New Book Coming in October 2023

I’ve recently signed a contract with BSB for my tenth (crikey!) novel, ‘A Calculated Risk.’

The book will be the start of a new thriller/crime series, set in northern England, and stars Detective Jody Shaw (who had a cameo in Unbreakable.) The only downside being, it’s not due out till October 2023 because I’m generally crap at writing to any sort of deadline.

Plus side? It has a lovely, moody cover…

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Podcast with the Sapphic Book Review

Had a genuinely lovely chat with Laura Sieber Green from the Sapphic Book Review yesterday. She came up with some fun and unusual questions, and was an all round good sport. Amongst other things, we chatted about casting the Dark Peak, our mutual love of Nicki Vincent and British swearing (“bloody Nora!”), what it’s like to work the frontline in a pandemic, and which three authors I’d take hiking with me. If you’ve got a spare half hour and you want my dulcet northern tones in yer ear, you can listen here.

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Cari Hunter Hiking Guide!

I was chatting to a reader the other week who fancied planning a hiking tour based on some of the routes mentioned in my books. I offered to put a guide together whenever I got the chance, so here we go!

Snowbound

Jacob’s Ladder circular onto Kinder Scout from Edale village

Kate and Sam head up Jacob’s Ladder, an old packhorse trail, right at the end of Snowbound, with Sam none too happy to realise there are about three false summits before you actually hit the top.

The path is a lovely, well-trodden route onto the southern edge of Kinder Scout, the highest of the Peak District’s many hills (still quite low at 636m). Some of the route follows the Pennine Way – a long-distance footpath that starts in Edale and finishes 268 miles later in Kirk Yetholm, just over the Scottish border – so it’s easy to find and navigate, and not too rough underfoot. Highlights include the fabulous Woolpack stones, Noe Stool, and Pym Chair. Somewhat ironically (don’t tell Sam!) the low path towards Jacob’s ladder also takes you past the barn that was the inspiration for the hostage barn in Snowbound 🙂

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View from the path to Jacob’s with the Great Ridge in the background.

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The Woolpack rocks

Hit this link for an excellent pictorial guide to the most popular circular route, which ascends via Jacob’s Ladder and descends and returns to Edale via Grindsbrook Clough. We tend to stay on the summit for longer and head down via Ringing Roger, which takes you onto a far quieter and quite spectacular bit of Kinder, and avoids the scramble down Grindsbrook, which can be tricky if the stream is in spate.

jacobs to rr

Desolation Point

Ross Lake to Desolation Peak, Cascade Mountains, Washington State, USA

Sadly, I’ve never been to the Cascades and hiked up Desolation Peak, but I did a load of research on the route Sarah takes, and you should basically be able to follow the book to the summit! Sarah parks by milepost 138 and follows the East Bank trail, which adds another day onto the hike, but there are options to boat out to Ross Lake and start from there. As far as I know, the Jack Kerouac lookout post is still at the summit 🙂

Go here for a good overview, trail updates, and map.

No Good Reason

Crowden circular via Laddow Rocks and Black Hill

Although I changed the names of most of the landmarks along Sanne’s fell-running route in No Good Reason, it’s based on a route we’ve regularly hiked, and I always wave to the rocks I chucked her down when we go past.

Starting at the Crowden car park just off the Woodhead Pass, you follow the Pennine Way up onto Laddow Ridge and Black Hill, and then, if you’re feeling brave, follow a rather vague and VERY soggy route across an unmarked no-man’s-land onto White Low to complete the circle. If you’re not feeling brave and would rather keep your feet dry (assuming you’ve not fallen into the river whilst attempting to zigzag across it three bloody times) you can touch the trig point on Black Hill and come back the same way – recommended in poor visibility or after wet weather, because the top is very tricky to navigate in low cloud and is seriously boggy underfoot.

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Laddow Rocks in deep snow with cloud inversion in the valley.

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The path to the trig point on Black Hill , cutting through the cotton grass.

There’s another excellent guide with photos and map here.

A Quiet Death

Blackden Brook onto the northern edge of Kinder Scout, descending via Fairbrook

Meg and Sanne go up Blackden onto Kinder right at the end of A Quiet Death (egg butties mandatory!)

The Blackden route is recommended for people with a sense of adventure only; you have to scramble in places, particularly near the top. Every time we go, new sections of the path seem to have fallen away, and there are some reasonably steep drops along very narrow sections. Can’t lie, it is fun, though.

