Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Obsessive characters and childhood thrillers: an interview with Araminta Hall

Kia ora and haere mai, welcome to the seventeenth instalment of 9mm for 2018, and the 189th overall edition of our long-running author interview series!

Thanks for reading over the years. I've had a lot of fun talking to some amazing crime writers and bringing their thoughts and stories to you. You can check out the full list of of past interviewees here. What a line-up. Thanks everyone.

If you've got a favourite crime writer who hasn't yet been part of the 9mm series, please do let me know in the comments or by message, and I'll look to make that happen for you. We've got several further interviews with cool writers 'already in the can' that will be published soon, so lots to look forward to over the coming weeks and months.

Today I'm very pleased to welcome Araminta Hall to Crime Watch. Araminta is the author of one of this (British) summer's very talked-about books, OUR KIND OF CRUELTY. Araminta's third novel, it's a twisting psychological thriller of dark and obsessive 'love', a couple entangled in game-playing and stakes-raising which leads to deadly consequences. Gillian Flynn has called it "Simply one of the most disturbing thrillers I’ve read in years ... I loved it, right down to the utterly chilling final line".

In a piece Araminta wrote about her new book, she says:
"But for the thriller writer it is the darker side of love that fascinates: the unrequited, the end of the affair, the shattering of dreams. To delve in to this dark psychology is such fertile ground for a writer interested in the intricate workings of the human mind because, although reading happy love stories can be uplifting, it’s the tragic love we all remember, from Cathy and Heathcliffe to Nick and Amy Dunne."

Araminta broke through as a psychological thriller author back in 2011 with EVERYTHING & NOTHING, which became a Richard and Judy Book Club selection. Her second novel, DOT, was published in 2013. The great granddaughter of a Titanic survivor, Araminta was previously a journalist, having started out on teen magazine Bliss. Her resume also includes Health and Beauty editor of New Woman, features writer for the Mirror, and the ghost-writer for a super model's newspaper column. She teaches creative writing at New Writing South in Brighton,

But for now, Araminta Hall becomes the latest author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.


9MM INTERVIEW WITH ARAMINTA HALL

1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero or detective?
I’m not a big reader of recurring crime fiction, although I love a wide variety of thrillers and crime novels. My favourite writer in this genre is Patricia Highsmith, so could I stretch it and say Ripley, although of course he is neither a hero nor a detective. But I love his obsessive, mean, ruthless character which completely draws you in to his anti-hero world. I’ve also recently reconnected with Agatha Christie, who I read as a teenager, but now as an adult realise there is much more to her work than I realised. And for me, I’m a Marple fan.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
The very first book I remember reading independently was Stig of the Dump, which in a way is a thriller, when you think about it. In fact, lots of children’s literature is based in thrillers. Then, as a teenager, I spent years absorbed in the classics like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Rebecca. I love re-reading these as an adult, as of course you see so much more than you do as a teenager.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything): unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
My debut novel was called Everything & Nothing, which was published as a psychological thriller in 2011. And before then I’d written countless novels, plays, short stories – just about anything. I think that old 10,000 hours saying is so true about writing as you really have to put the time in before you become anywhere near publishable.

4. Outside of writing, touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I live by the sea in Brighton with my husband and three children, so I’m always pretty busy. I love walking by the sea or on the Downs. And I also do a lot of yoga and Pilates, which I know makes me sound like a bit of an idiot, but it is the most soothing activity I know, especially for writers with bad backs from hunching over laptops.

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
I really can’t think of one thing in Brighton that hasn’t been written about. But the most obvious thing is the best – the beach, in winter or summer. My best advice though would be to avoid the bit between the piers and walk left towards Kemp Town or right towards Hove (where you’ll find the -best ice-cream in the city at Marocco’s). Also, even though it’s very touristy, the May festival is filled with fantastic shows every day and night and the artists’ open houses are fantastic.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Surely the beauty of being a writer is that you’re always behind the scenes and this is not something you ever have to consider? I could answer that question about my characters, but not me!

