Saturday, 5 August 2017

Dangerous Women Project

My beautiful, brave and fiercely funny grandmother would have been 101 today.

Happy Birthday, Gon-Gon.

How My Grandmother Won the War

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Tastes Like Fear in Kindle Monthly Deal


You can grab the ebook of Tastes Like Fear (Marnie Rome 3) for just 99p in August! Buy here

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Quieter Than Killing cover reveal


Excited to be sharing the new cover for the paperback edition of Quieter Than Killing which is out on 5 October. You can preorder it here.

And here is a great animated reveal from my publishers, Headline. Let me know what you think!

video

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Crawl Space welcomes back Susan Wilkins

Today I'm welcoming back Susan Wilkins to chat about her new novel, THE KILLER, and how it feels to be writing crime fiction in our capital city right now. Welcome back to Crawl Space, Susan. As a writer of politically astute thrillers, what's on your mind at the moment?

SW: Hello again. A couple of weeks ago I did an event in London at the Southbank for the Polari Salon. It was a reading, and I planned to read the prologue of my new book, The Killer, which starts, unsurprisingly, with a murder. But this was just after the London Bridge/Borough Market terrorist attack and I found myself thinking – can I just stand there and read about fictional murder? I felt very uncomfortable. Then I started to wonder about the role of crime fiction in these febrile times. My books tend to have a high body count. And moral resolution? Not always. I thought this might be a fruitful topic for discussion. I’d love to know your views.

SH: I agree we're living through almost unbearably difficult times, and those of us writing crime series are bound to feel the weight and responsibility of that. But I feel all good writing should be at least a little uncomfortable, both in its creation and its consumption. Perhaps that's my personal preference coming out; I know the books I enjoy best are those which touch a nerve or disrupt my complacency, or challenge me to think more keenly about a subject or a people or a time. It's one of the reasons I'm drawn to crime as a genre, because of our obligation to reflect society at its best and worst. The darker we write, the more we need compassion and light also. That said, we live in extraordinary times, not least in their unpredictability. I worry, as a writer of police procedurals, what shape the Metropolitan Police will take in two years' time, for instance. So I suppose I'm saying I see this more as a technical challenge in terms of authenticity, rather than a moral challenge, because the best fiction is always instinctively moral. What challenges keep you awake at night?

SW: A difficult question to answer in terms of writing. In other terms it’s usually too much coffee, too much screen time, and worrying about the kids! You make a good point about the technical challenge in terms of authenticity. We all know about the savage cuts to the police service but the impact of that will manifest itself in myriad ways. The cumulative and long term impact of cuts in housing budgets have just be horrifically demonstrated in the Grenfell Tower fire. But today, the day of the Queen’s Speech has, according to the radio, also been designated a “day of rage”. Thinking about how to write about rage is one of the challenges that keeps me awake at night. Most crimes have some species of rage at their heart. Even seemingly victimless crimes like financial fraud proceed from an underlying sense that the rules of society don’t apply to me, I’m exempt. Somewhere under that is the hidden anger of rejection or exclusion. How we deal with our anger, or don’t deal with it, is fruitful terrain for the writer. And from that come questions like: is revenge ever justified? My new book, The Killer, is about revenge. It’s a fantasy we all harbour. And I wonder if women, living always with the possibility or threat of male violence, harbour it more. I remember, many years ago, overhearing a conversation between my mother and my grandmother.  They were talking, in hushed tones, about a neighbour whose husband was prone to using his fists on her. “Epsom salts in his rice pudding” said my grandmother, “that’ll teach him.” So, as you can see, I was brought up to believe in vengeance. Which may, or may not, be a good thing.

SH: Beware the wrath of women wielding Epsom salts ..! You know, I think you may be right, that women harbour thoughts of revenge more readily. Not just because as you say we're living with violence but because traditionally we have so few outlets for anger, and are expected to fulfil roles which take acceptance and forbearance as their starting point. I rather like the idea of quiet, domestic vengeance along the lines of lacing rice pudding. I have an unhealthy fascination with Kate Webster, who murdered her employer and boiled her down into dripping which she sold to the neighbours who'd looked down on her ... But tell me more about the role of revenge in The Killer. Did you set out to write a book about revenge?

