Hard as it is for me to believe it sometimes, this will be book thirteen in the series. They do not get any easier to write.
Mostly, though, I feel that’s the way it should be. If something is worth having, it should be worth struggling for. And I do agonise over the story, the development of the characters and the continuing journey of my main protagonist, Charlie herself. I always try to find a slightly different problem to throw at Charlie, a different means of testing her.
This time, the question I posed at the outset was, having resigned from the executive-protection agency run by Parker Armstrong and been forced to give up her company-subsidised apartment in New York, has she gone over to the dark side by taking on a job for a shady international arms dealer?
Usually, you have the reassurance of your agent and publisher behind you. They are excited by the initial idea, approving of the outline, and then they get to go through the delivered manuscript, line by line, to give you their feedback and advice.
Or not, as the case may be. I’ve delivered books to publishers before now only to be greeted by weeks of silence before the copy-edits turn up with no comment on the work other than corrections to punctuation and spelling.
It can make the approach of publication day something of a nail-biting experience.
This time, however, is different.
Read the rest of this blog over on MurderIsEverywhere.
I’ll be talking about the story behind the story, the settings and the characters with either a guest blog or a review every day from pub day, September 27, through to October 06. It should be an interesting ten days. I hope you’ll join me!
Day 1: September 27
Day 2: September 28
Day 3: September 29
Day 4: September 30
Day 5: October 01
TripFiction with Tina Hartas https://www.tripfiction.com
Day 6: October 02
Day 7: October 03
Day 8: October 04
Day 9: October 05
Day 10: October 06
Make sure you don’t miss the next instalment of Charlie Fox, BAD TURN, which is now available for pre-order. This will be the thirteenth book featuring Charlie Fox in the award-winning crime thriller series.
To secure your copy in ebook format for Amazon at the special pre-order price, visit:
add to your Wish List on Amazon IN
Or to pre-order in ePub format:
Print formats—mass-market paperback, library hardcover, and Large Print—will also be coming soon!
eBook ISBN: 978-1-909344-55-6
A new six-part crime drama series started this week in the UK on ITV. Set in Morecambe and called The Bay, it stars Morven Christie as a Detective Sergeant, Lisa, who is assigned as Family Liaison Officer when fifteen-year-old twins go missing in the seaside town. Her job is to support the family and be on the inside for the police investigators.
As soon as the distraught father, Sean (played by Jonas Armstrong) arrives home, however, she discovers that he’s the bloke with whom she had a quickie while on a girls’ pub crawl the night before. Much complication ensues.
Morven Christie’s recent TV credits include Grantchester, Agatha Christie’s Ordeal By Innocence, and The A Word. Jonas Armstrong’s recent outings include Ripper Street, Troy: Fall of a City, and Line of Duty. The work of playwright and screenwriter, Daragh Carville, The Bay has been mooted as ‘Broadchurch in Morecambe’—which I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t yet got around to watching.
I confess, though, that I do quite like TV dramas where one story is told over a number of instalments. You do seem to get more depth to the characters and, ultimately, more sympathy for the victim—and in some cases for the perpetrator as well.
Of course, I’m equally a fan of TV series made up of standalone stories—more like the way a book series is structured. At least if you miss one, you can still follow what’s happening in the next episode. Although, now we’re in the age of catch-up and box set TV, that’s not as much of a consideration anymore.
To read the rest of this blog, visit Murder Is Everywhere.
It’s always a great thrill to receive a review on one of my books from a fellow author. This one came in a few days ago from US mystery author, Randy Overbeck. He emailed, opening with the words ‘I finished Fox Hunter and really loved it. Your best yet, I think.’
Here’s Randy’s review:
‘I’ve been a fan of thriller writer Zoë Sharp for years and have read several of her books, enjoying every one, especially the Charlie Fox series. Just to name a few, in First Drop, she took her readers on a dizzying roller coaster ride in the middle of an assassination attempt of a teen Charlie is guarding, and in Road Kill readers get strapped in for an electrifying ride atop a few sleek motorcycles when Charlie infiltrates a biker gang, almost becoming road kill herself in the process.
‘But in Fox Hunter, the latest in the series, Sharp has outdone herself. In this twelfth entry, Charlie Fox is sent on a mission to rescue—or apprehend—her old mentor and lover, Sean Meyer, who may have gone off the reservation and tortured and killed a man from their mutual past. A man Charlie has every reason to be glad is dead.
