Friday, 29 November 2013

Your vote needed!

Please vote for Stop Dead the 2013 Geraldine Steel crime novel on Crime Time

Off to the Midlands

Off to the Midlands today - WH Smith's Birmingham New Street Saturday 30th November, WH Smith's Solihull Sunday 1st December - hope to see you there!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Leigh Russell on Our Book Reviews

Thanks to Our Book Reviews for this interview. Sorry I couldn't possibly answer your last question!

Leigh Russell interview

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Writing your first book

It's interesting to read how other authors started out, so I thought I'd share this link today, instead of posting one of my interviews with another author. "I wish I knew as little now as I did then. When you’re just starting out, you’re wonderfully unaware of the mistakes you’re making."

Monday, 25 November 2013

Calling America!

Cut Short published in the US by Harper Collins is available to download from 26th November! Please tell all your friends in the US and help spread the word! 
Cut Short (Harper Collins US)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

New Geraldine Steel

I am pleased to tell you that the new Geraldine Steel novel is now available on kindle.
Here's the link.
Fatal Act

Sunday, 17 November 2013




The importance of varying your pace when you are writing cannot be stressed too much. To some extent this will happen naturally through your plot, but you should also use your language to control the pace of the narrative. You need to include variety, but changes have to be appropriate, and add to the narrative. Think carefully about how you change the pace of your writing, and why.

The three main ways of varying pace in writing are: paragraphs, sentences, and words.

First of all, think about varying the length of your paragraphs, not merely because you may have more or less to say in different paragraphs, but as a deliberate stylistic choice. A long paragraph can work well for description. If you have a feel for the rhythms and colour of language, your writing might be enjoyable for the flowing prose alone, as with authors like Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguru, both of whom write so beautifully. Following a long paragraph, it can be extremely effective to write a short paragraph. This could even be just one sentence. Used skilfully, such variety can have a dramatic impact on the reader.

Secondly, think about varying the length of your sentences. This will give your writing more colour and interest, but you must create such variety with a specific purpose. Do not just write a short sentence for the sake of a random change in pace. Again, you can use long sentences for slow passages. These might be descriptive, or writing about a dull interlude, perhaps when your character is waiting for something to happen. This can build tension in the writing, making your readers wait, alongside your character, before hitting them with series of short sentences, or even single words. These will speed up the narrative, enhancing the excitement. 'Crash!' can be have greater impact than 'All of a sudden there was a loud crash.'

Finally, vary the length of your words. This can be done by choosing multisyllabic or monosyllabic words, according to the effect you intend to achieve. A similar slowing down or speeding up of the pace can be created by using long or short vowel sounds.
'Deep green pool' slows the pace down, when John Steinbeck is creating a slow, peaceful, relaxed atmosphere at the beginning of his novel 'Of Mice and Men'. The short sounds in 'The sun that is young once' speeds up the pace in Dylan Thomas' poem 'Fern Hill' where he is writing about how fast youth passes.

However hard you work on your prose, you must make it appear effortless. Try to achieve a balance between telling your story and writing beautiful prose. This means being discerning in your use of imagery. Treat it with caution. I tend to cut metaphors and similes from my own manuscripts. Such images often seem brilliant as I write them. In reality, they slow the narrative down for the reader. Remember crime fiction is plot driven and readers do not necessarily appreciate pages of poetic prose. Of course you must write as well as you can, but never lose sight of your narrative.

If you should treat imagery with caution, be even more wary of cliches. If possible, avoid them entirely. They are dull and lazy writing. Never fall back on phrases we have all come across hundreds of times before. You can do better than that!

This post was first posted on the CRA website.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Impromptu Gathering

Due to trouble on the trains, quite a few people had to turn back on their journey and couldn't join us at the launch party for Cold Sacrifice, so my publisher is organising an informal gathering at the Crusting Pipe wine bar in Covent Garden from 7pm on Friday 6th December. I hope some of my blogger friends can join us there.

Thursday, 7 November 2013


It's time to write a news update on my blog and what a lot of news I have to share with you! I hardly know where to begin!

If we are connected on facebook you may have seen the photos I posted of our trip to York. We spent a wonderful two weeks in a beautiful flat overlooking the river, ate out far more than was good for us - well what can be better than chips and Champagne at Betty's? - and did a lot of sightseeing in York and the surrounding villages. We were fortunate to see the annual York Illuminations. We were also lucky with the weather - apart from the morning when the York Press sent a photographer to snap me outside the Minster. How shall I describe the result? It was great fun...  but let's just say that my hair isn't exactly tidy at the best of times... The photo was certainly spooky, cleverly lit from below.

Of course I was there to work. There were book signings in York and Scarborough, a talk to a lovely audience at Scarborough Library, interviews with the press and on BBC radio. In addition to all that,  I was able to research where Ian Peterson lives, and where the murderer and the victims live - and die... This was for the second book in my new Ian Peterson series, which is the first one set in York.

I may have mentioned that the lovely director of the Crime Writers Association offered me a golden ticket to the ITV Thriller Awards. Of course I said yes, even though it meant rushing back to London from York and back again the following day to talk at Scarborough Library. This was the first ITV award ceremony I have attended and it was really exciting. Everywhere I turned someone was offering champagne (it would have been rude to refuse!) and  I met so many luminaries of page and screen I could name drop all night! Here are just a few, with apologies to the many I've left out. It's always a pleasure catching up with fellow crime writers Peter James, Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Anne Zoyrodi, Linda Stratmann, Maxim Jabukowski, and many others. Martina Cole was there, and Wilbur Smith, and a host of other writers. I felt like a film star meeting Nathaniel Parker (swoon!), the fabulously talented Dervla Kirwan, Rupert Penry Jones who is unbelievably even more gorgeous in the flesh than he is on screen, Amelia Bullmore, Bradley Walsh, Emily Fox.... like I said, I could name drop all night! It was such fun!

