Barbara Copperthwaite


BLOOD TYPE: Try Not To Breathe author Holly Seddon @HollySeddon @corvusbooks #writingtips


CRIME AUTHORS SPILL THEIR GUTS ABOUT WRITING. Every Thursday top-notch authors of psychological thrillers and crime fiction share their writing secrets – and the secrets to their success – with you and me.

“I try not to take the quick/easy route but instead do the difficult thing “

This week: HOLLY SEDDON author of Try Not To Breathe and Don’t Close Your Eyes

Tell us about yourself…

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I’m a British author, living in Amsterdam. My first book, Try Not to Breathe was published in 2016 and my second, Don’t Close Your Eyes has just been published. A third is being edited right now…

When I’m not writing, I’m hanging out with my dog Arnie, my kids and husband, or lifting weights.

How do you pick character names? Do any have special meaning to you?

Some times they just pop into my head, like Alex Dale from Try Not to Breathe. I was writing the very first scene with her and the name came out on to the page without any conscious thought, and I loved it.

Robin from Don’t Close Your Eyes is special to me. Her full name is Robin Marshall. Music is a big part of her… TO READ INTERVIEW IN FULL, CLICK HERE

BLOOD TYPE: Sweetpea author CJ Skuse @CJSkuse @harpercollinsUK #writingtips #writerslife


CRIME AUTHORS SPILL THEIR GUTS ABOUT WRITING. Every Thursday top-notch authors of psychological thrillers and crime fiction share their writing secrets – and the secrets to their success – with you and me.

“First drafts for me are like filling an empty swimming pool with cups of water”

This week: C.J. SKUSE

Tell us about yourself…

I’m a blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stain glass window. Nah, not really. Actually I’m a fairly average 36-year-old gal from Weston super Mare who grew up behind bars, eats way too many Maoams, failed Maths GCSE three time2016-09-29 12.13.18.jpgs and spends all her time in churchyards. I am blonde though (on occasion) and I love death sites, dogs and doll houses. I am also a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University so when I’m not writing my own books, I’m helping students to write theirs. BSU is a gorgeous place to work and is where I did both of my degrees. Every time I walk onto campus my spine straightens and I just feel so lucky to be there. I love it more than all the fishes in the sea, which is a lot.

How do you pick character names? Do any have special meaning to you?

Character names are always important to me and I spend waaaay too much time thinking of them. Sometimes I’ll just hear a name I like and I’ll use it (as was the case with Paisley – the protagonist of my first YA novel Pretty Bad Things – I was listening to a Scottish weather forecast) and other times I will agonise over them for weeks. The graveyards I frequent on my dog walks are sometimes sources of inspiration when it comes to names too, though I always use centuries-old names out of respect.

In Sweetpea my character was originally called Tamsin but when I heard Fleetwood Mac’s song Rhiannon on the radio, I knew she was meant to be called Rhiannon instead. With my fourth YA novel Monster (set in an all-girl boarding school) I needed to come up with… TO READ IN FULL, CLICK HERE

‘Absorbing’ #BookReview CITY OF MASKS, @SD_Sykes @HodderBooks


‘There’s something for everyone in this gentle crime fiction’


1358. Oswald de Lacy, Lord Somershill, is in Venice, awaiting a pilgrim galley to the Holy Land. While the city is under siege from the Hungarians, Oswald lodges with an English merchant, and soon comes under the dangerous spell of the decadent and dazzling island state that sits on the hinge of Europe, where East meets West.

Oswald is trying to flee the chilling shadow of something in his past, but when he finds a dead man on the night of the carnival, he is dragged into a murder investigation that takes him deep into the intrigues of this mysterious, paranoid city.

Coming up against the feared Signori di Notte, the secret police, Oswald learns that he is not the only one with something to hide. Everybody is watching somebody else, and nobody in Venice is what he or she seems. The masks are not just for the carnival.


Still crime, but a definite change of pace for me, as I rarely read historical fiction – but I always make an exception with S.D. Sykes.

The City of Masks is the third in her Somershill Manor series featuring Oswald de Lacy, and this time it is a falling out with troublesome relatives that kick-starts the action as he and his mother visit Venice.

