From Grit to Humour – How did that Happen?

Guest post from Scottish Crime Writer, Wendy H Jones, author of three very different crime mystery series.


Firstly, thank you, Peter, for inviting me onto your blog. It’s a real honour to be here.

When I think about writing a blog post, the first reaction is always panic. What on earth shall I write about? Obviously, I want to be interesting, valid, current, useful and every other adjective in between. Do I also want to be gritty and humorous?

In this case, the answer is yes. Most definitely so. At least I want to talk about my move from writing on the edge of your seat, gritty, Scottish Noir fiction, to writing laugh out loud, funny, detective fiction. That’s some change or is it?

I need to start with the fact I have always been a reader. An advanced reader, I joined the library at the age of three. An impossible task in those days.

I had read my way through the entire children’s section of the library by the age of ten via books such as Famous Five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Mystery was always my go to, although I read many different genres. At ten, I moved on to adult mysteries such as those by Agatha Christie.

As the years moved on, the crime I read became more and more gritty, although I’ve always had a penchant for the gentler side of crime fiction as well.

Reading Janet Evanovich’s books introduced me to laugh out loud crime. I was hooked.

My first series, The DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, moved hurriedly into the Tartan Noir movement. The first book, Killer’s Countdown proved popular and was quickly followed by five more in the series, all with titles beginning with Killer’s.

The seventh in the series, Killer’s Curse, will be released later this year.

 

However, I still didn’t lose my desire to try my hand at comedic crime. Something that would make my readers laugh.

Brainstorming ideas for a main character, I came up with the most unlikely Private Detective imaginable. Cass (Cassandra) Claymore is a redheaded, motorbike riding, ex-ballerina who inherits a private detective agency.

Then she manages to hire an ex-con dwarf and an octogenarian. Who in their right minds would start a detective agency staffed by a ballerina, an ex-con, and a pensioner? Me of course.

I had an absolute ball writing it. I spent time laughing from start to finish. I read bits out to readers and writers, all of whom laughed. By this point, I knew I was on to a winner.

The first book in the series, Antiques and Alibis, was released on 1st August 2018. The next four will be called, Blood and Bone, A Cluster of Corpses, Dance of Death, and Evil and Ecstasy.

Will I make it to Z? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, I shall enjoy writing those four. I can assure you I will be laughing.

To all writers, follow your passion and see where it takes you. To all readers, try something different and you might discover a new reading passion. You can start with Antiques and Alibis, available from:

AMAZON  Kobo  iBoooks


Wendy H. Jones is an award-winning Scottish Crime Writer who lives and sets her books in Dundee, ScotlandShe is also an International Public Speaker talking about writing and marketing.

Killer’s Crew, the first book in her DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries was the Winner of the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2017. The Dagger’s Curse, the first book in her Young Adult mystery series, was a finalist in the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award 2017.

She has signed a publishing contract with Malcolm Down and Sarah Grace Publishing for the first book in a children’s picture book series, based on a true story about a little Buffalo in Scotland. The first, Bertie’s Great Escape will be released late October 2018.

When she’s not writing, Wendy spends her time travelling the world. She is President of the Scottish Association of Writers and co-founder of Crime at the Castle, a Scottish literary festival held at Glamis Castle Scotland

Find out more:

Reading The Holiday

The Holiday came from me wondering what would happen if an old man and a young boy took off for the weekend without telling anyone, in the hope that their action would bring the boy’s parents back together, and then everything goes wrong.

To help things go wrong, I gave the old man, Kieran Moore, a dark history that puts his great-grandson, Toby, in danger through being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kieran gets killed. Toby gets kidnapped because he’s a kid and Kieran’s killers can’t bring themselves to kill a ten-year-old boy. This storyline ultimately leads to Clare’s story, which we will come back to in a minute.

Continue reading “Reading The Holiday”

Trusting your own experience

Beyond the Words: Reflections on I Am Affirmations

Reading After

After is not your typical police procedural.

Yes, it has a crime and a police investigation with complicating factors, and it’s a murder mystery with all the twists and turns you might expect. But, the police investigation plays second fiddle to the main story, which is Paul’s story.

While Inspector West and his team work on solving the mystery of Josie Ford’s murder, you’re taken into the world of Paul Ford to explore the impact an unexpected death has on the family of the victim. Continue reading “Reading After”

Reading Stella Bruno Investigates

Stella Bruno Investigates is a series of six books telling seven stories.

Each title in the series is dedicated to a particular crime, but the seventh story, Stella’s story, is interwoven through the six stories that make up the series.

To fully appreciate the gradual unfolding of Stella’s story, you’ll need to read the series in book order.

Set in and around Adelaide, South Australia, the stories open a window into Australian life and policing that allows you to explore life down under, without making the long-haul flight required to get there. That has to be a bonus.

All of the places mentioned in the stories exist – you can look them up using your search engine of choice. And, you can enjoy a meal at any of the restaurants where Stella and Shaun eat – if you ever make that long-haul flight and come to Adelaide. You might even spot me at one of the tables.

Australians are fairly informal in their working relationships, even within the confines of the rigid hierarchy of a police force. Working relationships are built on trust, and it’s not uncommon for officers of differing ranks to treat each other as equals – as Stella and Brian do. Of course, there is also a place for respecting rank, which is why Stella has a different relationship with DI Frank Williams, who is still coming to terms with the reality of his most competent detective sergeant being a woman. He gets better as the series progresses.

The other man of interest across the series is Shaun Porter. He works for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions but that is secondary to his role as Stella’s new love interest. Yes, police officers have a life outside of investigating crime, and one of the joys of writing the series was witnessing the development of the relationship between Stella and Shaun. I hope you enjoy their story.

If you’re wondering what makes Australian crime stories different, Stella Bruno Investigates gives you the opportunity to find out in six quick reads.

Start with The Identity Thief.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

The thing about a hero, is even when it doesn’t look like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, he’s going to keep digging, he’s going to keep trying to do right and make up for what’s gone before, just because that’s who he is.

Joss Whedon

Taking the long way.

Simple honesty of purpose in a man goes a long way in life, if founded on a just estimate of himself and a steady obedience to the rule he knows and feels to be right.

Samuel Smiles

Smile!

Share your smile with the world. It’s a symbol of friendship and peace.

Christie Brinkley

It was a dark and stormy night.

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton in the novel Paul Clifford (1830).

 

Opening your mind.

How far have you travelled from your home base?

Your worldview is determined by your exposure to the world. If you stay in your home territory, you see the world as an extension of your home. You live in a belief bubble.

It’s hard to imagine things being different someplace else if you’re always in familiar surroundings – whether those surroundings are physical, intellectual, emotional or spiritual. Continue reading “Opening your mind.”