Getting to Know You: Michael J. Malone

Today, we have the inimitable Michael J. Malone on the blog to delve into his writing life, with special regard given to his Glasgow DI Ray McBain. 

In addition to writing a successful series, Michael is responsible for assisting Graham Smith with Crime and Publishment and it was a pleasure to get an insight into Michael’s expertise at Gretna. Graham Smith sang Michael’s praises, saying: ‘Michael’s input is greatly valued and he is an integral part of the event’s burgeoning success’. 

I hope you enjoy getting to know Michael as much as I have!

Vic x

Bad Samaritan

McBain seems very popular. Did you always intend him to be a recurring character?
I had no plan whatsoever when I started writing from his perspective. The opening for my debut crime novel, ‘Blood Tears‘ came to me in a vivid dream and it involved a man in front of a mirror, holding a white mask and a scalpel – you need to read the book to find out what happened next – and it occurred to me when I woke up that this could be a serial killer celebrating his “kill”. And if I was writing a serial killer, I needed a cop. McBain was born. And the moment he appeared on the page, he was there, fully-formed as if I’d known him all my life.

How do you find writing a series?
Being with a smaller publisher I have the luxury of being “allowed” to mix it up a little so I have been able to switch from writing about one central character to another, which I find has helped me keep things fresh. Good things about writing a series? The world you are writing about is there in your mind, you just need to jump back in and run with it – no need to set things up. And when you’ve had a break from them it feels good to encounter them again. It’s like running into a friend. Dislike? The worry that there will come a time when you have said everything that this character has to say. What do you do then?

What was your inspiration for ‘Bad Samaritan‘?
I knew that events in ‘Blood Tears‘ had to be resolved – being careful of spoilers here – and the serial killer I mentioned earlier with the mask, would need to sort things out between him and McBain once and for all.

Any advice for aspiring writers?
Learn your craft. Learn how to accept feedback. Grow a hard shell. Make resilience your middle name.

Most useful piece of writing advice? Who was it from?
You can never go wrong with the wisdom of Stephen King as evidenced in his writing memoir, ‘On Writing‘. And then there’s a very dear friend of mine – seasoned novelist with over 40 novels under her belt – Margaret Thomson Davis. After I finished my very first novel she was the first person I phoned to tell. (Most of my friends at that point were non-writers and wouldn’t have had a clue what this meant.)

The conversation went like this:

Me – “Margaret, I’ve just typed those two little words.”
Her – “WayHAY!! The End. Well done, Michael, well done.”
Then without a moment’s pause she asked: “What are you writing next?”

She was such a professional and had such a work ethic that there was little time for congratulations. There was a moment to savour the achievement – and then without allowing procrastination/ self-doubt/ a writers’ fears back in – it was straight on to the next book. I don’t always manage this, but it has resulted in a reasonable output over the years.

What’s next for you?
I have a new release in September that I am really excited about. It will be published with that force of nature, Karen Sullivan over at Orenda Books. It is an issue led domestic noir/ psych thriller called ‘A Suitable Lie‘.

Sounds great, I’m looking forward to reading it already! Thanks for being involved, Michael – it’s been great having you on Elementary V Watson. 

Guest post: Emma Whitehall on Performing Your Work.

Today, I have the very gifted Emma Whitehall on the blog to give some advice on performing your work. I’ve seen Emma read on numerous occasions and I can attest to how brilliantly she performs. 

I think most of us could do with taking some tips from Emma. Thanks for sharing your expertise, Emma!

Vic x

Performing Your Work.

Emma Whitehall

            I was sitting in a pub in York when it hit me. I was surrounded by writers I didn’t know, all of us reading our work aloud for an audience. I was excited to be around new voices so that I could listen to the work without my reaction being clouded by the speaker being a good friend.

I was listening to a gentleman reading, when I noticed how little confidence he had in reading his own work. He would finish the last word of the last line, and almost before the word were out of his mouth, they were swallowed up by “andthenextpoemisabout…” No change in his speech pattern, no pause to let his words be absorbed by his audience – and, worst of all, no time for us as an audience to show our appreciation of his work. I was genuinely enjoying his work, but the edges of his poetry blurred into his unscripted introductions, making his reading a bit of a mess.

