Susi Qs – Week 46 – Rod Reynolds

Today’s guest is my good pal Rod Reynolds! Rod is the author of five novels, including the Charlie Yates series, the standalone Blood Red City and his latest release, Black Reed Bay. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir.’ A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books published his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City, which was longlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. In 2021, he returned to the US, this time to present-day Long Island, with Black Reed Bay. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in Novel Writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and children and spends most of his time trying to keep up with them.

So, Rod…

When did you last sleepwalk?

I’ve never sleepwalked to my knowledge. My kids, on the other hand, do it constantly and freak me out.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

When I moved into halls at uni, in the first week, the window next to my bed smashed in the middle of the night, waking me up and showering me with glass. My roommate, who I barely knew, was standing over me, bleeding, and said someone had thrown a brick through it from outside. I didn’t sleep again that night. Of course, it turned out the next day he was pissed and had got up, disoriented, and tripped and fallen into it.

What’s the last book you read?

The Woman In The Woods by Lisa Hall. Extremely creepy.

Sum yourself up in one word


Who was the best Beatle?

Never been interested in the Beatles.

What are you having for lunch tomorrow?

Tacos, if I have anything to do with it.

Are you any good at potato sculptures?

Wtf? What kind of nutter actually does that?

Is there life on other planets?

If the universe is effectively infinite, then there almost has to be, right? Doubt we’ll ever encounter them though.

Would you rather give up washing, smiling or reading?

Smiling. Makes my cheeks hurt anyway.

What were you in a previous life?

A roguish speedboat captain with a heart of gold making drug runs in the Caribbean. It was bloody awesome and I’m hoping to go back to it in my next life. Got some unfinished business off the Turks & Caicos islands.

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If you want to know more about Rod, you can find him on twitter @Rod_WR. His books can be found HERE.


Susi Qs – Week 31 – Doug Johnstone

Photo credit: Duncan McGlynn

This week I’m grilling one of my favourite countrymen, the very cool and ridiculously multi-talented Doug Johnstone. Doug is the author of thirteen novels, three of which have been shortlisted for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo EPs, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers.

Let’s hear it, Doug…

What would you cook on Come Dine with me?

Steak and chips, keep it simple. They’re all gonna get smashed and slag it anyway, so it might as well be something I like that’s easy.

Which actor do you fancy the most?

Amy Adams. I think it’s her ability to talk to aliens in Arrival.

Which dead celebrity do you wish was still alive?

Jimmy Savile, so he could finally fix it for me to be a drummer in Adam and the Ants. Then I’d kill him again for being the worst person of all time.

Do you find it hard to take criticism?

Not really. Opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one. Folk are entitled to criticise me, and I’m entitled to ignore them.

Who do you love?

Family, friends, the guys in the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers. Amy Adams in Arrival.

What are you wearing?

Joggers, hoody. Also a T-shirt for obscure podcast How Did This Get Made, which is hilarious about shit films.

What’s your most unrealistic ambition?

To score the winning goal for Scotland in the World Cup Final. To be the first person on Mars. To make first contact with aliens. Take your pick.

Have you ever heard voices in your head?

Only my own voice, telling me that my first draft is shit.

Do you empty your own hoover bag?

Well it doesn’t have a bag cos it’s a Dyson (fuck that guy, Brexit twat). But yes, I empty it.

When was the last time you were arrested?

As a student. Urinating in a public place. Up against the wall of a church.

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If you want to know more about Doug, you can find him on twitter @Doug_Johnstone. His books can be purchased HERE.


The CWA Anthology: Mystery Tour

Pretty much the first thing I did when I got my first book deal was to send off a copy of my contract to The CWA, along with my application to join. In 2014, I was shortlisted for the very first Margery Allingham short story competition (and that story has since gone on to be published in esteemed US journal Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine). So you can imagine how delighted I was to find out I’d be having a short story included in the latest CWA anthology! It’s called Mystery Tour, and it features stories that are linked in some way by travel. It includes stories by an incredible selection of crime, thriller and mystery writers . . . and me!