‘Her search takes her from the scorched landscapes of the Iraqi desert and up to the snowy mountains of Bulgaria. Along the way she encounters a Russian hit squad, an Iraqi teen raped and then disfigured and abandoned by her own family, black market antiquities smugglers and a former client, a major crime boss. One aspect that makes Ms. Sharp’s writing so sterling is her ability to transport the reader vividly to the settings of her narratives, whether it be the sights and smells of Disney World in First Drop or the twisting switchbacks of the Irish countryside in Road Kill.
‘In Fox Hunter, the scenes of the desert are real, I swear I could feel the hot sun and the grit of the sand in my face (and it was in the middle of a freezing January). Of course, my teeth practically chattered when I was riding alongside Charlie atop a snowmobile up the frozen slopes to a mountain fortress.
‘Did I mention that Charlie Fox is one tough broad? There’s a reason why Lee Child calls Charlie Fox a female Jack Reacher.
‘If you’ve not yet had a chance to discover this brilliant British writer, you’ve been missing some really great rides. And Fox Hunter would be a great place to start. But so would First Drop or Die Easy or Hard Knocks. You get the picture. By all means, if you want a thriller with a kick-ass heroine, add Zoë Sharp to your list of must reads.’
The needle was the size of the insert of a biro. Just as the nurse was lining it up with the vein in my left arm, I asked him, “So, how long have you been doing this?”
“Oh, since about October,” he replied. “Before that, after I left the army, I was a hairdresser…”
You might have thought this would have made me more nervous but, actually, I’ve found those newer to the profession are always that little bit more careful when stabbing you with sharp objects.
I have been a blood donor since I got my first motorcycle licence back in the 1990s. I decided a bit of pay-it-forwards might not be a bad idea—the road accident statistics being what they were. Fortunately, I’ve never needed to receive blood. But you never know…
I’m ashamed to admit that my recent donation was the first time I’ve given blood in five years. Personal upheaval and several changes of location were the main culprits. Add to that the fact that you can no longer just go along to a session but need to make an appointment, booked well in advance. As I found from experience, they fill up fast. In fact, by the time I received the invitation from the blood transfusion service, all the appointments were usually long gone.
However, this time I was lucky. They called me and there were two slots left. The experience was quick, not at all painful—you even get a hot drink and biscuits afterwards—and left me with a feeling of satisfaction. I have already been online and booked my next appointment for April. That will be my fiftieth donation.
I did quite a bit of research on blood groups and their combinations when I was writing book six in the Charlie Fox series, SECOND SHOT, mainly to find out which blood groups in parents could—or could not—produce which blood groups in a child.
The most common type is O-positive—38 percent of the population has this type. Those with O-negative are far fewer at only 7 percent. These are the ones known as universal donors—you can give O-negative blood to all other ABO types, in an emergency.
A-positive is the next most common blood group, at 34 percent, all the way down to AB-negative, at just one percent of the population. Those with AB-positive blood (3 percent) are known as universal receivers. The rarest blood type in the world is Rh-null, which can be accepted by anyone in the Rh system. As of 2014, there were fewer than 10 such people in the world donating their blood.
If you are fit and healthy and are not a blood donor, perhaps it’s time to make a New Year’s Resolution to become one in 2019?
This week’s Word of the Week is sanguineous, meaning blood red, involving bloodshed, or bloodthirsty, from sanguis, Latin for blood, it shares its roots with sanguine, which has come to mean confident or optimistic but originally meant to have a ruddy complexion. In medieval times, this was thought to denote a courageous temperament.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE GAME: STORIES INSPIRED BY THE SHERLOCK HOLMES CANON
Pegasus Crime, December 04 2018
‘A brand-new anthology of stories inspired by the Arthur Conan Doyle canon.
‘FOR THE SAKE OF THE GAME is the latest volume in the award-winning series from New York Times bestselling editors Laurie R King and Leslie S Klinger, with stories of Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, and friends in a variety of eras and forms. King and Klinger have a simple formula: ask some of the world’s greatest writers—regardless of genre—to be inspired by the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle.
‘The results are surprising and joyous. Some tales are pastiches, featuring the recognizable figures of Holmes and Watson; others step away in time or place to describe characters and stories influenced by the Holmes world. Some of the authors spin whimsical tales of fancy; others tell hard-core thrillers or puzzling mysteries. One beloved author writes a song; two others craft a melancholy graphic tale of insectoid analysis.
‘This is not a volume for readers who crave a steady diet of stories about Holmes and Watson on Baker Street. Rather, it is for the generations of readers who were themselves inspired by the classic tales, and who are prepared to let their imaginations roam freely.
‘A sensational follow-up to ECHOES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (2016), IN THE COMPANY OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (2014), and A STUDY IN SHERLOCK (2011).’
