Tag Archives: TV

Don’t Quit the Day Job: K.A. Richardson

Lots of people don’t realise that although you may see work by a certain author on the bookshelves in your favourite shop, many writers still hold down a day job in addition to penning their next novel. In this series, we talk to writers about how their current – or previous – day jobs have inspired and informed their writing.

Today, the woman whose post gave me the idea for my Don’t Quit the Day Job series – K.A. Richardson – is back again to talk about her career and how it inspired her ‘Forensic Files‘ series. Check out Kerry’s original post from March 2016 about ‘The Real CSI‘.

Vic x

KA Richardson

I had always wanted to be a police officer, however after numerous patella dislocations whilst trying to get fit for the physical entrance test, I eventually realised that being a cop wasn’t on the cards. 

This led to me thinking seriously about what I wanted to do – I still wanted to work for the police. I remember seeing a crime scene investigator van outside a house in the town around this time, and also CSI was all over the TV screens in the various shows. I wondered exactly was entailed. Once I’d gathered an overview, I enrolled at Teesside Uni. The next four years of my life consisted of lectures, working on an evening to pay the bills, and doing project work but I eventually passed my degree – 1% off a distinction with a high 2:1. On obtaining the degree in 2008, I quickly acquired my first CSI job working for Durham Police. 

Even uni didn’t prepare me fully for the reality of it all. Standing for hours in the snow whilst snow wax, the very thing designed to enhance footwear marks in snow, froze before I could use it. Losing my footing on loose floors where the boards had been taken up to steal copper piping, handing tissues to old men who cried because their pigeons had been killed, being threatened by a young boy with a knife on one occasion, and so much more. The contract there was temporary and when it finished after almost a year, I started at Northumbria Police as a volume crime scene investigator. 

I’d been a CSI for about 2 years when I went to see a psychic, Anthony, and after reading for a while and looking very confused, he asked me why I wasn’t writing. He reminded me that writing was my passion – I’d done it since being a kid but never believed for a moment that I could actually be a writer. I went home after that reading and immediately enrolled on my MA Creative Writing. 

I loved doing my MA – I loved the modules, and the creative people I was on the course with. The one blip was a lecturer who I won’t name, telling me that I wouldn’t amount to anything and not to give up the day job. This lecturer even said I’d fail the module before I’d submitted my work. It was a definite confidence knock. For days, I worried that I was wasting my time, that maybe the psychic and I were wrong, that writing wasn’t really my passion or talent. Slowly, though, my determination shone through. I passed that lecturer’s module despite his warning, and passed my MA, using the first 15,000 words of what became my first novel, as my dissertation. 

As I got further into writing With Deadly Intent, government cuts meant that my job was eradicated – the VCSI role no longer would exist at Northumbria Police. Anyone in the field will tell you how hard it is to get a job in CSI – and I knew I’d find it hard getting back in. My options were leave the police force, or move to the communications department and take 999 calls. I chose that one, and in 2011 I started the role. Two years later, I moved back to Durham Police to take calls closer to home. 

I’ll be eternally grateful for working as a CSI and the opportunities that presented themselves after finishing – having that base knowledge and passion for forensics has enabled With Deadly Intent to be the first stand-alone novel (published by Caffeine Nights), which was then followed by a series with Bloodhound Books, now being rebranded as The Forensic Files. Forensics is something that fascinates people – whether they work in the field or have seen it on the telly, people love that science can catch criminals. And I love that I have the knowledge to bring this into my books. 

Naturally, my CSI background impacted on my writing and, in fact, has become a massive part of my crime novels. I love exploring the different aspects of CSI work, the methodology and how that can assist in finding killers. Still working for the police has allowed me to make contacts in other departments too, which is a fab asset in writing. I loved heading to South Shields and speaking with the head of the dive team at Northumbria Police and obtaining facts which I then used in Time to Play. And I equally loved dealing with the fire investigator who helped inspire Watch You Burn.  

