12 Words with Paul Finch

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Paul Finch studied History at Goldsmiths, London, before becoming a cop in the north west of England. He then let his passion for writing allow him to follow a career in journalism. Now a full time writer, he first cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, THE BILL, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation. However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers and horrors.

Today as part of the LifeOfCri.me Theakstons Crime countdown he’s taking on our 12 word challenge.

 

Rules

All answers must be complete sentences and completed in no more than 12 words

Contractions Count.  It’s = 2 words

LOC: Your latest release Ashes to Ashes is your sixth book to feature Detective Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, what can you tell us about it?

PF: It is the darkest and most violent of the hecks to date

LOC: You are particularly evil to your protagonist, regularly putting him through the mill, why?

PF: I believe that personal jeopardy is intrinsic to a good crime thriller

LOC: How would you describe your writing process?

PF: A bit haphazard, but it seems to get the job done

LOC: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt in your writing career?

PF: Because my writing matters to me, that does not mean it matters

LOC: What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring authors?

PF: Pay attention to your rejections, and make sure you learn from them

LOC: What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?

PF: The Cartel by Don Winslow

LOC: Why?

PF: The ultimate account of a lone cops war against organised crime

finally just for laughs…

LOC: Thanks to the author Angela Marsons you’ve just woken up on stage in front of the judges of Britain’s Got Talent, with only an ironing board, a box of matches and an armadillo. What do you do?

PF: Warm the armadillo’s feet (through the board), to check out his moves.

John Sagan is a forgettable man. You could pass him in the street and not realise he’s there. But then, that’s why he’s so dangerous.

A torturer for hire, Sagan has terrorised – and mutilated – countless victims. And now he’s on the move. DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg must chase the trail, even when it leads him to his hometown of Bradburn – a place he never thought he’d set foot in again.

But Sagan isn’t the only problem. Bradburn is being terrorised by a lone killer who burns his victims to death. And with the victims chosen at random, no-one knows who will be next. Least of all Heck…

The Breaking of Liam Glass – Charles Harris

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Charles Harris is an international award-winning writer-director and a highly-respected script consultant, writing and directing for cinema, television and theatre. He is also a best-selling non-fiction author with titles including A Complete Screenwriting Course, Police Slang, and Jaws in Space. Several of his short stories have been published, with two shortlisted for awards.
Charles has a black belt in Aikido and teaches police, security personnel and the public, self-defence against street violence, including knife attacks.
He has a wife and two cats who live with him in North London and two sons who don’t.

Today as part of the LifeOfCri.me Theakston’s Crime countdown he’s writing talking to us about the inspiration for his book.

At the start of my new novel, The Breaking of Liam Glass, Jason Crowthorne, a keen young journalist, about to lose his job on a local paper, comes across a teenage footballer, stabbed and hospitalised in a coma.

Believing he’s found a way to save his career, he pitches his story to a tabloid. Unfortunately, the tabloid wants more of a celebrity hook – a hook Jason doesn’t know if he can provide. But maybe he can tweak it a little…

And so he’s led, step by step, into the dark and dangerous world of fake news.

Where does inspiration come from?

When I started Liam Glass, seven years ago, I wasn’t actually looking to write a novel, let alone a crime-satire.

At the time, there was a general election in full swing and the level of political debate was reaching a new low. Politicians repeated slogans until you wanted to tear your ears off. Newspapers either parroted the party line or were confused and ineffectual.

We didn’t yet use the phrase “fake news” but there was definitely a lot of it around.

At the same time, there was serious, real news, not least a spate of tragically fatal stabbings here in North London, almost all involving innocent young men who were in the “wrong” place.

I recalled a time I spent in Portugal, writing the screenplays for two feature films. Portugal endured the longest fascist dictatorship of any European country in the last century – forty-eight years – from 1926 to 1974.

But one of the most important causes of the collapse of democracy in the first place was the fact that nobody could rely on the newspapers to tell them the truth.

The next piece of the jigsaw, unexpectedly, turned out to be a short story I’d written many years before. It told of a teenage boy who was attacked and left in a coma and the effect on his single mother, who contrived more and more desperate plans to get him to wake up. The story, ‘Cash Card’, was short-listed for an award, but I hadn’t thought about it since.

