If you missed the Virtual Noir at the Bar event on Wednesday, April 29th, you can watch the recording of the event, with fantastic readings from all the authors, by clicking on the archives here.

Authors attending were (top row, left to right) Robert Scragg, Kirsten McKenzie, Lesley Kelly, Karen Murdarasi, Roz Watkins and (bottom row, left to right) Zoë Sharp, Ashley Erwin, Derek Farrell, and Alan Jones. Vic Watson was in the hot seat as moderator and Simon Bewick was furtling about behind the scenes. Huge thanks to everyone who stopped by to listen to us reading from our latest books.

The Noir at the Bar events have become regular fixtures of the crime writers’ and readers’ calendars. It was blogger extraordinaire, Peter Rozovsky, who came up with the idea. You get a group of writers of dark, noir fiction together in their natural habitat—a bar, where else? They read a piece of their work and maybe give away a book to some lucky audience member. A simple, strong format that works a treat.

Except during the current Covid-19 lockdown, when all the bars are closed and people are strongly advised not to gather.

So, like everything else, Noir at the Bar has moved online.

At 7:30pm UK time on Wednesday, April 29, I’ll be taking part in the latest Virtual Noir at the Bar—although I’m sure that should be Noir at the Virtual Bar. The noir, after all, is real, even if we have to imagine the rest and pour our own drinks.

Vic Watson is hosting this latest session, which will be held via the Zoom platform, with Simon Bewick providing the technical know-how. I’m looking forward to it, if slightly apprehensive about the techy side of it. I’m far more at home with the mechanical than the electronic, and it’s that side of things that is giving me qualms, rather than the whole ‘reading in front of an audience’ thing.

I thought I’d read a piece of the next Lakes thriller, BONES IN THE RIVER, due out on May 26. It’s certainly the work that’s most on my mind at the moment, and it has the darker edge that suits the format.

At previous events—the non-virtual ones—I’ve read both from short stories and scenes or chapters from the current book at the time. Gauging the reaction is always useful, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that will work using this medium.

Of course, one of the nicest thing about NatB events is that you don’t have to be a published author to perform your work at one. Usually, there are invited writers but also a number of wildcard places available. I don’t know if that will be possible this time.

In some ways, with the Q&A chatroom running alongside the spotlight speakers, we’ll have more opportunity to interact with each other, and with those who’ve tuned in simply to hear the writers speak rather than to take part themselves.

I can’t wait!

(Of course, I’m still worried that I’m going to crash the entire Internet in the process…)

Click here to join the Virtual Noir at the Bar mailing list.

Or click here to register for the April 29 event.

This week’s Word of the Week is toponymy, the study of place names, from the Greek topos, meaning place, and onoma, meaning name. To be correct, toponymy is an inventory of place names, whereas the scientific study of their meanings and use is toponomastics. A branch of onomastics, the study of names.

It was so disappointing that Newcastle Noir was cancelled for the beginning of May, so I was delighted to be asked to take part in the Newcastle Noir Blog Tour. I kicked off the tour on Friday, April 24 at By The Letter Book Reviews, hosted by the lovely Sarah Hardy.

Sarah sent me some great questions about appearing in public, my latest books, where my characters come from, and who is my inspiration:

Newcastle Noir is a literary festival celebrating the best in contemporary crime writing. The festival, rooted in the North East of England, brings together writers from the North East, across Britain, as well as from further afield.

Based at Newcastle’s City Library, the festival is hosted in an amazing venue, with plenty of time between events to meet authors, buy books and have a break!

This annual gathering of crime fiction authors and readers offers events geared to a wide audience including panel discussions, readings, talks and crime writing workshops.

So for my stop, I am delighted to have Zoë Sharp join me. Zoë was due to appear on one of the many panels at the event. Very happy that Zoë agreed to me interviewing her instead.

From an author’s perspective, what’s it like appearing at a book festival/event?

I think any kind of public appearance is always going to be nerve-wracking to a certain degree. Writing is such a solitary existence, normally, that getting out from behind our keyboard and mixing with readers, other authors, bloggers and reviewers is just such a lovely experience. With very few exceptions, they’re a wonderful crowd. People have been asking how I’ve been coping with the current UK lockdown. I say that life more or less goes on exactly as usual. With the possible exception that I seem to be using more bleach…

For the rest of the Q&A session, please visit By The Letter Book Reviews here.

When I logged in to Twitter recently, I was delighted to come across this re-Tweet from Ian Rankin, quite out of the blue, saying, “Highly recommend this series!” Well, as my grandmother might have said, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs. What a lovely surprise!

I was delighted to be notified that I’ve been included in the recently published video from Wiki.eVid.com entitled: ’10 Authors Who Write Captivating Thrillers’.

The site was founded in 2011 and was apparently the world’s first video wiki and now among the top 3,000 websites in the USA. Their YouTube channel has over 500,000 subscribers, with nearly 300 million views since it launched.

To watch the video and learn more about the ten authors featured, please click here.