It got me thinking about all the times I’ve seen this from writers. People who have great words, but little to no experience speaking in front of a crowd, who are frightened or ignorant of the audience, and who squander their opportunity to get their voice – and their work – heard. They mumble, they stare at the floor or their piece of paper, and make a dash from the stage as soon as they finish reading.

I came into writing from five years studying performing arts. I’d always written for my own amusement, but my love at the time was the stage. Even now, ten years on, I get a thrill from being on-stage that is unmatchable. Because I’ve always had a knack for learning lines (as well as my crippling social anxiety making it difficult to make friends), I spent a lot of those years performing monologues. I learned of spoken word from Jessica Johnson, co-founder of one of the best, most boisterous, raucous, and talent-filled nights I’ve ever been to – Pink Lane Poetry and Performance. I cut my teeth there, before moving on to open mics like Jibba Jabba, Hot Words at the Chilli (now The Stanza), and Poetry Jam, where I moved from writing my own monologues into creating short stories, and eventually into poetry. A lot of writers I know got into performance poetry the other way around – finding platforms to read their work at after spending months, if not years, writing.

Here’s the hard truth; if you want to read your work aloud, you have to be able to perform. Anyone who has listened to teenagers read Shakespeare can tell you; even the most wonderful words, filled with the most beautiful meaning, can be made to sound terrible coming from unconfident or uninterested speakers. You wrote these words because something in you felt a spark of inspiration – when reading aloud, your voice is what passes that spark along, just as much as the words on the page. Reading your work at events can be a great way to establish a new following, and hopefully help you sell your work, so it is worth learning how to do it well.

I decided to write this article to try and pass on what I’ve learned in the four years (how has it been that long?!) that I’ve been performing my own work. However scary the stage can look, don’t worry – it is conquerable, and can even be exhilarating and deeply rewarding.

Be Prepared – Learning poems off by heart is difficult for some people, but you will be far less nervous when you get on-stage if you have a grasp of the poem and how you want to perform it. Plus, if you are constantly looking down at a page, your voice will hit the paper, making it more difficult for you to be heard. My favourite tip is to learn a few lines at a time, building and building upon it as you go, until you can recite the whole thing. Run it to yourself while you do the housework, just before bed, or – if you feel brave – when you have a quiet moment at work.

Nerves are normal – Everyone gets nervous before getting on-stage to perform. You are baring a part of yourself when you show people your own work. But I promise you – it’s never as daunting as it seems once you are up there. Take a deep breath, smile, and go for it!

Projecting – Projecting is about making your voice as loud and clear as you can. This can take a while to get the hang of, but the best way is to imagine your voice moving in a straight line, hitting the back of the room. A good warm up is to hum with a closed mouth. Play around until you feel the sound vibrations tingling your lips. This is the correct place for your voice to be “coming from” to be heard well when you speak.

Eye contact – Everyone has different levels of comfort with this, but part of performing is connecting with your audience. It could help to have a friendly face in the crowd to “perform to” – although I purposely avoid my boyfriend’s gaze when he comes to see me perform. However you feel, a good trick is to aim your eyes at the top of someone’s head, or sweep a general portion of the crowd – with the bright lights, there’s a good chance you can’t make out any individuals anyway!

NO APOLOGISING – Sometimes, things will go wrong. I personally had a nightmarish open mic slot a few months ago, where I panicked as soon as I got on-stage, and wobbled and stumbled my way through a poem that I’d known off by heart only a few minutes earlier. But, when I tearfully talked to my friends about it, my performance hadn’t been nearly as terrible as I thought – they’d noticed me pause a few times, but the performance on the whole was ok. The thing to remember is this: if you read your own work, no one else knows the piece. They don’t know if you mixed up two adjectives, or if a long pause is a deliberate dramatic choice or a lost line. And, if you don’t panic and apologise, you have the chance to take a good, deep breath, calm yourself, and begin the line again. Which brings me to my next point…

Pauses are your friend – Silences on stage can be terrifying – sometimes, even more so than actually speaking. But a well placed silence can help your words really land with impact. Chose them carefully, and with purpose. If you are scared of the “Oh, are they finished?” reaction at the end of a piece, give the audience a small nod and say “thank you.” I often find myself crossing my feet and bowing a little at the waist, but that’s the actor in me. Also – and I can’t stress this enough – let the audience applaud you. Don’t try and talk over them if you can, and certainly don’t rush off-stage, no matter how tempting. They liked your work and they want to show you that – enjoy it!