My story is called A Slight Change of Plan. It’s about two old friends who meet up to go hiking, and of course, it doesn’t end well. I wrote the first version of this story a few years ago, when my husband had gone away for the weekend to go hiking with his friend. I started thinking about all the things that could happen, and a dastardly plot started to unfurl in my mind. The two characters popped into my head straight away – a bolshy, vain pain in the arse, and his long-suffering slightly geeky old friend (not based on anyone I know!) But things are never what they seem, are they? When I saw the brief for this year’s anthology, I knew this was the right story. I rejigged it a bit until I was happy with it, and then sent it off. When I heard back from the editor Martin Edwards and the publisher Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) that it had made the cut, I was so excited! The books look absolutely gorgeous (paperback and limited edition hardback – plus ebook, of course) and all of the stories in there are top notch. Perfect for a Christmas gift for yourself, maybe – there might be some authors in there you haven’t read before . . .

. . . and in case you were wondering – my husband and his friend did make it back safely from that hike 🙂

You can buy the book HERE.

Oh, and I went in to sign a huge pile of hardback copies at Goldsboro Books last week (another author dream come true!)

My latest crime novel The Deaths of December comes out on 16th November.

You can pre-order it HERE.

CrimeThrillerGirl and Orenda Books – A Killer Combination

groupYou see this pic that has been madly doctored to leave the lady in the blue dress with bright yellow hair? Well that lady is Steph Broadribb, aka CrimeThrillerGirl – crime blogger extraordinaire… and now, soon to be published author.

I am so delighted that her first novel ‘Deep Down Dead’, set in the world of a US bounty hunter – which, may I add, is something that Steph has trained as herself – is to be published by the unstoppable Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books.

This news is brilliant for two reasons: Steph and Karen.

Orenda is a small publishing company, with huge talent. Karen handpicks the best, from stunning translations, to literary thrillers and everything in between. She’s already published some incredible stuff, and this year (and next year!) sees her doing more of the same… As for Steph, she’s been a huge champion of crime writers and crime writing for a very long time, via her brilliant blog: CrimeThrillerGirl. I’m sure that not everyone knew she was a talented writer in her own right, but now you do… So keep an eye on these two ladies, because they are doing BIG things.

Here’s the official bit…

Orenda Books signs Crime Thriller Girl’s Debut Thriller

Karen Sullivan, publisher of Orenda Books, is delighted to announce the acquisition of World rights for Steph Broadribb’s Deep Down Dead, a stunning action thriller set in the USA.

Karen says, ‘I’ve worked with Steph professionally through her high-profile blog, and was delighted when she sent me her debut novel for assessment. It took me no more than about twenty seconds to decide that this was absolutely perfect for the Orenda list. Not only is it a well-written, tense, action-packed thriller, but the characterisation is sublime and there is an extraordinary, highly charged love story at its heart. Set in the USA, the unforgettable key protagonist (and single mother) is a ‘bail runner’ (aka bounty hunter) and in a plot that twists, turns and then does it all over again, she faces a series of events that threaten her life, and that of her daughter. I was completely mesmerised by the eloquent prose, the emotional depths of the characters, the authenticity of the setting and the dialogue, and, of course, an extraordinary, riveting plot. In a nutshell, this has “bestseller” written all over it, and I could not be happier to welcome Steph to the team.’

Steph says, ‘I’m thrilled to be publishing my debut novel with Orenda Books and to be working with people as dynamic, inspiring and devoted to books and publishing as Karen and her team. It really is a dream come true.’

Deep Down Dead will be published by Orenda Books in early 2017. For further details, contact

Win a copy of NIGHTBLIND by Ragnar Jonasson

After the success of my recent goodreads giveaway of Black Wood, I now have a brand spanking new pre-release paperback copy of NIGHTBLIND to send out to one lucky reader… and… *drum roll* there will also be a MYSTERY CHRISTMAS GIFT 🙂

This is the second book in the Dark Iceland Series, written by Ragnar Jonasson and translated by Quentin Bates. I recently attended the fantastic launch at the Icelandic Embassy in London, and the lovely Karen from Orenda Books has provided this copy for me to give to you! The book went straight to number one on its release in Iceland, and the previous book in the series, SNOWBLIND, reached number one in the UK and has received rave reviews.

NIGHTBLIND is currently Goldsboro’s Book of the Month… and you can get one for free!

More info at Crime Fiction Lover and you can also check out loads of other great books published by Orenda Books HERE.

