To celebrate the publication of Deep Dirty Truth my awesome publishers are running a very cool prize – lunch for two in London with my writing hero, Lee Child, and me.
Sound like your sort of thing? If so, here’s how to enter…
To celebrate the publication of Deep Dirty Truth my awesome publishers are running a very cool prize – lunch for two in London with my writing hero, Lee Child, and me.
Sound like your sort of thing? If so, here’s how to enter…
Today’s three word ‘micro’ book review features the latest in the fantastic (and certainly not micro) Jack Reacher series – THE MIDNIGHT LINE – by Lee Child.
My verdict: FAST-PACED. THOUGHT-PROVOKING. ACTION
(That’s five words you say? Yeah, yeah. So I slipped in a couple of cheeky hyphens – my blog, my rules!)
The Midnight Line is out now from Transworld. To find out more and buy the book click the cover below and hop over to Amazon:
Phew it’s Friday!
To celebrate the start of the weekend I’m running a competition on my Steph Broadribb Facebook page and giving away two paperbacks – thriller master Lee Child’s No Middle Name (short story collection) and my own latest thriller Deep Blue Trouble.
For a chance to win, hop over to Facebook, like my page and tell me in the comments below what your favourite Friday night treat is – here’s the link: Steph Broadribb on Facebook
Ps. mine’s a glass of prosecco, an orange scented candle, and great company).
I’ll draw the winner at random at 8pm on Sunday 28th January 2018.
Today it’s time for something a little different. Susi (SJI) Holliday and me, in conjunction with CrimeTime, have been thinking about sex in crime fiction. You can read our thoughts in a few places – the first half of our conversation here on the CTG blog, the second half over on Susi’s blog HERE, and the full article over on the CrimeTime website HERE
Once you’ve had a read, we’d love to know your thoughts – do you like a sprinkling of sex with your crime? And, if you do, what’s the most memorable sex scene in a crime thriller for you? Tweet us at @crimethrillgirl and @SJIHolliday using hashtag #GirlsOnTop to let us know.
[STEPH] Let’s talk about sex. Sex in crime fiction, specifically. Okay, so I’ll go first – I’m not embarrassed – there’s a couple of sex scenes in my debut novel DEEP DOWN DEAD. One is more of a cut away as the action happens, but the other one, towards the end of the book, is very much the action as it happens; my protagonist Lori Anderson riding a male character cowgirl style. I put it in because the scene felt right for the story and (I hope) conveys something about the characters, adding additional conflict and raising the emotional stakes of the decisions they’re about to make and the (negative) consequences they could have for their relationship. That’s a whole lot of subtext to put on a sex scene, but that’s my rationale.
Back when I was starting to write my novel, I was told that sex and crime fiction don’t mix, but that doesn’t seem quite right to me. I can think of memorable sex scenes in the crime thriller genre like Lee Child’s The Affair – Jack Reacher has sex as a train thunders along the tracks – and that chilling sex scene in Gone Girl between Amy and Desi – the book, and the slightly more bloody film version! But, now I think about it, I can’t think of many detective stories that have sex scenes playing out in full in them unless the sex itself is the crime to be solved. Surely there must be more and my memory is just playing tricks on me? To help, I’ve enlisted crime writer S.J.I. Holliday – author of the Banktoun series – to answer the question, do sex and detective fiction mix?
[SUSI] I really don’t see why not. When you ask people about this, you get very mixed responses. Readers (in general) are absolutely fine with serial killers, blood, gore, death and destruction. But throw a blow job in there and they’re skimming the pages faster than a quickie in the stationery cupboard.Personally, I love a bit of sex. Slotted in at the right time, it can help add to the tension of your story, especially if the characters are having sex with people they shouldn’t. In all three of my books, there is a hint of sex – an encounter reminiscent of 9½ Weeks on a kitchen table in BLACK WOOD, where various food items are strewn around the kitchen… In WILLOW WALK, there’s a first-timer’s sex scene down by the river which I thought was quite touching (so to speak) and entirely relevant to the plot. There’s actually less sex in THE DAMSELFLY than in the other two. A thwarted BJ and an illicit scene in a lock-up that’s kept mainly off the page. It totally depends on the story. It definitely shouldn’t be shoehorned in if it doesn’t advance the plot.
