Sunday, 26 March 2017

Simon & Schuster Crime Fiction Showcase in London

Following invigorating crime fictions parties at Hodder and Stoughton, Quercus, Mulholland & Headline Publishing, as well as Penguin-Random House and Macmillan it was now time to see what was coming from Simon and Schuster.

The Shots Team and our fellow Crime & Thriller Fiction colleagues met up on a somewhat surreal London evening, to investigate the upcoming 2017 releases from Simon and Schuster Publishing. This publishing house hosted their inaugural crime fiction party / showcase in the heart of London’s West End.

Earlier that day, there had been a tragic terrorist incident in Westminster that resulted in loss of life and serious injury. Though, stoically as Londoners we all followed that WW2 Mantra ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. Sometimes the embrace of dark literature is a coping mechanism for managing the more disturbing aspects of our reality, and for not allowing madmen to cloud our world-view of humanity.

Simon and Schuster aptly chose London’s Phoenix Artists Club as the venue for their Crime Fiction Showcase, drawing upon their enthusiasm for the genre. With many of S & S Editorial team, under Publishing Director Jo Dickinson, their authors joined the assembled guests which consisted of book reviewers, booksellers, editors, literary commentators such as Laura Wilson, Marcel Berlins, Barry Forshaw, Chris Simmons, Mike Stotter, Ayo Onatade and many, many others.

Diversity is a keyword when it comes to Simon and Schuster’s Crime Fiction list. There had been recent celebration when Chris Carter’s THE CALLER reached No 1 hardcover in the UK. Shots reviewer John Parker read in one-sitting, after realising that the author is unrelated to the creator of The X-Files.

Another author who is gaining much traction is the renowned journalist turned crime-writer, Craig Robertson. Many of us know of Robertson for his work with Bloody Scotland, as well as being one of the Guests of Honour at last year’s Bouchercon New Orleans [click here to see the Opening Ceremonies, including Craig dressed New Orleans Mardi Gras style]. Shots reviewer Les Hurst wrote about his remarkable Glasgow based peep into the damp floor of the internet MURDERABILIA here.

It was also good to see Rob Ryan and his wife who it was revealed are R J Bailey with their remarkable Safe From Harm, which Shots reviewed earlier this year. 

Also present were authors Lee Weeks, Alan Judd, Andrew Wilson, Chris Petit, Sandrone Dazieri (who had flown in from Italy), as well as Luca Veste, who I discovered is penning his first standalone The Bone Keeper and is planned for release in November. I would urge you to visit the podcast TWO CRIMEWRITERS AND A MICROPHONE which Luca produces in-concert with fellow crime-writer Steve Cavanagh. This podcast is one that always makes me laugh, and can be accessed here.

There were goody bags for the reviewers, which included advanced proof copies of upcoming work, of which Sarah Vaughan’s Anatomy of a Scandal is one I am eagerly anticipating, though not scheduled for release until January 2018.

So after mingling and sampling the wine and canapes it was soon time for Joanna Dickinson of Simon and Schuster to welcome us all to the party and introduce the assembled authors.

And so it was time to mingle further, with the attendees at the first Simon and Schuster Crime Fiction Party, and we present a selection of photos from the event.

Soon it was time to say farewell and thank the S & S Team for throwing a fine party, on what was a dark day in London, made bearable by the comfort of friends who share our enthusiasm for Literature’s darkest Genre, Crime, Mystery and Thriller Fiction.

Note : Simon and Schuster offer a free eBook when you sign up for their Newsletter Here

Footnote : Many of us have applauded Simon and Schuster’s US Imprint Threshold Editions for dropping the book deal for the so-called ‘Alt-Right’ Kent Schoolboy Milo YiannopoulosRead More

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Goodbye to Colin Dexter by Mike Ripley

Over on the main website, Mike Ripley has written a wonderful tribute to his old friend, Colin Dexter. Portions of this tribute are reproduced from Mike Ripley’s ‘Appreciation of Colin Dexter’ written for Bouchercon 26; updated on the death of Colin Dexter on 21st March 2017 and with previously unseen photographs.

Such as ...

"Even at designated literary events, we always seemed to find time for a beer. At a Shots On The Page convention in Nottingham, I arranged for Colin to pull the ceremonial first pint to mark the opening of a newly refurbished Home Brewery pub, and on one infamous occasion we were both guests of honour at a Boardroom luncheon in the King & Barnes brewery in Horsham in Sussex."

So can you really resist reading and seeing what the Ripster has to say?

Pop along to read the full tribute

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Susan Wilkins on Women and Violence in Crime Fiction

The overwhelming success of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on a Train, both as a book and film, following as it did Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and the somewhat controversial BBC series The Fall, has prompted quite a bit of media musing on the subject of violence against women and how it’s portrayed in crime fiction.

On screen it is all too easy for violence and particularly its results to look graphic and gratuitous. When I worked as a scriptwriter on the hospital series Casualty and Holby City I saw at first hand the skill with which make-up artists and production designers recreated the most gruesome injuries.