At the summit, follow the obvious ridge path to the right to head towards Fairbrook, passing loads of good scrambling rocks and viewpoints on the way, and then descend via Fairbrook Clough. The only caveat is that you have to cross Fairbrook’s stream at the bottom to return to the Blackden layby, and there’s no bridge. If the stream is low, it’s easy to rock-hop. If it’s high, you’re best taking your boots off and just wading.

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Top of Fairbrook Clough on a snow day!

To hit the same side of Kinder without risking your neck up Blackden, park in one of the laybys just south of The Snake Inn and walk up Fairbrook Clough instead. Fairbrook Clough is gorgeous, the path is easy to find and navigate, and you can have a wild dip in the stream if it’s a hot day. Fun fact: The Snake Inn is the pub that Sanne is taken to after her escape from the barn and her barefoot run across the moors, though it now seems to be holiday accommodation rather than a pub.

Nb. At the moment, the Snake Pass is completely closed due to recent storm damage.

This link has a really good picture guide to Blackden.

Alias

Llyn Idwal, Snowdonia National Park, Wales

If you’re a fan of wild swimming, you can certainly do worse than a visit to Pryce’s skinny-dipping lake, Llyn Idwal in Snowdonia, Wales (I’d recommend a swimming costume or wetsuit, though!) It’s a spectacular spot surrounded by the Glyderau mountain range, with Tryfan looming on his own. You can do a reasonably long walk around the lake itself, but lovers of heights should head up Glyder Fach and Fawr, and/or brave one of the scrambles on Tryfan. I cannot recommend this area enough; it’s absolutely beautiful and one of our favourite places outside the Peak District.

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The Glyderau from the summit of Tryfan. The lower of the two lakes is Llyn Idwal.

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The Glyders with Tryfan off to the left of the shot.

Find more information, including parking details here.

Llanddwyn Island (Ynys Llanddwyn), Anglesey

About an hour’s drive from the Glyders, Ynys Llanddwyn is the small tidal island from the epilogue of Alias, and it’s another gorgeous spot for a picnic, wander, or dip in the sea. Best accessed from Newborough Forest nature reserve, where there’s parking, ice creams, toilets, and maps of trails. Pryce isn’t fibbing when she tells Alis to time it right or she’ll get her feet wet – the island can be cut off for a couple of hours at high tide. Full of legends and historical ruins, and bursting with wild flowers and sea birds, you can explore at your leisure and have a paddle or a swim. The place does get busy, so try to go off-peak.

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Alis and Pryce’s picnic spot on Llanddwyn Island.

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Beautiful backdrop for a paddle.

There’s another good overview here.

Breathe

Hartshead Pike

The monument beside which Jem and Rosie have a picnic (off page) right at the end of Breathe is Hartshead Pike by another name, a folly atop a small hill near Mossley in Tameside. Although I must have driven past it a thousand times, we’ve never actually walked to it, but I’ve chucked it into this guide for the completionists amongst you! This leaflet has a clear trail to follow.

Debdale Park is a real place as well. That’s just off Hyde Road in Gorton. I used to jog around its lakes and remember it fondly, though it’s not somewhere I’d go after dark…

Serious Bit

This guide is intended as a jumping-off point for you to research your route. With the exception of a handful of well-marked paths, the Peak District requires sound navigational skills and the ability to use a compass and an Ordnance Survey map (or in my case, to walk with someone who does!) Use OS map OL1 for the Peak District walks listed here, and OL17 for the Snowdonia walks.

Bear in mind that clouds and mist can quickly descend at any time of year, blotting out visual landmarks. You need proper hiking boots, a decent waterproof, and layers of clothing, because the damn weather is always going to try to freeze or boil or drown you. Check this forecast for a reasonably accurate outlook (link takes you straight to the Peak District forecast but will also allow access to a Snowdonia forecast) and then take the layers anyway. Add plenty of water and snacks to your pack, because there’s no handy café on any of the summits (loads of good pubs in the villages, though). Having said all that, people up there are dead friendly and will always help you out with directions, just don’t rely on them being there, because some of these routes can be deserted in places.

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Daily Bargain and Publishing Chat

Honestly, there’s no book stuff on here for ages and then two things come along at once. Bit like buses.

Cold to the Touch, the second in the Dark Peak series, is today’s Daily Bargain here at the BSB site. That means it’s just $3.99 on ebook till some time later tonight (it’s in US time so obviously, I am flummoxed). Better to buy sooner rather than later so you don’t cop for the full whack (translation: so you don’t end up spending $9.99 instead.)

Also, this Wednesday at 7pm UK time, I’ll be chatting about publishing on a panel at the 2022 Portsmouth BookFest. It’s a zoom event which means it’s open to everyone for a nominal fee of £4. I think you’re getting two hours for that, which is quite a good deal. I’ll mainly be talking about bamboozling international readers by writing in Brit-speak, which should be fun.