[STEPH] Seems like Susi and me are on the same page about sex-on-the-page, but what about other crime writers, what do they think? We asked a few to find out.
Neil White – From the Shadows (Bonnier Zaffre) – said, ‘Never written a sex scene. Too buttoned up. My mum will read it’ and Mason Cross – The Time To Kill (Orion) – said, ‘I’ve only included PG13 sex scenes so far, although I may need to change that for plot reasons in the new one. But Jeez, my dad reads these!’ So it could be the fear of family members reading intimate scenes is in the forefront of some writers’s minds (and limits them going all the way) but that’s not all. Chris Ewan – Long Time Lost (Faber) – said, ‘I almost wrote one yesterday and then … just cut away again. Performance anxiety.’
It also depends on the character. James Oswald – Written In Bones (Penguin) – said, ‘I don’t put much sex in my books. Tony McLean is incredibly repressed anyway, so there’s that too … on the other hand there’s auto-erotic asphyxiation and death by priapism in my latest, so maybe I do write sex after all.’
Andy Martin – Reacher Said Nothing (Transworld) – said, ‘Sad to say there are few explicit sex scenes of note in Reacher Said Nothing. I only looked over Lee Child’s shoulder while he was writing Make Me. I think there is the occasional manly handshake. But Lee – as straight as a die – had some wry remarks to make on the subject. “Never sleep with someone you know,” still resonates in my mind. And more recently he said that the most erotic experience he had ever had was a brief encounter on a train. They shared a moment but had no actual language in common. I think I may have been influenced by Childean minimalism, that “zero degree” of writing recommended by Roland Barthes. I was at a Norman Mailer writers colony in Wyoming recently when a brilliant Indian writer devised an elaborate sex scene about a dozen pages long. I wrote one, rather shorter, that went like this: “We had sex.” It’s not exactly lyrical or spiritual but it gets the job done.’
It seems, from the guys we spoke to, that male crime thriller writers generally prefer not to write on-the-page sex and to cut away before the act takes place. Mark Edwards – The Devil’s Work (Thomas & Mercer) – bucks this trend, he wants more sex in crime fiction, and said, ‘we Brits are notoriously squeamish when it comes to the squelchy bits. Wouldn’t it be nice if more of our great detectives were as skillful in bed as they are at solving crimes? Don’t you think there should be more people handcuffed to beds in thrillers because they like being handcuffed to beds?’
To find out what the female crime writers thought, why Susi hates ‘panties’ and what the trick to writing a good sex scene is, hop over to Susi’s blog HERE then come find us on Twitter @crimethrillgirl and @SJIHolliday and tell us your thoughts on sex in crime fiction using hashtag #GirlsOnTop
And check out the article in full on Barry Forshaw’s CrimeTime at www.crimetime.co.uk and check out his Rough Guide to Crime Fiction here
Buy DEEP DOWN DEAD by Steph Broadribb here
Buy THE DAMSELFLY by SJI Holliday here
And you can buy books by our contributing authors by clicking the book titles below:
Neil White – From the Shadows (Bonnier Zaffre)
Mason Cross – The Time To Kill (Orion)
Chris Ewan – Long Time Lost (Faber)
James Oswald – Written In Bones (Penguin)
Andy Martin – Reacher Said Nothing (Transworld)
Mark Edwards – The Devil’s Work (Thomas & Mercer)
More about Steph and Susi:
Steph Broadribb is an alumni of the MA Creative Writing at City University London and trained as a bounty hunter in California. Her debut novel DEEP DOWN DEAD is out now. Find out more at www.crimethrillergirl.com right here!
