The Strangeness of Scale at Twitter – Del Harvey

Today I have a 9 minute video for you from TED. The Speaker is Del Harvey. Del works at Twitter and her role is to look for the danger within. Bearing in mind we are currently using one form of social network right now by blogging, and I know many of us do use Twitter, I thought you might be interested in this. I found the facts in it interesting and Del quite amusing in a quite, dry way.

The Strangeness of the Scale at Twitter!

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Stav Sherez – Author Interview

As promised last week, I do have a great interview lined up for you this week and it’s today. I have the absolute pleasure to welcome CWA shortlisted crime writer, Stav Sherez to the blog.

You may notice some oddities in the questions about weather and TV programmes that are no longer on air. That’s because Stav and I just allowed this interview to flow at a pace that suited both our working environments at the time. I didn’t send over a set of questions as a whole. It was a question, then an answer and then another question dependent on the answer to the previous question. You get the picture. So, because of the fluidity of the Q&A there are some timing issues…

 

StavRight Stav, I’ve just spent about an hour sat in my back garden, listening to the birds twitter away as the sun starts to go down, trying to sort out a first question for you, but you are pretty much the crime worlds enigmatic man of mystery! You’re deep and brooding, your tweets (@stavsherez) are like poetry and in 2004 you were applauded for handling complex issues of morality, when shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger award. I’ve written and deleted a couple of starter questions, but really have no idea where to start, so please tell me, what makes Stav Sherez get out of bed in a morning?

Oh, that’s an easy one for me! Coffee and cigarettes. That first espresso and slowly smoked cigarette of the morning, music drifting in and out as I wake up. And then it’s always back to the draft. So, in a more figurative way, I guess what gets me up in the morning is knowing I have a hell of a lot of work still to do on the book and that unless I do some and feel as if, even in the tiniest increment, the book is getting better, then I can’t enjoy my CDs or movies in the evening. So, what gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing I have to fix the previous day’s mistakes.

You say mistakes with an air of certainty. As a published author of several novels, how does it feel, having started a new series, to know readers now have expectations, because of how well drawn your characters are?

It’s a very different scenario than when I was writing the first three books, but the problems and questions you ask yourself are the same. The biggest problem I’ve faced, by far, is how to write similar scenes (discovery of body, autopsy, briefing etc.) and yet do them differently each time. A standalone forces you to write differently but the challenge in the series is how to vary the central tropes so that they are always fresh and interesting.

A darkHow do you do your research for these books and how much importance do you place on it? Specifically the things you’ve mentioned like the autopsy and police briefings.

I research quite a lot for the historical and political sections of the novels and I do it mainly by reading books. So, for A Dark Redemption I spent 6 months reading about African politics and history. For Eleven Days, I read as much as I could about Liberation Theology and Trafficking. But I don’t research the policing side. I think we all know, from countless books and TV shows, enough about police work, and the rest is a matter of intuition and imagination. I think verisimilitude is more important than strict realism. If the characters and plot feel believable then they are. Too much research is often evident in the finished book and detracts from the story. All research should always be subservient to the narrative.

There does seem to be a massive thirst for crime fiction, both by the reading and viewing population. We are bombarded by brilliant stories and characters regularly. (I’m currently loving The Tunnel, TV series, which is crime, crossing borders between England and France) Is this something you enjoy when you’re not writing or do you like to take a break from the crime world?

I love watching crime drama and reading crime novels and find them very useful when I’m writing. Novelists can learn a lot from well-made TV shows and films. Novelists can learn a lot from books that don’t work and from those that do. I think it’s essential to keep up to date with one’s genre, see what other people are doing and not doing.

How important do you see events such as Bristol Crimefest and Harrogate Crime Writing Festival in the life of a crime writer?

Extremely important. Both for promotion and for one’s own mental health! Writers spend all their time locked in a room alone, inside their own minds, and it’s great to be able get out. Meeting other writers puts one’s own problems into perspective. It’s lovely to meet readers too. Unlike musicians, writers don’t gig, so it’s very important to come to these festivals and meet fans. And every time I come back from Bristol or Harrogate I’m totally reinvigorated in my writing.

Who have been the biggest influences on your writing?

I guess the biggest influences are always the ones you stumble upon when you’re young. For me that was William Burroughs, Stephen King, Paul Bowles, Thomas Pynchon, Jim Thompson, Don DeLillo, Paul Auster – then, later, writers such as Cormac McCarthy, James Ellroy, James Sallis and Kem Nunn. Writers who have a particular way with language, heavily stylised writers.

As a writer, what are your aspirations?

To make each book better than the last. To write better sentences, tell bigger stories, to span generations and history through narrative and to keep the readers gripped and surprised.

Hardback, paperback or ebook?

