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Stephen Fry and I are thrilled to be working with Mari on bringing the extraordinary Kate Daniels to life - Gina Carter.
Wednesday
May082013

From prison visitor to DJ in a week!

Last Thursday I visited HMP Low Newton to talk to a reading group - and what a fantastic audience they were. As many of you already know, I used to work in a prison myself. It's a very different experience when you're not a member of staff with an ID however: there was the search tank, the pat down and fingerprinting to contend with. As a crime writer, when someone asks for your fingerprints, all sorts of odd thoughts go through your head!

Transported back in time, I actually reached for my keys as I approached a locked gate. Anyway, I had a brilliant morning and I'd like to thank English PEN, HMP Low Newton's librarian, but most of all the women who made up the group for the warm welcome they gave me. I was touched by the words of one group member: "Very informative and inspiring - Mari showed me that good things can come from bad experiences."  

Stephen May on his feet.At the weekend, I attended Newcastle's inaugural Writing Conference organised by New Writing North in association with Northumbria University. The day began with a brilliant keynote speech by Costa-nominated author, Stephen May, and continued with an array of impressive speakers: top literary agents, publishers and authors. 

Topics included getting published, current trends, the process of bookselling and touched upon some of the innovative projects writers are getting involved with on the digital side of publishing. There was a chance to network with other delegates and even time for a mini tweet-up with Twitter friends I'd never met before outside of the social media platform. So well done to all those involved in putting the conference together.  

I was on radio at BBC Tees today talking about my journey to publication, my links with Teesside University, my former job as a Probation Officer and of course my books. I even got to sit in the presenters chair and choose my own music. What an absolute treat! It was great fun, but I should tell you that the name of the presenter was a little scary: John Foster. If you've read The Murder Wall, you will know what I mean. ;) 

One of the music tracks I chose was Joni Mitchell: For Free. When John asked me why, I said it was because it always makes me cry. But there is a more serious reason. If you haven't heard it, do listen in. The lyrics are a reminder that there's not much difference between star performers and the talented others that never make centre stage. That's as true of writers as it is of musicians which is the real reason I love it so much.   

If you'd like to listen to my chat with John you can do so here: BBC Tees My contribution begins at 2:07 and ends at 2:58, although he did go on to play one more of my tracks after my interview: Jackson Brown - For a Dancer - another great favourite of mine. Thanks for inviting me onto the show John!

Sunday
Apr282013

CWA Diamond Jubilee Conference

Until this weekend, I'd never been to a CWA conference. I went this year for three reasons: because Peter James told me I should. Because is was a rather special anniversary - the 60th! And because it was being held in Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District - one of my favourite places to visit.

Like other crime writing events, I arrived with the expectation of seeing many of the authors I knew from festivals like Harrogate, Crimefest and Bloody Scotland. But this was not the case at all. With one or two exceptions, the majority were not people I'd met before - but what a friendly and inclusive bunch they were.

The weekend kicked off with a cruise on Lake Windermere - Prosecco in abundance - and sunshine. Hooray! An hour later, with hailstones pelting the open deck, the return leg was a little more friendly than I'd anticipated as everyone went below to keep dry. It was a lot of fun. 

I applaud Peter James - outgoing chair - who worked tirelessly to serve the CWA during his chairmanship. I'd also just like to say a big thank you to Diane Janes who organised the jubilee event. She made sure everything ran smoothly, putting on a full programme of informative lectures and leisure activities for those who wanted them, allowing time to take in the magnificent scenery or hit the shops for those who didn't.

It was lovely to meet our new director, Lucy Santos, and to be there to welcome in the new chair, Alison Joseph. This year may have been my first conference, but it will not be my last.

Friday
Apr262013

CSI Gateshead - a resounding success!

Last night I took part in CSI Gateshead, an event that replicated CSI Portsmouth, the brainchild of crime fiction writer, Pauline Rowson. The idea was to examine the relationship between crime fact and crime fiction, to discover how authors research their work, to find out how much consultation goes on between crime writers and ‘real’ detectives, and to dispel some commonly held myths.

Pauline, Matt Hilton and myself were joined by former police investigators: my partner, Mo, an ex-Detective Inspector in Northumbria Police’s Serious Incident Squad – whose knowledge and expertise feeds into my novels – and former forensic expert, Ian Gillard. To keep us all in check and facilitate the event was Senior Library Assistant, Sue Horton, who did a great job.