7. Of your writings, which is your favourite, and why?
I think you always like your most recent best, and by that I mean the thing you are working on and not even the one that is in the shops. Most writers I know, me included, are terrible self-critics and when I do readings I actually annotate the page, editing myself when I can’t change anything.

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
Each time it’s felt totally unbelievable and I get a mixture of fear and excitement. But the first time I cried, then went out and bought some champagne.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?

The first ever book signing I did, when my first book had only been out for a few days, was one of the worst. I was sat in the centre of a shop and not one person bought my book or asked me to sign it. I still cringe when I think about it!


Thank you Araminta, we appreciate you chatting to Crime Watch. 

OUR KIND OF CRUELTY is out in hardcover now. You can follow Araminta on Twitter

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Returning to the scene of the crime: Ngaio Marsh Award longlist revealed



















Returning to the scene of the crime: 
Ngaio Marsh Award longlist revealed

Two authors who returned to crime writing after more than a decade away have today been named among an eclectic longlist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel. 

“We shattered our record for entries in the Ngaio Marsh Awards this year, with 69 different books entered across our two fiction categories” says founder Craig Sisterson. “Along with a surge in first-time Kiwi authors choosing to write tales of crime, mystery and suspense – more than fifty new voices in the past three years - it’s been great to see more experienced local authors veering to the darker side as well as past crime writers returning to the fold.”

This year’s longlist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel includes a mix of new and experienced voices, several authors who’ve won and been shortlisted for a variety of awards in several countries, and writers ranging in age from early 20s to early 80s.

“It’s a really eclectic mix of tales on this year’s longlist,” says Sisterson. “Exhibits A-E, we have the return of Edmund Bohan’s nineteenth century detective Inspector O’Rorke after a fifteen-year absence, Stella Duffy’s first crime novel in more than a decade, a stunning debut from an ex-undercover cop, and two tales that impressed the Ockhams judges.”

The Ngaio Marsh Awards have celebrated the best New Zealand crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense writing since 2010, and this year’s longlist runs the full gamut, from detective fiction to gothic suspense to psychological thrillers to historical mysteries and magic realism.

The longlist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel is:
  • MARLBOROUGH MAN by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)
  • BABY by Annaleese Jochems (VUP)
  • SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)
  • THE LOST TAONGA by Edmund Bohan (Lucano)
  • THE EASTER MAKE BELIEVERS by Finn Bell
  • THE ONLY SECRET LEFT TO KEEP by Katherine Hayton
  • TESS by Kirsten McDougall (VUP)
  • THE SOUND OF HER VOICE by Nathan Blackell (Mary Egan Publishing)
  • A KILLER HARVEST by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)
  • THE HIDDEN ROOM by Stella Duffy (Virago)

The longlist is currently being considered by a judging panel of crime, thriller, and suspense writing experts from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

The finalists will be announced in July, along with the finalists for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel. The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced as part of a special event at the WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 August to 2 September.

For more information and updates, check out the Ngaio Marsh Awards Facebook page and Twitter account, or get in touch with the organisers at ngaiomarshaward@gmail.com.

Whodunnit? Revealing the longlist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards



After a record number of entries were received for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards, the judges have today announced the ten-book longlist for this year's Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel. 

Play the video above to reveal the longlist, along with some judges comments about each book.

The finalists for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards, for both the Best Novel and Best First Novel categories, will be announced in July, with the authors celebrated and the winners revealed at a special event during this year's WORD Christchurch Festival, from 29 August to 2 September.

For more information and updates, check out the Ngaio Marsh Awards Facebook page and Twitter account, or get in touch with the organisers at ngaiomarshaward@gmail.com.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Duffy and Dame Ngaio feature among the Daggers drawn at Crimefest




















A New Zealand mystery that began more than seventy years ago has been longlisted for the prestigious CWA Dagger Awards, announced at Crimefest in Bristol last night. 

