Thursday, 30 June 2011

Good and Evil and other topics

Three years ago I was  offered a three book deal. As the third in my Geraldine Steel series hit the shelves earlier this month, I've been offered a second three book deal, so life is busy. I know some authors prefer to be signed for their books one at a time, but personally I like multiple book deals. That way I know where I am for the next few books and can concentrate on writing without stressing over when my WIP is going to be published or even, in these difficult times, if it will be published at all. I tend to be a bit of a worrier - a character flaw that helps with devising murder plots! - so the security of a three book deal really suits me. As for thinking up ideas, that's been no problem so far. As long as readers continue to want more Geraldine Steel novels, I'll keep writing them!
There's been some interesting debate recently about the nature of evil so I thought I'd pen a few thoughts about Good and Evil in Crime Fiction and wrote an unusually serious post for me. Here's the link if you'd like to read the article:
I've also been filmed talking online about good and evil, the appeal of crime fiction, what makes a successful book, and other related topics on my brand new youtube author channel. Two videos are already posted and another 16 have been filmed and will be added soon. Check out this link if you'd like to hear my thoughts on various topics:

Saturday, 25 June 2011


By Richard Jay Parker

In a week chock full of negatives it was great to be pleasantly surprised by some positive energy generated by two generous people who have contacted me.

The first was a talented concert pianist and piano professor, Marilina Tzelepi Pateras, who got in touch and offered to set up a Facebook page for me.  I've already got a personal page but she suggested an official place for posting the latest news.  You can see the page HERE.  Thanks, Marilina. 

The second was a reveiwer, Martha Cheves.  Martha is the author of the cookbook STIR, LAUGH, REPEAT and runs a great site called A BOOK AND A DISH.  On it she reviews a book and has the author contribute their favourite recipe.  She was kind enough to review STOP ME last year and, as books and food are probably my favourite activities, I was happy to chuck in my own dish.

Martha is about to publish the reviews and recipes as an ebook for 99c with all the proceeds going to an animal shelter charity.  If you're a fiction writer with a published work and like your tucker as much as I do then it's worth getting in touch.  I'll be posting this new book on my site as soon as it's available.  You can also see my review and recipe HERE

To the kitchen now.  Just talking about this has made me hungry.

Visit Richard at

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Why Aren't There More Sports Thrillers?

by Matt Lynn

Emlyn's post about his plans for a Wimbledon thriller has prompted me to think about an interesting question. Why aren't there more sports thrillers?

Dick Francis, of course, made a great career of writing about horse racing. But there are very few thrillers about football, tennis, boxing, formula one, and so on. It is odd. Sport is full of drama and conflict and double-dealing, all the stuff of stories, and has a huge following.

Maybe no one has really tried. One of the projects in my drawer is a football thriller that Random House made a very low offer on at the same time as I started the Death Force series for Headline. So maybe it is just a matter of waiting for the right author to come along. But maybe its because it is impossible to write about sport in a way that doesn't seem flat compared to the real thing? The spectacle itself is so dramatic, it is hard for a writer to match the intensity of the contest.  If so, there never will be a really great sports thriller.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


