Sunday 31 July 2016

Winterlong - US cover

As I mentioned recently The Time to Kill, the third Carter Blake book, is being published in America under its original name: Winterlong.

I had a sneak preview from my publishers a few weeks ago, but as it's now live on Amazon US, I can proudly reveal the US cover for Winterlong

What do you think? I love it! Can't wait to see a physical copy.

Winterlong is published in the United States on February 7, 2017, and you can pre-order the hardcover right now.

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Friday 22 July 2016

*Meaningful pause* I have a train to catch.

I've boarded a train bound for Harrogate, and am looking forward to my first trip to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. I'll be hosting a table at the author dinner on Saturday, and generally mingling all weekend, so if you're headed to Yorkshire, I hope to see you there.

In the meantime, here's a few more cuttings - click through to read the full reviews and check out these fine blogs.

Hopefully my journey will be less eventful than the one Carter Blake takes in The Time to Kill...

Douglas Skelton posts his review along with notices for Matt Bendoris and TF Muir:

"The previous two books in the series gave us little hints to Blake’s past, nothing much, just little nods and winks, but this time it comes raging back to haunt him. If the past is a foreign country, Blake’s past is one the government would not advise travellers to visit ... I’m a sucker for thrillers on trains. From ‘The Lady Vanishes’ through to ‘Breakheart Pass’ and, my personal favourite, ‘Narrow Margin’, there’s nothing more exciting than riding the rail and pitting your hero against the bad guys. And Cross does it incredibly well."

Civilian Reader reviews the first two books in the series - can't wait to hear the verdict on the third:

"Put simply, The Samaritan is superb. My favourite new thriller series, long may it continue! A must-read for all fans of thrillers and gripping fiction. Both of these novels are very highly recommended."

Lastly, Crime Thriller Girl selects The Time to Kill as one of her top 10 summer reads - be sure to check out the rest of the top 10!

"THE TIME TO KILL is an adrenaline rush from the first page to the last. Packed with stunning set-piece action sequences, and an emotional punch as you discover more of the rather mysterious Blake’s backstory, this cinematic action thriller is like reading Reacher crossed with Bourne plus added fabulousness."

Saturday 16 July 2016

The Time to Kill - Review roundup

Some more great reviews are in for The Time to Kill and I'm relieved that people seem to love it so far!

I've posted some snippets below and you can click through for the full reviews:

Crime Fiction Lover

"Carter Blake is an excellent character. He’s tough but can compromise, intelligent, resourceful without being ridiculous. In other words, believable ... The novel itself clips along. Although there are three strands to the story they don’t get confused. The chapters are short, the prose is punchy and fast moving making this a proper page turner which maintains a furious pace without draining the reader."

Crime Thriller Girl

"THE TIME TO KILL is an adrenaline rush from the first page to the last. Blake is a terrific action hero – he’s smart, agile, and although prefers not to kill people (even the bad guys) he’ll fight as hard as it takes to make sure the good guys win.

"Packed with stunning set-piece action sequences, and an emotional punch as you discover more of the rather mysterious Blake’s backstory, this cinematic action thriller is like reading Reacher crossed with Bourne plus added fabulousness. It’s a total must read. In fact, stop what you’re doing right now and start reading it – you won’t regret it!"

Liz Loves Books

"Carter Blake gets compared to Reacher an awful lot (he’s better)  – for me he is more Jack Bauer (he’s still better) but you should probably ignore both of those and just let this series be what it is.  A set of bloody brilliant thrillers with heart, more complex at the roots than they appear on the surface,  that honestly I hope go on for as long as the aforementioned Reacher has.  Longer. Its fine. Carter can kill people with the zimmer no problem."

Peterborough Evening Telegraph

"This helter-skelter thriller fulfils the promise of the first two books featuring former secret agent Carter Blake"

(If you're wondering, the answer to the competition is Narrow Margin, which I've never seen but always meant to.)

I was also really pleased to be picked for the Sunday Post's top 10 thrilling reads for summer (along with a feature on me and a picture of me trying to look menacing in an alley). Considering their other picks include Stephen King, Lee Child, Val McDermid and Harlan Coben, it's very nice company to be in. Good to see Steve Cavanagh's awesome The Defence represented too.

And to round things off, a nice feature in the Daily Record Book Club about the new book.