But I needed one more piece to make the novel work – and that fell into place when my comatose teenager was joined by a young local journalist, stuck in his job and desperate to work on Fleet Street, whatever it took.

Into my young, frustrated journalist, who was to become Jason Crowthorne, I poured my own conflicted feelings and frustrations – as writer, certainly, but also as a reader of news.

I’ve always admired British tabloid newspapers, even as I’ve watched their actions with deep suspicion.

It’s easy to hate their easy cynicism and looseness with the truth, but there’s also something attractive about the red-tops’ energy and audacity. On a good day, a tabloid can mount a vibrant campaign to improve public life in a way that the broadsheets simply can’t match.

Near the end of my novel, two otherwise cynical editors on my fictional tabloid (The Post) reminisce about the great campaigns of the past – “obesity and body image, postcode health, MPs for sale, rip-off trains, graduates who couldn’t spell.” They have much to be proud of.

I spent some days at the Daily Mirror researching Liam Glass in their massive open-plan newsroom, and was struck by the sight of enormous blow-up front-pages around the walls, each commemorating a memorable headline. Often these were major campaigns.

Of course, not everything that the tabloids have done has been so admirable – from phone hacking to bribery to doorstepping the innocent.

On the one hand, Jason is a figure of satire – ready to sell his soul, if only he can find a Fleet Street editor to buy. On the other hand, Jason is truly horrified by this apparently unstoppable flow of knife crimes and wants to do something about it.

And if in the process it helps his career, what’s the problem?

Jason’s problem is that he suspects that Liam may well have a celebrity connection, secretly fathered by a major premiership footballer. But he can’t prove it. How far will he go, how much is he prepared to trick, cheat and finagle to get that front page?

I had to write the novel to find out. And as I wrote, part of me was shocked at what he turned out to be capable of doing. Yet part of me loved his breath-taking effrontery, his naive yet beguiling way of crashing through walls that I would have never dared do.

I found myself wanting him to succeed, somehow to overcome each new disaster, despite all the darker, more corrupt, people around him.

When I first spoke to my (then) agent about Liam Glass and how topical it seemed, he warned me that novels don’t chase topicality. However, it seems that some themes stay topical, and will probably remain so for much longer.

And now today, seven years later, we have another fractious election, with probably yet another to come, with newspapers content to peddle fake news and knife crime on the rise. How things change!

 

Teenage footballer Liam Glass is stabbed on an estate next to London’s Regents Park and, with an eye to the main chance, journalist Jason Crowthorne sets out to make the most of the story and build a crusade against teenage knife-crime.

In the following 24 hours, Jason creates his campaign, hiding a scoop from rival journalists and avoiding arrest. But other powerful figures are determined to exploit the boy’s story as much as they can, and they have fewer scruples! 

www.thebreakingofliamglass.com

12 Words with Lucy Cameron

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Lucy Cameron was born in London and having lived in South Wales, Liverpool, York and Nottingham, currently lives in a shed in her Dad’s garden in Scotland where she wears thermals for warmth and writes by candlelight.  Her debut novel Night Is Watching is published by Caffeine Nights and is available to buy now.

Today, as part of the LifeOfCri.me Harrogate countdown she’s taking on our 12 word challenge.

 

Rules

All answers must be complete sentences and completed in no more than 12 words

Contractions Count.  It’s = 2 words

LOC: You’ve recently released your debut novel Night Is Watching, what can you tell us about it?

LC: It is a dark horror tale set in reality and the mind.

LOC: How would you describe your writing process?

LC: Wordy rambling first drafts heavily edited.

LOC: How would you describe getting your first book deal?

LC: Without a doubt the most spectacular moment of my life so far.

LOC: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your writing career so far?

LC: Believe in yourself, you can be as good as everyone else.

LOC: What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring authors?

LC: Keep going even when it is really tough, you will get there

LOC: What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?

LC: Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough

LOC: Why?

LC: The best end twist to a book I have ever read.

and finally just for laughs..

LOC: Thanks to the author Leigh Russell you’ve just woken up on stage in front of the judges of Britain’s Got Talent, with only A Stick of Celery, a Panda and a Top Hat.  What do you do?

