New interview

I’m popping in to mention my latest interview, courtesy of Hannah at the Dorset Book Detective blog. She asked me all kinds of questions about my writing processes and background, and I discuss not just where my love of crime fiction came from, but also how I got my first book deal (with Caffeine Nights) and what I hope might be coming next.

Do pop over to Hannah’s blog to check out the results. I hope it gives you some insight into what makes me tick.

Allergy to Amazon?

Raise the Blade FrontWant to buy books but not keen on the universe-swallowing internet giants? Well, now there’s a new way to get your hands on titles from Caffeine Nights – direct from the publisher.

This includes my own book ‘Raise the Blade’, which is gory enough to qualify as a Halloween read. So to get your sticky mitts on a copy in time, head to my author page on the Caffeine Nights website, scroll down, and click the big friendly ‘buy here’ button at the bottom.

While you’re there, why not browse some of the other great books and authors Caffeine Nights has published? Shaun Hutson, Mike Craven, Graham Smith, Lucy Cameron, Paul Brazill… just some of the names you might want to check out. Just head for the ‘authors’ section for more information on all of them.

Where the Heck Wednesday: Graham Smith

Wednesday has rolled around again and this week I’m delighted to welcome my good friend and fellow Caffeine Nights author Graham Smith, who shares some fascinating facts about Cumbria.  Thanks for taking part, Graham!

Book titles: I Know Your Secret and Matching the Evidence

Author: Graham Smith

Setting: The English county of Cumbria / Facebook / Twitter

secret  matching

Location Location Location…

Apologies for the somewhat cheesy headline, but for this guest post I thought I’d talk about the locations I’ve chosen for my DI Harry Evans novels, novellas and short stories.

I’ve set them in Cumbria which includes the fantastically beautiful Lake District, the Northern Pennines and hundreds of miles of coastline. Cumbria is home to the city of Carlisle, countless small towns and villages, a plethora of wide open spaces consisting of moorland, rolling fells, deep lakes and small forests. (Many of these are good places to dump a body which is always important for us crime writers.)

Stepping outside the City of Carlisle, the towns and villages are tourist traps, ports, market towns. Tourism is huge business in the Lake District, but Cumbria also plays home to a nuclear power station, a naval base and factories which produce everything from crisp packets to biscuits via tyres. Farming is a huge part of the community and there are many dairy, sheep and cattle farms throughout the region although the hills do mean there’s a distinct lack of arable farming in the area. (This diversity of location gives me the opportunity to write a rural or city based story without having to move my characters away from their usual stomping ground as the whole of Cumbria is their patch.)

The M6 motorway and countless A and B roads afford access around the county, but there’s also many single track roadways when you get off the beaten track. (For a crime writer these are great for allowing speedy progress or causing tension-inducing displays as required by the story.)

Cumbria has an amazing history which includes the Romans, the reiving families of the borders and the many wars between Scotland and England. All of this makes for a landscape which is rich in varied influences and ancient cultures. (West Cumbria had its own unique language which still shows in the speech patterns of those local to the area.)

Another governing factor in my choosing Cumbria and the Lake District as my location of choice is the fact it is an area which many readers from the north of England and Scotland are likely to have visited. Most readers like to read about places they know and as such it was something of a no-brainer for me to choose to write about and area I’m local to and fairly familiar with. (Don’t tell anyone, but one of the main reasons I chose Cumbria is so I can have a nice day out in the Lake District and call it research.)

A lesser but still important consideration was that very few people are setting crime stories in Cumbria. All the other cities close to me have already been claimed by those who know them far better than I.

With all these attributes available in a location so close to my home in Scotland (I live just three miles from Cumbria) I’d have had to have been very brave or foolish to choose anywhere else.

I might be a coward, but I’m not an idiot!


Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner, he has built bridges and houses, dug drains, and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

 An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website since 2009.

He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team.

Scary stuff!

And it isn’t even Halloween yet…

However, I’m delighted to share the brand new book trailer/video for ‘Raise the Blade’, courtesy of Darren Laws at Caffeine Nights Publishing.

It’s a creepy little offering which perfectly captures the dark, claustrophobic atmosphere of the book.  It gave me a shiver or two whilst watching it – and I knew roughly what to expect!  Even the music is suitably scary.

Pop along to either Animoto or my very first YouTube video to see the clip for yourself.  Happy viewing, preferably from behind a cushion or underneath the sofa.

Raising a glass

blade_posterI’m raising a glass today to Caffeine Nights and their CEO Darren Laws because ‘Raise the Blade’ has duly been released on Kindle.

I couldn’t be happier.  This is a great independent publisher, small enough to care about its authors but large enough to get results, and its catalogue is a great fit for my writing.  Dark and gritty, in other words!  ‘Raise the Blade’ is in good hands.

And if you’re into noir, serial killers, twisted psychology, Pink Floyd, or even elephants, then feel free to check it out.  It’s available at Amazon for only £1.99.

Exciting times

If there’s a sudden pause in this blog post don’t worry, it’s just me conking out because I’ve stopped breathing.  Today has been so exciting I’m not sure I can cope!

