Police sergeant Lacey Flint thinks she’s safe.
She thinks her new job with the river police, and her new life on a house boat, will keep her away from danger. But she’s wrong.
Now Face Your Darkest Fears
For thousands of years our world has scared us. For thousands of years, we have dealt with our fears by experiencing them vicariously in our culture. When we sat around camp-fires the stories we told were of random acts of destruction, of human evil and its consequences, and of the nameless terrors that haunt our dreams. Today, through books, films and dramas we look our demons in the face and, to the extent that it is possible, come to terms with them.
I’ve spent decades trying to face up to my own demons. When life is at its best, I’m compelled to imagine how it can go wrong; when the night is still, I find myself listening for the beating of black wings. Now I put my fears into my stories, I share them with others, and find myself happier and less afraid than I’ve ever been.
If you are one of those readers who keep me company in my darkest hours, who hold my hand as I descend the cellar steps, thank you. I’m more grateful than you’ll ever know.
Sharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.
Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.
She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger, the Theakston’s prize, the International Thriller Writers’ Best First Novel award, the Prix Du Polar in France and the Martin Beck award in Sweden.
Her latest book, Little Black Lies, will be published in the summer of 2015.
Sharon lives with her family of four, one of whom is a food-stealing, rabbit-chasing lurcher, in the Chiltern Hills, not far from Oxford.
Les Journal Du DimancheRead more
Interview with Les Journal Du Dimanche (LJDD)
LJDD: Could you tell me a little bit of your background, the French readers don’t know about you as much as the British ones?
SJB: I began writing fiction quite late in life because, for the longest time, it simply never occurred to me that I could do it. I studied Drama at university, worked in local government for a while, went back to university to get a business degree (which is where I met my husband) and worked for several years in the City of London’s financial district.
I get quite cross with myself, looking back, because all the ingredients of a writer were right there inside me: a love of reading, an over-active imagination, a job that involved using words to convey ideas. It was a combination of circumstances, and a really great idea for a story, that finally gave me the push I needed.
As a person I’m very ordinary. In my middle years, but blessed with great health and a good level of fitness. I’ve been married for seventeen years and am mum to a clever, sporty, funny eleven year old boy. I have a great dog and live in a picturesque village in the English Chiltern Hills. I read, cook and tend my garden. I’m quite nice (or at least I try to be) and enjoy a simple, normal life.
As a writer, I am one of the most terrifying women you will ever meet.
LJDD: How did you make the switch from the City to the crime novels?
SJB: I’m a great believer in things happening when they are supposed to. By the time I was in my late thirties, I had a sense that a stage of my life was coming to an end. I wanted new challenges, possibly a change of job, my husband and I were hoping to start a family and we wanted to move out of London. At the same time, I’d had the idea that was to become my first published novel, Sacrifice.
LJDD: How did you work for this one?
SJB: I had a number of ideas that I wanted to try out. First, to write more of a conventional police procedural than my other books have been. Then to create a central character who initially comes across as quite cold, maybe even evil, but whom the reader eventually learns to understand, even to love. And I wanted to write my own version of the story of Jack the Ripper.
LJDD: Jack the Ripper is definitely part of the crime mythology in your country, I suppose. Have you ever been fascinated by it?
SJB: I’ve long been intrigued by the case of Jack the Ripper, a real killer who has almost passed into legend. The man who lived and killed in the east end of London over a hundred years ago was coldly brutal and fiendishly clever. Just as the real Jack moved, ghost-like, around the slums of the city, so the killer in my book flits in and out of the story like a phantom. We don’t see the killer until the very end of the book, but we feel a dark and evil presence hovering just out of sight throughout.
LJDD: Which authors inspired you when you started writing? Were you reading crime novels or not at all?
SJB: I’ve never been a fan of crime fiction in the traditional murder/mystery sense, but I’ve always enjoyed stories of human evil and it’s consequences. I love the old classics, particularly the Gothic novels of the Brontes, Dickens and Wilkie Collins. I am a big Stephen King fan, and am rather in awe of his formidable imagination, coupled with a great gift for prose. I also love the sensual, stylish writing of Joanne Harris.
LJDD: Does the world inspire you today when you start writing?
SJB: Yes, quite often I’m intrigued by something I hear or see that strikes me as being a little out of the ordinary. I often have real people in mind when I’m creating characters. It isn’t really possible to recreate real people in fiction, but what I like to do is give the essence of that person in the character. And, if anyone upsets me, I can always get my own back by making them a villain. Or a corpse.
LJDD: How do you write? Everyday? Do you have a plan? Do your characters talk to you like I have sometimes been told by authors? Do you know the ending when you start writing?
