Friday, 31 July 2009

House on the Rocks

House creator David Shore is planning to develop a remake of '70s television show The Rockford Files for NBC.
The original series starred James Garner as ex-convict private investigator Jim Rockford, who solved crimes out of his mobile home-office in Malibu, California. The actor won an Emmy for his portrayal, while it was one of the first shows created by writer-producer Stephen J. Cannell.
Shore, who is a fan of the programme, credits The Rockford Files as the inspiration for his career in television, Variety reports.
He said: "It's one of the shows that made me want to become a writer. I had no interest in adapting any old stuff, but this was the one exception."
Shore added that in attempting to update the show, he will remain faithful to the nature of its predecessor's character and premise.
"What makes Rockford timeless is that he's vulnerable, he's flawed. He's used to hustling and getting hustled. Sometimes he's a hero and sometimes he runs away," he said.
The Rockford Files aired on the Peacock Network from 1974 to 1980.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Controversial Mr. Cain

“The green crosshairs of the sniper scope moved downwards, past the open collar of the Prime Minister’s shirt to a point directly between the lapels of his jacket, smack in the middle of his chest …"

Thriller writer Tom Cain has already plunged his hero Samuel Carver into real-life events and controversies torn from newspaper front pages. His acclaimed debut novel The Accident Man, which was translated into some 25 languages and optioned by Paramount Studios found Carver standing by the Alma Tunnel in Paris, just after midnight on 31 August 1997, preparing to take out a black Mercedes limousine. Its sequels, The Survivor and Assassin have woven actual reports of missing Soviet nukes, FBI investigations into fundamentalist Christianity and the appalling truths of sex-slave trafficking into compelling fiction. Now comes Cain’s most audacious concept: Bloodsport. In this exclusive, internet-only short story, Samuel Carver – outraged by the needless death of an old friend in Afghanistan – will set out to take revenge on the man he holds responsible: the British Prime Minister. Cain has been planning the fictional mission for the last two weeks, with fans following his progress via facebook updates and Twitter feeds. In a 21st century spin on the 19th century tradition of serial fiction, Bloodsport will be published online in three instalments over three consecutive days, with the first appearing on Monday, 3 August in the top US crime-fiction blog The Rap Sheet

‘This story has ruffled feathers in this country,’ says Cain. ‘So I thought it best to publish abroad. I need hardly say, of course, that it’s a fictional story, pure and simple. I am absolutely not advocating violence against politicians, or anyone else in the real world. Bloodsport will play by the same rules as The Accident Man. That book described the fictional murder of an unnamed princess. Now Carver will be stalking a fictional, unnamed Prime Minister.’

So where did the idea for Bloodsport come from? Cain says, ‘I think we’ve all been shocked and saddened by the recent deaths in Afghanistan and the government’s alleged failure to equip and protect British troops. But how must it feel if you know the men being killed in action? I just asked myself how an angry, ex-serviceman, with the knowledge and the skills to take matters into his own hands, and the belief that he is acting in the greater good, might react under these circumstances. And I had a character in Samuel Carver who fitted the bill.’

Cain insists, however, that readers should not make too many assumptions too soon: ‘I am in the business of writing thrillers. That means that stories twist and endings are uncertain. People reading this may feel sure they know what is going to happen. But in fiction, as in life, nothing ever works out quite the way one expects …’

Tom Cain’s most recent novel Assassin is out now, price £12.99

Reaching the Academic World

I reported back when Lee Child was honoured at his alma mater University of Sheffield where he was awarded a Visiting Professorship.

Alison Flood at The Guardian reports today that Lee Child has donated over £100,000 in scholarships to students at Sheffield –

Jack Reacher, the hardass former military policeman created by crime writer Lee Child, turns out to have an unlikely penchant for philanthropy, after Child launched a series of scholarships for Sheffield University students in his fictional investigator's name.

Child, a visiting professor and graduate of the university, has donated £104,000 to fund 52 Jack Reacher scholarships for Sheffield undergraduates and postgraduates, worth £2,000 each. "I was very happy to help out - my generation went to university for free, and I believe in paying things forward," said Child, who has written 13 bestselling books starring his popular creation Reacher.

"It's upsetting to see bright and dedicated students contemplate giving up their studies because of financial pressures," the author went on. "Just like my literary character Jack Reacher, if I see things that are wrong, I want to put them right."

