Today I'm delighted to welcome
to share her BEST OF CRIME ...
So tough to boil it down to one author, but I guess it would have to be Wilkie Collins. I remember being a bookseller, i.e. skint, when Penguin brought out their cheapo classics to compete with Wordsworth Editions. The Moonstone and The Woman in White, which at that point I’d heard people mention but had never read, became instantly affordable. The next pay day I bought them, consumed them during my lunchtimes and was pretty instantly hooked. It was the beginning of a life-long love affair with classic crime.
The Love Witch by Anna Biller. This film is a sumptuous visual feast with the aesthetic of a technicolour Hammer Horror. Anna Biller, the director, also designed the costumes and they are to die for. Celebrating kitsch in a serious way its take on women, witches and sexuality is really quite different. Elaine, the eponymous Love Witch, seduces men using love potions and beds them with fatal consequences. The film is feminist, funny, clever and explores the ‘female gaze’. What’s not to love?
... TV DRAMAS
I am a big fan of Scandi Noir and really enjoyed the Swedish series, Jordskott. Though it has many of the components of the crime/thriller genre – a vanished child, an angst-ridden detective and a community hiding a dark secret – there is more than a touch of the Brothers Grimm about it. I do like my crime drama with a sprinkle of the supernatural and this one blends both genres wonderfully.
... FICTIONAL KILLERS
Is it too obvious to say Vilanelle? She was such a triumph of characterization, the epitome of style, cunning, sardonic humour and grace. Obviously there was that little psychopathy thang going on, but it didn’t prevent me, and most of the UK population, rooting for her throughout Killing Eve. A third series can’t come too soon.
... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES
It’s got to be Saga Noren from The Bridge. Totally atypical of your usual TV detective, Saga is more complex, more logical and more vulnerable too. The writers handled her Asperger syndrome and the development of her character expertly throughout the entire series so that the final episodewas almost televisual perfection. I’d love to see her back on our screens again, but at the same I wouldn’t want to jeopardise the legacy of what was, in my opinion, one of the best television dramas to grace our scenes in decades. Some things should be left alone.
... MURDER WEAPONS
The spoon used in The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon.
... DEATH SCENES
This is more a scene of death than a death scene and comes from Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. The epigraph that precedes the story gives you a hint of what’sto come ‘Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?’ (Macbeth).
Simeon Lee, a wealthy git, instructs his four sons to return home for Christmas with the intention of cutting their allowances and changing his will. It’s no surprise then that he doesn’t make it through to Boxing Day. In fact on Christmas Eve the family hear a terrible scream from Simeon’s room. Breaking down the door they are greeted with the most shocking and awful sight. Furniture has been overturned, crockery smashed. Simeon lies dead, his throat slashed from ear to ear, in a great pool of blood. Of course, Christie’s description brings the horror home to the reader. I was a teenager when I came across this and the scene left a very strong impression.
One of the websites that I come back to time and time again is www.witchtrials.co.uk
It’s a comprehensive resource for anyone interested in the Essex Witch Trials and has been put together by one brilliant and clearly noble man, Steve Hulford, who set it up ‘so that the poor victims are not forgotten’. His fantastic site lists the trials in year order and in order of village. It also records the accused women and men by name alphabetically so is very user-friendly. In addition to all this information you will find transcripts of contemporaneous pamphlets, essays on different aspects of the witch trials, details of the Witchcraft Acts, videos and recommended reading. Well worth checking out.
... WRITING TIPS
... WRITING SNACKS
If I’m going well, I will treat myself to a cup of tea and a slice of cake from the local baker’s at about 3pm.
About SYD MOORE
Syd Moore is the author of the Essex Witch Museum Mysteries (Strange Magic, Strange Sight, Strange Fascination) featuring Rosie Strange, and two previous mystery books, The Drowning Pool and Witch Hunt.
For nine years prior to writing Syd was a lecturer, worked extensively in the publishing industry and presented Channel 4’s book programme, Pulp. She was the founding editor of Level 4, an arts and culture magazine, and co-creator of Superstrumps, the game that reclaims female stereotypes and the founder of The Essex Girls Liberation Front. When she is not writing Syd works for Metal Culture, an arts organisation, promoting arts and cultural events and developing literature programmes. In 2017 she became a UK ambassador for the Danish charity which helps Nigerian ‘witch’ children, DINNødhjælp. In 2018 she was appointed Writer-in-Residence for the Essex Book Festival.
About THE TWELVE STRANGE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
The perfect stocking filler, this collection of 12 spooky, stand-alone stories has been shortlisted for the CWA Short Story Dagger 2019.
Nothing says Christmas more than a good old-fashioned ghost story on a dark winter’s night, so sit back and enjoy a little pinch of Yuletide mayhem!
The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas was published by Point Blank on 26 September 2019
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