Category Archives: Writing

#BlogTour ‘The Counterfeit Candidate’ by Brian Klein

Berlin, 30th April, 1945 

As the Russian Army closes in on the war-torn City, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun take their own lives. Their bodies are burned and buried in the Reich Chancellery garden, above the Führer’s bunker. 

Buenos Aires, 9th January, 2012 

Three audacious thieves carry out the biggest safe depository heist in Argentine history, escaping with more than one hundred million dollars’ worth of valuables. Within hours, an encrypted phone call to America triggers a blood-soaked manhunt as the thieves are tracked down, systematically tortured, then murdered. 

San Francisco, 18th January, 2012 

Senator John Franklin, hailed as the ‘Great Unifier’, secures the Republican Presidential nomination and seems destined for the Oval Office. Despite the sixty-seven year interval and a span of thirteen thousand miles, these events are indelibly linked. 

Chief Inspector Nicolas Vargas of the Buenos Aires Police Department and Lieutenant Troy Hembury of the LAPD are sucked into a dark political conspiracy concealing an incredible historical truth stretching from the infamous Berlin bunker to Buenos Aires and to Washington, which threatens the very heart and soul of American democracy.

It’s a delight to be able to share with you an excerpt of ‘The Counterfeit Candidate‘ by Brian Klein today. I’m sure the extract will leave you wanting more. If so, ‘The Counterfeit Candidate‘ is available now.

My thanks to the author and Midas PR for my advanced review copy.

Vic x

According to accepted twentieth century history, on 30th April 1945, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun said their final goodbyes to a small group of close friends and colleagues who were gathered in a sitting room, deep inside the underground bunker in Berlin. The pair retired to the Führer’s personal study where, a few hours later, they took their own lives. Braun bit down on a wafer-thin glass cyanide ampoule and Hitler shot himself in the right temple, using his own Walther PPK pistol. The bodies were then carried above ground, via the bunker’s emergency exit, and buried in the Reich Chancellery Gardens, after being doused in petrol and set alight.

Thirty-six hours earlier, the couple had married in a simple ceremony, where they declared they were of pure Aryan descent and free of hereditary disease. The only witnesses were the Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, Party Secretary, Martin Bormann and the Führer’s personal valet, Heinz Linge. The ceremony was followed by a modest lunch of spaghetti in tomato sauce, one of the Führer’s favourite meals, prepared by his personal chef, Constanze Manziarly.

Hitler was dressed in full Nazi uniform and Braun wore a calf-length black dress, broken up by a print of small white roses around the neckline. The Führer then dictated his last will and testament in which he declared he chose “death over capitulation” and left his vast personal fortune to the Nazi Party.

Three months after the Nazi regime declared unconditional surrender, the victorious political leaders met in the German city of Potsdam, just outside Berlin, for a post-war conference to discuss the new order in Europe. On 17th July 1945, Stalin and Truman sat down for an intimate lunch in one of the small banqueting suites inside the spectacular Cecilienhof Palace.

The only people present were their respective Foreign Secretaries, Molotov and Byrnes, who acted as translators. Truman was astonished when Stalin disclosed that rumours of the discovery of Hitler and Braun’s bodies were fabricated and that a painstaking search, by his Red Army soldiers of the Reich Chancellery grounds, had failed to discover any sign of the Führer’s remains. Stalin was convinced Hitler had escaped his clutches.

Review: ‘Safe at Home’ by @Lauren_C_North


Anna James is an anxious mother. So when she has to leave eleven-year-old Harrie home alone one evening, she can't stop worrying about her daughter. But nothing bad ever happens in the sleepy village of Barton St Martin.

Except something goes wrong that night, and Anna returns to find Harrie with bruises she won't explain. The next morning a local businessman is reported missing and the village is sparking with gossip. Harrie is not the girl that was left behind that night, overnight she's turned into an argumentative, troubled girl who refuses to talk to her mum.

Anna is convinced there's a connection and that Harrie is in trouble. But how can she protect her daughter if she doesn't know where the danger is coming from?

In addition to an out-of-character daughter, Anna is also struggling with an MIA husband and two other children as well as money worries. The fact that Anna and her family have had to flee London to escape their financial woes leaves Anna as "the new mum in town".

Lauren North has outdone herself with this intriguing thriller. I completely identified with anxious Anna and sympathised with the situation she found herself in. I thought the inclusion of WhatsApp group chats was a clever device put to good use to suggest that Anna may not be a completely reliable narrator.

