Embracing Technology: Gaynor Torrance

Embracing Technology: Gaynor Torrance

Gaynor Torrance puts forward the case for embracing technology to enhance your writing. My schooldays were over before the technological revolution reached my corner of the world. Growing up in what was later acknowledged as one of the most deprived areas in Wales, funding was minimal. Choices had to be made, which is no different from the way things are now. We had books, pens and paper, but I, like many others, received a decent education. Back then, everything took so much effort. Two of my three A levels were essay based - English and History. My research was limited to whichever books were readily available, and drafting had to be done in longhand. Despite the advantage of being ambidextrous, assignments still took hours – changing hands whenever my digits cramped. And of course, you couldn’t submit anything where the text had been crossed out or altered. So if you made a mistake, you had to rewrite the entire page. When I became...
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Wales as a setting #7: Gareth W Williams

Wales as a setting #7: Gareth W Williams

Translating his own novel, Gareth W Williams offers us a taste of the seamy world of racketeering and corruption of Rhyl promenade in the summer of 1969. Promenâd y Gwenoliaid / Swallows’ Promenade Or should I say ‘novella’. Not the weightiest tome you’ll ever read but a pleasant few hours in the sun or by the fire thinking of sunny days on Rhyl promenade in 1969 and an intriguing yarn to keep you entertained somewhere between the famous Five and Brighton rock. It treads a tightrope between a tale and an autobiography and so does not follow the expected route for a crime novel: no perceptive detective, no rigorous police work; instead a group of students (the swallows) come back home from college in the summer to work on the promenade and are inadvertently sucked into the underworld of protection racketeering and corruption which lurks beneath the bingo, beer, chips and candy floss of summer by the seaside. During the novel the...
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It Takes Two, Babe…: Nigel C Williams

It Takes Two, Babe…: Nigel C Williams

Nigel C Williams speaks of his extraordinary journey from the Metropolitan Police to a degree in art and co-writing crime thrillers with fellow former police officer Arthur Cole. I had spent fifteen weeks in 1981 training to become a constable in the Metropolitan Police. It had been a decision I had not been entirely sure of but one that I had been determined to make work. I had loved my time at Hendon – one of sixty or so new recruits that were being enrolled for training each week at that time. I had enjoyed the discipline, the new friends, and had found I could cope easily with the academic elements of the course. I got into a habit of learning the set texts ‘parrot fashion’ each afternoon, after lunch, to ensure I was in the local pub early for the socialising that erased any feelings of longing for home I feared would disrupt my determination to make a go of...
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Un-confuse Your Story: GB Williams

Un-confuse Your Story: GB Williams

GB Williams gives a master class in editing to give that final polish to your writing. It is a common criticism that books, especially crime fiction, can be confusing. Confusion will throw the reader out of the read every time, but it’s a writer’s job to engage the reader and draw them in. So how to do that? Lots of ways, but here are some of the structural things that can help. Assume that, as per my recent experience, you have a manuscript to send out. In the manuscript each scene works individually, but as a whole there’s a problem. The readers say the book is coming across as ‘confusing.’ I had to do something, so here are the steps I worked through to reduce the potential for confusion. 1. TIMELINE Lots of books jump back and forth with timeline, keeping things in strict timeline order can help keep the story straight. Yes, crime fiction means uncovering what happened in the past, but that...
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Crime +: Katherine Stansfield

Crime +: Katherine Stansfield

Katherine Stansfield adds even more intrigue to the mix with Crime + in a fascinating exploration of genre blending. When it comes to reading crime fiction, I’m not much of a purist. I’ve always enjoyed crime stories that have an extra element, some other form in tandem with the central investigation. This probably explains why, when I started to write crime fiction myself, my own novels were crime + another genre from the outset. My Cornish Mysteries series is historical crime, set in the 1840s in north Cornwall and featuring a pair of amateur sleuths, Anna Drake and Shilly Williams. The novels are traditional mysteries set in closed rural communities. Dead bodies turn up and everyone has something to hide – if not murder then fraud, illness, poverty and the like. I like to think the novels (there are three to date) work just as well as historical fiction as they do crime. In addition to a satisfying mystery investigated by our...
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WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW… : SALLY SPEDDING

