Thursday, 27 July 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Lucy V Hay

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 





Today I'm delighted to welcome 

LUCY V HAY

for her The Other Twin blog tour

to share her BEST OF CRIME ...



... AUTHORS
I can have only one?? Blimey. I love most crime fiction, but I’m especially into psychological thriller. So I think my favourite author has to be ... Arrrrgh! You fiend. Don’t make me choooose! I refuse. *Harumph*. Let’s just say I love them all!


... FILMS/MOVIES
I love thriller, plus I work as a script editor for movies too, so it’s a no-brainer. I love crime, gangster, apocalypse/dystopian, supernatural – ALL OF THEM! Okay I’m being quite dull, aren’t I so let’s say Alien is my favourite. It’s a classic!


... TV DRAMAS
I loved Prisoner Cell Block H as a kid – it was a real thrill to watch a TV show with women dominating the screen. Now it’s remade as Wentworth Prison and it’s just as gritty, flamboyant and hard-hitting as ever. I can’t believe it doesn’t have a bigger following in the UK, it’s amazing! Watch it on Channel 5’s 5Star channel – the fifth series has just begun.


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
Hannibal the Cannibal is a classic, but I think the one that comes to mind now that knocks him off his top spot is Adam from Barbara Copperthwaite’s Flowers For The Dead. I couldn’t believe I empathised with this guy! I also adored the formidable and terrifying Caleb Switch in Arlene Hunt’s Last One To Die. The sting in the tale for that one was just delicious. As far as female killers go, I don’t think we have enough of them, but Amy Dunne from Gone Girl is just fantastic. She will stop at NOTHING to get what she wants!


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
Gotta be DS Joanne Aspinall from Paula Daly’s crime series set in Lake Windemere (Just What Kind Of Mother Are You?; Keep Your Friends Close; The Mistake I Made; The Trophy Child). I love how ‘ordinary’ she is; a real ‘everywoman’ with problems and flaws like any one of us. She’s clever, insightful and has a sharp eye; plus she’s not EXTRAORDINARY like so many female leads are forced to be. Also, her issues with romance and her overly large bust don’t define her. She is what she is and that’s so RARE in a female character. 


... MURDER WEAPONS
Anyone who can kill someone with an icicle like Jack Frost in Marnie Riches’ The Girl Who Walked In The Shadows gets a big THUMBS UP from me! A murder weapon that handily disappears?? Bonus.
    

... DEATH SCENES
As someone who grew up in the 80s, this has to be Bugs Bunny’s ‘death’ at the hands of Elmer Fudd in the MARCH OF THE VALKYRIES Looney Tunes’ adaptation of Wagner’s classic opera. No idea what I’m on about? It’s ‘KILL THE RABBIT! KILL THE RABBIT!’ of course. Poor little bunny, indeed.

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
I run my own writing website, Bang2write, so this means I have to ‘keep up’ with other writing blogs and sites, especially ones that are screenwriting-based. Screenwriting theory has been very useful to me as a crime author, so my favourite is probably Screencraft. But there’s stacks more: The Script Lab, Write So Fluid, Go Into The Story to name but a few.


... WRITING TIPS
People often posit whether character or structure are more important – I say they’re inextricably linked. You can’t have one without the other, regardless of medium, because we want stories about ‘characters who DO STUFF [for various reasons]’.  


... WRITING SNACKS
Chocolate. Which types of chocolate depends though … I go through phases. At the moment, I am eating my body weight in Toblerone. I am still outraged by the smaller size of the triangles thou



About LUCY V HAY

Lucy V Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2015). Her debut crime novel, THE OTHER TWIN, is due out with Orenda Books in 2017. 

Find Lucy V Hay on her website, FB page and on Twitter - @LucyVHayAuthor


About THE OTHER TWIN


Publisher's description
When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India's death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India's laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well- heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth ...

The Other Twin was published by Orenda Books on 3 July 2017.


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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

BEST OF CRIME with SD Sykes

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 





Today I'm delighted to welcome 

SD SYKES

to share her BEST OF CRIME ...




... AUTHORS
It’s so difficult to pick one author, but I’m going to say CJ Sansom, as his Shardlake series introduced me to the pleasures of historical crime fiction, and the interplay between real historical figures such as Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII and Sansom’s fascinating range of fictional characters.


... FILMS/MOVIES
A film that has stuck in mind, since I first saw it back in 1985 is Jagged Edge. What I loved about this film was the final turn – I really hadn’t seen it coming and I’ve never forgotten that feeling of complete shock and yet simultaneous understanding, as the plot fell horribly into place. I saw the film again recently, and to be honest, it hasn’t worn that well. My twenty-something son guessed the ending very early in the film, so perhaps audiences are more attuned to final twists now? But I remember, in my 1980s innocence, loving this film very much.


