#BlogTour Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler and the Inspiration Behind It

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As part of her blog tour for her debut novel Don’t Wake up, today on LifeOfCri.me Liz Lawler talks about the inspiration behind the book.

 

 

 

 

Inspiration behind Don’t Wake Up

I wish I could tell you that I heard a particular story or read an article in a newspaper that inspired me to write Don’t Wake Up. But it wouldn’t be true. Something obviously triggered it, but I suspect it was many things that I heard or read or thought or even experienced and my mind accepted and stored a place for all this imagery to settle before becoming fully focused. I use the word imagery, because when I think of a story it is always in full technicolour with people having conversations or crying or running away. I do remember exactly what I was doing when this story came to me, and it came with a bit of a whoosh. The body of the story was inside my head by the time I had vacuumed my house one day. I then needed to give it legs and arms and a head to fully function. I have found that I never think up stories when I’m at rest, it is always when I’m physically busy with my mind at a bit of a wander.

So what triggered it, I now ask it myself? Was it the fact that I have worked in a hospital for so many years and am as familiar with that type of surroundings as I am in my own home? Possibly. It would certainly be a logical conclusion. Or was it witnessing the vulnerability of so many patients as they walk onto a ward and place their trust in you.

Yet as I write that last sentence, my stomach clenches at the thought of how vulnerable we are when we place our trust in people that we are encouraged to trust.

And this thought, I suspect, is the trigger that made me want to write a story like Don’t Wake Up. The horrific story that came to light about Winterbourne care home in recent years, that uncovered acts of abuse being meted out to people with learning difficulties, sadly didn’t shock me. It enraged me that it happened, but I wasn’t shocked. The debase behaviour of humans has always existed and it always will. It pushes me to ask questions and each probe will inevitably begin with – How could someone. How could someone do that, say that, think that. I think everyone is susceptible to carrying out an unkind act, even if it is only in thought, and for most of us it will be only ever amount to that. But for many of us we have met that unkind person, the one that we think or say about, ‘I wouldn’t let her look after my dog, let alone my child, my father, my mother.’

Every form of mental and physical cruelty is abhorrent to me and they take their ugly shapes in so many forms. It is relentless. We are saturated every single day by what we hear in the news of acts of horrendous cruelty being carried out and before we have even processed one shocking story another story has taken precedence. Sometimes a singular story will stay in our minds for ever – the images of the Chinese migrants labourers drowned on Morecambe Bay beach . . . the image of those two innocent babies in the arms of their father having been gassed with sarin. These stories stop us in our tracts, bring tears to our eyes and have us shaking our heads in despair. I am listening to the news as I write this, and in the background Teresa May is speaking of PC Palmer and his colleagues are speaking from the heart about how they felt about this man and my throat is clogged at thought of so many people hurting from this loss.

So in the writing of this blog, I have kind of worked out what inspired me to write Don’t Wake Up – a fictional story of psychological torture – I am not anaesthetized by the atrocities that the human race carry out. I am not numb to that tone of voice I hear when a child is harshly rebuked for crying, or to that heavy sigh of impatience given when that elderly woman or man asks for the toilet again.

Death should never be a cruel act. It should be natural and where possible, surrounded by love. I was very privileged to nurse my father at his home, because I had the ability to carry out this care and if death can be a beautiful thing to witness when someone is ready to face it, I was fortunate to witness it with my own father. He died in the early hours as dawn was breaking at the age of 96 with his wife beside him and me merely there as their interpreter. There is humour even in this memory as in their last conversation to each other neither were wearing their hearing aids and so I had to shout clearly the messages they gave to each other.

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.

The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.

The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

#Blog Tour Deadly Alibi by Leigh Russell

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As part of her blog tour for the latest in the DI Geraldine Steel novels, Leigh talks to LifeOfCri.me about the ins and outs of writing a serial character.

Writing a series

​I have written elsewhere about my inadvertent and very sudden transformation from an avid reader to a compulsive writer. My career as a writer really arose out of a ‘light bulb’ moment, a flash of inspiration. Having no ambitions to write, when an idea occurred to me one day and I started to write it down, I surprised myself by finding I was unable to drag myself away from it until the story had written itself out. Having completed my story, I sent the manuscript to a publisher, just on the off chance that someone might take a look at it. I didn’t really expect that anyone would, but the first person to read it turned out to be the acquiring editor at my publisher’s.

