Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Crime Thriller Girl

It is our great pleasure to welcome Steph Broadribb, blogger extraordinaire at and the author of Deep Down Dead. Find out more about Steph in "Featured authors".

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Newcastle Noir does Norway

Our Christmas present to all of you is to announce the latest author in our line-up...Thomas Enger! Find out more about Thomas in "Featured authors". And Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Monday, 19 December 2016

New Blood

Newcastle Noir loves having authors who have published their first novel. We are therefore delighted to reveal Shelley Day and The Confession of Stella Moon as the latest addition to the Newcastle Noir 2017 line-up. Find more about Shelley on "Featured authors".    

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Our fourth author - local hero

According to New York Journal of Books, the next author we'd like to reveal for NN2017 'does for Newcastle what Ian Rankin has done for Edinburgh'.

We're so excited to welcome Howard Linskey to the Newcastle Noir 2017 line-up. For more information about Howard, please click on "Featured authors 2017"!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Newcastle Noir does Iceland

As Dylan once sang, The Times They Are a-Changin, but you can bet on Newcastle Noir and its never-ending love affair with Icelandic crime fiction to provide much needed stability! :-) We are therefore delighted to welcome back Lilja Sigurðardóttir. Find more about Lilja in "Featured authors".

Ramblings of an emerging/aspiring crime author

Post written by Rob Scragg

It’s been eighteen months since I rolled up at my first Newcastle Noir, armed with notepad, pen, and a swarm of ideas that might one day untangle themselves into something resembling a novel. I sat in the Lit & Phil, listening to William Ryan deliver a workshop on Crime Writing, and realised for the first time, that there was so much more to it than just having a half decent idea, and stringing a few sentences together. By that point I’d already written my first draft of a novel, and submitted to thirty agents. At the time, it felt like the equivalent of scrunching a message up in a bottle, launching it into the ocean, and wondering if it would even be seen again, let alone read.

As well as a new appreciation of the mechanics of constructing a crime novel, the other thing I left the Lit & Phil with that day was a sense of being part of a community. Crime writers and readers alike, despite being fixated on books involving the darker side of humanity, are some of the nicest, most approachable people around. They’ll happily dispense advice over a cuppa or a pint if you put yourself out and show your face at these events. If you’re reading this as an aspiring writer yourself, and you haven’t been to Newcastle Noir before, take a break from reading this (I won’t take it personally), and follow @NewcastleNoir on Twitter to make sure you get all the news for 2017. Mark the dates in your diary ASAP, and make sure you’re there next year.

Writing can be a lonely business. There’s days when the last thing you want to do after a full day at work, is open the laptop and churn out another chapter, but I always come away from events like this with my writing batteries recharged. I made some good friends that weekend, and they’ve been a great help and support since, offering encouragement and feedback over a regular coffee in Waterstones (you all know who you are! :-))

Needless to say I was back at Newcastle Noir this year, and added Theakston’s Crime Festival in Harrogate to this year’s list of events. Creative Thursday at Harrogate was a real turning point for me. Not only was I lucky enough to attend sessions with more of my favourite authors, like Sarah Hilary, but I also threw caution to the wind and put my name in the hat to pitch at the infamous ‘Dragon’s Pen’, to a panel of Agents and Editors. It so nearly didn’t happen for me. I was the last one drawn out of the hat to pitch my novel, and Mark Billingham mispronounced my name, so I nearly missed out altogether! I did get my two minutes on the mic though, and walked out of there with four Dragon’s email addresses, and ultimately, some priceless advice that improved the book no end.

Three things happened then, that have made 2016 unforgettable for me. Firstly, I got married to Nicola, my partner in crime, and chief proof reader. Secondly, I won a crime writing competition judged by David Mark, that has led to my first published short story in a compilation by Hodder & Stoughton. But the one that really made me do a victory dance though, was an email I received on 18th October, that made me forget every rejection letter that had gone before it. I’ve since met with, and am now represented by The Blair Partnership, and I’m ever so slightly excited for the prospect of what 2017 might bring. My book goes off to publishers in January, I’m halfway through my next work-in-progress, and who knows, I may even manage to complete the circle, and worm my way onto a Newcastle Noir panel if it all comes together.

It feels like it’s been a long road to get this far, and I know there’s a long way to go still, if I’m to have even a fraction of the success of some of the great writers out there today. But that’s the beauty of writing for me – it doesn’t feel like work to me. I’m too busy enjoying it.