S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday grew up near Edinburgh and now lives in London. She works as a statistician in the pharmaceutical industry and writes books set in a creepy and claustrophobic small town in Scotland where the crime rate is apparently higher than in New York. BLACK WOOD, WILLOW WALK and THE DAMSELFLY are a mix of psychological thriller and detective fiction, featuring the terminally unlucky in love, Sergeant Davie Gray. You can find out more at www.sjiholliday.com
What the blurb says: “In the morning, they gave Reacher a medal. And in the afternoon, they sent him back to school. It’s just a voice plucked from the air: ‘The American wants a hundred million dollars’. For what? Who from? It’s 1996, and the Soviets are long gone. But now there’s a new enemy. In an apartment in Hamburg, a group of smartly-dressed young Saudis are planning something big. Jack Reacher is fresh off a secret mission and a big win. The Army pats him on the back and gives him a medal. And then they send him back to school. It’s a school with only three students: Reacher, an FBI agent, and a CIA analyst. Their assignment? To find that American. And what he’s selling. And to whom. There is serious shit going on, signs of a world gone mad. Night School takes Reacher back to his army days, but this time he’s not in uniform. With trusted sergeant Frances Neagley at his side, he must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders, in a wired, fiendishly clever new adventure that will make the cold sweat trickle down your spine.”
Lee Child’s latest addition to the Jack Reacher series is Reacher #21 – NIGHT SCHOOL and I was super excited to get my hands on an early proof copy – black covers, very minimal (rather like the great Reacher himself). Or at least it was very minimal, till I travelled to Scotland with it in my overnight bag, and the glitter originally stuck onto the wrapping paper of a gift I was taking relocated itself onto the book cover. I guess I’m probably the only person with a glittery copy of NIGHT SCHOOL!
Anyway, back to the book …
Well, as always, Reacher #21 delivers the Reacher-style goods. It also forces fans to delay gratification on the present day Reacher/Chang what-happens-next question from the end of the previous book – MAKE ME – and instead takes us back in time to when Reacher was still in the military. Not an easy delay for an impatient Reacher addict like me to take, but as Lee Child pairs Reacher back up with Neagley I’m willing to concede it’s a fair trade.
And in NIGHT SCHOOL it’s fascinating to see Reacher back in the structured environment of the military – reacting to the confines of protocol and hierarchy, yet still very much ‘being Reacher’; hard-wired to do whatever is needed to get justice, pushing blocks out the way (or ignoring them), and challenging the status quo. There’s a strong investigatory feel to the story, with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing, and the pace whips along at breath-taking speed.
The relationship between Reacher and Neagley is complex and interesting – the mutual respect, the banter, the attraction yet inability to connect physically due to Neagley’s phobia of being touched. It was a joy to spend time with them in NIGHT SCHOOL and I’m hoping that we might get to see more of their relationship in future books.
NIGHT SCHOOL is everything you want from an action thriller – fast, hard and gripping. Read it now, then go back and read all the rest!
And, for the next book in the series – Reacher #22 (I’m guessing black cover, no glitter) what I REALLY want to know what happens between Reacher and Chang!
You can buy NIGHT SCHOOL from Amazon here
Find out more about Lee Child and the Reacher series at www.leechild.com
About ten days ago @bloke_book challenged me and a few others to confess our darkest bookish secrets. Having procrastinated for a little while, I’ve bitten the bullet, and am fessing up to my crimes against books …
Have you ever damaged a book?
Define “damaged”. If cracking a book’s spine before you start reading it is damage, then yes. I can’t help myself. Also turning corners down to mark my place. I do this as standard – there’s no point me having a book mark, I always lose it and then I lose my place! I’m also prone to dropping books in the bath (my favourite place to read). Some books escape with a tide mark around the bottom, others fall victim of a full drowning and have to be hung up to dry out! A book is there to be read, and it’s going to get bruised and dirtied up in the process – that’s my view anyway!
Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?
