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December 19, 2016

ON MY SHELF … Redmond, Rickman and Tully

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redmondHighbridge, by Phil Redmond
To create one addictive TV soap might be considered just lucky. Creating two should evoke a few sharp intakes of breath. To be responsible for three…? Well. it ain’t gonna happen, is it? Yet it did, and with Grange Hill, Brookside and Hollyoaks under his creative belt, it was only a matter of time before write Phil Redmond (left) turned his hand to the crime fiction market. Set in the fictional town of Highbridge, Redmond spins a hypnotic yarn about two brothers who take different routes to avenge their sister’s death. Sean embeds himself in the cut-throat world of local politics where the law is ostensibly respected, but subverted in a hundred subtle ways. Joey goes Route One, and pursues his revenge within the criminal underworld where law and order are just random letters rearranged to make a word that no-one understands. Highbridge will be out in January, and you can pre-order here.

tulleyDown, But Not Out, by Gary Tulley
The first book in this series of crime novels set within the sweat and sawdust world of boxing was Seconds Out (March 2016) We were introduced to a gentleman – Paul Rossetti – who is described as “a plastic gangster”. The author (right) had a distinguished career as a coach and administrator in amateur boxing, but on retirement wrote two PI novels, Once Upon A Spook (2012) , and The Spook Who Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (2013). He now follows up Seconds Out with another saga involving Paul Rossetti and a boxer described as ‘his nemesis’ – Ronnie Callaghan. The story bobs and weaves its way through the murky and arcane world of men who try to beat the living daylights out of each other – and the criminal types who control them outside the ring. Down, But Not Out is available now, and is published by Matador.

phil-rickmanAll Of A Winter’s Night, by Phil Rickman
I make no apologies about naming this as my biggest up-and-coming release. I have been hooked by the Merrily Watkins novels since public library days, when I first discovered The Wine Of Angels in 1998. I believe Rickman to be one of our finest writers, with his unrivalled sense of landscape and history, and his ability to scare the pants of me without resorting to cheap shocks. Rickman is a modest man and may demur at my comparing him to Hardy in his awareness of the power of landscape, but he must put his hand up and acknowledge that he is very much the equal of the great M R James in the way he conjures up dread and menace using everyday objects and happenings. The Reverend Watkins, Rector of Ledwardine and Diocesan Deliverance Consultant returns in a wintry tale, where she must cope with the unwelcome convergence of a bleak funeral and a gangland shooting. Expect shivers up your spine, more peril for Merrily’s vulnerable daughter Jane, and a story that combines ancient menace, modern crime, and a totally believable cast of characters. All Of A Winter’s Night will be out on 5th January.

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THE VOICE BEHIND THE WORDS … Paige Elizabeth Turner

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A writer, whether novice or experienced often reads or hears the words: ‘find your own voice.’ So, what does that mean to the uninitiated? Our ‘voice’ is our manner of forming our words into phrases and sentences, or ‘lexicology’ as it is more loosely described. We grow as readers grasping our list of favourite authors. Many say: ‘I want to write like Katie Fford, Ian Rankin, Lee Child’ – as the case may be. We might be influenced by idols, but never should we write like them. Why would we? Do we not want to personally stamp our own creations?

As a teenager, I penned small shots of poetry, or lines of words I believed was poetry. My definition of the time: if it rhymes, it’s a poem. I had no idea about meter and cadence and sonnets and haiku. I progressed through teen and adult novels, gradually acquiring comfort with structure and grammar – the key ingredients of our voice. Only when a literary agent advised against my particular style, did I become more concerned with voice.

Voice is the perspective by which we construct our material. Most writers will adopt either ‘first person’ (a direct ‘live’ account) or ‘third person’ (an overall view). Various novels lend themselves to one or the other. I prefer ‘first person’ because I offer, in the main, live activities of the novel’s lead protagonist. Narrative is constrained though, to ‘direct’ events only, because ‘Joe’ or whoever, cannot possibly detail events that occur beyond his sphere of vision or knowledge.

badMy crime / mystery novel, Beyond all Doubt, is written in third person, present tense. And it is adopting ‘present tense’ that saw me censored by the aforementioned literary agent. I was in a quandary: do I conform to a recommendation and lose the ‘voice’ of the work I had laboured over for many months, or do I back myself, take pride in my work and say: This is how I want to write. I believe in it.

Part of that ‘backing myself’ required selecting a publisher which would endorse my wish to publish my work in my own format. Sure, I am a debut author with no power to dictate how my work shall be produced, but Troubador Publishing has been magnificent in providing me a quality product with excellent support. Advance sales are rolling and reviews and feedback are most encouraging.

ad-townsville-300I do not write crime as one who has jumped on the current-trend bandwagon. I was raised in a home of The Sweeney and The Bill. On migrating to Australia as a child there was weekly doses of Homicide, Division Four, and Matlock Police. My enjoyment of the genre comes not from wanting to venture into life’s darker side, but from my penchant for solving problems and conundrums. I confess though, that youthful aspirations saw me as a leading criminal lawyer. It transpired that I had neither the aptitude nor attitude to devote seven years to the cause. Ironically, I later devoted just as many years to writing and literary studies!

My lead protagonist is Olivia Watts, a detective sergeant with Worcester CID, who later resigns in favour of commencing her own investigations agency. It is through Olivia I am able to role-play my legal dreams – but without the financial reward. I like to create killings and murders that are not quite so mainstream as a straight-out shooting. Without giving too much away, I have shrink-wrapped a head (while the victim is alive) and I have woven copper thread through a bath mat to electrocute a victim after removing herself from the shower. Where’s she going to step? Straight on to the bathmat!) I guess most authors seek a distinctive edge; we each want to develop a niche that we happily settle into. I have found mine and have woven three different murders into Beyond all Doubt.

I write to entertain the reader as I want to be entertained. I create lively characters with realistic lifestyles, idiosyncrasies and flaws. I often diverge to far-off tangents (although still plot-related) to afford the reader light relief, and perhaps make him/her wonder where the heck the story is going. Beyond all Doubt devotes six pages to an interesting sidetrack.

I believe in authenticity, so research heavily to ensure that even in a fictitious setting, I give the reader a factual account of events. These ideals have been carried through to Whisper of Death, due for release in June 2017. Production of the ‘Watts Happening? Investigations’ series is scheduled through to November 2018.

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