Wednesday 24 April 2024

In Brighton, talking crime

 I've been in Brighton for a long weekend for the Crime Writers' Association Annual Conference.

 It was a bit disconcerting to be greeted at the station by a very large contingent of police along with three very enthusiastic sniffer dogs. What they were looking for I don't know, but they didn't find it in my bag, I am glad to say. 

I had a really good time. Lots of technical style talks - research techniques, police procedure, courtroom dramas, criminal psychology - I now know more about what makes a serial killer than I did before.

Be afraid ... 

The hotel was big and modern, right on the sea front. 

I had a very nice room but declined to pay for the upgrade for a sea view. Breakfast was spectacular. I adore hotel breakfasts and this was top ten class. Saturday afternoon featured a crime walk - the dark side of Brighton, including historic murders, bodies in trunks and a man who was on the run for seventeen years. I was a bit dubious as my back is still playing me up but I managed most of it before limping back to the hotel for a cup of tea. The gala dinner included the announcement of the long lists for the CWA Awards - the Daggers. It was a pleasant surprise to recognise the names of two Crime Cymru friends who had made the list  - Alis Hawkins in two categories and Matt Johnson in the true crime award, along with my new publishers, Joffe in the crime publisher of the year category. Bets were being taken on what would be served at the dinner - predictably it was chicken. The food was good and the company excellent and afterwards Elly Griffiths - a Brighton local - gave us a whistle stop tour of her local area. I learned things, saw old friends and made a few new ones. The proceeding finished at lunch time on Sunday. As I refuse to travel by train on a Sunday if it can possibly be avoided I stayed on until the following day, doing day-at-the -seaside things - fish and chips, ice-cream, a wander in the Lanes when I heroically avoided the vintage jewelers. 

I took some pictures - the pier, the pavilion. It's a very long time since I was in Brighton. It was very busy and very much a seaside town with lots going on. Last time I was at a CWA Conference - in Torquay - I used the town as one of the locations for the book I was just finishing - Masquerade on the Riviera - which is currently a nominee for the Romantic Thriller of the Year. There are no current plans for a book set in Brighton, but you never know.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

A J R Hartley moment

 Those readers of mature years will probably remember a Yellow Pages advert from the early 1980s in which an elderly gentleman tours bookshops in search of a book on fly fishing. He returns sadly home after a fruitless search and his daughter hands him a copy of Yellow Pages. When he finds a copy of the book  - well you know the story, or can imagine. 

Original Advert link Here

I had my own J R Hartley moment on Saturday when I finally got a copy of the Chinese version of Never Coming Home. 

Authors are supposed to get at least one copy of a book put out in their name, but somehow it never happened. I knew the book was out because I'd seen in on Amazon, but I never remembered to ask my then publisher and now water has flowed under that bridge...

I made up my mind finally to see if I could get a copy. Two orders were cancelled by Amazon, but I tried a third time - although the price had increased considerably!

This time it worked. Third time lucky and now I have it. No idea what it says, but I am thrilled with it. 

I don't expect the Amazon automated systems twigged that I was the author asking for my own book though. My very own J R Hartley moment. 

Wednesday 10 April 2024

The Cat is out of the Bag.


Well, now you know. I've been nursing this piece of news since February! 

The fourth book in the Riviera series, Masquerade on the Riviera has followed its sibling A Villa in Portofino into the finals of the Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller of the Year Award. 

The Jackie Collins is one of a bundle of awards made annually by the Romantic Novelists' Association for books chosen by a panel of reader judges as best in their genre. This category is sponsored by the publishers Simon and Schuster in commemoration of their mega successful, much missed author. 

As you can imagine I am thrilled to be nominated for the second time. 

Will I win? 

Who knows?

The competition is strong and there are some fabulous books in the list. I'm just happy to be in their company. The knowledge that the nominees are chosen by ordinary romance readers is the icing on the cake. 

The awards will be made at a very posh ceremony in London on 20th May. I have a sparkly outfit, courtesy of the January sales, that I haven't worn yet. Only fly in the ointment is I have to shorten the legs. Sequins. That will be fun.  

In the next couple of weeks I'm going to be talking a bit about the book and the process of writing it. I'm looking forward to that. It was fun to write and it will be fun to talk about it again.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Hard shell, soft centre

 This post came about because I have read a number of books recently - crime, not romance- where I didn't find a single character I could like or identify with.

I disliked all of them.

Even the ones presented as the protagonist. 

Now yes, I know a lot of people would say that this is realism - that we don't always like everyone and that even protagonists have flaws. But I'm old school. There has to be someone in the cast to attach myself to. Someone who has some positive characteristics. 

This is one of the reasons why I write romantic suspense. It gives me the chance to explore the good stuff as well as the bad. Yes, it's crime, the bodies pile up and I can have real fun creating villains, but in the centre is a couple falling in love, and whatever happens to those villains - and I do tend to kill them off- there is always going to be a happy ending - or at least a positive one. The road to romance will be rocky - secrets, misunderstandings, the effect of past trauma, but it will end in the right place.

Am I expecting things to be too nice, too neat, with too much feel good factor? I don't think so. Those books with the dislikable characters left me discontented - sufficiently so that I am blogging about it. Fiction is just that, fiction. Creating a world where everyone is unpleasant, untrustworthy or downright nasty seems very negative to me. The real world is difficult enough, I don't need it in my reading matter as well. It's all too downbeat and leaves me with the feeling of having wasted time reading the book.  Actually, to be honest in two cases I bailed out at about the three quarter mark and just read the end. In neither case did I regret it. Am I getting to be a sloppy reader, one who can't stay the course?  I do give myself permission not to finish a book these days. Life is very short and there are so many good books out there. I'm just going to have to be a bit more careful in finding the upbeat ones!