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Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

HARDIT SINGH – SPOTLIGHT

In crime on April 30, 2012 at 6:15 am

Hardit Singh was born in Bristol, U.K. on August 16th, 1984 and is a practicing Sikh. He decided to become a writer after rediscovering his love for reading and the books of Michael Connelly, whilst studying at University. 

After failing at Secondary School, Hardit turned things around during his attended years at College and University, graduating with a First in his Honours Degree in Information Technology. After University Singh worked for HP, which included the writing of Technical Manuals, and this continued as he moved from various client accounts such as the MOD and Rolls Royce.

Hardit has always been an avid reader since he was young and this is what led to his desire to write. Singh has recently completed a novel called Traffic.

Traffic is a story of a young woman forced into a world of sexual slavery, where Melanie will be forced to embrace the darkness if she is to work her way up the sexual food chain. Traffic was written from Singh’s desire to create awareness of the sex trafficking industry and also his experience from friends who have suffered physical abuse.

In a short time span, Singh has had his short stories published and continues to work on various projects.

Tomorrow, Hardit’s post, Why Crime Stories. Don’t miss it.

Under Suspicion (film – 1991)

In crime on April 29, 2012 at 6:37 am

1957, Brighton, UK. A former cop with a very dubious reputation gets caught up in the murder of his wife and a famous painter.

I found the film gripping and entertaining throughout up to the first twist-in-the-tail ending. The second one left me with a shade of doubt and a bitter taste, but that’s I guess is more down to the thought of how one of the characters got duped then anything else. All in all a good film to spend a couple of hours with.

 Under Suspicion

Director:

Simon Moore

Writer:

Simon Moore

SUSPICION (2012)

In crime on April 27, 2012 at 6:38 am

A young woman gets involved (emotionally, not romantically) with one of the regulars at the cafe she works getting mixed up with the police when he is murdered.

I watched the film in two takes, not because of anything wrong with it, but because I was sleepy and it was late.

I have to say I found the first thirty minutes slightly better than the rest and the director could have asked at least a couple of the actors for a bit more than what they gave,  especially from the ones playing Tom and his buddy.

Overall, a good flick with an interesting plot and compelling characters.

Suspicion

Director:

David Dilley

Writer:

David Dilley

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIEND by LIBBY HELLMANN

In crime on April 24, 2012 at 5:57 am

One of the most common questions crime fiction authors are asked is whether we outline our stories or write “without a net”, i.e. not knowing what’s going to happen next.

My answer is “Yes.”

I’ve done it both ways, but I lean toward the “without a net” camp. That’s not to say I haven’t outlined. The first two novels I wrote were carefully outlined, down to each chapter. The problem was they read that way. I ended up writing the outline instead of the story. The outline was in charge of what, where, when, and how my characters behaved, rather than the characters themselves. There was no room for them to change their minds or try something different; consequently, in the end some of their actions didn’t make sense. Those books were never published, btw, and they should never be.

Then a very wise editor encouraged me to write without a net. We had a long conversation about how I needed to trust my characters, that if they were truly fleshed out, they wouldn’t let me down. My first reaction was: “Are you nuts? I created them. They do what I tell them to.”

“Actually, they don’t,” she replied in a serious voice. “Try it.”

Imagine my surprise when I discovered she was right. It took me a while to get over my panic and actually sit down without a plan for what was going to happen, but eventually it started to percolate. Characters did things I never planned. Say things I didn’t expect.  Some even said they weren’t involved in the crime, and why was I trying to implicate them. At times, the process was so baffling that I felt like Shirley MacLaine, channeling spirits from the other side. I was even more puzzled when I’d introduce a character or write a scene without knowing why I was doing it or why it was important.  Part of my brain would ask myself what in the world this had to do with my story? The other part of my brain said not to worry. Sure enough, about 150 pages later, the answer would come. My subconscious had been working on it all that time. It was almost spooky.