Friday, 9 December 2016

The Queen of Newcastle Noir

Newcastle Noir wouldn't be the same without wor Mari Hannah, the award winning and critically acclaimed author from the North! And this year she will be accompanied by her partner in crime, Mo. Find out more about Mari and Mo in "Featured authors".

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

First author for Newcastle Noir

Newcastle Noir is back, oh yes!!! Be ready for criminal delights in the first bank holiday in May! And we have our first author to announce...drum roll....are you ready?? :-)

It is our immense pleasure and privilege to welcome David Young, the author of Stasi Child!! For more information about David, please click on "Featured authors 2017"!

What a start! More to follow....

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Newcastle Noir is off to Iceland!

It’s that time of year again when Newcastle Noir gets to visit one of their most favourite events of all in the crime fiction calendar – ICELAND NOIR, in Reykjavik, 17 - 20 November 2016.

This year the festival has an even bigger array of authors from across the globe, and oh what a total privilege and joy to be chairing two panels at this event – ‘Dangerous Nordic Women’ and ‘Queer Crime’.

Details of the festival can be found here -

On our return we’ll post a report of our Icelandic adventures!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Noir@theBar Edinburgh

Wednesday 9th November, 7pm.

We’re thrilled to be involved in taking Noir@theBar up to Edinburgh! Inspired by Vic Watson in Newcastle, we felt it only right that Auld Reekie should have this kind of event where crime writers (established, emerging & potential) can gather together to read from their work, discuss their craft and engage with the public in a more informal setting.

If you’re in Edinburgh on 9th November, why not join us for what promises to be a cracking evening of murder and mayhem. A special ‘thank you’ to author Mark Leggatt for making this possible!

Crime Factor – Four Men and a Plot

21st October, 2016 at the Lit & Phil Society, Newcastle upon Tyne

Last month four Scottish writers came to Newcastle to discuss all aspects of crime novels, including plot and writing, plus general death and destruction.

In conjunction with Waterstone's, the four had embarked on a 'Crime Factor' live tour with sell-out appearances across Scotland. Below you’ll find the questions that Newcastle Noir prepared to ask the authors about their work and crime fiction in general. However, the evening was so lively and the interaction with the audience so free-flowing, we sadly never got to ask them! Nevertheless, these writers are so obliging that they agreed to respond after the event & provide some fab responses. Also, if you were unlucky enough not to make the evening, here’s some excellent insight in ‘four men and a plot’.

Neil Broadfoot was nominated for the Deanston prize for his debut crime thriller, Falling Fast, whilst its follow-up, The Storm, won over readers and authors alike. A journalist for 15 years, his third book, All the Devils, is out later this year.

GJ Brown is the author of four crime thrillers, Falling, 59 Minutes, The Catalyst and Meltdown. He is also a DJ, runs a creativity training business and helped found Bloody Scotland – Scotland’s international crime writing festival.

Mark Leggatt is the author of two international thrillers, Names of the Dead and The London Cage, and has appeared at several international festivals to talk about his work. European history and modern global conspiracy lie at the heart of his novels.

Douglas Skelton wrote 11 true crime / Scottish criminal history books before turning, in 2013, to fiction with Blood City, the first in the Davie McCall quartet. The final Davie McCall book, Open Wounds, was published in April and was long-listed for the 2016 McIlvanney Award.

  • Neil Broadfoot

1. What led you to embark on this tour? - I wish I could say that there was a clever plan behind it all but, like most things with us, it was a happy accident. Mark had the idea, asked if I’d be interested and off we went!

2. What has been your experience so far with the Tour? - With the exception of having to spend so much time in the company of Douglas, it’s been absolutely brilliant. Everywhere we’ve visited, the audiences have been really keen to engage with us and there have been a lot of fascinating discussions. I’m not only a crime writer, I’m a reader and a lover of the genre, so going out and talking to fellow authors and enthusiasts about crime and writing in general is always a pleasure.

3. Why did you choose to get into crime writing? - Again, it was a happy accident. I’ve always been a writer, and I wanted (well, needed is a better word really) to get published to keep a promise I made to dedicate my first book to someone who was very important to me. I didn’t manage to do that while they were here and it was eating way at me. So I was walking in Edinburgh one day, desperately thinking of what I could write that would grab the interest of readers – and hopefully a publisher. Then I came on the Scott Monument and the idea of someone plummeting from the top of it came to me. Eighty-thousand words later, I had a book, and it was only when I was reading through the draft that I realised I’d written a crime novel. I guess I wasn’t too surprised, after all, I’ve always loved crime fiction so it’s natural that’s what I would gravitate to.