I keep my CSI knowledge up to date, and will hopefully enjoy using it as a feature in my novels for years to come. 

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Review of 2017: Vic Watson

The turn of the year comes around quick, doesn’t it? It seems like only yesterday I was telling you all how great 2016 had been! But, here we are, another year older with more experiences under our belts. I must thank everyone who has taken the time to review their year on the blog and to everyone who’s read, shared and commented posts from this blog throughout the last year. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2018! 

Professionally speaking, this year has been another cracker. Noir at the Bar has continued to grow, with factions popping up all over the UK. I’m delighted that the one in Newcastle continues to be popular and I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to be in the Blues Bar in Harrogate on Thursday, 20th July. Presenting Noir at the Bar Harrogate to a packed audience was just incredible. Possibly one of the highlights of that day was a gentleman who asked me at the end of the event how often we ran it as he hadn’t known it was going to be on. I said “Sorry, have we hijacked your quiet afternoon pint?” He laughed and said he was thrilled to have stumbled upon the event and would definitely come to them on purpose in future! 


This year’s Newcastle Noir saw me do my first ever panel. I was on a panel with Susan Heads of the Book Trail, Quentin Bates, Sarah Wood and the powerhouse behind Orenda Books – Karen Sullivan. Our panel was moderated by the wonderful Miriam Owen and I enjoyed that hour immensely.


Another hour that was fun was appearing on the award-winning ArtyParti at Spark FM with Mandy Maxwell, Iain Rowan, Kirsten Luckins and Tony Gadd. We talked to Jay Sykes about writing and events, it was a lovely atmosphere and I felt completely relaxed thanks to the excellent host. 


My writing groups are still going strong and I arranged a stranding retreat on St Mary’s Island in August and the participants gave very positive feedback. I hope to run more retreats next year. 


I’ve had a lot of people asking if I’ve finished my novel yet and when they’ll be able to buy it so that’s very encouraging. I’ve also had a few people tell me they’d like to hear it on Audible which is a real compliment. Thanks to my friend Kay setting me an achievable weekly word target, I’ve almost completed my first draft. 

Hmm, favourite personal memory? Tough one, that. Well, I suppose I’d better say that getting married to the love of my life was the highlight of my year. Just kidding – of course it was! 

I walked down the aisle with my dad to ‘You’re So Cool‘ by Hans Zimmer (featured in ‘True Romance‘) in front of our closest friends and family. 


Instead of going for sugar almonds as wedding favours, we gave everyone a book. The Boy Wonder and I are both bookworms and we therefore wanted to give our guests a personalised gift. We didn’t have a lot of guests and we enjoyed thinking which book to choose for each of the guests – we were like a real life algorithm! 


The day we got married, I was emailed by the production team from ‘The Chase’ to say that my episode – recorded in July 2016 – would be aired on 30th March so watching that was a lot of fun too.


OK, I didn’t mention ‘The Chase’ in my 2016 Review but, contractually, I wasn’t allowed! Watching my episode, despite knowing the result, was nerve-wracking. I actually didn’t mind seeing myself on TV – I was nowhere near as critical of myself as I was expecting to be! I watched with my husband (I love saying that), my brother and three friends. I got lots of lovely messages from friends all over the country.  


I’d also like to say what a special day my hen do was. I never wanted a fuss and opted to go for afternoon tea with my friends and my mum. I cannot explain what a lovely occasion that was. Those wonderful women made me feel like a million bucks. 


My film of the year was ‘Get Out‘, second would be ‘Dunkirk‘. 

I have enjoyed many books this year including ‘Darktown‘ by Thomas Mullen, ‘The Prime of Miss Dolly Greene‘ by E.V Harte, ‘Lost for Words‘ by Stephanie Butland and ‘Small, Great Things‘ by Jodi Picoult. I also loved ‘Everyone Brave is Forgiven‘ by Chris Cleave. And a late entry has to be ‘Good Me, Bad Me‘ by Ali Land. However, my top three – in no particular order – are ‘Six Stories‘ by Matt Wesolowski, ‘Yellow Room‘ by Shelan Rodger and ‘The Break‘ by Marian Keyes. 

