The Writing Game live Facebook interviews have been running every Friday through lockdown at lunchtime. Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin and literary agent Simon Trewin have been joined by some stellar authors including Andrew Miller, Joanne Harris, Kit de Waal, Adele Parks, Catherine Banner and Carmel Harrington plus publishing director Kathryn Taussig.
Below you can see Simon chatting to Sam Blake, discussing plot and process, writers block and the differences between writing a series and standalone novels. Showing how she goes from big idea to bestseller, Sam Blake discusses her novels to date.
What makes a book a success? What’s that magic ingredient writers need to bring to their manuscript to make it fly off the shelves?
Ever since I started writing I’ve been fascinated by what makes a bestselling book. As an unpublished writer I voraciously read debut novels to find out just what those authors had that had attracted an agent, and then a publisher, and got them over the line. As my latest thriller (a complete change from the Cat Connolly trilogy of police proceduarals) Keep Your Eyes on Me hits the bookshelves, I’m launching a new podcast, talking to bestselling and award winning authors, agents, editors and publicists from right across the industry to find out what makes a book a success.
Join me, crime author Sam Blake, as I chat to bestsellers from every genre to find out what makes a book fly off the shelves in Behind the Bestseller. Discussing concepts and ideas, where stories come from and how authors develop them into what you see on the page, I will also be chatting to agents, editors and publicists to understand their part in the process.
I started writing fiction in 1999 when my husband went sailing across the Atlantic for 8 weeks, I was convinced that first (terrible) book would be a bestseller – but it took me a bit longer than I expected to get published and it was actually my the fifth book that became my debut novel. Little Bones hit the number one slot for four weeks and launched detective Cat Connolly into the world, as well as launching my writing career.
In ‘Behind the Bestseller’, I quizz authors on exactly what made the difference for them and dig into the detail of how brilliant stories are born and how they grow.
My first psychological thriller Keep Your Eyes on Me arrives on bookshelves in January 2020 – it’s ‘Strangers on a Train’ meets ‘Dial M For Murder’; TM Logan, bestselling author of the Richard and Judy Book Club choice, The Holiday says ‘Revenge is sweet in this deliciously entertaining thriller, as two women scorned aim to settle a few scores – with an ingenious plan that will have you cheering them every step of the way.’
Join me in ‘Behind the Bestseller’ to discover the insider secrets – subscribe now so you don’t miss an episode!
If you need a picture of Sam Blake for your event or website, please use any of the following – they are all royalty free. The three studio shots are copyright Jason Clarke Photography and the shots below, taken outside, are by Karen Morgan.
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 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.
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 Mile, Prime 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!
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
Sam Blake is a guest tutor at The Professional Writing Academy Crime Fiction Online Workshopdesigned 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.