Secrets of British thriller writers CL Taylor & Marnie Riches

Writing, research, planning and promotion....

CL Taylor and Marnie Riches talk about their new thrillers in the week that The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows and The Missing are released.

More about Marnie Riches:

More about Cally Taylor:

Writing A Bestseller: Easy as 1,2,3 or E = mc 2?! by Marnie Riches

Hello BritCrime followers. I hope your Easter break was relaxing and that you're not all hyperglycaemic from eating too much chocolate.

Marnie Riches, author of the award-winning George McKenzie crime-thrillers, set mainly in Amsterdam and the UK, has got her third gripping installment coming out on 31st March 2016. It's called The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows and has already garnered some terrific 5* reviews from book bloggers and her fellow authors alike.

This twisty tale of the hunt for a cunning serial killer - Jack Frost - and two missing children during the worst Arctic snap Europe has ever seen is available to pre-order on Amazon for only 99p! Better for your waistline than buying those half-priced, leftover Easter eggs...

If you can't bear to wait another three days for The Girl or if you're writing your own novel, why not check out Marnie's latest blog post for the comprehensive Irish online guide to writing,

Click on this link to find out if writing a bestseller is as easy as 1,2,3 or more like E=MC2!

NEW RELEASE: Brit Noir :The Pocket Essential Guide to British Crime Fiction, Film & TV

Brit Noir
Brit Noir is published in the UK today. It will be available in the US in October.

Barry Forshaw is acknowledged as a leading expert on crime fiction from European countries, but his principal area of expertise is in the British crime arena, as demonstrated in such books as British Crime Writing, The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction and British Crime Film.

After the success of earlier entries in the series, Nordic Noir and Euro Noir, he returns to the British Isles to produce the ultimate reader's guide to modern British crime fiction (taking in the best from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland). The word 'Noir' is used in its loosest sense as every major living British and Irish writer is considered, often through a concentration on one or two key books, and exciting new talents are highlighted for the reader.

Forshaw's personal acquaintance with writers, editors and publishers is unparalleled, so BRIT NOIR features interviews with (and quotations from) the writers, editors and publishers themselves. The characteristics of the very different writing from London, the regions, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are examined and celebrated.

All major living writers, new and established, are covered and the characteristics of their different styles of writing are considered. The writers are also mapped across all regions of England as well as Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Brit Noir offers unique, lively insight and, not solely confined to British crime fiction novels, it also celebrates the new golden age of British crime drama and popular television programs such as Sherlock and Broadchurch.

Barry Forshaw is a leading expert on crime fiction and film. He is the author of Euro Noir, Nordic Noir, Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction, and The Man Who Left Too Soon. He has written for various national newspapers, edits Crime Time, and was previously the vice chair of the Crime Writers' Association.

Crime Time
Twitter: @BarryForshaw3
Brit Noir on Amazon

From Contestant to Curator: J M Hewitt #BritCrime

By J M Hewitt
In the summer of 2015 I settled down to enjoy the first BritCrime Festival. As it was online there was no dressing up and no chance of being late. I recall it clearly; it was a hot day so armed with a shandy and my laptop I joined in from the comfort of my sun lounger.

And I had a great time, lots of my favourite authors were participating and because it was online there was so much interaction. With a burning desire to one day become one of the gang, that weekend I entered the BritCrime Pitch Competition. The concept was to Tweet a pitch of your novel, and the winners would have the first part of their manuscript judged by the lovely Madeleine of the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. On the 14th July 2015 I received an email saying I’d won! To say I was over the moon is an understatement, and over the subsequent weeks Madeleine kindly perused my manuscript and returned to me with some feedback.

The feedback turned out to be priceless. One of the main issues with my manuscript was that it wasn’t easily identifiable as crime fiction and deep down, I knew this. So I put aside that novel, the one that I’d been working on for four years, and I started a fresh one. I knew what it was going to be about (a private detective and his reluctant partner in crime) and I knew where I wanted it to be set: Chernobyl. I started thinking ahead and I knew that the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was April 2016 – just eight months away. If I stood a chance of making an impact it needed to be ready for then. A tall order, but I’m always up for a challenge however, so the summer and autumn of 2015 went past in a blur of writing and research.