4. How hard was it for you all to get published? - It was a long, hard slog, and I got a lot of those oh-so polite rejection letters saying my work was “good but not what we’re looking for at the moment”. Then I got what every writer needs, that one bit of luck. I was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize in 2013, which brought me to the attention of my publisher. And from there, it’s been a book a year – and a hell of a ride!

5. What can you say about the state of crime writing in Scotland and where do you see yourselves fitting in this field? - I think crime writing in Scotland is in rude health. You only have to look at the response to this tour and the buzz generated by festivals like Bloody Scotland to see that. As for where I fit in, I’m a fan of the genre and lucky enough to be part of a great community of writers who are the nicest, most supportive bunch of people you could hope to meet.

Your protagonist Doug McGregor is a journalist, how much of your own experience informs the way you have developed this character? - As journalists, Doug and I both approach stories the same way, and, believe it or not, when I’m writing a Doug and Susie book I’ve got no more clue than Doug does about what’s going on! We’re also similar in our views of the industry and the decline of newspapers and proper journalism in favour of churnalism, lower costs and click-bait headlines. I suppose we’ve both got similar morals, though Doug can be more ruthless than I can and sees his friends, including Susie, as chess pieces at times to either help or hinder him on the hunt for the next splash.

Why Edinburgh & not Glasgow? Is the rivalry that exists in reality between these two great cities reflected in the Scottish Crime Fiction  - For me, Edinburgh was a natural choice as it’s my home town. I understand Edinburgh – the people, the places, the attitudes. Every city has a rhythm, an unspoken language and tone, and I get that about Edinburgh. I don’t have the same feeling for Glasgow, so it would be difficult for me to write about that city in the same way. Though if Skelton can do it, I guess anyone can!
I’m not sure there really is a rivalry between Edinburgh and Glasgow, they’re just two cities with different attitudes which have, in large, been shaped by their similar yet radically different histories. That translates into the fiction –the stories told reflect the cities they’re set in. OK, there may be a pop at Glasgow from an Edinburgh-based character and vice versa, but I’m not sure there’s a real, teeth-bared, knives-at-dawn rivalry.

Can you some up your main protagonist in one phrase/sentence? What do you like/dislike about them? - Overly idealist journalist with big ideas, bigger hair and a burning need to get to the bottom of the story behind the headline. I like Doug’s idealism, I’m jealous of his hair, and I dislike his ruthlessness and disregard for how his actions can affect those closest to him.

What next? I’m working on the next Doug and Susie now, picking up where I left everyone at the end of All the Devils. I’ve also got a few ideas for a new series, as well as a few standalones. Oh, and I owe my best friend, who does the covers for my books, a full-on horror novel, so that’s in the pipeline as well.

  • GJ Brown

1. What led you to embark on this tour? - I'm struggling to remember the genesis of the tour. I now know what rock bands feel like mid-way through a tour - a little brain dead. The key reason I'm on board is the fun of working with Mark, Neil and Douglas. Whether they feel the same is another thing. Oh and the vast sums of money that have been transferred to my off shore account to tempt me into the road help a little.

2. What has been your experience so far with the Tour? - If I was to sum it up it one word 'surprising'.  I wasn't sure what to expect. The format is very fluid. From the outset we take questions from the audience. And this means that the conversation can start anywhere, go anywhere and end up anywhere. No two nights have been the same and this has kept the whole thing fresh and interesting (at least it has for us). The reaction has been great. We take the questions seriously, the audience are looking for insight, but humour is woven through and this gives the whole shebang a nice flavour.

3. Why did you choose to get into crime writing? - Masochism. That might sound, ok it is, flip, but there is a certain amount of self-inflicted pain in the process. I never intended to get into crime writing. I just wanted to write. I have a number of unpublished novels in the suitcase under my bed. All waiting on the day that my next book becomes a global sensation and film companies stream to my door in search of my back catalogue. Those unpublished novels are important - they helped me hone my craft. The more I write, the better I get. It was one last concerted effort to get published that landed me on the planet of crime. I had a line in my head, 'The last thing I wanted to do was fall.'  I had no idea what the next line was but as it appeared on the screen it morphed into a crime novel called 'Falling', all be it from the victim and bad guys POV - the police are notably absent. In hindsight it was a natural place to go. Writing about bad people is more fun than writing about good. My father was a policeman so the world of crime was never far away. And I love the idea of placing my protagonist(s) in alien situations and working out how they will fare. Crime just proved a more fertile field for this.