Photo of Lee Child with Dreda Say Mitchell at The Harrogate Crime Writing Festival © 2009 Ali Karim

Don't Stop Me

Now I am always buried in books, not that I am complaining as I am an avid bibliophile, but I am always looking out for new voices. Recently I heard some buzz about a debut British crime thriller entitled ‘STOP ME’ by TV writer / producer Richard Jay Parker coming next week from Independent publishers Alison and Busby.

I read the press release with interest because the serial killer [as protagonist] remains hugely popular in the crime-fiction genre; but this time we seem to have one operating ‘in concert’ on both sides of the Atlantic -
STOP ME is the fiendishly dark debut novel of Richard Jay Parker and is a uniquely addictive thriller that examines the torment of Leo Sharpe, a Londoner whose wife, Laura, inexplicably vanishes, and a frantic search that begins in the UK and extends to the tenebrous backdrop of post Mardis Gras New Orleans. John R Bookwalter is a man who claims to be the Vacation Killer but has been dismissed by police as a crank because he’s never left the state of Louisiana. How can he exert such control via his website and why would Leo entertain his claims that he has Laura captive?

STOP ME leads the reader to the darkest recesses of its backdrop and its character’s psyche as well as examining the phenomena of Internet celebrity, e-relationships and online obsession.

I was unfamiliar with Richard Jay Parker, so I contacted him, and he kindly provided Shots Magazine Blog with a piece that illustrates why those of you struggling without a publishing contract should never give up -

‘Soon-to-be-published.’ This is how I was described in Publishing News in 1999. I’d just written my first book and had inveigled my way onto the books of a reputable agency. A decade later I’m finally in print with my thriller STOP ME.

The report appeared after my first agency party and, after absorbing it, I thoroughly lulled myself into a false sense of security and believed that I’d made a successful leap from writing, script editing and producing for TV into novel writing.

My first book wasn’t a thriller. It was a warty character dissection set in a dystopian future (at least that’s what one editor called it) and while the agency set about placing it I wondered what I could possibly write next. My then agent valiantly and indefatigably submitted my first book and attracted interest, occasional disgust and admiration. No offers were forthcoming, however, so I set about writing another book. My agent hated it calling it ‘supernatural pornography’ but still encouraged me to write another.

This was when I wrote my first thriller. It was a pretty extreme piece but I enjoyed constructing the plot and story twists and knew I could write another. A similar situation arose with much positive feedback but no commitment from any publishers. However, I decided that I’d found the sort of books I wanted to write. Cue epiphany celebration. Cue my agent admitting that thrillers weren’t her bag and that I should attempt to find representation that felt more strongly about the genre.

So, feeling a little further away from being the soon-to-be-published author I’d been a year or two earlier, I set about trying to find a new agent and writing another thriller. This one attracted the interest of a major agency (who shouldn’t but shall remain nameless) that had me in for a meeting and asked me to do some rewrites. The agent and the exec seemed at loggerheads – agent thought it was ready to go to a publisher but exec felt it needed rewrites that she couldn’t define. They didn’t offer representation, which was handy because after I tried to rewrite the manuscript (with only their tacit notes) it made it easier for them to drop me like a hot brick with no detailed reason why. My emails and phone calls remained unreturned but it was becoming a familiar scenario.

I managed to attract the interest of my now agent with some sample chapters of a new thriller but, after writing it, the agency declined. Soon-to-be-published? Likely-to-go-postal. Luckily for me though my agent was poached to another more progressive agency and he encouraged me to submit the next thriller I wrote. By this time I’d completed another and it was met with more enthusiasm. An agency reader gave it their blessing and my agent submitted it and sold it to Allison & Busby within a few months. Almost ten years to the day that the article appeared in Publishing News.

I think soon-to-be-published is a state of mind rather than a state of being. If you’ve written a book that you firmly believe in and have had positive feedback from publishers (albeit without any offer) I think you can count yourself as soon-to-be-published. It’s what you do to bring yourself closer to the goal that counts. I’ve known writers who drag the corpse of their pet book round with them for years after it’s been rejected, writers who can’t move on to the next project. I’ve known writers who have refused to do further drafts on their work even when they’ve had solid interest. If you’re a writer you write. Just keep on writing and learning and exploiting any contacts you have until a state of mind finally becomes a state of being.

It seems that Richard Jay Parker has joined Tom Cain at The Curzon Group, a band of UK writers who promote British Thriller Writing; but considering the plot of STOP ME, it seems that serial killers are not put off by UK / US thriller genre boundaries.

