All posts by Sam Blake

MURDER ONE! Ireland’s International Crime Writing Festival

Murder One, a three-day long weekend crime writing festival that launched in November 2018 was jam packed with interviews with Irish and international authors, panel events, and a free speakers corner where attendees could listen to readings from some of Ireland’s newest crime writers.  Murder One  featured all aspects of the genre from thrillers and spy fiction, to police procedural and supernatural, cosy mysteries to psychological suspense with more coming for 2019 – we have something for everyone.

Michael Connelly has a full house when he discussed DARK SACRED NIGHT with Declan Burke. All our fabulous authors received a hand numbered and printed limited edition Oscar Wilde quote to remind them of their visit to Dublin, UNESCO City of Literature.

Michael Connelly opened the inaugural Murder One International Crime Writing Festival with a special preview event on October 28 2018, discussing his latest book Dark Sacred Night with crime writer and Dublin City of Literature writer in residence Declan Burke.

Michael Connelly is the bestselling author of twenty-eight novels and one work of nonfiction. With over sixty million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into thirty-nine foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today.

A former newspaper reporter who worked the crime beat at the Los Angeles Times and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Connelly has won numerous awards for his journalism and his fiction. In Dark Sacred Night Renée Ballard is working the night beat again, and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours only to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin. Ballard kicks him out, but then checks into the case herself and it brings a deep tug of empathy and anger.

Bosch is investigating the death of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally murdered and her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now, Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy and finally bring her killer to justice.

The main programme took place in Smock Alley Theatre, one of Dublin’s premier event venues, from 2nd – 4th November.  Featured over the weekend were a stellar cast of crime and thriller writers including Lynda La Plante, Peter James, Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Clare Mackintosh, Lisa Jewell, Ruth Ware, Mick Herron and Robert Goddard together with many of your favourite Irish crime writers including Liz Nugent, Jane Casey, Karen Perry and many more.

Lynda La Plante discusses Murder Mile and the Widows Movie with Niamh O’Connor

International bestselling & award winning author, Lynda La Plante, whose TV dramas from Prime Suspect to Trial & Retribution have kept viewers on the edge of their seats, discussed her criminal passions and her latest novel, Murder Mile, with Niamh O’Connor. As Widows, the movie inspired by Lynda’s hit TV series is released, does print still pull her back and how does she keep those ideas coming?

Lynda La Plante was born in Liverpool. She trained for the stage at RADA and worked with the National Theatre and RDC before becoming a television actress. She then turned to writing – and made her breakthrough with the phenomenally successful TV series WIDOWS, that has been adapted for film this year. Directed by Steve McQueen from a screenplay by McQueen and Gillian Flynn WIDOWS features Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson, and is released by 20th Century Fox on November 16 2018.

In her latest book, Murder MilePrime Suspect meets Ashes to Ashes as we see Jane Tennison starting out on her police career . The fourth in the bestselling Jane Tennison series, Murder Mile  is set at the height of the ‘Winter of Discontent’ in February 1979. Can Jane Tennison uncover a serial killer?

Lynda La Plante also brought festival attendees a unique free workshop for anyone interested in the world of forensics or Crime Scene Investigation. This interactive event is hosted by Think Forensic whose experts include CSI’s, forensic scientists, and senior investigating officers. In Lynda La Plante’s CSI Murder Room, vistors got a hands on introduction to forensic science during which you will be briefed on the crime of the day, inspired by Lynda’s newest thriller Murder Mile, and help the team solve it. Signed hardbacks are available at The Gutter Bookshop – get in touch to order yours!

The legendary Val McDermid talks maggots and methods of murder with Niamh O’Connor

Murder One has been developed and is curated by two of Ireland’s most experienced literary event programmers, Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin of Writing.ie (aka crime writer Sam Blake) and Bert Wright formerly of Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival and currently curator of The Dublin Festival of History and the DLR Voices Series. Working with Dublin City Libraries, Dublin City Events, and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, this sensational festival attracted engaged crowds to see some of the biggest names in international crime writing.

We’re planning the 2019 festival now – sign up so you don’t miss our news.

Follow Murder One on Twitter @MurderOneFest, Instagram @MurderOneFest or Facebook @MOneCrimeFest

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Short Story Anthologies

I’ve been very privileged to be asked to contribute to several landmark anthologies – the short stories in them are all related to the Cat Connolly books and are extra stories about the characters.

Looking At The Stars was a limited edition anthology of Irish writing edited by Kerrie O’ Brien and Alice Kinsella to raise money for the Rough Sleeper Team of the Dublin Simon Community.

It features a mixture of poetry, prose and non-fiction from a host of incredible Irish writers but, most importantly, it will also feature writing from those currently in the services of the Dublin Simon Community. It raised over €15000 for the Dublin Simon Community.