It can also be alluring, particularly to directors, to have the camera creep through a scene like the ultimate voyeur, drawn to the worst of it, looking away, then going back for another peek, for yet more detail. Teasing the audience with the frisson of horror is a speciality of the medium.

The BBC’s excellent police drama, Happy Valley, showed a savage assault on a female police officer and came in for some flak. However, the writer, Sally Wainwright, directed the episode herself and explained that the level of violence was carefully considered. She went on to argue that it was depicted responsibly in that it showed the psychological as well as the physical damage suffered by the officer.

So what do we feel and what exactly is going on when we watch or read a scene of violence presented for our entertainment? Indeed, is it entertainment we’re looking for, or is it something a little more complicated?
Some argue it’s a way for women to explore our fears – the majority of crime readers are women – and come to an accommodation with them? With an increasing number of female detectives at the helm, bringing resolution and restoring the moral order for us, this is certainly one way to look at it.

However, writing about female detectives and specifically The Fall in the Observer (5th October 2014), Nicci Gerrard pointed out ‘there is a very fine line between exploring violence and male misogyny and simply portraying, even enacting it.’

Many women crime writers, including myself, find themselves teetering as they try to tread that fine line.

My personal view is that what draws female readers to the crime genre is anger as much as fear. Growing up female may or may not have exposed you to direct experiences of misogyny. But we’re certainly all witnesses to the patriarchal hatred of women and its need to control and contain femaleness that is out there to some degree in every society and culture.

We may fool ourselves that in the post-feminist West we’ve got beyond all that. This tends to ignore the ugly statistics that in the UK one incidence of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute and two women a week are murdered by their current or former male partners.

If we’re not angry, maybe we should be. But where can that anger go? Do we need a fantasy world to help us exorcise it?

It took a male writer, Stig Larsson, to offer us an uncompromising, unapologetic heroine, a victim who simply fought back, in the Dragon Tattoo books. The beauty of Lisbeth Salander is she really doesn’t give a shit and she’s got a few useful skills, which make her a very dangerous adversary.

And if we’re talking fantasy and entertainment, then I think there’s a lot to be said for dangerous women. Women, who can do all the things we can’t, who can look the rapist in the eye and pull the trigger.

Exploring this dynamic has been central to my trilogy The Informant, The Mourner and now concluded with The Killer. I hope, in Kaz Phelps, to have created a character who isn’t afraid to fight back.

The Killer by Susan Wilkins is published on 23rd March 2017 by PanMacmillian
She was a woman, so they thought she'd be easy to kill . . .
Kaz Phelps is on the run - from the past, from the legacy of her criminal family, from the haunting memories of her murdered lover. The police want her back in jail and her enemies want her dead. While standing by the grave of her gangster brother, Kaz realizes she only has one option. To fight back.  Nicci Armstrong was one of the Met's best detectives until personal tragedy forced her to quit. Now she's responsible for the security of the super-rich who use her city as a playground. She is one of the few people Kaz might trust. But Nicci's biggest mistake yet is falling in love with a man she knows is only using her.  Meanwhile, as envious rivals back home plot against him, a Russian billionaire searches for a special gift to keep the Kremlin onside, a disgraced politician dreams of revenge and a Turkish drug baron plots to purge his dishonour with blood.

More information about Susan Wilkins and her books can be found on her website.  You can also follow her on Twitter @susanwilkins32.  You can also find her on Facebook.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Ripley’s Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

The Shots Team are delighted to hear about an upcoming work from Writer, Reviewer, Columnist, Game Show Host and Raconteur Extraordinaire, The Talented Mr Ripley.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: The Boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royale to The Eagle Has Landed

An entertaining history of British thrillers from Casino Royale to The Eagle Has Landed, in which award-winning crime writer Mike Ripley reveals that, though Britain may have lost an empire, her thrillers helped save the world. With a foreword by Lee Child.

When Ian Fleming dismissed his books in a 1956 letter to Raymond Chandler as ‘straight pillow fantasies of the bang-bang, kiss-kiss variety’ he was being typically immodest. In three short years, his James Bond novels were already spearheading a boom in thriller fiction that would dominate the bestseller lists, not just in Britain, but internationally.

The decade following World War II had seen Britain lose an Empire, demoted in terms of global power and status and economically crippled by debt; yet its fictional spies, secret agents, soldiers, sailors and even (occasionally) journalists were now saving the world on a regular basis.

From Ian Fleming and Alistair MacLean in the 1950s through Desmond Bagley, Dick Francis, Len Deighton and John Le Carré in the 1960s, to Frederick Forsyth and Jack Higgins in the 1970s.
Many have been labelled ‘boys’ books’ written by men who probably never grew up but, as award-winning writer and critic Mike Ripley recounts, the thrillers of this period provided the reader with thrills, adventure and escapism, usually in exotic settings, or as today’s leading thriller writer Lee Child puts it in his Foreword: ‘the thrill of immersion in a fast and gaudy world.’

In Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Ripley examines the rise of the thriller from the austere 1950s through the boom time of the Swinging Sixties and early 1970s, examining some 150 British authors (plus a few notable South Africans). Drawing upon conversations with many of the authors mentioned in the book, he shows how British writers, working very much in the shadow of World War II, came to dominate the field of adventure thrillers and the two types of spy story – spy fantasy (as epitomised by Ian Fleming’s James Bond) and the more realistic spy fiction created by Deighton, Le Carré and Ted Allbeury, plus the many variations (and imitators) in between.

Mark your diaries as Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is released on May 18th from Harper Collins, who incidentally published Martin Edward’s multiple award-winning Golden Age of Murder.

Photo L-R Writers
Mark Timlin, Mike Ripley & Martyn Waites 

Mike Ripley in-concert with fellow writer / reviewers Barry Forshaw and Peter Guttridge entertained us at Crimefest 2014, with their amusing presentation of the British Golden Age of Thrillers.

We have the presentation archived in 5 sections

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

So we asked Mike Ripley to tell a little about his upcoming Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang -

After several years in the gestation, I am delighted that my ‘reader’s history’ of the boom in British thriller writing 1953-1975 (or thereabouts) has been given a home by HarperCollins in their famous Crime Club imprint, my very first publisher, back in 1988, for Just Another Angel which started what is laughingly called my career  in crime fiction. They have, therefore, a lot to answer for, but please do not hold it against them as they done a splendid job indulging a great passion of mine.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – or KK-BB as it is known in certain circles in honour of Len Deighton – has been many years in its gestation, you might say about fifty years since, as a callow youth, I realised that I was reading my way through a purple path of British thriller writing. Was it a ‘Golden Age’? Well, that is, as with all ‘Golden Ages’ a matter for debate, but it was undeniably a boom time for British thriller writers, who dominated international bestseller lists.

Mike will reveal more in next month’s Getting Away With Murder Column, which is hosted at Shots Magazine online, as well as republished in George Easter’s Deadly Pleasures Magazine.

Shots Magazine have Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang available for pre-order HERE and like Martin Edward’s Golden Age of Murder, it would be criminal to miss out. 

A good writer possesses not only his own spirit, but also the spirit of his friends.” 
Friedrich Nietzsche 

Newcastle Noir 2017 Programme

Fringe: 24th -27th April

Monday 24th Talk: Murderous Newcastle – Fact and Fiction Pat Lowery 6 pm £3

Tuesday 25th talk: Crime with a Northern Edge 6.30 pm Free

Wednesday 26th: Noir @ the Bar - Town Wall 7 pm Free

Thursday 27th Talk: David Young, The fact behind the fiction 6.30 pm  £3

Festival Launch Friday 28th April
The Festival will be launched by Denise Mina who will be talking about and reading from her work 7pm - Free

Saturday 29th April

Time   Activity          Participants

9.30 - 11.30   Intensive writing workshop *       
William Ryan

10.00 - 11.00 Panel 1 - Geordie Crime     
Shelley Day, Howard Linskey, L.J. Ross, Matt Wesolovski

11.30 - 12.30  Panel 2 - LGBTQ     
Sarah Stowell, Lilja Sigurðardóttir, David Swatling. Chaired by Jacky Collins

12.35 - 1.15     Talk: how to be published **         
Adam Maxwell

1.30 - 2.30     Panel 3 - Femmes Fatales 
Lin Anderson, Alex Gray, Alanna Knight.  Chaired by Ayo Onatade

3.00 - 4.00    Panel 4- German Historical Fiction         
David Young, William Ryan, Luke McCallin.  Chaired by Kat Hall

4.30 - 5.30     Panel 5- Nordic 1     
Kjell Ola Dahl, Thomas Enger, Antti Tuomainen, Chaired by Quentin Bates

6.30 - 7.30     Panel 6- German Noir        
Sascha Arango, Cay Rademacher, Wulf Dorn.  Chaired by Kat Hall

7.30 - 8.30     Panel 7- Crime Fiction: Presenting the case       
Karen Sullivan, Quentin Bates, Sarah Ward, Susan Heads.  Chaired by Miriam Owen

Sunday 30th April

Time   Activity          Participants

10.00 - 11.00 Panel 8 - Children's Crime Fiction
Katherine Woodfine, Lyn Gardner, Laura Wood.  Chaired by Ann Landman

11.30 - 12.30  Panel 9 - Crime Fact and Fiction  
Mari Hannah, Mo, A.D. Garrett.  Chaired by Jacky Collins

1.30 - 2.30     Panel 10 - Domestic Noir
C.L. Taylor, Michael J. Malone, Louise Beech.  Chaired by Rosie White

3.00 - 4.00    Panel 11 - New Blood          
Shelley Day, Tana Collins, Michael Wood.  Chaired by Sarah Ward

4.30 - 5.30     Panel 12- Tartan Noir         
Russel D McLean, Douglas Skelton, Neil Broadfoot.  Chaired by Michael J Malone

6.30 - 7.30     Panel 13 - Nordic 2  
Erik Axl Sund, Johana Gustawsson, Camilla Grebe.  Chaired by Jacky Collins

8.00 - 9.00    Panel 14 - Action Thriller  
Luca Veste, Steph Broadribb, Paul Hardisty, Chaired by Daniel Pembrey

* £10/£7
** £5/£3