While the Second World War was raging, Ngaio Marsh brought her famed British detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn to her native New Zealand, exploring her own country and wartime issues.

Along with being an ambulance driver during the global conflict, Marsh continued to write and published novels like COLOUR SCHEME and DIED IN THE WOOL. She also began writing another wartime mystery set in New Zealand, MONEY IN THE MORGUE, but it was never completed or published. Decades later, its opening, a few chapters, and some notes scrawled on the back of a Shakespeare script were discovered at a research library in New Zealand.

From those seeds, New Zealand-raised novelist and theatremaker Stella Duffy resurrected the mystery and wrote the first Inspector Alleyn novel to be published in more than 30 years. Last night in Bristol, Marsh and Duffy's 'collaboration' was named on this year's longlist for the CWA Historical Dagger, which honours great crime novels set in a time period of at least 50 years ago.

The Marsh/Duffy book was just one of many interesting talking points among this year's Dagger longlists. Philip Kerr, who recently passed away, was also named on the Historical Dagger longlist for PRUSSIAN BLUE. Several books were longlisted for multiple Daggers, including debuts THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE by Stuart Turton (Gold Dagger and John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger), and RESURRECTION BAY by Australian author Emma Viskic (Gold and Creasey), along with A NECESSARY EVIL by Abir Mukherjee (Gold and Historical Daggers) and LONDON RULES by Mick Herron (Gold and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers).

Rotorua Noir Guest of Honour and Icelandic crime writer Lilja Sigurdardottir was among the translated authors named on the CWA International Dagger longlist, for SNARE, translated by Quentin Bates.

Here is the full list of Dagger categories and longlisted tales.

CWA Gold Dagger:

  • Head Case, by Ross Armstrong (HQ)
  • The Liar, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion)
  • London Rules, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
  • Since We Fell, by Dennis Lehane (Little, Brown)
  • Sunburn, by Laura Lippman (Faber and Faber)
  • Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke (Serpent’s Tail)
  • You Don’t Know Me, by Imran Mahmood (Michael Joseph)
  • A Necessary Evil, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
  • The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton (Raven)
  • Resurrection Bay, by Emma Viskic (Pushkin Vertigo)


CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger:

  • The Spy’s Daughter, by Adam Brookes (Sphere)
  • The Switch, by Joseph Finder (Head of Zeus)
  • London Rules, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
  • If I Die Before I Wake, by Emily Koch (Harvill Secker)
  • Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke (Serpent’s Tail)
  • An Act of Silence, by Colette McBeth (Wildfire)
  • A Necessary Evil, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
  • Fierce Kingdom, by Gin Phillips (Doubleday)
  • The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor (Michael Joseph)
  • The Force, by Don Winslow (HarperFiction)


CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger:

  • Gravesend, by William Boyle (No Exit Press)
  • IQ, by Joe Ide (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • Soho Dead, by Greg Keen (Thomas & Mercer)
  • Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafka (Picador)
  • Lola, by Melissa Scrivner Love (Point Blank)
  • East of Hounslow, by Khurrum Rahman (HQ)
  • Ravenhill, by John Steele (Silvertail)
  • My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent (Fourth Estate)
  • The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton (Raven)
  • Resurrection Bay, by Emma Viskic (Pushkin Vertigo)


CWA International Dagger:

  • Zen and the Art of Murder, by Oliver Bottini, tr Jamie Bulloch (MacLehose Press)
  • The Shadow District, by Arnaldur Indridason, tr Victoria Cribb (Harvill Secker)
  • Three Days and a Life, by Pierre Lemaitre, tr Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press)
  • After the Fire, by Henning Mankell, tr Marlaine Delargy (Harvill Secker)
  • The Frozen Woman, by Jon Michelet, tr by Don Bartlett (No Exit Press)
  • Offering to the Storm, by Dolores Redondo, tr by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garzía (HarperCollins)
  • Three Minutes, by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström, tr by Elizabeth Clark Wessel (Quercus/Riverrun)
  • Snare, by Lilja Sigurdardóttir, tr Quentin Bates (Orenda)
  • The Accordionist, by Fred Vargas, tr Sian Reynolds (Harvill Secker)
  • Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello, tr Alex Valente (Two Roads/John Murray)