The topics covered were varied, all authors agreeing that research was an important consideration when writing. We all want to get the detail right – crime fiction readers expect a high level of authenticity – but that procedure should never be seen to get in the way of a good story.

I’ve appeared at many events lately and this one ranks as one of the best and most interesting. Thanks to Helen Eddon who organised and publicized the event so well, there was a huge crowd of enthusiastic crime fiction readers waiting to hear what we had to say and take part in the Q & A afterwards.

The evening ended with a book signing. The feedback I got then – and later on Twitter – was hugely positive. Readers had enjoyed the panel discussion immensely and were keen to hear more about events like these. So congratulations Gateshead Libraries for hosting the event and thanks to all who took part. CSI Gateshead is on the map.

Wednesday
Apr242013

WORLD BOOK NIGHT – South Shields style.  

I was really looking forward to World Book Night this year, celebrating mine at a special Read Regional event in the lecture theatre at South Shields Central Library. Earlier in the day, Anne Coates (writer/Twitter friend) asked me to give her a quote for her blog on what I thought about this mass giveaway event. This is what I told her...

Anything that spreads the love of reading and puts books in the hands of those who don't have access to them has to be a positive thing. Reading is good for you on so many levels. Books educate, take people to places they’ve never been – be that Manchester or the moon. They entertain, engaging the reader in a world outside of their experience, raising a series of questions as they progress to the conclusion...

As a crime writer, this is the single most important consideration for me when I’m plotting a new novel. I deliberately set up situations that aren’t paid off until the very end. Reading decreases isolation too, especially if the title is part of a series where the characters feel like old friends. It’s just nice to lose yourself in a book.

Reading is on the rise in this country but there is still a lot of work to do. Some homes don’t possess a single book and these are the very people World Book Night aimed to reach. With councils closing libraries – a shortsighted step in my view – events like these are going to be even more important in years to come.

Some commentators have put forward an alternative view, inviting those who can afford it to buy a book (any book) from their local bookseller and give it away in the spirit of World Book Night. I think that is also a really good idea. Whether you choose a WBN title or something else, the important thing is reaching out to others, spreading the joy of books.

For me, World Book Night 2013 was a great success. I flew solo in South Shields. Sadly, Russ Litten was forced to pull out at the last minute due to a family emergency. I was also very sad to hear that a group of partially sighted library members had missed out as their guide was unwell. I hope to return one day to meet them all.

World Book Night flew by: I spoke about my journey, my writing regime, where I get my ideas from. Then I read for almost twenty minutes! No, I don’t usually do that. I kept stopping and was urged to keep going – such was the enthusiasm in the room – and this from a writer who a year ago was too nervous to read at the launch of her debut at Hexham Book Festival last year.

I’d like to thank Pauline Martin (Reader Development Librarian at South Shields) and her wonderful staff and volunteers for inviting me along and giving me such a warm welcome. Thanks too to the many enthusiastic readers and writers who made the evening all the more special, chatting to me in the interval (see below) and engaging in a lively Q & A. I had a brilliant time.

 

This post will also appear on the Read Regional blog. 

Wednesday
Apr102013

My thoughts on the eve of publication.

For most writers, publication day comes once a year. For me it came three times . . .

When Pan Macmillan offered for the first three books in the Kate Daniels series, I was ecstatic. I'd almost completed three books and was able to deliver before the ink was properly dry on the contract. In my innocence, I thought that 2012, 2013 and 2014 was sorted. I could sit back and relax - pen my next novel at a leisurely pace - as I imagined Agatha Christie might have done. Maybe even disappear for a while . . . 

But my editor, Wayne Brookes, saw things differently, a chance to 'grow the addiction' in the series, to give readers the opportunity to get to know Kate really well in a relatively short space of time. Releasing the books every six months was a marketing strategy that worked. People have warmed to her in a way I never thought possible, a way I could only dream of when I created her. And with a new deal for two more books in the series, I have high hopes for the future.

Kate is not always easy to live with but she's a great detective. In my mind, she represents so many readers out there who, for whatever reason, feel marginalized, either as an individual or as part of a group. I felt driven to write about her even though it was a professional gamble. In a risk-averse business, there are easier ways to attract a publisher than the way I went about it . . .

