A Bit of Book News!

Consider this a book-related round-up if you will…

no good reasonNo Good Reason - book one in the Dark Peak crime series – has been given a release date of June 2015. I’ve been cracking on writing its sequel, and Bold Strokes accepted my proposal for that late last week. The contract is now signed and sealed, and a tentative release date of March 2016 agreed. So, while No Good Reason is coming out slightly later than I’d anticipated, book two will follow pretty hot on its heels. And no, I don’t have a title for that one yet. Because I am rubbish.

Meanwhile, Tumbledown has made it through to the finals of the 2014 Rainbow Awards, in the Lesbian Mystery/Thriller category (winners to be announced on December 8th), and recently received an excellent review over at Out in Print:

smaller TDBut the characters and the elements wouldn’t mean a thing without the tension of Hunter’s action scenes, which are flawless. Other thriller authors (yes, I’m looking at you Patterson and Grisham) could take lessons from Hunter when it comes to writing these babies. Twists and turns and forgotten or unconventional weaponry along with pluck and spirit keep me breathless and reading way past my bedtime. I can almost imagine Hunter as sweating and out of breath as her heroines once she writes her way out of the set-ups she conjures.

You can read the full review at the above link :-)

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No Good Reason gets a Bloody Lovely Cover :-)

Ooh, look what came through the e-mail this morning :-)

no good reason

No Good Reason – the first in a Peak District-set crime/thriller series – is due out in spring 2015. For those of you who speak fluent Brit, I like to think of it as a sort of cross between Scott & Bailey and 24 Hours in A&E, only with more lesbians :-)

Its blurb goes a little like this:

~ ~ ~

Detective Sanne Jensen (not blonde, not tall, definitely not Scandinavian) and Doctor Meg Fielding (scruffy, scatter-brained, prone to swearing at patients) are lifelong best friends, sharing the same deprived background and occasionally the same bed.

When a violent kidnapping stuns the Peak District village of Rowlee, both women become involved in the case. As Sanne and her colleagues in East Derbyshire Special Ops search for the culprit, and Meg fights to keep his victim alive, a shocking discovery turns the investigation on its head. With the clock ticking, Sanne and Meg find themselves pushed closer by a crime that threatens to tear everything apart.

~ ~ ~

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The Writing Processes Blog Hop!

cover20aMy UK LesFic blog buddy Tig Ashton (AKA Clare Ashton, best-selling author of new and very well-received RomCom release That Certain Something!) tagged me in the current authorly blog hop: The Writing Processes Blog Tour. Each Monday, willing victims answer four questions that focus on their current works in progress, genre, and how they actually go about putting pen to paper. So here goes!

What are you working on?

I’m currently about 16,000 words into a sequel to my fourth novel No Good Reason (due for publication in Spring 2015), which is my first foray into the crime/police procedural genre. I always had a series in mind when I wrote No Good Reason, so I chose a setup that would support a multi-novel arc and spent a lot of time creating characters whose back-stories I could go on to develop and explore. I submitted the manuscript to Bold Strokes as a stand-alone, and chewed my nails for a while before plucking up the courage to say “actually, I want to take this into a series – what do you think?” I was delighted when they gave me the go ahead, and then had a momentary wiggins where I thought oh crap, I don’t actually know what I’m doing! I guess time will tell on that one, but I’m relishing the challenge of thinking and planning ahead, and it’s a joy knowing that I don’t have to say goodbye to the characters after only one book.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

dpcoverMy first three novels have been classified as lesbian romance, and they do abide by the basic tenets of that genre in that two women meet and fall in love over the course of the story, but the romance takes a back seat to the thriller and adventure aspects in the plot. Their mix of violence, tension, and love story can be a disconcerting one, especially for readers whose expectations are more grounded in traditional, chocolate-box romances, but I hope I manage to find a happy medium whereby you care about the characters’ well-being and relationship alike.

With No Good Reason, I intentionally set out to tinker with the smaller TDcrime genre. Its lead characters – Sanne and Meg – aren’t the typical tormented heroines with tragic, mysterious histories and almost preternatural talent in their field. Although they do share crappy upbringings, they don’t let that define who they are, and they’re good at their jobs without having amazing superwoman skills. I prefer to write regular women, women you could bump into on the street and have a laugh with, so even though the case in No Good Reason is horrific, there’s plenty of humour as well, which is not particularly in keeping with the genre. Many mainstream crime novels have po-faced leads, but in my experience the people working in emergency services laugh more snowboundcoveroften than they cry, and I want my writing to reflect that.