The only thing that obsesses me more than writing thrillers (and eating curry) is tennis. And not just any tennis. One tournament in particular. THE tournament. The only one that counts if you’re British. The only one you really, desperately, please-please-let-it-be-this-year want someone else British to win.
I’ve cheered plenty of pretenders over the years: John Lloyd, Annabelle Croft, Jeremy Bates, Tim Henman, Anne Keothavong, and even ‘Boggo’ Bogdanovic -  who, quite frankly, even I might still be able to snatch a couple of games off down the local park.
But now is different. The age of pretenders is over. Now we have a genuine contender. We have Andy Murray. And, yes, yes, I know, he did once joke that he’d support Argentina against England at football. And, yes, yes, granted, there’s the illustrious trio of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal standing between our Scottish hero and ultimate glory.
But Murray’s still good. As in fourth best in the world good. As in only three other people’s sprained ankles or bouts of food poisoning away from being the best. The champion. The first Brit to lift a Wimbledon single’s trophy since Fred Perry. The first with a real chance of finally soothing seventy-five years of hurt.
Which means that the next two weeks for me should be pretty good, right? Wrong. Because I’ve got a whole bunch of work to do over the next two weeks too.
And herein lies the problem. Watching people like ‘Boggo’ never used to eat much into my precious writing time - by which I mean that sliver of peace and quiet when the kids are out at school and our house no longer resembles a war zone. In years gone by, Wimbledon was more of a threat than an actual issue. Because after three sets in the first round, Bates, ‘Boggo’, etc, could be relied upon to be out.
But Murray’s a worry. Particularly on current form. Insofar as he keeps getting into semis, or even going the whole way to the finals of the slams. Hours wise - if he repeats his success at the Oz Open in the next two weeks - I’ll end up watching up to thirty-five sets of tennis, taking up to fifty hours. Factor into this the additional commentary and Twitter banter I’ll invariably get sucked into, and you’re looking at a Guinness Record-Breakingly low word count for the follow up to my new thriller HUNTED for the month of June.
Which is why this year I’ve decided to think smart over Wimbledon. Instead of letting my writing suffer at the hands of my tennis addiction, I’m going to combine the two.
During the next fortnight, I’m going to justify my TV-ogling by planning out the ultimate Wimbledon thriller. I’ve sketched out a preliminary storyline and am now listing a few of the main plot elements I’ve been toying with below. I’d welcome any feedback or suggestions.
Clearly, the televised, public nature of the tournament seems to lend itself easy to a high profile assassination. But who to kill? The Duchess of Kent is the one the players have to bow to, so maybe it should be her? On the plus side, she’s royalty. But, equally, she’s no Princess Di or Kate Middleton. In terms of this thriller’s commercial prospects, it seems unlikely she’d help in securing serialisation in the Daily Mail, let alone film rights with a major Hollywood studio.
How about one of the players then? Fairly obvious victims, the lot of them, just standing out there in the centre of the court. Forsyth’s Jackal would make swift work of them for sure. There’d be plenty of possible marketing strap-lines to toy with too. Such as ‘Roger and Out’, ‘Shockovic’, or even the more prosaic ‘Fed’s Dead’.
But for me, hasn’t it just got to be Cliff? A.K.A. Sir Cliff Richard. A.K.A. “the total and utter King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, as Rick from the Young Ones once memorably described him. With record sales of 260 million worldwide, and a fanbase covering several generations, he’d be perfect.
Next up: the manner and timing of the hit. A Hammer House style deluge would be most authentic. An irresistible visual image too, with this much loved pop star spinning a brolly Fred Astaire style, as the fatal shot was fired. Just imagine the affront. The public outrage. The cover design. THE BOOK SALES...surely they’d be guaranteed.
Then there’s the escape. How would our shooter make his or her getaway? And who would hinder them? Again, a number of potential heroes and heroines spring to mind. John McEnroe in a Columbo style raincoat. He’d be seriously good. Or how about John Lloyd and Sue Barker hooking up in a Dempsey & Makepeace double act? And surely Becker’s got the hair to get involved Kiefer Sutherland style?
Anyway, it’s all up for discussion. (Apart from the title, because WIMBLEDAGEDDON is a surefire must.) Like I say, these are just preliminary thoughts.
I’ll report back on how it all goes - IF it all goes. Because that’s the other thing with Murray. Even if though he’s number four in the world. Even through he’s in the form of his life. In spite of all this, he’s still British. And maybe, well maybe some things just aren’t meant to be. Meaning maybe, just maybe this year I will still get a whole stack of work done and not have to watch too much tennis after all.
P.S. Oh, and for the record, I should point out that in the plot so far Sir Cliff escapes any actual injury during the shooting. Thanks to a lucky Bible in his inside jacket pocket which stops the bullet in its track. Living legends should, after all, remain just that.

