NWC Programme for the Year
Andy Barrett - date to be arranged.
Mystery, thriller and horror writer.
Over the past decade, Andy Barrett has written over thirty large scale community plays examining
the histories, characters and stories of towns and villages across the East Midlands.
During the evening, he will talk about the challenges of creating such plays, often in very unusual locations, as well as exploring the ways in which history can be brought to life through research, basic dramatic
technique and imaginative staging.
If time allows he'll also talk about his work for BBC Radio, his current theatre project for the Nottingham Playhouse and answer questions about his work and play writing in general.
Even if your particular writing interest isn't script writing, there's sure to be a wealth of information that can be used for any genre. Don't miss finding out.
5th June 2013 - Alison L R Davies
Poet, horror writer and story teller.
Alison is an author, columnist and professional storyteller and her fiction has appeared in collections
and magazines in the UK, and overseas.
Her most recent fiction novel, a dark fantasy called 'The After School Club' - was published by Barrington Stoke for teens with reading difficulties. Her recent nonfiction book 'Read Me a Story' was published by Bloomsbury last year, and she has a forthcoming book 'Using Festivals to Inspire and Engage Young Children' due out
in September with Routledge. She has also just finished writing a book on mythology from around the world, which will be published by Cico books in 2014.
She writes regular features for a number of magazines and newspapers, including The Times Educational Supplement, Child Education, Practical Pre-school magazine, Woman's Own, Woman, YOU, Psychologies, Chat, Best, Prima, Soul & Spirit,
Women's Weekly, Take a Break, Fate and Fortune, Spirit and Destiny, Natural Health, Prediction, Record Collector etc. She also
writes regular columns for Chat-Its Fate magazine, and Soul & Spirit.
Alison is also a professional storyteller performing to both adults and children and has written work for
numerous projects and performances, working throughout the UK.
She runs regular sessions and workshops for Nottingham and Leicester universities on the creative toolbox, storytelling as a tool to enhance teaching and learning, and making effective use of language.
So, with all that expertise and knowledge, don't miss the opportunity to hear Alison talk about her work
as well as passing tips on writing and using language effectively.
As always, the meeting is held at The New Mechanics
7.00 to 9.00 pm.
3rd July 2013 - Miranda Seymour
Highly acclaimed author of fiction and non-fiction.
Miranda is celebrated both as a novelist and a biographer, has been a visiting professor at
Nottingham Trent University, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Miranda lives and works in London and is also the current owner of her ancestral home, Thrumpton Hall.
She is a novelist, biographer and reviewer and her books include In My Father's House, The Bugatti Queen,
Mary Shelley and Robert Graves: Life on the Edge.
Miranda will be talking about sleuthing and biography, and how she tracks down evidence and interviews witnesses.
She likens this to conducting an independent court case where the writer is appearing for both sides and also acting as the detective. She will also talk about her forthcoming book, Noble Endeavours: Stories from England and Germany.
This promises to be a fascinating evening and definitely not one to miss.
4th September 2013 - Ash Dickinson
Poet and performer
2rd October 2013 - Chris Morgan
Film script writer
1st May 2013 - Phil Austin
Talk on the Life and Work of Thomas Hardy.
Thomas Hardy - Love, death and reluctant atheism.
A potted history and personal view of this Victorian writer by Phil Austin.
Born in 1840 near Dorchester, Hardy was the son of a stonemason. He grew up to be an architect and
seems an unlikely candidate for the moniker of 'one of our greatest novelists.' With some readings
from his work and a Powerpoint presentation (just to focus your attention away from the speaker!)
this talk is likely to last about an hour and does not cover any of Hardy's poetry.
Phil says of himself that he is thousands of years old and has had several
'careers' but latterly spent over 30 years in education working with the most disadvantaged
children in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. He hated school, rarely read, was a little rebellious
but discovered a teacher who was kind to him and encouraged, initially his writing and subsequently
He has written plays, some performed, short stories, poetry and is currently
working on a series of apparently unrelated 'tales' which he is hoping to build up into a connected event or series of events, with a disjointed sense of time. He hates the idea of a beginning a middle and an end; and enjoys the works of Vonnegut, Heller and Pinter who all have an element of being
'lost in time.'
Carl Fellstrom, Journalist and Author
Carl has been a journalist since 1988 and talked about how much journalism and newspapers
have changed since then, particularly in relation to the scandal about phone hacking.
He maintains that the press is still one of the foundations of our view of the world,
but recently people's trust has been undermined by the use of phone hacking and other intrusive methods to get
gossip and scandal about famous people.