My books are already published in Italian (Mondadori), French (City Editions), and Turkish (Kassandra), and recently Harper Collins US acquired both my series which they are publishing at a rate of one a month. Just this week we had confirmation that another major publisher has acquired my titles, Bastei Lubbe of Gemany. So Geraldine Steel is spreading her wings internationally. Hopefully she will become as popular in the US as she is in the UK. The Miami Examiner describes her as 'one of the most interesting detectives of all time' so she has one fan in America at least! No wonder Book2Book trade journal have said Geraldine Steel is 'set to be the next big name in crime fiction'. Let's hope they're right!

As if all that wasn't excitement enough for one post, my diary for next year is filling up fast. I've accepted an invitation to spend two weeks teaching for the Writers Lab on Skyros, the most beautiful Greek island. I'll be speaking at a French literary festival in St Clementin, meeting my US publishers in New York, attending the Crime Writers Association conference in Guernsey, and going to a Writes Lab weekend on The Isle of Man, in addition to my UK commitments like CrimeFest and Harrogate Festival. It's going to be a busy year.

My books
The sixth Geraldine Steel, Fatal Act, will be available to download in December, and out in print in 2014. The second Ian Peterson is ready to be edited and proofread, and will be published in 2014. I'm now  working on the seventh Geraldine Steel, which will be out as an ebook in December 2014.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Ruth Jacobs Interview

Interview with Ruth Jacobs, author of Soul Destruction

1. What inspired you to start writing?
My grandmother was a writer and I think that made me want to write. I was in a great deal of emotional pain, and from the trauma came poetry – not particularly good, but it was a release for me.
2. Tell us about your background. How has your own life experience influenced your writing?
Since I began writing at around thirteen, trauma has pervaded everything I’ve written. I lived a colourful life until I settled down and had my children in my late twenties, so that’s given me plenty of material for stories.
3. You deal with gritty issues in your writing. How do you research your material?
Nearly everything I’ve written I’ve lived, but I should clarify I haven’t murdered anybody. I still research though as I want what I write to be accurate. So, for example, when I needed a house with a basement in Ladbroke Grove for my novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, I called an estate agency to make sure I chose a road with houses that do have basements.
4. How important is research to you? Is it simply a means to an end?
For me, I think being a perfectionist means I have to research whether I want to or not, but because of the subject matter, it’s mostly been researched in the field. I do like learning though and research can be interesting.
5. When you're writing do you know exactly where the narrative is going or does it take unexpected twists and turns?
When I wrote my last novel, I had every scene plotted out. Then the characters went and did something different and I had to start over again. Thankfully, that didn’t happen too far in, and I wrote a new plot. My characters didn’t stick to that either, but I think having the plan gave me focus and somewhere to head to, and when the characters took me off in different directions I followed them and not the plot. I love it when that happens though; it’s like they’re their own people, making their own decisions, and I am just reporting on what’s going on.
6. How do you create your characters? Are they based on real people or complete fiction?
Most often my characters are based on people I’ve known either in some of their qualities or defects of character. Then as I write the story, they become their own people. Having said that, at other times, I’ve had a voice in my head who’s told me the story and I’ve just written it down, getting to know her as she speaks. God – that makes me sound slightly insane.
7. Are you a disciplined writer doing so many hours/words a day? Tell us about your writing schedule.
My schedule is a complete mess at the moment. I write, but I procrastinate far more. I used to be more disciplined and write every evening and most of the weekend too. Some days I can write 3-4,000 words, but I rarely have days like those. More often, it’s much less and that’s usually due to distractions and other obligations and also my own indecision over what I should be writing.
8. Which crime writers inspire you, or do you prefer to read genres other than the one in which you write?
I enjoy reading crime but I am not sure other writers inspire my storylines or characters, but perhaps more my style of writing and the voice. For example, my last short story, Life, was inspired by Ian Ayris’s novel, Abide With Me. Shortly after I finished his book, a woman started talking in my head following a phone call with my ex. More recently, this summer, after I finished JT LeRoy’s novel, Sarah, a new voice came to me and she spoke lyrically. I am not sure I can carry her on for a full novel, but I’d like to try.
9. It must be difficult to write both fiction and non-fiction. How does your approach to each differ, and do you have to focus on one at a time?
I do find it easier to have one writing project, but with my activism, it’s meant recently the focus has been non-fiction. It’s also hard to escape into my characters’ world when I am so deeply entrenched in the real world, concerned about the safety of real women. I think with both though I like to know what I am writing before I begin. But having said that, sometimes I just write. There’s a voice that starts speaking and I have to get the words down. Sometimes that voice is me, and it’s non-fiction, and sometimes it’s a character, and I really don’t know where they appear from, but it’s lovely when they do.
10. What's next? Tell us about your current project.
I began writing Soul Destruction book two and that was my current project, on ice until things with my activism – currently pushing for the Merseyside hate crime model to be made UK wide - have quietened down. However, I have been approached by an agent to write a memoir, so now I don’t know what will be next for me.