The Broken Spiral is an anthology of short stories by Irish authors in aid of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. The project is named The Broken Spiral as this is the symbol of the centre, and because it is emblematic of the winding, re-winding and often circuitous journey towards healing that those who have experienced trauma face. This symbol also serves as the shape of the collection, which, though it inevitably explores darkness and difficulty, ultimately offers solace, and a way out of the labyrinth. The Broken Spiral has raised much-needed funds for the centre, but also act as a restorative to survivors of trauma who have spoken out and survivors who remain in silence through the redemptive power of storytelling. The aim of the collection is to bring hope to the reader, and to re-establish a belief that healing can, and does, happen.

The Broken Spiral anthology launched in mid-November 2017 at the Irish Writers Centre.  Featuring writing from Pat McCabe, Mia Gallagher, June Caldwell, Louise O’Neill, Colin Barrett, Sinéad Gleeson, Roisín O’Donnell, Rosaleen McDonagh and Claire Hennessy. Sponsored by Dublin UNESCO, Bodytonic, Mutiny and the Irish Writers Centre. Edited by R.M. Clarke.

Reading the Future is a wonderful limited edition anthology of 250 Irish writers celebrating 250 years of Dublin’s oldest bookstore, Hodges Figgis. Edited by Alan Hayes it features bestsellers, award winners and two Booker shortlisted authors Donal Ryan and Sally Rooney.

My story features Anna Lockharte, a character in No Turning Back, and who I hope will feature in a future book!

 

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Sam Blake at The Professional Writing Academy

Sam Blake is a guest tutor at The Professional Writing Academy Crime Fiction Online Workshop designed and facilitated by course director & Unsung Hero of Publishing 2018 Tom Bromley. 

Are you passionate about crime fiction? Would you like to expand and hone your writing skills? This four-week online course will help you master the conventions of crime fiction as you develop ideas, create compelling characters and inject suspense into your writing. You’ll learn how to develop page-turning plots and put this knowledge into practice by writing a short crime story or start of a novel. Broaden your palette of writing techniques and explore the world of thriller, suspense and crime  – and you can do it wherever you are in the world!

About Tom Bromley (but obviously the pic above is *me* 😉 )

I am a published author, editor, creative writing tutor, book reviewer and ghost (not the scary kind). I have written ten books under my own name and the pseudonym Thomas Black, which are a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. I have also ghostwritten a dozen more titles, several of which have been international bestsellers.

As a creative writing tutor, I teach novel writing and five further courses for the prestigious Faber Academy. I am also Director of Fiction for the Professional Writing Academy, where I run courses on crime and genre fiction.

I work, too, as an editorial consultant and mentor for a number of publishers, literary agencies and organisations, and also in a private capacity. Locally, I host the Salisbury Writing Circle — a community of new and experienced writers alike and write a weekly column on the arts (sort of) for the Salisbury Journal.

This autumn, I’m also one of the founders and Director of the inaugural Salisbury Literary Festival.

You couldn’t be in safer hands!

Sign up here http://bit.ly/CrimeSignUp

See my thoughts on literary festivals, events and courses, PLUS how to deal with writer’s block below…

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The Story Behind No Turning Back…

With the new GDPR legislation and recent events in the political sphere there’s been an explosion in the debate around how much data companies hold on you, and how that all connects online. By aggregating data, companies can learn more about you than your nearest and dearest know, and you can then be targeted for all sorts of reasons – whether it’s to influence your vote or to persuade you to buy chocolate. It’s fascinating and frightening and the perfect background for a crime novel – there are so many aspects to it that you could write a whole series (now there’s an idea). My daughter is 18 and very techie, she’s a font of fascinating information about what’s happening on the web – her friends joke that she should wear a tin hat – she’d very conscious of her online footprint. She first told me about websites that aggregate hacked webcam footage – she’d read about it on Reddit. She wants to do aerospace engineering so the parts of Reddit she hangs out on tend to be populated by engineers, programmers and rocket scientists, and she finds the most interesting stories.

When it came to start plotting No Turning Back I started thinking about the consequences of a stranger breaking into your world and what damage they could do. I read a brilliant book by Jamie Bartlett called The Dark Net which was all about the start of the internet and how the deep web and the dark web came to be. I found articles about the Silk Road website and Dread Pirate Roberts, as its founder Ross Ulbricht was known. Ulbricht set up the site in 2011 initially to sell magic mushrooms but it literally mushroomed and it became a shop front for suppliers of everything from hard drugs to AK47s.  Ulbricht was arrested in 2013 and convicted of money launderingcomputer hacking, conspiracy to traffic fraudulent identity documents, and conspiracy to traffic narcotics in February 2015. He is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

But there are many more individuals keen to fill his place – Silk Road made millions of dollars.

The web is obviously a brilliant source for research on itself, but chatting to professional in an area is absolutely invaluable. In the course of a conversation they can say something that sparks a whole new idea. I’m blessed with a fabulous friend Alex Caan who is also a writer (Cut to the Bone/ First to Die  – watch the video for Cut to the Bone here, it’s awesome, but I might be biased as my daughter made it)

Alex is in information systems security for a number of government organisations, and is currently specialising in Terrorism Studies. There is little he doesn’t know! Having a trusted source who you can ask stupid questions is incredibly useful, and one who writes as well? I can’t thank him enough for his help – all while he was doing a PhD and writing his incredible second book First to Die.