Of the people reading printed papers, 4m read broadsheets and 18m read tabloids so it's not
surprising that a culture has been created by the latter that has led to some terrible things happening.
Readers now have an insatiable appetite for gossip and scandal and the papers who print it
say they're simply responding to public demand. But were they the ones who created the demand in the first place?
Technology has made it very easy for journalists to find people and also to pay people
to tell stories about them. This could be excused if those people were criminals, but most of the time
This same technology is making journalists lazy. When Carl started work the only way to
get stories was to go out and create relationships with people, get to know them and listen to what they
had to say. Now it's done mostly remotely, checking on the web, re printing what other people have written
and using information sent in by members of the public.
In his working life, Carl relied on being able to get information from the police,
particularly when he was writing his book Hoods. Now everyone is scared to talk to the press, and the
police have been told not to mix with them. This is a bad thing as the press and police need each other.
He's hoping that a lot of good will come out of the Leveson enquiry into the phone
hacking scandal. It will bring the people responsible to book, show the ones creating the stories that
it isn't acceptable or ethical. One of the things he found most disturbing was the lengths the people
involved went to to justify their actions.
The really good thing is that it was The Guardian newspaper who exposed the scandal.
The enquiry is over now and he's hoping that a new code of conduct will be created.
On the plus side, the new technology is a very good thing for writers. When he wrote
Hoods he was lucky and found a publisher for it. This was six years ago and back then he didn't consider
books in e format but recently he arranged with his publisher for it to be sold in Kindle format and it's
outselling the paper book. He's happy about this because he gets a higher percentage of the purchase price
for an e book; 60 to 70 percent instead of 10 to 15.
While on holiday in Spain this year, he checked on the people who were reading around
the pool and noted that about sixty percent were reading e books. This is great news for writers. Until
recently the only way to get a book published was to find a publisher to accept it which has always been
very difficult and frustrating. Now there are a lot more opportunities for them to get their work read.
One way is to put their work onto a blog or website, and Carl admires the way writers
are taking everything forward. People are producing good stuff and they are getting an audience.
Since he trained at Thames Polytechnic, there a lot more courses being run at universities,
but this is done for commercial reasons, and not because there are jobs waiting for the graduates when they leave.
After he finished, he went to work at a weekly paper in Northampton which Carl says
was a great traineeship. From there he went onto the evening paper which was a big broadsheet and an
One minute he'd be interviewing a dustman about his 60th wedding anniversary, and the next
he could be with the Prime Minister alongside the nationals.
There was a lot of respect for local papers in those days, and it was a buzzing place
to work. They always worked unsociable hours and were fired up. The general public were always a great
source of stories.
He was asked if when working on papers if he had to go along with the editor. Carl said yes,
everyone had to, no matter that it was very frustrating sometimes. The editor's job is to give an overview
although they don't get it right all the time.
Things are very different now for newspapers and in their current format probably won't
last much longer. Older people have grown up with newspapers being the main source of news and are in the habit
of buying them, but these days with the internet and social media there are many of the younger generation
who've never done so and automatically go online and get information that way.
Because of so much being available via a computer, journalists have become used to working
just in an office, but they need to get out in their area and re connect with their readers. Meeting people face
to face is so important.
Carl talked about his life after writing Hoods and admits that he has been threatened as a
result of the book's content, but he's determined to get the message across. It's all too easy to give in to fear,
and we're living in an age when it's getting worse, but his message is 'don't let fear spread'. Crime cannot be
allowed to take over from the 'rule of law'. If he feels strongly about a subject, he will pursue it.
His next book 'The English Laundry', due out mid 2013, is about money laundering and is much
more global. It will be better than 'Hoods' and will make people think about the foundations of our economy.
Les Baynton, Poet and Beer King of Derby
Les was first a teacher and then a primary school head for 20 years before retiring and
becoming a full time poet and tv extra. He has had six books of poetry for children published, been broadcast
on the BBC, written books on pub poetry and does many readings at schools as well as open mic sessions.
Les told us he gets his inspiration from many places, including the experience of having
triple bypass surgery in 2010 in Glenfield Hospital. He praises the job they did and wrote a lot poems about
it including one about his cardiac nurse who he called the angel of the aorta. He's writing a book about heart
issues and getting older.
After seeing the now famous Women's Institute nude calendar, he wrote a poem about it
called Calendar of Delights. Les offered to read it at a special WI meeting and found himself on stage facing
massed rows of women looking at him. Unfortunately, just as he was about to start, the lights went out. He also
sent this poem to the WI headquarters in London. He didn't get paid for it but he did receive a calendar for
which he had to send them money.
