Today I'm delighted to welcome
for her Killing State blog tour
to share her BEST OF CRIME ...
If I had to pick just one (which is a cruel and unusual punishment) Lee Child.
An amazing central character in Jack Reacher. Great plotting that pulls you through the pages. Great writing. Clean. Pacy. Stripped-down in its elegance. The quality of Lee Child’s writing can get overlooked because of the phenomenon that is Jack Reacher, but he can write a fight, a moment, or a place that makes you feel like you’ve been there yourself.
Shadow of a Doubt. I love black and white movies but for the sheer quality of the script (by Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson and Alma Reville), it has to be this story of small town America. Young Charlie Newton (played by Teresa Wright) lives in Santa Rosa, California. She’s bored, but her life is about to be turned upside down when Uncle Charlie (yes, she is called after her mother’s suave handsome brother - played by Joseph Cotten) arrives in town. Uncle Charlie is no ordinary uncle, in fact he is in the frame for being a serial killer dubbed the “Merry Widow Murderer”. Uncle Charlie it turns out, thinks elderly widows are “fat, wheezing animals” and poses the blood-chilling question: “What happens to animals when they get too fat and too old?”. Nightmare Uncle-in-the-house territory and an utterly brilliant movie.
... TV DRAMAS
The Wire. Does everyone say The Wire? Ambitious. Epic. Engaging. Intelligent. Heart-breaking. You committed to it and you went with it where-so-ever it chose to take you. My favourite season was probably the first – the illegal drugs trade, but frankly watching it from start to finish should be required viewing to understand modern society.
... FICTIONAL KILLERS
Dexter. I came quite late to Dexter, so binge watched it. I then had to ration myself, because it was giving me such vivid, blood-splattered nightmares that they had my nearest and dearest convinced I harboured murderous tendencies. How can a serial killer engage the viewer in the way Dexter did? Because despite the serial killing habit, he was trying to be a good guy? Trying to understand himself and others, in a world that only made sense to him if he was allowed to wrap a lot of bad guys in clingfilm, stab them, and drop their bodies in the bottomless ocean?
... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES
Marcus Didius Falco from Lindsey Davis’ fantastic Roman detective novels set in the ancient world. You get to find out that preserved fish made for good sauce, that books came in scrolls, and the expectations on a Roman matron who has no intention of behaving like she ought to, plus you get to travel with Falco through the hot, cobbled, stinking streets and into the villas of the wealthy and wicked to solve grisly and unexpected murders. What’s not to love? The next best thing to time travel.
... MURDER WEAPONS
An icicle features in The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. It’s not a murder, but it’s how a murderer dies. Although I’m torn between that, and The Name of the Rose when Umberto Eco had someone poison the pages of a book so that anyone licking their fingers to turn the pages promptly died. Mad monks don’t you love them?
... DEATH SCENES
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. The idea of the broken mirror shards being placed on the eyes of the slaughtered victims is awful. Particularly when the victims were picked out because psycho Francis Dolarhyde felt drawn to the mothers when he processed the family’s films.
Masterclass (£70 a go) for the experience and wisdom of James Patterson, all gathered together neatly in a series of classes on plotting and character and outlines etc. I’ve also done classes by Aaron Sorkin and Shonda Rhimes to help with my dialogue.
Youtube and search whichever author you really rate. Youtube is full of writers at the top of their game talking at events or in q and a’s. Listen and learn.
... WRITING TIPS
*read everything. If you don’t read, you won’t get better. I attended an event recently with bestselling writer Martina Cole (who is utterly lovely by the way) and there are times she reads a book a day. Martina Cole has an amazing work ethic. If she can find time to read, you can.
*sit down and make yourself write, even if you don’t feel like it. However good your idea, if you don’t get the words on paper, it ain’t happening.
*read books about the craft. They help.
*if you are stuck with something, write yourself a letter in the form of a conversation and keep it going. It’s amazing what comes out when you ask yourself questions. I’ll recommend a book that I found particularly useful: “Writing from the Inside Out” by Dennis Palumbo. Recommended to me by David Morrell (the father of Rambo.)
*tell your friends and family you take your writing seriously and ask them to respect that.
*don’t rise to the bait when someone informs you they have a really great idea for a book and they’d write it but the fact they simply don’t have the time.
*this is your book and your career. No one can do it for you. Own it.
*get the word “Relentless” tattooed somewhere
... WRITING SNACKS
Way too much Lindt dark chocolate Raspberry Intense and almost as much Lindt dark chocolate and hazelnut. Similarly coffee and tea. At times of crisis, I can also get obsessed with smoked salmon bagels which I make with soured cream and raw onion and capers and lemon. It’s called displacement activity.
About JUDITH O'REILLY
Judith is a former lobby correspondent, a former political producer with BBC2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News, and a former education correspondent with The Sunday Times where she also covered politics, undercover reporting and general news. She still writes for The Sunday Times.
Her two non-fiction books, Wife in the North and A Year of Doing Good were both published by Viking Penguin. Wife in the North (2008) reached number three in the UK bestsellers’ chart and was in the top ten for five weeks. It was also a top ten bestseller in Germany. It sold into ten countries, was serialised by The Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and was based on Judith’s eponymous blog which was named as one of the top 100 blogs in the world by The Sunday Times. Judith’s blog is credited with kicking off the popularity of domestic blogging in the UK. For A Year of Doing Good, she did a good deed a day for a year. It did not make her a better person. She has taught memoir and blogging at Newcastle University, and occasionally advises on strategic communications. Most of all though, she writes and drinks tea. Occasionally, she shakes things up and drinks covfefe.
About KILLING STATE
Killing State is a pacy, page-turner of a commercial thriller with a new and quirky action adventure hero, Michael North. A hitman with a bullet in his brain which might have heightened his intuition and might be driving him mad. One thing he does know for sure though is that he’s very good at killing bad guys but what happens when a hero is ordered to kill a good woman rather than a bad man? He should follow orders. Shouldn’t he?
Killing State was published in e-book by Loughman Press on 6 November 2017. The paperback will be published on 15 March 2018.
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