Crime Writers Uncovered

With just nine days to go until my holidays, there’s a mountain of stuff to do before I fly out – and that’s before I even get to the ‘To Do’ list my wife left behind when she went back to Hong Kong.

One of the more pleasurable activities on the list, though, was getting along to the ‘Plot the Perfect Murder Mystery’ event at the Bloomsbury Institute in London last night. The Writers & Artists Yearbook people were celebrating National Crime Month by hosting an evening with three brilliant crime writers; James Runcie, Anne Zouroudi and Claire McGowan. (Claire, of course, is not only author of ‘The Fall’, but also Director of the Crime Writers’ Association).

The evening kicked off at 6pm sharp with refreshments and an opportunity to peruse the latest publications of both James and Anne (though I was a bit disappointed as I’d hoped to pick up Claire’s novel, which wasn’t on display – probably because it was published by Headline).

Typically, I arrived late and was still doing the day job on my Blackberry, so I barely had time to grab a glass of water and a seat near the front of what turned out to be a full house. Claire got the event under way by sharing the fact that she first attended the Writers & Artists ‘How to Get Published‘ conference in June 2010, and then followed it up with the Manuscript Submission masterclasses, all of which went some considerable way to convincing her that she wanted to be a writer. Just two years further down the line and Claire is now a published author and Director of the CWA  – very commendable indeed!

James Runcie and Anne Zouroudi are both well known authors in their own right and Claire questioned them on a range of topics from ‘what makes a good crime novel’ to ‘how do they go about writing their plots’. I found the views and opinions of all three authors really fascinating; sometimes they agreed and other times they were very diverse. But then of course they all write different crimes in their own unique voice so it shouldn’t be surprising that they would approach their work in their own unique way. It was simply great to have them together in one room and listen to their discussions around such subject matter openly and honestly.

And that is what I loved about this event, and also others that I’ve been to; authors are very generous about sharing their experiences, good and bad, and in offering up tips and advice on how to write well. That’s what makes these events ‘a must’ for any writers aspiring to be published. Of course, there are also copious books available on the subject – and there were a few really good ones on display last night (I am already reading Harry Bingham’s ‘How to Write’) – but for me it’s the little nuggets that can be mined among the spontaneous conversation that occurred between experienced and passionate writers as Claire, James and Anne – and the audience – that makes these events priceless.

I’ll certainly be going along to future events.

The other valuable by-product of these events is the opportunity to network with other writers and so I was delighted to meet Phil Rogers, a writer with whom I was already connected through Twitter (@Phil_S_Rogers). It turns out Phil and I are both also going to the York Writing Festival in September, and I’m looking forward to it even more now, knowing I’ll have a partner-in-crime (writing) there.

Hmmm, sorry about the duff  joke at the end – you can see why I don’t write comedy!

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#Lucky Seven reprise

The most excellent writer, Erin Pike, tagged me on Twitter to reprise the hugely popular #Lucky7 challenge, in which writers reveal excerpts from their current WIPs. The rules are

  • Go to page 7,  77  or even Chapter 7 of your current WIP MS
  • Go to line 7
  • Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. No cheating!
  • Tag 7 authors and invite them to take part.

So, not being able to resist a call to action, here are my seven lines from Chapter 7, line 77 of ‘When Death is a Gift’.

‘Holly caught my gaze and flashed me the most alluring smile, her dark brown eyes looking out at me from under those long eyelashes of hers. Our eyes remained fixed on each other and in the few interminable seconds that passed in the silence between us, I suddenly felt exposed.

Then she slowly snaked forward and slipped her arms around me. 

As Holly leaned into me my pulse mis-fired and my resilience began to diminish, like sand as it trickles through an hourglass. I felt the full length of her body pressed hard against mine, trembling with the uncertainty of it all. My breathing became shallower and my mouth felt parched as our faces drew nearer, almost touching.  

I inhaled the intoxicating scent of the sun on her skin, and when her gaze dropped to my mouth and she absently bit on her lower lip, I knew right at that point our friendship would never be the same again.’

Now, as for 7 other authors I’ve invited to take part, step up to the parapet…

  • Lisa Cutts
  • Alyson Pearson
  • Nicole Pyles
  • Andrew Blackman
  • Valerie Sirr
  • Jane Sharp
  • Jonea Geary