Thursday, 31 October 2013

Ten facts about … Ed James

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in my mid-teens, I think. I used to have stabs at writing stuff, mostly scifi or thrillers, but I never got much past the first scene or so. In terms of actually finishing something, then it would be at school. In Scotland, the main qualification we sit is the Higher (equivalent to the first half of an A-Level in England) and we go to University for an extra year to make up. For my English Literature Higher, I chose to write an ‘Imaginative Essay’ over a ‘Discursive’ one, and it was a RESERVOIR DOGS-esque thriller with characters named after the Beatles who swore and got killed. It might have been set in London. I remember my English teacher loving it, but saying that it might get marked down for the swearing if a teacher in a convent got hold of it…

I think I’ve still got an Amiga in my parents’ attic that has the very first Ed James work…

When I decided to start writing was about eight years ago, when my nascent music career fell apart. Nobody was interested in signing us, and the prospect of working in an office for the rest of my life was too depressing, so I started writing a novel. It was bad, but I persevered, learnt my trade and I’m doing okay just now.

How long does it take you to write a book?
The first book had a difficult gestation period and ended up taking about three years, but most of that was off time. Since I published GHOST IN THE MACHINE in April last year, I’ve released three sequels - the first six months later, then another three months, then another six months. I’m just away to release the first in another series, SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, so that’ll be four books in eighteen months - four and a half months, on average. And that’s from idea, to outline, to first draft, to alpha edit, beta edit, line edit and proofing.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Sadly, I’m not doing it full-time, but I do write in my off time. I had a fair amount of publicity last month by talking about the fact that I used to write in my daily commute to Edinburgh and now write in my weekly commute to London. I must spend about 15-20 hours a week writing - I’d love it to be more.

How many crime novels have you written?
Four in the SCOTT CULLEN series plus a supernatural thriller with a bit of crime in it…

Which is your favourite and why?’m most pleased with DYED IN THE WOOL, the fourth CULLEN book. It is the most professional, both in terms of editing and the plotting and so on. It’s my most mature work and covers a lot of ground - it’s over 110,000 words and was a monster to edit, but I think it’s come out really well.
Where do you get your ideas?
All over the place. Sometimes from conversations with friend
s which spark off ideas, sometimes from newspapers or sometimes just from my imagination. I don’t sit in front of a blank sheet of paper and try to come up with ideas - I’ve usually got something that I’ve wrestled with in my head for weeks before I start attacking it properly, and then it’ll change drastically as it forms itself, completely out of my control really.

Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
I enjoy writing DI Bain the most, perhaps a bit too much. I’ve had to consciously rein him in. While he may seem unrealistic, I’ve known and worked for people like that, with that sort of vocabulary. I’m proud of the protagonist, Scott Cullen, as he is just a really annoying and frustrating character. We share a fair amount, but not too much, and hopefully I don’t have much of his worse characteristics, though he’s probably got mine.

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
I’m a massive comics geek and I’d have to say BATMAN. There’s something I attach to really strongly about him. There’s a real depth to the whole mythos that I just love. There’s an incredible set of stories, not in the main continuity of the DC Comics line which is average at best, but in standalone works like THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS which are just timeless and tell a lot about the human condition.

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Not quite answering your question, but I probably like to have been someone who really innovated in a particular field, such as using fingerprinting, DNA evidence or establish grid searches, etc. The why is that I’d like to have effected real change to the world and add some justice back.

What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished with a book so I’m at that brilliant stage where I’m consolidating all of my ideas for the next Cullen book, BOTTLENECK, ready to start writing it hopefully this week or next.

Ed James writes crime fiction novels, predominantly the Scott Cullen series of police procedurals set in Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians - the first four are available now, starting with GHOST IN THE MACHINE which has been downloaded over 100,000 times and is currently free. His next bo
ok - SHOT THROUGH THE HEART - features vampires and werewolves but not Scott Cullen and is out on 31-October.