SJB: Every morning at 7am, I wave my son off to the bus stop then walk the dog. She’s a big dog, needing a walk of about an hour’s duration and that is the start of the working day for me, because that’s when I’m thinking about the scene ahead, trying out lines in my head, maybe planning a piece of dialogue. I try to write between 2000 and 3000 words a day. I plan as much as I can before I start, but my books are rather complex and it isn’t always possible to know everything. I’m not sure I talk to my characters, but the story is in my head 24 hours a day until I finish the book.
The BooksellerRead more
Striking fear into the hearts of her readers is of the utmost importance to S J (Sharon) Bolton. The author of five successful thrillers – the latest of which, Dead scared, is published by Bantam Press in April – her aim is to terrify.
The BBCRead more
Ahead of Europe’s largest gathering of crime writers in Harrogate, we speak to three female novelists who are making their names in the crowded marketplace of crime fiction.
Lancashire-born Sharon Bolton is the only woman on the six-strong shortlist for crime Novel of the Year with Blood Harvest.
Her novels have been described as “rural gothic”, although Bolton plays down the supernatural element.
“There are no ghosts, but there’s an atmosphere of dread and foreboding that is akin to the classic gothic horror novel,” she says.
Reviewing the EvidenceRead more
S J Bolton was born and brought up in Lancashire. She spent her early career in marketing before going back into education and obtaining a masters degree in Business Administration.
Before becoming a writer she held various public relations posts in London, including working for the Solicitors Indemnity Fund.
A.W. Bruna PublishersRead more
Questions for A.W. Bruna Publishers newsletter and website
from Lizanne Croonen
AWB: The legendary Jack the Ripper works as an inspiration for the killer in your book 'Now You See Me'. I've heard about your lifelong fascination with violent crime. Can you remember where it all started (age, book/movie)? What's so interesting about serial killers in general? What makes Jack the Ripper most interesting for you? Do you call yourself a Ripperologist?
SJB: I was born and brought up very near to Saddleworth Moor in the Pennines, a range of hills in the north of England that form part of the border between my native Lancashire and Yorkshire. Saddleworth may not mean much to most Dutch readers but in England they are synonymous with some of the most shocking crimes we can remember. In the early 1960s young children were abducted, tortured, killed and buried on Saddleworth by the "Moors Murderers", Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Even as a young child, I had a sense of a community, if not a nation, in shock at these terrible events and even though the killers were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment, the story went on, as some of the victims have, to this day, never been found. Years later, when I was in my teens, the "Yorkshire Ripper" struck fast and hard, terrorizing the north of England, making women of all ages afraid to leave their homes. Quite possibly, it is this early exposure, and close proximity, to violent crime that begun my own fascination. Jack the Ripper is particularly interesting because he was the one that got away. He was clever enough, and lucky enough, to evade all police efforts to catch him. Deep down, all who fall under his spell want to be the one to "catch" him, even though secretly we know no one ever will.
AWB: British folklore seems to be a cornerstone in your plots, like the Shetland-legend in 'Sacrifice' and the history/mythology of snakes in 'Awakening'. Since I didn't read Blood Harvest, I don't know exactly what the folklore was in this book. But focusing on Jack the Ripper in 'Now You See Me': what fascinates you about the British folklore and why is it so good to combine with crime?
SJB: I am intrigued by the idea that evil never truly goes away, but instead lies dormant, sometimes for many years, before a trigger occurs and brings it back into the open again. And I like to think about folklore being based on true events. In Sacrifice one of my characters says: inside every legend there is a kernel of truth. By linking contemporary crime with legend, I'm drawing together old and new evil.
AWB: Jack the Ripper is one of the most brutal serial killers ever. Were there any moments/murder-describings during your research that he even made YOU shivering or - worse - want to throw up? Have you censured some of his actions?
SJB: My research often makes me feel slightly queasy. All crime writers have to delve into some very dark places. I didn't censure any of his crimes, as I feel quite strongly that Jack has an anti-hero place in our folklore that he doesn't deserve. He was a brutal, merciless killer and we should never forget this.
AWB: Lacey Flint is not the first main character you describe as a woman with 1. Balls. 2. Complex background 3. Little social life. I know you told that this is not something you do on purpose. But have you ever thought about an unconscious decision to give these type of damaged women a chance to shine? What makes them so interesting to write about?
SJB: There are very few people, men and women alike, who by the time they have reached a certain age have not been impacted upon by life in a way that changes them. You notice I don't use the word damaged! I like to explore how what people have been through in the past impacts upon the way they handle their future. If I'm drawn to solitary types, it's probably because I'm that way inclined myself. Interestingly, the men in my books are all very popular and gregarious.
