CTG Interviews: AK Benedict, author of The Beauty of Murder

AK Benedict

AK Benedict

Today I’m delighted to welcome the fabulous AK Benedict to the CTG blog. Her spellbinding debut, The Beauty of Murder, was one of my favorite books of 2013, and was shortlisted for this years’ eDunnit Award.

So, to the questions ...

Your fabulous debut novel, THE BEAUTY OF MURDER, comes out in paperback this month. Can you tell us a bit about it?

The Beauty of Murder is a crime thriller with a fantastical twist set in Cambridge in both the 21st and 17th centuries. My main character, Stephen Killigan, is a philosophy lecturer at Sepulchre College and stumbles upon the body of a missing beauty queen and a mystery that changes the way he views the world. The novel includes many of the things that fascinate me: philosophy, music, tattoos, time travel and cake.

In your novel the setting, Cambridge, plays a big part. What was it about that particular city that inspired to you to write about it?

I was an undergraduate at Cambridge and spent a lot of time wandering its streets. I love the austere beauty of its ancient buildings and how some streets make me wonder which century I am in. It is a city of elemental extremes: in summer the old stone shines, trees are big with blossom and people sunbathe by the river but in winter it is cold and forbidding. It feels to me like a place of magic and possibility, the ideal starting point for a mystery. I first thought of a time travelling serial killer while I was at Cambridge and both Jackamore Grass and the city have haunted me since.

Could you tell us a little about your writing process, do you dive right in, or plan the story out first?

It varies: sometimes the words fly right out, other times I sit with stories for a long time, letting ideas and characters wander about before settling down and talking to me. I like to know the beginning, middle and end before I start writing, leaving lots of room to be surprised by what develops. If I know exactly what happens and who has committed all of the crimes, then I feel no need to write! I write by hand and transfer it onto my computer to start with then work straight onto the keyboard when the story gathers momentum. Towards the end of the first draft, I don’t eat, sleep or get out of my onesie. I’m a real catch.

The Beauty of Murder paperback cover image

The Beauty of Murder paperback cover image

THE BEAUTY OF MURDER is your debut novel. What was your route to publication?

I have longed to be a professional writer since I was three so it has been a route taking thirty odd years! I wrote several partial novels, a full one, stories and poems before The Beauty of Murder was published in 2013. Rejection letters sighed through the letterbox with the occasional encouraging remark, small publication or competition win along the way. I enrolled on a creative writing course at the University of Sussex and toned up my dialogue, plotting and pacing while learning how to receive and make use of criticism. I started writing The Beauty of Murder during my second term and worked on it for the next couple of years while working as a musician and composer. I met my agent, Rupert Heath, at a Meet the Agents Day organised by New Writing South and he saw the novel’s potential and encouraged me every step along the way. When it was ready, he sent it out to editors and I was amazed when it went to auction. It was a very surreal time. The three year old me who wanted ‘to be a writer and have lots of pens’ was very happy; thirty-three year old me ran across a hilltop in Hastings with champagne and a grin.

What advice would you give to new writers aspiring to publication?

Write hard, write soft, write about what makes you smile, write about what you want to know and what lies beneath the stones but, most of all, write. When you have a slew of stories, scripts or poems, throw them out into the world and see which ones find land. The pile of rejection letters is something to stand on while you reach for your goal.

And lastly, what does the rest of 2014 have in store for you?

I am in the middle of editing my second novel, due out in November, while starting the sequel to The Beauty Of Murder and researching other ideas. There are also some exciting TV opportunities and visits to crime and fantasy festivals and conventions.

Sounds like 2014 is going to be a busy one!

A huge thank you to AK Benedict for popping by the CTG blog for a chat.

To find out more about AK Benedict hop on over to http://akbenedict.com/

The Beauty of Murder is published by Orion and out in paperback now. You can find it in all good bookstores, and online at http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Beauty-Murder-A-Benedict/dp/1409144518

And, read our review of The Beauty of Murder here 

Shortlists for the 2014 CrimeFest Awards Announced

CrimeFest logo

CrimeFest logo

The shortlists have been announced for the annual CrimeFest Awards!

Now in its seventh year, the winners of the 2014 CrimeFest Awards will be revealed at the CrimeFest Gala Awards Dinner on Saturday, 17 May 2014. It promises to be a great night, and I can’t wait to find out which of the books from the fabulous novels shortlisted are going to be awarded the prizes.

 

The shortlisted authors and books are …

 

The Audible Sounds of Crime Award:  for the best crime audiobook first published in the UK in 2013 in print and audio format, and available for download from audible.co.uk (Sponsored by Audible UK).

Nominees:

Ben Aaronovitch for Broken Homes, read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Orion Audio)

John le Carré for A Delicate Truth, read by John le Carré (Penguin)

Robert Galbraith for The Cuckoo’s Calling, read by Robert Glenister (Hachette Audio)

Peter James for Dead Man’s Time, read by Daniel Weyman (Macmillan Audio)

Peter May for The Chessmen, read by Peter Forbes (Quercus)

James Oswald for Natural Causes, read by Ian Hanmore (Penguin)

 

The eDunnit Award: for the best crime fiction ebook first published in hardcopy and  electronic format in the British Isles in 2013.

