Cozy, hard-boiled or somewhere in between? Crime fiction and uncertain times

Book sales have increased during this pandemic and, for some, it seems that crime fiction has boomed. This caused me to look at my own sales figures. As I’m a self-published author on Amazon, my sales figures are very easy to find. It looks as if my book sales have more or less doubled compared to last year. It is, of course, a situation that I’m very happy with, however, it did start me thinking.

I have been advertising a little more and I’ve finally got up to ten books in my crime series but I’m not sure that’s the whole story behind the increased sales. Continue reading

Ghosts, Christmas and Mac Maguire

I’d first of all like to wish all of my readers who observe it a very Happy Christmas and to those who don’t Happy Holidays anyway.

I am something of a Christmas nut. My lovely partner Kathleen, being normal, is not quite as enthusiastic as I am. I insist on having a ceremony on the 6th December, when we put the decorations up, and again on the 6th January when they get taken down as well as celebrating every day in between. I also insist on cluttering up her living room window with electric Santas, snowmen and sleighs as well as covering every inch of the walls with decorations. She bears it all with good grace however.

Marley's ghostA large part of my love for Christmas comes from Charles Dickens and, if I was honest, I’d have to admit that I consider A Christmas Carol just about the greatest work of fiction ever written. It’s a perfect little gem of a book and one I read again every Christmas. The whole thrust of the book is that it is possible for someone to be reclaimed from being a miserable old miser and turned into a caring human being solely by being made to remember everything about his past. This thought is compelling. We often forget what’s painful for us even if it’s the part that makes us human. A Christmas Carol tells us that there is hope, even for the worst of us. Continue reading

Mac Maguire and two great detective writers

I’m sometimes asked about which authors have influenced me most. It might be hard for some authors to identify such influences but I have to admit that for me it’s fairly straightforward.

I absolutely adore crime writers like Chandler, Hammett and Mankell but when it comes to those who have directly influenced what goes on the page there are really only two – Conan Doyle and Simenon. They are both very different to each other but, luckily for me, quite complementary. For while Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is all about the puzzle, Simenon’s Maigret is more about the human side of things. I figure that if you can provide a good puzzle as well as a good human story then I think  you’ve probably cracked it as a crime writer. I hasten to add that I’m far from being there yet but then it’s all about the journey, isn’t it?

So let’s look at how each might have contributed to the make-up of Mac Maguire. Continue reading

Location, location, location

spirella_building_-_geograph-org-uk_-_988178So why Hertfordshire and especially why Letchworth Garden City as the backdrop for a series of crime books? As I said in my earlier post when talking about why I made my main character disabled, I was just following some good advice – write about what you know. As I live in Letchworth I know it quite well. There’s a bit more to it than that though.

Letchworth is the result of a unique experiment as it’s the world’s first garden city. It looks and feels different too, the building above was actually a factory! I’ve been living here for around four years now but it feels longer. I really like the place and feel like I owe it something. So what really decided me on Letchworth? Continue reading