Barring an investigation and a dead body, crime novels are vastly different. But all central characters need a unique selling point – such as Morse’s love of music and academia, Sarah Lund’s remoteness and love of patterned sweaters - but Kate Daniels isn't really unique, at least I don't think so. I drew on real life in creating her . . . 

You see I have friends who hide their sexuality for fear of going no further in their chosen careers. I did that myself for a while. These are professional women and it breaks my heart that they feel – in this day and age – unable to be themselves, love who they want, live their lives like anyone else. 

In drama, it has always annoyed me that gay and lesbian characters are almost always the sidekick, never the star of the show. In creating Kate, I felt I was redressing the balance in a small way. Her story was aching to be told – one that went on to spawn a series - and with a major publishing house. 

So, on the eve of my third publication day in twelve months, I want to thank Pan Macmillan for sticking their head above the parapet with me. I may have been published years ago had I chosen the easy route. And to all my readers who see Kate the detective, not the label, thank you all for taking her to your hearts.  

The Murder Wall was published in April 2012. Settled Blood followed in November, 2012. Deadly Deceit is published tomorrow. These novels are available in all good bookshops and on Amazon

Tuesday
Apr092013

Series news.

For several weeks now, I've been waiting to share some brilliant news . . .

Following The Murder Wall, Settled Blood and Deadly Deceit, the latter of which will be published in two days time, my publisher Pan Macmillan has bought rights in two more Kate Daniels novels.

In a press release, my editor, Wayne Brookes said: 'Mari's wonderful sense of place, exquisite detail on police procedure and sharp eye for drama are exactly the right ingredients for a best-selling crime series. I'm delighted that DCI Kate Daniels has many more cases to solve, and especially happy that she'll be solving them with Pan Macmillan.'

My agent, Oli Munson of AM Heath said: 'I couldn't be happier that Wayne and Pan Macmillan will be working with Mari for a further two books in the Kate Daniels series. It's the dream team and has been from day one.'

I couldn't agree more. I have a terrific publishing team behind me at Pan Macmillan. I'm thrilled with the news and happy to tell you that the fourth book in the Kate Daniels series - Monument to Murder - will be published in April 2014 in hardcover.

 

Monday
Feb182013

News from Crimefest

The international crime fiction convention CRIMEFEST takes place in Bristol and runs from 30th May - 2nd June 2013. For more information and to register click the link. 

On Friday 31st May at 11:20, I'll be taking part in a panel discussion entitled: The North/South Divide: Come and 'ave a go if you think you're 'ard enough.

Also appearing are Alison Bruce, Adam Creed and Caro Ramsay - moderator Chris Simmons.

Hope you can come along. It should be fun!

Saturday
Jan192013

Save Our Libraries - Event Reminder!

As part of the Save Our Libraries campaign, I'm hosting an hour of fun and entertainment on Saturday 9th February at Denton Burn Library for local users and staff to show our solidarity with them at this difficult time.

The above event will be replicated across all nine libraries threatened with closure and will run simultaneously from 10:30 - 11:30. Please note, this is not an open mic event.

At Denton Burn we have a fabulous line-up of professionals who will give their time free in order to make the point that libaries are so important to the people who use them. Longer readings will alternate with poetry and music. 

If you live near Denton Burn - or any other library under threat - please turn up and show your support. We'd love to see you!

Mari  

Wednesday
Jan022013

Settled Blood has climbed the charts.

If you didn't know already, Settled Blood was added to the Twelve Days of Kindle on New Year's Eve at the lower price of 99p. This is a time-limited promotion, so if you'd like to take advantage of it you can do so here at Amazon. This offer ends at midnight on 7th January.

Undecided? There are several outstanding reviews of Settled Blood on Amazon and I have added one below. Click on Pam Norfolk to read in full... 

'Settled Blood: Brutal, shockingly realistic and satisfyingly unpredictable, this is a thrilling, chilling tale with an eclectic cast, formidable star player and charismatic location, ideally suited to the small screen. Move over DCI Jane Tennison, there’s a new kid on the block and she’s the Prime Suspect for your TV slot!' Pam Norfolk - Lancashire Evening Post 

Tuesday
Jan012013

2012: a memorable year.