I’ve always loved paperbacks, both aesthetically and for ease of reading.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee. Always. Espresso.

Crisps or chocolate?

These days, crisps. I love chocolate but it can bring on a migraine so have to ration myself very carefully.

 

Thanks for sharing with us Stav, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the blog.

Devils

On the 1st May the 10th anniversary edition of Stav’s book, The Devil’s Playground (his first novel) will be released with a new after-foreward. 

You will find my thoughts on A Dark Redemption, Here.

 

 

 

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Recently Read – The Reaper by Steven Dunne

The Recently Read posts are not typical book reviews. As a writer, I do not believe I should be reviewing the hard work of other writers. These posts are simply books I have recently read and enjoyed and will share with you. They will not always be crime books as I am trying to widen my reading selection. I hope you enjoy some of these with me.

The Reaper by Steven Dunne

ReaperDetective Inspector Damen Brook is seeking sanctuary. Years on the London police force have left their mark—so much so that he’s fled to Derby leaving behind his marriage, his teenage daughter, and very nearly his sanity to wind down a once promising career in the peace of the Peak District. But one winter’s night, Brook is confronted by a serial killer he hunted many years before, The Reaper, a man who slaughters families in their homes then disappears without a trace. To find this killer Brook must discover what the Reaper is doing in Derby, why he has started killing again, and what, if anything, connects the butchered families. As Brook becomes entangled in a deadly game of cat and mouse, he is forced to face his own demons by confronting a past that destroyed his family and nearly cost him his life.

My Thoughts;

Goodreads review – needs expanding;

If you like your protagonists dark, complex and massively flawed with a great sense of place behind them. You might just enjoy this book. It twist and turns and sticks the knife in just a little bit as it drags you along for the ride. A great read if the above applys :)

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Third Week Round-up Of The A to Z Challenge

I’ve found this third week of the challenge a bit tougher going than the first two weeks where I had already written posts before the challenge started. Yesterday I was even contemplating pulling out at this late stage I was so tired.

I’m definitely not getting the new bloggers visiting that the challenge suggests should, but maybe they drop by and the blog is just not for them so they pass through without commenting. The bloggers in the list order I’m visiting and commenting on are not necessarily bloggers I would keep up with after the challenge, but a couple have been and I’ve added them to my follow list.

But, I started this, I said I’d do it, so I’m going to finish it. So here’s the round up of this past week’s posts, and remember to look out for the crime fiction author interview I have coming up next week!

L - Living with Alfie

M – Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Recently Read)

N -New Direction for Crime Writer David Jackson

O – Our Crime Book Club Meeting for April and May’s Read

P – Police Horse Training – Tougher than Getting into the Navy Seals

Q – Quit the “Must Have” Writing Posts in 5 Easy Steps

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Quit The ‘Must Have’ Writing Posts in 5 Easy Steps

2013-07-02 19.20.42I follow a lot of book lovers on Twitter. That’s a given. I love books. A lot of those book lovers are writers. Like me, a selection of those are as yet, unpublished. And within those, another selection blog themselves and/or read writing related blogs to inform themselves of the current state of the industry and to just generally see what they can do to help themselves keep moving forward writing that novel.

Yesterday I was on Twitter briefly and I saw a slew of posts on Writing. I read one. A blog post saying I “Must Have” these 10 things to help me write my novel. Writing apps. Books. Books on writing and books that editors referred to.

And while I read writing related blogs – I do. I know there is nothing that I “Must Have” to help me get that novel past anyone.

 

So, Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to quit, yes quit reading the ‘must have’ posts.

Why?

Because they are a Big. Fat. Time. Suck.

 

1. Tomorrow, set a stop watch when you start reading every ‘how to’ post.

2. At the end of the day check how long you have spent reading ‘how to’ write.

3. Tomorrow, set a stop watch when you start and when you stop writing.

4. At the end of the day, check how long you spent writing.

5. Consider, do you want to write or think about writing?

And even if you read blog posts on your phone as I do. Why can’t you write a few notes down in a note pad you should be carrying?

This post is part of the A to Z challenge

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Police Horse Training – Tougher Than Getting Into The Navy Seals!

In the world of crime fiction, we hear a lot of talk about the protagonist, usually a police detective, the background and history of them and who they rely on within their roles. Usually of the human kind. But what about the equine police element. Ever wonder how they are trained and how difficult it is for them to join the job?

The short video clip below shows the recruitment and testing of police horses. It’s based in the US, but I imagine the testing is as vigorous anywhere in the world, bearing in mind, the situations police horses find themselves in. It’s short and interesting. I hope you enjoy.

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Our Crime Book Club Meeting For April and May’s Read

Last night the crime book club met up once again on Google+ Hangouts onair and discussed The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.

You can watch the meeting below. Feel free to join the fun one month and if you find it difficult to keep up via the blog, sign up to the book club newsletter Here.