Ed lives in the East Lothian countryside, 25 miles east of Edinburgh, with his girlfriend, six rescue moggies, two retired greyhounds, a flock of ex-battery chickens and eight rescue ducks across two breeds and two genders (though the boys don't lay eggs).

He works in IT for a living, commuting from Edinburgh to London every week (not every day) and writes mainly on public transport.

His blog - - is a log of his work, his thoughts on his writing, and a place for his word count OCD to express itself. His music tastes will creep in now and again.

Blog & website -
Twitter - @edjamesauthor
Facebook - edjamesauthor

3          FIRE IN THE BLOOD
4          DYED IN THE WOOL
5          BOTTLENECK (coming 2014)

2          CRASH INTO MY ARMS (coming 2014)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A Sign of Our Violent Times

Today I am pleased to host fellow crime writer David Robinson, who is musing on a subject that also troubles me at times, both as a writer and as a reader - violence in crime novels.
A few nights back, I watched the movie, Scum, and I was interested to note that the BBC commissioned this film in 1979, but then refused to broadcast it because it was too violent.
Would they have any such qualms these days?
There’s a tendency to increasingly graphic violence in entertainment. From cinema and TV, through reading matter, right down to computer and video games, the writers and directors are pulling fewer punches. We are confronted with sights which were once the exclusive preserve of the horror movie. Scenes of mangled or half burned bodies on the autopsy slab are commonplace. Bodies found in woodland, half decayed, with bits missing, barely raise an eyebrow.
As writers, it’s part of our lot to stretch the boundaries, examine people, their motivation, action and reaction, show them warts and all. We’re never afraid to examine the issues, as, for example, Frances’ latest novel, Someday Never Comes.
But is it necessary to be so graphic?
The perpetrators in my novels, The Handshaker, and its sequel, The Deep Secret, place the value of a human life lower than the gratification to be had from taking that life in the cruellest means possible. They view others, particularly women, as objects placed upon this Earth to satisfy their sadistic needs, and having done so, to be discarded with the same disinterest as we throw away a cigarette butt.

The Handshaker is as dark as Frances’ excellent, Bad Moon Rising, but in the original manuscript the early scenes, the ones most likely to cause offence, were toned down. I was advised by an industry professional to make them more graphic, and despite my reservations, I did so. When my publisher, Crooked Cat Books, took the project on, still doubtful, I offered to revert to the original. They said, ‘no, it’s fine as it is.’ After release, reader reaction was by and large, favourable. Women, particularly, find the tale fascinating, and most appear unconcerned at the opening horrors. “It serves as a warning against what could happen,” one female reader told me.
This took me by surprise. Am I out of touch with what the reader wants? Am I simply old fashioned? I don’t think so, but I do recall a radio interview with the master of horror, Christopher Lee, during which he said the key to the success of the great Hammer movies lay not in what they showed, but what they did not show; i.e. that which they left to the viewer’s imagination.
Reading The Handshaker makes me feel uncomfortable, and faced with the prospect of turning out the sequel, The Deep Secret, I had little choice but to include the graphic once again. Spread over eighty years, it has scenes of physical and sexual brutality before, during and after World War Two, set against one man’s greed for the secret to absolute control of others.
And when I read through it, I feel uncomfortable once more.
The Deep Secret is published in all e-formats and paperback by Crooked Cat Books on October 25th. You can pre-order the paperback at:

Friday, 18 October 2013

Review posted in the Euro Weekly News

It's always nice to see positive reviews, particularly when they are in print. Here's a recent one for Bad Moon Rising from the Euro Weekly News, one of Spain's mass circulation newspapers.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Ten facts about ... Ryan Casey

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
Probably when I realised I wasn’t so good at/didn’t really care about anything else. I’m perfectly okay at a lot of things, but writing is something that I’ve always had a lot of fun with. I think the first notable writing memory I have is from around six or seven years of age. I wrote a story about a boy who throws a brick through his window and ends up giving his dad memory loss. It seems I’ve always been in touch with the darker side of fiction...