He challenged his writing skill at a Valentine's Night dinner when he offered to write
poems for the guests and their partners. He still didn't get paid but at least he got a free meal out of it.
He wrote 15 poems that evening including one from the chef to his girlfriend entitled Chef's Delight.
He's also written poems about getting older including ones for the ladies about the 60's
being the new 40's, there being no more old biddies any more and glamour pusses with pension books.
He reads at a Derby event once a month where people get on stage and read their work.
Thankfully there's a time limit because apparently some people would go on all evening.
Poetry slams are very popular and there's been a resurgence of people writing poetry.
Evenings like this give people who've never performed their work before, or thought they could, the confidence
to try. There are usually fifty or more people there with an age range of eleven to eighty nine. He advises
anyone who wants to have a go at this not to explain the poem first because it spoils the experience for
Performing poetry is very different to reading it on the page but that shouldn't put
anyone off from giving it a try
Les was asked how he saw humour. His answer was that for him it's always there, and with
humorous prose he's found his forte, but this isn't the case for everyone.
If people want to write serious, then they should, and no one should write poetry that
doesn't work for them. If people want to write funny stuff, try limericks as this is a style of poetry that
lends itself to being funny. And don't wait to be in a 'funny' state of mind. You could be waiting for ever
so just get on with it.
After the break, Les ran a short workshop on writing humorous verse. He gave us two subjects,
The Olympics and Prince Harry in Las Vegas. It was no surprise that most people chose the latter and it showed the
creativity of the audience that so many people produced great poems and were happy to read them out, visitors
and members alike. They were all very funny.
Sally Quilford on Flash Fiction
Sally Quilford has had numerous stories and articles published in magazines. She is a
columnist for Writers' Forum magazine and is a writer of pocket novels for Woman's Weekly and People's Friend.
Sally began this mini workshop by giving everybody a little exercise. We had just a few
minutes to write our life history in 100 words, but none of it could be true. Afterwards we were given the
chance to read out our efforts. These were mostly funny, with people claiming to have been born in all sorts
of exotic places and living adventurous and exciting lives.
Sally then went on to explain exactly what flash fiction is and what alternative names are
used for it. A piece of up to 300 words is known as micro fiction, and anything from 300 to 1000 words is called
flash fiction. We were then given a brief history, linking Aesop's Fables with the writing of Ray Bradbury,
Arthur C Clarke and H.P. Lovecraft.
Moving on for a moment we thought about the requirements of any short story: characters,
setting, dialogue and plot, etc. Sally explained that flash fiction does not require characters or plot.
In fact, flash fiction does not even have to be a story. It can be merely a piece of descriptive prose.
Prior to our second exercise we were asked to suggest various prompts for a piece of flash fiction.
Some of the suggestions were: heatwave, skipping rope and rainbow. We were then
allowed ten minutes to write a piece which included one of these themes. Carol Bevitt, Ron Morris and Stan Smith wrote
about muddy boots, Glenis Wilson
came up with a composition inspired by red herring and Viv Apple's story was prompted by
across the bridge.
Christine Smith managed to incorporate several prompts in her story including muddy boots, Santa Claus, box of chocolates,
sleepless night and dustbin.
An editing exercise was our next task. Having been given a handout on how to shorten a story, we were
required to trim our pieces of flash fiction by about 10%. Most people found they were able to do this and some even managed
almost a 50% reduction. This is a necessary skill to ensure that the strict word requirements of flash fiction competitions
(of which there are many online) can be met.
With plenty of handouts given away there was little need to make notes, giving everyone the chance to
concentrate on the exercises. The evening ended with a question and answer session, after which Elaine Brown gave the
vote of thanks.
Roy's listing in the Programme for 2012 said 'an evening of wit and humour'. It certainly
was but the description fell far short of the great evening he'd prepared for us.
Roy's new book is entitled 'The Mammoth Book of Unexplained Phenomena' and will be available
in January 2013. He delivered the book early but the publishers delayed the launch which is why it wasn't available
for us to buy on the night. The book is full of mystery stories, some well known and researched, others less so,
but all fascinating and intriguing. It would be impossible in a few hundred words to list them all so just a few of
them get a mention here. For the full list, you'll have to buy the book.
UFO stories have been around for centuries, probably even millennia as stories of strange objects
in the sky appear in the Bible. Just what are the guys in this picture holding?