In 2012, I finally realised my dream after years of hard work. My debut, The Murder Wall was published in April, followed by Settled Blood in November. As the new year arrives, I'd like to acknowledge some of the people who made it happen...

First up, top man and literary agent, Oli Munson, who offered to represent me two years ago and has worked tirelessly on my behalf ever since. Had New Writing North not facilitated the introduction we might never have met, so a big thank you to them also. Then there's my dream team: my editor, the inimitable Wayne Brookes; my publicist, Philippa McEwan; my copy-editor Anne O'Brien and the entire staff at Pan Macmillan - I couldn't have done it without you.

Last year was such fun, a whirlwind of book launches, signings and festivals, not to mention parties, champagne and laughter - I just can't imagine it getting any better than that. Despite following Oli to A.M. Heath recently, Blake Friedmann will continue to act for me on the film and TV side. Another dream to be explored! My thanks to everyone at both agencies for looking after me so well. Not forgetting my friends and followers on a Twitter who allowed me to share in their own brilliant success stories.

Lastly, I'd like to high five each and every reader, especially those who took the trouble to write and tell me how much they enjoyed my books. You are the very best. Thank you for making 2012 so special.

Happy New Year to you all. Here's to 2013!

Mari x

Friday
Nov232012

Blimey!

Yes, that's really me talking to Ian and Rachel in an ITV studio about Settled Blood! http://www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/story/2012-11-23/north-east-author-pushes-people-to-read-local/

Friday
Nov162012

The Next Big Thing ...

I've never met steampunk writer Liesel Schwartz but I feel like I know her really well through her hilarious tweets. When she asked me to take part in The Next Big Thing I have to admit I didn't know what it was. But I've since found out that it's just a game of tag for grown-ups (or not in my case) who have to answer a set questions and then tag other writers and so it goes ... 

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Deadly Deceit. This is now a confirmed title as it's all ready to go off to the printers. The book opens with a horrendous car crash and, on the other side of Newcastle upon Tyne, a fire that claims two lives - two seemingly unconnected incidents. But are they? You'll have to read the book to find out.

2) Where did the idea for the book come from?

A conversation with an elderly relative, a postcard from a prisoner of war, a throwaway remark by my partner who is an ex-murder detective. These three unrelated snippets of information seemed to gel inside my head and I couldn't get rid of them. 

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Depends who you ask: crime fiction, crime thriller, police procedural. I'm not a fan of labels but those three best describe what I write.

4) What actor would you choose to play the part of your character in a movie rendition?

My series is set in the north east of England, an area full of talented actors. I've been asked many times who would play my protagonist DCI Kate Daniels should the series ever be commissioned for TV. My editor suggested Jill Halfpenny and I think she would be a perfect choice. She's the right age and physically very like the Kate I see in my head as I write.

5) What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Two people crave a better lifestyle but only one is prepared to kill to get it.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

I'm represented by a fabulous man and talented agent, Oli Munson. Deady Deceit will be published by Pan Macmillan on 11th April 2013. I've already written book four in the series and I'm currently writing book five.

7) How long did it take you to write a first draft of the manuscript?

It took me a while to do the research, a couple of weeks to knock up a road map for the book, almost like a film treatment that set out all the major plot points. After that, it took maybe six months. I edit as I go along, so by the time I got to the end it was almost ready to show to my agent.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

The style of my writing has often been compared to that of Peter James. No complaints there then! But I like to think that I have my own voice, that my Kate Daniels series stands out as having a unique selling point. All writers strive to be different.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

In 2010, I won a Northern Writers' Award for my second novel Settled Blood which has been out less than a fortnight. Winning the award gave me the confidence to push on with Deadly Deceit.

10) What else in the book might pique the reader's interest?

Without giving too much away, there are some suprising developments in Kate Daniels' backstory! My lips are sealed as to what they might be.

That's it from me. Thanks to Liesel for tagging me. The rest of you should get over to her blog and read all about her. But now it's my turn to tag other writers who will make up my Next Big Thing. Flexes fingers and narrows eyes ... 

David Jackson (Dave to his mates) whose protagonist NYPD Detective Second Grade Callum Doyle I absolutely love. Dave's books are all set in New York. Pariah was the debut, then came The Helper. Both had me gripped from the first to the last page. I really can't wait for the third in the series, the title of which is Marked. It will be out on 3rd January 2013. Check out his website for more details. 

