The Secret Child Review: Another Tense Thriller From Caroline Mitchell

The Secret Child

Following on from Caroline Mitchell’s gripping novel Truth and Lies comes the second in the DI Amy Winter series The Secret Child. Having reviewed the first in the series previously I was keen to take part in Mitchell’s latest blog tour to find out more about the second outing for this dogged and troubled detective.

In the follow-up to the thrilling first novel in her series, which will hopefully be a long one, Winter is still reeling from the news that she is the daughter of a pair of sadistic serial killers and the horrible experiences of her previous case.

Despite this she has no time to grieve as she is thrust straight into another in the form of an investigation into a horrific abduction with a sadistic twist. When another child is snatched Winter faces a race against time which sends her straight back to the one person she wished she’d never have to speak to again: her serial killer mother.

Showcasing her strong characterisation skills and her unique ability to create engaging emotional scenes Mitchell brings this frightening tale to life in her latest novel. Her characters are evolved and emotionally entangled without being annoyingly sappy, and the reader is quickly immersed in the entwined tales of the kidnap and Winter’s relationship with her psychotic mother.

Being a police officer gives Winter access to the case in full, as well as access to a myriad of other insider information and as such her manipulative mother wants a quid pro quo in return for advice on the topic she knows most about: the mind of a depraved child kidnapper.

Having enjoyed both novels I desperately hope that there’s more where this came from. I loved Truth and Lies and The Secret Child was just as thrilling and gritty, so hopefully Mitchell will bring her talent for tension and passion for the police procedural back in the future!

 

 

Advertisements

Paula Williams Interview: “It was the proudest moment of my life when I was accepted as a full member of the Crime Writers’ Association!”

paula williams

Murder mystery writer Paula Williams shares some insights into her work and the influences behind it.

Tell me about the books you write. Why do you have such a passion for crime fiction in particular?

At the moment I’m writing a series of murder mysteries, set in a small Somerset village called Much Winchmoor. The village is fictional but bears an uncanny resemblance to the one I live in, although as far as I know, there are no murderers among my friends and neighbours.

I do, indeed, have a passion for crime fiction. It’s my favourite genre and they do say you should write the kind of story you like to read, don’t they? I don’t like too much graphic violence and am not comfortable being inside a serial killer’s head. So my books are in the ‘cosy’ category, although that makes them sound a bit pink and fluffy which they are not.

My heroine, Kat, is young and sassy. She’s one of the ‘boomerang’ generation, forced by financial problems to return to the village in which she grew up – and feeling as out of place there as ‘a canary at a cat show’ (her words, not mine!). She would leave tomorrow but for two things. Firstly, she can’t afford it. Secondly, her on/off romance with her childhood friend, Will, a farmer whose family have been in Much Winchmoor since the days when Judge Jeffreys scoured the West Country looking for rebels to hang, draw and quarter after the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. Will is as much a part of Much Winchmoor as the village duck pond and this is part of Kat’s dilemma. Should she give up on her dream of a proper career in the media… or give up on the man who, she sometimes thinks, is the love of her life? My Much Winchmoor series can be summed up as murder mysteries, sparkling with humour and sprinkled with romance.

What was the first crime fiction novel you read and how did it draw you into seeking out more books of this genre?

My mother introduced me to Agatha Christie when I was about 12 and I have loved her books ever since. I then went on to discover Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers and all the writers of that golden age of crime fiction. I’ve been reading and enjoying a wide variety of crime fiction ever since.

It was the proudest moment of my life when I was accepted as a full member of the Crime Writers’ Association! Imagine me, in the same company as the likes of Ian Rankin, Peter James et al! I still have to pinch myself – although I remind myself that while they are top of the Premiership, I am probably lurking around the bottom of Third Division South.

Please tell me about your background. How did you get into writing and publishing your work?

I have always written but I began selling my work about 12 years ago when I started writing short stories for women’s magazines. I really enjoyed writing the ‘twist in the tail’ stories, where the writer deliberately misleads the reader and they sold so well that I realised that the same misdirection technique could be used to write crime stories. So I started writing longer stories and serials and soon found I enjoyed writing crime fiction as much as I enjoyed reading it. During that time I sold over 400 stories and serials in the UK and overseas.

But the world of women’s magazines has changed hugely in the last decade. When I started writing for them, there were 14 different magazines in the UK that published fiction. Now, it’s a mere handful, and so I started thinking about branching out into full-length novels. I’d already sold several ‘pocket’ novels, which are now in Large Print so it was just a small step from that to writing a full-length novel.