4. How hard was it for you all to get published? - If you omit the first twenty years and four novels, it was easy. The turning point was 'Falling'. I was just finishing up a contract for an existing client and, without a new client on the horizon, I had a summer ahead. I decided to have one last crack at a novel while the kids were off; with a view to finishing the book by the time they went back to school. I then edited for a month and sent a synopsis and three chapters to four publishers. To my everlasting amazement one of them came back and asked if they could see the rest of the book. Falling was launched the next year. With my fifth book coming out early next year I still count myself fortunate that my first publisher saw something in my work.

5. What can you say about the state of crime writing in Scotland and where do you see yourselves fitting in this field? - I think the current state of crime fiction in Scotland is fit and healthy. As a founding committee member of Bloody Scotland I've been privileged to meet some of the greats of the genre and give a small helping hand with a thing we call 'Crime in the Spotlight'. This allows me to steal three minutes from the front end of the bigger authors sessions at Bloody Scotland, and allow new authors to read a little of their work to the audience. You only have to look at the success of Graeme Macrae Burnett, and his Man Booker nomination, to witness the strength of emerging talent. Graeme was a 'Crime in the Spotlighter' in 2015. However it would be remiss of me not to mention the sad passing of Willie McIlvanney - the 'god father' of 'Tartan Noir'. I met him on a number of occasions and his writing was, and still is, an inspiration to crime writers across the planet.

Why did some of you choose to set your crime writing outside Scotland? - I didn't, at first. 'Falling' and '59 Minutes' were both set in Glasgow. When I wrote book 3 it was also set in Glasgow. Then I got in tow with author, Allan Guthrie who said, and I quote, 'Love the idea but don't like the story.' The result? I binned an 80,000 word novel and started again. This time I set it in the U.S. If I ask myself why, I like the canvass that the country provides. My last two books 'The Catalyst' and 'Meltdown' are thrillers and America has allowed me to paint large. I, in the main, set my novels in towns and cities I've visited in the States. My day job takes me across the Atlantic monthly and this has given me no end of backdrops to set the action against. Saying that, the new novel will take my main protagonist, Craig McIntyre, back to Scotland. It seems I can't resist the lure of my home.

The publicity talks about Craig McIntyre having a unique affliction. Why did you choose to give Craig this characteristic? A pub fight. That's where the idea came from. A friend and I were in a pub on the south side of Glasgow a few years back. It was quiet. Apart from the two of us there were only three other customers - two brothers, arguing, and a man sitting in the corner reading a book. The arguing brothers took their dispute up a level and started fighting. They were drunk. Too drunk to do any damage to each other. But they managed to trash a fair amount of the pub before the police arrived. All the while the man in the corner read on. Never lifting his head through the whole fight. And that got me wondering. What if that was because his life was like this all the time. Him at the centre of chaos. Maybe he was the 'creator' of this chaos. This is where the idea for Craig McIntyre came from. Craig has this issue. He brings out the worst in people. His mere presence enough to drive people to kill each other. But he has no control over any of it. I love this idea. It makes Craig's life unpredictable and makes for great action.

And how does the new book differ from this earlier series? - The new book sees Craig trying to find out whether this 'affliction' is natural or man-made. To do this he has to confront the past only to find that he is the result of a truly terrifying experiment.

Can you talk about your involvement with Bloody Scotland? - Where to start? I'm one of the founding committed members. Six years ago I attended a CWA lunch where I met Alex Gray and Lin Anderson. They had been talking about the fact that there were crime festivals around the world but not one in Scotland. Somewhere during this conversation I remember uttering the words 'Well how hard can it be to set up a festival.' Fatal words. It's been a heck of a ride. We've just finished year 5 - a record year. Year 6 is already being planned and Bloody Scotland has established itself as one of the major crime festivals, globally.

Can you some up your main protagonist in one phrase/sentence? What do you like/dislike about them? - 'Deliciously unpredictable'.
Like - he's the character that just keeps giving.
Dislike - he demands pace. Writing about Craig is a brain draining experience.

