Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Just Enough Violence to Convince

I was recently invited to take part in a discussion on crime writing (Feminists and crime fiction – an odd couple?) and this, together with my earlier post on Someday Never Comes, made me think about the nature of crime writing today.

The cosy crime end of the spectrum has changed little over the decades. A crime (or series of crimes) is committed, often quite gruesome and violent, but the reader never gets to see the detail, only the aftermath. Everything violent is glossed over and left to the reader’s imagination as the sleuths, both amateur and professional, track down perpetrators and solve seemingly unsolvable mysteries.

But this seems, to me at least, to be the only section of the genre untouched by the increasing depictions of violence. In Bad Moon Rising I show my killer in action and have sections of most chapters shown from his perspective. I feel the violence depicted is only that which is necessary and have avoided the gratuitous. I wanted his actions to come from an inner demon forcing him to carry out his brutal acts. But have I sold my readers short by doing so?

It seems that many of today’s crime thriller readers want to be there as victims are tortured for hours, or even days, before welcoming death as a blessed release.

Should I have introduced more violence? Had my killer keep his victims alive for days on end? I don’t think so because that would not have fitted his character. His acts were based on what was within his nature and to have him doing more would mean his character would no longer have been credible.

And this is the problem I have with overly violent killers in novels. The characterisation is not always credible. I know there are maniacs out in the real world who get off on torture, but all too often in novels this is depicted in ways which not only require me to suspend my disbelief, but to string it up from the rafters and leave it to choke to death.

I hope with Bad Moon Rising, and the forthcoming sequel Someday Never Comes, that readers will get to the final page believing that what they’ve read is so chillingly realistic it could have happened in their town.

What do you think – is the level of violence in crime too graphic, or not graphic enough?

Friday, 26 October 2012

The Next Big Thing - Someday Never Comes

The idea of this is that a writer puts up a post on his or her own blog answering ten questions about his/her work in progress, and then “tags” three – or five, depending on which version you see – other writers to do the same. Then, the writer posts a link to his/her “tagger” and to the people he/she is “tagging” so that readers who are interested can visit those pages and perhaps discover some new authors whose work they’d like to read.

I was tagged by John Hudspith, author of: Kimi’s Secret

John’s creativity and amazing imagination have created a heroine like no other and placed her in a world like no other to face dangers and creatures like no others. In short, his story is unique and the telling of it exceptional.

The writers I have tagged in my turn appear at the bottom of this post.

What is the working title for your book?
Someday Never Comes. The title comes from a Credence Clearwater Revival album and exactly sums up the feeling of the girls held captive by human traffickers. One of the older girls tries to keep up the spirits of the new arrivals by telling them that someday they will be rescued but, for too many of these girls, someday never comes.

Where did the idea come from for this book?
Whenever I see mention of human trafficking, I always wonder how these people get away with it. Why does no one report them to the police? What kind of people are they? How do they keep the girls hidden and yet also send them out on the streets to work? What happens to the girls as they get older? Do they ever escape? How are they prevented from running away? All these questions led me to Someday Never Comes. I needed to set DI Paolo Storey to work, tracking down the guys at the top.

What genre does your book fall under?
As with Bad Moon Rising, Someday Never Comes is a crime thriller.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I have a real aversion to people spelling out what characters look like. I like to draw my own pictures when I’m reading, so I’m going to skip this question. I know who my characters resemble in my head, but that doesn’t mean my readers would see them the same way.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Evil men prey on young girls, but one man cares enough to stop them.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Bad Moon Rising was published by Crooked Cat Publishing. They want to see the full ms of my next book when it’s ready, so hopefully Someday Never Comes will join the first Paolo Storey novel in the same publishing house.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I can’t answer that one yet because I haven’t finished the first draft. However, I do have the full plot mapped out chapter by chapter, so it’s just a question of finding the time to complete it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I haven’t found another book close to the storyline, but my themes are a cross between those of Val McDermid and Minette Walters – crime, but with a strong psychological emphasis.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Recent news items about girls being stolen from other countries and forced into the sex trade made me wonder just how these evil people are able to get away with their deeds. I decided to do some research and, as a result, Someday Never Comes was born.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Although the subject matter is dark and exposes the baser aspects of human nature, DI Paolo Storey is a character readers can believe in. He’s far from perfect, but I’d like to think there are real life versions out there in the world who care as much as he does about bringing evil people to justice.

The following three writers are all exceptionally talented, which is why I am tagging them for The Next Big Thing.

JJ Marsh – author of Behind Closed Doors (a Beatrice Stubbs crime novel)

Jill grew up in Wales, Africa and the Middle East, where her curiosity for culture took root and triggered an urge to write. After graduating in English Literature and Theatre Studies, she worked as an actor, teacher, writer, director, editor, journalist and cultural trainer all over Europe. Now based in Switzerland, Jill works as a language trainer, forms part of the Nuance Words project and is a regular columnist for Words with JAM magazine. She lives with her husband and three dogs, and, in an attic overlooking a cemetery, she writes.

Gillian Hamer – author of The Charter

Born in the industrial Midlands, Gillian's heart has always yearned for the wilds of North Wales and the pull of the ocean. She has written obsessively for over a decade, predominantly in the crime genre. She has completed six full length novels and numerous short stories. She is a columnist for Words with Jam literary magazine, a regular theatre goer and avid reader across genres. She splits her time between Birmingham and a remote cottage on Anglesey where she finds her inspiration and takes long walks on deserted beaches with her Jack Russell, Maysie.

Catriona King – author of A Limited Justice (a DCI Craig crime novel)

Catriona is a doctor who also trained as a forensic medical examiner in London, and has brought that experience to bear in her debut novel, in which Marc Craig and his team comb well known Belfast streets in the hunt for a triple murderer.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Review of Painting by Numbers

How to describe Painting by Numbers, the debut novel by Scottish author Tom Gillespie? It has elements of a thriller, aspects of suspense, it’s psychologically intriguing, but, in truth, it defies classification.

Jacob Boyce, the central character, is a university professor obsessed by an obscure Spanish painting in a Glasgow art gallery. He is convinced he can decipher clues within the picture and cannot bear to spend a moment away from it. This leads to conflict within his marriage and the loss of his tenure at the university. So far, so normal.

However, when his wife disappears Jacob follows Ella’s trail to Spain, where his search for her becomes mysteriously entangled with his quest to uncover the painting’s secrets. From this point onwards readers are taken on a rollercoaster ride the like of which they are unlikely to have travelled in any other book. This is not a book for the hard of thinking and requires no small amount of concentration to follow its complex and intriguing plot, but the effort is well rewarded when the finale is reached.

The ending is simply stunning and I want to read the novel again to see if the clues were obvious, if only I had known what to look for.

Paperback version                           E-book version

Friday, 19 October 2012

Winner announced

Today is launch day of the paperback version of Bad Moon Rising and to celebrate I’ve been running a free writing critique competition. I’m thrilled to announce the winner is Andrew Dunn. Andrew has already been notified and I look forward (as Lorraine Mace) to receiving his work for critique.

Also as part of today’s celebration Bad Moon Rising is being featured on the excellent Cathie Dunn Writes blog. (No relation, as far as I know, to the winner of the competition.)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Do Dead Women Sell Books?

The incredibly talented crime writer, JJ Marsh, author of Behind Closed Doors, invited me to debate a contentious subject - Feminists and crime fiction – an odd couple? 

We agreed on some aspects and differed on others, but what’s your take?

Are crime writers indulging in sadistic misogyny, or are they portraying the truth as they see it?

Do dead women sell books? 

Does it matter if that is the case?
Why not head on over to the post and have your say?