Song of the year? Hm. Anything that was on our wedding playlist – we chose all the songs ourselves. We tried to have at least one track for each of the wedding guests so either a track that reminded us of them or one we knew they liked.
Other music I’ve listened to this year includes a lot of music from the Nashville OSTs, ‘…Ready For It?‘ and ‘Look What You Made Me Do‘ by Taylor Swift. 

There has been illness and sadness but most of us are still here – and that is wonderful.

However, the death of Helen Cadbury in June was a tremendous loss to many of us in the writing community – and beyond. Helen was a friend to me. She was always kind, supportive and quick with a joke. She pulled out of Noir at the Bar in February because she was poorly but I didn’t know the extent of her illness. In July, we raised our glasses to toast Helen at Noir at the Bar in Newcastle and Harrogate. Helen made such a positive impact on so many that it felt right to dedicate the events to her.

The last time I saw Helen was at Harrogate Festival in July 2016 although I had spoken to her since. She, Lucy Cameron and I joked about having similar hair colours and styles. Helen said we should call ourselves the three northern blondes and take a selfie. For some reason, that photo didn’t get taken and I regret that missed opportunity.

I have yet to read ‘Race to the Kill‘, the final novel in the Sean Denton trilogy, or her collection of poetry, ‘Forever Now‘, because I don’t want to come to the end of Helen’s work. Of course, I won’t put it off forever. 

Resolutions? Just keep on keeping on, I think. I over commit and trying not to do that remains a work in progress. 

I hope that this world will sort itself out. There are so many things going wrong and I hope that things will be put right but in order for that to happen, we all need to engage. 

Review of 2017: Tana Collins

Today on the blog, my friend Tana Collins is sharing her year with us. 

One of the highlights of my year has been meeting new people associated with writing and Tana is one of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Spending time with this wonderful lady is always a joy so I hope you enjoy Tana’s review as much as I have enjoyed her company this year.

Vic x

Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2017?
This is so hard to answer, Vic. This year has been truly phenomenal for me. I’ve had two books published following the thrill of getting a 3 book publishing deal with Bloodhound Books in October 2016.

Publication day of 14th February 2017 of my debut novel, Robbing the Dead was one of the best days of my life topped only by it reaching No 1 in Amazon kindle sales for Scottish Crime Fiction. I also appeared on my first ever panel in 2017 at Newcastle Noir with the lovely Shelley Day and Michael Wood. Honestly, there have been so many it’s hard to choose one. In September I was fortunate enough to be picked as one of the Spotlighters opening for Lynda La Plante no less. Now you’ll think I’m bragging so I’m going to move on to answering the next question. 

And how about a favourite moment from 2017 generally?
On a personal front there are a couple of favourite moments. My best friend, Bettina, turned 50 and I flew out to Germany to be with her. And if that’s not enough excitement my friend, Terry, got married. I had known Terry for nearly 30 years but we’d lost touch so being back in contact and seeing him get married to a lovely girl called Jacqui was very emotional.  And I’ve also loved meeting and spending time with bloggers and authors such as Ian Skewis, Jackie McLean and Kelly Lacey at writing events and festivals.

Favourite book in 2017?
I’ve read a few wonderful books in 2017 but the two that stand out are Ian Skewis’s A Murder of Crows and Jackie McLean’s Toxic. 

Favourite film in 2017?
Do you know I don’t think I saw a single film in 2017. Isn’t that terrible?! Too busy focusing on the books! However I have enjoyed Detectorists and Poldark on TV. 

Favourite song of the year? 
I was lucky to see several bands in 2017 including Chuck Prophet and Nick Cave. I think my favourite song would have to be Nick Cave’s Girl in Amber. It’s raw and hugely emotional. I cried my eyes out at the gig when I heard it for the first time.