Eventually I adopted what I call a “modified netless style.” I would start out knowing the crime and the victim. I also thought I had an idea who the perpetrator was, and I would have in mind two or three “tent-pole” scenes, where important information is revealed, that I’d write toward.

The risk of this style of writing is that you start to like the perpetrator, or you find so many redeeming qualities that you decide he or she couldn’t have done it. Then what? How do you resolve the story?
That’s what happened in A BITTER VEIL. Although it’s written on the large canvas of  Revolutionary Iran, in some ways VEIL is really a locked room mystery. There are only 4 or 5 characters who could have committed the crime, and in the process of writing the book, I toggled between each one. At first I thought the villain was Character A, but then I started to like A. So I turned to character B. Then B did a noble thing. So I switched to C, but they couldn’t have done it because…

You get the picture. This went on through the entire first draft. In fact, when I  got to the place where I had to reveal the culprit… I didn’t have one! I’d written myself into a corner.

I panicked. I’d written an entire book without a villain. At that point the only ting I could think to do was call my friend and fellow author Cara Black , who, for the one or two people in the world that don’t know, writes the award-winning Amy Leduc Investigation mysteries set in Paris.

“Cara!” I cried when I got her on the phone. “I’m at the end and I don’t know who did it!”

“First of all,” she said, “Calm down. Take a xanax.”

“But – but…”

“We’ll figure it out.”

“How?”

Here’s how: We spent ninety minutes on the phone, going over each major character: their behavior, their possible motivations, their conflicts. How they related to the victim, each other, and the revolution. Slowly, the villain began to emerge. Yes, I did have to go back and rewrite a few things, but not as much as I thought. The most surprising part was what I call the “inevitability factor.” In making revisions, I realized that, of course the killer was this character. It couldn’t have been anyone else.

So, will I continue writing without a net? Absolutely. I loved that the villain was as much of a surprise to me as I hope it will be for you. I’m not sure about Cara, though. The conversation was more valuable than therapy (at least for me) and she had to be just as exhausted as I was afterwards. She’ll probably charge me a fee next time. I don’t mind. It was worth it.

I hope you enjoy A BITTER VEIL.

Next week we’ll be getting to know Hardit Singh, a young writer with already a few novels under his belt.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: LIBBY FISCHER HELLMANN

In crime on April 23, 2012 at 6:39 am

Anthony-nominated crime fiction author Libby Fischer Hellmann claims she’s “writing her way around the genre.” With nine novels and twenty short stories published, she has written thrillers, suspense mysteries, historicals, PI novels, amateur sleuth, police procedurals, and even a cozy. At the core of all her stories, however, is always a crime or the possibility of one.

She is a transplant from Washington, D.C., where, she says, “When you’re sitting around the dinner table gossiping about the neighbors, you’re talking politics.” Armed with a Masters Degree in Film Production from New York University, and a BA in history from the University of Pennsylvania, she started her career in broadcast news. She began as an assistant film editor at NBC News in New York, but moved back to DC where she worked with Robin MacNeil and Jim Lehrer at N-PACT, the public affairs production arm of PBS. When Watergate broke, she was re-trained as an assistant director and helped produce PBS’s night-time broadcasts of the hearings.

In 1978, Hellmann moved to Chicago to work at Burson-Marsteller, the large public relations firm, staying until 1985 when she founded Fischer Hellmann Communications. Currently, when not writing, she conducts speaker training programs in platform speaking, presentation skills, media training, and crisis communications. Additionally, Libby also writes and produces videos.

Her first novel, An Eye For Murder, which features Ellie Foreman, a video producer and single mother, was released in 2002. Publishers Weekly called it a “masterful blend of politics, history, and suspense,” and it was nominated for several awards. That was followed by three more entries in the Ellie Foreman series, which Libby describes as a cross between “Desperate Housewives” and “24.”