AWB: Do you think you could be friends with Lacey, even if she doesn't have any? Why?
SJB: I think I'd be afraid of Lacey Flint.
AWB: Your book is situated more than a century after the Ripper-murders, in the city of London, nowadays stuffed with CCTV camera's and modern safety technology. And still these murders in your book can take place without the killer gets caught. Nothing changed for a good serial killer? So do you think that this is all a false sense of security? Could this story be set anywhere?
SJB: 'Now You See Me' is based around the premise that a very clever and lucky serial killer once got away with murder many times over. I believe that, in the right circumstances, it could happen again. Real life serial killers tend not to be super-intelligent and we can all be grateful for that. That's why we catch them. (Hannibal Lecter is fascinating but a work of fiction!) On the other hand, if a very bright one did come along, I think we could be in trouble.
AWB: Your earlier books were situated in rural areas, while 'Now You See Me' isn't. What made you decide to do so? Wasn't it complex, to not have the atmospheric scenery and to do have the crowds around? Big brother (CCTV etc.) is watching your characters. How was that, for a change?
SJB: I've always believed that a big city can be as atmospheric, as creepy and, ultimately, as lonely and isolating as any rural setting and I wanted to prove that.
AWB: 'My favorite things' is a song that turns up at the most creepy moments of your book. Let's talk about your creepiest things. In Awakening, for example, one of the biggest dangers is the snakes. In 'Now You See Me' it's a serial killer. You picked some completely different but big fears in society. Are these your own biggest fears in life? What evil scares you the most and are you going to write about that? Is it feeling less creepy when you research it out completely or…?
SJB: A callous disregard for other people's feelings, whatever form it might take, invariably shocks me and taken to a violent extreme, leads to the sort of crime I write about. Evil that takes us by surprise, that we cannot possibly predict or prepare for, is what I fear the most. I quite like snakes!
AWB: Rapists that don't get caught, is a big thing in your book. What inspired you to bring this up? Have you lost faith in the police system on this? Is that a big fear of yourself too?
SJB: I don't think you need to experience rape yourself to fear it or to understand the devastating impact it has upon others. When I was researching 'Now You See Me', I watched a documentary about the problem of gang rape among young black communities in London and it shocked me to the core. At the risk of being controversial, I felt I had to include it in the book.
AWB: Do you fear the moment that your (now 9-years old) son will read your books? Do you want to protect him from these dark crime stories as long as possible, or do you believe that's not at all a threat when you look at all the true crime that could happen to him?
SJB: My son, who just turned ten, is "a chip off the old block". He is as fascinated by the dark side of literature and popular culture as I am. I do worry, continually, that I may be exposing him to too much dark stuff too early but he does seem remarkably grounded and certainly understands the boundaries between fiction and reality. He will take a Joseph Delaney "Spooks" book to bed, and read about the creepiest things just before turning out the light, then next morning cry at a news story about seal pups being killed. On the whole, I encourage him to read, whatever the subject matter. The world wouldn't go too far wrong, if everyone in it became a reader.
AWB: As a reader, you constantly question Lacey Flint. Are you a person that is constantly on your guard, in general? Especially since you read a lot about fear, murder and to never trust anybody. Did it affect you?
SJB: I constantly imagine the very worst that can go wrong, in any given situation, and this makes me quite a nervous person. I think it's as much about having a powerful imagination, as it is about all the research I do. As for Lacey, I'm delighted readers don't feel they can trust her. That was exactly the impact I was aiming for.
AWB: When you're writing, do you feel followed by your own characters? Is the excitement and tension in your own writing something keeping your from sleep? Did it ever happen that a character kept following you after finishing the book?
SJB: My characters are in my head all the time when I'm writing a story. When I finish the first draft and hand it to my agent I go through a period of grieving for them. On the whole, whilst I think of them all from time to time, generally though, I'm happy to leave them to get on with their lives.
AWB: This is your fourth stand-alone. Do you ever think about not saying goodbye to some of the characters? Is it true that Lacey and Mark are returning in your upcoming new book? What's left to explore about them, can you give us a hint?
SJB: 'Now You See Me' is not my fourth stand alone, it is the start of what will be at least a four part series! What's still to explore about Lacey and Mark? Good heavens, we've only just started. Will Mark trust her now or become suspicious again? Will Lacey ever let Mark get close? Will she be able to close the door on her past and move forward? Will they work together again? Dead Scared, my fifth book, sees them investigating a series of sudden and horrible deaths in Cambridge. Lacey goes undercover, posing as a student, to act as bait for a clever and unscrupulous killer. And both Evi Oliver and Harry Laycock from Blood Harvest are back too.