Tickets are available here – hit “tickets” and scroll down about a mile till you get to the From the HorsesMouths panel. That’s me.

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Lez Talk About Books, Baby…

Snowed in? Long commute? Run out of audiobooks? Do you have a penchant for scrappy authors with weird northern English accents? If the answer to any of these questions is yes – head here to download or listen to a lovely chat I had with Anita Kelly for her Lez Talk About Books, Baby! podcast. It’s a proper trip through all of my books, heading right back to where it all started with Snowbound and ending with my current work in progress. Enjoy!

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BSB Book Bash This Weekend

There’s a massive Bold Stroke book bash a’happening… well, now, it started yesterday, but it’s mainly going on this weekend when there’ll be a ton of panels and readings taking place over the zoom. As ever, registration is completely free.

The full schedule is below. Squint and you might be able to catch me at 2pm (EST)/7pm (UK) on the Saturday and 5pm (EST)/10pm (UK) on the Sunday. If that late panel is anything like the last late panel I did, I’ll mumble around like a drunk and fail to say anything remotely coherent so be sure to tune in for that!

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An Inside Peek Into Recording ‘Unbreakable’ on Audio

It’s no secret that I wasn’t really involved in the production of my first six books on audio. I dutifully submitted voice notes for the narrators, but that was as far as things went. Terrified of the books being mucked up, I didn’t even listen to them for months, until my wife gently prodded me with a “Cari, this narrator is actually very good.” On the way home from a holiday, I started to listen to A Quiet Death to distract me from my terror of flying, and I quickly realised that, yes, this narrator is very bloody good.

This narrator is Nicola Victoria Vincent, a lass who hails from my neck of the woods. A classically trained actress with twenty-plus years of voiceover and theatre experience, Nicki is adept at juggling a diverse cast and can spin an accent out of the ether at the drop of a hat. To date, she’s narrated all but one of my books, and from Alias onwards the process has been a far more collaborative one.

When Nicki signed the contract to narrate Unbreakable, we chatted about Bold Strokes letting me proof the book, as they had done with Breathe. This in itself is a bit of a no-no; authors aren’t usually allowed to proof their own stuff in case they start quibbling over the way a line has been delivered, rather than simply checking for errors. The usual process is to do the proofing right at the end, but Nicki told me that she prefers working with the author as she goes along and asked whether I’d be okay with that. Always game for new experiences, I gave her a thumbs up, and away we went.

Well, in truth, I sat and waited quite a while, because this was all ages before she was set to start recording.

Fast forward to the end of August, and I get my first sample of Unbreakable, a fifteen-minute scene from the start of the novel that introduces two of the lead characters, Elin and Grace. It’s always a weird combination of exciting and scary to hear your characters given actual voices, and Nicki and I had a short chat about Elin sounding a little too rough. Nicki reminds me that Elin has been shot in the chest and isn’t exactly at her best in this scene, and assures me she has her voice worked out for the rest of the novel. I concede the point, approve the sample, and sit on tenterhooks waiting to get going on the recording proper.

The first two chapters drop into my inbox a few weeks later, along with a note to have a listen to Detective Sergeant Safia Faris’s voice because Nicki isn’t entirely happy with it. Safia is British Pakistani, born and raised in London, and Nicki is worried about her accent. By the time I’ve listened to the chapters and spent half a night shift googling various accents for Nicki to mimic, she’s sorted everything, settled on a voice she’s comfortable with, and re-recorded all of Safia’s dialogue. We agree that it’s miles better and Safia is cute as a button: sweet and funny in her exchanges with her work partner Suds and her wife Kami. I proof both chapters using a table similar to that for proofing a book, except that this one comes with a timestamp to mark the errors. If something needs further explanation, I add a comment or an apology if I think I’m being a pain in the arse.

We settle into a rhythm. Nicki sends me chapters as she records them, together with short notes if there is anything in particular she wants me to lend my ear to. I sit with the Kindle version of the book, reading along to the text as I’m listening to each chapter. Mistakes are few and far between: the odd missed word, a name switch here or there. Safia’s police partner Suds uncaps his pen “in an unsuitable signal” instead of an “unsubtle signal.” I proof, Nicki amends, and I get the amended files back to check. The corrections are edited in seamlessly, the adjustments leaving no trace that they were ever made. The technology and the skill going on behind all this regularly blow my mind.