After a bit of Internet research I found my present publisher, Crooked Cat Books, who were accepting unsolicited submissions at the time. They published the first in the Much Winchmoor Series, Murder Served Cold in October 2018 and the second, Rough and Deadly, is coming out in April 2019. I am currently writing the third, with the provisional title of Burying Bad News. And have plans for more.

I also write a column in the UK magazine Writers’ Forum. Called Ideas Store, it focuses on where writers get their ideas. I have been writing this column for over eleven years now and still enjoy asking the question that every writer is said to dread.   ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ So far, no one has refused to answer it.

Are there any particular mediums or narrative troupes you like to use in your writing and why?

The Much Winchmoor series are written in the first person. This does not make it easy as it means that every scene I write has to be from Kat’s viewpoint, which can be a bit restricting. But when I started writing Murder Served Cold, I just couldn’t ‘get’ the tone of it to start with. It just didn’t feel right. So I switched from third person to first and as soon as I did, Kat began talking to me (and at me) and hasn’t stopped since.

She has such a strong voice and her snippy comments are so much an integral part of her personality that I’m afraid I’m stuck with it. Although I do have a few scenes from the murderer’s viewpoint sometimes – and yes, I know I said I didn’t enjoy being in a murderer’s head but they are very brief scenes! And they really help to ratchet up the tension.

Setting also plays a huge part in my Much Winchmoor stories. Kat is living in this pretty, chocolate box village that has more holiday homes than affordable housing. It looks, and sounds, lovely but the reality of living in a small rural community is far from idyllic, particularly for young people.

What books/ authors do you enjoy reading and how does this influence your writing?

Where do I start? I have always read very widely and one of the things I’ve enjoyed since becoming a Crooked Cat author is reading books by my fellow ‘Cats’.   I am now a huge fan of Alice Castle, Joan Livingston, Val Penny, Catherine Fearns to name just a few.

I also enjoy Michael Wood’s Matilda Darke series, Angela Marsons’ Kim Stone series (although I have to skip through some of the scary bits!) and anything written by Ann Cleeves. Then there’s Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway and Damien Boyd’s Nick Dixon series which are all set in my lovely corner of Somerset.

I also love MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series and was very flattered when one lovely Amazon reviewer said that Agatha Raisin fans would enjoy my books. I really, really hope she’s right. I’m not sure if these authors influence my writing. Except to make me want to work hard at my craft so that one day I might become as good as they are.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Goodness, this is a tricky one! I would learn such a lot from Agatha Christie about plotting but I think I’d be so overwhelmed by her that I’m afraid wouldn’t contribute much to the process.

Then I thought about my twelve year old granddaughter who has the most fantastic imagination. The story lines she comes up with are way better than any of mine. She is also a very accomplished (and dedicated) ice skater and is up several mornings a week to be on the ice before 6am! I would love to use her knowledge to set a story in the incredibly competitive world of figure skating. Maybe I will one day – if she doesn’t beat me to it first.

Have you got any exciting new plans or projects coming up that you’d like to share with me?

At the moment I am working on the third book in my Much Winchmoor series. Looking ahead a bit further, I would love to write a new series set in West Dorset. I grew up on the Dorset/Somerset border and West Bay was just a cycle ride away (I was a lot fitter in those days ) while, for many years, my dad had a boat which he kept at Lyme Regis – one of my favourite places in the world.

We came within a whisker of selling our present home and moving to West Dorset a few years ago but had to give up on that particular dream. Writing a book (or, better still, a series of books) based in the area would be the next best thing to actually living there.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I wait eagerly for each new Elly Griffiths and Angela Marsons. They both have really strong yet vulnerable women at the heart of their stories and I love seeing how they develop as the series progress. I would love to think that one day someone would be saying the same about my Kat. Who knows?

Do you have anything to add?

Just a very big thank you for such an interesting set of questions. I have really enjoyed working my way through them. I blog about my writing (and, sometimes, my beautiful rescue dog, a handsome Dalmatian called Duke) and often feature other authors at paulawilliamswriter.wordpress.com

My Facebook author page is https://www.facebook.com/paula.williams.author. Twitter. @paulawilliams44. Website. paulawilliamswriter.co.uk

Murder Served Cold is available to buy at mybook.to/murderservedcold. Rough and Deadly will be available to pre-order shortly and will be published on April 30th.

Thanks ever so much Paula for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s been a real pleasure.