Il GiornaleRead more
Interview with Italian newspaper
IG: When did you decide to write books?
SJB: I was born a writer, I just didn’t know it until I reached the age of forty! Having a baby and a career break was the catalyst. I had time to think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, other than be my son’s mother, and stories have always been one of my great passions. Discovering that I could write them was a wonderful surprise.
IG: What do you like about your work and what do you hate?
SJB: I love getting emails from readers, sometimes on the other side of the world, who have enjoyed my books. To be honest, there’s nothing I hate, although I do get a bit nervous waiting for sales figures. My publishers have invested a great deal of time and money in me and it’s vitally important that the books are successful for them too.
IG: Is it true that you study the plots of your stories walking with your dog Lupe?
SJB: Perfectly. I never get writers’ block but sometimes, when I’m not sure how to take a scene forward, I go for a walk. There’s something about the steady rhythm of walking that aids concentration and gets the ideas flowing. To repay Lupe for her great contribution to my working life, she has a starring role in the book I’m working on now.
IG: When I read the presentation of "Blood Harvest" I thought: "wow, a new Children of the Corn" sequel. How much was King the inspiration for this book?
SJB: I haven’t read Children of the Corn but will admit to being hugely influenced by Stephen King. He is my favourite contemporary writer and his gift for prose is as inspirational, I believe, as his formidable imagination. Where King and I part company is that, ultimately, there is nothing supernatural in my books. My love of the spooky and weird is balanced, always, by my fascination with forensic science. Everything, in the end, is explained.
IG: Which are the authors that most inspired you?
SJB: I’ve always loved the classics, particularly the Brontes, Dickens, Tolkein, Wilkie Collins and similar. There are many contemporary writers I admire, JK Rowling, Joanne Harris, Lee Child. Basically anyone who combines a gift for language with an ability to deliver a great and original plot.
IG: Is it true that you used the family of your sister for writing "Blood Harvest"?
SJB: Absolutely. A few years ago, my sister and her family built a new house, by an old church, on a moor in northern England. Shortly after moving in, they found human remains in their garden. This got me thinking. What would happen if, in a heavy storm, a grave opened up and more corpses tumble out than are supposed to be in it?
IG: Heptonclough is a real or a fictional place?
SJB: Both. It was inspired by Heptonstall, a real and very atmospheric village high on the moors in northern England. Heptonstall is beautiful, and very spooky, but none of the odd customs of Blood Harvest actually take place there. At least, I don’t think they do…
IG: The Shetland Islands, Dorset, Yorkshire, how many real dark, brutal and bloody traditions are today alive in these places?
SJB: The traditions I describe in Blood Harvest, such as The Cutting of the Neck, the Day of the Dead, the Blood Harvest itself, are all part of our English countryside heritage. The story behind Sacrifice was based on documented Shetland legend and belief. Sadly, most of these traditions, beliefs and customs are lost now, but I like to think we can keep them alive in fiction.
IG: How do you try to describe the anthropological tradition of your nation?
SJB: With honesty and understanding. Ultimately, though, I am a novelist and therefore an entertainer, not a social scientist. The folklore in my books is there to provide a rich and satisfying backdrop to the story.
IG: There’s a movie "The Wicker Man" with Christopher Lee that has an approach similar to certain of your plots?
SJB: The Wicker Man is the story of an isolated community that makes its own laws and that turns upon an outsider. This is a very common theme in literature and film, and for good reasons. We all fear finding ourselves in an alien situation, where we can no longer rely upon the rule of law. We all fear being the outsider. This is a theme I use in both Sacrifice and Blood Harvest and probably will again as it interests me so much.
IG: Can you describe us Tom Fletcher?
SJB: A perfectly ordinary English child who finds himself in an extraordinary situation. At the end of the story, the safety of his family rests on his slim shoulders and the big question is whether he has the courage to do what will be asked of him.
IG: Is it true that you visit a cemetery similar to that of Heptonclough?
SJB: The cemetery immediately beyond my sister’s garden in northern England is exactly the same as the one in my book. I watched my nephews play around the old gravestones when they were younger, just as the Fletcher boys do in my story. And I spent many hours just staring out of the window at it, when I was planning Blood Harvest.
IG: Which is your biggest fear?
SJB: That I will face a situation similar to the ones faced by characters in my book. And that I won’t be able to summon up their courage.
IG: Why do you prefer to change characters every book and not continue with a saga with the same protagonist?
SJB: I am a story-led writer, rather than a character-led one. The plot is always the starting point for me, and the characters have to be right for it. Having said that, my fourth book reintroduces Dana Tulloch, the police sergeant from Sacrifice and the book I am working on at the moment will bring back a major character from Blood Harvest (Evi Oliver) and two from my fourth book.