After setting a couple of novels in the USA, I’ve come full circle with No Good Reason and returned to the Derbyshire Peak District. Its language, slang, and social themes are all unapologetically local to the north of England, and I have to say it’s lovely to be home again.

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I love to read. It takes me about a year to complete a novel, and I don’t think I could spend that much time working on something that I wasn’t having fun with. My shelves are stacked with thriller/crime series, and my favourite authors in that genre – Karin Slaughter, Joe Lansdale, Denise Mina, Chelsea Cain – are the ones who achieve that tricky balance between an interesting standalone plot and ongoing, overarching character development. Most of them also feature strong, complex female roles. After Tumbledown gave me my first taste of writing a sequel, I knew I wanted to take that a step further and try my hand at a crime series. I’ve never written just to make money – I wrote non-profit fan fiction both before and after signing with Bold Strokes – and I would rather write what I enjoy, be unconstrained by formula, and hope some readers come along for the ride. So far, that seems to be working out pretty well.

How does my writing process work?

I can break my writing process down into stages:

1. Self-doubt

Me: “I don’t think I can do this again. I’m not sure I’ve got another novel in me.”
Wife: “Don’t be ridiculous. You’re not getting any tea until you’ve written something.”

So I write an outline that I probably won’t follow, but at least I’ve written something and I don’t go to bed hungry.

2. I get an actual idea

My writing process inevitably involves a cat "helping out" at some point...

My writing process inevitably involves a cat “helping out” at some point…

And it’s quite exciting, and I write loads more of a plan that I probably won’t follow, but now I know the main character and plot beats. After a few pages of this, lots of Googling and maybe the odd diagram, I think “sod it and start the first chapter.

3. I work a set of night shifts

I spend the next few days unable to pull on my own socks, let alone remember the plot of my work in progress. I might be coherent enough to revise some edits, but I certainly won’t be writing anything worthwhile.

4. Procrastination

I hit a plot SNAFU and avoid rectifying it by buggering about online, Hoovering, watching the tadpoles in the pond, or baking a cake.

5. The hissy fit

My long-suffering wife and beta reader takes issue with a section I rather like. I spit my dummy out, stomp my feet, and refuse to see sense. She always turns out to be right.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

6. Things finally kick in

The sun comes out while I have a week off work and my brain feels functional. I sit in the back garden with my pen and pad, and everything slots into place. The story ties me in wonderful knots, and the characters are great to spend time with. At the end of the week, I break the news to my wife that she has 5,000 words to beta, but that’s okay because I’m heading straight back to Step 3…

Next Monday

once-the-clouds-have-goneLook out for blogs from KE Payne, a UK-based Young Adult author with Bold Strokes Books, whose novels “artfully capture the confusion and concerns of a young woman coming to terms with her lesbian libido” – The Rainbow Reader. Her sixth novel Once The Clouds Have Gone is due for release in October.

mountainrescue_coverFellow Goldie nominee Sky Croft is a woman who takes after my own heart, in that she likes women and mountains, and writing about women and mountains. Mountain Rescue: On The Edge (a sequel to Mountain Rescue: The Ascent) is due out from Regal Crest in December.

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Goldies, and the UK BSB Bash…

With the UK BSB bash just around the corner, it seems like a good time for a little catch-up news post…

GCLS_seal1First things first, I have been quite remiss in not mentioning this, but Desolation Point has made it through to the finals of the Goldie awards in the category of Romantic/Suspense/ Intrigue/Adventure (I love Goldie categories – they fit my stuff to a tee!) The award ceremony takes place on Sunday 13th July, and the category has some bloody big hitters in it, so keep your fingers crossed, eh?

This year’s UK Bold Strokes Bash will take place in Nottingham across the weekend of 7th and 8th June. The event is completely free to attend, dead friendly, and loads of fun. Last year’s was the liveliest yet, and there are loads of BSB authors and editors and LesFic readers going along again this year. Including me. But I’m bringing tiffin and flapjack to share out, so it’s not all bad news :-)


If anyone is thinking of heading along, you can find all the necessary details over on the UK BSB website, where I’ve also been guest blogging today about No Good Reason and why it’s rather lovely to be back writing in Brit.


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New Novel News!

I’m delighted (and not a little bit giddy) to be able to spill the beans and announce that my fourth novel No Good Reason has just been signed up by Bold Strokes Books.

black hill for blog

Black Hill from Crowden, one of our favourite hikes and a major influence on the setting for this novel.

Set back in my familiar stomping ground of the Derbyshire Peak District, the novel is a police procedural thriller, with romance lurking in the background. Its central characters are life-long friends Detective Sanne Jensen (not blond, not leggy, and definitely not Scandinavian) and Doctor Meg Fielding (quite forgetful, skilled biscuit-dunker, distinct tendency to swear at patients) who both become involved in the investigation of an abduction.