The Top Five Best True Crime Books To Give You The Insight Not The Gore

true crime books

True crime can be a tricky one, and many prefer a book that gives them the knowledge on the crimes and the case without simply being a salacious gossip rag. As my previous post mentioned I have become rather a fan of memoirs and books that fictionalise true crime, and as such I have collected together five of my favourites for you to check out in the wake of my participation in the blog tour for Eleanor Anstruther’s A Perfect Explanation, which I am currently half-way through and utterly adoring. The below five are all favourite reads of mine which I enjoy because they tow the line between showing me the case and its intricacies without giving in to speculation and malice.

5. In Cold Blood: Truman Capote’s investigation into the murders of four members of the Clutter family is a classic, and definitely worth checking out. Reconstructing the crime, Capote explores the seemingly motiveless crime. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who are vividly depicted as both deeply sinister and frighteningly human.

4. Alias Grace: Based on the real life murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in 1843, Margret Atwood’s book constructs a narrative around a fiction doctor who is supposedly researching criminal minds and visits one of the perpetrators, Grace Marks, in prison. He has her retell the events leading up to the killings in her own words, a tale which Atwood constructed from vast research into the horrific murders, which at the time shook the whole of Canada and were widely reported on.

3. The Woman Who Fed The Dogs: Based on the true story of Michelle Martin, who was accomplice to her then husband Marc Dutroux’s abductions and whose own neglect killed two young girls he was holding captive, Kristien Hemmerechts’ book gives her a voice and explores her motivations and feelings. With her young children in tow Michelle, renamed Odette in the book, is faced with impossible choices as she fights to keep her family together whilst her husband abducts, abuses and murders young girls. Michelle was vilified in the press for feeding her husband’s dogs and not his captives when he was imprisoned on unrelated charges, and Hemmerechts aims to offer a more human portrayal through her insightful and intriguing book.

2. The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson: The inspiration for the first season of American Crime Story is a riveting story told expertly by Jeffrey Toobin, who shares insight into the case that shook America. Running through the entire case, from the initial murders through to the now infamous trial, the book explores every aspect of the case and how Simpson and his team turned the case into a media circus to propel it towards the conclusion they wanted.

1. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: Kate Summerscale’s historical book based on the true case of a young girl who killed her baby half-brother in a case that inspired many great novelists including Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a brilliant portrayal of the case that shocked the public in 1860. Based in a country house, the book shares the story of a wealthy family and the secrets that come to light when the infant master of the house goes missing in the night.

Crime Fiction: It’s Not All About Sequence

folio society

When reading detective stories, or any kind of series featuring a recurring character or characters, it seems sensible to start from the beginning and work towards the end. But does it have to be that way?

This idea came into my mind recently when I was talking to a friend about lending her books for her holiday. She is going snowboarding and has a lot of gear to take on a small luggage allowance, and as such I was thinking of small, short books I could lend her (spoiler alert: she said no to all my mad offers).

I was desperately scouring my brain for short books, but the majority were Maigret novels (Simenon’s books are all around 200 pages in length), but I suddenly thought that she had never read the first in the series. Which got me thinking: is that really necessary?

After all, most crime fiction novels, whilst following a certain pattern with regards to characterisation, usually have stand-alone plots, and as such it doesn’t make sense that people feel the need to read them in order. Also, feeling the need to read books in a set order may put people off: for example, there are around 75 Maigret novels, and if you read them in order it would take you ages to get to a specific book you might have started specifically for. I myself haven’t read them in order and have lost no understanding or enjoyment because of it.

Another series I didn’t read in order was the Frank Merlin series by Mark Ellis, an exceptional historical crime series set in London. I actually read the third book, Merlin At War, first for a review, and loved it so much I went on Amazon and immediately ordered the first and second to fulfil my love for this dogged, roguish yet honourable detective. Had I felt the need to stick rigidly to the series I probably wouldn’t have bothered reviewing the third book and simply left the lot alone, which would have been a real shame.

In all, I think that whilst it is often advisable to start at the beginning, it doesn’t have to become your mantra. You can always go back to the start if you feel the need, but at the end of the day don’t restrict your reading for anything, not even the sense of order you feel when you read a series in sequence (I still remember finishing the Harry Potter books in sequence and feeling incredibly triumphant). Reading should always be a pleasure, not a chore, so you do you, and try to read as widely as possible!