IG: And about the serial saga that you are projecting with Jack The Ripper?
SJB: I have long been fascinated by Jack the Ripper, the killer who was never caught and always knew I would one day write about him. My fourth book, NOW YOU SEE ME, isn’t about the ripper murders exactly, but is the story of a young detective, Lacey Flint, who is herself fascinated by Jack, and who becomes the target of a brutal and very clever killer.
IG: "Now you see me" is coming, can you talk something about it and about the dreadful Camden Catacombs?
SJB: I loved writing Now You See Me and am very excited about its publication (2012 in Italy?) It is the story of a young woman, Lacey Flint, who is very dedicated to her job as a police detective but who is hiding a very dark secret in her own life. One night, a woman is killed right in front of her and she becomes involved in her first murder investigation. It soon becomes clear though, that the killer’s real target is Lacey herself. And that if she catches the killer, her own secret will come out.
Now You See Me is set in London and the final chapters take place underground in The Camden Catacombs. I discovered these by accident when I was researching the book some months ago and was immediately fascinated. The Catacombs are a vast underground network of tunnels and chambers that was built during the reign of Queen Victoria and that still exist, beneath the streets of north London today. They are the perfect setting for a terrifying climax to my latest story.
Did someone say it was easy?Read more
Article on crime writing for 2011 Harrogate Crime Festival.
It tickles me no end that a genre so often dismissed as pulp fiction, airport fodder, rubbish, is the most challenging of all to write. In a genre this competitive, you need an incredible, original idea before you even pick up your pen.
These days, crime novels are heavy on information. I spend months on research before I write my first sentence. In recent years, I’ve learned about obstetrics, folklore, major burns, psychology, forensics, suicide, charismatic religions, veterinary medicine and Jack the Ripper.
Plots are invariably complex, with more twists than a bucket of snakes in a maze. The big surprise at the end is compulsory, but can never be a rabbit out of a hat. Clues have to be laid along the way, but not so many the reader guessed halfway through. What you’re aiming for is: “of course, why didn’t I see that?”
Characters have to be engaging and likeable, even facing stressful, life-threatening situations. Not easy – point a gun at someone’s head, they won’t be at their best. Oh, and every sentence that develops character slows down the pace of the narrative. It’s a continuous balancing act.
Readers will spot and not forgive mistakes.
Crime novels are read by people who are passionate about the genre and who, from the moment they open the first page, are trying to catch us out. They’re looking for the clues, the red herrings, trying to anticipate the twists and if they guess the solution before the final 10% of the book, they dismiss us with contempt.
If you are this sort of reader, take it from me, we are terrified of you. But when we sit down at our keyboards, we know we are facing some fierce opposition and it keeps us, 100%, on our game.
Writing crime is the best job in the world, but it’s never easy.
Someone KnowsRead more
A short story first published in the Daily Mirror.
‘Someone knows this killer,’ said the dark-skinned detective. ‘He goes home at night, he talks to his family. Someone knows who he is.’
Barney switched off the TV. Two thirteen-year-olds dead in the last four months and now, tonight, a third body has been found.
Someone knows the killer.
At his desktop computer, Barney opened Google and them his folder on what the media were calling The Boy-Child Murders. Several saved Internet searches, articles from national and local papers, his own lists of salient-facts and four letters sent anonymously to the murder investigation team at Lewisham.
Below his window, in the next garden along, he could see light. Barney jumped up and ran down to the basement kitchen. Outside, he leapt for the top of the garden wall.
‘Good God, Barney, you sacred me to death. Does your dad know you’re out this late?’
The policewoman was dripping with sweat, as she always was when she left her garden shed. Whatever gym equipment she had in there, she worked it hard.
‘He’s not in.’ Barney landed on her side of the wall. ‘Tuesdays and Thursday,’ he said, before she had time to ask where his dad was. ‘That’s when it happen.’
‘Barney, I promise I passed your message on, but I’m not part of the investigation team. I’m not working at all at the moment.’
Barney knew that. ‘Suspended for police brutality or talking bribes’, his father had speculated when Barney had mentioned he never saw the policewoman going to work anymore. ‘They’re all at it.’
‘You’re looking for someone who’s never at home on Tuesdays and Thursdays,’ he went on. ‘Today’s Thursday.’ Since the murders had begun, he’d been combing every website and blog he could find for information. Each child had been taken from their own homes. All lived in the same part of south London. Each disappeared on a Tuesday or Thursday. Each body was found on one of those days.