Sunday, 19 June 2011


I tried to post here yesterday but couldn't sign in. That may be as well since Sunday is supposed to be my day for posting. Although I've been so busy with promotional events for my new book (launched 2 weeks ago - is it really only two weeks?) that I've not been posting much here lately. It's a happy coincidence that I managed to sign in now, on the right day.

Life's like that, isn't it? Riddled with coincidences, some insignificant, some life changing. So hands up if you've never experienced a coincidence which seemed unbelievable. It happens to us all. But it only seems unbelievable, because of course these coincidences really happen. I could relate three anecdotes from my own life straight away, one of which is so eerily strange that I hesitate to relate it to anyone in case they think I'm a fantasist or bonkers. Or both. But it did happen, this completely unbelievable coincidence. It happened to me.

Fiction can't behave in that way. I remember being told (by The Editor), "Readers don't like coincidences".In my genre of crime fiction that's true. Writing crime thrillers, I try to make my books  plausible and authentic. I think that makes them more frightening. Introducing a coincidence would immediately make the plot less convincing. It's not fair, is it? Real life can get away with the most absurd and unbelievable coincidences. Fiction can't.

On a more positive note, I chanced to sign into facebook yesterday evening where a fellow author had sent a message of congratulations on a great review of Dead End in The Times Saturday Review. I read the message just in time to nip out and buy a copy before the local supermarket closed, so was able to read it for myself. That's what I call a happy coincidence!

Friday, 17 June 2011


By Richard Jay Parker

There would certainly be plenty of takers for that position - even if the following details were added:


Long, anti-social hours. No guaranteed prospects. Will not require telephone manner as, chances are, phone will rarely ring. High rejection threshold a must. Insane optimism essential.

The fact is, most of us know the risks when we take the job. It's one of the few vocations where it's universally acceped that there's not much money in it. If it's a fast buck you're after then you may as well hand the card back. But, of course, there are the big success stories. Exciting things can happen.

It's the creative fulfillment that most of us pursue, however. The prospect of seeing our thoughts published or realised as a play, movie etc. It's the ultimate goal that drives us on and justifies our journey over the obstacle course.

It's why we gleefully sign up for a job that is predicated on the assumption that we'll eventually get a nibble of a carrot that's being dangled over a razor-filled swamp.

Nothing worth having is ever easy. Sometimes those words can wear thin but when you're the only person who can sack you it's easier to carry on than clear your desk. Where can you really take that sad box with the laptop and desklamp in it?

Better do some work now.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Our Ranks Are Growing....

by Matt Lynn

The Curzon Group has a new member. Emlyn Rees has a new thriller out soon called 'Hunted'. Some people might know him from when he used to write rom-coms with his wife Josie Lloyd, including a couple of number one best-seller. But he's back writing thrillers. You can find out more about him over at his website.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Hard Work and Good Luck

Last week my publisher threw a party to celebrate the launch of Dead End, the third in the Geraldine Steel series.
Along with imagination, empathy, and writing skills, being an author takes a lot of hard work, so it’s fun to party once in a while! But whatever other skills an author depends on, a stroke of good luck never goes amiss. You never know where it might turn up next - even at a party.

A reviewer travelled to London from Edinburgh to join us at the launch party for Dead End because she is a fan of my books, which was a huge compliment in itself. I had no idea that she has a PhD in genetics and is an expert in DNA, a topic I am currently researching; she has already given me invaluable expert advice in a complex topic and I know I can email her with any query and receive a prompt and detailed response couched in terms a layman like myself can easily understand. She is a real find!

As I’m working on the background for Geraldine Steel’s relocation from the home counties to the Met, I was thrilled when a contact at the party offered me exactly the experience I have been seeking.
So the launch party was not only a very enjoyable evening, but also a lucky one for me. As I signed copies of my third title Dead End, I was gathering information for the fifth Geraldine Steel novel.

As Eugene Ionesco wrote: “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of writing or thinking about writing.’
So although I wasn’t writing at the launch party for Dead End, I was certainly thinking about it.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Are You An Archetypal Writer?

By Richard Jay Parker

The world is changing very quickly but has the perception of writers altered?

