Archive for May, 2012

Crime on tour!

Posted by on May 22nd, 2012

Two bits of Theakstons-related news.

I’m really pleased to be taking part in this event: Crime on Tour. It’s a series of events, with more-established crime writers, such as me, introducing and talking to two newer writers. In my case, I’ll be chatting to David Mark and Danielle Ramsey – and I’m really looking forward to it. For one thing, I’ve enjoyed their work; for another, there’s probably little easier and more rewarding in this business than talking about other people and playing a small part in bringing them to the wide audience they deserve.

The event is at Leeds Central Library on Tuesday 29th May at 6.30pm. You can buy tickets here. And – more to the point – you can win a pair here!

I’m also really pleased to say that Black Flowers made the longlist for the 2012 Theaksons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. It’s awesome, actually, not least because that is a really nice longlist to be part of. Obviously, that’s usually the case when you make a longlist, but I think it’s a particularly interesting and diverse selection this year, and it’s nice to see books on it that you wouldn’t necessarily find shelved in the crime section of your local bookshop, assuming such a thing still exists by the time you read this.

Full list of 18 books is here. They get whittled down later on, and at that point the vote opens to the public, which if memory serves is the opposite way round to last year, and a much better way of doing things.

your story wasn’t “raped”

Posted by on May 15th, 2012

[Possible trigger alert]

My own little spiderweb of the internet has been thrumming today because of this.

It’s worth reading the whole thing, if only to see how unprofessional some of the outfits out there really are. These clowns accepted somebody’s story for an anthology and then basically rewrote it, changing details, and even adding a scene of animal abuse.

The responses from the “publisher” are so laughably pathetic that little needs to be said – or indeed added to the vast heap of virtual shit that’s presently raining down on them. If somebody did that to one of my stories without permission, and put it out with my name on it, they’d learn exactly what an “unstable writer” looked like. And of course, it’s hard for new writers out there. It takes time and experience to learn that the terms and justifications offered in defence there are total bullshit, and that no professional publisher would act that way. If you don’t know then fear can creep in about what is and isn’t done. Sympathies must lie with the writer, who’s had the misfortune to have her story butchered by these fucking cowboy dickheads.

However, the last line of the post erodes some of that sympathy:


And that phrase is also used a number of times in the many comments below the post.

Sigh. You had to go and … well, if not ruin the post, then at least spoil it slightly. It ends on a low. Look … your story was not raped. Rape is a serious, devastating, personal crime that destroys lives, and the pernicious theft of the term to describe everything from having your Facebook hacked to having your photograph taken needs to be resisted. It is not that the writer of the post is a bad person; it’s not that the overall point is undermined; it’s just yet another thoughtless acquisition of an important word.

So, with that in mind, I won’t add to that deluge of shit on the publisher, who will doubtless deservedly be out of business shortly anyway, and instead point humbly to this on why rape analogies aren’t cool.

As you were, etc.

A writing update

Posted by on May 1st, 2012

I know! It surprises me as much as anyone, but I thought I’d take a break from ranting (where would you begin at the moment?) and do an update on writing-related news, especially as that is ostensibly what the site is for.

I’m up for two awards, which is really nice. The first is the Dagger in the Library. I’m longlisted for that, and you can see the full list here. It’s a nice award, as it’s for a body of work rather than a specific novel, and while I’ve never thought of myself as having a body of work, I suppose it’s getting to the point where I do. The shortlist will be announced at CrimeFest later this month, more on which shortly. Now, in fact, because the second award I’m up for is the eDunnit award, and the actual winner will be announced at CrimeFest too. The full shortlist is available here.

In both cases, I’m really pleased (obviously). I tend to think the most important thing about an award is its shortlist, and in both cases I’m amongst stellar company. (I know the Dagger is a longlist, but even so). In the case of the eDunnit award, I look not only at the shortlist itself, but the submitted books that didn’t make it, and feel amazingly lucky.

Speaking of CrimeFest, I’ll be there, moderating two panels, on the 26th and 27th May. The full programme is up here. Leaving me entirely out of it, I think it’s the best line-up they’ve ever had, and I’m really looking forward to it. Both of those things are also true with regard to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate in July. The full programme is now online here, and it’s very exciting. I’m doing a panel on ebooks on the Friday afternoon. In the case of both festivals, I’ll be around for the whole thing, so if you see me, say hi. If you want to, I mean…

Actual writing news: I’ve now finished the proof pages of Dark Room, which should hopefully be out in time for Harrogate. As is usually the case at this stage, I have no real idea how I feel about it. By this point, I’ve read the thing so many times that all I see are the mistakes and sections I’m less happy with, but that’s par for the course and nothing to worry about in itself. Initial feedback from people with a fresh eye on the material has been good, and overall I’m fairly happy – I think – with the way it turned out. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I’m working on the next one – Book Eight! You see: body of work! – which is provisionally titled Hell. It’s slow-going. My approach has been the same as with Dark Room: initial planning; three months for the first draft (average 1k words a day and you’re there); another three months to write the book again properly. I’m one month into the first draft and have about 25k, but it’s rough and not really working. I’m not feeling it. But as with the proofs, this is fairly normal. One on the benefits of this approach is I treat the first draft basically as an extended planning session, and it’s usually only when that’s done that I figure out what the book should actually be. So I’m not worried. I’ll just press on, writing the bits that interest me, looking for hooks and ideas, fleshing out the characters or seeing how they flesh themselves out, and so on. It’s a little like assembling rough, on-the-hoof footage of an idea with your mates before you develop a full script with stage directions and get the right actors to serve it. Or something. Something like that.