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 🙂


Short Story Collection: Face Off #Review

To celebrate the 4th July – here’s a short story collection from The ITW featuring a whole host of thriller writers from the US (and more…)

From the blurb:

In this unprecedented collaboration, twenty-three of the world’s favourite crime writers bring you original, co-written short stories featuring their much-loved series characters.

Edited by international bestseller David Baldacci, this exclusive page-turning collection is one of a kind. You’ll find stories featuring:

  • Lee Child’s Jack Reacher + Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller
  • Ian Rankin’s John Rebus + Peter James’ Roy Grace
  • Michael Connelly’s Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch + Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie
  • Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme + John Sanford’s Lucas Davenport
  • Linwood Barclay’s Glen Garber Raymond Khoury’s Sean Reilly
  • Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper + Steve Martini’s Paul Madriani
  • Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone + James Rollins’ Gray Pierce
  • Lisa Gardner’s D.D. Warren + MJ Rose’s Malachai Samuels
  • T. Jefferson Parker’s Joe Trona and John Lescroart’s Wyatt Hunt
  • Heather Graham’s Michael Quinn + F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack
  • Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child’s Aloysius Pendergast + R.L. Stine’s Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy

A couple of my favourites…

Rebus vs Grace

When a dying man confesses murder to Edinburgh’s Detective Inspector Rebus he has no choice but to enlist the help of Brighton’s finest, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, to investigate the murder of a rocker killed by a mod during the 1964 riots. Rankin and James’ lead detectives work well together, with a bit of friendly sparring and a combined investigative knowledge that leads to the unexpected revelation that the murdered man is not actually dead… with cameos from Rebus’s and Grace’s familiar sidekicks, this is a neatly plotted little tale penned by two of the UKs finest crime writers.

Barclay vs Khoury

In typical Barclay style, what starts off as an innocent trip for chicken nuggets ends up in a taut car chase, featuring a ten year old girl with attitude and one of the FBIs most wanted – a man with the means to destroy the world. Khoury’s FBI agent, Sean Reilly and Barclay’s most unlucky property developer, Glen Garber, are an unlikely yet perfectly matched pair in pursuit of the most important things in their own worlds. This short story moves at breakneck speed, seemingly covering an entire thriller novel in just enough pages to read with your bedtime cocoa.


Thanks to Stephanie Melrose at Little, Brown for the advance copy and Amanda at  Simon & Schuster PR for the blog tour info.

About ITW:

The International Thriller Writers is an honorary society of authors, both fiction and nonfiction, who write books broadly classified as “thrillers.” This would include (but isn’t limited to) such subjects as murder mystery, detective, suspense, horror, supernatural, action, espionage, true crime, war, adventure, and myriad similar subject areas. One of the main purposes of the organization is to provide a way for successful, bestselling authors to help debut and midlist authors advance their careers. In addition, ITW promotes literacy, gives money to worthy organizations, supports libraries, and advances the genre. For more information, visit:

Confessions of a Freelancer

This week’s guest is Claire McGowan, who’s second novel THE LOST is out this week If you don’t know Claire already, make sure you start following her on twitter – she’s very funny… not to mention talented, as Peter James has said ‘Claire McGowan will undoubtedly become a major name in crime fiction‘. Can’t argue with that! Today Claire tells us about the guilt she feels as a freelancer… spending all day in pyjamas. Just so you know, I prepared this post at 3pm on a Friday, from the comfort of my couch, in my pyjamas… 😉

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Today I opened the door to the postman, still in my dressing gown. It’s by no means an unusual occurrence, but I felt ashamed. It was 10.45 and I hadn’t got dressed yet. I’d been awake, thinking, writing in bed, mulling things over, but I hadn’t gotten up or had a shower or been a useful member of society, and so I experienced it: freelancer’s guilt.