The Top Five Best Martin Beck Novels To Give You A Glimpse Of The Founding-Father of Scandinavian Crime Fiction

martin beck

As I explore the upcoming novels of 2019 and the treats in store for the coming year I cannot help but noticing the changing trends in the literary market. A few years ago Scandinavian Crime Fiction was all the rage: today, British and American authors dominate the genre, with a number of Scandinavian authors among the few to be published in English and noted by the UK’s bookselling community.

This seems a shame, but I was heartened to see that some fondness for Scandinavian Crime Fiction remains, with fabled writers such as Jo Nesbo continuing to make their mark. As the New Year begins and the weather is freezing I have been re-reading some Scandinavian Crime Fiction classics, which bought me back to some of my old favourites.

Among these is the founding father of Scandinavian Crime Fiction, a Stockholm based detective named Martin Beck, the creation of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. Their works spanned ten novels, each of which forms a chapter of his life. Dialogue plays a large part in each book, with whole chapters often dedicated to discussions between either Beck and his colleagues or his suspects. The way in which Beck interacts with the world around him and tries to find order in the chaos of the horrific crimes he investigates is similar to that of Maigret, Georges Simenon’s renowned Parisian inspector, and as such he’d make a great read for anyone who’s a fan of Simenon’s pipe-smoking, dour detective.

Additionally, for those who made it a New Years Resolution to check out a new series or revisit the beginnings of a genre, Martin Beck will be perfect. Whilst I appreciate that the ten novels are meant to be read in sequence, I personally very rarely follow this, and as such I feel some are simply better than others and worth reading first. If you like them you could always buy all ten and read them in sequence later!

5. Murder at the Savoy: The direct translation for this novel’s title is actually Police, Police, Mashed Potatoes!, which is part of the reason why I like it so much. It was also one of the first Martin Beck novels I ever read, and I am rather fond of it as a result. It is one of the more adventurous books in the series, following the investigation into the murder of a powerful businessman and ruthless arms dealer who is shot in a packed restaurant. With many enemies to sift through in order to find his killer Beck and his team have their work cut out, but the culprit turns out to be one of the least vicious and dastardly of all of the victim’s numerous unscrupulous associates, making for a great twist.

4. The Abominable Man: When a brutal and spiteful policeman is murdered in hospital Beck and his colleagues must explore the man’s past in order to understand how he came to be killed in such a violent and messy way. The ending is a great example of the authors’ chillingly brutal violent scenes, which are few and far between but are brilliantly choreographed to have the reader on tenterhooks throughout.

3. The Laughing Policeman: A classic case of a set of murders used to conceal one true killing, the novel centres around Beck’s hunt for the person who killed a colleague as part of a mass shooting. Having been shot on a bus Detective Åke Stenström’s death is treated as part of a mass shooting until Beck uncovers that he was in fact unofficially investigating a cold case in his spare time. An award-winning novel, this is one of the most renowned in the series and was even adapted into a comic book a few years ago.

2. Cop Killer: The return of a killer he previously convicted brings Martin Beck face-to-face with his past as he seeks to look beyond the obvious and find the true killer, whose identity is intrinsically linked to the murder of a policeman in an incident which is initially believed to be unrelated. A complicated yet less plodding mystery than others in the series, this is a great one to start with despite being 9th in the series.

1. Rosanna: The first book in the series is a great place to start, and in the Martin Beck series this has never been more true. Rosanna tells the story of a body pulled from a river and a desperate search, which ends up taking more than a year, for the perverted killer of a young American tourist who was taking a pleasure cruise through Sweden.

James Hayman Interview: “Writing was the one thing that came naturally to me”

james hayman

James Hayman, former advert writer turned bestselling author talks me through his books and how he draws on his previous role when writing them.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction and thriller writing?

Before starting to write fiction I spent over thirty years writing advertising copy, mostly for television, for one of the world’s largest ad agencies. Writing TV advertising trains one to write fiction in a couple of ways. First, you have to write tightly. You can’t waste a word. After all, you can’t cram more than 120 words into a 60 second TV commercial but very often those words have to tell a complete story.

I’ve brought that discipline into my fiction. I try very hard never to use any words that don’t move the story ahead. Writing advertising is also a wonderful training ground for writing dialogue. Anyone who’s read any of my McCabe/Savage thrillers know that they I use a lot of dialogue to tell the tale. Finally, writing for television trains you to think cinematically. Capturing a scene as a camera would allows readers to actually “see” in their minds the scenes I am describing.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

Writing was the one thing that came naturally to me back when I was in school. After leaving university I looked for some job, any job that would pay me a living wage to do what I do best. As I said before, that turned out to be advertising. However, the whole time I worked in the ad business I had an itch to write fiction. After 30 years I finally got a chance to scratch that itch. My first thriller The Cutting quickly attracted one of New York’s top literary agents and she quickly sold it to one of the major publishing houses. The Cutting subsequently became a bestseller both in the US and the UK as well as several other countries. It is currently being translated by an Israeli publishing house into Hebrew.