CWA Historical Dagger:

  • A Necessary Evil, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
  • Death in the Stars, by Frances Brody (Piatkus)
  • Fire, by L.C. Tyler (Constable)
  • Lightning Men, by Thomas Mullen (Little, Brown)
  • Merlin at War, by Mark Ellis (London Wall)
  • Money in the Morgue, by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy (HarperCollins)
  • Nine Lessons, by Nicola Upson (Faber and Faber)
  • Nucleus, by Rory Clements (Zaffre)
  • Prussian Blue, by Philip Kerr (Quercus)
  • The Mitford Murders, by Jessica Fellows (Sphere)


CWA Short Story Dagger:

  • “The Corpse on the Copse,” by Sharon Bolton (from Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #2: The Body, edited by Susan Opie; Killer Women)
  • “The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle,” by Chris Brookmyre (from Bloody Scotland; Historic Environment Scotland)
  • “Too Much Time,” by Lee Child (from No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories, by Lee Child; Bantam Press)
  • “Second Son,” by Lee Child (from No Middle Name)
  • “Authentic Carbon Steel Forged,” by Elizabeth Haynes (from Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women, edited by Sophie Hannah; Head of Zeus)
  • “Smoking Kills,” by Erin Kelly (from Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #2)
  • “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit,” by Denise Mina (from Bloody Scotland)
  • “Accounting for Murder,” by Christine Poulson (from Mystery Tour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories, edited by Martin Edwards; Orenda)
  • “Faking a Murder,” by Kathy Reichs and Lee Child (from Match Up, edited by Lee Child; Sphere)
  • “Trouble Is a Lonesome Town,” by Cathi Unsworth (from Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women)


CWA Dagger in the Library:
(Selected by nominations from libraries)

  • Simon Beckett
  • Martina Cole
  • Martin Edwards
  • Nicci French
  • Sophie Hannah
  • Simon Kernick
  • Edward Marston
  • Peter May
  • Rebecca Tope


Shortlists in all of these categories are anticipated by July, with winners to be declared during a Dagger Awards dinner in London on Thursday, October 25.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Review: THE FLOATING BASIN

THE FLOATING BASIN by Carolyn Hawes (2017)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Another boat reversed into one of the berthing bays not far from where Ru stood. He watched the wake spread across the lagoon to the bank in front of the car park, where the water rounded at its edges and formed the continuum of a basin. The ripples raced across to the islands; the rushes shuddered and were sucked beneath the water; seconds later they sprang back in surprise.

First-time Kiwi crime writer Carolyn Hawes brings her hometown of Westport, on the 'wild West Coast' of New Zealand's South Island, to vivid life in this engaging murder mystery. It's a small town, isolated from the cities by hundreds of miles of winding roads over or around the Southern Alps.

That isolation plays a part in this book, which has a somewhat gothic feel. Westport is a place with a fascinating, rugged history, a frontier type of place that some locals dream of escaping from, and others have escaped to. When a body emerges from the town's tidal lagoon, the eponymous floating basin, local cop Ru Clement is tasked with finding the killer.

As you'd expect with a small-town murder mystery, there are plenty of secrets being kept behind closed doors, even in a place where people feel like they know lots about their neighbours. There's also an eclectic cast of characters befitting such a place, an interesting mix of personalities that rings true even if it might seem quirky or bizarre to readers who've only ever experienced city life.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Hawes has planted her first authorial foot firmly, with a very solid debut. She shows a really good touch for the West Coast setting, and has a nice writing style that flows along pretty effortlessly, as well as a good storytelling sense and feel for dialogue.