I could tell you more – and undoubtedly will – but for now, No Good Reason has a tentative release date of Spring 2015 and a nod from BSB to develop it into a series. Hence the giddiness!

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Tumbledown in Pictures

smaller TDFrom the amount of shrieking being aimed in my general direction, I know that quite a few people have read Tumbledown by now. I wondered whether folk might be interested in some of the background research to the novel, so I put this handy pictorial guide together.

Also, if anyone wants to ask any questions about the book or leave feedback (good or bad) – pop your comments onto the end of this thread, and I will happily get back to you.

Bit of a warning: this post contains non-specific spoilers for the book, and gratuitous images of food porn.

~ ~ ~


I think my head just about exploded trying to make sense of this flow chart…

Tumbledown was a fabulous novel to write, but a bugger to try to get right. It took me about 12 months to finish it, and by the end of that year I had amassed a bizarre and eclectic Internet favourites folder that explained everything from What is Bail: Maine, to Preserving Impression Evidence on HowStuff Works (great site!), to what it’s like to spend time in a County Jail. (Orange is the New Black wasn’t even a twinkle in Netflix’s eye when I wrote this book!)

I learned the hard way not to write technical scenes whilst on a beach holiday with no Internet connection, because when you get home and check your facts out, it necessitates reworking the entire damn chapter. I also learned that the American justice system is nothing I ever want to become entangled in, that if I ever get a tattoo it certainly won’t be one of these, and that the state of Maine is somewhere that I would very much like to visit.

maine in autumnI’ve never been to Maine, and, although Avery and its sister towns are fictional, I relied on photographs such as this one to try to get descriptions of the landscape right.

And images like the one below gave me scenery tips for Caleb’s later road trip down the Eastern US coastline.

Portland Head Maine Fall 09 (5)

There’s nothing I enjoy more than researching regional food specialities. The unfortunate side effect of that is permanent hunger (and food envy!) whilst I’m trying to concentrate on the damn story.

Lobster roll!

Lobster roll, anyone?

jam roly polyWhile we’re on the subject of food, anyone who might be wondering what the hell Sarah’s talking about when she mentions making a “jam roly-poly” for the pot luck picnic – it’s a diet-busting pudding of sweetened suet pastry, wrapped around a load of jam, and then oven baked. Like most British puds, it’s best served warm with custard.

Recipe available here :-)

holyoke warehouseThe city of Holyoke (pronounced whole-yolk, fact fans!) was chosen after a hop through Google searching for derelict warehouse districts in Massachusetts. The area around its three main canals is apparently undergoing regeneration, but images of foreboding, abandoned buildings made it perfect for my purposes. Even more perfect was the fire department’s tactic of marking unsafe buildings with an X, which gave me an ideal way of allowing the police in the novel to zero in on the right location.

This is the copy of Pride and Prejudice that Alex buys Sarah for her birthday. It would have set her back $260, which seems a small price to pay, all things considered…

pride and prejudice tumbledown

And last but not least: the Dark Peak, Derbyshire, in all its glory, complete with “feisty” sheep. I like to think of Alex and Sarah sitting under their blanket together, drinking a brew, and looking out on this view :-)

peak with sheep

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An Interview Here…A Review There…

Just a quick heads up about a couple of bits and pieces (because my missus tells me off if I don’t mention these things!)

First things first, the lovely folk at Ylva are hosting a Spotlight Interview with me over at their blog. If you’ve got an insatiable urge to know what my chosen super power would be, or how I came to put pen to paper in the first place, then look no further.

katahdinmountainMeanwhile, LesFic review blog, The Lesbian Reading Room has been binging on Desolation Point and Tumbledown, and giving rather nice reviews to both:

A snippet of the Desolation Point review:

Amongst all the horrors, pain and fear, we also have a love story as good as any LesFic out there. Alex and Sarah are great characters and as the plot unfolds you cant help but root for them both to survive the ordeal and survive together as a couple, forged in adversity and drawing on each others strength to survive.

And a taster of the review for Tumbledown:

In the middle of all this tension and drama the characters manage to maintain their humanity and their sense of humor. Even at their darkest most painful moments Alex and Sarah are able to think of others, and release the tension with a gentle tease. Their love for one another is the strength that keeps them fighting to survive.

To read the full text of both write-ups, hit the links.

For anyone wondering about the picture, that’s the area around Mount Kahadin in Maine, sort of what I had in mind when I was writing the slightly more sedate chapters of Tumbledown

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