Utilise your time – I’ve been guilty in the past of performing tiny poems; only four or five lines long. And while I love these poems, sometimes you are done and off-stage before the audience can really get a feel for who you are and what you do. Be mindful of time. If you are lucky enough to be asked to do a set of pieces, pick them carefully, and run the whole set before you perform it, timing yourself. You want to make the most of your time on-stage, and showcase your work properly. However, be very wary of seeming self-indulgent. One of my biggest bugbears at an open mic is a performer hogging the microphone, outstaying their welcome or even going back a second or third time! Everyone deserves a chance to perform, and one amazing piece is better than three lukewarm ones. Learn to use your time on-stage wisely.

Find your people – Performance poets are, in my experience, some of the warmest, funniest, most accepting and supporting people I’ve met. Talk to people – compliment their work, find them on social media, ask them questions. As a whole, we love to chat! There are always workshops, writing groups, and open mic nights to attend that will help you improve. In the North East, we have Scratch Tyne; a monthly workshop, where writers are invited to work on their pieces in an accepting, constructive environment. Sometimes there is a theme, sometimes we just play around and see what happens. New voices in the community only brings more interesting, diverse work, so make yourself known!

I am not a “performance poet” – at least, not in the way a lot of people I know are. I don’t want to perform for a living, or create a one-woman show for the Fringe Festival. But performing my work has led to some of the best things in my life. I’ve made friends, had amazing experiences, and grown as a writer in ways I never could have if I stuck strictly to the page. I hope my advice has made the stage a little less daunting, and maybe you can find a new angle which can help your writing grow and reach new audiences you maybe never imagined before. Break a leg!

Guest post: James A. Tucker on ‘Game of Thrones’.

‘Game of Thrones’ returns to TV screens this week. Here is writer James A. Tucker to discuss the books, series and what should happen next.

Thanks for being involved, James!

Vic x

James A. Tucker on ‘Game of Thrones’. 

Observe your reaction when I say the following words:

Game of Thrones.

It probably runs through a spectrum.  A person not unconnected with this blog suffers constant attempts by her boyfriend to make her read the book or watch the TV series, and hence associates it with annoyance. Some of my friends go into rapture; music starts playing in their heads and their eyes take on what Peter Dinklage, the biggest star of Thrones, calls the “Nerd Glaze”. Others feel deep disquiet and worry at the cruelty and sexism you will find therein. There are people like me who sometimes would rather the TV series had never happened. There are rabid fans who troll the author online for not writing fast enough.

All this rich pageant of humanity is worthy of notice, but for me, the most interesting ones are those who like it despite themselves. Grace Dent, The Independent critic, once wrote one of the most scathing (and funny) slaggings-off of fantasy fiction and fans that I have ever read. However, she likes Thrones. Other watchers you might not expect are Sue Perkins and Clive James, who broke his rule about never having anything to do with dragons.

Those beasts do not appear for a while; there are no elves, hobbits or orcs, little supernatural, and the only dwarf is the kind we know from real life. This is reassuring for those who have trouble with such things. Although being a scientist and a nitpicker, I still see plenty of magic around in things such as the hundred-metre high ice wall.

It takes more than an absence to make something popular; so instead of those fantastical elements, it draws upon real-world history. The various atrocities, treacheries, villainies and iniquities are strongly reminiscent of the Wars of the Roses, or ancient Rome. A certain notorious wedding was based upon real events from Scottish history (The Black Dinner/Glencoe Massacre).

There are some good characters, including superb love-to-hate villains, although very few are black and white; a man who threw a child off a tower in episode 1 is now commonly regarded as sympathetic. But for my money, George RR Martin’s achievement is to do danger superlatively well. No matter someone is in their character arc, no matter how popular or infamous, it seems that anyone can die at the drop of a hat—and they do. Instead of suspending disbelief about protagonists surviving, you feel genuine fear turning the page. I might even lay bets that the world does not get saved in the end.

If anyone is safe, it is the dwarf Tyrion Lannister. Peter Dinklage now receives top billing and probably has the best acting role for a dwarf in TV history. It tackles the way his character has been disadvantaged without being defined by it. He is flawed but admired; he drinks, he fights and schemes, loves or hates his relatives, whores but falls in love. Not to mention getting some of the funniest lines. But perhaps the best part is that it seems to have led on to genuinely height-blind casting with X-Men: Days of Future Past. Dinklage probably deserves some bigger height-blind awards than he already has.

