Tag Archives: Joseph Conrad

The Intel: Kate Medina


Kate Medina - credit Philippa GedgeKate Medina received widespread acclaim for her debut thriller, White Crocodile – written as KT Medina – set in the minefields of Cambodia. Now, with Fire Damage, Kate’s started an explosive new series featuring army psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn.

When asked to treat a severely traumatised four year old boy, Jessie has no idea that she will soon becoming embroiled in something much bigger – involving family secrets, army cover-ups and a killer on the loose.

They say write what you know, and Kate has combined her experiences in the Territorial Army as a Troop Commander in the Royal Engineers with the knowledge she gained studying for a degree in psychology to write the novel.

A generous and fascinating interviewee, Kate tells us about the genesis of her new portage Jessie, why she made the painful decision not to continue with the heroine of her first novel – and how a writing course may be just the ticket to help unlock the talent in all of us.

Plus, I love the way she name-checks a writer who I don’t think has been mentioned in The Intel before, but who has surely sowed the seed of inspiration at an early age in many a crime writer down the decades… Enid Blyton.

Can you tell us about Dr Jessie Flynn … ?

Dr Jessie Flynn is a twenty-nine year old clinical psychologist with the Defence Psychology Service.  Her need to understand the ‘whys’ of human behaviour drove her to become a clinical psychologist, and yet there are huge swathes of her own personality that she struggles to understand, let alone to control.

Women are often portrayed as victims in crime literature.  I wanted to create a character who reflects the huge number of strong, funny, clever, independent women that I know.  Jessie is complex and conflicted, and my new series will be written from her intense, brilliant, flawed, but moral perspective.  I hope that people remember Jessie and the issues raised through her long after they have finished reading.

Fire Damage, the first novel to feature Jessie, is set in both England and Afghanistan – tell us about it.

In Fire Damage, Dr Jessie Flynn is counselling Sami Scott, a deeply traumatised four year-old-boy, whose father, a Major in the Intelligence Corp, was badly burnt in a petrol bomb attack whilst serving in Afghanistan.  Sami is terrified of someone or something called ‘The Shadowman’ and tells Jessie Flynn that ‘the girl knows’.  However, there are no girls in Sami’s life.  Sami also carries a huge black metal Maglite torch with him wherever he goes, clutching onto it like a loved teddy bear.  Sami’s parent insist that his trauma stems from seeing his father in hospital burnt beyond recognition, and that Major Scott is ‘The Shadowman’, but Jessie feels that that something far darker explains Sami’s trauma.

Fire Damage is first and foremost a story about families: love and hate, kindness and cruelty and the destructive nature of some relationships.  The fear and helplessness experienced by a child trapped in a dysfunctional family was, for me, a very powerful emotion to explore, as was its flip side – intense love and an overwhelming desire to protect.

You did a psychology degree and served in the Territorial Army, but what other research did you have to do for the novel?

My degree in Psychology sets me in very good stead to write about a character who is herself a psychologist, so for Jessie’s professional life I needed to do very little research beyond the knowledge and experience that I already have.

Likewise, my experience as a Troop Commander in the Territorial Army and as head of land-based weapons at global defence intelligence publisher Jane’s Information Group set me up well to write about people who serve in the Army and also about the political situation in the middle-east.

The ‘star’ of Fire Damage is Sami Scott, the deeply traumatised four year-old-boy.  I have three children, the youngest of whom is a four-year-old boy and so I suppose you could say that my poor son was a living, breathing research subject for the character of Sami.  However, I can assure my readers that my son’s life is wonderful compared to Sami’s!

9780008132309What’s the biggest challenge in establishing a new series?

For me, White Crocodile, my debut thriller was hard act to follow, firstly because it was very personal to me, as it was based on time I spent working in the minefields of Cambodia, and secondly because it got universally fantastic reviews, being called variously, ‘a stunning debut’ in the Sunday Mirror, ‘an ambitious thriller’ in The Mail on Sunday, ‘a powerful, angry book’ in The Times, and being compared to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in The Independent.  The biggest challenge in establishing the Jessie Flynn series, was therefore to find characters and a subject matter that readers would enjoy even more than White Crocodile.