A few years later, Libby introduced her second series featuring hard-boiled Chicago PI Georgia Davis, which Chicago Tribune describes as, “a new no-nonsense detective …. tough and smart enough to give even the legendary V.I. Warshawski a run for her money.” There are three books in that series so far: Easy Innocence (2008) and Doubleback (2009), which was selected as a Great Lakes Booksellers’ Association “2009 Great Read,” and Toxicity(2011), a police procedural ebook thriller that became the prequel to the Georgia Davis series.

Set The Night On Fire, (December, 2010) was a standalone thriller that goes back, in part, to the late Sixties in Chicago. Publishers Weekly describes it as “top-rate” and says, “A jazzy fusion of past and present, Hellman’s insightful, politically charged whodunit explores a fascinating period in American history.” It was short-listed for ForeWord Magazine‘s Book of 2010 in the suspense/thriller category. Her most recent stand-alone, A Bitter Veil, which PW calls “meticulously researched and fast-paced”, will be released in April, 2012. It’s set in revolutionary Iran during the shah’s overthrow and rise of the Islamic Republic.

Libby has also edited a highly acclaimed crime fiction anthology, CHICAGO BLUES (October, 2007). In May, 2010, she published a collection of her own short stories called Nice Girl Does Noir. In 2005-2006 she was the National President of Sisters in Crime, a 3,400 plus member organization committed to strengthening the voice of female mystery writers.

Libby blogs at “SAY THE WORD And You’ll Be Free,” Libby Hellmann, and also at “The Outfit Collective” at The Outfit Collective.

THE RAVEN (2012 FILM)

In crime on April 21, 2012 at 6:41 am

Edgar Allan Poe's grave, Baltimore Maryland De...

A serial killer copies Edgar Allan Poe’s crimes in 1849′s Baltimore, dragging onto himself the cops and the writer he is drawing inspiration from.

Interesting, gripping and atmospheric.

I found John Cusack suitable for the role of Edgar Allan Poe and the story well paced.

It seems the idea stems from the writer’s mysterious death on a park bench that very year.

I did watch the Italian dubbed version, as I found it absolutely impossible to find the English anywhere on the web (it’s getting harder and harder to watch movies online without the burden of a fee).

I understand there’s another version of the The Raven dated back to 1935.

The Raven(2012 film)

The Raven (2012 film)

Director:

James McTeigue

Writers:

Ben Livingston (screenplay), Hannah Shakespeare(screenplay)

Stars:

John Cusack, Alice Eve  and Luke Evans

SHERREL LEE/LEE LESLIE-THE TWO FACES OF ONE AUTHOR

In crime on April 17, 2012 at 6:20 am

First I want to thank you for inviting me to post information about my book on your blog and the captivating teaser you gave your readers.  Before confusion sets in, let me explain that I am a writer with a dual personality.  Sherrel Lee writes contemporary fantasy while my alter ego Lee Leslie delves into the dark works of real and imagined serial killersI chose to write under two different names so that I wouldn’t confuse the readers of my books.  I personally find it jarring when I fall in love with a book and the next book I pick up bears no similarity to what I read before.  I don’t want that to happen to my readers though if they like both genres I will be happy to have them know where to look. 

A little about Lee Leslie:  Lee started writing as soon as it was possible to control the movement of pencil over paper. Classics such as “Barbie Goes to the Beauty Shop” and” My Puppy Likes to Play” were some of the less notable endeavors of those early years.One of her first real life employment opportunities was as a dispatcher for a small town police department.  Between calls for assistance from the citizenry and sending help to officers embroiled in breaking up fights or fast paced chases (not so many), she met a few unsavory folks and her imagination wrote the stories of their large, small and imagined deadly crimes.

At night Lee devoured every real crime story, mystery and thriller she could find as well as a little science-fiction and dark fantasy. This, along with characters demanding to be set free from the confines of her psyche, led her to intensify her efforts to master the art of writing. This pursuit confirmed what she and her family already knew, her imagination descends into murky and chilling depths.

