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


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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Toeing The Lesfic Line

There are a number of cardinal rules for lesfic authors. Chief among these: never kill a puppy, be nice to small children, and always include a bit of romance. The rules might have various origins (the readers, the editors, the publishing houses, the authors themselves), but woe betide anyone who fails to abide by them.

reader advisoryI know that every reader – myself included – brings expectations to a book. My expectations are formed in numerous ways: by the cover, the blurb, the marketing, the genre, and my knowledge of the author’s previous work. For some readers of lesfic, though, the belief that each and every novel in this field should feature a romantic plotline seems to supersede everything else, no matter what the genre or the other related gubbins might say. Authors who stray beyond this narrow bracket run a genuine risk of poor sales and poor reviews, which probably explains why romances rule the lesfic roost and why publishers advise authors to hint at the romantic elements of their novels in the blurb and advertising, regardless of the actual genre. Like any other business, the demand forms and defines the supply, but in this business I worry that it’s also stifling creative growth and variety, as authors who step outside of their readers’ comfort zone may find themselves shoved back into it when those readers desert them and their sales fall.

My first couple of novels (Snowbound and Desolation Point) toed the line. Sort of. They probably contained more death and graphic bloodshed than the average lesfic, but they were classified as “Romantic Intrigue” and they followed the traditional formula of Girl + Girl -> have an adventure -> fight off a few bad guys -> fall in love = Happy Ever After. They weren’t romantic enough for some readers – it’s hard to go on a date or make smoochy eyes when the bullets are flying – but by and large the requisite boxes got ticked, and most people were happy.

Tumbledown came next, a sequel to Desolation Point that I was never supposed to write and that was tricky to categorise. It wasn’t a romance, because its protagonists were already a couple, but it ended up being called one anyway, and readers seemed to like it for what it was: a crime thriller with a rock-steady established relationship at its heart. That book signalled a change for me, a step away from Girl + Girl = HEA, and a step toward the crime genre. Frustrated by the limits of a standalone novel, I started to think in terms of a police procedural series, where a single case would shape the A-plot, and the characters would prop up the B.

So for my latest novel, No Good Reason, I created two leads – Sanne and Meg – who’ve been best friends since childhood and who occasionally sleep together. As this was the first in a series, I didn’t wrap it all up with a HEA, nor did I make their relationship the be-all and end-all of the book: the investigation of a kidnapping forms the bulk of the plot. Somewhere in the process of doing all that, though, I broke a couple of those aforementioned lesfic rules. See, Meg and San aren’t strangers who fall in love at the drop of a hat. They’re mates who take the piss out of each other, date other people, and fail to acknowledge that they’d make an ideal couple, because they’re terrified of mucking up what they already have. Bearing this in mind, I asked that the book be categorised and marketed as “Crime” rather than “Romance” or “Romantic Intrigue”, so that readers would be under no illusions about its genre. Then I simply wrote Sanne and Meg as I wanted to write them: funny, sarky, and comfortable together, with a wealth of background and shared experiences that I could draw on to give the characters more depth.

I’ll hold my hands up and admit I was expecting to take some flak for No Good Reason. It’s written in the broadest of northern British, replete with slang, swearing, and colloquialisms (and god love Bold Strokes Books for having the balls to leave all of that alone); its pace is more measured than my previous books; the crime around which its investigation revolves is a brutal one; and – most shockingly of all – no one owns a pet, unless you count Sanne’s shithead of a rooster, which I don’t. A few months post-release, and I seem to have got away with most of this. The advent of e-readers leaves little that can’t be translated, and Google is good for the rest. A deliberate avoidance of graphic detail has made the crime bearable, and the lack of cute fluffy things hasn’t even raised an eyebrow. Meg and San, however – now they have stirred up a bit of strife.

Some readers have got them and got the book – got it all so utterly that they made writing it worthwhile – but others less so. And while I’m not arrogant enough to expect romance fans to hop over to crime (or any other genre) just because I felt an itch to broaden my authorly horizons, I would hope that those readers who did follow me across might check their preconceptions at the door and judge these books for what they are, rather than by some pre-established definition too narrow to apply to every entrant. Lesfic may be synonymous with the romance genre, but I’m all for authors who want to challenge the status quo, reshape people’s expectations, and step outside of the norm. Please invest in a pair of Kevlar undies and carry on.



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An Interview here…A review there…

interviewSo, what happens when you stick me and Diana Simmonds – author, theatre critic, generally splendid person – in front of a video recorder wielded by Tig Ashton? Well, this rather lovely interview in which we discuss books, biscuits (of course!), barmcakes, and the perfect breakfast. Closed captioning or translation services are available on request, and many thanks to Women & Words for hosting the vid :-)

No Good Reason has also been reviewed by Velvet Lounger (host of the Lesbian Reading Room) over at Curve Magazine:

I love Ms. Hunter’s writing. Clean, neat, purposeful, it drives us forward with faultless delivery. She crams in a whole host of action, drama, and character development without it ever feeling rushed or heavy-handed. Each book has improved on the last and this is no exception—an absolute winner for lovers of crime thrillers and slightly oddball romance that makes a refreshing change.