 

Crime thriller author, Tori Eldridge wrote this thought-provoking piece for Crime Reads. I was delighed to be mentioned:

“Most action writers are men, but it doesn’t mean women can’t write high action or realistic combat. Taylor Stevens (LIAR’S LEGACY) and Zoë Sharp (BAD TURN) have proven themselves with every book with the Vanessa Michael Monroe and Jack and Jill series for Stevens and the long-running Charlie Fox series for Sharp.”

‘I’ve always enjoyed action-packed thrillers, intriguing crime fiction, and complex mysteries, but I also enjoy cultural nuance, immersive settings, and deep relationships, more frequently found in literary, historical, or women’s fiction. When I set out to write The Ninja Daughter, I decided to write the book I wanted to read.

‘I wasn’t thinking about fitting into or busting out of a genre: I wanted to write a story about a Chinese-Norwegian modern-day ninja with complex family issues and a mission to protect. I wanted to set my story in a city that could serve as a microcosm for national, social issues and a macrocosm for my character’s own cultural diversity. I wanted to tell a gritty, urban tale; and I wanted it to be action-packed and entertaining.

‘So how does a debut author tackle such a lofty goal? This one read the works of those who succeeded before her—not just with ninja, but with high-tech science, fringe medicine, professional sports, and serious social issues. Great writers tell stories that inform, entertain, and keep the pace. These were the stories I wanted to read.’

Read the rest of Tori’s great article over on Crime Reads.

Cumbrian newspaper The Westmorland Gazette have run a feature on the upcoming Furness LitFest, which is taking place in Dalton-on-Furness this coming weekend (November 1-3). I’m taking part on Saturday morning, on a panel with fellow crime and horror author Helen Phifer. I was very flattered to read the Gazette’s headline for the piece, by Adrian Mullen!

One of thriller writing’s elite is among the literary line up for Furness Litfest

ZOË Sharp is up there among the thriller writing elite and offers chapter and verse on her literary life in the opening event of November’s Furness Litfest

As a novelist, success first came in 2001 with KILLER INSTINCT, the first book to feature her ex-Special Forces heroine, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox, a self-defence instructor with a slightly shady military background and a painful past. Zoë says that the character evolved after she received death threat letters in the course of her photo-journalism work.

BAD TURN is her 13th and latest sortie into the action-packed world of Charlie Fox often described as the female version of fellow thriller writer Lee Child‘s hard guy, Jack Reacher.

Click here to read the whole of this article.

On Thursday, October 17, I’ll be appearing at the Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival with fellow crime author Martin Edwards. We’re giving a talk entitled A Brief History of Crime, starting at 6pm.

Join Zoë Sharp and Martin Edwards on an historical tour of crime fiction, its rise to popularity and the enduring interest in all things murder, kidnap and conspiracy. Our event takes place in the perfect setting for a vintage crime novel: The Royal Toby Hotel.

Our event is followed by Sophie Hannah speaking about Agatha Christie, Poirot and Me. You can buy a double-bill ticket if you’d like to come to both events, which are being held at The Royal Toby Hotel on Manchester Road, Rochdale, OL11 3HF.

You can book tickets here.

I’m over the moon to have been one of the three female thriller authors interviewed for an article by Dr Andy Martin in The IndependentAndy Martin is the guy who shadowed Lee Child for his book REACHER SAID NOTHING, about the making of Lee’s Reacher thriller, MAKE ME. (Fascinating book, by the way. I have it on my shelf.) Andy has now done a second book about following Lee through the next book and movie, WITH CHILD. (I just ordered it!)

So, it was no surprise that Andy was going to get his teeth into the subject of female thriller protagonists and their authors in a thorough and thought-provoking way. He’s looked at the background and characters of myself, Steph Broadribb and Alex Callister.

Today’s female heroes are fighting back and sticking it to their male counterparts

Telling men to behave nicely hasn’t worked…so a trio of authors has created a new breed of literary hero: women who are prepared to hit back. Andy Martin talks to the writers

Photo: The Independent (Eve Watling)

Here is a brutal biological fact, the fruit of some evolutionary asymmetry: statistically speaking, men are bigger, heavier, and more muscular than women. They can run faster and they hit harder. So there is a crucial question in the post-#MeToo era that is yet to be properly answered: Can a woman fight back against a man and win? And the “fighting back” here is completely non-metaphorical. In a straight physical encounter between a man and a woman, can the woman ever hope to come out on top? The whole history of patriarchy is predicated on the assumption that the answer is no. There is a vast tradition of sexual violence that says, no way! But there are strong voices out there that say otherwise.

With the domestic abuse bill going through parliament, and “coercive control” now officially illegal, it feels like more than ever the right time for a new generation of hardcore female role models who aren’t just going to lie down or take it on the chin or turn the cheek any more. Think of Big Little Lies: wouldn’t it have been better for all concerned if Celeste had seriously kicked Perry’s arse for him? Broken his jaw or given him a black eye? And maybe Jane could have fought him off – or tasered him – instead of getting raped?

“You’re a woman,” snarls the serial murderer and rapist. “Women are weak, stupid, vain… I showed them who was in control… You think you’re equal to a man, but you never will be… You’ll scream and you’ll beg me to stop just like all the rest.”

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” retorts Charlie Fox.

Read the whole of this article at The Independent.