Death Games #blogtour Q&A with Chris Simms #SpicerIsBack

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1014case-files-versionimg_0584As a long time fan of Chris Simms, Michael Wood, author of the DCI Matilda Darke novels, and CrimeSquad reviewer puts his questions to Chris for today’s stop on the Death Games blog tour…..

 

 

 

MW: It’s been a while since the last DI Spicer novel, Sleeping Dogs, what have you been doing?

CS: I’ve been busy, scribbling away in my shed – but not on detective novels. I’ve always enjoyed writing dark psychological thrillers (my first two novels fell firmly into that category), so I decided to take some time away from Spicer to write two more that had been festering in my head. Sing Me To Sleep is about a lady called Laura Wilkinson who moves to an isolated cottage and immediately starts hearing faint echoes of a bird singing. She fears tinnitus. But Laura’s also suffered psychological problems in the past and can’t be sure if the noise isn’t a manifestation of mental illness or something more sinister… It’s just been optioned for a film.Dead Gorgeous follows a beautiful and fame-hungry young woman, Mandy Cost. To attract the attention of the paparazzi, she has a salon fit her with the longest, palest hair extensions they can find. Mandy appreciates the best extensions are made with human hair – but doesn’t question where hers came from. It’s something she comes to regret. Bitterly.   

MW: Where did DI Spicer originate? 

CS: As is often the case with characters, Spicer is a blend of various traits I’ve seen in different people. He’s one of those men who, though powerfully built, exude a strength that’s more than just muscular. He’s fiercely loyal, highly tenacious and not good at etiquette. A lot of people – characters in my books and readers of them – find him quite infuriating. Not that he’d be bothered.  

MW: You’re known for writing your stories by hand, explain your process.  

CS: The truth is, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of an artist. So my initial planning is on A3 sheets; I’ll sketch the principal characters and add little comments and observations, all in pencil. Then comes mind-maps of the plot. It seemed natural to extend this approach to the actual writing – so I use a lined A4 pad and only write on one side. (With a Blackwing pencil.) That leaves the facing page free for later amends, additions or general thoughts. I love doing it this way – until I have to type up 90,000 words of spider-like scrawl. 

MW: Manchester is key in your novels. Do you create the setting around the plot or the other way round? 

CS: Both. Hell’s Fire came about because my train into Manchester passed what looked like a massive, derelict, charred church. Who would wreck such a majestic building, I began to wonder. In Savage Moon, I wanted to explore the scenario of someone being killed by what, at first, appears to be an Alien Big Cat (like the Beast of Bodmin). For a setting, you don’t get much more bleak and creepy than Saddleworth Moor that overlooks the city.  

MW: Death Games is a change of direction for DI Spicer. What made you decide to move him on?

CS: His own pig-headedness forced me into it! Essentially, he ran out of bosses in the Major Incident Team willing to have him as their responsibility. Kicked out and demoted to Detective Constable, it was a case of ‘any port in a storm’ when the Counter Terrorism Unit made contact.  

MW: For your new novel you’ve brought together your two series characters – DI Spicer and DC Kahn – why? 

CS: DC Khan was already in the CTU – and struggling with its macho, testosterone-fuelled culture. I thought: what a great pairing. Her: measured, intuitive and diminutive in size. Him: a great big bull in a china shop. Plus, the CTU allows me to deal with plots on a grander scale than before.  

MW: You write many short stories, very different to the crime novels, which do you prefer to write? 

CS: I love short stories for their brief, self-contained nature. Before the actual writing, you can hold them in the palm of your hand and look at them from every angle. If you want to experiment with something, you can. Novels, in contrast, are vast, sprawling things. George Orwell said writing them was like a long bout of painful illness. But when it’s finished? The scene of achievement is mighty.  

MW: What are you working on next? 

CS: The screenplay of Sing Me To Sleep is almost done. I got a short story in the bag over Christmas. So next…it’s novel time. I have a nice Manchester-based idea, but can’t decide whether to toss it Spicer’s way or hand it to a brand new character.

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Manchester: an injured survivor from a motorway pile-up flees the scene, leaving behind evidence that a terror attack is being planned…

Jon Spicer, newly trained as a Specialist Firearms Officer, has joined Manchester police’s Counter Terrorism Unit. Thrown out of his previous department and demoted to Detective Constable, he is being kept in the force only because he’ll take on the most dangerous of jobs.

Iona Khan is struggling to find respect and recognition in the male-dominated Counter Terrorism Unit. Her mind might be sharp, but many of her colleagues value physical strength above anything else.

As the investigation quickly snowballs, Spicer and Khan are thrown together. The two officers must learn to trust each other – and fast. Because in this chase, any wrong move could be your last.

Blood and Bone – 12 words with Valentina Giambanco

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After two years in the Seattle Police Department, Detective Alice Madison has finally found a peace she has never known before. When a local burglary escalates into a gruesome murder, Madison takes charge of the investigation. She finds herself tracking a killer who has haunted the city for years – and whose brutality is the stuff of myth in high security prisons. As she delves deeper into the case, Madison learns that the widow of one of the victims is being stalked – is the killer poised to strike again? As pressures mount, Madison will stop at nothing to save the next innocent victim . . . even if it means playing a killer’s endgame.