Despite the change of location, the book is as absorbing a read as ever. S.D. Sykes has a way of weaving meticulous period detail through her stories without it ever feeling overwhelming – instead, it brings the story to life. This time she has surpassed herself, and I felt transported to the Venice of yesteryear. As amateur detective Oswald finds himself sucked into investigating a murder, little gems of humour are thrown in that lighten the pace. There’s something for everyone in this gentle crime fiction, right down to a floating brothel run by nuns… Great book!

PhotoFiction: Rachel Abbott shares #writing inspirations @RachelAbbott @MauraRedPR #authorinterview


Authors reveal the images that inspired 100,000 words

THIS WEEK: Rachel Abbott reveals how looking at a photograph can help bring a whole scene to life…


Rachel Abbott’s debut thriller, Only the Innocent, was an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and US. This was followed by the number one bestselling novels The Back Road, Sleep Tight and Stranger Child, Nowhere Child (a short novel based on the characters from Stranger Child) and Kill Me Again. In February 2017 Rachel released her seventh novel, The Sixth Window.
Her novels have been translated into over 20 languages.
In 2015 Amazon celebrated the first five years of the Kindle in the UK, and announced that Rachel was the #1 bestselling independent author over the five-year period. She was also placed #14 in the chart of all authors. Stranger Child was the most borrowed novel for the Kindle in the first half of 2015.
Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.

RA pic 2RACHEL SAYS: Every writer seeks inspiration for their stories from a whole range of sources. For some it could be news reports, magazine articles or local tales. They may discover a character they believe would be the perfect hero or villain in a novel, or be inspired to develop a devious plot. All of these work for me too – I believe that characters can drive a plot if they are strong enough.

But character and plot without a real sense of place don’t feel like quite enough to me. I want to sense the atmosphere of the surroundings and I try to bring this to life in my stories…TO READ IN FULL, CLICK HERE

BLOOD TYPE: Sheryl Browne @SherylBrowne #writingtips #writerslife


CRIME AUTHORS SPILL THEIR GUTS ABOUT WRITING. Every Thursday top-notch authors of psychological thrillers and crime fiction share their writing secrets – and the secrets to their success – with you and me.

“Sleep deprivation is definitely a downside of being a writer”

This week: Sheryl Browne

Tell us about yourself…

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You mean fabulously interesting things about me? Hmm? Well, here goes. I’m a keen boater. I do strange things occasionally like skydiving from 20,000 feet. Living in leafy Worcestershire, I’m a mother and I also foster disabled dogs, mostly on a long term basis, which makes for a quite interesting life. I write contemporary fiction and psychological thriller (apparently I have a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath. Thank you Rachel at Rachel’s Random Reads. I’m flattered … I think). I’m a member of the Crime Writers’ Association the Romantic Novelists’ Association and have several books published, along with two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies where I completed my MA in Creative Writing, finally. Life, what can I say?

How do you go about plotting your book? 

Plotting for me is … complete pandemonium. I start with a character and vague outline, i.e. pivotal plot points. In my second DI Matthew Adams thriller, for instance, the whole story is based around my protagonist making a bad judgement call and finding himself a victim of a drug related sexual assault. When you have a character in your head complete with traits and quirks, he’s inevitably going to lead the story and in this situation his emotions are going to be all over the place. He’s dictating his reactions so the outline goes out of the window and the post it notes begin to adorn my working surfaces, occasionally being seized upon as I actually remember them. The notepad inevitably accompanies me to bed, because those emotions don’t shut off at night. Sleep deprivation is definitely a downside of being a writer… TO CONTINUE READING, CLICK HERE

‘Refreshingly different’ #BookReview SWEET PEA, CJ Skuse @CJSkuse



‘A serial killer with one-liners sharp enough to slice a throat’


The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…


Dripping with sarcasm and humour so dark it makes you wince, Sweetpea brings a refreshingly different voice to the crime genre.