How do these stories of unexplained phenomena start? Victoria Beckham reported a UFO sighting
last year over her home in Los Angeles but it's been dismissed as 'probably a helicopter' but wouldn't that have
made a noise? So what was the bright light over her home?
Lots of stories, especially recent ones, can be investigated and proved to be fake, like the
photo of the Loch Ness Monster that turned out to be a model nailed to a floating piece of wood.
Or the film of an alien autopsy that was sold around the world before being exposed as a 'reconstruction'
rather than the original from Roswell in the 1960's as originally claimed. Roswell is the site of many alien stories
including crashed flying saucers and could be where the Men in Black are sent from to visit anyone who reports a UFO sighting.
Other creatures of the skies are angels, and there are a lot of sightings of these, particularly from America. People always say that a visit from an angel is a good thing as they save people's lives, etc.
The face and the pyramids on Mars could be signs of a very ancient civilisation that existed there
while life was possible on that planet, but have been dismissed by NASA as chance rock formations and shadows. Strange creatures stories are told all over the world. We have unidentified big black cats in England, Yetis in America and the Himalayas,
moth men that seem to be the harbingers of disaster and chupacabras in Mexico.
There are hundreds of maritime mysteries, one of the most famous being the Marie Celeste, the ship
that was found abandoned as if the crew had suddenly left and disappeared. Stories of warm food on the table were a
later fiction probably originated by Arthur Conan Doyle because they didn't appear in the original report.
A similar story features the lighthouse, the Flannan Light, manned by three keepers who disappeared one
night leaving—you guessed it—food on the table. And, in the poem of the same name, 'a bird that starved upon its perch'.
The ghost ship, the Flying Dutchmen, has been seen by many sailors, including King George V.
The Bermuda Triangle is famous for strange happenings to ships, also to planes, the most famous being Flight 19,
a training flight of five Avengers that disappeared in 1945 along with their crews.
Hector C Bywater wrote The Great Pacific War in 1925 and this was supposedly used to the Japanese
to plan their attack. Was this prophecy or strategists using a very useful piece of information?
The Philadelphia Experiment happened in 1952 when the Americans tried to make a ship—the USS Eldridge—invisible. Eye witnesses said it disappeared in a flash of blue light and was transported to Norfolk, Virginia. It was then transported back.
The US Navy naturally denies any such experiment.
So you can decide for yourself whether these are real happenings or not, but as writers we would be foolish to ignore this rich history of fascinating events as they can form the basis for short stories, books and films, or in Roy's case, his next publication.
When the May speaker had to cancel at the minute, our longstanding NWC stalwart, Viv Apple, stepped
in with a fun and informative workshop to get everyone thinking.
When we arrived, there were already newspapers spread out across the desks, but the purpose of these
was to remain a mystery for a little while longer. Firstly, Viv explained that we wouldn't be escaping without doing some
writing that evening, and she wanted either a rhyming poem or a short prose piece consisting mainly of dialogue. Before we
all went ahead, though, Viv had a few other things to get us going.
We were asked to think of six words that rhymed with 'day', the first words that came into our heads,
and write them down. Sounds easy enough, we all thought, as everyone started scribbling. Then Viv told us to cross out
those words, and think of six more words that rhymed with 'day'. Not quite so easy, but we all duly got writing again.
The point of this, Viv then explained, was that you should never go straight for the first thing that
comes to mind, because that is probably the same thing that everyone else has thought of as well. If you stop and think a
bit longer, you're far more likely to come up with an original idea.
That was when we discovered the reason for the newspapers. We were asked to write that rhyming poem or
short dialogue piece based on, or inspired by, one of the articles from the newspaper in front of us. And we only had half
an hour to do it!
In fact, it was very impressive how much people managed to produce in such a short time – Stan Smith had a
poem about a painter in a WW2 concentration camp, Keith Havers had a story about the Caxton printing press, I even tried my
hand at a short rhyming poem (about a violent swan), which is a rarity. Perhaps I ought to sit next to Viv more often;
she's clearly a bad influence on me!
It was a fun evening, and our thanks to Viv for standing in at such short notice and providing a very
Carol Bevitt and David Bowman
Once upon a time, an author's fairy tale went like this. He/she sat down and wrote a novel, sent
it off to a publisher who said, 'We love it. Here's lots of money and a contract.' The publisher then printed the book,
arranged all the publicity and, after lots of book signings and appearances on Terry Wogan, the author sold millions of
copies and lived happily ever after.
