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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.

A night of crime in Beverley.

On Friday, I travelled to the East Riding of Yorkshire to take part in the Beverley Literature Festival with fellow Pan Macmillan author, David Hewson. The venue for 'Crime Night' was the beautiful Toll Gavel Methodist Church, the green room the vestry! What a lovely crowd greeted us there. Thanks to the organisers for their hospitality and hard work, especially Rebecca Stokes who chaired the event so well and everyone who attended. It was a real pleasure ...


Meet the Author ...

Earlier this year, I shared the news that The Murder Wall had been chosen by North Tyneside Council as its Summer Read. The idea behind it was to get everyone in that area reading the same book at the same time - and boy did they respond!

Last night, a 'Meet the Author' event was held in The Grand Hotel, Tynemouth to mark the end of the summer read campaign. I was slightly nervous as I arrived - you never know how these things will go or how many people will turn up - but I needn't have been. As you can see from the photograph below, we had a full house and a wonderul evening.

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the organisors: Steve Bishop who chaired the event brilliantly; Joanna Simpson and all the North Tyneside librarians who worked so hard to make it happen over the summer; and Rebecca Wilkie from New Writing North who did such a great job on the bookstall last night.

I'd also like to thank my publisher Pan Macmillan for making Settled Blood available in advance of its official publication date, and of course the readers who turned up and made my night so special. I thought I'd never stop signing! Thank you all. 


Richmond Festival Rocks!

Many thanks to Richmond Walking and Book Festival, in particular Anne Wicks of Castle Hill Books who invited me to take part in the Macmillan Murder Mystery Panel last Friday night, along with fellow authors, David Jackson, Matthew (MR) Hall and Susan Parry, our brilliant chair. I enjoyed the event immensely and wish to thank everyone who turned out at Richmond School - Sixth Form Centre - in torrential rain and gave us such a warm Yorkshire welcome. Thanks also to Tim Culkin and Austin Lynch of Millgate House for accommodating us in such style. This was my first trip to Richmond but it won't be the last. 


Read Regional 2012

I'm so proud to tell you that my debut - The Murder Wall - has been chosen as one of the Read Regional titles this year. For those who don't know, Read Regional is a promotional project set up and managed by New Writing North and funded by Arts Council England. It seeks to connect local authors and poets to readers through events at libraries, festivals and bookshops right across the north of England. 

The writers selected this year are very diverse - eight novelists and five poets - but we have one thing in common: we were all readers first. So taking part in Read Regional is a wonderful opportunity to meet local people who are as passionate about reading as we are.

I live and work in Northumberland but my books are set right across the north east. I'm a firm believer that location is as important as any character in a book. A shared sense of place can add so much to the reading experience - and it seems others agree with me...

I recently asked my followers on Twitter why they like to read local books by local authors and got a huge response. @northernjon said: with a mix of truth and fantasy it provides a different perspective on a familiar landscape. @GarrySnaith said: because you know the locations it gives a better feel for the characters and the stories. I feel I can walk in their footsteps, and it makes for a much more enjoyable read. @Suzi187, an avid reader of crime fiction said: it's easier to picture and you can concentrate on the story.

A while ago, local journalist, David Whetstone, commented that he liked the fact I was not afraid to use real place names. He said, 'You can follow the route taken by her (my) heroine, DCI Kate Daniels, as she drives around Tyneside and the Tyne Valley. The pizzeria at the end of my street even gets a mention, as does the deli not far away.' @elizashworth - herself an author of historical fiction - summed it up perfectly: It's the little thrill of familiarity. Nuff said.  

I jumped at the chance to take part in Read Regional which is launched today. If you wish to follow the progress of the project, check out or or follow the #readregional hashtag on Twitter to see which writers are taking part and where they are appearing. My own events are spread right across the north of England. They are also listed on my events page and will be updated regularly. Congratulations to all taking part! 


Making movies this p.m.

I'm about to head into town to be interviewed on a promotional video for the Northern Writers' Awards, one of which I won in 2010. And next month I'm off to Manchester Literary Festival to talk about them. In the meantime, if you want to know what I'm up to prior to the publication of Settled Blood, do check out my events page. Next up: Macmillan Murder Myster Panel at Richmond Festival on 28th September. 


Great way to finish the week ...

A few minutes ago, I signed off on my third book DEADLY DECEIT feeling exhausted but very proud of myself. Seconds later, a lovely email arrived in my inbox, an offer for audio rights for the first two books in the Kate Daniels series: THE MURDER WALL and SETTLED BLOOD. I may crack open a bottle to celebrate!  


