My Adventures at Crime Fest 2017

In May, I went to Crime Fest with a lot of other fellow bloggers, crime authors, aspiring writers and avid readers. This was my second time attending Crime Fest and it didn’t disappoint. I spent a fabulous four whole days in Bristol and even went down a little earlier on the Wednesday evening and goes what? I found myself walking into Waterstones and purchasing a new book before the main event.

Over the weekend I didn’t sleep very much as I was too busy talking to lots of new and old friends at the bar as well as attending quite a few of the panels and live tweeted along with my fellow bloggers Joy Kluver, Victoria Goldman, Jen Lucas and Sharon Wilden.

So I’m going to give you all a snapshot of what went on over the four days I was there.

Day One:

I attended the Forensic Crime Scene Excursion which I had been looking forward to for weeks. This was held at The University of the West of England in a special crime scene house which is used to train Forensic science students and police officers.

When we arrived the scene was set – all we had to do was solve the murder which had been committed upstairs.

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This is not a real person – although it did look very lifelike!

A Forensic technician was on hand to answer any questions we had and helped us to work how the murder was committed – I learnt a lot about blood splatter and how different substances are tested at a crime scene which was just brilliant.

After spending a lot of time in the two ‘crime rooms’ upstairs we then spent some time in the ‘lab’ and was shown how to test for blood, saliva and finger marks among other things.

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After the crime scene we travelled back to the hotel in time for the first panels of the day to kick off, I attended the first Debut Panel

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Debut Panel with Mary Torjussen, Steph Broadribb, David Coubrough, Lucy V Hay and Karen Robinson

As well as a session on Keeping Secrets and Telling Lies with Andrea Carter, Rod Reynolds, Lucy Dawson and Julia Crouch.

 

I spent the remainder of the evening catching up with people in the bar and crashed out at about midnight.

Day Two:

This was a day filled with so many great panels, I managed five in total which were all brilliant!

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The appeal of Serial Killers Panel with Helen Fields, James Carol, Paul Finch, Leigh Russell and Mark Roberts

This panel discussed how obsessed and fascinated as readers we have become with serial killers as we are fascinated with the darker side of ourselves. Of course I had to buy some of these books!

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Partners in Crime Panel with Sarah Ward, Luca Veste, Sarah Hilary, Ann Randall and Stav Sherez

I really enjoyed this panel and learnt a lot about series characters and the modern police duo.

I then went to a spotlight session with Sam Carrington who discussed how working in a prison with a mixture of different offenders inspired her writing.

After lunch I went to panel which debating whether we need happy endings in crime fiction.

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Happy endings do we need them? With Caro Ramsey, Kati Hiekkapelto, Kjell Ola Dahl, Steve Mosby and Kevin Wignall.

 

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Parenting 101: Protagonists with commitments with Quentin Bates, Steph Broadribb, J.M Gulvin, Mary-Jane Riley and Sanjida Kay

At the CWA awards ceremony I was super pleased as two of my fellow colleagues, from the City University course I’m studying, was long listed for the CWA Debut Daggers competition so it was celebrations all round!

Day Three:

This was a tough day for me and a few of my fellow bloggers – exhaustion was starting to set in and I only managed three panels this day as well as a nap. I think all the late nights was catching up with me.

 

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The modern police procedural with Elizabeth Haynes, Fergus McNeill, Alison Bruce, Valentina Giambanco and Sharon Bolton

My first panel of this day was hilarious, the moderator Alison Bruce asked ‘ice-breaker’ questions to the rest of the panel like have you ever committed a crime? Or if they’ve ever been in any fights.

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Good vs Bad in Crime Fiction with Kevin Wignall, Torkil Damhaug, M.R.Hall, Martin Edwards and Chris Ewan.

There were laughs a plenty at this panel, if you’ve ever heard Kevin Wignall moderate a panel you know he will ask random children questions to the other panel members along the way. I think my favourite was ‘if you could only time travel once would you go backwards or forwards?’ Food for thought…

I then listened to Barry Forshaw interview Anthony Horowitz which was just fascinating!

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I then went for some birthday celebrations for Fran Dorricott with my lovely friends before chatting in the bar until the early evening and trying out some of Vicki Goldman’s Toffee Vodka.