Unfortunately, like chat show hosts, things change and although authors like JK Rowling still live
the fairy tale, most authors now have to do a lot more for themselves as Carol and David explained.
If a publisher or agent receives a submission from you, the first thing they'll do these days is
look for your internet presence, to see how you publicise yourself and your work. If they can't find one, they'll
probably reject the book because they want people who aren't afraid to self-publicise, who have put themselves out
there and are already getting friends and followers.
There are four main ways of doing this.
Blogging, Facebook, Twitter and Websites
Blogging. The two main sites in the UK are Wordpress and Blogger. Carol was
advised to start a blog which she did about eighteen months ago and calls it Carol's Corner. It's important to
avoid confusion by finding a name that no one else is using but if you're using your name add 'author' after it.
Carol gave a lot of detail about setting up blogs which were too detailed to give here, but it's available on a handout,
copies of which she handed round.
Once the blog is set up you can't walk away. It's important to visit your site two or three times a week, and if people
comment you must answer. It's easy to get followers and if you follow other blogs, they'll probably follow you but be
careful what you say on your blog. You must always be professional and never controversial. People can stop following
just as easily as they started.
Facebook. this is just as easy but more geared to friends and family rather than
'followers'. You can put almost anything on Facebook including messages, photos and samples of your writing. You can also
link to other sites (but not Twitter because they don't like each other).
David explained that his e publishing company has 26 authors and although some of them were already on Facebook, it has been
an uphill struggle to get all of them to have an online presence.
This is the easiest place to have dialogue with your fans. He now has over 1,000 friends but warned everyone to take care not
to waste time on these sites as it's very easy to get sucked in.
Twitter. They consider themselves as rivals to Facebook although they operate in a
similar way. Tweets are restricted to 140 characters which doesn't sound a lot, but if you can write novels, you can Tweet.
Follow someone and they will follow you so this is an important marketing tool. Your followers will all see Tweets about
The problem with Twitter is that it has over 500 million subscribers and you can get overwhelmed, so use a filter to follow the subjects you're most interested in. Rules are be professional and polite, never banal or trivial. Never Tweet personal
information as there is no protection policy.
Although marketing in the UK is restrained and understated, it's very different in America where advertising is much brasher,
but even with that audience, don't over Tweet as this can put people off.
Websites. This is the other crucial part of the structure. If an agent, publisher
or member of the press is interested in you, they'll check this out first to get the basic information. This is much
easier for them than the traditional question and answer session.
If you want more information, go to
Web pages must be well designed, professional and they must work. They must also be kept up to date, and it's best to have
different websites for different markets.
David has a friend who runs online courses to help people design and run websites. It's a virtual classroom where you 'meet'
once a month for five months, you get your course work, submit it and get replies from everyone in the group. It works through
e mail and is just $15 per person although she's offering it for $10 for NWC members.
And don't forget, DBN Web Design
(the people who look after our website), offer 15% discount
on web hosting as well as some great deals for web design for NWC members.
Amazon. You can't get away from Amazon as it's the world's biggest book seller,
both in print and e books. They are very good at manipulating the market to get what they want.
It's easy at Amazon to set up an Author's Page where you can talk about yourself, your writing and your books.
Don't wait until you have a contract. Start now. You are a product like any other product, and you have to have a marketing plan. Campaign, promote and look at how you will integrate with your readers. Get your user base built because that's where
you'll get your sales from. E books cost nothing to give away so have a couple of days when people can download them for
free as this will give you a ranking and Amazon's top 100 get promoted by them.
The USA is a huge market in this worldwide economy and Erotica is the most popular on Kindle. Software is available for
converting text to an e book or you can send to Amazon in Word. There are lots of conditions but authors get up to 70 per cent royalties and if you choose the self publishing route, you can also do this on Amazon.
Carol and David may have had only a few hours to put this talk together but it was extremely information
and kept their audience enthralled.
My Journey to Publication
Avril never wanted to be a writer and didn't write anything after the age of 15. She went to
university and studied History of Art, worked as a social worker and did her teacher's training.
Things changed when she started a temporary job at a women's prison. It was never supposed to be
a new career but she found she enjoyed it so much she couldn't leave as she loved working with the women. In the early
days the inmates were in one wing and it was mostly for petty crime, although that changed when more were jailed for
It was at the prison in 1999 that she met Wendy Robertson, when she was appointed Writer in Residence.
Wendy is a very inspirational person who decided to put the women's work into a book for which Avril wrote the first chapter.