I knew that I wanted to write a series because, although many readers of White Crocodile wanted to see Tess Hardy again, her job as a mine clearer and the subject matter didn’t really allow for her return.  I also wanted to write a series that used my expertise – as a psychologist and my military experience – and one that was a little out of the ordinary in the crime genre.

In Jessie Flynn and the two other key characters, who appear in Fire Damage, Captain Ben Callan and Detective Inspector ‘Bobby’ Marilyn Simmons of Surrey and Sussex Major Crimes, I really believe I have developed characters who my readers will love and want to live with in many future novels.

Before writing your first novel White Crocodile you did an MA in Creative Writing – was that an experience you would recommend for wannabe writers?

Most novelists I meet are former journalists, but I had no previous writing experience beyond school essays, just a strong desire to write White Crocodile.  Writing a novel is a real challenge, not just in terms of crafting great sentences, but also in terms of developing believable, empathetic characters and sufficiently complex and surprising plots.  I found the MA enormously helpful and would definitely recommend some kind of formal writing teaching for wannabe writers, if they have as little experience as I had when starting out!  However, there are many ways to skin a cat and reading widely in the genre in which you write is a great way to learn how to write well in that genre.

What’s the hardest lesson you ever had to learn about writing?

The hardest lesson I’ve learnt is to be self-aware and to take feedback from people who are more knowledgeable than myself.  Writing a novel is a huge commitment in terms of time and emotional energy and with White Crocodile I had to throw away and rewrite about a third of it on the advice of my agent.  At the time, it was heartbreaking, but the experience taught me so much about how to write a great crime novel and neither White Crocodile nor Fire Damage would be nearly so good without the very painful lessons I learnt from my agent right at the beginning of my writing career.

Who are the authors you admire, and why?

I have always loved to read and much of my childhood was spent immersed in stories.  Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series was one of my favourites and in common with many other tomboys I wanted to be George.  Two other books that really captured my imagination as a child were Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird.  They are both fantastic psychological thrillers for young people, with great story lines and incredibly vividly drawn, memorable characters.  I have read both of these novels a number of times over the years and never fail to appreciate them.

I am still an avid crime and thriller reader, which is why I choose to write in that genre.  I love writers such as Jo Nesbo, Stieg Larsson, Martina Cole, Mo Hayder and Lee Child.

Mo Hayder, generates fear in a novel like no other writer I know.  Jo Nesbo’s novels, particularly my favourite which is The Snowman, are also terrifying and he is fantastic at developing very complex plots that make it impossible to put the book down.  I must have read all 500-odd pages of The Snowman in two days.  Martina Cole is gritty and realistic and Lee Child just writes enjoyable and very easily readable stories.

I also love Khaled Hosseni, because he blends fact and fiction so well, taking readers into a very traumatic real word, through incredibly empathetic fictional characters.

What’s your best advice on writing…

My best advice is to read widely, particularly in the genre that you are interested in writing in, to take advice and be self-aware and most importantly, to enjoy yourself.  Enjoyment and passion will transfer itself to the page.  I love Jessie Flynn, Sami Scott and the other characters in Fire Damage, and really enjoyed writing about them, and I think that this love and passion really makes the novel work.

What’s next for you and Jessie?

I have already completed a first draft of the second Jessie Flynn novel and sent it to my publisher, Harper Collins, so I am waiting with baited breath to see if they like it.  Jessie Flynn is a hugely compelling and multi-dimensional character, and as such is a gift to an author, and I am looking forward to developing her, Captain Ben Callan and Detective Inspector ‘Bobby’ Marilyn Simmons of Surrey and Sussex Major Crimes, in many future novels.


Fire Damage, the first Jessie Flynn novel, is out this Thursday — March 24th – in hardback, published by Harper Collins.

The Intel: Edward Wilson

Edward WilsonEdward Wilson has been picking up some pretty fine reviews for his Catesby sequence of spy novels, and has even been described as the ‘thinking person’s Le Carré’.’ His latest novel, The Whitehall Mandarin, out now in hardback and on kindle, sees his protagonist threading his way through the sex scandals of London in the Swinging Sixties and into the war-torn jungles of Southeast Asia, on a mission to uncover the truth about a Ministry of Defence official.

And Edward is one of those authors who’s walked the walk. Trained as a spy, he served as a Special Forces officer in Vietnam and received the Army Commendation Medal with ‘V’ for his part in rescuing wounded Vietnamese soldiers from a minefield.

