‘Cold to the Touch’ Wins a Rainbow Award

Cold to the Touch smallerShift work does funny things to your brain, so it was a genuine surprise to turn my phone on first thing Thursday morning and find out that Cold to the Touch had snagged the 2016 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Thriller/Mystery. The surprise was twofold, 1) because I’d got the dates mixed up and hadn’t expected the results for another 24 hours, and 2) because the book was up against some damn stiff competition in its category. Cold also placed third in Lesbian Fiction overall, which is bloody good going for a crime sequel running against every other lesbian book submitted (there were a lot!) 🙂

Prior to the awards themselves, the Honourable Mentions (scored 36/40 or more by an individual judge) were handed out, with Cold scooping four of those little buggers:

1) Cold to the Touch was a seamless narrative blending criminal mystery and romance. Hunter’s style is so elegant that I feel like I experienced the story, not just read it.

2) A gripping story with well-developed characters and a pace that, at times, leaves you on the edge of your seat. Very clean writing style that managed to move the plot along without bogging down the reader in trivial details as sometimes occurs in crime procedurals. Overall, very nicely done.

3) Talk about cold! Cari Hunter writes winter so that you feel the snow creep down your collar or the wind whistle through the rip in your pants. She makes you feel the ache of fatigue from three nights in a row of too little sleep, and the terror of thinking you’re losing your job, your career, your best friend, and your chance at love. I cared about Sanne from the start. Meg took a little more getting used to, but she grew on me. The crimes were bloody–very, very bloody-but realistically so, and not in an offensive way. The story is more police procedural than mystery, so don’t expect to solve who dunnit from clues. If the clues had been there, I’m pretty sure Sanne would have figured them out.

4) A long story for its genre but excellent – no wasted words, no padding, and a very satisfying conclusion to the romantic story arc from other books. I marked plot down a couple of points because the backstory could have been explained more clearly. Good characterization even in minor roles; these people are individuals, not stereotypes. Since the series protagonist has had her ups and downs I wasn’t sure if she’d be able to overcome the hurdles set up but – EXCELLENT storytelling and a real nail-biter denouement. Brava!

My thanks, as ever, to Elisa Rolle who works tirelessly to pull the awards together (and raised over $14,000 for charity), and to everyone else who helps her to keep things ticking over.

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One Last Huzzah

A Quiet Death finalI’ll be celebrating the arrival of 2017 for two reasons: first and foremost because it will be an absolute joy to kick 2016 in the arse and consign it to the rubbish heap, and secondly because January 2017 sees the publication of A Quiet Death, the third and probably final adventure for Detective Sanne Jensen and her BFF Dr. Meg Fielding.

At the moment I’m basking in that wonderful post-editing, post-proofing glow, where the story is done and dusted, and I’ve approved the cover, written the blurby bits and sent everything back to Bold Strokes. Between shifts, I’m sitting with my feet up, dunking HobNobs and waiting for the postie to knock on with my shiny box of freebies. The only thing that’s left for me to do is convince people to read it…

So, how to go about that?

I suppose I could offer bribes, but I work for the NHS and I haven’t had a pay rise in the past eight years. Also I have bloody hedgehogs to feed now, as well as two perpetually starving cats, which leaves money a bit on the tight side. To be honest I’m hoping that some of you will be pushovers, given that this is book three and that a bunch of happy feedback for the first two instalments suggests I’m not the only one who’s fond of this ragtag rabble of northerners. Complacency is a dangerous thing, however, so for the waverers, the undecideds or those who may be considering starting the series from scratch, I thought I’d make a handy list of attractive attributes to shimmy things along.

Ten Reasons You Absolutely Should Read A Quiet Death

1. Sanne and Meg are finally finding their feet as a “proper” couple, in their own inimitable style (includes scenes of gambolling in meadows and sliding across the kitchen floor in bed socks**)

2. Meg treats a patient with a tail.

3. Sanne gets to chase someone out of a window (and she has a Taser).

4. Eleanor gets a bit drunk.

5. We learn Meg’s recipe for “homemade” soup.

6. We find out the name of Keeley’s new baby.

7. We learn the importance of navigating by the stars.

8. Fred cracks the filthiest of filthy jokes.

9. Teresa has lots of lovely scenes.

10. Nelson reveals his superpower.

** One of these is a fib.

In all seriousness, A Quiet Death was a tough one to write. I had the bare bones of the story rattling around in my head before I’d finished Cold to the Touch, but they made me nervous. Issues of racism, multiculturalism, xenophobia and religion formed the main components of the skeleton, and while I didn’t want to tiptoe gently around those topics, I didn’t want to fuck anything up and offend people. On the other hand, I’d chosen to set my series around Sheffield, and not acknowledging the city’s diversity and the difficulties of policing within an ever-evolving multicultural melting pot seemed disingenuous.