But while we’re on the subject of PC… oh dear. Gratuitous titillation is a common affliction, but that doesn’t excuse it. There may be a fair amount of sex in the books, but the series has added to it and filmed it in HD with unrealistically beautiful and well-lit actresses. For extra sleaze they “method cast” porn stars as sex workers. No doubt the production company has made cynical calculations over how many viewers will be pulled in versus how many will be alienated.

More disturbingly, the TV added two rapes. Fantasy site “The Mary Sue” withdrew from Thrones; GRRM defended it, saying that to portray a medieval society or war without sexual violence used as a weapon would be dishonest. A Scissor Sister took the producers to task.

Why has this caused more disturbance than other horrible fates? While few liked the extended torture and castration of a male character, it did not lead to boycott calls. My best theory is that in real western-world life, misogyny and sexual abuse are far more common than being executed with molten gold, or having your skull crushed by an eight-foot knight. Yes, non-sexual violence is real and there are debates to be had about its depiction, but people are more worried that viewers might be influenced to sexually assault someone than to murder and torture.

Which is not to say that people do not leave the books and series because of its grimness; many have. However, I have quit other authors and series because I thought they were being dark for the sake of it, and I have not done so yet with Thrones; it seems in-keeping with the setting and does not break the story.

Should it simply have remained as books? The TV series has changed the public name (the books were “A Song of Ice and Fire”), altered characters and plots, and now it has overtaken the author. The smug sense I had of knowing roughly what was coming next, and the safety of being braced for the next horrible death, is now history.

By his own admission, GRRM is more of a “gardener” author, plotting as he goes along. However, he now has to plan to the end and tell the TV series what happens, and let them fill in the details. I can feel for his plight; I doubt he anticipated the TV rights being used before the series was complete, or ever imagined it would get this big.

Or he could let them finish it themselves, then write a completely different version. This has happened before with a Japanese manga called Full Metal Alchemist, where a second TV series was made with the book’s ending. But with a plot as vast and complicated as GoT, you might wind up needing two brains.

So… a well-regarded series amongst fantasy readers has now become a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut. In the process, it has opened minds, set records for internet piracy, been visited by the Queen and joked about by the US President, made stars, annoyed, shocked, courted controversy, and broken a few moulds.  Love it or hate it, the Thrones explosion has changed things…

James A Tucker
Thanks to Martyn P Jackson for suggestions and comments

Review: ‘From there to you, from here to me’ at Northern Stage, 20/04/16.

From there to you, from here to me

ODDMANOUT’s newest production is a riveting play about motherhood, relationships and identity.

Agnes – played by Christina Berriman Dawson – is trying to complete her PhD. She’s using this as a way to get to know her mum better. Her mum, Mary, is dying. In effort to discover who fathered her, Agnes chips away at her mum’s façade, only to discover some very uncomfortable truths.

From there to you, from here to me plays with the audience’s perceptions of identity and what happens when elements of your identity are called into question.

There were some tremendously moving scenes between Mary – played by Jackie Lye – and Agnes. There were quiet laughs of recognition during their sparring matches which were so realistic and well-executed. The tension between the two actors, despite thawing relations, continued throughout and I thought that uneasy truce was so true to life. It was actually very touching to see a realistic portrayal of a difficult, but ultimately loving, mother-daughter relationship.

The script, by Scott Young, was deftly crafted and full of nuance. The use of film and sound throughout added yet another layer to this thoughtful production.

Vic x

Review: ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London’ by Jennifer

Kindred Spirits Tower of London


A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…

In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Anne Boleyn rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.

Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London‘ is a light-hearted, imaginative read. It’s a new take on historical fiction but make no mistake, this is not only a fun read but an educational tool. If you get lost off between your kings and queens, this is the book for you. It makes what was essentially a messy historical period understandable and even makes the reader empathise with previously maligned characters. Having chosen Richard III and Anne Boleyn as protagonists, one might have expected this to be rather a different book but it is fun and full of heart.

It’s obvious that Jennifer C. Wilson is passionate about history and has a comprehensive knowledge of the period. My one criticism is that I would have preferred the list of characters at the beginning of the book.

However, this is a brilliantly unique idea from a distinctive new voice in fiction.