​There I was, unexpectedly faced with signing a three-book deal, and only one story written. It amazes me now that I wasn’t terrified, but the whole experience was exhilarating and quite surreal. Of course, there was a lot of work to be done on that first rather amateurish manuscript before it was actually published as Cut Short, by which time I was well on my way with the second book in the series, Road Closed. The ninth in the series, Deadly Alibi, is about to come out in paperback, the eleventh is written and currently being edited, and I am about a quarter of the way through the twelfth – just at the stage where I realise what I should have written and am about to rewrite what I’ve done so far… Somehow my plans always seem to go out of the window once the writing begins…

​So what began as a random idea for a story has turned into a fairly substantial series. With three series now to my name, and well on the way to delivering the final title in my sixth, three-book publishing deal, I’ve written quite a few books since the idea for Cut Short occurred to me. My next publishing deal will take us up to fifteen Geraldine Steel books, and I’m hoping the series will run to twenty books.

​A question I’m often asked is, does it become easier as you write more books? Like a politician’s equivocation, my answer isn’t straightforward. It’s a yes and a no. The actual writing process becomes easier as you grow accustomed to the editing process and all the associated stages in finalising the manuscript. At the same time, in some ways the pressure increases. With over a million books sold, there are a lot of people waiting to read the next Geraldine Steel story and with each book I worry that this will be the one that bombs, the book where all my fans say I’ve completely lost the plot. Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet, and I like to think I’m getting better at this writing lark. But who knows how the next book will be received? With so many readers’ expectations to satisfy, it’s a more daunting prospect than when my first book came out and I wondered whether anyone would actually read it, apart from my acquiring editor. ​

​Fortunately I have a fairly foolproof way of dealing with the pressure. It’s how I cope with any problems that arise in my life in the real world. I can simply retreat into my fictional world and write about the challenges faced by my detective, Geraldine Steel. And she has some tricky situations to deal with in Deadly Alibi. Hopefully her loyal fans are going to enjoy reading this latest story, and readers new to the series will find this an exciting introduction.

A hand gripped her upper arm so suddenly it made her yelp. Biting her lower lip, she spun round, lashing out in terror. As she yanked her arm out of his grasp, her elbow hit the side of his chest. Struggling to cling on to her, he lost his footing. She staggered back and reached out, leaning one hand on the cold wall of the tunnel. Before she had recovered her balance he fell, arms flailing, eyes glaring wildly as he disappeared over the edge of the platform onto the rails below. . .

Two murder victims and a suspect whose alibi appears open to doubt… Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which threatens not only her career, but her life. And then her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, with problems which are about to make Geraldine’s life turn toxic in more ways than one.

I Know Your Secret – Graham Smith

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When Father Peter Paterson is discovered crucified to the stone floor of his church, DI John Campbell leads the investigation in his first case in charge of the Cumbria Major crimes Team, while DI Harry Evans spends the last week of his police career attending the trial of his wife’s rapist.

With the Priest seemingly killed for no reason, the pressure on the team increases when a rape case and a con trick are added to their workload. Unknown to the police, members of the public are receiving blackmail demands.

Fearing more attacks on the clergy, Campbell does everything he can to solve the case, while Evans spends his evenings dispensing his own brand of supposedly helpful interference.

An absolute belter of a book…

Those of you who follow this blog will have seen me on the Matching The Evidence blog tour last month, celebrating the release of the novella that is literally crammed (timeline wise) between DI Harry Evans book one Snatched From Home and I Know Your Secret, the second novel in this increasingly addictive series.

As I said,  I Know Your Secret is the second book in this series and coming hot on the heels of earlier tales, it’s worth noting that whilst you can happily pick up and read this book as a standalone novel, your experience is greatly enhanced by reading the previous installments as it improves your understanding of the characters and the motivations of the members of the Major Crimes Team.

The opening pages of I Know Your Secret are gritty, as they describe the brutal murder of Father Peter Paterson.  while the method used to set up the scene, will not only leave its imprint on your mind, but ensure you are hooked into the story and keen to discover exactly whodunnit and why.