Police photograph of the murder scene of Mary ...

Police photograph of the murder scene of Mary Jane Kelly, the 5th canonical victim of Jack the Ripper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

RipHer by Lee Leslie is a historical fiction, based on the true crimes attributed to Jack the Ripper.  The story is the result of this writer wondering – would a woman have been a better investigator than the men who were blind to the changes occurring in the world.  This unexplored possibility provided other things to think about like - why were those particular women killed?So, where did I come up with this idea?  For 

me this was a response to the call of the muse that captured me.  The muse planted people and conversations in my brain and these people talked to me and danced a deadly waltz across my mind.  The only acceptable way for me to explain this to friends and family was to write.  Writing will hopefully keep the world from deciding I am more than a bit insane.

RipHer became my passion after I saw a special on the Jack the Ripper killings.  After the show I found I had to read about the crimes in more detail (again) and learned more about the times and the attitudes during this period.  It seemed to me the men investigating the murders hunted for the killer based on the rumors that flowed through the news and public accusations.  I couldn’t find much about how the investigators actually determined who to arrest.  Rumors led to many different suspects.   The killer was a butcher.  The killer was a doctor. The killer was a prince. 

RipHer is not the story of the murders and the investigation you have read before or seen as a movie.  The story has a woman (Dr. Rowena Radcliffe) going to the crime scenes and exploring how and why the women were killed.  It proposes a possible answer to why the five women were selected.  And of course, as a historical fiction, the killer is found and hauled in to pay for the crimes.  I guess the feminist that I discovered existed in my subconscious, wondered if a woman had been the person investigating the murders would the search for the killer have been any different.  

Cartoon criticising the police for their inabi...

In my research I discovered that fingerprinting was offered by so me as a way to identify people.  However the police departments throughout the world scoffed at the idea of using this as a method of detection.  I also learned that some scientists were beginning to believe killers could be profiled – again law enforcement shrugged and thought this a useless tool.   (If the investigators and their superiors had only been privy to television shows like Criminal Minds the investigators would have pounced on the opportunity to use the new tools to find the killer.)  The writer in me took these bits of information and the idea of a woman involved in the investigations and ran away with it. Murder

Streetmap showing the locations of the first s...

 is not fun – but writing something where your character gets the bad guy was satisfying for me the author.  It is my hope readers will be pleased that this tale offers is a different perspective of the crimes. RipHer presents a viewpoint that hasn’t been explored before. I hope you are enticed to pick up the book and let me know what you think.  Your comments are welcome on my Facebook Page.

Go to Lee Leslie’s Facebook Page featuring RipHer at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lee-Leslie/208983449206948

(RipHer by Lee Leslie is currently available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in paperback and Kindle editions.  And if you might consider a fantasy look for my alter ego Sherrel Lee’s book Valens Rise)

Go to Sherrel Lee’s Facebook Page featuring Valens Rise at Sherrel Lee-Valens Rise

