wanting to have a memorable character.  Rachel Cooke in the Guardian reviews the Murder Mile by Paul Collicutt, an illustrated detective novel where a murder takes place as the race to break the four-minute mile is happening.

According to the Guardian, Channel 4 have announced an eight part series which is set in a "crumbling Victorian cop shop on the wrong side of Manchester.  Entitled No Offence it promises to be a police procedural with a difference.

Fans of 24 will no doubt welcome the return of the series.  Fox Entertainment have announced the return of the thriller featuring Keifer Sutherland as Jack Bauer.  However, it will be as a different format.  Renamed 24: Live Another Day it will return in a new 12 part series.  More information can be found here.

According to Cinemablend, the producers of James Bond have approached James Nolan to direct the next Bond film.  It is not however, a forgone conclusion that he will accept.

According to the Hollywood Reporter LA based British filmmaker Trevor Miller is set to direct Mark Boone Jnr of Sons of Anarchy in a contemporary film noir, which is set around the story of a surveillance contractor who drifts through Los Angeles at night photographing "cheating couples" and their illicit sexual acts.  He finds himself involved in intrigue, murder and deception when he sees the husband of the woman that he has fallen in love with burying the body of a woman in the desert.

USA network have also announced a number of drama projects as well.  These include The Arrangement, which is based on a short story by Elmore Leonard. 

In Bank after an unconventional act of heroism, a young FBI agent decides to the surprise of many to work in the bank crimes division in Los Angeles.  It takes a special kind of person to confront such an unrelenting tide of crime, leaving her peers suspicious of her intent.

Shadow Counsel is a legal thriller centered on Ethan, a former Army JAG attorney who is now working as a criminal lawyer in NY and is recruited by the FBI to crack an on-going investigation.  Ethan serves as a shadow counsel that is a secret lawyer who operates behind the scenes and completely off the record to circumvent existing roadblocks (hired attorneys, interrogators, etc.) in classified cases.  He finds himself in trouble and on the run with no one to trust.

According to  Paris-based Backup Media has teamed up with Memento Films International to finance Cold in July an adaptation of the Joe Lansdale cult novel.  Cold in July tells the story of Richard Dane, who wakes up during a home invasion and kills his intruder in self-defence.  As if that was not bad enough, the intruder’s father is a badass ex-con with plans to avenge his son’s death in the Old Testament way, by killing Dane’s own son.

According to The Hollywood Reporter Simon Beaufoy is set to adapt Len Deighton’s spy novels for television.  He is developing an 18-part series based on Deighton’s classic Cold War novels featuring spy Bernard Samson.

And in more news about book adaptations, according to TV, TNT have ordered 10 episodes of the drama Legends, which is based on the novel by Robert Littell of the same name, is about an undercover agent named Martin Odum who works for the FBI's Deep Cover Operations division.  Martin can transform himself into a completely different person for each job, but starts to question his own identity when a stranger suggests that he is not the man he believes himself to be.  It will feature Sean Bean who can currently be seen in Games of Thrones.  The series will be shown in 2014.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Blair Underwood is set to star as Raymond Burr in the remake of Ironside.  It has been picked up by NBC.  The remake of the 1960s series stars Blair Underwood as a tough, sexy but acerbic police detective relegated to a wheelchair after a shooting who, hardly limited by his disability, he pushes and prods his handpicked team to solve the most difficult cases in the city.