I try hard not to. If it belongs to someone else I’m extra especially careful with it (I don’t read it in the bath). BUT I cannot guarantee not to turn the corners of the pages down – it’s a habit, I just can’t stop!
How long does it take you to read a book?
It depends on the book. Some – like an action thriller – might be a couple of days, others might be longer. It also depends why I’m reading it – if I’m on a deadline for review it has to be fast, whereas if it’s for me, for fun, then I can take my time.
Books you haven’t finished?
Loads! I’m easily bored, so if a book isn’t doing it for me I stop reading immediately.
Hyped/Popular books you didn’t like?
Yes, but I’m not telling! What I will say is that spoilers can be a nightmare with books hyped from a long way before publication. I didn’t read GONE GIRL when it came out because someone had already told me the twist! (I think it’s a great story though, the book and the film).
Is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?
I’m happy to tell about any book I’m reading (unless talking about the book is embargoed until a certain date by the author or their PR).
Are you a fast/slow reader?
Both. Depends on the book and my mood.
Do you like to buddy read?
I’m not sure what this is. I like talking about books with my blogger friends and getting recommendations though.
Do you read better in your head/out loud?
If I’m reading someone else’s book I read it in my head. If I’m reading my own while editing, I read it out loud.
If you were only allowed to own one book, what would it be and why?
One book!! *gasps* I really don’t know, but it would be a close run thing between Michael Crichton’s A STATE OF FEAR and Lee Child’s KILLING FLOOR. Or maybe a Jilly Cooper book – either RIDERS or POLO! Simply because with all these books I’d be happy to re-read them over and over and over again.
Now it’s my turn to tag some people so I pick: Susi Holliday, Liz Barnsley, Alex Caan, Rod Reynolds and Mark Hill.
And while they’re putting together their confessions, be sure to check out what others in the chain – @Bloke_book @andymartinink and @KarinaMSzczurek have already confessed to …
For the next few weeks I’m having a little blogging holiday. I’ve got a stack of fantastic books to read, some cool interviews to do, and I’m cracking on with writing the first draft of the follow-up to DEEP DOWN DEAD.
I’ll be back on 1st September with a revamped look and bursting to tell you about the books I’ve read.
Until then, here’s a sneak peep at my August TBR pile …
Until then, you can catch me over on Twitter …
If you’ve been stressed out and counting the hours (minutes, seconds …) till your holiday the last thing you want is more stress from picking the right books to take with you!
But there are so many red hot sizzlers of reads out there, how do you pick the books to pack into your luggage? It’s a tough call, so to help you out I thought I’d do a top ten selection of my favourite reads from the past few months to give you a bit of a head start.
And so, after A LOT of deliberation, these are my top ten “must pack” reads.
If you love super smart and sparkly fun non-fiction … then REACHER SAID NOTHING by ANDY MARTIN is the perfect companion to lie back on your beach towel with.
Through Andy’s eyes, you’ll get a backseat view of Lee Child as he writes his most recent bestseller – MAKE ME. It’s a captivating snapshot of the life of Lee Child during the writing process – illuminating how his life and his writing feed into each other – and a lesson in thriller writing distilled through the expert observations and analysis of Andy Martin. REACHER SAID NOTHING is an honest, access-all-areas study of a writer at the top of their game, and a damn entertaining read – an absolute must for Reacher fans and aspiring writers too. If you’re a fan of crime thrillers this is a book you just have to read!
Read my review of REACHER SAID NOTHING here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Andy on Twitter @andymartinink
If you love your crime to come with a heavyweight emotional sucker-punch … you’ll need IN HER WAKE by AMANDA JENNINGS in your rucksack when you head off to the British seaside.
It’s a remarkable book – part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age story, it entices you in with a gloriously rich web of secrets and mystery, and holds you spell bound right through to the final heart-wrenching revelation. Beautifully written, IN HER WAKE is a story of toxic relationships, family betrayals and self-discovery. It’s both gritty and tragic, and achingly emotive and heart-warming. A stunning read.