I get freelancer’s guilt a lot. When you ring for a plumber or boiler repairman and they say ‘Sure, I’ll come at 8 tomorrow.’ I never say what I’m really thinking – ‘8 a.m.! Are you mad! I’ll be asleep for at least an hour after that.’ Cravenly, I always say 8 is fine, and then I don’t sleep because I’m awake thinking of plot ideas, and so I’m grumpy and I don’t make them a cup of tea as they fix my boiler, and no one is happy.

A few weeks ago I had some men in doing things with the gas supply in the house. I’m not sure what or why it was necessary, but I was trying to finish off a book and they had the front door open all day (in the snow), spent hours drilling and /or welding in the room I write in, and worst of all, they moved all my writing notes without asking and put them out of order (is this a crime? It should be). The noise was unbelievable – constant drilling all day long. I sulked a bit, but eventually I just had to ask when they’d stop, because I had work to do. ‘Oh, are you working?’ they said in surprise. Maybe imagining it can’t be work if you do it your kitchen, in a tracksuit, with a dog on your lap. Being a coward, I just slunk around muttering to myself and got nothing done for most of that week.

But you know what I should have said to them? Writing is WORK. It is HARD. It’s my job and how I pay the bills. And when you write for a living, it’s not 9 to 5. Our brains don’t switch on and off like those massive calculators with the built-in printers you keep on your desk in your actual office, where you’re required to be between certain hours and then you can go home. I’m thinking about my work all the time, even if it appears that I’m sitting in a café having a cake. I sleep badly, especially during periods of high creativity, and this often keeps me awake most of the night. So if I can, I will lie in bed to 10. Why shouldn’t I? I have nowhere to go and no dependent children or elderly relatives waiting on me for tea and scones. I have no one checking up on me and my deadlines are long, stretching across a year like fishing skeins, and only I decide when I do the work to meet them.

Even as I’m saying this, though, I feel defensive and judged. By people who phone before 10 and find you’re not at your desk (sometimes I’m cleaning, or putting on laundry, or, is it actually any of your business?) By funny looks from people who ring the bell before 11 and find me in PJs. By tradespeople telling me ‘I’ll come round at 8, OK?’ and throwing me into a panic.

I say let’s fight back against the tyranny of nine to five. The way people work is changing. In a world of energy and space shortages, it makes little sense to have your own house which is empty all day, while you travel two hours to sit in a different space which is empty at night. And our digital lives increasingly mean people don’t want to wait to office hours to get things done. We’ll all be working differently in future, I think. We freelancers are noble pioneers, hacking a new way of work out of the bush. It may look like we’re still in bed tweeting at 10.30, but trust me, we’re working VERY HARD INDEED. So no more freelancer’s guilt. In future I’m going to embrace my inner diva and make my own workspace in the house, and insist that no one talks to me while I’m working or comes into my workroom (aka the kitchen) and starts welding pipes. Either that or my next book is going to contain a particularly brutal drill-related death scene.

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About Claire

Claire McGowan was born in Northern Ireland and now lives in Kent. Her first novel The Fall was published in 2012 and The Lost in 2013, the start of a new crime series. She also teaches on the new Crime Writing MA at City University London. You can find out more at Claire’s website Pains, Trains and Inkstains and on Twitter @inkstainsclaire.

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THE LOST #minireview

This is Claire’s second book and immediately it has quite a different feel from her first. Set primarily in Ireland, in a fictionalised version of her own home town, it tells the story of forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, who is sent from London on secondment to look into the disappearance of two teenage girls. It soon becomes clear that the case may be linked so some missing girls from years gone by, and it’s apparent that Paula has also ‘lost’ someone of her own.

This is more than a crime novel. It’s a story about Ireland, both politically and socially, over the last 40 years. It’s clear that this is something that the author really wanted to write, to not just tell a story about missing girls, but to paint a picture of life on an island steeped in history, full of quirky characters and very real troubles. The humour and the dialogue are particularly strong in this novel, and the main character Paula, is definitely someone I’d like to get to know better. The ending sets up the next book in the series just perfectly – plenty of threads left loose, just the right amount of ends tied up.

Recommended… and definitely not just for crime fans!