So you can imagine that in this Intel Interview Edward has some absolutely fascinating things to say about  the golden age of espionage, dodgy dossiers, wine o’clock, and reading every single review…

The Whitehall Mandarin is a Cold War thriller in the classic style – tell us about it…

All of my books are sequels to Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. As a Special Forces officer in Vietnam dealing with agents and double agents, I quickly realised that I had stepped through the looking glass into a world that was not rational and where nothing or no one was what they seemed. Jeffers Cauldwell, the ‘villain’ of The Whitehall Mandarin, is a looking glass chameleon who changes shape and voice from chapter to chapter.

And Lady Penelope Somers, the eponymous Whitehall mandarin, is the greatest shape changer of all. The historically accurate plot focuses on the split between the Soviet Union and Maoist China – which nearly erupted into a Communist v. Communist nuclear war in 1969. The West was a bit slow to adapt to the change in the global balance of power, but then did so making what my reviewer in The Sunday Times describes as ‘a colossal strategic blunder lasting decades’.

The truth behind China’s A and H bombs and her rise towards becoming the world’s greatest superpower is the most closely guarded state secret of modern time. The book, however, blends personal secrets with state secrets. The truth about Lady Somers, the first woman to head up the Ministry of Defence and her wild-child daughter Miranda, is devastating. I wept into my keyboard when I wrote the final pages – but there are funny bits too!

Your spy protagonist Catesby has appeared in four novels now – how would you describe him to a new reader?

Catesby is the most conflicted ‘hero’ in the spy genre. He doesn’t know who he is. His widowed Belgian mother brings him up as a French and Flemish speaking Roman Catholic in East Anglia. He’s a ‘normal’ English lad on the school playground, but becomes a European when he goes home. Catesby’s genius for languages enables him to exchange the grinding poverty of Lowestoft for a place studying Modern Languages at Cambridge. Commissioned as an officer in SOE, he is parachuted into France to liaise with the Resistance where he is traumatised by the SS massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane. The memory or Oradour haunts Catesby the rest of his life. After standing unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate in the 1945 election, Catesby is snapped up by SIS (aka MI6). He marries an upper class Englishwoman, but the marriage doesn’t work. Catesby becomes a protégé of spymaster Henry Bone, a discreetly gay aristocrat and friend of Anthony Blunt.

The somewhat sinister Bone ensures Catesby’s advancement in SIS, partly to protect his own secrets. Catesby is distrusted by many in SIS and MI5 for his left wing politics and working class background, but Catesby is always a loyal Briton who loves his country. The name, of course, is ironic – Catesby was leader of the Gunpowder Plot. When the Queen awards Catesby his OBE she gently teases him with, ‘We ought to have scheduled this for the 5th of November.’

How would Catesby cope in the contemporary spy world, do you think?

He would have gone ballistic over Iraq and the dodgy dossier about WMD. Catesby would not have survived in post during the years of the Bush/Blair special relationship. The CIA would have been baying for his blood and his MI6 bosses would have sent Langley all eight pints of it. On the other hand, Catesby would be a valuable asset for dealing with Europe and Francophone Africa. His language skills – he also speaks fluent German and good Russian – would have been invaluable. Catesby would be a good agent to have in Paris or Berlin – and might even have made some sense out of the Ukraine.

The Whitehall Mandarin moves from the sex scandals of the 1960s to the jungles of Vietnam — why were the Sixties such a Golden Age for dangerous secrets?

The Sixties were a Golden Age for spy fiction, but the best single year was 1956! Fifty-six started with Khrushchev’s Secret Speech which signaled the first crack in the Iron Curtain and led to riots in Poznan and the Hungarian uprising. In retrospect, Khrushchev’s speech unchained the forces that led to the Fall of the Wall. In April 1956, Khrushchev sailed to England for a détente summit with Eden. The summit was wrecked by unauthorised bugging and espionage on the part of MI6. Frogman Lionel Crabb disappeared while spying on the Soviet cruiser docked at Portsmouth. The year ended with the Suez Crisis and Prime Minister Eden cracking up as Washington pulled the plug on the pound to force Britain to withdraw from Suez. I write about these events in The Envoy and The Darkling Spy.