Today to celebrate the recent release of Blood and Bone, Valentina takes the LifeOfCri.me 12 word challenge.

Rules

Answers should be complete sentences, and completed in no more than 12 words (unless otherwise stated)

Contractions count. It’s = 2 words.

LOC: Your latest release Blood and Bone is the third novel in your series featuring Seattle Detective Alice Madison.  What can you tell us about it?

VG: It’s a new impossible case, a new killer, a new heartache.

LOC: How would you sum up Alice to someone new to your writing?

VG: Madison is a poker genius, child runaway who became a homicide detective.

LOC: How would you describe your writing process?

VG: The writing process is like daydreaming with a purpose and a dictionary.

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

VG: Focus on the writing: it is the only thing you can control.

LOC: Any tips for aspiring authors?

VG: Whatever it is you’re writing, first you must finish it.

LOC: Describe your perfect day

VG: It involves snow, huskies and cold weather. And probably chocolate too.

LOC: What’s the best book you’ve read in the last twelve months and why?

VG: Patrick Gale ‘A Place Called Winter’

VG: It’s a cross between Jane Austen and Jack London. Soulfully written.

and finally just for laughs……

LOC: Thanks to author Angela Marsons you have just woken up to find yourself on stage in front of the judges of a TV Talent show, with only, an ironing board, a box of matches and an Armadillo. What do you do?

VG: I would stand on the board, juggling lit matches, baffling the armadillo.

 

 

Matching The Evidence – 12 Words with Graham Smith

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Matching the Evidence Cover

Graham SmithGraham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

Today as part of the blogtour for his latest release Matching The Evidence: The Major Crimes Team Vol 2 he’s taking the 12 word challenge for LifeOfCri.me

Rules
 
Answers should be complete sentences, and completed in no more than 12 words (unless otherwise stated)
 
Contractions count. It’s = 2 words.
LOC: Your latest release Matching The Evidence is the next instalment of your series featuring DI Harry Evans, what can you tell us about it?
 

GS: Football hooligans are descending on Carlisle and Evans has to neutralise them

LOC: And how would you sum up Harry to someone new to your writing?

GS: An irascible, dinosauric bag of contradictions fighting against the meteorite.

LOC: How would you describe your writing process?

GS: Arduous and exhilarating depending on the part of the story

LOC: What’s the most challenging thing you’ve faced in your writing career?

GS: Getting published. It’s also tough for emerging authors to get noticed.

LOC: Any wise words for aspiring authors?

GS: Read your genre and write comprehensive reviews to better understand narrative flow.

LOC: Describe your perfect getaway

GS: Anywhere I can write, read, drink and smoke with those I love.

LOC: What’s the best book you’ve read in the last twelve months and why?

GS: Streets of Darkness by A. A. Dhand.

GS: An utterly compelling debut novel which sparkles on every page.

and finally just for laughs……

LOC: Thanks to author Howard Lynskey you have just woken up to find yourself on stage in front of the judges of a TV Talent show, with only a pint of beer, a performing seal and a beach ball.  What do you do?

GS: Down the pint before the seal got the ball onto its nose.

 


Graham Smith Snatched from home

Kill Me Twice – 12 Words with Anna Smith

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CR: LUKE INMAN

Anna Smith is an award-winning journalist who spent a lifetime in daily newspapers, reporting from the front line all over the world, and who has been the first on the scene in many world shaking events. She now writes full time, using her vast experience as a journalist to create the hugely popular series featuring Rosie Gilmour, a gritty Glasgow journalist who tears down the walls of corruption and will stop at nothing to get her story.

Today, as part of her blog tour for the latest Rosie Gilmour release Kill Me Twice, Anna is taking on the LifeOfCri.me 12 word challenge.

 

Rules
 
Answers should be complete sentences, and completed in no more than 12 words (unless otherwise stated)
 
Contractions count. It’s = 2 words.

 

LOC: Kill Me Twice is the latest novel in your series featuring Rosie Gilmour,  What can you tell us about it?

AS: Rosie tears down the wall of lies, from showbiz to Westminster.

LOC: How would you sum up Rosie to someone new to your writing?

AS: Rosie’s a gritty, tough frontline journalist with a shade of vulnerability.

LOC: How would you describe your writing process?

AS: I become wrapped up in Rosie’s life, I forget the real world!

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

AS: If you believe in your story and characters, someone else will.

LOC: Any tips for aspiring authors?

AS: Finish what you started, and keep writing. Have faith.

LOC: Describe your perfect day

AS: Morning walk on a sunny in Spain or Ireland, writing in the afternoons.

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

AS: The Burning Room, Michael Connelly

LOC: Why?