 

The club loved this book. The feel and voice of the 11 year old female narrator, Flavia felt natural and her intelligence was wonderful but realistic set against her siblings and family relationships.

Discussions were held about cosy crime and also the age group this is aimed at. We felt that in relation to age groups, because it was a child narrator, it was a book that could be read by anyone of any age.

For a full run down, you can watch the video. Don’t forget you can subscribe to the YouTube playlist.

 

The book we are reading in May is The Dinner by Herman Koch.

DinnerA summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened… Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified – by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

 

I hope we see you next month. It was a fun meeting this month. If you’re a crime fiction fan give it a twirl!

 

This post is part of the A to Z challenge

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New Direction For Crime Writer David Jackson

British crime writer David Jackson bases his novels in New York city. His protagonist is Detective Callum Doyle. To read his books, you would never guess they were written by a Brit. They are authentic, intelligent, full of wit and that deep, worn, comes with life kind of wisdom. Jackson already has three novels published in the Doyle series, but he announced on his website last week that he and his agent Oli Munson of AM Heath, were changing direction. That he felt his work needed a wider readership and with that in mind, they decided to go with the Amazon, agented only, White Glove programme.

Yesterday saw that release happen. His new book is called Cry Baby. It is the fourth Callum Doyle book.

Having already read it, I can tell you it is utterly fantastic and unputdownable. You don’t need to have read the previous three Doyle books to read this one as it can easily be read as a standalone as a lot of the focus is on Erin and no back history of Doyle is needed. Though I know that once you’ve read Jackson’s brilliant writing and ease of storytelling, you will want to go back to the start. He has a unique style that is so easy to read. I found myself ridiculously invested in the characters, and I don’t just mean the main characters. The secondary characters in this book are just stunning. I had my heart stolen, I shed tears and I smiled every time I saw them pop up.

I also screamed at the book because lets remember, it’s a crime book, bad things happen and Jackson makes sure you’re right there and invested when they do.

I’m so invested, I’m already waiting for Callum Doyle 5 please!

Cry Baby by David Jackson

cryIt’s every mother’s nightmare – the abduction of her baby.That’s how it starts for Erin Vogel when she is attacked and left unconscious in her apartment. When she awakes, it is to find that Georgia, her six-month-old daughter, has been taken.But Erin is given a chance to get Georgia back. At an unthinkable price.Like most mothers, she has always said she would do anything for her child. Now the strength of that bond is about to be put to the ultimate test.And when her actions arouse the interest of a certain Detective Callum Doyle, one thing is inevitable: a confrontation that will be as explosive as it is unforgettable.From the highly acclaimed author of Pariah, The Helper and Marked comes a nerve-shredding novel that questions the line we draw between good and evil.

Cry Baby on Amazon

 

Posted in A to Z Challenge, Books, Recently Read | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (Recently Read)

The Recently Read posts are not typical book reviews. As a writer, I do not believe I should be reviewing the hard work of other writers. These posts are simply books I have recently read and enjoyed and will share with you. They will not always be crime books as I am trying to widen my reading selection. I hope you enjoy some of these with me.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Curious incidentThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.

 

 

My Thoughts;

I don’t know where to start. I absolutely loved the book.

From the point of view of a child -Christopher- on the autistic spectrum, it starts with the murder of a neighbours dog and Christopher’s need to find out who killed it. Along the way we learn a lot about him through his internal dialogue.

Christopher is exceedingly intelligent. He’s a maths whiz, taking his A levels when his school isn’t ready for him too. He takes solace at stressful times in maths problems.

We see very simply what things affect him and in the reading, it’s a little easier to understand the why, and my hope would be that anyone reading this book would take away from it patience and kindness if coming across a stranded boy like Christopher, unlike some of the characters in this book.

Haddon’s writing is clear and simple and transports you into the world of Christopher easily. When Christopher was shocked and scared I felt it with him.

It was a great read and I’d definitely recommend it. I know it’s been around for a while and I’m probably one of the last people to read it, but all the same, a great book!

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Living With Alfie

A couple of months ago I wrote a post introducing you to our new puppy Alfie after the loss of our beloved Springer Spaniel Bob. Alfie is a Cockerpoo.

I thought I would show you in picture format how he is getting on and settling in.

For my part, I find having him around just wonderful. The house feels like a home again. Though the 6 a.m. wake-up calls aren’t that welcome! He still needs some training as he’s only 4 and a half months old. He is great off lead, but not so good on his lead, but these are issues we can work on.

Anyway, here’s Alfie, growing.

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As you can see, he’s a cheeky fellow, but he keeps us busy and he’s adorable. He still has some growing to do, so in a few months, I shall share some more photo’s with you and our life with Alfie.

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