Entry is free and very simple – just click on the link below! All entries received by midnight (GMT) on SUNDAY 13TH DECEMBER will be eligible (note: if you have previously signed up to my mailing list, you will be automatically added to the draw. It won’t let you sign up twice, so if you’ve done this and forgotten, it will tell you! Also, I am happy to post worldwide, but you might not get it before Christmas if you’re not based in the UK. I will draw the winner using a fancy random number thingy and contact them via email on Monday 14th December for postal details.)

Good luck!

My first author events

I’ve been pretty busy since my last post, despite being on ‘holiday’ from work (i.e. waiting for a new project). As well as working on book 2 (of which I have made some progress, and shifted to a more sensible deadline of the end of June), I’ve had my first two author events. Exciting!

The first one was online – where I took part in THE Book Club‘s first ever Book of the Month event. Black Wood was chosen by the readers, who first selected the genre (psychological), then the book – I was up against Mel Sherratt and Megan Abbott, and in the end it was a very close thing!

Where I won by a mere 6 votes!
Where I won by a mere 6 votes!

A Q&A was held on 30th April (after a month, where the members of the club had to download and read my book) and then the fun began. I say fun, it was 5h of hard work, as hundreds of readers left comments, feedback and questions and I had to keep up with it all, discussing the book not only with those who enjoyed it, but those who didn’t. I did three competitions – one to win a signed book, one for a tote bag and the third for a character name in my next novel. Overall, it was great fun but not for the faint hearted – but what it taught me (apart from the fact that most of these readers were used to reading far gorier books than mine) is that people who might not like my book might still like me, so I think I managed to convert some detractors who are now looking forward to the next book. From the feedback received, i think the readers really enjoyed it too.

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Then came my first real life event – a panel at Newcastle Noir over the bank holiday weekend.

This was held at the historic Lit and Phil building in Newcastle, which has the most beautiful library I’ve ever seen. This is me outside 🙂 I didn’t take any photos inside, but there are some on their website here.

Me on the programme!
Me on the programme!

I arrived on Saturday afternoon, and after meeting up with some of the other authors, attended an event that is always worth seeing – Mark Billingham and Martyn Waites in Conversation. I’ve seen these two before, and I love the way they use their skills as actors and comedians to talk about their lives and their books in the most hilarious of ways. That evening, it was a night out with the other authors (again!). Yes, it was a late one.

Music, beer and conversation in a classic venue
Music, beer and conversation in a classic venue

The next day, we had a quiet morning, before having Sunday lunch and on to the next event – Steve Cavanagh, Clare Donoghue and Peter Murphy. This was a fantastic panel about the legal profession and how these authors have used it in their books. Steve, in particular, was hilarious – especially as he told us he only became a lawyer as he joined the wrong queue at university!

It was great to see my books on display at the shop run by Helen from Forum Books

Then it was off to prepare for the last panel of the weekend… The Girls! Me, Eva Dolan, Susan Wilkins and Kati Hiekkapelto, chaired by Sarah Ward.

I wasn’t really nervous at all, until I sat down and looked at the audience while Jacky, the organiser, sorted out the microphones etc. Once I started though, it was easy to be led along by the excellent questions from Sarah and the responses from the other panelists. We all got on well and seemed to cover a variety of issues, keeping things entertaining by quips from Eva Dolan – who was asked at the end if she’d ever considered switching from crime to comedy! The weekend was topped off with a trip to another bar, and a late night sausage roll from Greggs… only in Newcastle!

I loved the whole event and it was great meeting up with authors, reviews and readers – only sorry I missed the other panels, I will definitely go back next year. My first two events were a great success – and I can’t wait for the next one – Crimefest in Bristol, next weekend!

Now the dust has settled…

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I can’t even remember how many guest posts and Q&As I wrote to help promote Black Wood. I had telephone interviews with newspapers. I had almost daily discussions with my publisher about launches and publicity plans and all sorts of other things that have already become a blur. I had daily obsessive checking of my rankings on Amazon, and I had my first exposure to reviews that weren’t always favourable. On top of all this, I’ve been ridiculously busy in my day job and have had loads of other real life things to deal with too.

I haven’t stopped!