You can find the full review at the above link.


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Blogs and Reviews Oh My!

I thought I’d do a bit of a round-up post with links to a couple of blogs I’ve recently written for Bold Strokes sites, and to two lovely advance reviews for No Good Reason.

The annual UK BSB Fest will take place in Nottingham this coming weekend (6-7th June) and all the attending authors have been blogging on the theme of change over at the official website. My own blog – Everything Old is New Again – is here, and I’ll be in Nottingham on the Saturday only this year, reading from No Good Reason, chatting on a panel (scheduled for 11.15 a.m.) and possibly attempting to shove 16 cheesy balls into my mouth. The event is held at the town centre Waterstones and it’s free to all. For more information check out the main website and program here.


I’ve also been chatting about series writing on the main BSB blog. Serial Thriller – in which I discuss the joys and terrors related to kicking off a run of books – can be found at this link.

~ ~ ~

Skipping onto reviews now, and author Clare Ashton had a sneak-peek of No Good Reason and wrote a rather nice review of it for her blog:

no good reasonNo Good Reason is a rich book with much to enjoy and admire. It has captivating settings from lonely moors to gritty northern city estates. The characters who span classes, careers and geography, from working class girls come good to slippery drug dealers, all ring true. Cari is a skilled writer and her unflowery and vivid style is particularly suited to crime. Her assured writing allows her to build layer on layer of story, setting and characterisation with captivating and beautiful detail and then casually twist the story to send chills down your spine, or ramp up the action to make your heart race.

Hit the link above to read the full piece.

Meanwhile, Corey at C-Spot Reviews also seemed quite fond of the book:

Hunter returns to the land of hot tea and the bacon butty in her latest novel. Our heroines are Detective Sanne Jensen and Dr. Meg Fielding, best mates forever and sometimes something more. Their relationship is undefinable and complicated, but not in a hot mess of drama way. Rather, they share unspoken depths, comfortably silly moments, rock-solid friendship, and an intimacy that will make your heart ache just a wee bit.

~ ~ ~

Right, I think that’s covered everything! Unless it hasn’t, in which case feel free to give me a shout.

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A Few of my Favourite Things: Food & Swearing

Oh happy days! The Dark Peak series – which kicks off in June with No Good Reason – sees me back writing in Brit, and not only that but writing a novel whose central characters are a detective and an Accident & Emergency doc. Now, for those who might not know, shift work does weird things to a person’s diet (if you regularly eat your tea at 3 a.m., chances are you’re not sitting down to a balanced three-course meal) and it’s no secret that those of us who work shifts eat a lot of crap or, in the case of my cast of miscreants, just seem to eat a lot. They also swear a lot, which means that I get to do another one of these blogs for the folks who aren’t fluent in the foodstuffs and swearing capabilities of our beautiful little isle. Yes, it’s the No Good Reason menu/swearing guide, wherein I explain what the hell a Battenberg cake is and show you pictures of delicious pastry-coated items, and you get to go away hungry and cursing me.

This blog update is sponsored by Settlers Tums.

Chippy Tea

Takeaway Fish and ChipsIt seems fitting that the very first chapter of No Good Reason sees Detective Sanne Jensen and her best friend Dr. Meg Fielding treating themselves to a chippy tea. In their case it comprises fish, chips, buttered bread, and curry sauce (or gravy) with mugs of tea. When I say fish, I mean battered fish – none of your bread-crumbed imposters, please – and when I say chips, I mean thick, crispy, proper chips, not McDonald’s-esque “fries”. Lashings of salt and vinegar is essential. No vinegar = you’re doing it wrong.

Optional extras: Pickled eggs, mushy peas, and a barm cake (regionally AKA: a bap, bread roll, bread muffin, or batch) for making a chip butty.

chip barm

The “barm cake” is the source of much confusion/debate/argument in the UK with no two regions calling them the same thing. Along with the pronunciation of “scone” it’s possibly the most contentious food-related issue in the country to date!

Chocolate HobNobs

hobnobA practically perfect biscuit to accompany a mug of tea, the chocolate HobNob is an oaty, crunchy treat topped with milk chocolate. I’m not a dunker, but I am reliably informed that – if you’re that way inclined – the HobNob is something of a legend when it comes to surviving a dip in a brew. The special edition chocolate orange versions are also highly recommended.

Double Decker


A layered chocolate bar boasting a base of cereal crispies and a topping of whipped nougat all covered in Cadbury’s milk chocolate. They’re sweet enough to send susceptible types into a diabetic coma, but as a treat they’re bloody lovely.



QuaversA firm favourite in USA-destined snack packages, the Quaver is a twisty, curly, marvel of cheesiness. It makes for an ideal accompaniment to any packed lunch, where the crisps can be slapped in the middle of a sandwich to provide a bit of bite and liven up an otherwise boring butty (sandwich!).