Now, nine years after The Cutting there are six books in the McCabe/Savage series.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

All six of my McCabe/Savage thrillers weave topics of social importance seamlessly into the story. For example, in my latest, A Fatal Obsession, I introduce readers to a villain who kidnaps a young actress who he brings to a remote house. Same old, same old? Not exactly. Turns out the so-called villain suffered multiple concussions as a teenager at the hands of an abusive father and his criminal actions are the result of an advanced case of CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. As you probably know CTE is a disease that afflicts the brains of many men ranging from professional football players who have suffered multiple concussions to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan whose brains were damaged by proximity to explosions. When the disease is not driving his actions, the villain turns out to be a loving and caring young man. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Kind of but not quite.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

There’s no way I could ever collaborate successfully with any other writer no matter how talented. My books grow organically out of my brain and out of my unique relationship with my characters. It’s no exaggeration to say Michael McCabe and Maggie Savage are the closest friends I have and I’m happy I get to spend a lot of time with them. I suppose in one sense you could say McCabe and Maggie are my best collaborators.

What do you like reading yourself and how does this influence your work?

I have pretty broad tastes in reading. Naturally I read a lot of both thrillers and what they call literary fiction. Among the Brits I particularly like are Kate Atkinson and Ian McEwen. I also read a fair amount of non-fiction. Most recently a fascinating biography of war correspondent Marie Colvin who worked for the Sunday Times in London. The title is In Extremis for those who’d like to dip into it.

What’s next for your writing? Are there any new releases or projects your doing in the future that you are particularly excited about?

I’m currently working on my first stand alone novel which is about a woman who is convinced her husband is planning to kill her. When that’s finished I may come back to McCabe and Savage. Or maybe I won’t

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I’m currently reading a John Grisham book called The Reckoning. After that I’m not sure.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just to say thank you for liking my work enough to want to interview me.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s been a pleasure.

 

 

Carol Wyer Interview: “My first novels were comedies encouraging people to enjoy life to the maximum”

carol wyer - fence

Another awesome interview for you as I speak to Carol Wyer about her dark comedy and crime fiction novels.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction?

I started my writing career back in my thirties when I penned a series of educational books for children that taught French through cute, funny stories. They were highly illustrated and had titles such as Noir and Blanc -Two Naughty Cats. The books ended up being used in schools and were a stepping-stone to what happened later, when I decided I wanted to write for the adult market.

My first novels were comedies encouraging people to enjoy life to the maximum and laughing at the ageing process. My humorous non-fiction book, Grumpy Old Menopause was a chart-topping success and I found myself on radio shows in the UK and USA and New Zealand, writing articles for national magazines and on BBC Breakfast sitting on the red sofa discussing my writing with Susanna Reid and Bill Turnbull. The book went on to win The Peoples’ Book Prize Award. I was finally making a name for myself.

In 2016, Bookouture (part of the Hachette group) took on my madcap comedy called Life Swap and I was signed to write further comedies. It was about that time, I realised each book was becoming darker and the genre wasn’t suitable for my developing style. I wanted to add twists (which I’d managed to do brilliantly in Life Swap, but romantic comedy didn’t allow me to surprise the reader as I wished. I also yearned to write about human nature in more depth and although I love making people laugh or feel good about life and themselves, I also wanted to chill them and surprise them.

I sent in a pitch for a psychological thriller that had been bubbling about in my brain for a couple of years and my editor loved it. I wrote the book and no sooner had I submitted it than my editor suggested I write more. She saw potential not as a stand-alone but a crime series, and so the DI Robyn Carter series came to be. Little Girl Lost shot up the charts and earned me acclaim as a crime writer.

What is your background and how did you get into writing?

It’s too long a story to tell here but as an only child and a lonely one at that, reading was my escape. Following a second prolonged period in hospital where I underwent major spinal surgery in my twenties, I communicated with my friends and family through a series of lengthy letters that charted the daily crazy events in a hospital ward. Using stories that nurses recounted to me and my observational skills, I put a humorous slant on events. Everyone loved the letters and asked for more. After my recovery and while working in Casablanca as a teacher, I began writing stories for children – purely for fun. Writing became my release just as reading had been before that and I wanted to provide the same escapism, raise spirits through humour and basically entertain people.