Vic x

Getting to know you: Nicky Black

Nicky Black is a writing duo consisting of Nicky Doherty and Julie Black. Their book The Prodigal is set in Newcastle and has enjoyed tremendous success across the UK. I’m thrilled to say Nicky and Julie are joining us on the blog today to share their secrets with us! 

Vic x

Nicky Black

I’m really intrigued by the idea of writing partnerships. Tell us about your writing partnership. How did you two meet and decide to write this book together? How does it work, do you write side by side or one draft and the other edit?
Nicky: Julie and I met when we worked on run down council estates in the north east in the nineties. She was a community worker and I was a project manager for grants programmes. When I discovered she wrote plays and had recently finished a movie script I was fascinated. When I read them, I loved them, and wanted to help her get the movie made. She has such an ear for dialogue, and I love reading dialogue driven books like Roddy Doyle. Julie’s talent was spotted by a producer at ITV and she was commissioned to write The Prodigal as a two part TV drama. It was never green lit and many years later over a glass of wine, I said it would make a great novel. I asked if I could have a go at adapting it, and here we are!

Julie: We work apart and meet up now and then (I still live in Newcastle and Nicky is in London). Nicky takes the script, asks me lots of questions about the characters, how they feel, what their surroundings are like, what the tensions are between them, why they are motivated to do certain things and I try to describe all this over the phone, because it isn’t on the page, it’s in my head. Nicky transforms that into emotion, thoughts and back stories which gives the characters texture and brings places to life. Sometimes she’ll say that there isn’t enough material and we will work on an extra bit of plot together or she will add or remove characters.

The Prodigal

Do you ever disagree on where the story should be going? If so, how do you resolve it?
Julie: I have to appreciate how much work goes into the narrative and I give Nicky the freedom to get on with it. Sometimes she’s nervous about what I’ll think and I have to admit sometimes I’m nervous about what she’s doing with it but it turns out alright in the end. My strength is story and dialogue, my weakness is descriptive stuff and adjectives, I don’t really do adjectives

Nicky: I love them. Probably a bit too much…

I tend not to run with ideas Julie doesn’t agree with. They are her characters and she knows them much better than me, so when she says, ‘Lee would never do that,’ then I believe her. If I introduce new ideas or characters and she likes them, then we’ll run with it.

What inspired the story of The Prodigal?
: The Prodigal was inspired by a meeting with a local police chief who had been checking my Heads movie script (now being adapted into a book by Nicky) for accuracies in police procedure. As an aside, I asked about informers: who did it and what for? He said there were 3 types – petty criminals who informed for small amounts of cash, bigger criminals who wanted to drop other criminals in it or get plea bargains, and the others tended not to be criminals, they were people who informed for moral reasons – mainly women who were worried about their families, husbands, sons who were involved in crime. He told me these women were at the greatest danger because if their families found out they would suffer the consequences at home. I talked to him about their handlers, where they would meet and wondered if they ever built strong bonds, he said they did. Then the million dollar question, did they ever fall in love? He said it had happened and the consequences were horrendous, they could never be together, the woman would be ostracised by her family and the police officer would lose his job.

My mind drifted to Romeo and Juliet, my favourite play, and thoughts of star crossed lovers. I told Carolyn Reynolds, Head of Drama at Granada, the idea. She said I should give up my day job and write it and promptly gave me a commission for a 2 part drama for television. I left my job, rented an office and wrote. The story came easily but it took a couple of years working with Carolyn and a script editor to get the script just right.
Are the characters and/or situations based on experiences you’ve had?
Julie: The characters are not based on real people per se but they have a lot of characteristics of people I know. Some of the experiences are real but I’m not telling you which ones!

How has the book been received in the north east? And what about elsewhere? Does it ‘translate’ for other parts of the UK and further afield?
Nicky: I found myself removing some colloquialisms on the final edit, particularly where it could be misconstrued as a typo (like polis for police), but I kept those that transcend regions in (only one person has asked me what ‘haway’ means). I left in a scattering of words that non-Geordies might not understand, but I love them and Geordies love them, and I want Geordies more than anyone to love these books. So ‘worky ticket’ stayed in, even though the copy editor hadn’t a clue. There will be more in the next book too, but not so many that it would render it inaccessible to posh southerners… It has translated incredibly well right across the UK. The subject matter and the ‘mother ship’, Valley Park, is universal. Not sure how well it would do across the pond. I’ve yet to see any significant sales outside the UK. But I’m okay with that right now. I want to build up a local readership first, it feels right for this kind of series of stories.