Read my review of IN HER WAKE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Amanda on Twitter @MandaJJennings
If you love a classy whodunit with a psychological twist … be sure to take DIE OF SHAME by MARK BILLINGHAM with you when you load the truck to drive Route 66 on your road trip.
Told across two timelines, the story follows the police investigation, led by no-nonsense DI Nicola Tanner, into the murder of a member of a North West London addiction therapy group in the ‘NOW’. While in the ‘THEN’ it shows the group, and its members’ lives, as they were in the weeks leading up to the murder of one of their own. It’s a book that explores the lasting effects of addiction, the guilt of having to live with the consequences of actions you may have little recall of taking, and of each person’s battle to find and keep (or get back) their place within the world. It also shows the lengths that some people will go to in order to hide their secrets and take their revenge. For police procedural fans, the investigation narrative is as rich with detail and as tensely pacey as you’d expect from a crime-writing master of the genre. Gritty, thought provoking and utterly addictive!
Read my review of DIE OF SHAME here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mark on Twitter @MarkBillingham
If you love a modern luxury twist on the classic locked room mystery … take THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by RUTH WARE along for the ride when you journey on the Orient Express.
It tells the story of Lo Blackwood who has been given the career opportunity of a lifetime – attending the press launch of a new boutique cruise ship and writing about her experience on its maiden voyage. But in the days leading up to the cruise her flat is burgled while she’s sleeping, and her relationship with her boyfriend, Judah, hits the rocks. Unsettled and exhausted, Lo makes her way to the ship, convinced some rest and recuperation will help her feel better. But things don’t work out like that. Against the backdrop of ultimate luxury – white velvet, raw-silk, chandeliers with over two thousand Swarovski crystals – and the breath-taking natural beauty of the Norwegian fjords, Lo finds herself facing the possibility she’s trapped on a boat, cut off from the outside world, and one of the other passengers is a murderer. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 brings the classic locked room mystery bang up to date, with creepiness and ever increasing dread oozing from the pages. It’s packed with suspense and twisty with tension to the final page.
Read my review of THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 over on the @deadgoodbooks website here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthWareWriter
If you love gritty American noir … a copy of BLACK NIGHT FALLING by ROD REYNOLDS is essential reading while you’re waiting for your date to arrive in that back street whiskey bar.
The second book in the Charlie Yates series is another noir-drenched belter of a thriller. “Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.” I think that if Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald had co-written a book it might have been rather like BLACK NIGHT FALLING. Darkly gritty, authentically compelling, this is a flawless treat of a thriller.
You’ll be able to read my review of BLACK NIGHT FALLING when in comes out in August. In the meantime, click here to pre-order it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Rod on Twitter @Rod_WR
If you love seeing beneath the cash and the glitter thrillers … then EXPOSURE by AVA MARSH will keep your eyes wide open as you lounge by the rooftop pool.
At the start of the book, porn star Kitty Sweet is in prison for double murder, but she’s never told the secret of what really happened. When a long lost friend visits, bringing some upsetting news, Kitty’s offered some sessions with a therapist. She figures why not, she’ll turn up and play along. It’s hard to squeeze EXPOSURE into a single sub-genre – it’s a thriller for sure; a tale of deceit, and exploitation, and murder. It’s also a tale of friendship, of love and of heartbreak with a real emotional core. And the twist at the end, well, let’s just say it’s not many books that can make me cry – and this one did!
Read my review of EXPOSURE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ava on Twitter @MsAvaMarsh
If you love high adrenaline action thrillers … then you’ll want to take THE TIME TO KILL by MASON CROSS with you when you jet-ski back to your yacht.