In the fourth chapter, numerous text messages are exchanged between the characters. Nicki records the texts in her regular narration voice, but, being familiar with her previous work, I make a note of all the timestamps in case she switches to using the sender’s voice in future chapters. It’s a job well done. Come chapter ten, she starts using the sender’s voice, and we have a chat about which is more effective. Having decided on the sender’s voice, it’s easy for her to go back to chapter four and pinpoint the texts from the timestamps I’d saved. The changes make a big difference; all the texts are from the main villain of the piece, and they’re far more chilling in his harsh northern accent.

Meanwhile on WhatsApp…

We chat in emails as we go along. I’m thoroughly enjoying every minute of this, and I tell Nicki how much fun it’s been. Her reply hits the nail on the head:

I’m glad you’re enjoying the process, it’s much better for me too, it’s good to know you’re happy with it and it’s how you want it. I worry when the author only gets to hear the entire audio at the end that if they don’t like something they might feeling that it’s too late or too much work to put it right. 

Can you imagine if we’d got to the end of the book and I’d decided on a final proof that Safia’s voice wasn’t right? Would I have asked for changes, or settled because I didn’t want to make a fuss? Going through the recording together, we were able to identify issues or uncertainties and fix them as they occurred, preventing them from snowballing into something insurmountable. And, while I appreciate that not every narrator or author wants to work like this, it’s certainly been a bonus for this book and for an author who loves being involved in stuff.

The proofing for chapter 11 prompts a flurry of WhatsApp messages. I’d asked whether a quote from Suds describing how Safia’s cooking had “opened him up to a world of possibilities” would be funnier switched from narration to Suds’s voice. Nicki politely tells me that she’d considered this, but the pronoun in the quote wouldn’t make sense if he was the one saying it…

Two sets of eyes and ears on this thing are definitely better than one, and this is a good example of something that works in the text but needs a simple adjustment to make it work on audio.

As the story progresses, the action leaves London and heads into our usual turf: The North. Nicki comments that she’s far more confident now, and I realise what a challenge this damn book must have been for her – multiple southern English accents, a Pakistani lead with a Bengali girlfriend, a large cast, and so much going on in terms of emotions, action scenes, and police-type tech speak. She makes it all seem so effortless that it’s easy to forget the expertise involved, though I don’t actually ever forget. I’m constantly in awe, especially when she nails an entire chapter – everything perfect, every line of dialogue either the way I’d imagined it in my head or given a new spin that makes it even better. I leave her feedback and bouquets in the proofing tables, and take the piss out of her for repeatedly saying “say-leen” instead of “say-line.” She has no idea why she does that either, but she gets a round of applause when, third time lucky, she gets it right.

As the end of the book approaches, we come to some of my favourite scenes, I take to checking my inbox every half hour. I feel like a reader promising themselves one more chapter before bedtime. I listen to the files as soon as they come in, even when I’ve not got the computer on and I can’t proof them. My edits are few and far between now, the occasional tweak here or there, but Nicki is in her element with the big emotional stuff, and she’s sailing through these scenes. I’m genuinely gutted when it’s all over. We choose a sample for Audible and that’s that. I email Nicki to tell her we have to meet up sometime, because I definitely owe her dinner. She bargains that down to a brew, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough, so I promise to add a scone. But only if she pronounces it properly…

The Unbreakable audiobook is now available to buy from Audible US or Audible UK or via Amazon.

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Unbreakable Audio Now Available!

The audio version of Unbreakable has just been released onto Audible/Amazon whisper sync with the marvellous Nicola Victoria Vincent narrating.

Nicki and I worked together throughout the recording of the book and I couldn’t be happier with the final result (keep an eye out for a blog detailing the process!)

You can buy the audio version at Audible US or Audible UK or via any of the Amazon sites.

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Seems Like a Good Time…

…To remind folks old and new that I have a book discussion group over on Facebook. I’ve never done the whole “invite every man and his dog” lark, so the group is small and friendly, and currently chatting about who they’d cast in Unbreakable and what the hell Salad Cream is. All my book news tends to go there before it goes anywhere else.

If that sounds like your kind of thing, head here.

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‘Unbreakable’ Now Available Everywhere!

It’s been a long time coming but Unbreakable is finally available to buy from pretty much anywhere and everywhere 🙂

Thanks to all the early readers who took the time to rate and review it. Kind words are always appreciated.

The audio version – with Nicola Victoria Vincent doing an absolutely brilliant job of narrating – is done and dusted and we’re just waiting for Audible to load the bugger up, so hopefully that won’t be too much longer now.

Amazon US link here.

Amazon UK link here.

Enjoy!

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