In the winter of 2015 I got the news I’d been hoping for, Endeavour Press – having only read half of the new manuscript – wanted to publish it. It was an indescribable moment when I received the publishing contract and in order to spur me on to meeting the deadline, I pinned it up on my office wall. It’s still there today, but next to it now is a poster print of the cover of my debut crime fiction novel.

Seven months to the very day that I received notification that I’d won the BritCrime competition, Exclusion Zone was published.

Exclusion Zone
Amazing things have happened almost on a daily basis since then. I met the gorgeous Helen Smith, founder of BritCrime, at a delightful Agatha Christie talk in London. My novel received praise from fellow BritCrime author, Jane Isaac, and writers who I adore, like Alex Marwood and Louise Beech. I watched with glee as Exclusion Zone got to number 50 in the International Crime and Mystery chart in the week after release, and again one month later when I reached number 12 in the same category, and number 3 in the Military chart. I got offers to appear on blog posts and giveaways and all in all, everyone was so damn supportive.

The pinnacle was being asked if I’d like to be guest curator on BritCrime in the months leading up to the actual festival. It got me to thinking back to last year and to conclude, in a dream that originally started over two decades ago, in just seven short months, I’ve gone from contestant to curator, and if you, reader, have a dream like this, then maybe you should join in the BritCrime fun this year, and see what sort of mad and wonderful ride it can take you on.
Twitter: @jmhewitt
Exclusion Zone on Amazon

More about the BritCrime Festival here.

Introducing British Crime Writer Julia Crouch

Julia Crouch writes Domestic Noir - a term she coined to describe her dark and twisty psychological thrillers. Her four books – Cuckoo, Every Vow You Break, Tarnished and The Long Fall – are published in the UK by Headline, and the fifth – Her Husband’s Lover – is out in January 2017.

She likes particularly to write about the terrible things we do to each other in the name of love, and takes inspiration from news stories, gossip and car crash TV – humans never fail to surprise her.

Julia lives in Brighton with her husband, her youngest son and two boomeranging grown up children, and writes in a cosy shed at the bottom of her garden, aided and abetted by her two cats, #Keith and #Sandra, who she is trying to get trending on Twitter.
The Long Fall by Julia Crouch
Julia can be found at her website:, on Twitter as @thatjuliacrouch, or on her Facebook author page:

Live interview with Marnie Riches & Cally Taylor #TheGirlWho #TheMissing

We have a Blab (live-streamed interview) scheduled for 8pm UK time, Thursday 31st March, with bestselling British thriller writers Marnie Riches and Cally Taylor to celebrate the launch of their new books, The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows and The Missing.

Please follow this link to subscribe. You can watch live. If you can't make it live, you will receive a recording of the interview to watch later.

More details nearer the time, but please join us if you can.

Introducing British Crime Writer Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital.

Wicked Game by Matt JohnsonHidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism.

One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. Matt is currently working on a sequel Deadly Game.

Facebook: Matt Johnson Author
Twitter: @Matt_Johnson_UK
Matt Johnson on Amazon

Steven Dunne's A KILLING MOON shortlisted for prestigious literary prize

Steven Dunne's A Killing Moon has been shortlisted for The East Midlands Book Award, a prestigious literary prize. The announcement was made today. A Killing Moon is Steven's second nomination. He was also nominated for The Unquiet Grave.

Congratulations, Steven!