This is the third book in the Carter Blake series, and it’s one hell of a read! The story starts with Blake accepting a new job – finding an employee of an internet tech company who’s gone AWOL with a piece of ground-breaking software. But as he starts tracking his target, Blake isn’t aware that he himself is firmly in the sights of his old employers – Winterlong – and that they’ll stop at nothing to neutralize the threat they now believe him to be. THE TIME TO KILL is an adrenaline rush from the first page to the last. Packed with stunning set-piece action sequences, and an emotional punch as you discover more of the rather mysterious Blake’s backstory, this cinematic action thriller is like reading Reacher crossed with Bourne plus added fabulousness.
Read my review of THE TIME TO KILL here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mason on Twitter @MasonCrossBooks
If you love your police procedurals packed with ghostly wonder … you’re going to need JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVDIENCE OF GHOSTS by AK BENEDICT to accompany you on that London city getaway you’re planning (maybe you’ll even be tempted to try some mud larking).
Every once in a while you read a book that enthralls you, wrapping you up tight inside its world and holding you spellbound throughout the entirety of the story. For me, this is that book. “Maria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it. Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways. Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never know. To find the truth they’ll have to listen to the whispers on the streets.” Quirkily original, with deeply drawn unique characters and a brutally magical London setting, this story has you traversing all the emotions from darkness to delight with a gut wrenching honesty – rather as if you’ve been kissed and sucker punched all at the same time, but in a good way.
Read my review of JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVIDENCE OF GHOSTS here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Alexandra on Twitter @ak_benedict
If you love twisty-turny legal thrillers … take THE PLEA by STEVE CAVANAGH on your New York city break – you could even visit some of the locations in the book while you’re there.
The second book in the Eddie Flynn series, THE PLEA, sees con-man-turned-criminal-defence-lawyer Eddie Flynn facing another terrifying situation: persuade social media genius David Child to become his client and get him to plead guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, or the FBI will make sure Eddie’s wife goes to prison for involvement in an illegal scheme operated by her law firm that she had no direct knowledge of. But Eddie suspects that David Child is innocent, and he won’t send an innocent man to jail. Eddie sets out to prove David’s innocence, and to protect his own family. Problem is, there is more than one bunch of bad guys after David, and some are closer to home than even Eddie might think. With an urgent, time pressured feel from the get-go, electric courtroom scenes, stunning action sequences and the witty and unique character of Eddie Flynn, THE PLEA a tremendous read.
Read my review of THE PLEA here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav
If you love heart-racing creepiness in your thrillers … WILLOW WALK by SJI HOLLIDAY is the book to pack for that walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands.
This is the second book in the Banktoun trilogy. Set in a small town community in Scotland where everyone knows each other’s business and secrets are deeply held, Sergeant David Gray is investigating a series of deaths linked to legal highs, while also trying to work out what is going wrong in his relationship with girlfriend, Marie.
This twisty, turning police procedural has a strong psychological twist, and tackles some controversial issues. It’s a gritty tale of obsession, revenge and escape. Chillingly nuanced, and pulse-poundingly suspenseful, it’s totally unputdownable.
Read my review of WILLOW WALK here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday
So don’t forget to pack your books in your suitcase (or pack them virtually onto your Kindle) and have a fab summer hols!
If you’re a Reacher fan then you’ll probably want to check out the June gathering of the Prospect Book Club, London.
On Monday June 20th, Andy Martin – Cambridge academic and number one Lee Child fan – will be joining the Book Club to discuss his book REACHER SAID NOTHING – a book about Lee Child and the writing of his most recent thriller MAKE ME. Lee Child will also be joining the event via video link to answer audience questions, and give his perspective on his time with Andy. I’ve seen these two writers in conversation, and I’m sure this will be a very fun event!
To find out more and to get tickets click here
What the blurb says about REACHER SAID NOTHING: “On 1 September 1994, Lee Child went out to buy the paper to start writing his first novel, in pencil. The result was KILLING FLOOR, which introduced his hero Jack Reacher. Twenty years later, on 1 September 2014, he began writing MAKE ME, the twentieth novel in his number-one-bestselling Reacher series. Same day, same writer, same hero. The difference, this time, was that he had someone looking over his shoulder. Andy Martin, uber Reacher fan, Cambridge academic, expert on existentialism and dedicated surfer, sat behind Lee Child in his office and watched him as he wrote. While Lee was writing his Reacher book, Andy was writing about the making of MAKE ME. REACHER SAID NOTHING is a book about a guy writing a book. An instant meta-book. It crosses genres, by bringing a high-level critical approach to a popular text, and gives a fascinating insight into the art of writing a thriller, showing the process in real time. It may well be the first of its kind.”