‘I’m sure they’ve worked that out. You’ve been going onto the blog sites, haven’t you? You’re Rubble?’
How had she known that? ‘It’s what my mum used to call me,’ he admitted. ‘Barney Rubble.’ If she’d guessed Rubble was him, maybe someone else would too. ‘Do you think the murdered looks at those sites?’ he asked.
‘Are you scared?’
He nodded. He was, but not for the reason she thought. She thought he was scared because all three victims had been thirteen-year-old boys like him. That wasn’t all.
As Barney closed the back door he knew he wasn’t alone in the house. He climbed the stairs and stopped at the study door. A cotton handkerchief spotted with blood in the doorway. He’d been right then, all along.
Someone knows who he is.
The killer was in the study, a tall man, his back to Barney. He turned and looked directly at the boy, so similar to each of his three victims, and Barney saw guilt, plain as daylight, in the man’s eyes.
‘Hello Dad,’ he said. ‘you’re back early.’
What makes a good crime novel?Read more
Published in New Books Magazine
The world is full of danger, being sacred is essential to the human condition and we deal with our real fears by fictionalizing them. So a good crime novel must first reflect the fears and attitudes and essences of its time. Race and gang wars, international terrorism, children in danger, and the lone, sexual serial killer: these themes recur in our fiction because they represent our most fundamental fears, decades ago, our fears were a little different, so was our crime fiction.
Good crime fiction today is expected to inform. The simple story feels empty, like easily digested but not entirely wholesome food. We crave knowledge and we want it in our story books. The brilliant forensic writes, like Cornwell, Beckett and Reichs teach us while they entertain. We love Sansom and Franklin (God rest her sweet, clever soul) because they bring the past to life for us.
A great book will move the genre on. The silence of the Lambs brought us the monstrous but compelling anti-hero, The Da Vinci Code introduced us to the religious conspiracy thriller. The Secret History, The Tenderness of Wolves and The Historian proved that crime novels can also be works of great literature. (Actually, I think Dickens did that a long time ago.)
Characters in crime have to be credible, but attractive. We have no interest in the acne-ridden dentist as amateur sleuth. They must be real for us, but heaven help the author who loads his people up with character bling, or who builds characters at the expense of the pace.
Above all, a great crime novel is a story, and one that competes in the most crowded genre known. It must shock, surprise, entrance, terrify and move us, sometimes in the same chapter.
A good crime novel is the best entertainment we could hope for.
Since this website went live, Lupe the lurcher has consistently received more fan-mail from around the world than the woman who walks and feeds her. In this spirit, we have decided to include this photograph and brief biog:
Lupe was born in January 2007, the daughter of Mary, a beautiful black greyhound and Genghis Khan, a hulking great border collie. She runs like the wind, boasts near human intelligence, has phenomenal hearing except on matters of recall and works hard to ensure her family remain fully tuned in to her every need.
She lists her hobbies as rolling in fox-dung, rabbits, knocking elderly ladies to the ground, rabbits, stealing human food, tummy tickles and rabbits. She was thrilled, once again, to receive this year’s Most Avoided Dog in the Village Award.
She is grateful for all the messages of good will she has received from fellow canines and sends out this in return: books are for peeing on and chewing, nothing else!
If you want to get in touch with Sharon herself, please use the form below.
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@authorsjbolton @JDMepham Nothing with a tail. I spend too much time sitting down.
@authorsjbolton @Si0bhan__ No, that would simply reflect falling temperatures.
@authorsjbolton I need a onesie. Wandering the house wrapped in a blanket is neither practical nor attractive.
@authorsjbolton @SJ_Watson But I really thought this time would be different. I thought we had something good and strong. (BTW, check DMs.)
@authorsjbolton @susan_pola They usually appear after the book is published.
@authorsjbolton As usually happens at around 70k words, The Plan has jumped ship. WIP and I are alone, in uncharted waters. On we sail...
S. J. Bolton
S. J. Bolton added 2 new photos.
The official proofs of Little Black Lies have arrived at Transworld Towers. I'm sure they'll be offering them to reviewers, critics and bloggers very soon.
S. J. Bolton
Over on the Dead Good site, I'm giving advice to writers who aspire to sell movie rights to their books.
Just finished all your Lacey Flint books. Please just reassure me that we will see more of her character! Loved them. Thanks!
S. J. Bolton
I kid you not, I have just written this in my work in progress:
"The SOCO slid out from under the table, leaving Pete alone, staring up at the writing on the underside of Maggie’s kitchen table.
(INSERT THOUGHTFUL AND INTRIGUING WORDS, THAT ARE ALSO A BIT SPOOKY)"
If anyone has any clue what those words might be, please leave a comment below, because they've got me foxed. This is a brainstorm, you can be as daft as you like. If I use any words posted here, or if anything here sparks the words I eventually write, there is a proof of Little Black Lies on my desk, which can be yours.