The interactions between residents and village-life in general is well-described and adds a lot to the story.

By scattering breadcrumbs of doubt, North leads the reader to the same conclusions as her protagonist. The denouement is pitch perfect. A brilliant read.

#BlogTour #BeforeSheDisappeared @LisaGardnerBks

Today it’s my turn on Lisa Gardner’s blog tour for her first standalone novel in ten years: ‘Before She Disappeared‘. I’d like to thank Penguin Random House for allowing me a sneak peek at this brilliant book and for having me on the blog tour.

Frankie Elkin is a middle-aged woman who spends her life doing what no one else will: searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up and the public no longer remembers, that’s when Frankie starts looking. Carrying little more than a backpack and her own demons, Frankie travels around the US looking for people who have been forgotten.

Arriving in Mattapan, Boston, Frankie starts her search for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teen who vanished after school almost a year earlier. Although Mattapan’s reputation precedes it, Frankie doesn’t let it stop her from asking around – but she’s met with resistance from the police department and Angelique’s family, who seem pretty wary of the white lady who’s sticking her nose in. Frankie soon learns, though, that she’s asking too many questions – questions someone doesn’t want answered.

I’ve got to admit, the first chapter didn’t grip me and I was worried that this might be a bit of a slog but once we arrived in Mattapan with Frankie, the story completely lifted and I enjoyed not only the mystery but also the descriptions of Mattapan and the people that live there. Gardner really creates a strong sense of the community that Frankie inserts herself into. It was a pleasure to learn about the rich Haitian culture that exists within Boston.

Frankie is a well-rounded character. She may be ballsy but she’s not infallible by any stretch of the imagination and this lent her an air of authenticity to me. Gardner portrays the insidious nature of alcoholism perfectly but manages not to hit the reader around the head with it. There were almost times in the story where I forgot that Frankie had a problem with booze, only for the demons to rear their heads again and I genuinely believe this is what it’s like for addicts. I really liked the idea that Frankie has swapped one addiction for another – she may not be obsessing over her next drink but she’s certainly consumed by the case she’s investigating.

Although there are references to police investigation techniques, I didn’t feel that I was reading a police procedural novel and that, for me, meant that ‘Before She Disappeared‘ wasn’t bogged down in the minutiae of police work. I did, however, feel that the details that were included were not only relevant but also interesting.

Thanks to the interesting cast of characters that Lisa Gardner has created, I found myself heavily invested in the outcome of this book. ‘Before She Disappeared‘ is a well-paced mystery that really packs an emotional punch.

This may have been the first Lisa Gardner book that I’ve read but it won’t be my last.

Vic x

My review of 2020

There weren’t any 2019 reviews on this blog but I’m sure you’ll all forgive me as I became a mum in 2019 and just didn’t have the wherewithal to arrange and schedule 31 end of year reviews! This year isn’t much better but you’re getting 200% more than last year – one from Simon Bewick and here’s mine!

OK, so it’s fair to say that 2020 wasn’t the year any of us expected. I think we’ve all had enough of bad news this year so I’m going to try and keep this light-hearted.

Top moment for me professionally this year?
I’ve been really lucky in 2020 – not only did I interview Ann Cleeves to celebrate the launch of her latest Vera book – The Darkest Evening – but I got to host Virtual Noir at the Bar every week for twenty-two straight weeks.
When the UK went into lockdown in March, I asked if anyone would be interested in a virtual Noir at the Bar – the response was phenomenal. I had expected to run it for a few weeks – the same way I expected lockdown to last about a month – but it ran from 1st April to 26 August. We hosted over 220 writers at various stages of their careers: from unpublished all the way through to the biggest names in crime fiction. It’s been so special working with such wonderful writers, connecting readers from all over the world and making a group of friends that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Photos courtesy of Suzy Aspley

Hearing from The Bookseller magazine that Virtual Noir at the Bar was shortlisted for Event of the Year at the FutureBook awards was pretty special. Simon and I worked very hard every week to ensure that viewers had a show to watch and it was amazing to be recognised alongside major industry players.

Launching Bay Tales has been an extremely exciting time for Simon and I. With a number of exclusive articles and short stories from some of our favourite writers, alongside discounts for Forum Books, Writing Magazine and Scrivener among others, we’re confident that Bay Tales can continue the good work that we started with VNatB.