What’s the best piece of writerly advice you’ve been given – and who by?
Julie: The best piece of writerly advice was given when I first began writing on the soaps ‘don’t get it right, get it written’. I never have a problem with starting a piece of work but I do break it all down into a storyline first and then follow each step of the plot to bring it to life in scenes.  As a TV scriptwriter you expect to do five or more drafts before producers are happy so getting something on paper is the top priority, you can always change anything that doesn’t work later. I couldn’t work without a plan though – that’s my worst nightmare. Call me a control freak…


What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Nicky: This is hard, because I still feel like an aspiring writer myself and am constantly on the prowl for advice from experienced authors. I suppose, you have to believe in your story and your characters. If you’re not passionate about the story and the people in it, then the prose and the dialogue will be boring. If you’re desperate to tell a great story, just tell it. Also, don’t stop reading novels. Oh, and I have a bible called How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N Frey. It’s brilliant.


What’s next for you?
Nicky: I’m currently adapting Julie’s script of a movie called Heads.  It’s the first thing of hers that I read back in the day. I loved it then and I love it now. We even tried to get it made into a movie, but we couldn’t make it happen (we had lots of fun along the way though). We made a promotional tease for it which is here. It’s set in 1989, the second Summer of Love, and is about a young man called Shaun Collins who wants to be a big-shot music promoter. He gets the chance to organise a huge, illegal rave in Northumberland, but the police and the loan sharks are on his tail, and the organised crime networks are moving in for their share of the profits. I’m aiming to get Heads released in August or September this year.

Guest post: Michael Fowler on Getting Started on Your Crime Novel (course).

As many of you already know, I attended Crime and Publishment in Gretna a couple of weeks ago. As a Creative Writing tutor, it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the other side of the classroom, so to speak. But as a writer, it was invaluable. It gave me time to think about my own writing as well as immersing me in an environment where everyone was thinking and talking about writing.

If you would like to give a Creative Writing course a go, Michael Fowler is here to talk about his course Getting Started on Your Crime Novel, which will take place during Spring Bank Holiday – Tuesday 31st May  to Thursday 2nd June. For more information, or to book your place, email Michael

Vic x

The idea of running a crime writing course was first mooted following a joint author talk with Danuta Reah in 2014, upon learning of her creative writing teaching background, and that prospect took a giant leap forward when I met up with Alison Taft at one of her creative writing retreats.

I have to confess, right from the outset, that my knowledge of writing crime novels has come from ‘How to’ books and so, although enthused to be part of this, equally, I felt somewhat out of my depth, especially given Danuta and Alison’s background. Nevertheless, I set about the programme’s development with a great degree of excitement because we had identified that a must would be an input on crime and procedure – my area of knowledge.

From the outset we agreed we wanted to give those attending the component parts of writing a crime novel, plus provide them with knowledge of how to prepare for the publishing market. We also determined that police procedure and forensics, via a crime scene scenario, would be built in.

The hook for the course came thanks to Darren Laws, CEO of our publisher, Caffeine Nights. He agreed to read the best three submissions from those who attended.

The first course ran last April and 15 people attended. The class included a Forensic Anthropologist, whose CV included advising Kathy Reichs and Anne Cleeves on their books, and who has proved to be a great contact for my latest DS Hunter Kerr novel, and a writing fan of Danuta’s, who travelled all the way from Germany.

Over the three days the writers provided some great material and each of them spent individual time with us discussing their projects they were working. Since the course has ended two of them have gained publishing contracts and two have been given the opportunity to pitch to Darren Laws.

Our next course takes place during Spring Bank Holiday – Tuesday 31st May  to Thursday 2nd June. This year’s programme contains everything you need to develop plot and character, create dramatic tension and write a compelling opening chapter, on the novel writing front, and within the  publishing element, will be sessions on writing a synopsis and how to pitch to a publisher. The entire event will be centred around a real-time murder. (In actual fact the incident is loosely fashioned on a murder investigation I was involved in back in the early 1980’s.)

The venue is The Stables, High Melton College, which nestles within the picturesque village of High Melton, 5 miles from Doncaster and only a couple of miles from junction 37 of the A1.