LC: Tickle the panda with the celery stick whilst wearing the top hat.


Can You Feel Your Blood Drain…

Couples are being slaughtered in their homes; women drained of blood, men violently beaten. There are no clues to track the killer, no explanation as to why an increasing amount of blood is being removed from the crime scenes.

Detective Sergeant Rhys Morgan is seconded to the ‘Couples Killer’ investigation. Tormented by vivid nightmares, he hasn’t slept soundly for weeks becoming convinced a creature from these nightmares poses a threat to him and his family. His behaviour becomes increasingly erratic causing his bosses to wonder if he’s the right man for the job.

As clues to the killer’s identity are uncovered, the line between what is real and what cannot be starts to blur and Rhys discovers the answer to catching the killer and exorcizing his own demons, may be as irrational as he fears.

Orenda Books – LOVE AUDIO WEEK – The Other Twin by L V Hay

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When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well- heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth …

You’ll be wanting to hit the 2x button on this one!

Let’s start how we mean to go on. The Other Twin is a great read.

I’m a regular listener to audio books, and usually listen to them as they were intended, as if my parents were reading them to me as I went to bed at night, but occasionally, and in a good way, I get impatient.  My natural reading speed is far quicker, and when I find myself gripped by a book I want to know the whole story as soon as I can so I found myself speeding up the reading of The Other Twin, because I just had to know….

It’s a fascinating listen about an estranged family, who do ultimately love and care for each other, but have far too many secrets from each other.  It’s also  full of twists that will lead you eagerly up the wrong alley as you try and figure out what really happened to India. It is at times, sad, reflective, hurtful, sexy (yes there’s sex), open, honest and truthful about our ‘hidden’ lives.

It’s also a great reflection on highlighting the  things we keep from family whether out of love oro fear, and shows how easy it is to hide our identities and be hurtful and hateful of people in the world of the social media, as we hide behind the “safety”of a screen names and anonymising blog posts.

I was really captivated by this debut novel and do urge you to grab hold of a copy, in the meantime if you tweet this post , you coud be in with a chance of winning one of three copies of the audiobook from audible.

And while you’re at it, make sure you check out some of the other fab titles in the #LoveAudio week from Orenda books

 

 

#blogtour Little Boy Found by L K Fox

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WHEN HE FOUND HIS LITTLE BOY, NICK THOUGHT THE NIGHTMARE WAS OVER . . . IT WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING.

One rainy morning, just after Nick drops off his young son Gabriel outside the crowded school gates, he has a minor collision with another car. The driver won’t surrender his insurance details, so Nick photographs the licence plate. When he gets home, he enlarges the shot on his phone and spots something odd about the picture – Gabriel in the back seat, being driven away by a stranger. Nick needs to know what happened to his boy, but losing Gabriel turns out to be far less terrible than the shock of finding him. Now, to discover the truth, he must relive the nightmare all over again…Be warned, this is not another missing child story: what happened to Nick and his son is far more shocking.

 

When you hear one of your favourite authors has taken up a pen name and written a new book, in a different style it often casts the authors shadow over your thoughts, when you decide to read the new novel.  So I was really happy that I was already over half way through my advance copy before I became aware that it had been written by Christopher Fowler. It was great to be able to form my opinions without prior knowledge and meant I had a genuine feel for the writing and its flow.

With a distinctly different take on the usual crime of a missing child, Little Boy Found is a gripping read, that really didn’t take long for me to become completely addicted to with regard to discovering what really happened to Nick’s son, and determined not to put the book down until I knew the truth for myself.  I felt I was just as determined as Nick was to put the pieces together and solve the riddle of Gabriel’s last day, and often as amazed by each revelation along the way.

Little Boy Found is told from the perspective of two central characters, both of whom are broken, struggling with their lives,  their relationships with family, friends and partners whilst trying to understand and come to terms with the tragedies that have befallen them. It’s a well paced read and has plenty twists and turns to keep you off kilter as you try and figure out who was responsible for what happened, how and why.

If you are looking for your next lazy day read Little Boy Found comes highly recommended by me.

 

 

 

The Breaking of Liam Glass by Charles Harris – Exclusive Extract

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Tuesday 8 pm

‘Every day’s newspaper starts empty of ideas – and some of them stay that way.’