Steven Dunne was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 1957. He went to the University of Kent after A levels and studied as little as possible, yet somehow emerged with a second class honours degree. He began writing articles for quality newspapers on dull subjects before writing the book for the Latchmere Theatre's award-winning fringe production of Hansel and Gretel in 1989. He also co-wrote the revue, It's Mad Mad World, We're Plastered performed at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre in Woking the previous year and played the role of Teddy in the same theatre's production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming the same year

In the 1990s he taught English in South London before moving up to his adopted home town of Derby towards the end of the decade. In 2007, he self-published Reaper, a thriller set in Derby, featuring the hyper-intelligent but mentally troubled detective, DI Damen Brook. The rights were optioned by Harper Collins and four more critically-acclaimed books followed. He is currently writing the 6th book in the DI Brook series, entitled Death Do Us Part. He has never taken a selfie.

More about Steven Dunne at his website here.
Steven Dunne's books at Amazon.

William Shaw: Finding the Evil Places

Ever wondered how writers get their inspiration?

Finding the evil places
A Book of Scars by William Shaw.
Posted by BritCrime Authors on Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Is Crime Fiction Entertainment?

I belong to several online readers groups and there’s a question that has been coming up frequently, lately:
Is crime fiction entertainment?
This is a thorny issue, right? But I’m glad to see it being discussed. For me – no. I DON’T read crime fiction for entertainment. When I pick up a crime novel as a reader, I want to see intelligent treatment of societal evils that focuses on bringing awareness to problems and proposing activist solutions.
That’s my goal as an author, too.
My Huntress Moon series is intense, page-turning psychological and procedural suspense. I worked as a Hollywood screenwriter for ten years before I wrote my first novel, and I’m well aware that I need to deliver a satisfying genre experience to my readers. If they’re not biting their nails and staying up way past their bedtimes, I’m not doing my job.

But within the context of a ripping thriller, I am writing about issues I care passionately about and want to eradicate for good – meaning the good of everyone on the planet. Violence against women. Child sexual abuse. Human trafficking.

The last thing I want to do is show these scenes in a way that anyone could get pleasure out of. The few times I show anything on the page, it’s very brief and absolutely not there for entertainment.  I think we all understand that rape is horrific – we don’t need to see graphic scenes to understand that. And I am very suspicious of any book that starts with a beautiful woman obviously being set up to be raped and tortured. Sexualizing rape and torture is not solving any problem – it’s actually contributing to the atrocity of sexual abuse.  Personally I won’t support any book or author that sexualizes scenes of abuse.

I suppose as an author you can avoid these tough issues by writing cozies, or another genre entirely. But I don’t read cozies, and I wouldn’t know how to write one. I used to teach in the Los Angeles County prison system. I want to explore the roots of crime, not soft-pedal it. For better or worse, my core theme as a writer is “What can good people do about the evil in the world?”

So my choice is to confront the issue head on.

The fact is, one reason crime novels and film and TV so often depict women as victims is because it’s reality. Since the beginning of time, women haven’t been the predators – we’re the prey. Personally, I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

But after all those years (centuries, millennia) of women being victims of the most heinous crimes out there… wouldn’t you think that someone would finally say – “Enough”? 

And maybe even strike back?

Well, that’s a story, isn’t it?

So my Huntress Moon series is about just that.

The books take the reader on an interstate manhunt with a haunted FBI agent on the track of what he thinks may be that most rare of criminals – a female serial killer.

And here’s what’s really interesting. Arguably there’s never been any such thing as a female serial killer in real life. The women that the media holds up as serial killers operate from a completely different psychology from the men who commit what the FBI calls “sexual homicide” (including most of the famous serial killers you know of: Bundy, Tobin, Kemper, Gacy, Tobin, Nilsen, Sutcliffe, and yes, Jack the Ripper…)

So what’s that about? Why do men do it and women don’t? Women rarely kill, compared to men — but when it happens, what does make a woman kill?

Within the context of my Huntress series I can explore those psychological and sociological questions, and invite my readers to ask – Why? I can realistically bring light to crimes that I consider pretty much the essence of evil – and turn the tables on the perpetrators.

And I’ve created a female character who breaks the mold – but in a way that makes psychological sense for the overwhelming majority of people who read the books.

Whoever she is, whatever she is, the Huntress is like no killer Agent Roarke – or the reader – has ever seen before. And you may find yourself as conflicted about her as Roarke is.