She also ran a 'So You Want to Write a Novel' workshop with Julia Darling. At first Avril said she was
too busy to go, but was persuaded otherwise, and that was the beginning of a great friendship and first novel, The Sweet Track.
This is set around 3,800 BC in the Somerset Levels where Avril grew up. Because of that, it started off as semi-autobiographical
then made the leap into fiction. She had consistent help from Wendy who by now was her writing buddy.
Avril sent it to an agent in London and received a letter when she got back from a holiday that said,
'Come and see me to discuss your future'. Avril went to the meeting and came out floating on Cloud Nine. The agent who shall be nameless said she loved it, told her it could win prizes and talked about film rights. She said she'd auction it to six publishers. Things went very quiet after that so she got on with her second book, The Orchid House.
The first book didn't sell, the agent didn't like the second and she realised that she couldn't work
with this person. She then sent The Sweet Track to literary agent, Juliette Burton, who thought it was publishable but
wanted Avril to make some changes, which she did. She also wanted more sex in it because, as everyone knows, sex sells.
Avril did this too and admits that was fun.
Juliette sent it to three or four publishers, and Headline had it for a long time, but in the end they
didn't buy it, but her agent wanted to see the next one. It was published by Flambard Press in 2007.
This experience changed how Avril saw her writing. At first it was all about selling books and being successful, now it's
about her love of writing. She can write what she wants when she wants. Her advice is to listen what people say about your
work but remember, it's only their opinion. She admits that she now feels good about her writing and it's wonderful when
someone says they like your books.
All writers need to know their strengths and their weaknesses. Think about your reader and the experience
they will get.
She wrote a third book about women in prison which won a prize from New Writing North.
All of Avril's books are now available on Kindle and she also uses Amazon's CreateSpace which is online self publishing.
She said that if authors use this facility, it's very important that the book, when printed, looks as good as the ones in the bookshops. Pay special attention to the front cover, it should look professional and attractive. This is another way of sharing
your books with your readers. These days is isn't necessary to just think in terms of the book being published in the
conventional way so don't give up!
After the break, Avril ran a short workshop on Beginnings. She gave out a list but recommended everyone
pick up books in the shop and read the first lines. Which ones grab your attention? If they don't, why not and put what you
learn into your own first pages.
Novelist and Music Journalist
Although he now lives in Seattle, USA, Chris was born in Leeds and began writing 11 years ago—stories,
poetry, music and songs. He has now had three historical crime novels published. The Broken Token, Cold Cruel Winter and
The Constant Lovers, all set in Leeds in the 1730's.
Leeds back then got rich on the wool trade and there was a huge divide between rich and poor in a way
we can't imagine today. The rich got away with things that we hope wouldn't happen now but he decided not to write about them,
but about the poor instead. Most of the them lived in lodging houses and feral children swarmed the streets, living off
other people's cast offs. The detectives had sympathy for them.
History smelled bad as everyone lived without running water, proper sanitation (throwing the contents of
the pot out of the window doesn't count!) and food went bad without refrigeration. People didn't wash themselves or their
clothes very often and the streets were full of stinking rubbish. Chris relies heavily on the Thoresby Society for information
as the history of Leeds is their passion.
To write historical crime, it's important to bring alive on the page how it was to live and solve crimes
in those times. There were no forensics, no toxicology and no fingerprints. It was much more about talking to people and
developing good instincts. Human nature doesn't change much so it's easy for us to relate to the characters. Chris never
describes them in detail preferring to leave that to the reader's imagination. All we know about Richard Nottingham's appearance
is that he has long blond hair and a fringe.
No one knows exactly how people spoke in those times and even if he did, Chris wouldn't use it because
it would be too difficult to read. Instead he uses common sense. Speech should flow smoothly to the eye. People won't question
it if it flows and a light touch is all that's needed to create a character. He does, however, describe the settings in detail
so the reader can easily imagine them.
There are two central characters, Richard and his assistant, and it isn't just people's descriptions
that are used sparingly. He doesn't describe the violence either as what readers imagine is far more powerful and frightening
than anything he could write in words. This technique also keeps it personal for each reader as they're seeing their own
version of events. He doesn't sanitise anything and always strives to be realistic. Men took advantage of the females in
the house, including the servants, and rich men didn't always pay for their crimes in the way the poor did. Like any crime
novels, they're about finding the killer and tension is very important, particularly towards the end.
His books have done well in the USA and a recent accolade left him speechless for hours. He was listed
in the Top 10 Mysteries of 2011. Leeds Central Library is a big supporter of his books which are published by
Severn House UK.