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW… : SALLY SPEDDING

Sally Spedding takes a critical look at an old adage and suggests instead a leap into the unknown. Write what you know... How often have we seen that well-worn dictat in writing magazines and wherever else some confident scribe is ploughing that easiest of furrows? It’s worrying how influential they can be to new writers putting toes into the treacherous waters of creativity, where the ‘what’ could include using real-life people. I’ve been around the publishing block many times since 2001 when ‘Wringland’ appeared as the first of a two-book deal with Pan Macmillan, and many times since then, it’s been a particular place which has haunted my mind, triggering copious, long-hand notes. Plus photographs and sketches… That place, be it the Fens or a ruined lead mine in Carmarthenshire, even a bottomless loch full of man-eating carp in Scotland, will be the main character. Its history, climate, smells, residual vibes are for me, the keys to unlocking a chilling story. Next, is who...
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Crime Cymru Abroad #4: Catalonia with Chris Lloyd

Crime Cymru Abroad #4: Catalonia with Chris Lloyd

Chris Lloyd discovers how location can be the inspiration with his police procedural series set in Catalonia. If you stand at the foot of the cathedral steps in Girona, some hundred kilometres northeast of Barcelona, what you’re really standing on is the Via Augusta, one of the roads that led to Rome. You can feel the centuries of history tugging at your sleeve. Towering above you is the Gothic cathedral, its stones carrying fossilised sea creatures, an evolutionary contradiction for a cathedral wall. To your right is a carriage-width chasm of a street, where the windows along one side are up to five hundred years younger than the buildings they’re in. It marked the edge of the medieval Jewish ghetto, its residents banned from looking out over the city, the windows put in after the Jews were expelled in 1492. Turn again and you see a café that had been home to seditious talk of democracy and freedom under the Franco...
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Domestic Crime #2. Bound by Blood – Thorne Moore

Domestic Crime #2. Bound by Blood – Thorne Moore

Fascinated with the consequences of crime, Thorne Moore takes a close look at what it is that leads someone over the edge and the aftermath of their actions for those around them. Crime. This one branch of human activity fascinates writers and readers so much that it creates a genre of its own. Libraries don’t have fiction shelves labelled “work” or “education” or “religion” but there’s always a section labelled “Crime.” It deserves a section of its own because “Crime” covers so many sub-genres, from the cosy country house puzzles of writers like Agatha Christie to the psychological dissections of human frailty by writers like Barbara Vine. The one thing they all have in common, whether they are police procedurals or purest Noir, is transgression – someone has broken the rules, with nasty consequences. It’s consequences that matter to me. My books have been defined as Domestic Noir, which is great because no one is quite sure what it means, but I get...
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WALES AS A SETTING #6: JOHN NICHOLL

John Nicholl extols the beauty of Wales as the setting for his darkly psychological thrillers. Those of us fortunate enough to live in Wales are surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful countryside and diverse coastal areas, much of which remains surprisingly uncrowded, even in the best of the summer months, when the sun sometimes shines. For me, this green and pleasant land provides the ideal base to live, write and set my stories, all of which have a strong Welsh flavour, being based in the country I love. I have written eight darkly psychological thrillers to date, the most recent of which - The Girl in White - will be published by Bloodhound Books on the 4 September. Like all my other books, the novel draws to some extent on knowledge gained during my working life as a young police officer, and my much longer career as a social worker and lecturer. I started writing after leaving my job heading...
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LOST IN TRANSLATION?: GWEN PARROTT

Gwen Parrott explains the ups and downs of translating her own novels from Welsh to English The one huge advantage of translating your own novels is that the perennial problem of trying to read the original author’s mind doesn’t exist. I say this having spent well over twenty years as a translator, puzzling over the intentions of thousands of writers on every topic under the sun as I struggle to understand what they meant to say, as opposed to what they actually said. However, translating my own novels from Welsh into English has proved a salutary experience in other unforeseeable ways. Originally, I did it to provide an English copy for family and friends, once the Welsh novel was complete, but I found that the process was an unexpectedly useful form of editing and, since then, I’ve tried to translate before submitting to a publisher. Perhaps I’m just a poor editor, but when I translate I see things that my eye slides...
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