But yes, the Sixties was the ultimate Golden Age. The John Vassall spy trial, the Profumo scandal, the Cuban Missile Crisis (I reveal a secret British deal in The Midnight Swimmer), the Golitisin and Nosenko defections, the ‘mysterious’ death of Hugh Gaitskell and the JFK assassination all occurred within a couple of years. Meanwhile, cultural changes were infuriating the Old Guard and turning the colonels puce – and there was still Vietnam and the Wilson Plot to come! And the decade ended with a border war between China and the Soviet Union which almost turned nuclear – see The Whitehall Mandarin for more.

Jacket imageHow have your own experiences fuelled the Catesby series?

Being a Special Forces officer in Vietnam was far from the media image of constant combat action. It was more about going native, running intelligence networks and dealing with double agents – experiences which are invaluable for a writer of spy fiction. I was an SF advisor with the CIDG (Civilian Irregular Defense Group), a border screening force that patrolled from remote camps the length of South Vietnam. My CIDG soldiers were Vietnamese, brave fighters certainly, but also heavily infiltrated with sleeper agents. It was estimated that at least 10% of our CIDG were undercover Viet Cong. It was a ‘through the looking glass experience’. Our bravest and seemingly most loyal soldiers were the very ones that we most suspected of being double agents! I did learn the most important lesson for any intelligence officer: you can never be completely certain who anyone is.

I also lived and worked in Germany in the 1970s at the height of the Cold War. I learned the language pretty well and got to understand the culture and politics. This is particularly reflected in The Darkling Spy. I knew a few lower level spies and a diplomat – whom I’m sure had an intelligence function too. On one occasion, I was interviewed by the West German security service – but was assured it was only a ‘routine’ vetting for all Ausländer, foreigners.

Who are the spy thriller authors you admire – and why?

I have to say John le Carré. I am flattered to have been compared to him. Le Carré is to spy fiction what Shakespeare is to Elizabethan drama. But there are other fine Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists: Marlow, Jonson, Ford, Webster. I see myself as John Webster to le Carré’s Shakespeare. Webster’s work is more noir than Shakespeare’s and deals with a world of false appearances and double dealing. In fact, I regard the drama of the period as very close to spy fiction. The Elizabethan cold and sometimes hot war was between Protestant England and Catholic Europe – and England was full of fears about spies and undercover Jesuits.

My favourite standalone spy novel is Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent. The Russians – still Tsarist – run a perfect ‘false flag’ operation out of their London embassy so that an anti-Tsarist anarchist revolutionary group get blamed for an attempt to blow up the Greenwich Observatory. I suspect similar false flag ops have been carried out more recently

Take us through a typical writing day for you?

I get up at six, have a pee, and then a breakfast of two muffins with butter and Bonne Mamam blueberry jam and two cups of tea. I then make a third cup of tea and carry it up to my writing desk. I try to write at least 1,500 words, but might have to deal with urgent emails too. I stop between noon and one o’clock and go for a three mile run and do a hundred press-ups. I have lunch – two slices of Vogel bread with cheese and cucumber – have a shower and then go back to my writing desk.

I continue to work until wine o’clock, which happens after 6 pm – no alcohol ever during working hours. We have supper and then I go back to my writing desk to answer more emails and do research. I try to be in bed by 10:30. My partner insists that I do something else on Saturday or Sunday. I sometimes do a bit of bird-watching from my desk and have a pair of binoculars at the ready. My current favourite is the green woodpecker.

What’s the hardest lesson you ever had to learn about writing?

Entertaining the reader is more important than the writer’s ego. The reader always comes first. If there were no readers, there would be no publishing industry. It sounds obvious, but there are a lot of writers who still don’t realise that.

How do you deal with feedback?

Very seriously. I read every single review – including all the Amazon customer reviews. I respond to praise by trying to reinforce those areas of my writing. I respond to criticism, by trying to fix the problem – but I will never dumb down. I respect my readers as intelligent and creative persons who like a bit of a challenge.

Give me some advice about writing…

Characters come first. In fact, you must let your characters shape the plot – otherwise, the plot will appear artificial. You must also do good villains – preferably a villain that the reader secretly admires like Tom Ripley or Francis Urquhart. Your main character must have a foil: every Holmes needs a Watson. The conversations between the two are an excellent way of developing plot and narrative

Tension is more important than suspense. Everyone knows that Romeo and Juliet are not going to live happily ever after, but we still go to see the play. Sometimes revealing what happens in the first line of a chapter is more effective than springing it later. The reader is going to be on tenterhooks waiting for the dramatic event to happen.