Harrogate 2012 

It’s hard to put into words how I felt walking through the doors of the Old Swan on the morning of Creative Thursday for my panel: The Road to Publication – Success Stories. I was nervous, yes. Not the gut-wrenching unease I’d experienced the first time I walked into a court cell to face a man sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. That was really scary, although in reality he was a perfectly reasonable and rather sad individual who seemed more nervous of me than I was of him. No, when I followed my fellow panellists into the room, I felt happy, like a bride arriving at a wedding reception. I was among friends. This was my opportunity to celebrate a long relationship with Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, a time to welcome the guests and lift a glass afterwards.

Appearing with me on the panel were Mark Edwards, Louise Voss and our respective editors, Wayne Brookes of Pan Macmillan and Kate Bradley of Harper Collins. The event explored different routes to publication. It was well received and over all too quickly. So many writers approached me afterwards, I was punchy by teatime. But it was clear from what they had to say that the discussion had inspired them to finish that all important work in progress, to share their writing with others, before deciding on their own route to publication.  

A drinks reception on Thursday night gave me the chance to catch up with fellow Blake Friedmann authors - Peter James, Claire McGowan and David Mark. I also got to meet the cream of South African crime fiction, Margie Orford and Deon Meyer. Then it was back to the frenzy of the Old Swan for one of the highlights of the weekend, celebrating the wonderful work of Colin Dexter at the Festival Opening Party. 

We were also celebrating festival itself, it's tenth anniversary to be precise, and boy did it live up the hype. The panels were lively, the audiences appreciative, the atmosphere, for the most part, like that of a big noisy party without music. Such was the buzz around the festival, the hashtag TopCrime2012 began trending on twitter before it even got started. 

On Friday night, I was whisked off on a bus to Rudding Park for the annual Macmillan Dinner. I glanced at the mantelpiece on the way in where books were displayed last year, disappointed not to see them lined up. Then I noticed that they were actually on the table itself. One orange cover drew my eye. Can't think why . . .

I was surrounded by men as I took my seat: David Jackson, Ryan David Jahn on my left, Kerry Wilkinson on my right, and the man himself directly opposite, the inimitable and very entertaining Peter James. 

Next morning, he was 'Special Guest' in conversation with Paul Blezard. Sharon Canavar, the festival's director, either has no soul scheduling them at 9am or she's a very astute women! I think I know which.

A day of panel discussions and book signings followed, before it was time to host a table at the Festival Dinner. An Anne Cleeves' murder mystery kept us thoroughly entertained. My dinner guests, a mix of readers and writers, were great company and more intuitive than I when deciding upon the culprit to a very gruesome murder. I did point out that I usually know whodunnit before I put pen to paper!

I'd just like to applaude Theakstons Old Peculier who sponsor the festival, Sharon, Erica and all the staff who made it happen; also the wonderful staff of Waterstones who ran the bookshop all weekend - Thank you everyone - my book sold out!

I know many who attended 'Creative Thursday' went home buoyed by the experience and keen to come back, because they told me so, including those brave enough to put themselves forward for Dragon's Pen. I've already booked my accommodation for 2013 and hope to see even more of you there next year. But do spare a thought for the chap on the right, an unfortunate victim I came across outside the Old Swan.

I'm afraid he was, shall we say, beyond help by then. He looked a bit dodgy to me, so I stepped back and let the professionals take over. Didn't want to contaminate the scene now, did I? Between you an me, the pathologist said his liver was completely pickled! At Harrogate! Can you believe that?

If you were a witness to the crime, do the decent thing and call the law. If you know him, even better. The first person to tweet or email the answer will win a signed copy of The Murder Wall.


Thumbs up for book three

Hooray! Book three in the Kate Daniels series now has a new title: DEADLY DECEIT. The structural edit is done and soon it will be the turn of my wonderful copy-editor, Anne O'Brien, to work her magic. The cover is nearly there too. I haven't seen it yet but I'll share it with you as soon as I can. 


Harrogate is fast approaching...

Those who follow me on Twitter (@mariwriter) will already know how I feel about Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and what an important a part it has played in my journey to publication. Well, it’s nearly that time of the year again. The excitement is building and crime writers and readers from all over the world are about to descend on Harrogate for the tenth time. This year, I have more reason than ever to be excited ...  

Being invited to take part in the Creative Thursday programme is a dream come true. I’ll be joining fellow authors Mark Edwards and Louise Voss, their Harper Collins editor, Kate Bradley, and my own, Wayne Brookes of Pan Macmillan on a discussion panel entitled The Road to Publication: Success Stories. The idea is to highlight and explore different routes to publication. It is both an honour and a celebration for me to do this in Harrogate where my story began.