Thank you. Cooperative novel writing, for the win.
S. J. Bolton
Stupidly excited to have been sent a five minute "summary trailer" of Sacrifice the movie. Not allowed to share it yet, I'm afraid, but suffice to say it LOOKS AMAZING! It will be shown this week at the Berlin Film Festival so please keep your fingers crossed that it attracts distributors ALL OVER THE WORLD!
OK, I'm calm. On with the book.
I promise not to go swimming in the Thames. Ever! Thank you for another wonderful book about Lacey Flint! Brilliant!
S. J. Bolton
Now this is funny, even if it's based on reviews of Young Adult novels, which of course I don't write. I'm hoping to persuade Belinda Bauer, who isn't doing anything particularly important at the moment, to produce a comparable one for adult crime, based on her own one-star Amazon reviews. Leave a comment, below, if you think this would be fun.
Oi! Bolton! Where's your National Libraries Day shelfie? Mine's on my page already and you can put yours there too if you think your fans might stop buying your books if they saw it :)
S. J. Bolton
Thanks to the Dead Good team, for publishing my barely coherent ramblings about the movie. In my defence, I was excited.
Hey Bolton! Congratulations on your nomination for the Mary Higgins Clark award! :) Couldn't happen to a more ginger person.
S. J. Bolton
Somewhat peeved that my Bauer quote isn't on the cover of her new book. Oh, I get it. This is just the PROOF. They're saving the best quotes for the finished article. Makes perfect sense. As you were...
I just wanted to take a moment of your time so that I can express appreciation to you for making your books available to blind or visually impaired persons. We know and appreciate the fact that your donations of books to the Library of Congress and the Talking Book Library's all over the country and abroad are donated and that you do not receive any compensation for your gifts to us. That is why we are grateful. Believe it; you do give to us that cannot see many hours of joy. Being a male, I want you to know that I most enjoy Romance Fiction novels, a close second are Mystery and Detective Stories, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Suspense Fictions. With that said, again thank you from all of us. Those of us who meet at various activities for blind and visually impaired persons often acknowledge the joy of books on tape and now available for download from the internet brings to us much joy. As a blind Viet Nam, veteran and haven worked in the private, sector people ask what my interests are and that is easy to respond books of course. You can imagine the confusion that comes about with that response.
So again big thanks.
S. J. Bolton
Over a week ago, I announced a competition to win a French copy of Ecrit En Lettres De Sang. And then, things happened in Paris, and it seemed respectful to wait a while before announcing the winners. Sorry about the delay, but here they are: Yasmine Enchioua, Fabrice Rouhier, Anne Derochette and Alison Voschio. Send me your addresses by private message and I'll get the books in the post.
S. J. Bolton
S. J. Bolton added 2 new photos.
Two truly awesome books are published today. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins is the book everyone's talking about and, for once, genuinely lives up to the hype. Also, Belinda Bauer's latest, The Facts of Life and Death is out in paperback. Bauer may be the nuttiest fruitcake in Waitrose, but she writes like a fallen angel. Go buy both, immediately!
S. J. Bolton
Over in the Falkland Islands, a de-mining task force is hard at work, clearing 23 minefields of explosives left behind after the Falkland conflict. This does not affect the plot of Little Black Lies, because that is set in 1994, just twelve years after the war.
"He'd made his own secret entrance into a field that, over a decade after the conflict, was still riddled with deadly traps. Every step he took through that field could be his last."
S. J. Bolton
Dead Scared is published in France this week and I have four copies of its forerunner, Ecrit En Lettres De Sang (Now You See Me) to give away to French readers who might want to start the Lacey Flint story at the very beginning. Leave a message below and I'll choose winners by the end of the week.
S. J. Bolton
New Year, New Book. I spent the week between Christmas and New Year on a research trip, met a few great new 'characters' and have the story largely sketched out. I'll be starting writing as soon as the men-folk go back to school/work. In the meantime, can anyone guess where I am and, as would naturally follow, where the story will be set?
Happy New Year everyone and, if you want what will probably be the biggest laugh of the year (and yes, I'm well aware it's only 1 January) hop over to my good friend Belinda Bauer's fan page. The lengths to which that woman will go in order to entertain her fans. I'm in awe...