I’ve also loved being part of Blood Brothers podcast. It’s a real pleasure to work with Rob Parker, Chris McDonald and Sean Coleman and be their Blood Sister. I laugh so much when I spend time with these guys.

With my Blood Brothers: Chris McDonald, Sean Coleman & Rob Parker.
Interviewing Ann Cleeves at Forum Books, Corbridge in a socially distanced way was a highlight this year.
Photo courtesy of Ian Wylie.

Top moment personally? Seeing my little boy grow and flourish.

Head over to baytales.com to read about my top 5 books this year. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably have seen me mention at least three of them repeatedly!

I’m struggling to think of my top TV show as I feel like I haven’t watched a lot of TV this year! I was, like everyone else, really into ‘Tiger King’ earlier this year and recently watched ‘Don’t F with Cats’. Of course, I blitzed season 4 of ‘The Crown’ when that came out. Genuinely struggling to think of anything else! I have rewatched all of ‘30 Rock‘ which is one of my favourite shows of all time. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend that you rectify that immediately.

I really enjoyed ‘Parasite‘ but was disappointed – and confused – by ‘Tenet‘.

I think the songs that have really stood out for me this year are ones that Simon introduced me to at Virtual Noir at the Bar. After being told that the free music was grating on some folk, Simon went out and asked some of his favourite musicians if we could use their music to start the show. We’ve featured Martin Stephenson, The Hold Steady, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Nils Lofgren. Billy Bragg started our Christmas show and was featured during our break and his song ‘Can’t Be There Today‘ is a real tearjerker. I must also mention Jason Isaacs who allowed us to use his music week in and week out – and I am now obsessed with his big band covers.

Not even going to mention downsides – I think we all know what has been sacrificed this year and difficulties people have faced. I think I got off lightly.

For 2021, I don’t have resolutions as such and I think my hopes are echoed the world over. Be kind to each other – and yourselves, it’s been a tough one.

Vic x

Review of 2020: Simon Bewick

OK, so 2020 was a thing. As most of you know, I’m mum to a firecracker of a boy so unfortunately we haven’t been doing a different review of 2020 every day in December as we have done in previous years but I couldn’t not invite my Virtual Noir at the Bar bar buddy Simon Bewick to chat about his year.

Without Simon, Virtual Noir at the Bar wouldn’t have become the must-watch event of the week for 22 weeks of 2020. His hard work, expertise and general brilliance ensured that we produced a professional show every week in addition to a charity anthology that raised funds for NHS Charities and a private showcase event. It has been a pleasure working with him this year and I’m really looking forward to doing more awesome projects with him in 2021. Bay Tales is up and running have you checked it out yet?

I’ll be here tomorrow to give you the lowdown on my 2020.

Vic x

Do you have a favourite memory professionally?
My favourite moment was probably the Virtual Noir at the Bar session when we were able to announce that our charity collection Noir from the Bar had gone live that day. The combination of our having got VNatB up and running to a level when so many amazing authors were prepared to trust us enough to share their short stories with us to publish was a great feeling after only two months since starting. 


And a favourite 2020 memory generally?
Not one in particular…just being able to get up in the morning and go for a walk along the beach after 30 years of being thoroughly landlocked…

Favourite book of 2020?
Dead Girl Blues by Lawrence Block. For all sorts of reasons. Any new book by LB will be an event for me, but a NEW novel after a few years was a treat. Finding it to be as original and shocking as it was, was a bonus. The fact it was self-published showed bravery and a ‘to hell with you if you don’t like it’ attitude I loved. 

Favourite film and/or tv series?
Crime-wise, late to the game but finally caught up with Gomorrah – raced through all four seasons and was delighted to see a film was released this year…roll on the next season…I really can’t see what’s going to happen next. General TV series I’d probably have to go with Ted Lasso. A dose of niceness for football and non-football fans alike. 

Song?
Overall, I’d probably say Bruce Springsteen’s new album has been the album I’ve listened to most this year,and from that If I was the Priest has been my most played song of the year…and considering the album didn’t come out until November, it shows how much it’s been on replay… 

Let’s skip over downsides, shall we?
Yes. Let’s. 

Are you making resolutions for 2021?
Nope. Stopped making resolutions a long time ago. 