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I was even part of the bar selfie in the evening although I have no idea why I’m leaning?!

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Day Four:

I went home quite early but still managed to squeeze in a great panel in the morning before setting off home for London laden with lots of new books!!

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London as Location with Jane Casey, Tara Moore, Christopher Fowler, Alison Joseph and Shelia Bugler

 

I loved Crime Fest and next year they celebrate their 10th Anniversary – I will definitely be heading back for this.

And my Crime Fest blog post wouldn’t be complete without adding in this hilarious picture of Rod Reynolds trying to make myself, Amanda Jennings and Karen Sullivan look serious!

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Big thanks to everyone I chatted to and hung out with at Crime Fest – you made it one of the best yet! If you ever get a chance to go to Crime Fest I would really recommend it.

 

Deep Down Dead, Rupture Launches and Warming the Blood event

So last week I was super pleased to be invited to a few events to kick off the 2017 -and boy did they not disappoint!

Last Tuesday I headed over to Waterstones Piccadilly for the launch of Steph Broadribb, aka Crime Thriller Girl, debut novel Deep Down Dead, published by Orenda Books.

As part of the launch Steph was interviewed by the wonderful Martyn Waites where conversation soon turned to handcuffs and tasers. There was also cookies, cake, JD and wine on offer which was fab along with book signings making it a fun and enjoyable evening.


The launch was a packed out event with what I can only describe as the crime community coming out in force to support Steph – I am fortunate to have already read this novel which I thought was amazing! I’m very fortunate to also have been quoted as a blogger in there, so if you haven’t already go read it!


So now on to a very busy Wednesday – to kick-off the night I attended Ragnar Jonasson’s pre-lash launch for Rupture at Goldsboro books, published by Orenda Books, where lots of cupcakes were on offer. This was a lovely, intimidate event where we all raised a toast to Ragnar and Karen Sullivan – I can’t wait to finish reading Rupture, it’s magnificent.

If that wasn’t enough, I then hot-footed it to an event – Warming the Blood in January hosted by Crime Files at Headine Towers.


This again was a fabulous event with publicists and authors gathering to showcase the upcoming new titles from Quercus, Headline and Hodder & Stoughton, as well as to talk all things book-related over a glass of wine. I got to speak to lots of lovely people, including some new faces, which I loved. At the end of the event you were offered a goodie bag by the lovely Crime Files team…which some new books and proofs I can’t wait to sink my teeth into!

September First Monday Crime Event

I have been taking a little bit of an unplanned blogging break for the past two weeks but couldn’t resist sharing my experience last week when I attended the September session of the First Monday Crime Event.

The night featured a host of brilliant authors including, Sophie Hannah author of a number of psychological novels and has recently penned two new Hercule Poirot novels, Tim Weaver author of the successful David Raker series, Rod Reynolds author of the superb Texarkana novels featuring Charlie Yates and debut psychological thriller author Jane Corry.

This was yet another superb night filled with criminal discussions, wine, books, fun and ended with drinks in the local pub.

During the session the authors discussed their inspiration behind their novels, Sophie Hannah was approached by her agent and the Agatha Christie estate to write a new Hercule Poirot novel. Sophie has always been a big fan of Agatha Christie’s novels which are usually ‘puzzle based mysteries’ which she has replicated in the Poirot novels.

Tim Weaver created the David Raker series who features a missing persons investigator still coming to terms with the death of his wife and wanted through his series to ‘give a sense of who the missing people are and Raker.’

Rod Reynolds is a big fan of noir novels and has set his new novel Black Night Falling in the 1940s in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which was ‘the mobs vacation.’ He discovered this little gem of a place while researching his first novel The Dark Inside. Black Night Falling sees reporter Charlie Yates thrown head first into trouble struggling to do the right thing before it is too late.

Jane Corry spent a few years as a writer in residence in a male prison. This experience changed her writing voice creating a darker humorous tone. Jane wanted to stretch family boundaries in My Husbands Wife which I think she does a fab job of as well as featuring a male prison and a charismatic prisoner who rocks one of the main protagonists, Lily’s life.