During the year I spent working on the novel, the Black Lives Matter movement has gone from strength to strength, the issue of immigration has rarely left the headlines, and tensions between police and minority communities have been under the spotlight here in the UK as well as over the pond. For the first time in this series I’ve given Sanne’s boss, Eleanor, a point of view, which has allowed me to develop her character, but also to explore the difficulties inherent in running a thorough police investigation whilst trying not to tread on anyone’s toes. When I started planning A Quiet Death, I never imagined that Trump would be sending politics in the US back to the Dark Ages, nor that the UK would be slinking out of the EU, but the themes touched upon in the novel seem more pertinent now than ever.

As you may have guessed, I can’t promise people an easy read. The book is dark and unsettling in places, but it’s a twisty, intricate story that’s shot through with humour and warmth, and at its heart are two women who love each other completely. Of the three Dark Peak books it’s probably my favourite, with a plot that challenged me and tied me in knots, and characters who now feel like my best mates. Months after I finished writing, I still miss those characters, and I do hope you’ll join them for this one last huzzah.

~ ~ ~

A Quiet Death will be released on January 1st via Bold Strokes Books – you can pre-order it and read the first three chapters here. It will be on wider sale January 17th. The kindle version should be available to pre-order later this month.

Mam Nick in the Peak District – one of the roads I had in mind when I wrote ‘A Quiet Death’.

 

 

 

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Shiny Things…

This little lovely finally arrived today after a brief stint of being held to ransom by the UK customs 🙂

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Cheers to the good people at GCLS, and to Nell Stark for doing such a sterling job with my acceptance speech. For the record, if I’d had to pick between the first two Dark Peak books, I’d have picked this one 🙂

 

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‘It’s a Mystery’ Podcast – Misty Moors, Queers, and Frogs…

Podcast-episode-30

A couple of weeks back, I had a lovely chat with fellow author, Alexandra Amor, for her It’s a Mystery podcast. We talked about the Dark Peak books, genre, the (in)visibility of queer characters in mainstream crime, and, um…frogs 🙂

The interview has now been posted here at her blog, where you can listen to it or download it, and there’s also a video of the recording over on YouTube.

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Old Friends/New Friends – UK BSB Event Blog

Yes, UK-based LesFic loving types, it’s just two weeks now till the annual UK BSB event in Nottingham. The weekend bash will be held 4th-5th June at the Waterstones store in the centre of the city. Loads of the UK BSB crowd will be there chatting on panels, reading from their latest releases, and generally getting up to mischief. The event is completely free, the books are usually good and cheap (and can be signed by the author of your choice!), and there’s the opportunity to chat about the publishing process if you’re a budding author.

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As a countdown to the weekend, each of the attending authors will be blogging on the UK event site. I’m first up, with a blog dedicated to you lot – all of the mates I’ve made through my books over the past five years. It truly has been a pleasure, and if you are around Nottingham on that weekend, please do come and say hello.

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Double Goldie Nod for the ‘Dark Peak’ Books

GCLS_seal1Choosing between your books is a bit like asking a mum to pick her favourite kid, so when it came to this year’s Goldie awards, I thought “to hell with it” and submitted the first two Dark Peak books – No Good Reason and Cold to the Touch – into the Mystery category. I had hoped that one might sneak through to the finals, but found out early this week that both had made their way onto the shortlist 🙂

The winners will be announced during the Golden Crown Literary Society conference, which will be held July 6th-10th in Washington, DC. Sadly, I won’t be able to trot on over there to fly the flag for the Brits, but a certain author who shall remain unnamed** has promised to don a tiara and deliver an acceptance speech in a delightful English accent should I be lucky enough to actually win a gong. Should be worth the price of admission alone…

 

** Okay, it was Nell Stark.

 

 

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‘Snowbound’ Audio Book Out Now!

The brand, spanking new audio book of Snowbound is now available to buy at Amazon UK , Amazon US, and Audible, with the perfectly named Lesley Parkin narrating. Thanks to my day job, I’ve only had the chance to listen to the online preview, so all I can tell you is that Mac sounds like a cross between my dad, Peter Kay, and some bloke from dahn t’pit, and that Sam sounds rather sweet. You can pick up a copy free with an Audible trial, and it’s probably worth a listen just to see how many different accents can be crammed into one book 🙂

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