Tuesday 28 July 2015

Samaritan reviews

A couple more excellent reviews of The Samaritan - great to see it's going down well so far.

Geoffrey Wansell in the Daily Mail (who also liked Killing Season) said:

"Cross has a fine grasp of Angelino authenticity, and puts it to full use. He's a writer who has his own voice and likes to use it, and the locale, to heighten the tension to breaking point."

It's increasingly rare for new authors to be reviewed in the national press, so I'm incredibly pleased that The Samaritan has notched up great reviews in both the Mail and the Independent.

I'm also really pleased that it's going down well with bloggers, particularly this excellent write-up from blogger, writer and all-round crime fic expert Crime Thriller Girl:

"Set in Florida and California, The Samaritan showcases some great locations (including one very creepy and atmospheric one that I can’t mention – sorry, it’d be too much of a spoiler) to create a vivid backdrop to the story. With great characters, fab locations and a super-twisty plot, The Samaritan is an absolute page-turner. And I already can’t wait for the next Carter Blake novel – I think this is a series that’s going to run and run."

It's also been picking up mostly great Amazon and Goodreads reviews. These are really important for reaching new readers, so if you liked the book, please take a minute to leave a review. Whether it's from newspaper critics, bloggers or readers, it's really good to get feedback.

The Samaritan isn't out in the US until February, but here's a sneak peak of the American cover, which I really like.

Saturday 25 July 2015

Robert Bloch's Psycho

I wrote about Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho for The Murder Room last year, so it was nice to be asked to contribute another piece this year about the source material: Robert Bloch's original novel.

Some other writers were asked to pitch in with articles to coincide with Orion bringing the novel out as a UK ebook for the first time, and if you're a fan of Norman Bates, you should really over head to The Murder Room to see what the likes of RJ Ellory, Steve Cavanagh and Barry Forshaw have to say about it. Before you rush over there, you can read my contribution right here.

Mason Cross on Psycho

The Murder Room, January 2015

Being a perverse sort, I tend to do things in completely the wrong order.

For example, I actually watched Psycho 2 before I saw the original, on late-night TV some time past my bedtime in the early 1990s. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I finally saw Alfred Hitchcock’s classic original, which blew me away and still rewards repeat viewings to this day. It’s one of my absolute favourite films, and a masterclass in the art of the cinematic thriller.

Two decades on, I belatedly got around to reading the book that started the whole thing. As a voracious reader of thrillers, it seems strange that I’ve left it until now to read Robert Bloch’s Psycho, but in my defence it’s been hard to get hold of until recently.

It was difficult to know what to expect from the novel. Often, you’re judging how a movie holds up to the book from which it was adapted. In this case, it’s very much the other way around. The basic story is pretty much exactly the one that Hitch filmed: a bored secretary steals forty grand to start a new life, goes on the lam and is murdered in the shower of the Bates Motel. Her fiancĂ© and sister investigate, only to discover more than they bargained for.

It’s a great plot, and you can see what attracted Hitchcock to it – to the extent that he reputedly bought up every copy of the novel in order to preserve the twist. Of course, people no longer read or watch Psycho to be surprised by the twist, any more than they go to McDonald’s to be surprised by the menu.

Following an expanded opening that helps us get to know Marion Crane a little better than her literary counterpart, the film sticks very closely to its source. The fact that it was made within a couple of years of the book’s publication probably made that more feasible – nothing needed to be updated or modernised. While it’s easy to see the added value Hitchcock brought to the visuals, there’s a pleasant surprise in the way the book makes use of the advantages of its own medium, giving us much more insight into Norman Bates’s inner life. It ends up complementing the movie very well, showing us the same events from a different point of view.

Reading Bloch’s Psycho gave me a new appreciation for how much his story and Hitchcock’s film have influenced me as a writer. When I’m plotting a novel, I tend to come up with the big scenes first: the sudden outbursts of violence and dramatic reversals that will, I hope, hook the reader. When I’m writing, I’m always imagining the visuals: how a particular shot will be framed, the expression on a character’s face as they deliver a line of dialogue. Psycho, on both page and screen, is a textbook thriller: it sucks the audience in and then mercilessly pulls the rug out from under them. I’m always looking for a way to wrong-foot the reader in my books, although it’s unlikely I’ll ever come up with a twist that rivals the secret of Norman Bates.