Ask most people what they think of when the term writer is used and many will describe a recluse, locked away in their office with a large glass/bottle of something nearby.

It's the image of writers that has been perpetuated as long as I can remember but is it particularly accurate in the 21st century? Penchant for alcohol aside, is the pariah of so many fiction stories very relevant now?

Most writers I know are very plugged into social media, blog regularly and have a more immediate relationship with the readers they want to reach. It no longer seems to be a matter of choice, writers have to be more involved with the promotion of their work through websites, forums, Twitter as well as physically meeting people at signings, festivals etc

Most writers I know thrive on this and get the sort of valuable feedback from readers and reviewers that they wouldn't have had access to before.

So because of this is the writer and the process of writing becoming less anti-social?

Writing itself is still a solitary pursuit but when you have an internet connection to a group of individuals who share your passion or are interested in what you're doing it is certainly a way of spurring yourself on...or distracting you.

It's something writers have to balance during the creative process. I know some writers who have to disconnect from the Internet while they write.

But once the work is done for the day it's great to know there's a community waiting to share your experiences.

It is possible to disconnect, grab the claret and be the cliche but the majority of us are gradually suffocating it.

But maybe just one more glass of claret before I go back to the keyboard...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Writing On Trains...

by Matt Lynn

I seem to have been on a lot of trains recently, which may help explain why I haven't had much time to blog recently. I went to Scotland to promote the Death Force books, and my book on the euro crisis is coming out in Germany soon, so I went there to help promote that. I don't really like flying very much, so in both cases I got the train.

It's a pleasant way to travel, although rather unexpectedly the German train broke down somewhere between Brussels and the border, which meant I had to get a bus the rest of the way to Cologne. Still, it's not as if planes don't get delayed all the time...and when a plane breaks down, it has a tendency to drop out of the sky.

But the best thing about trains is that they give you a chance to write.

I can write pretty well most places. I know some writers like to be in the same place all the time, but I'm quite happy to write in a cafe, or at home, or on a hotel balcony.

Overall, however, I think trains are my favourite.

There is something about the steady motion that aids the creative process. Looking out of the window creates a sense of the world going by, of events unfolding, which makes it very easy to create a similar sense of movement on the page. You can can pause, look out of the window for a while, then crack on with the next sentence. It is just the right amount of distraction. Not too little, but not too much either.

I suspect if I bought a euro-rail ticket and spent six months writing my next book on trains the effect would wear off.

But I got a lot of work done on those two trips.

Friday, 3 June 2011


By Richard Jay Parker

As some of you may have gathered by now, due to intense Twitter activity, the STOP ME ebook is now available for download.

This is a whole new ballgame for me and the idea that it's already been pre-ordered by lots of readers willing to give it a go is pretty exciting. The notion of it being auto-delivered to their ereaders before they go off on their holidays/vacation as well as my story being added to the portable libraries of others responding to Amazon reviews etc has also got me quite animated.

But it's just a digitised version of the book and nothing significant to trumpet about, right?

If you've read any of my meanderings on this blog about paperbacks vs ebooks you'll know that I believe one format need not negate the other and that readers will choose which is the most convenient.

The ebook means that readers can check out the sample chapter on my website and, if they want to proceed to chapter two, can be reading the whole book in a matter of seconds. It's instantaneous and allows visitors to act upon the desire to read.

But there's still something equally as satisfying about ordering/picking up a book, stroking its cover and feeling its weight in your hands. Horses for courses.

I'm also very aware of the readers who invested their money in a trade or mass market paperback copy, have read it and are probably fed up with hearing the shameless promo. With them in mind, I've launched a holiday photo competition in conjunction with my publisher Allison and Busby which only requires a snap of their physical copy in a holiday situation - or just them reading it. Details HERE. All the images will be featured in a permanent gallery on the site and they have a chance to win great thrillers by Zoe Sharp and Elizabeth Corley.

I'm hoping that this will be a small thank you for reading my first book and something to do while I work up my second.

Download STOP ME ebook HERE