Next week don’t miss our spotlight on Libby Fischer Hellmann

DAVID MATTICHAK ON TRUE CRIME BOOKS’ STATEMENT

In crime on April 11, 2012 at 6:16 am
Reading true crime books and even going through true crime authors interviews, there’s this notion they write/dig into the book/story only to make a stronger point, if one is needed, about the significant difference between the criminal and the ones who haven’t been caught yet, between the us and them. How do you feel about that? Coming from a fiction writing background and going into true crime writing more by chance than a desire to ‘make a statement’, what’s your take on it? I have been looking for an answer to my question for a long while now since I started browsing through true crime books, but every time I get a true crime author to do an interview, they seem to duck this question so when I got David Mattichak to contribute a guest post, I couldn’t refrain myself from asking and he was kind enough to answer. Here’s  what he says:
When I agreed to write about Malcolm Naden I firstly wanted to tell the truth, whatever that turned out to be. When I examined how the NSW police had handled the case it was tempting to be very critical of how they had mishandled the case. Because Naden is an Australian Aboriginal as were both of his victims, it would have been easy to make the story about how marginalized Australia’s indigenous people still are in the 21st Century but that too would have been a departure from the real story- the murder of two young mothers and the damage that that did to a family (the women were his cousins). If Naden’s victims had been white then I am sure that the investigation would have been better managed from the start, and it was only after Naden shot an police officer that the NSW police seemed to take the manhunt seriously.
When I wrote Loot, and as I have been writing my next crime novel, I do try and focus on creating an identification between the main character and the reader, a sort of “that could be me” feeling, whereas I found that when writing about Naden’s crimes that it was hard to imagine myself in his position, taking the actions that he took. It was very difficult to make an identification between Naden and the reader and I think that part of telling these stories is to highlight how a cold blooded murderer is different to the average person.
If I did have any desire to make a statement, as you say, it would have been that our society continues to marginalize indigenous people and this contributes to these kinds of crimes, but after thinking about that angle I decided that to write from that point of view would have been to add to the marginalization and that pointing out only the differences would have been painting the wrong picture about Aboriginal Australians. The real story wasn’t that Naden had never been given the same opportunities as his non-indigenous countrymen, the real story was that his family had tried to cope with his strange behavior by ignoring it, or denying it, which is something that any family might do.
So, to answer your question, I tried to show how little difference there really is between Naden’s background and most other people’s but that he had made a choice to pursue the path that he did and that it was possible for anyone to choose to give way to their dark, or animal, inclinations. If I set out to show that there is any difference it is merely that Naden acted on impulses that we all might have lurking somewhere but which we suppress and never act on. Oddly enough, I found myself sort of hoping that he could continue to elude capture simply because he had so embarrassed the authorities that were hunting him. I also found myself identifying with the father of the girl, Lateesha Nolan, who first went missing, presumed murdered. Mick Peet never gave up looking for his daughter which I could understand as I would probably have done the same thing in his place.
It is the place of true crime writers to tell the story that they find and if a writer wants to make a point of some sort that it may be better placed in a fictional setting. Making Naden’s story about the ineptitude of the NSW police, or about disadvantaged Aboriginals would have been to depart from the real point- that two young women had been murdered and that our society demanded justice for them. I don’t feel that I need to make any social point, the truths in the story makes them for me.
Thank you so much to David for answering the question no true crime author or reader wants to answer.

TRUE CRIME IS STRANGER THAN FICTION by D G MATTICHAK JR

In crime on April 10, 2012 at 6:23 am

I have been a fan of crime fiction since I first learned to read and have poured over the  

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, gone into the dark with Poe, puzzled my way through Agatha Christie’s mysteries and visited the gritty underworld of Leonard Elroy and Elmore Leonard so when I came to my first opportunity to publish the allure of the crime genre inspired me to write Loot. I was greatly influenced by the fast paced crime movies like Snatch and Pulp Fiction and wanted to write something with a contemporary, pop-noir edge.

The process of writing a novel is actually quite straightforward (for me anyway) and I simply sketched out the story and had fun writing the scenes as they scrolled through my head like a set of frames in a comic book. I have come to feel that fiction writing is like reading fiction except in reverse. Instead of the words producing the images in my mind’s eye, those images are the driving force that gets put down on paper (metaphorically speaking in these days of virtual paper) as I write the words that make up the story. The success of this novel led to the opportunity to ghost write a true crime book about Australia’s most wanted man, Malcolm Naden.

Writing this book was a completely different experience to writing my novel Loot. In the fictional work the victims are all the inventions of my imagination, but in the true crime book they are real people. The people that Naden murdered were real people, his crimes are genuinely disturbing. I had begun the project with the aim of writing a book that was styled in the way that Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood had been. I wanted to sketch out the pivotal scenes in my description of Naden’s behavior and his crimes in dramatized scenes to connect the reader with the most crucial aspects of the story. This meant that I had to play out what might have happened in my head based on the various police and media reports that I had to reference and to do that I found that I had to put myself into the point of view of the killer. I had done that with Loot’s bad guys too, but this was a real person, not just a character, and so making that connection with the events went much deeper and resulted in a much darker book than I had imagined that I would write from the start.