Because as one of the profilers says in the book: “I’ve always wondered why we don’t see more women acting out this way. God knows enough of them have reason.”

So what do you think?

Readers, do you read crime fiction for entertainment? Are you looking for something that goes farther and examines the root of crime, and maybe even solutions? Are you concerned about scenes of violence against women being presented as sexualized entertainment?

Authors/writers: is this an issue you grapple with? Have you found ways of exploring real-life issues of violence against women and children that both fulfill the conventions of the thriller genre and avoid brutalization for entertainment?

I’m always interesting in hearing!

-           - Alex

SALE ALERT:  The first three books in the HUNTRESS MOON series, and my witchy supernatural thriller BOOK OF SHADOWS are all on sale on Amazon UK this month for just 99p each.

Introducing British crime writer William Shaw

William Shaw photo

© Ellen Shaw
The New York Times has called William Shaw’s trilogy of detective books set in late sixties London “an elegy for an entire alienated generation.”

Featuring DS Cathal Breen and the brash young constable Helen Tozer, they are set against the cultural and political revolution of the times. A Song from Dead Lips was picked by Time Out as one of the crime books of 2013; The Daily Mail hailed A House of Knives as “a distinctive British crime drama, which benefits from a clear moral sense”.

A Book of ScarsThe third book in the series, A Book of Scars, was picked by The Sunday Times as their Crime Book of the Month, and subsequently as one of the picks of the year.

A standalone novel, The Birdwatcher, set in Kent and Northern Ireland, is released in 2016. CJ Sansom called it: "his best so far".
Before becoming a crime writer, William Shaw was an award-winning music journalist and the author of several non-fiction books including Westsiders: Stories of the Boys in the Hood, about a year spent with the young men of South Central Los Angeles, and A Superhero For Hire, a compilation of columns in the Observer Magazine.

William Shaw's Books on Amazon
Twitter: @William1Shaw

First Mondays Crime Nights

First Monday Crime

First Monday is a new monthly crime fiction/thriller night to be held in Central London, starting on April 4th. A mix between a social evening and a festival-style panel, First Mondays will offer the crime fiction community – whether readers, writers or industry professionals – a place to meet, enjoy each other’s company and hear about the latest and most interesting crime fiction around.

Venue: The College Building, City University, St Johns Street EC1
Nearest Tube Station: Angel

First Mondays will begin at 6.30pm on the first Monday of each month with a panel discussion chaired by, amongst others, Barry Forshaw (Brit Noir etc), Jake Kerridge (Daily Telegraph) and James Kidd (Independent). Upcoming authors include Elly Griffiths (April 4th), Christopher Fowler (May 9th), Peter James (June 6th), Sophie Hannah and Belinda Bauer, as well as a host of established and debut authors from all over the world. After the panels, the conversation will spill over to a local bar.

The event is receiving practical support from The Crime Writers Association, City University’s Crime Thriller MA Programme, The International Thriller Writers and Goldsboro Books – and several publishers have committed to sponsoring evenings, beginning with Orenda Books (2016 IPG Nick Robinson Newcomer Award shortlisted publisher) in April.

There will be a small entry charge (£5), which will include a glass of wine compliments of Goldsboro Books, and 50% of the revenue for the evening will go to the participating authors and the chairperson. Books by the authors will be sold by Goldsboro.

First Monday is the brainchild of David Headley and Harry Illingworth (Goldsboro books), Katherine Armstrong (Little, Brown) and William Ryan (author of The Holy Thief and lecturer on the City University Crime Thriller MA course). It will be held in the College Building of City University on St John Street (close to Angel Tube station).

April 4th: Elly Griffiths, Amanda Jennings, Mary Paulson-Ellis and Leye Adenle, chaired by Barry Forshaw.
May 9th: Christopher Fowler, William Shaw and Jack Grimwood, chaired by Jake Kerridge.

For more information and to book tickets: www/

First Monday Crime on Facebook:
Twitter: @1stMondayCrime