S. J. Bolton
If you're waiting for your nails to dry (as I am) or your mince pies to burn (did that earlier) here's the latest instalment of Simon Savidge's brilliant twice-monthly pod cast. Tonight, he and I talk Lacey Flint and the fun of scaring people. View Link
S. J. Bolton
S. J. Bolton added 2 new photos.
I've begged and pleaded, and the producer has graciously allowed me to post two more pictures from the Sacrifice set. Here we see the opening scene (in the book) when Tora finds the body and, later, her receiving a comforting hug from Duncan.
S. J. Bolton
S. J. Bolton added 3 new photos.
Just a quick reminder, to those of you with e readers and who haven't yet discovered what happened to Lacey that first Christmas after she met Joesbury, Dana and the others. If Snow Hadn't Fallen is an e book short story, available in English, German and Dutch.
" If snow hadn’t fallen, I might never have seen the woman in black. She might have remained hidden amidst the ink-black of a London December, like a mystery whose time has yet to come around. But the sky grew heavy and turned yellow, it sank some thousands of miles closer to earth, until we could almost feel the weight of it pressing down on us. And then it opened, and crisp, white flakes began to fall. They fell around the woman in black, skimming past her swirling robes, and covered the world around her. Like a negative photograph, like the converse of the popular image of a ghost, the slim figure stood silent and alone. But most undeniably there. "
S. J. Bolton
Thanks to everyone who entered today's Give-Away. In the spirit of all good exam questions, the clue to the 'right answer' was in the question. I believe films can easily be (and often are) better than the books on which they're based. For one thing, the screen writer has the chance to put right any mistakes the book author made, to tighten up any plot holes, to further develop characters. The mistake so often made, I think, is to expect a film adaptation to be an audio edition of the book, with moving pictures. The best film adaptations, though, are the ones that emerge when everyone involved, including the original author, accept that the film and the book are two entirely different projects, with a few things in common. Sacrifice the movie will not be the same as Sacrifice the book. It may (and I'm keeping my fingers firmly crossed on this one) be better.
The winners have all been notified. Thanks once again and there will be more Give-Aways in the new year.
S. J. Bolton
To mark the completion of filming on Sacrifice the movie, I'm giving away my last four copies of Sacrifice the book. I have a Spanish edition, a Dutch, a Danish and a large print English. To enter, leave a comment below, telling me which one you'd like, and name a film adaptation which, in your opinion, was better than the original book.
S. J. Bolton
I'm grateful to the Falkland Islands Tourist Board for posting this picture on Twitter today. Whalebone Cove on East Falkland is where much of the action in Little Black Lies takes place.
Just started Dead Scared. It's "dead" good at the moment. Excuse the rubbish pun. :)
S. J. Bolton
S. J. Bolton added 2 new photos.
A beautiful young woman is dismayed to find her beloved horse, Jamie, dead in the field one morning. Several hours later, her husband arrives home to find the house surrounded by police cars. Story sound familiar to anyone?
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Sharon received the CWA’s Dagger in the Library award last Thursday at an event at Waterstones Piccadilly. She described the award as 'a great, great h …
The Hollywood adaptation of Sacrifice, starring Radha Mitchell, Rupert Graves and David Robb, has completed its final week of filming in Ireland.
Sharon has been shortlisted for the 2014 CWA Dagger in the Library, an annual award given to recognise an author's body of work.
The library dagg …
Rights to Sharon's seventh book, and the fourth in the Lacey Flint series, have been bought by her Polish publisher Amber. It will be published as the compan …
“So much of difference between a triumph and a flop is determined by choice of venue.”
– Anatoly Belilovsky, The Immersion B …
1. JANE EYRE - Charlotte Bronte
I read and loved this book when I was very young and it is possibly the reason why, so many years on, I write Goth …
Over in the US, that Annual RT Book Reviews nominees have just been announced for 2013. Out of 3000 books reviewed during the course of the year,just a few a …
Here follows an interview with Sharon, conducted by French weekly newspaper, Les Journal du Dimanche, around the time of publication of Now You See MeContinue reading
Not just about you
Monday 7th July 2014 @ 9:07 pm
Late last week, I provoked a bit of a Twitter outcry by supporting the call (by Allison Pearson in the Daily Telegraph) for a burqa* ban.
I was accused of ignorance, of condemning a practice of which I know nothing. I was told that the burqa is a matter of personal choice and that by advocating the removal of that choice I was being illiberal, racist and oppressive. I was told to do my research before voicing my ‘ill-informed’ opinion in future.
Fair enough. I’ve spent the weekend reading countless arguments for and against the burqa, listening mainly to Muslim voices. I’ve read newspaper articles, blogs, comment streams, opinion pieces and watched televised debates. Some of the material I’ve read was sent to me by the very people who attacked me on Twitter, so I can safely assume it presents the definitive Islamic position. Now, having spent …Tweet