Learning from the CWA’s ‘Is Crime the new Literary Fiction?’ event


The Panel

The Panel

On Monday I went along to the Crime Writers’ Association panel event ‘Is Crime the new Literary Fiction?’ With Sophie Hannah, Lee Child, Peter James and Benjamin Black (John Banville) as panellists it made for a lively and entertaining evening.

In the first part of the session, the panellists discussed the question, reflecting that some of the best fiction in the twentieth century is crime fiction, and yet you do encounter snobbery about the genre. What came across really clearly was each of the panellists’ passion for the crime thriller genre and their love of writing it.

As the discussion broadened, each of the panellists talked about how they approach their writing, what interests them about the genre, and the importance of great characters and great stories.

As an aspiring crime thriller writer, the key takeaways from the session for me were:

  • On thinking about character’s in action, the discussion on psychological depth was really interesting: how everyone is a psychological puzzle and that choosing who to trust and what will happen when a character does/doesn’t embodies the puzzle questions we ask ourselves in life.
  • That there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to writing – that it could be starting with an essence of plot, or planning everything in advance, or not knowing what happens in the next line let alone the next chapter.
  • That characters and story are both important in crime fiction – that you need strong, likable and memorable characters and a great story including a puzzle and a satisfactory conclusion.
  •  And, on pace, that stories don’t have to be fast paced, but they do have to be compelling. Pace is about variation.

It was a fabulous evening and I’d like to say a huge thank you to the panellists, and to the Crime Writers’ Association for organising the event.


ps. CTG was delighted to meet Lee Child and Peter James after the panel finished, and had a true fan-girl moment when discussing a shared love of coffee with Lee Child.

World Book Night: Attention Wannabe Book Givers – applications are open

2013 World Book Night logo

2013 World Book Night logo

That’s right, applications have opened for applying to become a ‘book giver’ for World Book Night 2013.

If you’ve not heard about World Book Night before, it’s a huge celebration of reading which aims to reach out to the millions of people in the UK who have yet to discover the joys of reading.

Every year, the team behind World Book Night recruit 20,000 ‘book givers’ – people passionate about reading who are given 20 copies of their favorite book from the chosen World Book Night books to gift to people within their community who, for a variety of reasons, wouldn’t usually get the opportunity to read.

Next year, World Book Night will be 23rd April.

The books for 2013 have just been announced, and there are some fabulous picks, with several from the crime thriller genre including The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by  Alexander McCall Smith and Little Face by Sophie Hannah.

To see the full set of books chosen for World Book Night 2013 and to find out more about the event and how to become a book giver visit http://www.worldbooknight.org/

Events: Is Crime the new Literary Fiction


How to get to Kings Place, London

How to get to Kings Place, London

Do you love crime fiction?

If so, this event could be for you. On 12th November 2012 the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) are hosting a panel discussion on the topic “Is crime the new literary fiction?”

Chaired by Mark Lawson, the panel will be made up of best-selling crime thriller writers: Lee Child, Sophie Hannah, Peter James and John Banville.

It sounds like it’ll be a lively and entertaining debate.

For more information, and to book tickets, visit the Kings Place website at: http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on-book-tickets/spoken-word/is-crime-the-new-literary-fiction

It’s in my diary and I can’t wait!

Review: Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah

A superbly chilling and complex psychological thriller

“Amber Hewerdine knows more than she is telling. She knows that she hasn’t slept since the arson attack which killed her best friend. She knows that it is not normal for four members of your family to disappear one Christmas morning, and then reappear the next day, refusing to explain or ever speak of it again. And she knows that somewhere, buried deep in her subconscious, is the key to what happened all those years ago at Little Orchard.

Kind, cruel, kind of cruel.  These are the words she keeps coming back to. But what do they mean? Any why is she arrested within hours of first saying them, for the murder of a woman she has never met?”

An insomniac, Amber is struggling against her own body, and consults a Hypnotherapist to she if they can help. Instead of the relief she needs, the session unlocks memories that Amber has unknowingly pushed from her consciousness. These confusing and still unplaced memories start Amber on a quest to discover where they come from and why the Police believe she holds the key to an unsolved murder case.

As Amber tries to piece together a series of seemingly unconnected events, and consults the Hypnotherapist for further sessions, things become murkier rather than clearer, and the demons in her past threaten to overwhelm her.

For me, Amber wasn’t a character I instantly liked, but the situation she found herself in, and how she reacted, made her highly intriguing.

As the story progressed, and I found out more about Amber: how she’d taken in her best friends young children after her death, how she always felt in the shadow of her perfect sister-in-law, and how she decided to help DC Simon Waterhouse solve the case, she became someone I really wanted to root for.

I’m a big fan of Sophie Hannah’s brand of complex psychological thrillers, and this story didn’t disappoint. It has a wealth of interwoven connections challenging the reader to solve them.

Kind of Cruel is a chilling and unsettling tale of how unseen pressures and secrets within a family can distort and twist the everyday into the chilling. A shocking glimpse behind the mask of a seemingly ‘perfect’ family, and as much of a ‘why done it’ as a ‘who done it’.

Highly Recommended.