I had a great time taking part in a panel on crime fiction at my local arts festival alongside author William Shaw. I’m a big fan of his books so it was thrilling to share a stage with him and journalist Amanda Holloway. We talked about devious crimes, how to create a scary villain, and why seaside locations in Kent make for particularly good settings for crime novels! There were some excellent questions and I had a lot of fun. This was the first year Deal has had a literary strand to its arts festival, so I hope we can all do it again next year!
Walks and talks
Work in progress
I’ve been plotting out the next Helen Oddfellow mystery – and it’s time to start writing. I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo, the mad month where writers try to complete a 50,000 word novel in November. The idea is to push myself to get a first draft down on paper. Follow me on Twitter @BloomsburyBlue to see how I get on!
Murder, mystery and spies
I had fun guiding 30 enthusiastic visitors around the beautiful city of Canterbury on my Marlowe, Murder and Mystery tour in October. We visited places connected with the playwright Christopher Marlowe, who inspired my novels Unlawful Things and The Crimson Thread. The city centre is full of Elizabethan-era buildings, and we started at the church where Marlowe was baptised in 1564 (number 10, St George’s, on the map below). We also visited the building where Queen Elizabeth I stayed, before Marlowe joined Her Majesty’s Secret Service…
Would you like to join me next time? I know not everyone can get to Canterbury, so I’m offering a free online tour, on Tuesday November 15 at 20:00 GMT. Please register so I know how many to expect.
My walk was part of the excellent Canterbury Festival, which brings together musicians, artists, performers and writers for two weeks of arts events. I enjoyed an entertaining talk on women and espionage, by the spy writer Nigel West. Did you know that the Canterbury playwright Aphra Behn, one of the first women playwrights, was a spy for King Charles II, back in the seventeenth century? There must be something about Canterbury writers that makes them into good spies!
Recommendations: what I’m enjoying now
I heard crime writer Dorothy Koomson talk at the Fatal Shore crime writing festival recently and couldn’t resist her latest novel My Other Husband. It’s tense, twisty and tremendous fun. The heroine is a successful crime writer, author of The Baking Detective series. When people around her start dying in ways that resemble the crimes in her books, she thinks she knows who it is – but how can she clear her name?
I’ve been diving into some old movies recently. I enjoyed the wit and style of the 1960s spy thriller The Ipcress File, starring Michael Caine and based on the Len Deighton book. It’s very much of its time, but just the thing for a dark autumnal evening.
Offer: Christmas book bundles
What could be more Christmassy than a set of signed books by your favourite author? I’ll be signing and sending out a limited number of book bundles in December. If you’d like to buy one, two, three or all four books, signed with a dedication of your choice, drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know which books you’d like. First come will be first served. The cost will be £9 per book plus postage. Sorry, but because of postage costs this offer is UK-only.
Have a great November, and happy reading!
I had a great time recording an audio-tour, Dead Men in Deptford, to celebrate Deptford Literature Festival in March 2022. The tour takes in local literary types from Christopher Marlowe to Charles Dickens, diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, Joseph Conrad and Anthony Burgess.
The tour is still online, so you can listen in, download the map and transcript, and visit yourself – or just listen in and imagine the scenery!