SW: The Killer turned into a tale of revenge. I don’t think I set out with that in mind. Initially, like many debut novelists, I hadn’t thought much beyond the first book. I was just happy to be published. So when I was asked for more I went back to the characters and wondered where they might want to go. That’s when I found that really I had dual protagonists – Kaz, the original informant, caught between her gangster brother and the police, and Nicci, the cop forced out of the Job by personal tragedy. Nicci became an exploration of the world of privatised security, which we’ve already referred to in terms of police cuts. Kaz and Nicci are the dark and the light, what you do when you are full of rage and have only yourself to rely on. Of course, as soon as I mention Kaz’s gangster brother and her Essex family, we’re in the realms of “that sort of book”. I have been amused to discover that I’ve inadvertently placed myself in the “marmite sub-genre” – people either love it or hate it. I have had many comments along the lines of “it’s really quite well written for that sort of book.” What I think is rarely discussed around crime fiction are the class divisions both in terms of readers and writers. Most people like stories that reflect some aspect or have some resonance with their own experience. Interestingly though a fictional character from a working class background who seeks to advance themselves through crime, appears to be more intellectually respectable if they are male than if they are female. I’m not entirely sure why. But I think it comes back once again to how we process and fictionalise female experience.

SH: There's a thesis in this somewhere: Class and Gender Wars in Crime Fiction. I suppose we could argue that fiction deals in recognisable stereotypes so we get a surfeit of 'female types' (virginal victim, seductive temptress, warrior mother). But what I like about so much of modern crime fiction is the license to subvert stereotypes (in fact, I think of this as an obligation on the part of the crime writer). Which isn't to say that brave books are the ones most often published or pushed, sadly, but the scope is there. In the current climate where a story like The Handmaid's Tale can chill us because it feels not merely prescient but present, I am optimistic about the appetite for books which better explore the female experience from different angles. Certainly I feel we must be reaching saturation point for the sort of thriller where the middle class heroine's lovely lifestyle derails because her husband lied to her about x, y or z. Which books have you read recently which give you hope for more diversity?

SW: I agree we have an obligation to subvert stereotypes. And I must say I think you do that very well in your books, especially with the character of DS Noah Jake. My reading lately has been a bit eclectic. I’m half way through My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier. I’d never read it before and came upon it because there’s a film just out. It’s a great piece of storytelling not to mention a masterclass in how to do an unreliable narrator well. So many recent psychological thrillers are full of tricks and twists that are bolted on to the plot and don’t really come out of the nature or desires of the characters. Written in 1951 it’s still a slicker piece of commercial fiction than much of what’s currently around. However (back to stereotypes), its feminist credentials might not be so hot – I’m not sure because I haven’t got to the end yet.

SH: Interesting you've returned to a classic psychological thriller of the 1950s as my current favourite recommendation is Celia Fremlin's The Hours Before Dawn, about to be reissued nearly sixty years after it was first published. Another masterclass in going deep into character for twists and turns - these classics can definitely teach us a thing or two.

It's been fun chatting with you, Susan, and I look forward to seeing where you take your writing next. Stay political, it's so important, now more than ever.

SW: I will. I can’t help myself really. Thanks for chatting!


The Killer is out in paperback today, 29 June, from Pan Macmillan. You can buy it here.

Follow Susan's writing news via her website, susanwilkins.co.uk


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2017

Very excited to be appearing at Theakstons again this year, with Mark Billingham, Steve Mosby, Belinda Bauer and Melanie Raabe. From the programme:

"How did they think of THAT…? Unpick the criminal masterminds behind the bestsellers. Known for being an all-round lovely chap, Festival favourite Mark Billingham chairs a panel who are also rather lovely. So what inspires their murderous meanderings? Unpick the ‘dark mind’ behind the charming façade of Sarah Hilary whose brutal but deeply moral books have garnered awards and acclaim. Steve Mosby, the tattoo’d crusader, does disturbing brilliantly. He studied philosophy and did a series of admin jobs (Excel spreadsheets can drive you to murder) before writing full time. The Independent said of award-winning Belinda Bauer that she took ‘the psychological thriller into new territory’. That says something in a well-trod ground. Where does she get her ideas? Finally, get ensnared with Melanie Raabe, the unique premise of her in-demand debut The Trap caused a stir amongst Hollywood producers."

Book your tickets here.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

A Stab in the Dark

This is the best fun I've had chatting about murder. With Belinda Bauer and Mark Billingham, who asks all the important questions such as country vs. city crime, and which biscuit is best?

Listen for free

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

No Other Darkness on special offer

Barry Award finalist, No Other Darkness (Marnie Rome book 2) is a snip in June as part of the Kindle Monthly Deal. Do spread the word!















