An insight into the publishing world…

Posts tagged ‘britcrime’

Exciting news from author Daniel Pembrey

Today’s interview is a catch up with my friend and author Daniel Pembrey, author of The Harbour Master. He’s dropped by Words Are My Craft to share with us some exciting news…

Daniel, what’s new since we last worked together on the Britcrime Online Literature Festival?

Hi Stephanie! Nice to be here … I just released a short story as a Kindle Single (Amazon’s curated, short e-book programme). The Lion Hunter was inspired by a combination of Cecil the lion, a recent trip to Tanzania and my re-reading of Hemingway’s African short stories. It’s about a newly married British couple who meet a Texan trophy hunter at a remote game lodge. The lion hunting turns out to be less morally straightforward than the husband bargains for. It really is short at approximately 40 pages. I loved writing it, and I love the creature it’s based around.

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You can buy The Lion Hunter: A Short Adventure Story here if you live in the UK and here if you’re in the US …

You seem to like novellas and short stories …

I really do – both as a reader and an author. I love nothing more than being gripped by a story during the course of a plane or train journey. Also I feel so lucky to be living in an era when there is a viable market for them. Before e-books, novellas were the realm of Hemingway and perhaps Stephen King; now, with programmes such as Kindle Singles, they are flourishing.

The Lion Hunter is in fact my fourth Kindle Single; the previous ones are a standalone espionage story called The Candidate: A Luxembourg Thriller and the first two instalments of the Harbour Master series.

Speaking of The Harbour Master, which I read and reviewed earlier in the year (click here to read); what’s going on with that?

Well, thanks to the success of the Harbour Master Kindle Singles (the first became the No. 1 Short Story on Amazon UK), I got a picked up by a great agent, and between her and the visibility I received at our BritCrime Festival this summer, I ended up receiving two offers from traditional publishers. I went with No Exit Press, who have built up a terrific crime list. The Harbour Master e-book novellas are now being withdrawn from sale in preparation for the launch of two, novel length books. The first should be out next year.

How exciting! So what else can we look forward to from you?

I’m working on a novel set in Berlin and the screen adaptation of my standalone spy story The Candidate, which has been optioned for a film in Luxembourg. I’m also working on the new Harbour Master stories, and of course there is the BritCrime Christmas Ball on Sunday December 13th to look forward to!

That will indeed be a ball! Thank you for taking part in this interview.

My pleasure! Thanks for having me, and see you on December 13th if not before!

Before you rush off, can you tell us where our readers can find you online?

Good catch! I am active on Twitter, https://twitter.com/DPemb, and also present on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DPembrey … You can view my latest news on my website too, http://www.danielprembrey.com, and also sign up there to receive my quarterly email newsletter with offers of free exclusive content. See you soon!

 

The Harbour Master by Daniel Pembrey

This book is written by one of the author participants of the BritCrime Online Literature Festival – one of the first of its kind and a massive success! Daniel has since become a good friend of mine, after I was lucky enough to give his whole Harbour Master collection a read.

My (well-read!) copy of the Harbour Master collection.

My (well-read!) copy of the Harbour Master collection.

Book 1 synopsis:

Maverick cop Henk van der Pol is thinking about retirement when he finds a woman’s body in Amsterdam Harbour. His detective instincts take over, even though it’s not his case. But his bigger challenge is deciding who his friends are – not to mention a vicious street pimp who is threatening Henk’s own family…

Book 2 synopsis:

Henk roves further afield to Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels – investigating a maze-like set of cases involving diamonds, fine art, drugs and high-class prostitution. What connects the cases, and what risks must Henk run to uncover the criminals? 

Book 3 synopsis:

A powerful Dutch politician is hijacked, bearing parallels with the 1983 kidnapping of Freddy Heineken. Henk, who worked on the Heineken case a the start of his career, is now operating outside of the official investigation. He becomes imprisoned himself, and, with rival cop Joost emerging as the winner, Henk must navigate dark currents at the highest level of Dutch society.

