Lesbian Book Club Interview

blogIf you’ve ever wondered what a slightly night-shift hungover, sore-throaty northern English woman sounds like, then you can listen along to a new interview I recorded last week for Clare Lydon’s Lesbian Book Club podcast.

We managed to cover all the essentials in the 45 minute interview – falling into bogs, brew and biccie bingo, my hopeless sense of direction, midnight feasts, and books, lots about the books :-)

You can listen or download at this link.

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The Whiter Side of the Dark Peak

After a very mild December, winter seems to have arrived with bells on this week, and the Dark Peak is suddenly looking very white. It’s rare to get onto Kinder Scout in the snow – if it’s bad on the tops, the access roads are usually impassable – but yesterday’s fall covered the hills and left the lower levels clear. Perfect weather for a walk if you’re brave (or stupid!) enough to venture up there…

The summit of Kinder Scout.

The summit of Kinder Scout.

Moody skies towards the Dragon's back ridge.

Moody skies towards the Dragon’s back ridge.

Panorama on the way down!

Panorama on the way down!

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‘No Good Reason’ e-book sale!

no good reason booksFor those of you who haven’t yet dipped a toe into the Dark Peak series, this weekend might be the time to get your tootsies wet. Bold Strokes are holding a Thriller flash sale over on their website, where you can pick up the e-book version of No Good Reason for $4.99.

So that’s a year’s worth of my blood, sweat and tears for the price of a burger and chips. Plus, you get to learn 549879646 new English swear words with which to impress all of your mates.

Offer ends Monday 21st December, 8 a.m. EST, so get yer skates on :-)

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‘No Good Reason’ Wins Best Lesbian Mystery at the Rainbow Awards

no good reasonI was dead chuffed to find out that No Good Reason had scooped the gong for Best Lesbian Mystery/Thriller when the annual Rainbow Awards were announced on Monday. The novel also received four Honourable Mentions, awarded when a judge has scored the book 36/40 or more.

Meanwhile, its sequel, Cold to the Touch, has been picking up some terrific early reviews, including this one from Jem at GoodReads (whose description of Sanne as “diminutive but scrappy” is possibly my favourite ever description of her), and a 4.5 starrer from the Lesbian Reading Room. There’s no spoilers in either review if you want to have a toot.

 

 

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A Queer Beat

police line jpgWhen I put pen to paper at the start of No Good Reason, I didn’t really consider my motives. Crime has long been a favourite genre of mine, and I had thoroughly enjoyed getting my teeth stuck into the police procedural aspects of my third novel Tumbledown, so it seemed like a natural step to try my hand at writing a fully fledged crime novel. I also craved the opportunity to write a series, and a format where a fresh case could be investigated by recurring protagonists fitted that bill nicely.

With the release of Cold to the Touch – the second in the Dark Peak series – fast approaching, I’ve been giving more thought to the question: why crime? And why, in particular, lesbian crime? Why do I write it, and perhaps more to the point, why should anyone read it when there are countless crime novels already crammed into bookshops and libraries?

And so, as befits a felony-focused blog, I present Exhibit A:

This video was recorded in my home city of Manchester at the 2015 Pride. Every year, hundreds of public sector and emergency workers – police, fire, paramedics, NHS staff – take part in a parade through the city, cheered on by crowds in their thousands. This dancing police officer is an Inspector, highly ranked in a supervisory role, and yet, when I look at my bookshelves and think back over the many mainstream crime novels that I’ve read over the years, queer characters are all but invisible within their pages.

In terms of media representation – particularly on the small screen – things are looking up, with openly queer and bisexual characters forming part of many ensemble casts. They’re no longer restricted to providing “issue of the week” fodder, and their lives are plotted alongside those of their straight counterparts. For publicly funded broadcasters such as the BBC or those with a more liberal remit (the UK’s Channel 4, for example), or subscription services like Netflix or HBO, there is less risk involved in the inclusion of queer characters. The BBC has no advertisers to answer to, and the other three channels have built their reputations on breaking the mould. Meanwhile the huge costs involved in producing a Hollywood film may go some way towards explaining the enduring absence of queer characters on the silver screen (a Studio Responsibility Index undertaken by GLADD found that more than 80% of the 102 major studio releases in 2013 featured no gay characters whatsoever), or the continued tendency towards a negative portrayal of homosexuality in mainstream films, where box office receipts are the be all and end all, and the lowest common denominator rules.

Publishing a novel doesn’t involve millions being spent on special effects, ego-fuelled A-listers and exotic locations, though, so you might think that authors would be free to take more risks, yet that doesn’t seem to be the case in the vast majority of mainstream crime novels, most of which tread a very familiar, very straight path.

Which brings me full circle to my initial question: Why write or read lesbian crime? In short: because we exist.

Cold to the Touch smallerIn real life, there are thousands of us working in the emergency services. We sign onto our shifts, we walk our beats, and we take the risks, and that was exactly what I wanted to show in the Dark Peak series. In Detective Sanne Jensen, I intentionally created a character who isn’t defined by her sexuality. Her best mate at work is a straight bloke, her colleagues know that she’s gay but don’t bat an eyelid about it, and her relationship with Meg, her lifelong friend and occasional lover, is kept strictly to the B plot. Sanne is bright and tenacious, but she’s not perfect; she worries, hates being in trouble and has a tendency to over-think stuff. In other words, she’s a regular person who keeps her head down and grafts like the rest of us. I would dearly love to see more characters like her in crime fiction, but the authors who have cut their teeth writing lesfic crime and then made the leap into the mainstream have had to sideline their queer leads in order to make a living.

When all else fails (and nothing looks to be changing any time soon), DIY is the simplest solution. So I’m writing the crime series I most want to read, with my queer characters exactly where they should be: right in the thick of things, doing their job. Because there are loads of us out there, wearing the uniform and dancing in the streets.

~ ~ ~

Cold to the Touch is now available in paperback and e-book from the Bold Strokes website, and will be on wide release from December 15th.

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Cold to the Touch Winners

Cold to the Touch smallerWith apologies for the delay – yesterday was a decidedly shitty day at work and slouching on the sofa was all I was fit for when I got home! – the randomly generated winners of the Cold to the Touch give away are: Órla Smith who entered over on Facebook and Sarah V who entered on here. Congratulations! And commiserations on the pork scratchings :-)

Almost 200 people threw their names into the ring for this one, so many thanks to everyone who took the time to enter and chat about books, scratchings, and cats. Mainly cats ;-)

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Cold to the Touch Giveaway

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Huzzah! I got my author copies of Cold to the Touch yesterday – on my birthday, no less – and I have two to give away (signed or unsigned, winner decides.) I’ll even throw in a packet of delicious pork scratchings because I’m nice like that. To enter, just say hallo in the comments before Sunday 22nd November, noon GMT. I’ll announce the winners on Monday 23rd.

And if you don’t know what a pork scratching is, you are in for a treat!

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