Thursday, 23 February 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Alison Joseph

Welcome to a new feature on my blog called BEST OF CRIME, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


to share her BEST OF CRIME... 

Credit: Hugo Glendinning

I absolutely love crime fiction, and I love seeing what my fellow writers do with the infinite possibilities of telling a story about killing. I’d say Val McDermid, Stella Duffy, and John Harvey are amongst my favourites.  But I’ll go for Walter Mosley. He pushes at the boundaries of possibility in the genre, whilst absolutely owning it. His books are page-turning stories, with emotional truth and great poetry.

Odd Man Out. Made in 1947, it’s a nail-biting thriller and a very dark tale, but with a huge heart and a fantastically talented cast too.

The Missing. I got fed up with compulsively watchable TV series where the final ending was unbelievable – where the story was so ramped up that the denouement couldn’t possibly measure up.  But the Missing I’ve stuck with loyally and been rewarded.  The acting, the story structure, and the world it inhabits – all believable and extremely well written.

This is a difficult one. Most killers, as any police officer will tell you, kill for very straightforward reasons. So there’s already a challenge in making a killer believable.  Agatha Christie, for all her unlikely puzzle-based plotting, makes it so that when the murderer is unmasked, it all somehow makes sense.  

Simenon’s Maigret, for being the still silent centre of the story. 

It’s amazing how much time we perfectly ordinary crime writers go about our daily lives thinking about ways of killing people. Most of my characters grab the nearest weapon, as we all would. Wouldn’t we?  But I do like the (spoiler alert) bellrope snake in Conan Doyle’s Holmes story, The Speckled Band.

Killer Women.  I know I’m a member, but Killer Women is just the most fab group of women crime writers and I’m proud to spread the word.

I’ve had the privilege of teaching on various creative writing courses over the years, and what I’ve learnt is that there isn’t a ‘right’ way of writing a crime story.  Of course the structure is extremely important, and I do tend to work on that before I do the actual writing of the novel. I think it’s like a game of patience, or solitaire – the whole plot can be happily unfolding and I can be feeling very clever, and then suddenly it’s quite clear that it doesn’t make sense, that my murderer’s motivation is completely unbelievable and stupid, and it’s like a key card is stuck under the heap and I have to start again.
But the heart of the story, the truth of the characters – I don’t really know where that comes from. I think acting and writing are very connected,  that there is some kind of being someone else that happens when I’m working on a character.

About Alison Joseph
Alison Joseph is a crime writer and radio playwright, former Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, and founding member of Killer Women. As well as her Agatha Christies series, she is the author of the series of crime novels featuring detective nun Sister Agnes. Agnes is contemporary, based in South London where she works in a hostel for the homeless. She has appeared in seven novels and on BBC Radio 4. Other credits include the standalone crime novel Dying to Know, set in the world of particle physics. It features Detective Inspector Berenice Killick, who has also appeared in a short story The Day of the Dead, part of the Killer Women anthology of 2016.

Alison has written about twenty radio dramas, including adaptations of the Maigret novels by Georges Simenon.  She was born in North London, where she still lives.

Death in Disguise is the third in a series featuring (a fictional) Agatha Christie as the detective. This one is set in 1928, and takes place in the world of London variety theatre. The other two in the series are Murder Will Out and Hidden Sins.

Find Alison Joseph on Twitter - @AlisonJoseph1

About Death in Disguise

Publisher's description
Some people want to be fooled…

1920s, London

Agatha Christie, the famous detective writer, is struggling to come to terms with her divorce. So much so that she can barely bring herself to say the word.

To add to her despondency, she can’t shake off the cutting words of a recent critic… utterly unlikely… a plot like clockwork…

Her friends rally around and encourage her to get out of the house, meet up with friends, go to the theatre…

Reluctantly, she attends a variety show with an old friend, and following a dramatic and violent turn of events at the theatre, discovers that life can, and does in fact, imitate art.

Perhaps she can find a new style…

Her musings lead her to her own investigations to uncover the truth behind the ‘facts’, and in doing so, she must face her own demons.

Death in Disguise is published by Endeavour Press. It's already available in e-book and is being published in paperback in March 2017.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

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