AS. Been so busy this year, I’m still not finished it. But it’s brilliant!

and finally just for laughs……

LOC: Thanks to author David Mark you have just woken up to find yourself on stage in front of the judges of a TV Talent show, with only, a wagon wheel, your teenage diaries and a human foot. What do you do?

AS: Read diary: ‘I knew the road trip had gone wrong when I woke up next to a severed foot.’

 

9781784294793Dangerous secrets threaten to destroy lives from the sink estates of Glasgow to the corridors of Westminster in this latest case for Rosie Gilmour.

A beautiful model’s death uncovers an ugly conspiracy stretching all the way to Westminster in Rosie Gilmour’s darkest case to date.

When rags-to-riches Scots supermodel Bella Mason plunges to her death from the roof of a glitzy Madrid hotel, everyone assumes it was suicide. Except that one person saw exactly what happened to Bella that night, and she definitely didn’t jump. But Millie Chambers has no one she can tell – alcoholic, depressed herself and now sectioned by her bullying politician husband, who would believe her? And that’s not all Millie knows. Being close to the heart of Westminster power can lead to discovering some awful secrets…

Back in Glasgow, Rosie’s research into Bella’s life leads to her brother, separated from her in care years before. Dan is now a homeless heroin addict and rent boy, but what he reveals about Bella’s early life is electrifying: organised sexual abuse in care homes across Glasgow. Bella had tracked him down so that they could tell the world their story. And now she’s dead.

As Rosie’s drive to expose the truth leads her closer to Millie and the shameful secrets she has kept for so many years, it becomes clear that what she’s about to discover could prove fatal: a web of sexual abuse linking powerful figures across the nation, and the rot at the very heart of the British Establishment…

12 Words with Howard Linskey

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Howard Linskey is the author of trio of books, The Drop, The Damage and The Dead, featuring David Blake. He is also the eyes (and everything else), behind Behind Dead Eyes the second in a series of books set in the north east of England, and sequel to No Name Lane.

Having recently read, and loved, No Name Lane, it was a delight to catch up with him again at both CrimeFest and Harrogate, and get him to participate in the LifeOfCri.me 12 word challenge.

Here’s what he had to say…

 

12 Word Rules

Answers should be complete sentences, and completed in no more than 12 words (unless otherwise stated)

Contractions count. It’s = 2 words.

 

LOC: Your latest release Behind Dead Eyes is the second to feature DS Ian Bradshaw and journalists Tom Carney and Helen Norton. What can you tell us about it?

HL: It’s a north east based crime mystery with some shocking outcomes.

LOC: How was it starting out with these new characters after your previous David Blake series?

HL: Reinvigorating to write something entirely new with different characters and situations.

LOC: How would you describe your writing process?

HL: Chaotic winging-it with a bit of planning either end of the story.

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

HL: Stuff I make up is actually published as a book.

LOC: Describe your perfect getaway.

HL: Great food and wine, writing, family, a sea view from my window.

LOC: What’s the best book you’ve read in the last twelve months and why?

HL: Ian Ayris’ ‘Abide With Me’ is original, authentic and superbly written.

and finally just for laughs……

LOC: Thanks to author Quentin Bates you have just woken up to find yourself on stage in front of the judges of a TV Talent show, with only a Phone book, a pair of wellies and a corkscrew. What do you do?

HL: Use the corkscrew then make a bottle of wine disappear. That’s magic!

12 Words with David Mark

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img_3005David Mark is the author of the DS McAvoy series, which includes, Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity and his most recent release Dead Pretty.

 

Rules

Answers should be complete sentences, and completed in no more than 12 words (unless otherwise stated)

Contractions count. It’s = 2 words.

 

LOC: Your latest release Dead Pretty is the fifth in your series featuring DS Aector McAvoy.  What can you tell us about it?

DM: One Girl Missing. One Girl Dead. Link? Depraved vigilante? Or pure evil?

LOC: How about some hints about what’s up next for our favourite Gentle giant?

DM: Family ties to murder …New York … trailing a religious killer. Cruel Mercy.

LOC: How does being a full time author compare to your previous career as a journalist?

DM: It’s better. I smile. I drink less. I have less money. Ace.   (LOC: Shhh… we’ll pretend we didn’t notice)

LOC: How would you describe your writing process?

DM: Obsessive cogitation, deep journey into imagination, structure, plot, flavour – then do it!

LOC: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your writing career?

DM: Getting bloody published. Ten years of failure and despair then overnight success.

LOC: Describe your perfect day

DM: Coffee, extreme weather, platitudes from loved ones, uninterrupted writing. Lottery win.

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

DM: The Girl in Green by Derek B Miller.

LOC: Why?

DM: Beautifully written, very interesting and a bit odd. Great characters and tone.

and finally just for laughs……

LOC: Thanks to author Angela Marsons you have just woken up to find yourself on stage in front of the judges of a TV Talent show, with only an ironing board, a box of matches and an armadillo.  What do you do?

DM: If it’s for Sky Arts, just balance all three on my head and allow the viewer to interpret my inner pain and artistic vision.   (I’m going to forgive the breach in word count, just ‘cus I *love* that answer)

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