The characterisation in THE FLOATING BASIN is good - Clements is a decent 'hero' who doesn't overwhelm the rest of the cast, which provides plenty of flavour and interest. Having lived in smaller places in New Zealand's South Island as well as cities around the world, and having explored the West Coast a few times, the sense of character and place that Hawes evoked rang very true to me.

Hawes definitely has something to offer as a crime writer, sometimes it felt like she was kind of feeling her way into it with this debut, dipping her toes into the lagoon to see how she fared.

I certainly hope she continues and writes more, whether a series with Clement and his fellow Westport cops at the core, or other West Coast crime tales. There's plenty to like about this debut Kiwi crime novel: a good sense of place, interesting characters, and solid mystery. Worth a look.


Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned features writer. He’s interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at books festivals on three continents. He's been a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards, the McIlvanney Prize, and is founder of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. You can heckle him on Twitter

Review: CLEAR TO THE HORIZON

CLEAR TO THE HORIZON by Dave Warner (Fremantle Press, 2017)

Reviewed by Karen Chisholm

In 1999, a number of young women go missing in the Perth suburb of Claremont. One body is discovered. Others are never seen again. Snowy Lane is hired as a private investigator but neither he nor the cops can find the serial killer. Sixteen years later, another case brings Snowy to Broome, where he teams up with Dan Clement and an incidental crime puts them back on the Claremont case. CLEAR TO THE HORIZON is a nail-biting Aussie-style thriller, based on one of the great unsolved crimes in Western Australia’s recent history.

Back in the late 1970's Dave Warner released music that became part of the soundtrack of my life. When I discovered CITY OF LIGHT, MURDER IN THE FRAME, EXXXPRESSO and other books by him in the late 1990's / early 2000's I was more than a bit chuffed to think a musical hero was also a lover of crime fiction. And I bloody loved all of those books.

CITY OF LIGHT was Dave Warner's first book (from memory), it won the 1996 West Australian Premier's Award for best fiction, and it introduced a young police constable, and aspiring footballer Snowy Lane. In this book Lane is investigating the murder of a number of young women by the serial killer dubbed 'Mr Gruesome'. If, however, you've not read any of Dave Warner's work then CLEAR TO THE HORIZON is a great place to start, as would be BEFORE IT BREAKS which was a very worthy Ned Kelly winner indeed.

CLEAR TO THE HORIZON is told in two later periods of time, basing itself around the true story of a number of young women who were killed by an undiscovered serial killer in Claremont, Perth. When the novel starts out in 1999, a number of young women have gone missing, with one body discovered, and the others never seen again. Snowy Lane is hired by the parents of one of the missing girls, but he, and the police, are never able to find the girls or the killer. Moving forward 16 years, Lane finds himself on an unconnected case in Broome (this time teaming up with Dan Clement from BEFORE IT BREAKS), and an incidental event takes him straight back to the Claremont investigation.

All of which probably sounds a little complicated, but if you've not read either of the earlier books it won't matter a bit. Nor will it matter if you're not across the details of the true cases on which a lot of the narrative is based. If there's one thing that Dave Warner excels at it's weaving yarns, and CLEAR TO THE HORIZON is a great yarn, with fully fleshed out characters, and plenty of action and pace.

Snowy Lane is an easy bloke to like. Dedicated to his job, he's also a loving family man with a very normal sort of a life. The Claremont case haunts him, but it hasn't twisted him. He's not one to forget, but he's also not one for dwelling. Having said that, give this man a hint of a possible solution and he's not easily distracted. He's very real, and there's more than enough back story dotted throughout this novel to give you an idea for where he's coming from.