This isn’t the first time I’ve read the book that inspired a classic movie, and often I’ve been underwhelmed by the source material: Peter Benchley’s Jaws is a case in point. The fantastic thing about Psycho is that even if you’ve seen the movie a dozen times, the book still delivers its own unique thrills.

Friday 24 July 2015

The Samaritan launch

So The Samaritan had a pretty solid welcome into the physical world last week.

Once again, Waterstones Argyle Street did a fantastic job of hosting, making sure everyone had a glass of wine, and that almost everyone had a seat. Craig Robertson was on hand this time to do the Q&A, and did an amazing job. Craig's an ex-journalist, so it was my first time being grilled in front of an audience by somebody who used to do it for a living. He went fairly easy on me though, thankfully, except for a devilishly difficult quiz about Los Angeles. I think I might have got about two questions right...

We talked about a lot of things, from Carter Blake's motivations (I think I summed him up as 'a badass with a heart of gold'), the advantages of making your hero an outsider, the long line of authors who inspired me with their own LA thrillers, and the different ways to escape when your hands are bound by zip ties. You learn a lot at these events.

I'd been a little worried about less people coming to my second book launch now that the novelty has worn off a little. Lots of people warned me about Second Book Turnout Syndrome, and Nick Quantrill told me you really find out who your friends are on the second book. But it turned out I needn't have worried - the shop was packed, and I was reminded I have a lot of friends, as well as a few new faces.

And I have a cool poster too...

I have a few more events coming up soon, including Waterstones East Kilbride on 6th August, Waterstones Braehead on the 8th, and I'm back at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on the 21st - check out my events page for all the details.

Thursday 16 July 2015

The Samaritan - UK publication day

The Samaritan

is now available in all formats from all good offline and online bookstores

Trade paperback
Or order from your local independent bookshop

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Bookmass Eve

The Samaritan is finally published in hardcover and trade paperback this Thursday!

Although it's been out in ebook for a while, it doesn't feel quite published until I see it on the shelf in a bookshop. The launch is tomorrow night at 7pm at Waterstones Argyle Street in Glasgow, and if you're in the neighbourhood it would be great to have you along. You can register for a free place and get full details here.

Rebecca Bradley was kind enough to host me on the What's Your First Draft Like? feature on her blog - you can see my contribution here and check out how other writers have answered this question. No two are the same and these posts are fascinating for anyone interested in the craft of writing.

Bloody Scotland kindly asked me to blog about my inspiration for the new Blake book, which I've done here.

Elsewhere, I've been blogging the new season of True Detective along with Steve Cavanagh over on The Murder Room.

I had my first interview for a broadsheet newspaper last week with the Glasgow Herald, and you can read it in full here. It's a great feature, loads of column inches and for once a pretty decent photograph. I'm really pleased with it.

And just when I thought all of the Killing Season reviews were over, I got this great American blog review from Leaning Tower of Tomes
"There is plenty of action to be found here, and it’s so intense and well-visualized that I really felt like I was watching a movie."
That's it for now - looking forward to a busy few days as The Samaritan hits the shelves.

Friday 10 July 2015

New website

Ahead of the publication of The Samaritan, I've given my website a long-overdue overhaul.

Go to www.masoncross.net to check it out - I've kept most of the original content, but updated some of the reviews and added covers from different territories. There's also a new mailing list, which means I can let you know when a new book's coming out.

I think it looks pretty good, and more importantly it's much easier to keep up to date.

Let me know what you think!

Thursday 9 July 2015

Kindle Summer Sale (UK)

I'm pleased to say that both The Killing Season and The Samaritan have been selected for Amazon UK's Kindle Summer Sale, so if you're in the UK, click on the links below to buy them for just 99p or £2.99 respectively.



Already seen a nice sales boost - Killing Season is ranked #24 in crime and #60 in... literary fiction? Really?