StarmixI don’t honestly know a single member of the ambulance service who doesn’t eat these little buggers in one variety or another. They’re sweets made for kids and appropriated by adults, and they come in a wide assortment of forms – jellies, liquorice, fizzy things, chewy things – all of them delicious. Probably invented for the sole purpose of pepping up night shifts, day shifts, and shift work in general. The Dark Peak series features what I like to think of as the Classic Haribo: Starmix.

Pasty & Sausage roll

greenhalghsA typical English dinner (known as lunch in the south) bought on the fly will often be a sandwich, but pasties and sausage rolls are also right up there when it comes to takeaway snacky options. A bastardisation of the traditional Cornish pasties, high street chain bakery examples are flattened and often quite depressing offerings of puff pastry filled with insipid and tepid meat-type substances. The best ones are crammed with meat, veg, spuds and gravy, or cheese and onion. Being a borderline Wiganer by birth, I’m more of a pie girl myself, but I do love a cheap and cheerful sausage roll…


Greggs’ sausage rolls: they don’t come much cheaper than these!

Battenberg Cake

I like to include pretty (or pretty unusual!) foods in my books and there’s not much prettier than a Battenberg cake. A light, jam-coated sponge covered in marzipan, the Battenberg doesn’t seem particularly special until you cut into it. And then it looks like this. See? Lovely, isn’t it? :-)


Eggy Bread

Us northerners don’t really stand on ceremony, and eggy bread is what French Toast is commonly called round these parts. It’s basically slices of white bread dipped into beaten egg (add a bit of milk to make your egg go further) and fried in oil. Being an ignorant peasant, I used to eat mine with tomato ketchup, but I now prefer to cover it in proper maple syrup, i.e. not that maple “flavoured” ice cream sauce crap.

eggy bread


The essential ingredient in any cream tea, the scone (say it to rhyme with “bone” or you’re saying it wrong!) is a little cake-type thingy that doesn’t really seem worth bothering with until you serve it warm and fill it with whipped (or clotted) cream and jam. Then it’s probably the most amazing thing you will ever eat, especially if you have a piping hot pot of tea to go with it.


Bloody hell, I’m hungry now. Which, conveniently, brings me onto…

Part II: How to Swear in Fluent Brit

If there’s one thing the British are good at, it’s swearing. Far from stunting our vocabulary, swearing has broadened it, resulting in a far-reaching plethora of insults and epithets that go beyond the usual, dare I say rather mundane, “fuck” and “shit”. Here are just a few examples common to my profane little region.

Bloody: A mild but very versatile curse with many variations for usage – “Bloody Nora”, “Fat bloody chance”, “Don’t you bloody dare”. It is also easily combined with other insults, to wit: “You’re a bloody useless bugger”. Regional use may change it to “bleedin'” as in: “you’re a bleedin’ halfwit” – you’re not terribly bright.

Bugger/Sod/Git/Berk/Pillock/Twerp/Numpty/Wazzock/Tit: Genial insults that lack any real edge, and can be used almost fondly, i.e: “You’re being a silly sod”, “Poor old bugger”, “Don’t be such a berk”. Generally used to imply that the person is a bit soft in the head.

Bollocks: Often used as an expression of exasperation: “Oh bollocks!” but can be used to describe a telling off: “I just got a good bollocking”, or to add emphasis to a statement of denial: “Have I bollocks!”

Wanker: Loosely defined as someone who enjoys taking matters into their own hands (if you catch my drift), “wanker” is often used as a harsher insult, and is probably not one to say in front of your mum. Also: “Toss-pot” – similar definition,  less offensive.

Twat: Pronounced with two hard Ts (I have no idea where this “Twaite” business has come from), this is also quite an unpleasant insult, although it’s used so often around here that it’s lacking in impact.

Piss: Unlike Americans, who tend to use this just to mean annoyed, us Brits have almost infinite variations and usages for this term – something that has caused a fair amount of amusement and revision during the editing process! A few of the more common examples: “Piss off” – “Go away”, “Pissed off” – Annoyed, “Taking the Piss” – Having a laugh at someone’s expense, “Pissed” – Drunk, “Piss-Can” – An alcoholic, “Piss on his chips” – Annoy someone, “Couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery” – Someone who is profoundly useless.

Ball-ache:  A tiresome or impossible task. As in “this is going to be an absolute ball-ache”.

Scrote: Often used by the emergency services to describe ne’er-do-wells or bottom-feeders, those lowlifes who make our lives so very entertaining. It doesn’t take a genius to work out its origins.

Feel free to add any omissions, or your personal favourites in the comments!

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No Good Reason Giveaway Winners

no good reasonMany, many thanks to everyone who entered the No Good Reason giveaway over the last few days, it’s been an absolute pleasure to chat biscuits and books with you all. Over 160 people gave me a shout for this one, and the two winners picked by the random number generator are: Julia Schriewer  and Mary Ayer.

Congrats to both and cheers again for the enthusiasm about this one :-)

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