But I’ll tell you what – it’s been exciting 🙂 I had two (colour co-ordinated) book launches in Waterstones, both of which went brilliantly, despite my initial nerves. We had mini chocolates with book cover wrappers, and we had tote bags made by my brilliant husband. In Chiswick, I was interviewed by Martyn Waites in front of an audience of 72 people, and in Edinburgh I was interviewed by Craig Robertson in front of 47. I signed and sold loads of books (some were almost stolen… accidentally of course). There was a good mixture of friends, family and enthusiastic strangers, and from the audience feedback, it appears that I am a natural at public speaking… not sure about that, but a small alcoholic beverage beforehand certainly helped steady my nerves! I still can’t believe I had two bestselling authors there to support me and cheer me on. Not only that, the amazing Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books made me a cake!

Launching my book could not have gone better. Black Wood has been in the kindle top 100 for 35 days. It has been a #1 bestseller in Scottish Crime, Vigilante Justice and Psychological Thrillers and reached a peak position of #14 overall. People have been sending me photos of my book in bookshops. Fantastic reviews have been flooding in, and everyone has been so excited and supportive that I still feel like I have to pinch myself on a daily basis. Yep… I’m a published author now, and it feels wonderful.

I can’t wait to do it all again… 🙂

Click here to see all the photos from London

Click here to see all the photos from Edinburgh

No Typical Day – by Paul E. Hardisty #TheAbruptPhysicsofDying

Peter James has described this sparkling debut from Paul E. Hardisty as “A stormer of a thriller – vividly written, utterly topical, totally gripping.” So what’s it about?

Claymore Straker is trying to forget a violent past. Working as an oil company engineer in the wilds of Yemen, he is hijacked at gunpoint by Islamic terrorists. Clay finds himself caught up in a ruthless struggle between opposing armies, controllers of the country’s oil wealth, Yemen’s shadowy secret service, and rival terrorist factions. Accused of a murder he did not commit, put on the CIA’s most-wanted list, Clay must come to terms with his past and confront the powerful forces that want him dead…

And now, as part of the fantastic blog tour arranged by my favourite new publisher, Orenda Books, here is an exclusive post from Paul, talking about life, and writing, and how there is no typical day

No Typical Day

I’ve been writing my whole life. When I was a kid I used to borrow my dad’s typewriter and peg out stories. The Adventures of Paul and Tim was my first story. I think I was five. As a teenager I filled notebooks with adolescent ramblings. There was a point in my early twenties when I realised that I wanted to be a writer. I’d just read A Moveable Feast, and decided that I, too, wanted to take part in the quest for the perfect sentence. Except that I quickly realised that I had nothing to write about. I hadn’t lived. So I decided to get out there and have something to write about.

Paul Hardisty

I started caring about things, and doing things I cared about. I studied, learned about the planet and how it worked. Built a career that would take me outside, to faraway places, helping people. And as I went, I wrote. The stacks of notebooks grew, page ends curing in the sun. Much of that space was filled with exhortations to myself never to let go of the dream. I met the woman I eventually realised was created, somehow – cosmic mystery – for me (whether I have come even close to fulfilling that same function for her, I continue to wonder). We travelled the world together as I built a business, had two sons together. I read. And read. I had to write for my work, too: reports, proposals, conference papers, eventually peer-reviewed journal papers, and then, years later, my first technical book. It was arcane, and highly specialised, but it was a book, with my name on the front and a cover and everything. I was getting there, the long way.

For me, there has never been a typical day. I’ve learned to write just about anywhere, on anything. Much of the foundation work I do is longhand, usually outside somewhere, on the side of a mountain path, sheltering under a tree as a squall comes through, scattered drops dappling the page of my notebook, on a train platform somewhere cold. I always keep a notebook and a pencil next to where I dream (I don’t so much sleep as dream). There is one sequence in The Abrupt Physics of Dying – just published by Orenda Books – that came almost straight and entire from a scrawled download of a dream in my tent down in Margaret River one night. Jolted from one reality to another by a roo thudding along in the bush close by. I flipped on my head torch and scribbled it down as fast as I could.   These things are like liquid, pouring between your fingers, hard to hold.

Through the years I have learned that my most creative and productive writing time is morning. I still work full-time, at a job I think is important for the world (environmental research). So whenever I can, I sequester a morning (eight ‘till noon), get up fresh from dreaming and go and sit outside somewhere (our back yard in Perth), put on my headphones, crank up the music, and write. These days, that’s one maybe two days a week. Not nearly enough. Writing hurts. But it hurts most when you can’t do it.

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Find out more about Paul here and follow the rest of the tour below 🙂