... TV DRAMAS
I finally caught up with The Bridge recently (the Swedish version). The first series is probably the best crime drama I have ever watched on TV. A plot line that brims with suspense and complex characterization, and a series climax that really delivers. This is epic writing. It’s original. It’s shocking and moving, and yes, at times it’s very funny.


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
This has to be Tom Ripley from The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Ripley is systematic, cold-blooded and without a conscience. He uses murder as a way of solving his problems, in a way that a normal person might write a letter of complaint or make an angry phone call. He never seems to regret his murders – his only concern is to elude detection. He is a dangerous, ruthless psychopath, but oddly we find ourselves almost rooting for him throughout the book, especially as his victims are portrayed as privileged and arrogant rich boys.


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
Saga Noren from the Bridge. She is so brave and uncompromising, and yet remains rather vulnerable. I particularly love her bluntness and her disregard for social niceties.  There is no filter when she speaks to others, and this can be both a great strength as she drives her investigations forward, but also a weakness, as she often alienates those in her team. 


... MURDER WEAPONS
A book that I very much loved was The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

(Spoiler alert coming up)

As a girl, Susie is raped and murdered by a sinister loner who has lured her into his trap – a tent in a field. We don’t lose Susie at this point, as she remains the narrator of the book – as a ghost, or perhaps a spirit, following her murderer for years, until she discovers him about to attack another girl. Though unable to take physical form, Susie somehow dislodges a row of long icicles that knock this man off balance, causing him to fall into snowy ravine. He dies immediately and his body will not be discovered for months. It is very sweet revenge indeed.
    

... DEATH SCENES
A scene that sticks with me is from The Talented Mr Ripley. Following an argument, Ripley has bludgeoned Dickie to death in a rented row boat, and then has to dispose of both the body and the boat. He throws Dickie’s body into the sea, weighed down by an oar and then abandons the boat on a remote and rocky stretch of coastline. Ripley is panicked initially, but then coldly methodical in his actions, walking back through the town at night in his swimming trunks, as if this was the most normal thing in the world. He knows that drawing attention to himself at this point could be his downfall, so he holds his nerve with incredible resolution.
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
I’m going to admit to being a fan of Wikipedia. It’s a great place to start your research (though it absolutely should not be where your research ends!) I also love www.medievalists.com which publishes essays on such niche, but nevertheless fascinating, subjects as lapdogs in the fourteenth century through to the contribution of medieval physicians to the field of cardiovascular medicine. I also enjoy LitHub.com for topical and sometimes provocative discussion.


... WRITING TIPS
Write without fear – it is always better to get something down than to stare at a blank page. And keep moving forward, as premature editing can kill a novel. Then, when once you’ve written something that you’re happy with, try to put it away for a while before you look at it again. Now you will read your work with fresh eyes, as it will seem as if somebody else has written it – meaning that you can then edit dispassionately, without any attachments to your favourite bits. As they say, kill your darlings!


... WRITING SNACKS
Very strong coffee at 9am, and then Haribo sweets and tea. Lots of tea!


About SD SYKES
SD Sykes is the writer of the Oswald de Lacy historical crime fiction series. She is a graduate of Manchester University and has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam. She lives in Kent with her husband and two dogs. Her latest novel, City of Masks, is the third book in the series, after Plague Land and The Butcher Bird.

Find SD Sykes on her website and on Twitter - @SD_Sykes


About CITY OF MASKS



Publisher's description
1358. Oswald de Lacy, Lord Somershill, is in Venice, awaiting a pilgrim galley to the Holy Land. While the city is under siege from the Hungarians, Oswald lodges with an English merchant, and soon comes under the dangerous spell of the decadent and dazzling island state that sits on the hinge of Europe, where East meets West.
Oswald is trying to flee the chilling shadow of something in his past, but when he finds a dead man on the night of the carnival, he is dragged into a murder investigation that takes him deep into the intrigues of this mysterious, paranoid city.
Coming up against the feared Signori di Notte, the secret police, Oswald learns that he is not the only one with something to hide. Everybody is watching somebody else, and nobody in Venice is what he or she seems. The masks are not just for the carnival. 

City of Masks was published by Hodder & Stoughton on 13 July 2017.


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Monday, 24 July 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Caz Frear

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 





Today I'm delighted to welcome 

CAZ FREAR

to share her BEST OF CRIME ... 