Featuring Stories by: Peter S Beagle, Rhys Bowen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Jamie Freveletti, Alan Gordon, Gregg Hurwitz, Toni LP Kelner, William Kotzwinkle and Joe Servello, Harley Jane Kozak, DP Lyle, Weston Ochse, Zoë Sharp, Duane Swierczynski, and F Paul Wilson.
“Laurie R. King and Leslie Klinger continue to breathe new life into Sherlockian tales.”—LitHub
“Entertaining. This volume contains something for every fan of the Baker Street sleuth.”—Publishers Weekly
My own contribution, Hounded, is a modern retelling of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, in which Holmes and Watson play their parts—but so does Charlie Fox!
To buy, see the Anthologies page.
Female-led crime series: Charlie Fox – Interview with author Zoë Sharp
I’ve been interviewing authors who write female-led crime series, and starting us off is Zoë Sharp who writes the Charlie (Charlotte) Fox series.
Niki Mackay: Did you consciously decide to write a female-led series?
Zoë Sharp: Thanks so much for inviting me onto the blog, Niki! Did I consciously decide to write a female-led series? Yes, absolutely. The role of women in crime fiction has always fascinated me. They tend to be the victims—the ones having violence done to them rather than the ones perpetrating the violence. Writing a female main character who discovers she is capable of extremes of violence under the right circumstances, and following her journey, felt like a really interesting idea to explore.
NM: If so, why?
ZS: I loved to read thrillers growing up, but I was always frustrated by the female characters—they seemed to scream and fall over and require rescuing by the guys rather too much for my taste. I wanted to read about a woman who was more than capable of rescuing herself. Or, better still, someone the men would turn to when they needed rescuing. At that time, I couldn’t really find the kind of character I wanted to read about, so I decided I was going to have to write my own. Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox was the result. Paul Goat Allen in the Chicago Tribune described her as: “Ill-tempered, aggressive and borderline psychotic, Fox is also compassionate, introspective and highly principled: arguably one of the most enigmatic—and coolest—heroines in contemporary genre fiction.”
NM: How did the idea for your protagonist’s background come to you?
ZS: At the time I started writing about Charlie, back in the mid-1990s, the scandal of the hazing of trainees at the military barracks at Deepcut was just beginning to break. I’d heard all the arguments against women in the forces—and am still hearing them, to be honest—and Charlie’s background grew out of a combination of those elements. I wanted somebody who had the ability to kill, but who was denied an official outlet for that skill, as the army would have given her. Where does she go from there?
It was a comment on Twitter that sparked this blog. Someone brought up the subject of trying to keep characters’ names straight in your head while you’re writing, and ensuring that you don’t have too many characters whose first or last names begin with the same letter.
I came up with a solution to this problem ages ago and discovered, somewhat to my embarrassment, that I had not applied it to the current Charlie Fox book. A quick check revealed that I had, indeed, not got the balance quite right. Thank you to fellow author, Graham Smith, for reminding me to make use of my own system!
Even if you don’t outline or plan, this method works well and is very simple. I jot down an alphabet in a line across the middle of a page. Then I start with the recurring characters, like Charlie Fox herself, and put a mark above the letter C to indicate a first name starting with that letter, and another below the letter F to indicate a last name.
I carry on in this way through the entire cast list, although when it comes to family members who have the same last name I usually put just one mark under that letter. I try to make the mark bold if it relates to a continuing character.
Having now gone through this for the current WIP, I can see at a glance that the letter F has become overcrowded. I’ve also got three characters with last names beginning with S, none of which are recurring from previous books, so I could pick different names for at least a couple of them. And I’ve not only got one first and two last name uses of E, but the names are all four or five letters, so there isn’t even the variety of length to separate them.
OK, back to the drawing board for some of these minor characters’ names!
This week’s Word of the Week is pusillanimous, meaning cowardly or timid. It comes from Latin pusillanimis, having little courage, and is a translation of the Greek oligopsychos, small-souled.
Leaving France, where I spent just about the whole of July, was hard. Not only because it was beautiful, but because it was also a place that seemed to inspire creativity. Had I realised how distracted I would be once I got back to the UK, I might have been tempted to stay on another month or two! Just until the latest Charlie Fox book was finished, anyway.
Of course, it had its downside, like the flying ant invasion that suddenly appeared in my bedroom one night. The problem was, they disappeared during the day and you never quite knew when they might pop up again. I’m not particularly squeamish, but I was feeling severely outnumbered.
Read the full story over on Murder Is Everywhere