10 things I learned at Harrogate

People who follow me on Twitter will no doubt have noticed the recent tweets about the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Festival, which was held this weekend at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate (where Agatha Christie was discovered after famously going missing in 1926) . I attended it once before in 2009, but this time was very different for me as I approached it in a slightly different way, this time knowing a bit more about what to expect. I still can’t believe how many fabulous people I met – authors, readers, reviewers, agents, publishers – all of whom were amazingly nice people, and who firmly confirmed my belief that crime writers are just *the best* gang to be a part of. My hope is that one day I’ll be able to reply to the standard question ‘So, are you a writer?’ with ‘Yes, my first book has just been published, actually.’ One day…

In the meantime, here are 10 random things that I learned:

  1. You will never manage to talk to everyone and do everything and you will come back and read others’ accounts and wonder if you attended the same festival. This is normal.
  2. You will regret not talking to people that you wanted to as much as you are pleased to have met the ones you did. The people you follow and enjoy chatting to on twitter really are as much (if not more) fun in real life.  Don’t be scared of your idols. They will be more than happy to chat.
  3. Do the Saturday night quiz. It’s a great laugh and you will not be as bad as you think (it is hard though!)
  4. Don’t try to attend all the talks and panel sessions. You just won’t. Your brain can’t cope and it’s very hot in there. Plus you will mainly be outside in the garden chatting and drinking.
  5. However, you must also take time out from the drinking. Go to the Turkish Baths. Very good for a hangover. Or go to Betty’s Tea Rooms. Preferably do both.
  6. Back to the drinking though – book early and stay in the Old Swan if your mission is to stay very, very late at the bar. Also pop down to The Old Bell for a pint if you get sick of all the book talk 😉
  7. Listen to advice from those who’ve been where you are now. John Connolly said that a bigger and better idea will always come to you as you write, but never stop writing your current piece – if you don’t finish, and you keep doing this, you will *never* finish anything. Antonio Hill told me to write every day but have the weekends off – you need discipline but you also need a break. The consensus amongst most authors is: just write it. The first draft is meant to be shit. It’s the re-writing that will turn it into a novel. Don’t rush. There will be plenty of time for deadlines when you find a publisher.
  8. Make sure you attend the most talked about panel of the weekend (ok, you need the benefit of hindsight for this, but I am very glad to have been at the eBook talk, now affectionately known as ‘Tossergate’. You can read about it here and here). All I can describe it as is ‘cringe-worthy’.
  9. Go to the book signings. I was delighted when after the Luther panel, I bought Neil Cross’ ‘Holloway Falls’ (as I already had ‘The Calling’) and he told me that this is his favourite of his own books and that the main character was the pre-cursor to Luther. It was also a massive highlight to meet Michael Smiley and ask him what the hell the ending of Kill List was all about (he just laughed and said ‘everyone asks that’  and signed my book from ‘Benny & Gal’.  I am still none the wiser.)
  10. Take a massive suitcase. You will come back with more books and Harrogate souvenirs than ever thought possible.

And finally (Ok, this is #11 but it needs it’s own section…) – make sure you buy a raffle ticket at the box office… I bought a strip of 5, and to my extreme disbelief, I won a terrific prize… Imagine the surreal moment as I had my number called out, then had to make my way to the stage (from the back of the room) past hundreds of people at tightly squashed tables, all of whom were staring at me and clapping excitedly as my face glowed like a belisha beacon, while Val McDermid and Mark Billingham ‘gently’ harassed me from the stage to ‘hurry up’… and when I got there I found out that I will be featured as a character in a Peter James novel! Oh. My. God! I also won a huge box of books and a gorgeous hamper from Theakstons… and as a result of all this, one of my favourite crime authors, Peter James – the first person I followed on twitter – is now following me back and has tweeted me several times. I am still in shock.

So now it’s time to up my game and get my novel finished. This weekend really made me realise that all authors have been where I am, and the reason they are published now is that they never gave up. It also made me realise more than ever that I want to be part of their gang 🙂

Roll on Theakstons Crime 2013.