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‘Ice-pick-sharp, packed with intrigue, action and spine-chilling suspense. Devour will keep you gripped from the very first page’ Kathryn Fox

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Chance favours only the prepared mind

July 17, 2018

At ThrillerFest 2018 the wonderful Karin Slaughter used a quote from Louis Pasteur which really sums up what this writers’ festival is all about: preparing authors to be great authors.

I’m lucky enough to have had four books published: three with Hachette and one with Harper Collins. I have two new manuscripts. I’ve attended many writers’ festival in the UK and Australia. This was my first time at ThrillerFest and I have never felt so inspired. I learnt a lot, not just about how to make my writing better, but how to manage the business of being an author. I met new authors I hope will remain friends for life. I met best selling authors like Lee Child, Meg Gardiner, Steve Berry and James Rollins. All, without exception, were generous with their time and advice, and above all, inclusive and welcoming. Being an author can be a lonely business, and it’s great to be reminded that we are part of a warm and friendly author community.

Over the next few blog posts, I’d like to share with you some of the insights I gained from this experience and also some of the funny stories.

I’m going to start with the mega authors panel of Lee Child, Robert Dugoni, Peter James, Lynda La Plante and Karin Slaughter. This had to be one of the funniest panel discussions I attended. Why? Because they are consummate entertainers. Let me give some examples. Lee Child has an hilarious dry wit. The panel was asked about literary authors and whether they looked down on thriller authors. Lee jumped straight in. Thrillers keep publishers solvent. Sales from thrillers enable literary authors to do what they love. Literary authors are, he said with a wry smile on his face, ‘the barnacles on our boat.’ The audience loved it. Peter James was asked about how he went from a few thousand copies sold to millions. He replied, ‘You have to live a long time,’ then went on to tell us the ups and downs of his writing career.

The panelists’ stories of rejection and near-disaster reminded us all that the path to success as a writer is rocky, even for the best sellers. Robert Dugoni talked about his early career. His first few books didn’t do well. In fact, he was at ThrillerFest some years ago when his publisher told him he was being dropped. Robert had to reinvent himself as an author. It wasn’t until My Sister’s Grave that he got his big break.

Lynda La Plante stressed that ‘rejection does not mean no.’ Her first Jane Tennison novel was rejected many times because there was a female central character. But she kept going. Peter James’ first book, Dead Letter Drop, only sold 1800 copies in the UK. He switched from action thrillers to detective stories after he was burgled and the police officer who investigated the crime offered Peter help with police procedural information. This led to Peter’s hugely successful DSI Roy Grace series.

My final take-out from this panel is to pay attention to how the great thriller authors write but don’t be afraid to do what your heart is telling you to do. As Lee Child said, ‘a book needs the author’s personal integrity.’ He said, ‘the spark and life can be beaten out of it if you listen to everyone. We are all waiting for the next big thing, not the same thing reinvented.’

If you have any thoughts or questions on this post, please post them on my Facebook or Twitter sites. I’d love to help.

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Save 10% on my October Crime and Thriller Writing class

October 23, 2017

There are a few places left on my Crime and Thriller Writing weekend course and the wonderful people at The Australian Writers Centre have set up a special 10% discount for those who book this week for the 28th and 29th October 2017. Yes, this weekend coming!

To get the special 10% off all you need to do is click this link and then enter this promo code at the checkout: DEVOUR.

Perhaps you have a friend or relative who loves crime fiction and has always want to write their own novel? Or perhaps you know a budding author with a birthday coming up soon?

I look forward to seeing you all at the weekend!

Event: Crime and Thriller Writing class
Dates: 28 and 29 October 2017
Time: 10am – 4pm on both days
Location: Australian Writers Centre
55 Lavender Street
Milsons Point NSW 2061
Australia.

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Bloody Scotland an entertainment extravaganza

October 8, 2017

I wanted to share with you some of the many photos from my time at writers’ festival Bloody Scotland in September 2017. Not only were the panels and interviews fascinating but the evening entertainment was the best I have experienced at any writers’ festival. Torchlight processions,bands, hilarious podcasts, soccer matches – never a dull moment.
Thank you to the organisers for inviting me. I had a ball!

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Join me at Bloody Scotland festival September 2017

July 9, 2017

Bloody Scotland celebrates Scottish and international crime fiction in September in Stirling, and I will be there, talking about creating locations in thrillers with fellow panelists John Gordon Sinclair and Tony Black.
Date: Saturday 9 September
Time: 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Buy tickets here.
For more information click here.
Sinclair’s tense thriller Walk in Silence is set in the brutal underworld of Albania. Black’s latest novel, written with Matt Neal, Bay of Martyrs, takes place in Australia where a young woman’s body is washed up on a beach at the Bay of Martyrs.

Look out for the amazing Val McDermid, Stuart MacBride, Chris Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Mark Billingham and many more!

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CrimeFest 2017

May 30, 2017

Here are my highlights for CrimeFest 2017, the international crime fiction festival in Bristol, UK. Not only is it great fun but this year there was an even bigger contingent of international authors, including those from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany and the USA. I was lucky enough to be on a panel with two great Scandi Noir authors, Antti Tuomainen, whose thriller, The Mine, is one of the best eco-thrillers I have read in a long time, and Stefan Ahnhen, whose latest book The Ninth Grave is out now. The lovely Barry Forshaw of CrimeTime fame and thriller reviewer for The Guardian in London, moderated a number of hilarious panel discussions, including an American Noir panel, with the truly lovely American thriller author, C.J.Box, who I was lucky enough to join for a fun (crazy!) dinner one night. His current novel, Vicious Circle, has me on the edge of my seat. Not to forget the many other wonderful authors I met there, including C.J. Carver and Will Sutton, as well as the irascible Ali Karim and Mike Stotter from SHOTS. My second panel, sponsored by the ITW on realism in thrillers, was moderated by the very entertaining Simon Toyne, and with Chris Ewan, Quentin Bates and J.F. Penn. I feel very proud to have been in such great company.

Roll on CrimeFest 2018 and hope to see you there!

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