What are your 2021 hopes? 
Same as everyone I’m guessing…would like to come up with something witty, but…just that…

Guest Post: William Shaw

During our twenty-two week run at Virtual Noir at the Bar earlier this year, I was lucky to host a number of amazing writers. I was also invited to talk to a number of podcasts, publications, blogs and Facebook groups.

The first Facebook Live event I took part in was with William Shaw, who was hosting daily chats with a number of people from the world of writing. William was a brilliant host and I enjoyed appearing on his show.

A couple of months later, William appeared at VNatB and was so generous that he read an excerpt of someone else’s work instead of his own!

William is joining us today to talk about his next project: Reading Party. I’m confident that you’re going to be interested in what’s coming up!

Vic x

Guest Post: William Shaw talks about Reading Party

I’ve been trying to come up with a way in which Zoom events can have the same kind of engagement as live events – and also really be about the books. 

I came up with the idea of a reading party. The idea is guests get to read from an author’s new work – aloud. Together, twenty guests read a chapter from a writers’s new book, in the presence of the writer themselves.

It kicks off with the writer explaining a little about the extract they’ve chosen, answering guests’ questions about what kind of mood they want etc, and then the reader kicks things off followed by all the guests in turn. 
Afterwards there’s a discussion.

Admission is by ticket – or by buying a copy of the book. After the reading there’s time for discussion and then the writer signs and dedicates a bookplate for anyone who has bought the book. Books are supplied by the online bookshop Bert’s Books.

Nov 12th 7.00pm Bella Ellis (Rowan Coleman) reads The Diabolical Bones
Nov 19th 7.00pm Elly Griffiths reads The Postscript Murders
Nov 26th 7.00pm C. L. Taylor reads Strangers

Look out for upcoming events from Sarah Hilary, Mark Billingham and more. 

Noir From the Bar: The Story of the Stories

Video by Simon Bewick of Bewick Consulting.

#BlogTour #TheWaitingRooms @EveCSmith @OrendaBooks

Having had the pleasure of hosting Eve Smith at Virtual Noir at the Bar many weeks ago, I am delighted to be hosting her as part of her blog tour for ‘The Waiting Rooms‘.

Here’s Eve to tell us how she appeared to preempt the COVID-19 crisis we find ourselves facing.

Many thanks to Orenda Books, Anne Cater and Eve for having me on this blog tour.

Vic x

The Waiting Rooms: When Fact comes uncomfortably close to Fiction
By Eve Smith

I first had the idea for the The Waiting Rooms around five years ago, after reading some terrifying facts about antibiotic resistance. We don’t really hear much about this issue, which is why WHO calls it “the silent pandemic”. But the shocking reality is that over 700,000 people die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, which is almost as many as malaria.

The predictions are that ten million a year could die by 2050 if we don’t start doing something about it. And I thought, what would happen, if these drugs did stop working?

If there was a limited supply of new antibiotics, and only certain people could get them, what would happen if society had to choose?

The trade proofs for my novel arrived near the end of January. Around the same time, the Chinese authorities conceded that there was evidence of human-to-human transmission of a novel coronavirus and WHO convened an Emergency Committee to assess whether the outbreak constituted a public health emergency of international concern. A Cobra meeting called to assess the threat in the UK lasted an hour and Matt Hancock bounced out saying the risk to the UK was “low”. Less than six weeks later, prompted by both “the alarming levels of spread and severity”, and by “the alarming levels of inaction”, WHO characterised COVID-19 as a pandemic. 

Whilst my book is obviously set in a fictional world, in the advent and aftermath of an antibiotic crisis which triggers a pandemic, the increasing links between the two is unsettling. Obsessive handwashing and hygiene; masks worn in public places. Handshaking being a thing of the past. Emergency hospitals and quarantine. Enforced isolation. Segregation of the elderly, as social distancing continues. 

The premise of my novel is that, after the antibiotic crisis, no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics, in a last ditch attempt to keep resistance at bay. In reality, antibiotic use by age group is a U-shaped graph: the highest number of prescriptions go to the young and to the old. In the UK, the over-75’s account for a quarter of all antibiotic prescriptions. The over-65’s account for a third. Which is why, in my book, the elderly are sacrificed to protect the rest of the population. Denied treatment, they are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’: hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Such an abhorrent concept seemed unthinkable, at the time. And yet, as Covid-19 rampages across the globe, we hear of terrible choices imposed on doctors in hospitals and workers in care homes facing inadequate supplies of protective equipment, ventilators and ICU beds. At these times, I take comfort in the fact that, at a global level, society has made a decent, unselfish choice. To slow the spread of this disease, we have isolated ourselves to protect the elderly and the vulnerable. We have made that sacrifice, to protect them.