The authors also discussed the pros and cons of using a lot of physical characterisations within crime novels and the dreaded plotting question. Overall, this was yet another fabulous evening showcasing a range of amazing crime writers.

The next First Monday event will be in October and will feature SJ Watson, Antonia Hodgson, Stuart Neville and William Ryan. Tickets can be purchased here.

Don’t forget to follow at @1stMondayCrime for updates on all their upcoming events.

Don’t forget to follow all of the authors on Twitter as well:


Now for the featured novels:

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah is the second in the new Hercule Poirot mysteries which sees the return of Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool who has been invited to a house party by Lady Athelinda Playford at her mansion in County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will – one she intends to announce at dinner that night  She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live. But after Lady Playford’s announcement a killer strikes…

Broken Heart by Tim Weaver is about a woman who drives to a secluded beauty spot on the Somerset coast. CCTV watches her enter but doesn’t see her leaving. In fact, Lynda Korin is never seen again. How can someone just disappear? Her sister calls missing persons investigator David Raker. For him, the mystery of where she went is only the start. The real question is why a woman with no reason to run would choose to leave her entire life behind? Was it her decision? Or did someone make it for her? Raker is an expert at following the echoes of decades-old lies. But only Lynda Korin knows the most shocking secret of all – and she’s missing, presumed dead…

Black Night Falling by Rod Reynolds is set a few months after The Dark Inside (Reynold’s debut novel) where reporter Charlie Yates, having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.

My Husbands Wife by Jane Corry asks the question what if your life was built on a lie? When lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind. But when she takes on her first criminal case, she starts to find herself strangely drawn to her client. A man who’s accused of murder. A man she will soon be willing to risk everything for. But is he really innocent? And who is she to judge?

July First Monday Crime Round-Up

So this week I had the pleasure of both assisting and attending the July First Monday Crime event which was sponsored by Killer Reads.

The panel consisted of debut authors Anna Mazzola and Beth Lewis, successful crime novelists Andrew Taylor who is the author of a number of crime and historical novels and Stephen Booth who is the author of the Cooper and Fry series. Keeping the panel in check as panel chair was Claire McGowan author of the Paula Maguire series who also runs the MA in crime thriller novels at City University – the very same course I’m currently studying on.

This was a fantastic, lively evening where the authors each discussed where they found the idea for their stories, the importance of setting, research, writing strong female characters who are morally ambivalent and top tips for aspiring writers, much like myself.

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The evening finished with a fab goodie bag, the opportunity to buy those all important books which the authors signed and a drink at the pub.

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The ideas behind the books: Beth was inspired by a TV show (she wouldn’t share which show this was), Anna found the story of Sarah Gale mentioned in the Suspicions of Mr Whicher and researched it, Andrew loves imagery and was inspired by the aftermath of the Great Fire of London in 1666 and Stephen was inspired by the beautiful setting of the Peak District ‘which is a good place to find a body.’

 

Top tips from the writers:

Stephen Booth: ‘There’s no such thing as writers block. Just write. Sit down and write because its your job.’

Andrew Taylor: ‘Write one line a day because that line could turn into a sentence, then a paragraph then into a chapter. Writers write.’

Beth Lewis: ‘You need discipline to finish a book. You’ve got to teach yourself to finish that book, don’t move onto the next shiny idea.’

Anna: ‘Think about your book last thing at night before you go to bed.’

 

So now for the fab books:

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The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola is set in London in 1837 and is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother who has been sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown but petitions the king for mercy. Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate but he is struggling with his own demons. Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?

Wolf Road by Beth Lewis is a debut literary thriller. What do you do when the man who gave you everything turns out to be a killer? Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old. So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper  is wanted for murder and Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka. So Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move.

Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor is a historical thriller set during the time of the Great Fire of London. London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer. In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back. Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.

Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth is the 16th novel in the Cooper and Fry series set in the Peak District. A series of suicides from tourists throughout the Peaks throws Detective Inspector Ben Cooper and his team in Derbyshire’s E Division into a race against time to find a connection to these seemingly random acts – with no way of predicting where the next body will turn up. Meanwhile, in Nottingham Detective Sergeant Diane Fry finds a key witness has vanished…But what are the mysterious Secrets of Death? And is there one victim whose fate wasn’t suicide at all?