... AUTHORS
It’s so hard to pick just one but if I base it on who has me clawing at the bookshop door on the day of publication, it would have to be Tana French.  I’ve read In the Woods that many times that my copy isn’t so much well-thumbed as battered-to-shreds.  I should probably get a shiny new copy but it would be like washing your childhood comfort blanket, it just wouldn’t feel the same…. 


... FILMS/MOVIES
I love anything gangster-related but it needs to have heart rather than simply being two hours of ‘very-bad-people-do-very-bad-things’.  Donnie Brasco, starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino, is a near-perfect example of this.  For me, the film belongs to Pacino – his portrayal of an aging bit-part gangster, a man on the fringes who never got near the power or wealth that he craved, is sublime.  The final few scenes when he realizes……well I won’t spoil it…..let’s just say it’s an amazing performance, so full of pathos, and it really should have bagged him his second Oscar IMO! 


... TV DRAMAS
Mmmm, Prime Suspect 1 or Line of Duty??  *Pulls thinking face.  Prime Suspect, I think.  I first watched it when I was 13 and I was instantly blown away.  THAT moment at the end, when George Marlow loses his rag in the interview room and Tennison finally knows it’s him, actually winded me.  I’ll never forget it.  I must have watched it twenty-thirty times since and I’m fairly sure I can recite the whole thing, word-perfect.  In fact, scrap ‘fairly sure’, I know I can! 


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
I’m going to go with the Coen Brothers/Javier Bardem’s interpretation of Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men.  I’ll sheepishly admit that I haven’t read the book and I’m not sure I could now, Javier Bardem’s performance is just so engrained in my mind.  As a killer he’s just so relentless, slaying practically everyone he meets without a shred of mercy or remorse.  And the hair - only a true psychopath would rock that long bowl-cut. 


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES
Back to Tana French again but I absolutely love Detective Cassie Maddox who features in two of her novels, In the Woods and The Likeness.  She’s just so normal in a whip-smart, witty, wholly compassionate kind of way.  It’s also for this reason that I love DS Manon Bradshaw from Susie Steiner’s, Missing Presumed and I can’t wait for the follow-up.  Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks is also a big fave – never better than in Aftermath which is a master-class in crime fiction.

And obviously Superintendent Ted Hastings from Line of Duty.  Who doesn’t love him? 


... MURDER WEAPONS
Death by typewriter – Stephen King’s, Misery. 
    

... DEATH SCENES
It has to be Brendan Gleeson’s leap from the top of the bell-tower at the end of In Bruges.   Gleeson’s character jumps to his death in order to save the life of much younger hitman, Ray, and his face expresses so much in his last 10 seconds – panic, resolve, regret.  It’s an incredibly moving end to a cracker of a film. 
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
Sword & Scale – a true crime podcast.  They’re up to episode 91 now so you could literally lose a week of your life listening to this.  Definitely not for the faint-hearted though – nothing is taboo and a few of the episodes are particularly hard-going.  Like most authors, I visit Google about a hundred times a day, all in the name of research.  And Twitter, all in the name of procrastination.  


... WRITING TIPS
Join a writing group, a creative writing class, anything that gets you feedback.  It’s a tricky one though - you have to be very open to feedback but also know how to filter it because at the end of the day, no one knows your book better than you.  A very obvious tip is that if the whole group/class is saying that there’s an issue with your protagonist/plot/prologue, then there probably is.  However, if only one or two people raise it, it’s something to think about but not necessarily act on. 


... WRITING SNACKS
Tea and peanut M&Ms.  Water and sugar-snap peas if I’m trying to be good.  It all depends what’s in the house, really – I have been known to dip mini Shredded Wheats in Nutella because I was deep in rewrites and didn’t have time to shop…. 


About CAZ FREAR
Caz grew up in Coventry and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel.
After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true.
She has a first-class degree in History & Politics which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, a shop assistant, a retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter. When she’s not agonising over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at the TV when Arsenal are playing or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.
Caz is the winner of the Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller Award 2017.

Find Caz Frear on Twitter - @CazziF


About SWEET LITTLE LIES




Publisher's description
What happens when the trust has gone?
Cat Kinsella was always a daddy's girl. Until the summer of 1998 when she sees her father flirting with seventeen-year-old Maryanne Doyle.
When Maryanne later disappears and Cat's father denies ever knowing her, Cat's relationship with him is changed forever.
Eighteen years later, Cat is now a Detective Constable with the Met. Called to the scene of a murder in Islington, she discovers a woman's body: Alice Lapaine has been found strangled, not far from the pub that Cat's father runs.
When evidence links Alice to the still missing Maryanne, all Cat's fears about her father resurface. Could he really be a killer? Determined to confront the past and find out what really happened to Maryanne all those years ago, Cat begins to dig into the case. But the problem with looking into the past is that sometimes you might not like what you find. 