You can read my review of REACHER SAID NOTHING here and my interview with Andy Martin here
And you can read my review of MAKE ME by Lee Child here
Huge thanks to CTG for letting me have a guest spot on this great blog. I’ve chosen to talk a little about my influences, and how they may have affected the books that I write, or even the way that I write. Style. That’s the word. At my first ever event as an author I remember being asked by Colin Bateman what I would say my “style” of writing was like. At the time, I’d written my first book, I’d been lucky enough to get a book deal, and I was working on my second novel, The Plea. My answer must’ve been disappointing, but it was honest. I said, “To tell you the truth, I’m not sure that I have a style.”
To me, other authors that I’d read and loved for years, had style. The likes of John Connolly – who writes in beautiful, poetic prose. His Charlie Parker novels are essentially gothic detective novels, but they are shot through with humour, warmth, and a good dollop of the supernatural. Raymond Chandler had style. His language was at times strange and wonderful especially in those extended metaphors. Michael Connelly has an almost journalistic style – a beautiful, unadorned simplicity that somehow transports you straight into the heart of Los Angeles and into the passenger seat beside Bosch. I also love the stripped back genius of Lee Child – with those tripping, declarative sentences that are almost musical. Speaking of music, Elmore Leonard played a tune in dialogue that few others could even get close to – perhaps only Ian Rankin is Leonard’s equal.
So having read all of those authors, and more, what kind of style did I have? At the time, I couldn’t see it. I think that it takes a few books to emerge. At the time I began writing, I never once thought about my style of writing or even trying to create one.
It’s difficult to determine how those authors I’ve mentioned above have influenced me or the books that I write. In asking myself that question, I can only think of one answer. All of them tell brilliant stories. And those stories are told in uniquely brilliant ways.
A style, I suppose, is the sum total of its different parts. So it’s every author that I’ve read, filtered through me. And no-one else can sound like that. If you asked me today what my style is, I’d still have to give a bit of a vague answer. I only know what I like to write. I like stories that start quickly, that move with enough speed to keep the reader hooked, and while all the fireworks are going off, I like to try and make the reader think. My language is fairly simple because I like it that way. I do aim for a twist or two, because as a reader I enjoy twists and turns. Most of my style probably comes down to character. If I can get my characters to tell the story, rather than me – the writer, then I think I’m going in the right direction.
Influences are like parents, you can’t really choose them. I’ve been lucky in that the writers that have influenced and inspired me the most are some of the greats of the genre. There’s not a bad book in any of them. Apart from the pleasure I get from their work, they also drive me to try and be a better writer.
That’s really all the influence you need.
A big thank you to Steve Cavanagh for making the CTG blog today’s stop on his blog tour.
THE PLEA is out on May 19th in Trade Paperback, eBook and Audio. It’s a tremendous read and an absolute must for all thriller fans. Here’s what the blurb says: “When David Child, a major client of a corrupt New York law firm, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to secure Child as his client and force him to testify against the firm. Eddie’s not a man to be coerced into representing a guilty client, but the FBI have incriminating files on Eddie’s wife, and if Eddie won’t play ball, she’ll pay the price. When Eddie meets Child he’s convinced the man is innocent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the plea, Eddie must find a way to prove Child’s innocence while keeping his wife out of danger – not just from the FBI, but from the firm itself.”
Pre-order THE PLEA here from Waterstones or from Amazon here
To find out more about crime writer Steve Cavanagh hop over to his website at www.stevecavanagh.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @SSCav