The uncomfortable fact however remains that antimicrobial resistance will increase both the frequency and the severity of pandemics like this one. Early estimates attribute around half the deaths from Covid-19 to secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia and sepsis, despite effective antibiotics being administered. The WHO have warned of a surge in antibiotic resistance due to the sheer volume of drugs being used.
How much worse would this pandemic be if none of those drugs worked?

After the powerful recent serialisation of her novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, which Margaret Atwood wrote back in 1984, she was often asked if the misogynistic society she invented was a prediction. She replied: “No, it isn’t a prediction, because predicting the future isn’t really possible: There are too many variables and unforeseen possibilities. Let’s say it’s an antiprediction: If this future can be described in detail, maybe it won’t happen. But such wishful thinking cannot be depended on either.”

My hope is that, after witnessing first-hand the destructive force of disease on a global scale, governments, farmers and industry will stop abusing or taking for granted the miraculous drugs we already have and start treating them with the respect they deserve. Thereby ensuring that The Waiting Rooms remains a speculative work of fiction.

The Waiting Rooms” is available to order as an ebook on Kindle, Kobo, Hive and iBooks, paperback available from 9th July. For more about the book and Eve herself, visit Eve’s blog, or you can follow Eve on Twitter.

Getting to Know You: M.J. Arlidge

Hope you’re all keeping well. If you’re looking for something new to read, M.J. Arlidge’s eighth Helen Grace novel ‘All Fall Down‘ is due out next week (Thurs, 11th June) .

Matt has joined us today to give us a little insight into his work as a writer and some advice for those of you out there who’d like to give it a go yourselves.

I’m hoping to host Matt at a Virtual Noir at the Bar in the coming weeks so make sure you’re first to find out when he’ll be appearing. Sign up to our newsletter now.

Big thanks to Matt and Orion Books for making this happen.

Vic x

M.J Arlidge

What do you like most about writing? What do you dislike (if anything)?

I love the escapism of it. I never get tired of sitting down at my desk and opening up my laptop. There are dozens of different characters and numerous interweaving stories in each of my books, meaning I have a whole host of different people to climb inside and bring to life. I love working out what makes characters tick, what’s important to them, what would drive them to do reckless or desperate things. It’s so enjoyable to escape from my normal life, especially so during lockdown! 

There’s not much I dislike, though there’s no question writing a novel is a hard slog. I’ve just written the first chapters of a new one this morning and the road ahead seems long!!!

What inspires you to write?

Anything and everything. Just life really. I find ideas come to me unbidden and at the strangest times – in the middle of the night, when I’m in the shower, when I’m shopping in the supermarket. And once a really good idea pops into your head, it has you, you have to write it. 

Do you find time to read, if so what are you reading at the moment?

Yes, of course! I love reading and always find time, usually at the end of the day. Generally I read novels, but at the moment I’m making use of lockdown to consume the works of Yuval Noah Harari – Sapiens, Homo Deus etc. I find his work absolutely fascinating. 

Which author(s) has/have had the biggest influence on your writing?

So many authors to choose from. Thomas Harris, James Patterson, Harlan Coben…but I think I’ll have to plump for Stieg Larsson. When I was writing Eeny Meeny (my debut novel), Lisbeth Salander was very much in my mind. She was the most unusual, most interesting crime fighter I’d ever come across. There are shades of Lisbeth Salander about Helen Grace – I was desperate to make her as unconventional and intriguing as Larsson’s brilliant protagonist. 

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

Wow. Good question. I would have loved to have been a photographer. Or a chef. I still harbour fantasies about the latter, but I’m probably too old…

What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?

That’s probably not for me to say! I’d say I work hard and am very committed to my writing and my readers – to the extent that when I’m writing a novel I find it hard to resist creeping back to my office late at night or as the sun is rising.  

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve literally just started writing Truth or Dare, the ninth novel in the Helen Grace series. Usually the first few chapters are utterly terrifying, but actually I’ve really enjoyed starting this one. 

Where can we find you online?