How long does it take you to write a book?
First drafts don’t take me long at all. I can finish the first draft of a novel in the space of a month. Of course, I spend another couple of months editing, so once the process is done with, I’m probably at a four-monthly rate, which is still pretty rapid. The key is consistency -- I like to try and write 5,000 words every day. I’m a pretty fast writer, so that’s perfectly achievable, but it’s important to find what we’re comfortable with and not force anything.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I just finished university and I’m fortunate enough to be writing full-time right now, so I suppose my work schedule is pretty, well, writing oriented! There’s a lot of things to consider, though: as well as writing, I run a blog, and am keen on the marketing side of things. It’s all fun though, really. Just don’t tell everybody or they’ll all want to be a writer...

How many crime novels have you written?
Crime is both omnipresent yet subtle in all of my novels. What We Saw, my debut release, is a childhood mystery novel, but once the naivety of childhood is stripped away, there’s a very dark crime tale at the core. Killing Freedom -- my latest release -- is more of a full-blown thriller about a hitman who forms a bond with a family he is hired to kill, so of course, there are elements of crime there, too. I’m working on a new, fully-fledged crime novel for a September release, though, which is really gritty and very British. I can’t wait for people to read it.

Which is your favourite and why?
It’s kind of natural for a writer to be most proud of their latest release, so I’ll say Killing Freedom. I love the character and I really am delighted with the world I’d set up. But mostly, the character -- he’s such a rich and deep individual, yet I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface. Is that me announcing a sequel, right here in this interview? Who knows?

Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas tend to come to me in various shapes and sizes. More often than not, my ideas arrive by inquiring into characters. If I can invent a character in my head, I can invent a series of dilemmas and problems, and before I know it, a whole book is forming in front of me. But a lot of the time, just things in everyday life -- I might read something intriguing in a newspaper, or hear a cool lyric, and sparks begin to fly.
Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
I feel such a traitor to my other characters saying this! I guess I should say somebody all grim and threatening then, shouldn’t I? Keep them sweet! My favourite lead is Jared from Killing Freedom. I love how, on paper, he’s completely awful -- he’s a career killer, for goodness sakes! -- and yet he somehow manages to be sympathetic. That really makes him compelling. I’m also really keen on a character called Price in the crime novel I’m launching later in the year. He’s a Detective Inspector side character, and he has a lot of hilarious traits. I think readers are going to enjoy him.

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
Harry Potter! I’d be rolling in it. But to be honest, it’s hard to say, really. I’m reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn at the moment and I love what she’s done with the two lead characters in that book. Without wanting to spoil anything, they take the unreliable narrator concept to entirely new levels.

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Oh, wow -- I’d better watch my answer here, hadn’t I?! I’m usually intrigued in the serial killer-y stuff in true crime fiction and documentaries, and I certainly wouldn’t like to be any of those. I think Ted Bundy is a fascinating figure, though. He’s a terrible individual and did some horrible, horrible things, but he was an incredibly intelligent man with a ridiculously in-depth knowledge of law enforcement. He knew his stuff, and he exploited it for his own dark gains. Horrible, twisted, but clever.

What are you working on now?
I’ve just sent out The Disappearing to my editor. It’s the second instalment in a creepy-suspense novella trilogy I’ve been working on this year. The first book -- The Painting -- went down pretty well, so I have a lot to live up to. Otherwise, I’m editing my upcoming crime novel, and starting a plan for the sequel to Killing Freedom. Busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Fancy that! Fame at last!

I was fortunate enough to be interviewed on Talk Radio Europe for the Book Show. This is the largest radio station in Spain with over half a million listeners.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Goodreads Giveaway

Would you like a paperback copy of Someday Never Comes? To be in with a chance of winning one, simply click the link below. Good luck!



    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        Someday Never Comes by Frances di Plino



          Someday Never Comes


          by Frances di Plino


            Giveaway ends October 31, 2013.

            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.




      Enter to win