What do you enjoy reading and how does this influence your writing?

My parents were both avid readers and we’d all troop down to the library on a Friday to select books for the coming week. While my father enjoyed light-hearted reads such as the Don Camillo series by Giovannino Guareschi or Dennis Wheatley novels, my mother would read absolutely everything and anything. If she enjoyed it, she’d insist I read it after her. So, one week I’d read The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone, about the Italian artist Michaelangelo, the next, an historical romance from Georgette Heyer novel or something very different like Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest

At the age of seventeen, I had a major health setback that saw me bedbound in hospital for several months followed by more months at home. I read and read and read. I think I probably read almost every book available our local library during that period along with a whole bunch of Mills and Boon books my friends brought along to keep me occupied.

My literary diet was varied to say the least but my penchant was always for thrillers and crime, especially Agatha Christie’s works. I couldn’t get enough of them.

I studied both English and French Literature at university and it was there I picked up a penchant for humour. Chaucer’s works amused me enormously as did Voltaire, especially Candide.

Once I completed my studies, I began to read contemporary, ‘lighter’ reads and that was when I got heavily into thrillers. I am a speed-reader so I’ll get through a book in a few hours, much to the chagrin of my husband who insists I read any book I receive as a gift more slowly.

I absolutely adore thrillers – the darker, the better. The complexity of the human mind fascinates me and although I only studied psychology as a first-year module at university I often wish I’d delved further. I suppose, in a way I do nowadays. I spend a lot of time researching murderers and reports on those who’ve committed heinous crimes. I try to give my readers the experience of being inside the mind of my fictitious killer in most of my books. I don’t want them to feel sorry for the murderer or applaud their actions but sometimes life and unfortunate circumstances can make people behave in dreadful ways and that’s what I try to exploit.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author to help them succeed in today’s publishing industry?

My husband gave me the best advice ever when I told him I wanted to be a writer. He said if I was serious and really wanted a career out of it, I’d have to work hard and never give up. He was right. I have worked – day and night, almost every single day for the last 10 years. I have written books while on holiday, stayed awake night after night to meet deadlines and taken every knockback, bad review or disappointment on the chin. Success doesn’t always come with the first book or even the second, or the third. You might have to plug away at it for a few years before you find a publisher willing to take you on but I think that’s fine. You are honing your craft all the while and building a presence online and gradually making a name for yourself. You are improving all the time. In brief my advice is: be patient, stay positive and never give up.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

This is so tough! I’d love to collaborate with Janet Evanovich. She inspired my early writing and when I sent her an email to tell her, she answered it. She also congratulated me on Twitter when Last Lullaby came out in December – I had a complete fangirl moment and ran about the house screeching. I’d also like to work with the queen of crime, Angie Marsons, who is a fellow Bookouture author. Not only is she an incredible writer but an absolutely hilarious person. She keeps all our spirts up when we are flagging as a team with her funny posts.

Have you got any exciting new plans or projects coming up that you’d like to discuss?

This year is a busy one. Not only do I have two romantic comedies coming out but three more crime novels all in the DI Natalie Ward series. The first of those will be released in April, so expect news about it soon. I’m working on Book 4 at the moment and it is a really exciting book to write. I keep holding my breath writing some of the scenes and have to remind myself to release it. I have one last DI Robyn Carter book to pen. My fans keep emailing or messaging to ask if The Chosen Ones is the last book. Book 6 is waiting to be written, so hang on folks- I’ll get there. I’m also considering a stand-alone thriller for next year but I have a mountain of work to do before I can work on that.

 Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to going forward?

I just let out the biggest groan. You’ve reminded me that my TBR pile is a veritable mountain of books and I am so behind with my reading I need a year off to catch up. I am desperate to read all of them. Really desperate. I have a backlog of Jeffery Deaver and Jo Nesbo novels, a large number of Scandinavian Noir books, Lars Kepler’s entire series to read and a Kindle stuffed full of Bookouture authors’ works. However, there are far too many great books that I definitely want to get my hands on: Alafair Burke’s The Wife, Belinda Bauer’s Snap and CJ Tudor’s The Chalk Man, Steve Cavanagh’s Th1rt3en: Aargh, too many, stop me!

Thanks for taking the time- its been a pleasure hearing from you!