There's also a terrific sense of place in Warner's novels. In this case the heat and light of beach-side Fremantle and Broome are clear and bright, contrasting well with the night-time pubs, clubs, alleyways, taxi ranks and parking lots where the young women disappeared. It's worth remembering that apart from the general details of the true crime around which the novel is based, everything here is fictional - much of it is so real, and so feasible in terms of possible suspects, and the final resolution.

I confess to having been a mad fan of Dave Warner's music. It makes me very happy that the stories he tells in his books are longer in form, but still so clearly about life as it happens in Australia. It's particularly fortunate that there's no need to a lot of dancing when a new book comes out - my knees aren't what they used to be back in my punk days. But happy dancing of a slightly more sedate version still goes on.



Karen Chisholm is one of Australia's leading crime reviewers. She created Aust Crime Fiction in 2006, a terrific resource - please check it out. Karen also reviews for Newtown Review of Books, and is a judge of the  Ned Kelly Awards and the Ngaio Marsh AwardsShe kindly shares some of her reviews of crime and thriller novels from Australian and New Zealand authors on Crime Watch as well as on Aust Crime Fiction

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: BABY

BABY by Annaleese Jochems (VUP, 2017)

Reviewed by Alyson Baker

Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen. Her striking fitness instructor, Anahera, is ready to throw in the towel on her job and marriage. With stolen money and a dog in tow they run away and buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in the Bay of Islands, where Cynthia dreams they will live in a state of love. But strange events on an empty island turn their life together in a different direction. BABY is a sunburnt psychological thriller of obsession and escape by one of the most exciting new voices in New Zealand fiction.

Cynthia, 21 but looks younger, thinks her dreams have come true when she takes off with her dog, her beautiful yoga instructor and her Dad’s money.  She buys a boat called Baby to live on off shore from beautiful Paihia, and cuts all ties with her friends and relations – what could go wrong?

Well quite a lot, quite quickly; BABY is told from Cynthia’s point of view and Cynthia’s point of view is informed mainly from reality TV, YouTube and online sex sites.  She is an unreliable narrator of her own life – fantasising constantly and getting pouty and churlish when the real world doesn’t conform.  As well as Anahera, the fitness instructor, there are three other significant characters in the novel, but we have no idea really who they are and what they are thinking – Cynthia’s perception of things being so self-obsessed.

BABY is quite mundanely horrific – Anahera’s fitness weights roll around above their heads inside the boat – an ominous noise that becomes more so when Gordon anchors them so the threat is still there but silent.  Gordon is a man they pick up, or are picked up by, on a nearby island – is he German?, a fake?, known to Anahera?, a threat?  All we have to go on is Cynthia’s warping thoughts.  The boat becomes a claustrophobic container of Cynthia’s psyche – within which she tells us of Anahera’s comings and goings (she is always swimming away and back), their daily routines, their childish diet and the annoying intrusions of those they invite in – a young boy from a Paihia school, Gordon, a man who lives on a nearby boat.

Cynthia is also really an unknown – she is either extremely attractive or not and overweight. She might have been blond but the roots are showing.  She might have been to university but has been unemployed and living on her father’s money.  She also might never have been able to secure a job, not being able to convince potential employers of her trustworthiness, so has been unemployed and living on her father’s money. She is extremely modern in the worst way, abandoning what she says she loves for something else she says she loves, being emotionless and mercenary about online sex related sites, being more interested in the image of herself than the reality of others.

The psychological suspense in BABY arises from not knowing whether Cynthia’s fantasy is complete – is it all in Cynthia’s mind – or will her negative thoughts towards others be expressed as violent action?  It can go either way for quite some claustrophobic time.

You will have to read BABY to find out the answer!

Alyson Baker is a crime-loving librarian in Nelson. This review first appeared on her blog, which you can check out here

For another take on BABY, read here

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Enid Blyton and runaway couples: an interview with Graham Smith

Kia ora and haere mai, welcome to the sixteenth instalment of 9mm for 2018, and the 188th overall edition of our long-running author interview series!