Mel Sherratt who has had so much success in the last year. First with Taunting the Dead which received rave reviews, then a change in direction, a new Estate series: Somewhere to Hide and Behind a Closed Door. Mel writes so fast, I can hardly keep up. She's currently enthusing over a new psychological thriller and the words are flowing out of her she tells me. That's great news for me as she's promised I can read it when it's finished. Get over there and check her out!

David Mark with whom I share an agent. If you haven't come across this writer yet, you're in for a real treat. His debut The Dark Winter is superbly written, set in Hull, and features DS Aector McAvoy. David is an ex-journalist and his experience as a crime reporter on the Yorshire Post shine through in his writing. I'm luckly enough to have copped a proof copy of his second novel Original Skin which I am currently reading. Wow! You're going to like this one.

Niel Bushnell - winner of the Northern Writers' Award 2011 - is one to watch for the future. Niel writes children's fantasy adventure, the debut Sorrowline will be published by Andersen on 3rd January 2013. The premise is wonderful and I'm counting down the days until this book comes out. Do yourself a favour: save up your Christmas book vouchers and treat yourself. Niel's second book Timesmith will follow in 2014.

Anya Lipska whose book Where the Devil Can't Go was one of the most assured debuts I have read in a long time. I'm immensely proud to have been asked recently by her new publisher, Harper Collins imprint (The Friday Project) for a quote for this book. I jumped at the chance. Anya's experience as a scriptwriter and docu-drama producer are written all over this book, a pacy thriller set in London amongst the Polish expat community. It will be out in February 2013.  

Friday
Nov092012

Settled Blood launched by Forum Books

On Wednesday 7th November, Settled Blood was launched by my local independent bookshop: Forum Books. It was standing room only in Tea & Tipple, a venue that lent itself to mingling with guests over a glass of wine beforehand. We were a bit late kicking off but no one seemed to mind, such was the informality of an evening with Mari Hannah! 

Thanks for being such a brilliant crowd. There were lots of lovely books signed. Three cheers to Helen Stanton and her wonderful staff for working so hard to make launch night such a huge success. It seemed to me that the whole village turned up to meet their very own crime writer.

Thursday saw a double celebration in my house, publication day and a family birthday! More books to sign and fun to be had, topped off with a lovely bottle of bubbly sent by Pan Macmillan. You shouldn't have ... oh, go on then - if you insist!

 

Friday
Nov022012

Settled Blood is getting the #TAIR treatment. 

What is #TAIR? 'It stands for tweeting my Thoughts As I Read,' Pam Mcllroy explains. And #TAIR she will through Settled Blood ahead of publication. This is no spoiler. Pam, a friend who runs the Broadway Book Club, is the only one I know who can read a novel in a few hours and tweet her thoughts in real time. You have no need to worry. She can whet your appetite for a novel without giving it away and she has set aside her Saturday to do just that. I'm slightly apprehensive. I've never been inside Pam's head before. 

In addition to this #TAIR session - it begins at 1pm today - Pam has kindly agreed to run a competition to win a signed copy of SETTLED BLOOD. To be in with a chance to win, log on to Pam's website here: pamreader.blogspot.co.uk and leave a comment or RT her blog post. 

If you would like to follow Pam on Twitter, click @Pamreader

There is still time to grab a Kindle version of my debut The Murder Wall at the knock down price of £1:19 as part of Amazon's Autumn Deal - click here: Amazon

Good luck everyone! Let the fun begin ...

 

Wednesday
Oct312012

Durham didn't disappoint ...

Last weekend, I appeared at Durham Book Festival with Sophie Hannah and Dreda Say Mitchell. That's me on the left. The Cruel to be Kind event was chaired by Peter Gutteridge in a packed town hall.

It was bitterly cold on Saturday in Durham but there was a great atmosphere, a real buzz about the place. In the streets outside, a food festival was also going on and my senses were hit with wonderful smells from around the world as I approached the venue. Durham did its best to impress and it didn't disappoint.

I'd like to thank New Writing North for inviting me to speak and congratulate them for putting together another fantastic Durham Book Festival. It just gets better and better. The city loves its festivals. Roll on 2013!

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