It will be published by Allison and Busby on August 4th 2009 and in paperback January 2010. Available from Amazon

For overseas readers get FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Colin Cotterill interviewed In The Times

Colin Cotterill the winner of the Dagger in the Library is interviewed by Barry Forshaw the Vice-Chairman of the CWA in The Times on Saturday 18 July 2009. The interview can be found here.

Was Macbeth Innocent?

Cartier Diamond Dagger Award winner Ian Rankin has written a short story in today's Times (18 July) on what if Macbeth was in fact innocent and had been set up. The short story was written to celebrate the CWA Daggers that were given out on Wednesday 15 July. The story Macbeth was Innocent can be found here.

Friday, 17 July 2009

CWA Dagger Awards 2009 And TV Tie Up With Cactus

A number of the Crime Writers Association Dagger Awards were given out on Wednesday 14 July 2009.

Colin Cotterill won the Dagger in the Library; For the third time, writer Fred Vargas and translator Sîan Reynolds won the International Dagger this time with her novel The Chalk Circle Man. This is her third win in four years; Sean Chercover won the Short Story Dagger Award with the story One Serving of Bad Luck, taken from from Killer Year, edited by Lee Child and published by Mira. Whilst Catherine O'Keefe won the Debut Dagger with The Pathologist.

At the award ceremony it was also announced that Crime Writers' Association and Cactus TV are to join forces to celebrate the Crime Thriller Dagger Awards, which will take place on Wednesday, 21st October, 2009.More information can be found on the CWA website.

Newsy Stuff

ITN launches YouTube Book Club.

Publishers Penguin, Faber & Faber and Random House teamed up with ITN to create an online book club which is aimed at younger readers. More information about it can be found here.

European Prize for Literature

Henning Mankell is amongst 12 European authors that have been awarded the first ever European Union Prize for Literature. Mankell has accepted the role of Ambassador of the European Union Prize for Literature for the coming year. See here for more information.

New sci-fi thriller Paradox for the BBC

BBC1’s sci-fi thriller Paradox will be directed by Simon Cellan Jones (Generation Kill) and will star Tamzin Outhwaite. Clerkenwell Films has started pre-production on the 5 x 60-minute series which will star Outhwaite as DI Rebecca Flint who heads a special police force that investigates crimes committed in the future.

Filming in Manchester is due to start in June, although no other main roles have been filled. The series was created and written by Lizzie Mickery, who previously worked on The State Within and Messiah. Murray Ferguson, chief executive of producer Clerkenwell Films, said: “We’d love to be known as the indie that broadcasters can come to for inventive, high-quality drama.”

The series, being made by BBC Northern Ireland, was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, controller, BBC drama commissioning and will be produced by Marcus Wilson, who previously worked on Whitechapel. BBC Worldwide will distribute the series internationally. Stephenson said: “Paradox is a fresh spin on the crime genre for BBC1. Stopping crimes before they happen is a fantastically bold idea that allows us to tell edge of your seat thriller stories, whilst also weaving compelling moral and emotional questions about what happens when you try to change the future”.

Fire and Ice by Michael Ridpath

Corvus Books are to publish two books in a new series by international best-selling author Michael Ridpath. The first book in the series is called Fire and Ice and introduces readers to Magnus Jonson, an Iceland-born Boston-raised homicide detective. More information can be found here.

International Thriller Writers

The International Thriller Awards were recently awarded in New York. The results can be seen on the International Thriller Writers Website

Friday, 10 July 2009

The One Show and Crime Fiction

If I have done this correctly then attached is the link to The One Show. The Crime Fiction segment is about 11 minutes in. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

BBC The One Show and the CWA

As part of the BBC TV One Show on Friday 10 July a very brief but interesting and special segment will be shown on the programme about crime fiction and why it is enjoyed by so many. The One Show is broadcast between 7 and 7:30pm on BBC 1. Leading the investigation on the popularity of crime fiction is Sandi Toksvig and she is being aided and abetted by 2009 Diamond Dagger Award winner Andrew Taylor, critic and editor of Crime Time Barry Forshaw along with a number of culprits (aka fans) Lizzie Hayes, Adrian Muller, myself and Shaz Wheeler. If you do not manage to catch it on Friday it can also be seen here or on BBC iplayer as well. Further information can be found on the website.

The segment is being shown in anticipation of a number of the Dagger Awards that are being given on the 15 July 2009 along with the announcement of the shortlists in the national media as well.

Not sure how much of all that was taped is going to be shown!