Well, we’ve finally reached blooming June or bloomin’ June as the weather’s not exactly summery. But that didn’t stop us turning up for the last First Monday Crime for the season or academic year. It was a cracker of a panel with Martyn Waites, Sarah Pinborough, Lisa Hall and Harry Brett aka Henry Sutton. Jake Kerridge asked the questions.
First up, those all important books.
Sarah Pinborough’s latest book is Cross Her Heart. Sarah doesn’t particularly like talking about her books so she condensed it down to – three women, all have secrets, stuff happens, people die, very twisty. I think that sums it up pretty well! (You can read my review here.)
Martyn Waites’ new novel is The Old Religion. His one-line pitch was ‘Brexit Noir meets The Wicker Man‘. Martyn moved to the West Country a few years ago after being in London, and for him it felt as though he was in witness protection, the contrast was so different. So the protagonist in The Old Religion is in witness protection. Martyn wanted to explore a closed community and how easy it would be to take it over with a malevolent spirit and hijack it. As the character is in WP, his real name is hidden. After writing many years under the name of Tania Carver, Martyn has had to find his own voice again for this book.
Lisa Hall must be one of the kindest Crime writers as she hasn’t killed anyone in her books (and not in real life either!). Her main character in The Party is Rachel who wakes up bruised and hurt after a party the night before. She can’t remember anything so tries to find out what happened from her friends. However, she gets different accounts from different people – who’s telling the truth?
Henry Sutton feels as though he’s finally found his true crime voice writing under the name Harry Brett. Red Hot Front is the second book in The Goodwins series following the story of Tatiana Goodwin who takes over her husband’s criminal empire after his death. Ian Rankin has described it as ‘The Godfather in Great Yarmouth’. Having grown up in a strong matriarchal household, Harry found it easy to write a strong female character. There aren’t many books that are told from a criminal viewpoint, especially women, and Harry was keen to convey this. Two main criticisms of his books are – why is the weather always bad in Great Yarmouth and why is there so much swearing? His answer – have you been to Great Yarmouth and have you ever met a criminal who doesn’t swear?
Jake Kerridge asked the panel about the Staunch Prize which is still proving to be a ‘hot potato’ in the Crime genre world. What did the panel think?
Martyn Waites didn’t think it was a good idea. It’s been set up by people who haven’t had much to do with Crime writing and books need to reflect real life.
Harry Brett agreed. We can’t ignore the real-life trend of violence against women. However, we can look to see who has the power in a novel. His example was Gone Girl.
Sarah Pinborough had more issue with the £20 entry fee. She thought it was well-intentioned but handled badly.
Lisa Hall thought the same. Good on paper but not well-executed. If you don’t like it, don’t read it!
A question from the audience – one thing you enjoy about writing?
Lisa Hall – the community! All the panel agreed this was a good thing. Harry thought it was great to be able to chat to other authors. Sarah and Martyn both said alcohol! Crime writers are great to party with as they get all their hateful urges out on the page!
Sarah Pinborough likes the idea of wearing comfy joggers all day. Martyn agreed with that too.
Martyn Waites – the actual day-to-day job of making up stuff is hard so he loves it when he gets a good day that then becomes brilliant.
Harry Brett had something similar – hitting that phrase or sentence that keeps you going.
Well, the June First Monday Crime will have to keep us going until the autumn when it returns in September! You can the books at Big Green Bookshop or click on the authors’ names below.
And make sure you keep an eye on First Monday Crime for news for the autumn.