I had read a lot of true crime and so the cruel possibilities of the human psyche weren’t unfamiliar to me but researching a true crime novel takes it to a different level. Instead of reading the end product of someone’s research it was me that was deep into the forensic information, reading the police reports about the crime scene, considering the cause of death of the victim. It was like I was the detective rather than the guy writing about him. My first foray into true crime writing has changed the way I write, and the way I think about my fictional works.

For those that aren’t familiar with Malcolm Naden’s story, he has been on the run in the Australian outback since strangling a woman in 2005. He has eluded capture for all of that time by living off of the land in Northern New South Wales and, until recently, had been a haunting presence in the bush there. In those seven years he had drifted towards the realm of myth and legend as he time and again just melted into the wilderness and disappeared to avoid capture by the police. The $250,000 bounty on his head is the highest ever offered for a fugitive in Australia and has made him the subject of a lot of internet buzz with the NSW Police having to issue a statement to dissuade bounty hunters from going into the Barrington Tops to look for him. He was captured recently and so I have been engaged to write the sequel as well. This, I am sure, will lead me down even more dark paths. The first volume, Malcolm Naden: The Ghost of the Outback should be out soon.

I intend to write more crime fiction as well, with another novel in the process of being written at the moment. I am also a well known writer on the subject of modern occultism and have ventured into that other dark and fascinating genre, horror, with my second novel Master of the Crossroads, a steampunk inspired tale of Voodoo and zombies.

Website: http://dgmattichakjr.com
The e-book about Malcolm Naden has just been released on Smashwords at:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/148659 via Lulu.com.

Next week, Sherrel Lee will be our guest and she will entertain us with some interesting and original takeon Jack the Ripper. Don't miss it!

DAVID MATTICHAK SPOTLIGHT

In crime on April 9, 2012 at 6:26 am

Here’s LaeLand second guest. This week is David Mattichak’s turn. A crime fiction writer who was offered the chance to write a true crime book about the murders and the perpetrator of the county he now resides in, Australia.

For now, here’s David’s spotlight. Tomorrow, it will be time for his post and on Wednesday, he’ll tell us his view about making evil a true crime writer’s message. Enjoy.

D G Mattichak jr was born in the United States in 1963 and spent the first half of his childhood in upstate New York before immigrating from his native Syracuse to Melbourne, Australia in the antipodes. After attending one of Melbourne’s exclusive private schools he went on to study art before navigating the twists and turns of life to become an al a carte chef.

Always looking for an adventure and drawn by the esoteric David is a long time student of the occult arts and is well known for his writing on Magick and Thelema. After spending 25 years working in some of Melbourne’s best kitchens he decided to make the fiscally dubious choice of embarking on a career as a freelance writer.

As a freelancer David writes on a broad range of topics and is also a regular contributor to Moot Magazine. David has recently ghost written a book about Australia’s most wanted man and plans to write a sequel in the future while there are also plans for several more books, both novels and nonfiction books.

David is also an avid blogger and shares his thoughts on D G Mattichak jr’s Blog- Blogging About Everything and shares his thoughts on occult topics on Ankhafnakhonsu’s Magick Blog. He has been publishing articles on a variety of subjects for many years and has also published four books. His first novel Loot, a pop noir crime fiction novel set in Melbourne, A Comment on the Verses of the Book of the Law which explains Thelema and its message, Give Us This Day Our Daily Blog, a collection of his most popular blog posts and most recently Master of the Crossroads, a steampunk inspired Voodoo horror story.

D G Mattichak jr is married and lives in Melbourne with his wife Michelle and their two cats.