Gareth Whelpower, ‘Off-Stone – Memories of a Newspaper Man’

 

1

The Canyons

It was like they weren’t there. Millions of Londoners streamed past the Gordon Road Estates every twenty-four hours, in their cars, buses and trains, but they didn’t see them; as if they were invisible, easily ignored. A mixed-up part of town, full of mixed-up people, where nothing much ever happened. Squeezed between the rich glamour of Regent’s Park, the neon buzz of central London and the squat seriousness of Euston. High-rise blocks towered over low ones; pensioners scratched along next to smart-casual media consultants; bankers in Reiss suits lived beside teenage gangsters in shades. If you parked your car next to one of the little squares, you didn’t know if you were going to come back and find a glossy leaflet for Hatha Yoga under the wipers, or the wheels gone and the car up on bricks.

But something was about to happen tonight.

Liam Glass was waiting angrily in the dark outside his front door on one of the first-floor walkways – shuffling from one foot to another, hunched into his hoodie, waiting, waiting, waiting; waiting for his mum, who was inside, searching endlessly through drawers and bags. He shivered as a dankness rose from the concrete and the road below glistened like fire under the street lights. A Tory election leaflet had been shoved half through their letterbox. He pulled it out and scanned it, frowning in concentration.

Katrina finally arrived with her debit card and a bustle of urgency.

‘So as you remember the PIN number,’ she said, holding out a scrap of paper. She thought he was still a kid.

He took the card, but not the note with the PIN, and turned away, grumpily.

‘You’ll forget!’ she called. But he was already stomping off down the steps.

Of course, he was just a kid, but not to himself. Tall for his age. Hormones rising. Ready to fight for his place in the world. Down he went, into Gordon Road, down the hard-lit electric canyons like he was in the Wild West. And full of his own thoughts: football matches played and unplayed, Xbox games waiting, friends, Shay Begum and Zen Methercroft, Facebook, Instagram, real girls from school, naked women on websites he thought Katrina didn’t know he knew…

He passed Royland Pinkersleigh, who was rhythmically flailing around with a rag and soap suds, swabbing down the wall outside his little gym, All Roads Lead to Royland. Royland flailed faster, trying not to think of all his problems, trying not to think of his partner Sadé in the tiny gym office, wrestling with the accounts. Sadé, who would be only too pleased to remind him about their debts as soon as he went back inside. Royland half glanced at Liam, thought he’d seen him before but couldn’t remember where, then applied himself to the rag and bucket once more.

Liam stepped into the road, right in front of Jamila Hasan’s green Mini Cooper…

Jamila was distracted, thinking about the art-gallery opening she was already late for – and she the guest of honour as the local councillor. At the last moment, she swerved and missed him. She hooted, but Liam hardly heard above the tick-tick-oomp-oomp of the music playing out of his earphones. She hooted again as she sped away from him, desperately composing the speech she was supposed to be making to the assembled art lovers and local journalists in fifteen minutes’ time.

Liam trotted past Jason Crowthorne, chief reporter of the Camden Herald, who hardly noticed him in the dark, saw him and didn’t see him, just another hoodie, shoulders hunched, round faced, ear buds in his ears, staring at the phone in his hand.

An hour before, Jason had turned twenty-nine, but he’d kept it to himself and had merely stolen a Twix from the vending machine in the newsroom. He didn’t like sharing personal grief.

Now he locked his car and shivered in the cold April breeze. He turned away from Liam, who was ambling down the road in the other direction.

Didn’t see either, as the others hadn’t, the two dark shapes following.

 

 

With London knife crime now on the rise, this is not so much a whodunnit as a blackly comic what-they-did-after-it satire, that resonates in a timely way.

Teenage footballer Liam Glass is stabbed on an estate next to London’s Regents Park and, with an eye to the main chance, journalist Jason Crowthorne sets out to make the most of the story and build a crusade against teenage knife-crime.

In the following 24 hours, Jason creates his campaign, hiding a scoop from rival journalists and avoiding arrest. But other powerful figures are determined to exploit the boy’s story as much as they can, and they have fewer scruples! Liam Glass is a darkly satirical look at the deep splits in modern communities, asking deep moral questions in a sympathetic and humorous way.