First of all, my author copies of ‘Raise the Blade’ arrived in the post.  They look terrific and I’m absolutely delighted with the cover, the overall look and the sheer professionalism of the product.  So much so I laid some of them out on my desk and took a photo:


Then, just when I thought I was starting to get over that, I discovered that the Kindle version is now available for pre-order on Amazon – for only £1.99.  More excitement!  Now I’m dashing around trying to update all my social media, websites, blogs and what have you at the same time, and rapidly running out of fingers.

If you’d like to add your name to the pre-order list you can find further details here – and thank you very much!  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Raising the… profile

Raise the Blade FrontIt’s now less than two weeks until my book ‘Raise the Blade’ is due out from Caffeine Nights Publishing, so I thought it was about time I doled out some more information on it.

For starters, it’s a darkly humorous psychological noir novella featuring a serial killer and the idea that people may inadvertently contribute to their own fate.  Phew.  Once you’ve digested all of that, it was inspired partly by a news report of someone finding a dead body in a Birmingham canal, and partly by the wonderful Pink Floyd track ‘Brain Damage’, from their Wish You Were Here album.

Floyd have long been a firm favourite of mine and the Roger Waters lyrics on that particular track grabbed me by the throat years ago and have never really let go.

You can find out more about the book, including the blurb, on a brand new page at my website.  Over the next week or so I’ll be adding other snippets, including pre-ordering information and a decent excerpt, so do keep checking back.

Oh – and don’t forget the elephants.

Bar room bestie

Ed from Byker Books posed an intriguing question earlier today – which of your fictional characters would you most want by your side during a bar room brawl?

I had a good think about this one.  Although I write about lots of nefarious characters, many of them are deeply flawed and would probably run for the hills (or the nearest dark alley) at the first sign of real, you know, actual violence.

But there are a handful who are made of sterner stuff.  Interestingly, several of them are women.  Tina from ‘Going Off the Deep End’ (Betty Fedora #1) likes getting her own way and wouldn’t be fazed by a broken finger nail or two on route.  The nameless ‘heroine’ in ‘Last Chance Saloon’ (Betty Fedora #2) is ruthless when faced with a cheating boyfriend and wouldn’t let a few drunken thugs stand in her way.  And Jo the probation officer in ‘Raise the Blade’ (due from Caffeine Nights very soon) is brave, resourceful and sensible enough to know when to call someone else for help.

But the stand-out candidate from all my stories to date has to be the main character in ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’ in the Rogue anthology from Near to the Knuckle.  He’s a law unto himself, violent and uncompromising, and not all that different to the baddies.  And as he himself says, it’s amazing what he can hide under that robe.

So how about your own characters?  Anyone in particular you’d like fighting at your side, for all the right reasons – or even all the wrong ones?

Good news

Raise the Blade FrontThings have been a little… unusual here in Britain lately, so it’s nice to have some really good news to liven up the gloom and uncertainty.

And I have.  Caffeine Nights Publishing have just confirmed that  ‘Raise the Blade’ is due out by late summer, which is now only a few weeks away.

As you can imagine, I’m really excited.  As far as I’m concerned late summer can’t come soon enough – although in reality it will take time to arrange a book launch (and hopefully a few book signings) and sort out all the other arrangements and preparations that having a new book out entails.  So I guess that, like everyone else, I’ll just have to wait!

In the meantime, here’s a reminder of that pretty cover Caffeine Nights designed for me, and a brief teaser of the book’s first few words.  I’ll be revealing more… gradually… over the next few weeks.  Oo-er!

Duncan raises the blade and watches the parcel squirm.  He’s going to love the next few hours…



April Skies

aprilskiesIt’s an appropriate time of year to be blogging about this topic.  However in this case April Skies has nothing to do with the weather.

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading ‘Abide With Me’ by Ian Ayris, and thoroughly enjoyed the book, as this brief review on Goodreads shows.  So I was delighted to see that Ian has a sequel to that book out now, and that sequel is ‘April Skies’.

Life has moved on for the protagonist of ‘Abide With Me’, John Sissons, but he’s still haunted by the horrors of his past.  And when his sister goes missing, he realises that running away from his mistakes is no longer an option.

I haven’t read ‘April Skies’ yet but if the tone is anything like as brilliant as ‘Abide With Me’ then it should be firmly on all crime and noir lovers’ reading lists.  It’s available from Caffeine Nights, and you can find it on Amazon as an e-book right now.  Paperback, presumably, to follow.

Raise the Blade cover reveal

I’m jumping up and down with excitement because I can now share the cover artwork for my forthcoming novella ‘Raise the Blade’.  I had quite a struggle with this because the art team at Caffeine Nights sent me two different versions and I liked both so much I couldn’t choose between them!  Eventually, after much dithering in the undergrowth, I selected this one:

Raise the Blade Front

I think it’s amazing, and absolutely ‘right’ for the book.  There’s a reason for all that duct tape, too, but I’m not going to say what it is.  You’ll just have to read the book and find out for yourselves.

‘Raise the Blade’ is due out from Caffeine Nights in the coming months.  You can bet I’ll let everyone know when I have the date!