At my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

To borrow a phrase from Nike, just do it. Don’t spend too long prevaricating – pretending to research stuff, when actually you’re just putting off writing. Just be disciplined and get that first draft done. Only then do you have something you can work with, something you can potentially sell. When I was writing my first novel, I still had a day job, but managed to carve out one hour a day (5pm-6pm) to write. It was slow progress, but I got there in the end, and, boy, was it a good feeling!

What’s been your proudest moment?

The day Eeny Meeny was published by Penguin. To have joined the ranks of authors at such an impressive and important publishing house blew my mind!

What was the best writing advice you received and who was it from? 

When I delivered the first draft of Eeny Meeny to my agent, she declared that it was good, but needed “more emotional cruelty”. It was sage advice and something I bear in mind every time I’m penning a new Helen Grace novel!

ALL FALL DOWN by M.J Arlidge is published by Orion Fiction and out in hardback on 11th June 2020.

**Bones in the River Blog Tour**

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Zoë Sharp’s “Bones in the River“. I’ve known Zoë for many years now but here’s a little bit of background to the enigmatic writer.

Zoë Sharp began her crime thriller series featuring former Special Forces trainee turned bodyguard, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox, after receiving death-threats in the course of her work as a photo-journalist. Zoë opted out of mainstream education at the age of twelve and wrote her first novel at fifteen.

Zoë’s work has won or been nominated for awards on both sides of the Atlantic, been used in school textbooks, inspired an original song and music video, and been optioned for TV and film.

When not in lockdown in the wilds of Derbyshire, she can be found improvising self-defence weapons out of ordinary household objects, international pet-sitting, or crewing yachts in the Mediterranean. (It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.) Zoë is always happy to hear from readers, reader groups, libraries or bookstores. You can contact her via email.

My thanks to Zoë for having me on her blog tour.

Vic x

Don’t Quit the Day Job:
Zoe Sharp

I suppose there was half a chance that writing fiction might have been my day job, right from the start. After all, I penned my first novel at the age of fifteen—and I do mean ‘penned’. I wrote the entire thing, long-hand, in a month, and gave myself the most appalling writers’ cramp in the process.

That early effort did the rounds of all the major publishers, where it received what’s known in the trade as ‘rave rejections’—everybody said they loved it but nobody actually wanted to publish it.

Looking back, I’m rather glad about that.

Because, in order to be a writer, you need different experiences under your belt. At the age of fifteen, I’d had few worth mentioning. Apart from living aboard a catamaran from the age of about seven and leaving school at twelve. But that, as they say, is probably another story.

Having failed at my first attempt to be a novelist, I became side-tracked by a variety of jobs in my teenage years, including crewing boats and learning astro-navigation. I was mad keen on horses, rode competitively, and once even took part in a rodeo. I learned to shoot—did a little competing there, too. Long guns, mostly. I considered myself an average shot with a handgun but, as I discovered on my last visit to a US indoor gun range, most people can manage to miss the target entirely at less than ten feet.

As for jobs, I became a freelance motoring writer at the height of the classic car boom of the late 1980s. That quickly transmuted into being a photojournalist, having taught myself both how to write commercial magazine articles and also how to take images good enough for numerous front covers and centre spreads.

It was hardly surprising, then, that eventually I’d have to start writing a character who was a photographer. Enter Grace McColl, first in Dancing on the Grave and now in Bones in the River. Grace started out as a keen amateur photographer, who became involved in providing evidence for the defence in a court case. She was then approached by the Head CSI at Cumbria police, who asked her if she’d ever thought of joining the side of the angels. Always nice to be able to write any parts of the story concerning photography without having to do lots of research.

My time spent writing about cars also played a part in Bones in the River, which begins with a hit-and-run incident. Understanding how the mechanics of a vehicle work makes writing scenes with them in so much easier and, I hope, more accurate.

Plus, all that time spent with horses came in very useful for a book that takes place during the largest Gypsy and Traveller horse fair in Europe. There were still plenty of times when I had up to a dozen different scientific research books laid on the table at the side of my desk as I wrote, though. Fortunately, forensic science and pathology are such fascinating subjects.

They tell you to write what you know. I disagree. I think you should write what you’re desperate to find out instead.

Bones in the River“, the second book in the Lakes crime thriller series, was published worldwide on May 26 2020 by ZACE Ltd. You can grab a sneak peek of the first three chapters, and is available from all the usual retailers.