What’s your best advice for an author looking to get into the marketplace…

Learn to pitch your book in fifty words or less – and it’s got to be powerful and original. Agents and publishers get thousands of submissions and they rely on sharp short pitches to persuade them to pick up a manuscript. Also, try to make yourself sound interesting.

What’s next for you?

An insider’s novel about the sinister forces that nearly brought an end to parliamentary democracy in Britain.

The Intel: Karen Long

K.D. LongYou know we love the kind of writers who really throw themselves into their work. Karen Long began her working life as a secondary school teacher but took up full time writing ten years ago. She has written numerous screenplays and is currently working on the second novel in the DI Eleanor Raven series. Her first novel, The Safe Word, was published on kindle and in paperback last month, and was inspired by several stays in Toronto, Canada.

Karen lives in rural Shropshire with her filmmaker husband, three children, three dogs and a small disabled crow.

Tell us about Eleanor Raven.

Eleanor is a complex creature. She is contained, independent and confident in her abilities but the opposite is also true. She carries a burden of guilt from her childhood, which manifests itself in her masochistic sexual practices. She lives by the mantra that she never ‘judges’ yet she has judged and condemned herself for not recognising the ‘signs’ that could have saved her school friend Caleb. I believe that this is essentially the human condition and why every central character’s struggle should essential be with him/herself. Her journey is, and hopefully will be in future novels, to come to terms with her guilt and forgive the child’s mistake. Essentially Eleanor is a modern woman. She is sexually liberated and proactive, physically aggressive and defines herself through her career and not through family.

How would you describe The Safe Word to a potential reader?

It’s modern crime fiction set in Toronto featuring a strong but flawed female lead, whose personal life becomes dangerously entwined in the unfolding action.

Would you describe The Safe Word as a ‘whodunnit’?

The Safe Word’isn’t about the sudden revelation of the killer from a pool of potentials or misdirects. Don’t get me wrong that can be very exciting. My favourite example of a sublime ‘whodunnit’ is Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club, which I’ve read three times now. What I am more interested in is the gradual uncovering of the motivation of the ‘who’, which is inexorably linked to the ‘why’. My killer has a very clear vision of why he does what he does and I want to learn why his thought processes are so different to mine.

However, that’s not to say that one of the most important aspects to writing crime fiction is to supply frisson at regular points in the narrative. Characters should be imperiled; there shouldn’t be a formula as to who can die and who can’t or as to what can happen or when. Crime fiction should be a roller-coaster ride; don’t allow your reader to become complacent because that’s one stop away from bored. The ‘what if’ you asked yourself before you started typing the first sentence should be asked after every scene.

What’s your writing process? What comes first – plot or character?

It’s a close run thing for me.  I was browsing the Toronto Sun newspaper and chugging coffee when I read an article about police being called to save a woman who appeared to have been kidnapped off a Toronto street and bundled into a van. When police swooped in to arrest and save her they were stunned to discover that the woman had arranged to have herself kidnapped as a sexy treat. There was the material for a ‘what if’! Eleanor Raven followed on pretty closely and I started to outline the plot.

Take us through a typical writing day

As I only have one daughter left at home now and my husband works abroad for most of the year the day starts when the front door slams shut, the dogs/crow/ferret have been fed and watered and the biohazard that is the kitchen is tidy. I have to be very determined to keep myself on track, as there are so many domestic distractions that break my concentration. I also have to write in total silence (no music or radio) and without anyone else being in the house. If I know someone is popping in for a coffee it can make it impossible to write for the whole day. There’s no sitting in coffee shops and putting out a couple of thousand words for me, sadly!

The Safe Word - Kindle CoverI see the story I’m writing as a film that can only be played linearly. I can rewind a couple of chapters but invariably I read from start to finish once a week.  I really envy writers like Stephen King who have such an organised, methodical and productive approach to writing. My husband, a writer himself, frequently sends me links to pages on ‘The rigours of writing’ but I guess there’s just the way that works for you.

 Who are the authors you love and why?