The one thing Mark, Louise and I have in common is that our journeys were long and difficult. But long and difficult does not equal impossible and that is the message I’ll be trying to get across. Creative Thursday is a great place to start. It’s a day of writer-led seminars and workshops, a chance to rub shoulders with those who have thrilled us with crime fiction for years. I’ve said before, the festival is what you make it. Either you engage with others or you stand on the sidelines and miss the opportunity.

I attended my first festival on the advice of NJ Cooper – Hooray! She’s just been longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Vengeance in Mind . We’d met at the Hexham Book Festival. The following year, I arrived in Harrogate a bit nervous, alone, and knowing very little about the industry I wanted to be part of. Big mistake when you're suddenly in a room full of book enthusiasts, authors, agents, publishers and bloggers.

The important thing is that Creative Thursday gave me the impetus to finish my debut, The Murder Wall. In 2010, I won a Northern Writers’ Award for Settled Blood, the second in the Kate Daniels series. This was after translation rights had been sold to Goldmann in Germany for the debut, but before my agent had found a UK publisher. Then came my big break – a three book deal with Pan Macmillan.

There have been many proud moments this year: a quote for The Murder Wall by Peter James, a glowing review from Marcel Berlins (Times) and another from Laura Wilson (Guardian) both had me shrieking with delight! I thought I might die of excitement.

I’m only now getting used to the public side of being a professional crime writer. Oh yes, there is a whole other aspect to the job! Since The Murder Wall was published on 12th April 2012, I’ve been fully engaged with the reading public: signing books, giving interviews, facing a barrage of question about why I write, what kind of stories interest me, how many hours a day I devote to the craft of writing, how I plan and structure my novels.

In May, I had my first taste of speaking at Crimefest – another great festival held in Bristol. And last month, I took part in Crime on Tour when Theakstons Crime Writing Festival took to the road bringing 'New Blood' to crime fiction fans ahead of the festival itself to mark their tenth anniversary. Just about every week from now until Christmas (don’t ask me when I will ever find the time to write) I’m appearing somewhere or other – and that’s not including the launch of Settled Blood in November.

There are few who relish taking the stage or being held up as an expert and I’m no different in this respect. I’m not a shy person but neither do public appearances come naturally to me. However, as my confidence has grown, I’ve come to realise how important it is to take part in such events. It’s an opportunity to thank the reading public for their support, to pass on what I’ve learned along the way, and to contribute something new to the genre of crime fiction. I'm no longer the person standing on the outside looking in. I’m a fully paid up member of the crime writing community and it’s a great place to be. Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival has played a huge role in getting me there. I hope some of you will join me at Creative Thursday when I have the chance to give something back.


North Tyneside Summer Read ...

I'm delighted to announce that The Murder Wall has been chosen as the North Tyneside Summer Read novel this year.

What is it? The aim is to get as many people across North Tyneside reading the same book at the same time. Promoted by the library service in the area, the project is supported by New Writing North, North Tyneside Council and Arts Council England. It will make books available through libraries, council offices, and other venues as appropriate. It will run throughout July, August and September. During this period, the book will be for sale at a reduced price at venues across North Tyneside.

On the evening of Thursday 4th October, there will be a 'Meet the Author' event at the Grand Hotel, Tynemouth, where I will talk about The Murder Wall and meet readers. Details are posted on my events page.  


Crime in the Court

Goldsboro Books, Cecil Court, LondonOn Tuesday, 3rd July I attended 'Crime in the Court' at Goldsboro Books in London. An event now in its second year, it was heaving with crime writers, agents, publishers and crime fiction fans. We were there to celebrate Independent Booksellers Week, and boy did we live up to that. It rained - a lot - but we just didn't care. 

As a debut author, I still get a kick out of rubbing shoulders with writers whose work has inspired me. And when those who haven't quite made it yet want to chat and ask questions, I feel privileged to pass on what I know about the publishing industry. I'm very lucky to be in a position to give something back because that is what it's all about. 

I'd like to say a big thank you David Headley, top bloke, and owner of the bookshop. He specialises in first editions and only stocks hardbacks, but there among the hard covers was The Murder Wall written by me! It made me immensely proud to see it there. Thank you David. Roll on Crime in the Court 2013!


Crime Month

For those who didn't know, June was Crime Month so I thought I'd share a little of what I've been doing. Actually, I wasn't here at all at the beginning of the month. When June kicked in I was in Majorca while the rest of the UK enjoyed the Diamond Jubilee. I left straight after the international crime fiction convention: Crimefest.

