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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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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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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Wales as a Setting #5: Leslie Scase

Leslie Scase explains why Pontypridd is a perfect setting for his Victorian mystery. Let's Go Back in Time It all started when I began to take an interest in genealogy. My grandmother’s family were originally from Trowbridge. Her parents had moved to South Wales in the middle of the 19th Century and she was born just outside Pontypridd. My grandfather was born in Rapallo, Italy and arrived in Cardiff in the 1890s. Their wedding took place in Pontypridd in 1898 and my grandfather worked in a colliery as a ‘stoker-above-ground.’ I started to think about what sort of place Pontypridd must have been in the 1890’s. What I found absolutely fascinated me. Pontypridd had only existed as a town due to the industrial revolution. The population of the Rhondda Valleys had exploded in a very short space of time. It was a time of great migration but not everyone was heading to America. Some saw the chance of a better life closer to...
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Wales as a setting #4 – Dylan H Jones

Dylan H Jones writes about Anglesey, Ynys Mon, the island that inspired his Tudor Manx mysteries. Anglesey: An Isle of Inspiration I was attending my father’s funeral on a typically cold and rainy Anglesey day in November that the thought hit me. How, as a writer, the boundaries between real life and fiction become blurred, especially when I’m writing about a place so close to my heart; a place I still call home even though I now live several thousand miles away. I’d written a funeral scene in my first book, Anglesey Blue, which took place on a similar windswept day. There were some details I’d got right; how the low clouds can press the day into shadow and blunt the peaks of the Snowdonia mountain range; how the wind rattling the chapel door can feel like death itself demanding to enter; how the rise and fall of a hundred Welsh voices singing Calon Lan can still create a fist-sized knot in my...
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Wales as a Setting #3 – Eamonn Griffin

Eamonn Griffin explains why Wales is so well suited to dastardly deeds. It’s a good place for a killing, Wales. And not only because the country’s got more than its fair share of forests, ravines, abandoned mines, quarries and old factory sites, not to mention desolate beaches, that make excellent potential sites for a body dump, neither. Though the country has all of these and more. No. Part of the reason why Wales can offer excellent settings is in its diversity of Welshness. Rural locations? Check. Cities? Yep. Affluent communities? Yes. Run-down towns? Absolutely. Touristy ruggedness? No shortage. Concrete post-industrial hellscapes? There’s one or two. Wales offers a bit of everything, and often in close proximity. We’re used in fiction to the usual settings. London, perhaps inevitably, figures large. Ditto other major cities associated with different detectives: the Edinburgh of John Rebus, Harry Bosch’s LA. Wales, though, is comparatively under-used. Cardiff-based folk will chuckle at the ways that Doctor Who recycles the same...
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Wales as a setting #2 – Rosie Claverton

Rosie Claverton, author of the Amy Lane Mysteries, talks about using Wales as a setting for a series. Working on Book #6 of the Amy Lane Mysteries, I sometimes wonder if I am running out of ideas – particularly for how to turn beautiful, exciting places into the ideal location for murder. Binary Witness was my first novel and, between introducing my agoraphobic hacker and streetwise ex-con to the world, I was trying to turn my favourite city of Cardiff into something desperate and sinister. I used Jason’s love for his home town to communicate my own passions for the city, even if my fictional version has a much higher murder rate. The second novel expanded to include Swansea – or, more accurately, HMP Swansea. I also took a detour through the countryside between Bridgend and Cardiff, though not a route ideal for a little light rambling. It was cold and wet and miserable, which is about as far away from a Visit...
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Wales as a setting #1 – Cheryl Rees Price

This is the first in an occasional series on Wales as a setting for crime fiction. Cheryl Rees-Price writes about the inspiration of her locality for the settings of her books. When writing the first book in the DI Winter Meadows series I could think of no better place to set the book than Wales. A place with bleak landscapes, dark brooding skies, and small close-knit communities. I guess it’s not so different from the settings found in popular Scandi crime fiction. I grew up in the Amman valley, so I know the area well. Although I base the location of my books on this area I have changed the names of the villages. Firstly, because I did not want to cause offence by using a well-known building or area as a scene of crime, secondly, I could unwittingly ignite some gossip, particularly as there are some colourful characters where I live, and lastly, it gave me more scope when writing, I can...
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