Sunday, 16 April 2017

2017 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year

I'm thrilled and honoured to find Tastes Like Fear on the longlist for the Theakstons Crime Novel of Year!

Congratulations to all the amazing authors and books on the list which includes so many of my writing heroes.

2017 was an epic year for crime fiction. Hunt down all 18 of these titles, and devour them!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Bristol book event with CL Taylor

I dare you to join Cally Taylor and me at Foyles in Cabot Circus, Bristol, for an author reception on 11 May. We'll be chatting about books, doing a spot of reading and generally enjoying ourselves in a lovely local, independent bookshop. It's free, so do come!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Quieter Than Killing is the Observer's Thriller of the Month!

Celebrating this week, with my launch party at Toppings on Thursday where Alison Graham, TV Editor of the Radio Times, will be interviewing me about Marnie, TV crime dramas and more. And woke to the fantastic news this morning that Alison Flood in the Observer has picked Quieter Than Killing as her Thriller of the month. Alisons are my heroes!


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Quieter Than Killing is published today!


Today I'm celebrating the publication of the fourth book in my Marnie Rome series, Quieter Than Killing. Thank you to everyone who's reading, reviewing, blogging and enthusing.


Special thanks to everyone hosting the blog tour.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Quieter Than Killing exclusive from Killer Women


Sign up to the Killer Women newsletter (for free) and start receiving exclusive extracts from new books being published by Killer Women this year. New and exclusive, and delivered direct to your inbox ahead of publication day! First up, this weekend is the opening chapter of Quieter Than Killing. You can read it ahead of publication day (9 March) simply by adding your email address to the link here.

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Dark Heart of Crime Fiction: Quieter Than Killing

Thrilled to see this great review for Quieter Than Killing in the Irish Independent at the weekend. Especially pleased that Marnie Rome gets mentioned alongside Jane Casey's Maeve Kerrigan, one of my favourite fictional detectives.

" ... detectives Kerrigan and Rome remain as well rounded, sympathetic and believable as ever, making the pressures under which they're put in the course of duty all the more involving."


 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Get in Character with Marnie Rome #5

On 26 February, the CLIC Sargent Get in Character auction opens online and you have the chance to be a named character in Marnie Rome book 5. You might end up as a killer, a cop, a prison inmate or even a pal of Noah's. Last year, Jacob Collins was the winning bidder and he appears in Quieter Than Killing, with a special mention in the Acknowledgements. The best bit? You'll be raising money for a really great cause.

CLIC Sargent works with children and young people whose lives are affected by cancer, providing emotional, financial and practical support to help them cope and get the most of out of life. Do join the auction, bid as high as you can, help a good cause and put yourself in my hands as I finish writing Marnie Rome book 5. And, if you don't fancy rubbing shoulders (alive or dead) with Marnie and Noah, there are lots of other authors lined up to take part. Thanks, everyone.

Friday, 10 February 2017

CrimeFest tickets up for grabs in Flashbang Contest


If you're an aspiring crime writer, you need to send your most cunning and stunning 150 words to CrimeFest's Flashbang contest before it closes on 3 March.

Six shortlisted authors will each win a place on their Crime Writing Day in Bristol in May, and the top three will win great prizes including full passes to CrimeFest.

Details of prizes and how to enter herehttps://flashbangcontest.wordpress.com.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Killer Women Anthology up for an Audie Award

Very excited to see that the first-ever Killer Women anthology is an Audie Award finalist! The LA Review of Books broke the news this afternoon. 






















You can buy the anthology, which includes my short story, El Llorón Borrego, here.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Peter James on Quieter Than Killing














More happy-making feedback to Quieter Than Killing, this time from the brilliant Peter James. You can pre-order it here.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Dangerous Women Project
















Do read this piece I wrote for the Dangerous Women Project about the extraordinary courage of my grandmother, who inspires so much of what I do. It contains one of my happiest memories, as well as personal reflections on pain, loss and survival.



Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Ian Rankin on Quieter Than Killing














This makes me tremendously happy. 50 days until publication!



Friday, 6 January 2017

Quieter Than Killing Top Picks 2017


What's even better than seeing your new book on a Top Picks for 2017 list? When that list has been compiled by a librarian, that's what.



Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Quieter Than Killing comp via Crime Files


Happy New Year! Here's your chance to win an early copy of Quieter than Killing over on Facebook. Good luck!

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