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Mari's books

'Brutal and engaging. Mari Hannah writes with a sharp eye and a dark heart.' Peter James.

'If proof were neeed that Hannah's DCI Kate Daniels is a great addition to the crime scene, then here it is.' Peterborough Telegraph

 

'DCI Kate Daniels: a Northerner to join the roster of top literary detectives.' Marcel Berlins - The Times.


'Solid plotting ... a satisfying and meaty read.' Laura Wilson - The Guardian.

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Welcome to the official website of International award-winning crime writer Mari Hannah
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

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