Easily read in one sitting thanks to its pacy, addictive and dare I say it “unputdownable” style, it’s an absolute belter of a book. With several interwoven plot lines to keep you on your toes, I know your secret is a fabulous story about a functional disfunctional team, interspersed with the just enough dark humour and not enough political correctness to ensure you engage fully with the story, and all of those involved.

I’m already excited to read more about Harry.

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

The Dos and Don’ts of Crime Writing by G J Minett

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The Hidden LegacyGJ Minett is the author of The Hidden Legacy & Lie In Wait, as part of his blog tour to celebrate today’s paperback release of The Hidden Legacy, he’s taken time from his busy schedule to talk to LifeOfCri.me about his personal Dos and Don’ts of writing crime fiction.

 

 

 

 

Dos and Don’ts of Crime Writing

 

GrahamSo … let’s get all the self-effacing disclaimers out of the way first, shall we?

I’m not entirely sure that a body of work comprising two eBooks and one paperback qualifies me as an expert on how best to go about producing a crime novel. I’m sure I would bristle at the idea of having to conform to someone else’s notions as to what constitutes good practice, so I’m not about to pontificate here. Feel free, as they say, to try this at home but please don’t feel under any obligation to wear the strait jacket. The right way is what best suits you.

I’ll share with you three examples of what works for me, with no significance at all attached to the order in which they appear.

Treat your readers with a bit of respect

I’m a reader. Part of the fun for me, in reading a crime novel, is working things out for myself, following clues, weeding out red herrings and trying to anticipate where the author is trying to take me. I don’t need to have my hand held. I certainly don’t want an idiot guide thrust into my hand. But equally, if I’m going to invest a great deal of time and mental energy into reading a 400 page novel, I expect to be able to believe the outcome. I may not see a twist coming, I may miss one or two crucial clues and shake my head when I think back, wondering how I didn’t pick up on them. What I do NOT want though is to be defeated by some startling coincidence or miraculous intervention I could never have foreseen in a million years that leaps out of nowhere and changes everything. Whenever this happens, it’s difficult to avoid the impression that the author has backed her/himself into a corner and not had a clue how to get out of it without resorting to desperate measures. Keep it real. Avoid shortcuts. Work the plot through beforehand and don’t short change the reader by settling for the mediocre.

Show don’t tell

OK … I know. Very MA in Creative Writing. But there’s a reason why this particular mantra is chanted at every writing course you’ll ever attend. It ties in neatly with the previous section because most readers are quite capable of working out for themselves how a character is feeling if they’re given the right visual clues. It is after all how we operate in real life. If I see someone wiping away a tear, I don’t need to be told “I’m feeling sad”. If someone is twisting the cord of a blind around a finger while gazing out of the window or slamming a glass down on the table so that the liquid slops over the side, I can tell what sort of mood we’re dealing with here without any need for some disembodied voice to tell me she’s sad or he’s angry. Why should these visual clues be any less effective in a novel? Some writers are so gifted in the way they allow feelings to seep through without any need for explanation that they add an extra layer of enjoyment to the whole reading experience. Try it next time you feel the urge to have one of your characters explain how she/he is feeling.

Listen to your dialogue

If you wrote a song, you’d probably want to play it and hear what it sounded like. I wonder sometimes how often writers apply the same principle to dialogue because all too often it clunks, for want of a better word. I read a novel recently that was excellent in many respects but whenever the police officers decided to go to the pub for a drink my heart sank because I knew what to expect. What was supposed to pass for male banter sounded more like  cheeky chappie dialogue from 1920s Music Hall minus the boom boom and it simply didn’t ring true.

Dialogue is very important in most novels as a device for ‘nailing’ a character, making sure that she or he comes across as an authentic person you might encounter next time you walk into a bar. If it isn’t quite right, the reader will quickly pick up on any inauthenticity and the spell can be broken just like that.

Try recording your extended passages of dialogue and playing them back or maybe getting friends to read them out to you. Also try recording others when they’re speaking so that you can pick up on any nuances. Not many people string together whole sentences without digression, hesitation, repetition, sudden changes of subject. If you can work some of these subtle differences into the speech patterns of your characters, they will appear more authentic.

As I said at the outset, these three examples matter greatly to me and have helped me enormously. I hope they will be of some use to you too.

And I just know someone is already trawling through my novels right now in search of instances where I haven’t managed to practise what I’ve preached. I’m sure they’ll find them!