Thursday, 26 August 2010

Libraries: Use Them Or Lose Them

By Richard Jay Parker

I'd never been to Knaresborough before last week but I'd certainly go back particularly if the welcome myself, Matt Lynn and Zoe Sharp got at the library was replicated. There was a very healthy attendance for our thriller debate and Wendy Kent and her staff couldn't have orchestrated things better.

The panel did readings - Zoe from THIRD STRIKE, Matt From FIRE FORCE and I read an extract from STOP ME - before we tackled subjects such as challenging our characters, screen adaptations and getting perspective on a manuscript.

As we finished our wine (except Zoe of course) and left the premises it occurred to me that the informal evening we'd had meeting readers and writers in the library could soon be a thing of the past.

And there's been a few of those sort of pieces about this week.

So if you've got time for reading this Bank Holiday weekend go and get a book from your local library. If you're not a member, why not join up. You'll just need a couple of forms of ID.

They'll be gone if we're not careful.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


By Richard Jay Parker

I'm writing my blog a little earlier because I've got a busy end to the week. However, posting on Wednesday seems very apt given the subject matter.

I'm at what I call a Wednesday point with my writing projects at the moment. Like reaching this day of the week it means that everything is thoroughly underway but still not near enough to the weekend. It's the point when a lot of us flounder and get a bit jaded because we're not quite on the happy run up to the end and there's still substantial work to be done.

Anyone reading this in the UK will be just passing this crisis point because it's nearly Thursday but readers in earlier time zones will still be experiencing this familiar Wednesday frustration.

I have to push on to get over the hump but in reality this actually means a few weeks more work instead of 24 hours. I'd love to have a creative rocket booster to get me through but I know that it's a matter of buckling down before I can take my feet off the pedals.

So, before I mix any more metaphors, I'd beter get back to work.

Thursday tomorrow!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Where's The Next Book?

By Richard Jay Parker

It's a question that I've been asked a lot recently and I'm flattered that so many people are eager to read my next stand alone thriller. Book 2 is certainly no easier than book 1 and I've been spending a lot of time rewriting as well as completely rethinking the plot. Through this process, however, I've now got not one but two projects that my agent is excited about. I just have to finish writing them now.

I've been keeping busy in other departments. The year before last I wrote a script for a short horror movie which was produced by British screenwriter and now producer David McGillivray. A few weeks ago David produced an even shorter movie of mine for a competition. One of the judges is Neill Blomkamp (director of the excellent DISTRICT 9) and the only criteria for entry is that you have to encapsulate a story in one minute. Go and have a look at last year's entries HERE - particularly THE BLACK HOLE. My script (ESTRANGED) was shot a couple of weeks ago and we're now just waiting for a CGI blood effect to be added before it's entered.

I haven't really written many short stories recently but I couldn't resist contributing to CHINESE WHISPERINGS - a globally written anthology being put together by my Twitter friends at Emergent Publishing. It's a pretty pitch black story with a twist called ONE BEHIND THE EYE and I had great fun writing it. They're a new venture and a thoroughly nice bunch of people so if you're a writer interested in contributing something unique go and have a look at the site HERE. They've got lots of other projects in the pipeline. Editors are Jodi Cleghorn (Australia) and Paul Anderson (UK) and you can find them on Twitter or via the site.

I had a flat start to the week so was inspired by this story about librarians in Southampton reacting with vigour to planned redundancies. All power to them.

Why a flat start to the week? I didn't make the last four for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. However, I was so pleased that STOP ME got into the shortlist of 8 debut novels so have this fact as a massive consolation.

The final four final nominations are:

Acts of Violence Ryan David Jahn
Rupture Simon Lelic
The Holy Thief William Ryan
The Pull of the Moon Diane Janes

Big congratulations to them and a 'never mind, eh?' to Leigh Russell, Craig Robertson and Rory Clements for getting as close as I did. My Amazon sales have certainly gone up so I'm grateful that being shortlisted for such a prestigious award has encouraged so many readers to give STOP ME a go.

More info about Richard at:


Don't forget Matt Lynn, Richard Jay Parker and Zoe Sharp will be appearing at Knaresborough Library next week to discuss thrillers and anything else the audience fires off at them - August 19th, 7.30 pm. Tickets 2.50 - free glass of wine on arrival.

