Like, Love, Kill by Cal Smyth

To coincide with his new role as a Royal Literary Fellow at Swansea University, Cal Smyth has written a social media murder mystery set on a university campus. Each Sunday, Like, Love, Kill will be serialised via Crime Cymru… 1 Amy scrolls through Facebook posts on her iPhone, jabs at the screen, says: ‘I’d kill to get as many likes as her.’ Caitlin looks across the counter, asks: ‘Who?’ ‘Charlene.’ Amy turns the phone so that Caitlin can see the screen. The photo is of Charlene, the dancing queen, in mid-salsa pose with another young woman. Charlene isn’t pouting, but her lips naturally form a kiss shape. Two high-heeled, short-skirted women locked in an embrace give the photo an added sheen. It has already got over a hundred likes. Caitlin shakes her head. SMH, she thinks, SMH. Realising even she is thinking in text speak, Caitlin smiles at life. She likes Charlene’s joyful attitude and doesn’t think Amy should take the whole ‘like’ business so seriously. Caitlin...
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You’ve got to have done it: Arthur Cole

You’ve got to have done it: Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole speaks of his fascinating journey from the police to writing poetry and co-writing crime thrillers based on his wealth of experience. My literary career began late in life, in fact I didn’t write anything until January 2016. I was born and bred in a small mining village called Caerau, at the top of the Llynfi Valley, Maesteg. My father was a miner, as were most of my immediate family. I am one of six children, five brothers and one sister. I passed my 11+ in 1961 and then attended Maesteg Grammar School. I wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination academic, I was more hands on, Metalwork, Woodwork and Technical Drawing, however I did love English literature. During the last year of my schooldays, a new English Literature teacher Mr David John introduced us to the World War I poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Mr John actually transformed the English department. I left school at seventeen and...
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Wales as a home for crime fiction: Stephen Puleston

Wales as a home for crime fiction: Stephen Puleston

Anglesey writer Stephen Puleston argues the case for Dragon Noir to gain its place in the crime-writing hall of fame. Tartan Noir has established Scotland as a source of high-quality crime fiction with the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Peter May [to name only three]. Indeed, there is a Wikipedia entry for Tartan Noir explaining its cultural roots and impact on the international crime writing scene. Iceland has world-renowned crime writers, as do the Scandinavian countries. Crime writing in Wales has a lot of catching up to do before ‘Dragon Noir’ has a place in the crime writing pantheon. Ian Rankin didn’t set out to be a crime writer and he believes that crime writing can hold a mirror up to contemporary society. Although we write genre fiction crime writers shouldn’t shy away from doing the same and making contemporary comment about modern Wales. When I planned my first Inspector Drake novel, I wanted to have a strong sense of place...
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Crime Cymru Abroad #5: Serbia with Cal Smyth

Crime Cymru Abroad #5: Serbia with Cal Smyth

Cal Smyth talks about the extraordinary true-life events he experienced that inspired his series of Serbia-set crime thrillers. I wanted to write a crime series set in Belgrade for a long time as it’s a fascinating city and perfect for Balkan Noir. I’ve also loved two Serbian women, my son is half Serbian and I lived in Belgrade in the 90s. At that time, Belgrade was a crazy place. The Yugoslav War was over, the West had imposed sanctions and inflation was off the scale. The only economy which worked was the black-market and in this climate, crime thrived. There’s a Serbian documentary from the 90s called See You in the Obituary, which simply interviewed criminals to get their thoughts. By the time the documentary had finished being made, most of the interviewees had been killed. One of the journalists behind the documentary became a monk and went to live in a secluded monastery while one of the few surviving criminals went...
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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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September Events for Crime Cymru

September is all set to be a month of fruitfulness for Crime Cymru, though maybe more bloody than mellow. A chance to catch up with a lot of us at some not-to-be-missed events. On September 2nd, at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, there will be a screening preview of Phil Rowland’s new drama from S4C, Pili Pala, with a Q&A session to follow. Free but ticketed. And if you miss that, the first part will be broadcast on S4C on September 8th. On September 5th, Katherine Stansfield, winner of this year’s Holyer an Gof award, will be at the Cornish Gorsedh literary festival in the old town hall in St Just in Penwith, near Penzance, in conversation with Pat Parry. It’s a free event, and it’s followed, two weeks later, by the publication of Katherine’s third historical Cornish mystery, The Mermaid’s Call, on 19th September. Also due for publication this month is John Nicholl’s latest thriller, The Girl in White, on September 4th. On...
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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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