Any downsides for you in 2017?
Politically it’s been another tumultuous year. The world has gone to a very dark place but, do you know, I refuse to be a pessimist. We’ll turn a corner and things will get brighter but we all have to work together to do it and to stand up for what we feel’s right in our hearts. On a personal note we lost my partner’s dad which was incredibly sad and still very raw.

Are you making resolutions for 2018?
2017 was such a busy year I think if I’ve got a New Year’s resolution for 2018 it would be to try to claw some time back for me. I would like to get involved in some environmental projects. I would love to be able to find the time to become a recorder for Butterfly Conservation but I say that every year. I will do it. I’ve just needed to put it on the back-burner. Perhaps 2018 will be the year! Oh, and I need to get fit! 

What are you hoping for from 2018?
My third Jim Carruthers novel, Mark of the Devil, is being released on 24th April 2018. My big hope for 2018 is that it is received as well as the first two books. I had great fun in the writing of it. As it’s part set in Estonia I had to travel to Tallinn for it and I’ve done a lot of research on international art crime which was fascinating. To be honest I’m already excited about 2018 from a writing point of view. I’m just not sure it can live up to 2017!

Can I just say a personal thank you for letting me be part of your blog and wish you all the best for 2018, Vic.

Don’t Quit the Day Job: Linda MacDonald

Lots of people don’t realise that although you may see work by a certain author on the bookshelves in your favourite shop, many writers still hold down a day job in addition to penning their next novel. In this series, we’ll talk to writers about how their current – or previous – day jobs have inspired and informed their writing.

Today on Don’t Quit the Day Job, we have the lovely Linda MacDonald to talk about how teaching Psychology to sixth formers inspired her debut novel, ‘Meeting Lydia‘. My thanks to Linda for sharing her interesting journey to publication

Vic x

How a computer, an A level topic, a classroom accident, radio news and a work-related breakdown all contributed to my writing career.

My 2001 resolution was to buy either a home computer or a rabbit. The computer won. The day job of teaching in a sixth form college demanded I learn how to use one. Little did I know that this computer, this alien in the living room as I thought of it for a long time, was to be the vehicle of inspiration for my first novel, Meeting Lydia.

Friends Reunited hit the headlines later that year and on a wave of nostalgia, I found the only boy in the class who was never horrible to me at a time when I was bullied. Many emails followed and supplied me with two themes for a story: the long-term effects of school bullying and the psychology of internet relationships.

Write about what you know is the oft-heard mantra. My main character became a teacher of Psychology, someone able to analyse the pros and cons of electronic communication. It was already a topic on the A Level specification and I asked for volunteers to come to an extra lesson to discuss the issues. I told them I would like to tape them with view to gathering authentic ‘student speak’ for a novel I was writing. Their amazing contributions formed the basis of three chapters and added to the quirkiness of a novel.

I was driven by a fire that consumed me: a book that had to be written. In the evenings, when the supper was eaten and the dishes were washed, I made myself write instead of collapsing to watch some inconsequential rubbish on TV. I wrote random chapters, as yet no clear plan of how they would interlock: the bullying backstory; a collapsing marriage; menopausal madness; the psychology of jealousy.

And every morning on my drive to work, I listened to Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, hoping for an interesting piece to provided inspiration for the email exchanges that must be anything but mundane.

Five years later I had a novel of over 110,000 words; three years after that, I had drafted a more commercial sequel. But the day job still had cards to play. In 2009, I smashed my wrist tripping over a classroom chair and as I lay in hospital, I mused. I was in my fifties, time was running out and I decided to go the self-publishing route.

Sadly, perhaps ironically, the job that was to fuel my writing career was also partly responsible for my having a stress-related breakdown in 2011. ‘Adrenal fatigue’ is a label I found best summed up my condition and my day job became impossible.  I took early retirement. I didn’t have a choice. Yet looking back, without the breakdown, I would have carried on teaching for another few years and I wouldn’t now have four published novels.