I read The Habour Master Collected Edition as one novel, which worked as perfectly as if I had read them as three separate stories. To say that I enjoyed this book to the point that I didn’t want to put it down at night is no small matter as I don’t tend to read a lot of this genre. But wow, did this book teach me a lot!

Each narrative winds its way through, and drew me into, a society completely alien to me – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels – and taught me a lot about the different sides of society in each city. It also opened my eyes to the kinds of corruption and crime that I just would not have contemplated before, which makes it more fascinating. It also contrasts the normality of Henk’s domestic life with his professional life to great effect. It serves to remind the reader that Henk is a normal, everyday family man as well as an impressive, dedicated but troubled policeman. He is also not immune to vulnerability and victimisation himself, which makes the book a lot more realistic than some thrillers which portray the main character as an unlikely untouchable hero.

Henk is surrounded by a number of colleagues and friends who, on one end of the spectrum show deep loyalty to him, and on the other pose a real threat to his career and safety. What makes the book particularly interesting is how Henk deals with each of these characters, especially those such as his devoted colleagues or corrupt but friendly politicians.

I love that these books portray Henk’s wife as a powerful character, with just as much influence and talent as her husband. She is not the damsel in distress who constantly needs protection from her husband – although there are times when her safety is put on the line alongside Henk’s – but rather a useful and important asset for Henk’s investigations as well as his life partner. The literary world needs far more of this kind of female character.

I would have liked to have experienced a little more of Henk’s emotions as well as his sharp and enquiring mind. However, I don’t feel like anything was taken away from the book. On the contrary, it retained the correct level of entertaining mysteriousness and complexity without completely losing me. This is no achievement to sniff at, as I must admit that although I am an intelligent woman, often detective novels tend to run away from me and weave too complicated a web for me to follow. Not so with The Harbour Master. I understood perfectly what was going on while being kept intrigued and hooked.

The Harbour Master combines all those features that one would seek in a thriller – colourful and varied characters, an air of mystery and corruption, fast-paced action and scandal, and of course a little bit of violence thrown in. There are a number of threads and layers to each story which means that the outcomes are far from predictable, adding to the excitement of the reading experience. Rather than having to wade myself through, I felt that I was being carried along by the narrative, and that, to me, is a literary job well done.

I very very much look forward to the next instalment of Henk’s story, hopefully with even more action this time around.

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Daniel and I meeting face to face for the first time at BookMachine event in London. (ignore the daft fringe.)

Introducing Helen Smith, Author and BritCrime Online Literature Festival Founder

The lovely Helen Smith

The lovely Helen Smith

A couple of months ago, I was extremely lucky to be asked to be part of BritCrime, an incredibly successful online literature festival which saw 45 crime writers come together on social media to discuss their work and writing crime fiction. I made a lot of new friends at the festival and feel privileged to have been part of something that is part of a growing phenomenon – the online festival. These are growing in popularity – see my interview with Sam Missingham – and I was so lucky to be involved in such a successful one. Here Helen Smith, Author and BritCrime Founder, discusses Britcrime and its successes.

Please introduce yourself and give us a brief overview of your career.

My name is Helen Smith and I live in Brixton in south London. I had my first book published in 1999. Since then I have written poetry, plays, children’s books and screenplays, but at the moment I’m making a living writing novels. I’m currently writing a mystery series featuring an amateur sleuth called Emily Castles. It’s a lot of fun to write.

Can you explain what BritCrime is?

We are 45 British crime writers and one American who are collaborating to put on free online crime fiction events to connect with readers around the world. Our first event was a three-day festival in July 2015. Our next event will be a Christmas Party. We have another festival planned for next summer.

How did the idea of BritCrime come about?

The authors involved in BritCrime love attending crime fiction festivals, but we often hear from readers who are disappointed they can’t attend. I offered to set up an online festival to see if it would be a good way to connect with readers around the world while protecting our writing time.

How did you go about marketing BritCrime and generating interest for it?