 I love the Scandinavian writers, in particular Karin Fossum, Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir. Their intellectual, complex lead characters set against a dour, unforgiving backdrop and intricate plots have me hooked. I particularly love Denis Lehane, who conjures up period and texture that finds a life in my mind as I read. Perhaps the most influential novelists for me are Graham Greene, William Golding and Joseph Conrad. They write about redemption and the human condition, which is for me the most interesting and important theme literature can tackle. Please don’t think I am comparing myself to the great writer’s mentioned above, but sub genres such as crime fiction should be open to incorporating layers of meaning and texture into less august subject matter. Never assume that your reader will be satisfied with a series of events culminating in a twist. Every novel should be satisfying on many levels.

What’s the hardest lesson you ever had to learn about writing?

That it always takes longer that you thought to complete. That your choice of language, character and event is frequently not as entertaining or clear as you thought it was. That when people pay money to read what you have written they are entitled to an opinion. The most valuable lesson was given to me by a wise bird who said, ‘Show Don’t Tell’ and that is a mantra I run with every time I write. Don’t tell a reader how they should interpret an action or judge a character. That’s their job not yours so butt out! 

How do you deal with the feedback?

Not always with good grace, sadly. But I have always held to Oscar Wilde’s belief that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. So provoking a reaction that merits comment and opinion is, in itself, rather flattering. I have also found that after shrugging off my initial outrage most people make very valid comments about my writing. I do believe that you have to be honest with yourself. If a comment reminds you that you had considered that question before then go back and deal with it but by the same token just because someone has a thought on a plot point or character or line of dialogue it doesn’t mean that they are right. Be flexible but believe in what you wrote. Eventually the sales will tell you if you were right. 

How have your own experiences shaped your writing?

My husband is a movie director and I have spent the last ten years lurking around film sets and edit suites. I love to watch hours and hours of film being trimmed, compressed, enhanced and structured so that the story is exciting and satisfying. I want a reader to ‘see’ the story, as a film playing out in front of them and that means no flab!

I believe that every biological event that appears in your novel should be researched and accurately presented. I’ve spent many blissful hours consuming textbooks on forensics, toxicology, epidemiology and post mortem practice because if you don’t present forensics truthfully then you’re writing science fiction not crime fiction. I arranged several years ago to complete a work experience in a hospital morgue. It was an incredible experience. I was able to watch as a human body was dissected and reduced to plastic bag of organs, tissues and viscera. Perhaps the most seminal moment was when the face of the elderly woman was pulled away from the skull and left hanging, bag-like while the calvarium was opened and the brain removed. All the time the pathologist tutted empathically at the injuries sustained during her final moments in a road traffic accident.

What kind of research are you doing for the series?

 In my second book in the Eleanor Raven’series I need to have a good working knowledge of embalming techniques, including plastination. Luckily the Internet provides loads of written material and Dr. Gunther Von Hagens has been no slouch when it comes to explaining his life work in documentary form. I’ve been to view the Body Worlds Exhibition twice now but I need a more proactive experience. I’ve spoken to embalmers and read the course work and now I’m going to watch an embalming procedure take place. Then the smells, the process the weights and texture will come through in my writing, hopefully enriching it.

Give me some advice for an author looking to get into the marketplace…

Self-publishing is now a real possibility for every writer that wants to get his/her novel out there. The process, though complicated is manageable even for a  ‘non-techie’ (idiot according to my daughter) like myself. What this doesn’t give you is the experienced voice that an agent brings. I’m particularly lucky with mine; they like my writing, aren’t afraid to nag me to change elements and work alongside me to make my book a commercially viable enterprise.

A marketplace demands that you publicise your work effectively, keep abreast with all of the websites that could bring you an audience and that’s time consuming and not everyone is suited to it. I surprised myself by actually enjoying the whole social media/publicity process. It’s all about winning hearts and minds, generally one at a time! However, this is just the way I wanted to do it. Some writers are out there self publishing, self promoting and making thousands of pounds as a result. Judge yourself wisely and if you need an agent then it’s time to get yourself a copy of The Writers And Artists Yearbook, several spare cartridges for your printer and a bumper book of stamps!

What’s next for you?

 I’m a good third of the way into my second novel in the Eleanor Raven series. It’s called The Collection, and follows Eleanor’s challenging return to the crime scene six months after the end of The Safe Word.