Crimefest is held in Bristol and it was my first visit to the festival and city. It was a brilliant event. I met some wonderful people there - writers as well as readers. We enjoyed wall-to-wall sunshine for three whole days and I got my first opportunity to speak publicly at a festival, a twenty minute 'In The Spotlight' session.

I chose to speak about the highs and lows of my journey to publication. It went well until, and in front of a full house, I was overcome by emotion as I shared the moment I received the offer of a book deal after years of hard work. My friends, my agent and my Pan Macmillan publicist were all there to witness this. At the time, I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. But so many wannabe writers made a point of seeking me out afterwards to tell me how pleased they were to have shared my 'moment' and my passion, I quickly got over it. It is my passion that has got me here after all. 

Interest is already building for the second book in the series - Settled Blood is to be published on 8th November 2012 - and I've given a couple of interviews this month too. You can read these by visiting my Reviews page. I've also been invited to speak at festivals, to take part in library events and signings later in the year. As and when they're confirmed, I will post these on my Events page.    

On 14th June, I took part in Crime on Tour at Newcastle Central Library, organised by Theakstons Crime Writing Festival who were touring the north promoting New Blood. Danielle Ramsay and I were interviewed by fellow Pan Mac author, Ann Cleeves. She was so generous in her introduction, describing us as the 'new bright stars in the crime writing galaxy' - praise indeed from one of the country's most successful crime writers.

A few days later, The Murder Wall was featured in the Underground Book Club, a free magazine for commuters in London, bringing new books to public attention. Magazines distributed across the underground included a review of The Murder Wall and three free chapters for commuters to read on their way to and from work. A digital version is also available.

And more excitement: Along with Peter James' novel Dead Simple, The Murder Wall was chosen to launch the WHSmith's Kobo for Father's Day. And as the month draws to a close, so did the edit for book three which I finished in time for Book Reading Day on 30th - a day when I also learned that the jacket for the third in the Kate Daniels series is on its way . . .

So, all in all, Crime Month was a busy one for me. Next up, a few days off, and a chance to celebrate Independent Booksellers Week. Today, I'm attending Crime in the Court at Goldsboro Books in London. Then, on the 5th, I'm working behind the counter at Forum Books as a thank you to my small village bookshop who have sold over one hundred copies of The Murder Wall! I'll keep you posted on how it goes.


Independent Booksellers Week

Forum Books - Corbridge - 5th July 2012

To celebrate Independent Booksellers Week, I'm leaping over the counter to spend the afternoon of Thursday, 5th July actually selling books at Forum Books in Corbridge. This is my way of saying thank you to Helen Stanton and her wonderful staff who have sold a massive one hundred copies of The Murder Wall since the book was launched on 12th April 2012. Hip hip . . . hooray for independent booksellers! If you are in the area, please come along and join in what I know will be a fun afternoon.


Crime on Tour ...

Hot off the press! 

To mark their tenth anniversary, I'm delighted to tell you that Theastons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival are taking to the road bringing 'New Blood' to crime fiction fans ahead of the festival itself which takes place in July . . . 

Crime on Tour events will be taking place between 29th May to 14th June in cities right across the north of England. I've been asked to take part in one at Newcastle City Library on Thursday 14th June. For details of all events, click here: Crime on Tour 

For my own event, click here: Newcastle City Library    


The Murder Wall is officially launched ...

Hooray! On the evening of Thursday 26th April 2012, The Murder Wall was officially launched in the beautiful Queens Hall Library at Hexham Book Festival. The event was a sell-out and was sponsored by New Writing North whose Chief Executive, Claire Malcolm, chaired the evening.

Readings were given by local actress, Phillippa Wilson.   It was the first time I'd heard my work read out in public and I was knocked out by the way she carried it off.

There were many questions from the floor afterwards as well as a long signing queue of family, friends, fellow writers and local people just enjoying the festival atmosphere. 


I'd like to thank everyone involved, especially Festival Director, Susie Troupe, New Writing North's Marketing and Communications Manager, Olivia Chapman, and her sound technician. A big round of applause also for official photographer, Simon Veit-Wilson, who has kindly given permission to use his photographs here.   

I'd also like to thank festival 'background' staff I never got to meet, also Helen and Stan from Forum Books, Corbridge for supplying the books and staffing the bookstall.

Last, but not least, a big thank you to my dream team: Pan Macmillan editor, Wayne Brookes, and agent, Oli Munson. Their trip to Northumberland made my night so very special.