The Time to Kill is out now in the UK and you can get it from the following places:

Trade paperback (large format)


It's going to be published in the United States in February with a change of title (or rather, with the original title), so American readers can pre-order Winterlong right now.

I've had a sneak peek of the American cover and it's awesome, so stay tuned for that reveal, along with some other plans I have for the Stateside release...

Saturday 9 July 2016

An Author's Guide to Surviving a Signing

Courtesy of Lisa Gray
So the launch of The Time to Kill took place at Waterstones in Argyle Street, Glasgow on the evening of 29th June. It went really well, thanks to some skilled questioning by fellow author Douglas Skelton and a great turnout from supportive friends, readers and bloggers.

After the excitement had died down, it got me thinking that one of the things I’ve learned since the publication of my first novel, The Killing Season, is that there’s a lot more to a signing event than, well, signing.

There are many different formats to author appearances, from panel discussions with other writers, to Q&As, to solo ‘An evening with…’ style events. There are some features common to almost all, though, and like all good boy scouts know, it’s important to be prepared.

With that in mind, here are my eight top tips for surviving a signing:

1. Expect the unexpected

A lot of times, you’ll be asked the same questions:

“Where do you get your inspiration?”
“Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?”
“Do you put people you know in your novels?”

In my experience, though, there’s always an unexpected question at every event. Like the opening question from a book group I attended: “What is wrong with you?”

2. Water

If it’s an event that involves you giving a reading or talk, and / or answering questions, one thing is guaranteed: you’ll be doing a lot of talking, and it helps to keep your voice lubricated.

3. Keep the reading short

I’ve been surprised to find that some authors absolutely hate giving a reading. Having done a few myself now, I understand why – reading your work out loud in front of an audience is a completely different skill from writing it. It’s a performance. Given that writing is a fairly solitary profession, it can be disconcerting to have an entire roomful of people staring at you.

I don’t love readings, but I don’t hate them either, and I think I’m getting better at it with practice. Besides, the reading is a pretty effective hook to hang the rest of the event on, and it gives you a chance to showcase some of your best work.

Unless you’re a gifted performer (and even then…) my advice is to keep the reading short. The last thing you want is a portion of your audience falling asleep. 3 minutes is ideal, 5 is probably the maximum.

Courtesy of Gordon from the Grab This Book blog

4. Ask the audience some questions

This was a great tip given to me by Sarah Ward, and it works a treat. Try asking the audience a few general questions near the start. What kind of genres do they read besides crime? Do they prefer to read on paper or ebook? Stuff like that. Nothing challenging, like asking for their 12 point plan to bring about world peace.

It warms them up and gets them used to a bit of back and forth. This pays dividends when you’re looking for their questions later on.

5. It’s nice to split the work

An interview is a good format - having someone conversing with you about your book and asking some more structured questions about your work. Douglas was great a couple of weeks ago, and at my previous launch, Craig Robertson even sprung a surprise quiz on me, which I failed miserably. It’s fun to have another writer or journalist on stage with you, not least because it halves the amount of time you’ll be speaking.

Courtesy Gordon again! 

6. You can’t predict how well-attended a particular event will be, but it doesn’t really matter

I’ve done events with over 100 people and events where only 3 people have turned up, and thoroughly enjoyed both. You can tweet and blog and Facebook about upcoming events to your heart's content, but you will never know what the turnout will be like until you get there.

The bottom line is, if one person shows up, they’ve made an effort to be there, so you have to show them a good time. And besides, that person might tell a bunch of their friends how great your book is. And how unfazed and down-to-earth you were about the fact that nobody showed up.

7. Bring a pen

Kind of obvious this one, but it’s difficult to sign a copy of your book without one. It’s your call what type of pen to use – a good old fashioned Sharpie is my standby – but I’ve seen authors use bespoke stamps and different coloured pens to be a little fancier. The most important thing is, make sure whatever you write with uses permanent ink and won’t smudge.

8. Always, always, ask how the person you're signing for spells their name

Even if the person tells you they’re called Tom, there’s a chance their name may actually be Thom.

That's it for now. If you came along to the launch, thanks again. If you missed it and would like to come along to a future event, check out my events page where you'll find details of my upcoming whereabouts from the Harrogate festival to an Oxfam bookshop.

And if you'd like me to come and speak near you, just ask your local library or bookshop to get in touch, I love to go to new places.