Sweet Little Lies was published by Bonnier Zaffre on 29 June 2017.


Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

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Thursday, 20 July 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Chris Curran

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 





Today I'm delighted to welcome 

CHRIS CURRAN

to share her BEST OF CRIME ...

 

... AUTHORS
If I have to pick just one author then it’s Cathi Unsworth because she is a writer I always recommend to friends and one who I think should be better known. Her novels are set in the recent past and they have a dark and dirty glamour that is utterly compelling.  Along with the kind of sharp writing and twisty plots that characterize the best crime novels they also have that elusive quality – real heart. 


... FILMS/MOVIES
I’m fascinated by how our memories function, or fail to function, and all my books so far have featured characters struggling with some aspect of memory. So a film that really resonates with me is Memento. It’s a brilliantly constructed story that takes a fairly standard idea – a protagonist trying to track down his wife’s killer – and turns it into something incredibly rich and complex. The twist is that the hero suffers from what’s called anterograde amnesia brought on by the trauma of the attack. He is unable to form new memories and suffers short-term memory loss every few minutes. It’s a film that plays with the viewer’s own perceptions of how time works and I’d recommend watching it on DVD because it rewards multiple viewings. 


... TV DRAMAS
I was completely hooked by Happy Valley.  It makes a refreshing change to have a uniformed police officer, who is also a woman, at the centre of a crime drama. Instead of a crumpled male loner, Sarah Lancashire is totally convincing as the matriarch of an extended family and the moral heart of her local community. The series has everything: a terrifying villain, heartbreaking tragedy and a sprinkling of black humour.    


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
My favourite Christie novel is the standalone mystery written in the 1960s: Endless Night. In order not to give the game away I’ll just say that the killer in the book is one I find very intriguing. 


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
C.J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer practising during the reign of Henry V111. Like so many great fictional detectives he is an outsider. A hunchback at a time when such a disability is regarded with suspicion and disgust, Matthew bears his frequent humiliations with admirable fortitude always trying to do his best for his ordinary clients at the same time as attempting, usually unsuccessfully, to avoid getting tangled up with the royals and their entourage. 


... MURDER WEAPONS
Like many real murderers from her era, Agatha Christie uses poison very creatively. In Dumb Witness the victim is killed by phosphorus and her dying breath appears as a cloud of vapour that the witnesses imagine is her soul escaping from her body. 
    

... DEATH SCENES
Mark Billingham’s villain in Sleepyhead doesn’t want to kill his victims, but to render them helpless forever. After some false starts, where the women die, he succeeds with Alison and his attack leaves her with locked-in syndrome. As readers we are allowed into her thoughts and discover that she is a vibrant and courageous girl. Only able to blink, she nevertheless helps detective Tom Thorne to identify her attacker. But she has no hope of recovery and realizes that the only way she can outwit the villain is to frustrate his desire for her to stay alive. The final pages are incredibly moving. 
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
A blog I always find inspiring is Lizzy Kremer’s Publishing For Humans. It appears on occasional Mondays and is a series of beautifully written musings on writing from a successful literary agent (not my agent by the way).



... WRITING TIPS
Monotonous but satisfying chores are perfect for solving plotting problems providing you don’t actively think about them and instead let solutions float up from the unconscious. I find ironing is effective in cold weather and some mindless gardening, like weeding or grass cutting in the summer.  


... WRITING SNACKS
Endless mugs of Earl Grey tea and the occasional slice of toast with crunchy peanut butter. 


About CHRIS CURRAN

Chris Curran was born in London but now lives in St Leonards-on-Sea near Hastings, on the south coast of England, in a house groaning with books. She left school at sixteen to work in the local library – her dream job then and now – and spent an idyllic few months reading her way around the shelves. Reluctantly returning to full-time education, she gained her degree from Sussex University. Since then she has worked as an actress, script writer, copy editor and teacher, all the time looking forward to the day when she would see her own books gracing those library shelves.

Find Chris Curran on her website, FB page and on Twitter - @Christi_Curran


About HER DEADLY SECRET



Publisher's description
A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.
Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.
Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.
This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything… 

Her Deadly Secret was published by Killer Reads on 21 July 2017.


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