The main character, Rhiannon, is a serial killer with one-liners sharp enough to slice a throat, as she writes her private thoughts down in her diary. For the reader, that means enjoying guilty laugh-out-loud moments juxtaposed…TO READ THE REVIEW IN FULL, CLICK HERE

The moment things make sense #writerslife #amwriting #firstdraft

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

‘Suddenly and from out of nowhere, everything becomes crystal clear again’

There comes a point in the writing of every book when the clarity you started off with becomes muddied and cloudy, so that you’re left unable to see the way forward.

When that happens, all it’s possible to do is blindly edge forward, feeling your way. You take wrong turns, bump into a few dead ends, and wonder if you will ever reach your destination.

Then there are those fabulous moments where, suddenly and from out of nowhere, everything becomes crystal clear again. Bits of story that felt as if they would never make sense, coalesce into signposts, pointing the way to the end.

Photo by Raul Petri on Unsplash

That’s what happened this week to me. Clarity has returned, things are coming together and making sense, and I’m almost ready to write the concluding section of my horribly messy first draft. For me, this is one of the most exciting moments of writing. I’m still working things out, and the book is still revealing all kinds of secrets to me. I feel heady as I rush towards my conclusion.

Apart from writing, I’ve been very quiet (no time for anything else, I’m afraid!). Last week on my Facebook page, I asked which fictional character you’d go on a date with. Boy, did that get a lot of answers! Luther was a very popular one, I can tell you. This weekend, we’re chatting about the last book that made you cry – have you read a book recently that moved you to tears?


BLOOD TYPE: Joel Hames @joel_hames #writingtips #writerslife


CRIME AUTHORS SPILL THEIR GUTS ABOUT WRITING. Every Thursday top-notch authors of psychological thrillers and crime fiction share their writing secrets – and the secrets to their success – with you and me.

“That someone else read your book and likes it – it never ceases to amaze me.

This week: Joel Hames

Tell us about yourself…

I’m Joel Hames, I’m 43 years old, with a wife and two daughters, I live in rural East Lancashire, and I started writing a few years ago after a career in law and finance.

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That’s the boring stuff over with.

I love reading – anything and everything. And I love writing. I studied English Lit at university, and despite working in very different fields for a long time afterwards, I always felt writing was what I was born to do. I didn’t think I’d end up writing crime, but that’s the direction my mind seems to bend in. I like looking for the hidden angle, the surprise, the message between the lines, the secret that was always there, just below the surface – which may account for my love of the cryptic crossword. My first novel was Bankers Town, a no-holds-barred semi-fictionalised account of crime and death in the City against the backdrop of the crisis of 2008. I was delighted with its reception, but went for a broader readership with my next novel, The Art of Staying Dead, which took a down-on-his-luck human rights lawyer and plunged him into a prison riot and a political conspiracy. The novella Brexecution followed, a black comedy thriller written in eight days following the referendum in 2016, and I currently have one novel (Dead North) with my agent, another (No One Will Hear) completed, and a third in the outlining stage.

When I’m not writing I like cooking, watching TV, and burning off all that food, drink and sloth by practicing mixed martial arts.

How do you go about plotting your book?

I’m very much a planner. There are scraps of paper all over the house, audio recordings, ideas I come across in the “notes” on my phone months after I’ve finished a draft – and when I find them in time they all make it onto a handwritten one-A4-page-per-chapter outline that eventually morphs into a OneNote file. I’ve tried Scrivener…TO READ THE INTERVIEW IN FULL, CLICK HERE

‘Thought-provoking’ #BookReview TATTLE TALE, Sarah J Naughton @SarahJNaughton @BenWillisUK


‘This tale leads the reader along a well-trodden path – but the destination isn’t the one that’s expected.’


Packed with twists and turns, this gripping revenge thriller will make you question whether we can ever really trust the ones we love.

One day changes Jody’s life forever. She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.

One day changes Mags’s life forever. After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiancé Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind. But the pieces don’t quite seem to fit…


I liked the writing style, but admit that after the initial rush of ‘what the heck is going on?’ I wasn’t sure I would enjoy Tattletale. I couldn’t make out where it was going or what it was trying to say, and it frustrated me.

Then I reached the tipping point of the story, where little things started to fall into place, and I began to suspect that my frustration was exactly where the author had wanted to lead me. The two…TO READ IN FULL, CLICK HERE

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