 

The next First Monday event will be coming up in September after a break over the summer so don’t forget to follow at @1stMondayCrime for updates on all their upcoming events.

Don’t forget to follow all of the authors on Twitter as well:

June First Monday Crime

So the beginning of this week was the return of the First Monday Crime evening event which pulled out all the stops with a panel made up of crime writers Mark Hardie, debut author, Sharon Bolton, Chris Morgan Jones, Peter James and chaired by James Kidd.

This was another fantastic, lively evening full of fascinating stories about snakes, creepy-crawlies, bears, sheepdogs, serial killers and burnt bodies – and that was just the tip of the iceberg!

During the panel event the authors discussed each of their books in turn, the themes in their novels, the difficulties of writing, research, characters, the dreaded plotting conundrum, what scares them, the pressures of writing a novel better than their previous one and top tips for aspiring writers like myself!

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So now for the books:

Mark Hardie,@Markhardiecrime, is the debut author of the gritty crime novel Burned and Broken which features DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team who are called in to investigate their colleague, the subject of an internal investigation, who is found burned to death in his car. Mark lost his sight 14 years ago but doesn’t let this get in the way of his passion for writing and is currently writing his second novel.

Sharon Bolton,@AuthorSJBolton, is the author of the Lacy Flint series and has written five standalone novels including her recently published novel Daisy in Chains. This novel features Hamish Wolfe who is a serial killer serving time in prison with his own fan club but he has set sights on Maggie Rose, a successful lawyer and true-crime writer who believes she’s immune to the charms of a man like this – but maybe not this time . . .

Chris Morgan Jones, @ChrisMJAuthor, is the author of the Ben Webster spy series. His new novel The Searcher features Isaac Hammer, Webster’s boss, who is under arrest for tapping phones, hacking emails and bribing police.But this isn’t Hammer’s work – this was Ben Webster who has gone missing and last seen in Tbilisi. Hammer has no choice but to break bail to bring back the wanted man but someone is ready to kill him and everyone dear to him to stop him stumbling towards the truth . . .

Peter James,@peterjamesuk, is the author of the Roy Grace detective series set in Brighton. His newest novel, Love You Dead is the twelfth book in the series which sees DS Roy Grace feeling the pressure over his previous case and struggling over the developments in the case of his missing wife. But Grace must face his toughest case yet because a Black Widow is operating in his city. One with a venomous mind . . . and venomous skills.

I’m going to finish this post with a quote from Sharon Bolton from the evening; ‘We are only as good as our last book.’ I’m confident that none of these authors have anything to worry about – fit there blurbs are anything to go by they’ll be as fab as ever!

Books June

Don’t forget to follow all the authors on Twitter to discover more about their novels and make sure to follow First Monday at @1stMondayCrime for updates on their upcoming events.

The next First Monday Crime is in July and will feature authors; Andrew Taylor, Stephen Booth, Anna Mazzola, Beth Lewis and chaired by the fab Claire McGowan which I’m really looking forward to!

 

Highlights: Greenwich Book Festival

On the bank holiday weekend I headed down to Greenwich and attended a few panels which was part of the fantastic Greenwich Book Festival.

The festival is now in its second year which takes place in the historic buildings and grounds of the Old Royal Naval College and is a two-day event which features a host of local authors, an array of children events and has a creative strand for emerging writers.

I was fortunate enough to attend a panel on Inside Stories with YA author Melinda Salisbury, Little Brown editor Karen Ball, Journalist Anna James, Literary agent Lucy Luck and chaired by festival co-founder and Hodder & Stoughton creative director Auriol Bishop.

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This was an engaging panel which featured each panelist’s insights into publishing, their individual backgrounds, how they got into their chosen careers, top tips for aspiring authors and even gave the audience the chance to ask their own questions about the publishing industry.

On the Saturday I attended a panel on How to Get your Book Published. This was a fab whistle-stop discussion with Fanny Blake ex-publisher and author of six novels including House of Dreams and Lucy Atkins author of The Missing One and The Other Child. The panel focused on what an agent is, how to find and submit to one, the role of the editor and some top tips for aspiring writers.