Researching worms and viruses online I discovered even more terrifying and interesting things, including the background to the Stuxnet worm that was barely reported when it happened – a cyber-attack on Iran’s nuclear power plants it showed just how powerful cyber weapons could be. At the same time that I was reading about this, the WannaCry virus was attacking the NHS in the UK. It was all becoming very real.

I’ve always been interested in secrets and in what goes on behind closed doors. With all my internet research on hand I wanted to write a book with multiple secrets at it’s core, where events had a domino effect, an effect that created moral crises for those involved.

No Turning Back has many twists and turns and it brings Cat Connolly to a very unexpected place…

No Tunring Back is getting incredible reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, one Amazon reviewer said:

“A superb well crafted tale, which should encourage any reader to get the other books by the Irish Author, Sam Blake. Detective Garda Cathy Connolly, a feisty, intelligent Dublin officer, is faced with a complex and disturbing case involving a hit and run on a young wealthy student and the apparent suicide of another student from the same year and same course, both deaths occurring very close to each other and nearer enough on the same night. Were these deaths connected? Much to our detective’s consternation this takes her into the depths of the Dark Web, a much unexplored arena of illegality, depravity and a market place for anything the displaced of society wants. I found this book enthralling, enticing me back time after time. It’s frightening, pacey and really excellent example of the modern police procedural thriller.”

Pick up your copy here!

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Now Out in Audio!

I’m thrilled that Little Bones. In Deep Water and No Turning Back are now ALL available in audio in MP3 and CD formats (click here to order directly from Bolinda or download from Audible here ) – and in libraries, including libraries in Australia – do ask if you can’t find it!

The series is narrated by Aoife McMahon, a fabulous actress who has also narrated Marian Keyes, Cecilia Aherne, Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It and Carmel Harrington’s The Woman and 72 Derry Lane plus Jess Kidd’s The Hoarder and many of Jo Spain’s nail-biting thrillers.

Aoife attended The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and has appeared in  many TV series including Doctors, Broken, Partners in Crime and The Royals as well as A Touch of Frost and Bad Girls.  A well known face on the BBC and ITV she also has an extensive stage career.

Listen to an excerpt from Little Bones here on sound cloud:

And here’s a bit of No Turning Back

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Get the Books!

The Cat Connolly series: Little Bones, In Deep Water and No Turning Back ….

LITTLE BONES: Number ONE bestseller; Shortlisted for Irish Crime Novel of the Year 2016

Here’s the blurb!

For fans of Alex Barclay and Niamh O’Connor, Little Bones introduces Cathy Connolly, a bright young heroine set to take the world of crime fiction by storm.

Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress – and, concealed in its hem, a baby’s bones.

And then the dress’s original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.

Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.

Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic – and now he’s in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?

Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn’t know dangerous – and personal – this case is about to become…

Order on Amazon here!

IN DEEP WATER, Top Ten Irish bestseller: Here’s the blurb!

For fans of TENNISON and MISSING PRESUMED, comes the gripping follow-up to the number 1 bestseller, LITTLE BONES.

Good intentions can be deadly . . .

Cat Connolly is back at work after the explosion that left her on life support. Struggling to adjust to the physical and mental scars, her workload once again becomes personal when her best friend Sarah Jane Hansen, daughter of a Pulitzer-winning American war correspondent, goes missing.

Sarah Jane is a journalism student who was allegedly working on a story that even her father thought was too dangerous.

With Sarah Jane’s father uncontactable, Cat struggles to find a connection between Sarah Jane’s work and her disappearance. But Sarah Jane is not the only one in deep water when Cat comes face to face with a professional killer . . .

In the world of missing persons every second counts, but with the clock ticking, can Cathy find Sarah Jane before it’s too late?

Order on Amazon here!

No Turning BackNO TURNING BACK, Top Ten Irish bestseller: Here’s the blurb!

Even perfect families have secrets . . .

Orla and Conor Quinn are the perfect power couple: smart, successful and glamorous. But then the unthinkable happens. Their only son, Tom, is the victim of a deliberate hit-and-run.

Detective Garda Cathy Connolly has just left Tom’s parents when she is called to the discovery of another body, this time in Dillon’s Park, not far from where Tom Quinn was found. What led shy student Lauren O’Reilly to apparently take her own life? She was a friend of Tom’s and they both died on the same night – are their deaths connected and if so, how?

As Cathy delves deeper, she uncovers links to the Dark Web and a catalogue of cold cases, realising that those involved each have their own reasons for hiding things from the police. But events are about to get a lot more frightening . . .

Order on Amazon here!

And No Turning Back is out in paperback with a brand new cover!

 

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