Knaresborough Library

Market Place


South Yorks


Tel: 01609 533620

Book ahead to avoid disappointment.

See you there.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Boobs and Books

ROAD CLOSED has been reviewed in Star magazine: "DI Geraldine Steel has a tough case on her hands after a series of nasty incidents. On top of the deadly events, Geraldine has a complicated love life to sort out. Leigh Russell's crime thriller is a gritty page-turner from the start and features a host of unappealing characters!" It's the issue with Katie Price on the front cover. Does that narrow it down? No? How about if I tell you she's quoted as telling Pete to "Stop trying to ruin my life!" Still not clear which issue I'm talking about? Oh, never mind. My point is that ROAD CLOSED is reviewed in the magazine. Does this mean I'm a celebrity?

Friday, 6 August 2010

Lethal Force - A Short Story

by Matt Lynn

I was writing here a little while ago about how writing a short story was very different from writing a full-length novel. Anwyay, the story was in the Red Bull magazine that goes out with The Sunday Telegraph last weekend, and you can read it online here - judge for yourself how successful it is.


By Richard Jay Parker

One of the most inspirational books I've ever read about writing wasn't a 'How To' book more a 'How They Regretted It' book. It's called Rotten Rejections (edited by Andre Bernard) and I just thought I'd share a couple here. I found them encouraging as well as amusing and they illustrate what a subjective business any writer enters when they excitedly post their manuscripts off to agents and publishers. The book spares the names of the editors responsible but below are a few quotes with the name of the author and book in question underneath.

'Not only does this bog down in the middle but the author tends to stay too long with non-essentials. He seems to have little idea of pace and is enchanted with his words, his tough style and that puts me off badly.'


'I haven't really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say.'

Joseph Heller CATCH 22

'It does not seem to us that you have been wholly successful in working out an admittedly promising idea.'

William Golding LORD OF THE FLIES

'Neither long enough for a serial nor short enough for a single story.'

Arthur Conan Doyle A STUDY IN SCARLET

'It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.'

George Orwell ANIMAL FARM

'You're welcome to Le Carre - he hasn't got any future.'


'... improper explicitness.'


'It is unpublishable as it stands because of its flagrant love passages.'


It seems that those 'love passages' and 'improper explicitness' might be exactly what sells books now. But have a chuckle and then have a hollow one.

They certainly put the moment of opening that unpromising and weighty return envelope into perspective.

Happy weekend.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


I wrote somewhere that I fell into being published like Alice down the rabbit hole, since when life has been growing curiouser and curiouser. What would possess a night owl like me to leave home at 5.30 in the morning? Yes, I might have been off on holiday, but three hours travelling to Harrogate for a day doesn’t sound like my idea of a holiday. There’s a hint of an explanation in my destination – and my impulse to create a puzzle out of nothing for my readers is another clue that I write crime fiction.
Time was my life was pleasantly humdrum. Now every day brings new excitement – invitations to literary festivals, interviews on BBC Radio stations, inclusion on panels of crime writers, requests to talk to book groups, libraries, writers’ circles, and regular approaches by bookshops wanting to host book signings. I have, as the cliché has it, ‘reinvented myself’, and my transformation into a successful author has happened in the space of a year. My debut crime novel, CUT SHORT, was published in June 2009, the first story I’d ever written.
Some things don’t change. Half of life seems to pass in waiting… on the phone, online, in traffic, in shops, at bus stops, on station platforms... I’m still waiting but now I’m waiting to hear what my publisher thinks of my draft for DEAD END, what my agent thinks of my synopsis for my next book, and whether CUT SHORT will be selected from the shortlist for a CWA Dagger Award…Yes, my debut thriller has been shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for best first book by a previously unpublished writer. The shortlist was announced at a lunchtime ceremony at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.
So that’s why I left home at 5.30 in the morning to travel to Harrogate, falling down another rabbit hole into a Wonderland where I swapped horror stories about book signings with Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham. Not a bad day for a fan of crime fiction – a fan for whom reality sometimes feels like the least believable story.
Leigh Russell
CUT SHORT (No Exit Press)
ROAD CLOSED (No Exit Press)