I set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a website and a mailing list. Our publishers were very generous about donating books as prizes so I set up several giveaways to promote the the festival. We also held a draw for a Kindle Paperwhite for new subscribers to our newsletter. Interestingly, the buzz began as soon as the website, Twitter and Facebook pages went up as people in the industry speculated who was behind the idea. Once we shared the idea with readers and book bloggers, there was a lot of enthusiasm for the festival. We gained a lot of new followers very quickly.

What was your method for getting authors on board? Did you already personally know the authors, or did you have to approach them to get them on board?

It was self-selecting. I put up a post on Facebook saying that I planned to set up a one-day online crime fiction festival and needed twelve writers to join me. A couple of minutes later my friend Alex Marwood responded with an enthusiastic yes… and we were off! I tried to cap the numbers at 30, then 36… Within about 24 hours we had 41 writers involved and the date set for a three-day festival. I liked the serendipity of it. Had I approached writers individually, it would have taken weeks to set up. Also, as everyone involved had approached me and asked to join, it meant they were engaged with the project and they were fun to work with. As time went by, we were approached by various creative partners and I said yes to all of them for the same reason, and the partnerships were productive because they were all so keen to be involved.

BritCrime-Logo

What were the challenges of hosting an online festival? How much work goes into the logistics of hosting an online festival?

It was all quite straightforward, really. We used the free platforms that were available. There was a quite a bit of of work involved in planning and programming the festival – which I enjoyed – and a lot of admin involved in getting the information for 41 authors and their books up on our website and blog. The other authors helped out promoting it and running the Twitter and Facebook accounts, but I worked non-stop for six weeks, 15-19 hours a day to set it up and make sure it worked properly.

For the festival itself, we hired two assistant producers. One of them, Stephanie Cox, is asking these questions. I wanted them to be involved in the creative/logistics side of the festival and to have fun while they were doing it, so I kept them away from the admin and gave them clearly defined creative roles that were challenging and interesting and took advantage of the skills they had to offer. It was really useful to have a dedicated resource to help me that weekend.

What were the highlights, for you?

The creativity and the collaboration: I loved creating the virtual world where our online festival would be held, including The Slaughtered Author pub and the BritCrime Readers’ Cafe. Making the opening ceremonies and thank you videos was fun. I loved the “Our Authors Prepare” and “BritCrime Writing Dens.” photo galleries we created on Facebook. Working with the other authors was wonderful. If you get 41 creative people collaborating on a project, something exciting is going to happen.

Do you see the online literature festival as a concept that will grow in popularity?

Yes!

What were the biggest lessons or insights learned from the experience?

I was reminded how much fun it can be working on a creative project for the hell of it, with no expectation of any financial reward. I knew there would be a lot of work involved in setting this up, but I hadn’t appreciated how much love I would get back, from authors and readers – and publishers, too. I got a lot of love for doing it. It was humbling and gratifying.

Have you received positive feedback from it?

Yes! The readers, bloggers, authors and publishers involved have all been really enthusiastic. We surveyed everyone who participated. The feedback was all positive. As soon as this festival ended, people started asking when we were going to do the next one.

What’s next for BritCrime and the BritCrime team?

We’re currently planning our Christmas party, the BritCrime Ball, which will take place Sunday 13th December, with a Twelve Days of Christmas Treasure Hunt in the run-up to it. It will be completely different from the summer festival and should be fun for everyone who participates! There will also be a festival next summer, with more authors involved.

Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright who lives in London. She’s the founder of BritCrime.
Website: http://helensmithbooks.com
Blog: http://emperorsclothes.co.uk
Twitter: http://twitter.com/emperorsclothes
Facebook: http://facebook.com/authorhelensmith
BritCrime website: http://britcrime.com
BritCrime blog: http://britcrime.blogspot.com
BritCrime Twitter: http://twitter.com/britcrime
BritCrime Facebook: http://facebook.com/britcrime

Do you have any questions for Helen? Please post them below and I’ll make sure she gets back to you!

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