Nominees:

A.K. Benedict for The Beauty of Murder (Orion)

Thomas H. Cook for Sandrine (Head of Zeus)

Sara Gran for Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway (Faber and Faber)

Elizabeth Haynes for Under a Silent Moon (Sphere)

Val McDermid for Cross and Burn (Sphere)

Derek B. Miller for Norwegian by Night (Faber and Faber)

Denise Mina for The Red Road (Orion)

Thomas Mogford for Sign of the Cross (Bloomsbury)

George Pelecanos for The Double (Orion)

Anne Zouroudi for The Feast of Artemis (Bloomsbury)

 

The Goldsboro Last Laugh Award: for the best humorous crime novel first published in the British Isles in 2013 (Sponsored by Goldsboro Books, the UK’s largest specialist in first edition, signed books).

Nominees:

Colin Bateman for Fire and Brimstone (Headline)

Alan Bradley for Speaking from Among the Bones (Orion)

Colin Cotterill for The Axe Factor (Quercus)

Shamini Flint for A Calamitous Chinese Killing (Little, Brown)

Carl Hiaasen for Bad Monkey (Little, Brown)

Suzette A. Hill for A Little Murder (Allison & Busby)

Derek B. Miller for Norwegian by Night (Faber and Faber)

Teresa Solana for The Sound of One Hand Killing (Bitter Lemon Press)

 

CrimeFest runs 15th – 18th May 2014 in Bristol, UK, and will be featuring guest authors including Mark Billingham, Yrsa Sigurdardottir and Simon Brett, who will be joined by the likes of Ben Aaronovitch, Jasper Fforde, Nicci French, Lars Kepler and Peter James.

The CrimeFest programme includes a full schedule of panel events and interviews, and aspiring crime novelists can also attend the CrimeFest Crime Writing Day, which includes a workshop with M.R. Hall and William Ryan, and a Pitch-an-Agent event where aspiring authors can pitch their unpublished manuscript to a top line-up of literary agents.

To find out more about CrimeFest, and the authors attending the convention, pop over to www.crimefest.com/attend.html

CrimeFest announce their 2013 Awards Shortlists

CRIMEFEST logo

CRIMEFEST logo

There’s not long to go before the annual CrimeFest crime writing convention running from 30th May – 2nd June in Bristol, England.

A highlight of the event is the CrimeFest Awards, and this week the shortlists for 2013 have been announced.

First up, is The Audible Sounds of Crime Award. This award celebrates the best crime audiobook published in both print and audio in 2012. Shortlists and winning titles are selected by Audible.co.uk, the UK’s leading producer of downloadable audiobooks.

And the shortlist is:

– Michael Connelly for The Black Box read by Michael McConnohie (Orion Audio)

– John Grisham for The Racketeer read by J.D. Jackson (Hodder & Stoughton)

– Peter May for The Lewis Man read by Peter Forbes (Quercus)

– Jo Nesbø for Phantom read by Sean Barrett (Random House with Isis Publishing)

– Ian Rankin for Standing In Another Man’s Grave read by James MacPherson (Orion Audio)

Next up is The Goldsboro Last Laugh Award. This award is for the best humorous crime novel of 2012. The shortlist and winning title are selected by a team of British crime fiction reviewers.

The shortlist is:

– Colin Bateman for The Prisoner of Brenda (Headline)

– Simon Brett for The Corpse on the Court (Severn House)

– Declan Burke for Slaughter’s Hound (Liberties Press)

– Ruth Dudley Edwards for Killing The Emperors (Allison & Busby)

– Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May and the Invisible Code (Doubleday, Transworld)

– Hesh Kestin for The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats (Mulholland Books, Hodder & Stoughton)

The next up is the eDunnit Award. This award recognises the best crime fiction ebook published in 2012 in both hardcopy and in electronic format. The shortlist and winning title are selected by a team of British crime fiction reviewers.

The shortlist is:

– Andrea Camilleri for The Age of Doubt (Mantle, Macmillan)

– Ruth Dudley Edwards for Killing The Emperors (Allison & Busby)

– Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May and the Invisible Code (Transworld)

– C.J. Sansom for Dominion (Mantle, Macmillan)

And finally, the H.R.F. Keating Award. This award is for the best biography/critical book related to crime fiction ebook published between 2008 and 2012. Again, the shortlist and winning title has been selected by a team of British crime fiction reviewers.

The shortlist is:

– Declan Burke & John Connolly for Books to Die For (Hodder & Stoughton, 2012)

– John Curran for Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks (HarperCollins, 2009)

– Barry Forshaw (editor) for British Crime Writing: an Encyclopaedia (Greenwood World Publishing, 2008)

– Christopher Fowler for Invisible Ink (Strange Attractor, 2012)

– Maxim Jakubowski (editor) for Following the Detectives (New Holland Publishers, 2010)

– P.D. James for Talking about Detective Fiction (The Bodleian Library, 2009)

Now the shortlist has been announced, the nominees have to wait it out until the winners of each award are  announced at CrimeFest’s annual Gala Dinner on Saturday 1st June. With so many great books on the shortlists it’s going to be a tough call.

I’ve got my ticket and I can’t wait to find out who the winners are.

To find out more about CrimeFest hop on over to www.crimefest.com