Thanks for reading over the years. I've had a lot of fun talking to some amazing crime writers and bringing their thoughts and stories to you. You can check out the full list of of past interviewees here. What a line-up. Thanks everyone.

If you've got a favourite crime writer who hasn't yet been part of the 9mm series, please do let me know in the comments or by message, and I'll look to make that happen for you. We've got several further interviews with cool writers 'already in the can' that will be published soon, so lots to look forward to over the coming weeks and months.

Today I'm very pleased to welcome author Graham Smith to Crime Watch. Graham leads a dual life as a crime writer and running a hotel and wedding venue in Gretna Green. I mention that latter as the little village of Gretna Green has quite the history with weddings. From the mid 18th century, English couples would regularly 'run away' to Gretna Green, popping across the border to get married at the closest village in Scotland - a place where younger couples didn't need parental consent and you didn't have to get married in a church. So as well as his action-packed crime tales, Graham is continuing a noble and centuries-old tradition among the northern borderlands.

Graham is the author of both the DI Harry Evans series, which is set in the United Kingdom, and the Jake Boulder series, which is set in the United States. He's also a great supporter of other crime writers, regularly attending various festivals as well as running the Crime and Publishment workshops, which have helped mentor several aspiring authors to eventual publication.

But for now, Graham Smith becomes the latest author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.

9MM INTERVIEW WITH GRAHAM SMITH

1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
This is an almost impossible question to answer as I have so many favourites. Reacher, Logan MacRae, Roy Grace and many others are in the running, but if I had to choose just one, it would be Craig Russell’s Lennox. All the novels featuring the sardonic sleuth are dripping with atmosphere and every one of them are fantastic reads.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
That would have to be Five Go off to Camp. I read this book around the age of eight and I loved the idea that children could foil adult criminals. Yes the books now seem rather twee in today’s world, but that is the book which kindled my love affair with crime fiction. I read all of the Famous Five and Secret Seven novels as well as Blyton’s Adventure series.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I was very fortunate that the first novel I wrote went on to be published. However, it started out really badly and I broke off from writing it to learn my craft writing short stories. I have three collections of short stories available on Amazon and while I may write them a little differently now, I am proud of them all as they gave me the skills to write the way that I write now.

4. Outside of writing, touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
As I have a full-time job running a busy hotel and wedding venue, my leisure time is very limited, but I do enjoy spending time with friends and family. Watching football takes up a fair chunk of my spare time and I am not adverse to spending a few hours on the Xbox.

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
The little village where I live is the kind of one-horse town where even the horse is considering leaving. Therefore there’s not a lot to do and there’s only one thing which may count as a tourist attraction. However a walk along the banks of the River Kirtle is always a good way to clear the cobwebs from your brain.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
I’d like to say Tom Hardy as he’s a heartthrob, but the reality of the situation is that someone like Danny DeVito is more of visual fit. My life to date would also make for a very boring movie, although it’d be nice for me to have some of the blanks in my twenties filled in.

7. Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
This is such a tough question to answer. I love all my completed books equally as they all represent a time I’ve spent with characters whom I adore. The book I favour the most is usually the one I’m working on as it represents everything I’ve learned about writing and will hopefully show my progression as a writer.

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
I rather predictably punched the air for a while and then had a couple of beers. The first time I saw my debut on a shelf was the night of the launch in my local Waterstones and that was a marvellous feeling. That I had my good friend and mentor in Matt Hilton chairing the evening made the whole experience even more special.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
I’ve never had anything that really qualifies for this question, but I think the oddest experience I ever had was when I was approached by a lady I didn’t know. She confirmed my name and then told me how much she loved my book. It was such a gratifying and surreal moment for me as it was the first time this had happened with someone I’d had no previous contact with. She was telling me that she loved my writing and the way I told a story and I was trying to say something other than thank you in response to all her compliments.


Thank you Graham, we appreciate you chatting to Crime Watch. 

You can learn more about Graham and his books at his website