Life is unpredictable and I still don’t have a rabbit.

Linda’s latest novel ‘The Man in the Needlecord Jacket‘ is available now. 

Review: ‘Reality Rehab’ by Lisa Mary London. 


Gloria Grayson’s life is on the rocks – sacked from her starring role in a top soap, divorced from her bad boy husband and obese from eating her feelings, Gloria finds herself the subject of a cruel tabloid article accompanied by unflattering paparazzi snaps. All seems pretty bleak until Gloria’s agent steps in and encourages her – and her fat and feisty dog – to appear on TV show Reality Rehab.

Locked up with the usual shower of Z-list celebrities and an odd American psychotherapist, Gloria is put on a starvation diet while cameras track her every move. However, just when GG thinks it can’t get any worse, there’s a shock new arrival into the house: her alcoholic ex-husband ‘Mad Tommy Mack’.

Reality Rehab‘ features all the tropes of reality TV – ‘showmances’, back biting and drama. Written by former reality TV producer, Lisa Mary London, it’s clear to see London really has written what she knows! The story combines elements of lots of reality shows including ‘Big Brother’, ‘Most Haunted’ and ‘TOWIE’, as well as seeking inspiration from spin-off shows like ‘Katie & Peter: The Next Chapter’.

There are plenty of shocks and surprise twists in this story and the cliffhangers in the novel mirror the format of many reality shows.

The characters, although fictional, seem very familiar and that made ‘Reality Rehab‘ easy and enjoyable to read. I could easily picture the characters and, although I sometimes felt guilty for laughing at them, they were fun to spend time with. ‘Reality Rehab’ is a fun, frothy frolic that, much like Gloria’s diet, leaves you on a sugar high!

Vic x

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: ‘Master of None’ (Series 1).

Master of None

I’ve been a big fan of Aziz Ansari for several years now. I first discovered him when he starred in Parks and Recreation  as Tom Haverford, the self-assured but loveable purveyor of the ‘Treat Yo’self‘ school of thought.

Now it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid Ansari if you use social media – his strong feminist stance is garnering him a lot of publicity (thanks, Aziz, by the way). So it was with bated breath that I sat down to watch his new series Master of None on Netflix.

I’ve spoken to a couple of friends about Master of None who watched the first episode but felt they couldn’t get on board with a show about a dude – Dev, played by Ansari – who was thinking it might be time to settle down. But it’s so much more than that. The trailer, which shows Dev at a kid’s birthday party ruminating on his future, doesn’t do it justice.

It’s difficult for me to explain what I liked so much about this show but, for one thing, Aziz Ansari tends to play loveable characters. There’s nothing to dislike about Dev; he’s fun, funny and caring. I think I can relate to him, an actor who – despite being in his 30s – is still trying to make his way in the world. He’s watching his friends grow up, get promoted and get married while he basically stands still.

Then there’s the love interest. The interactions between Ansari and his main leading lady, Rachel (played by Noel Wells) are both sweet and realistic. The pair have excellent chemistry and, as another millennial, it’s easy to identify with their circumstances. The episode where Dev takes Rachel to Nashville is beautifully nuanced.

However, this isn’t just about dating. It’s about life. Each episode has a different theme, like old people, parents and Indians on TV, and Dev goes about his life pondering said subject.

The episodes featuring his parents (yep, Aziz’s actual parents) further demonstrate the heart inside this brilliant series. On balance, though, Master of None isn’t a saccharine cop-out. It still features plenty of absurdity. For example, everything about the movie Dev is shooting for most of the series – The Sickening – is hilarious.

I expected to plough like this series (like I have done with others) but I devoured it in just two sittings thanks to the fully-rounded characters and thoughtful storylines.

I WANT SERIES 2 NOW!! PLEASE! 

Vic x