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One of the top panels of the day was Inside Grip-Lit with crime/thriller authors; Gillian Slovo, author of Ten Days, Sam Baker, author of The Woman Who Ran, Fiona Barton, author of The Widow and chaired by Lucy Atkins.

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This was a jam-packed novel where the authors discussed each of their novels, their characters, the themes in their books, the publishing industry, ‘planning versus plundering,’ gender versus power and book covers.

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This was my second year of attending the festival which was ever bit as great as last year. This is a unique festival which caters to fellow book lovers of all ages, including the little ones, with a friendly atmosphere and a diverse range of events to go to. I would definitely recommend going if you get the chance next year!

 

 

Orenda Book Publishers Event

On Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the Orenda Book Publishers Salon Event at Waterstones Piccadilly.

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Orenda Book Publishers are an independent book publishing company, the brainchild of Karen Sullivan, who publish literary fiction but with a heavy emphasis on the crime and thriller genre.

This was a fabulously informal event which featured 12 amazing authors, published by Orenda, discussing each of their books in turn. Each author spoke a little bit about what their novels are about, the themes in their novel, their characters and how they became a published author.

The event also featured wine, cupcakes with pictures of the novels on, book signings and time at the end to talk to the authors.

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So for the featured authors and novels:

David Ross is a scottish author and has penned two novels; The Last Days of Disco and The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespers. Both of these novels are set in the 1980s; The Last Days of Disco features to young boys setting up a mobile disco and his second novel follows on from his first and is written in vernicular. – @dfr10.

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trolliop from South Africa and has penned two novels; A Death in the Family and Deadly Harvest with a third due out soon. Deadly Harvest is set against the beautiful but harsh landscape of Botswana. –@detectivekubu.

Kati Hiekkapelto is an author from Finland and has written the Hummingbird and the Defenceless. The Defenceless is the second in a police series which features drugs, gangs and a protagonist originally from Yugoslavia who now lives in Finland but still feels like an outsider. – @HiekkapeltoKati.

Matt Johnson is the author of Wicked Game. Wicked Game is the story of Robert Finlay, an ex-army soldier now turned police officer who faces a race against an unknown enemy who is murdering police officers – will Robert be next? Check out my review of Wicked Game here. – @Matt_Johnson_UK.

Amanda Jennings is the author of the beautiful psychological thriller In Her Wake. Amanda is half cornish which one one of the many reasons she sets her novel in Cornwall. This is her third published book. Check out my review of in her wake here. – @MandaJJennings.

Yusuf Toropov is the author of thriller Jihadi: A Love Story. Which contains two competing voices set in a world of terrorism but shows love amongst the wreckage. It features an intelligence officer who is wrongly accused of terrorism and is sucked into the prison system. – @LiteraryStriver.

Louise Beech author of How to Be Brave contains two very personal stories to her which she wove into fiction. She said ‘there are a number of braveries in this book,’ which in turn inspired the title. “If you know how to be happy, if you know how to be sad then you know how to be brave.” – @LouiseWriter.

Paul E Hardisty author of The Abrupt Physics of Dying and The Evolution of Fear. They both feature Paul’s fab protagonist Clay Straker and spoke about how he writes about Clay’s fears and how they control him against a backdrop of evil and terrorism. –@Hardisty_Paul.

Michael Grothaus is the debut author of Epiphany Jones, a story with a strong emotional core which is features the protagonist Jerry. Jerry suffers from psychotic delusions and becomes entangled in the world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite. –@michaelgrothaus.

Michael J Malone is the author of A Suitable Lie, a new psychological thriller which features Andy Boyd whose first wife dies in chidbirth. Then he finds love again with Anna, marries er and then things go horribly wrong. This novel is out in September 2016 but is available to preorder.- @michaelJmalone1.

Steph Broadribb, also known as Crime Thriller Girl, is the debut author of Deep Down Dead – an action thriller set in America which features Lori, a single mother and bounty hunter who has three days to find and capture JT. But Lori and JT have a past. Deep Down Dead is out in January 2017. – @crimethrillgirl.

Su Bristow, is the author of Sealskin, which is a new twist on the selkie story; the scottish legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. This is out next year in 2017. –@SuBristow.

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