What next? - I've just moved publisher to Strident. Thanks to them I've been able to go back to 'The Catalyst' and 'Meltdown' and redraft them. I've now finished the third book and the three books as a trilogy, will come out early next year. I was also lucky enough to have my first novel 'Falling' published in the U.S. And they have just agreed to take a sequel for publication next year.

  • Douglas Skelton

1. What led you to embark on this tour? – It was Mark Leggatt who approached me with the idea last Christmas. It sounded like fun and an ideal way to get out and meet readers, to discuss what they like/dislike/look for in their crime reading.

2. What has been your experience so far with the Tour? – It has been fun! And I think, by and large, the audiences have enjoyed it. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

3. Why did you choose to get into crime writing? –I’m from Glasgow, what else would I write? But seriously, it’s what I read, it’s a wide, W-I-D-E, field in which anything is possible. And I don’t see me doing a romance.

4. How hard was it for you all to get published? – My first true crime book was accepted within days of sending it to a publisher. The remainder of the non-fiction was relatively easy. Fiction, though, was harder. It took a few years for Blood City to hit the shelves.

5. What can you say about the state of crime writing in Scotland and where do you see yourselves fitting in this field? – It’s very healthy north of the border – too healthy, in fact. Chuck a stone in Argyle Street in Glasgow and you’ll hit at least three crime writers and another half dozen on the rebound. Don’t throw stones, though – it’s anti-social. We need to get rid of a few, leave the way open for the rest of us. I have a list. And I won’t be stopping at stone throwing.

Why Glasgow & not Edinburgh? – I’m from Glasgow, simple as that. If I wrote about Edinburgh it would have to be from the point of view of a visitor.
Davie McCall – henchman. Why write from the other side? – When I decided to leap to fiction I realised that there were already excellent writers doing police procedurals set in Scotland. I couldn’t add anything. I also wanted to approach the genre from the other direction. It’s fairly common in US crime fiction but not so much here, and certainly not in Scotland. I also like anti-heroes, which is what Davie McCall is. He’s a violent man but not without heart and that’s what I wanted to explore. Dominic Queste, my new protagonist, is less the bad man but still has issues. Hell, don’t we all?

You have written both true crime and crime fiction – does the process differ? – It differs in that with the true crime I have the facts to guide me and ground me, while the fiction is all mine and I can take it wherever I want. The storytelling approach, for me, is the same – how do I tell this in an interesting, entertaining and surprising way?

Can you sum up your main protagonist in one phrase/sentence? What do you like/dislike about them?

Davie McCall – a good man in a bad man’s skin. I like his stillness and his ability to cut through a problem in a direct fashion. I sometimes wish I could do that. His taciturn nature, though, makes him hard to write.

Dominic Queste – a joker with melancholy in his soul. I like his ability to come up with a one-liner just when it’s needed. I generally think of it about half an hour later. There’s a French phrase for that but it escapes me. I’ll remember it in half an hour! I dislike his self-destructive nature. It’s too close to home.

What next? – I’ve recently completed the second Dominic Queste thriller, Tag – You’re Dead. I’m now gearing up to move onto something else. I don’t know what yet but it’s coming!

  • Mark Leggatt

1. What led you to embark on this tour? – To generate publicity and both connect and start a conversation with the audience.

2. What has been your experience so far with the Tour? – It’s been a hoot!  Every town is different, and the audiences are great fun. Everybody in the same room with the same love of books makes a great atmosphere.

3. Why did you choose to get into crime writing? It chose me; the story I wanted to write fitted into the thriller genre, but I’m not fussed about genres.

4. How hard was it for you all to get published? Very hard indeed. 4 years to get an agent, and then 6 months being rejected in the US, before Fledgling heard and picked me up.

5. What can you say about the state of crime writing in Scotland and where do you see yourselves fitting in this field? I’m not writing typical crime, so I’m kind of on the edges; part of Scottish crime, being a Scottish thriller writer, but not writing Scottish crime per se.

Why did some of you choose to set your crime writing outside Scotland? No conscious choice, that where the character and his story would be.

How much research on the ground were you able to do for your novels?  Quite a lot for Paris and London, but as I’ve lived there, I’m very familiar with them. For North Africa and Iran, I made detailed notes from colleagues I worked with in France, and asked them a million questions.

Your work focuses on the notion of global economic meltdown – fact or fiction?  Fact can be so bizarre, that it’s too outrageous for Fiction, but I like to wrap up my fiction in hard fact
Can you some up your main protagonist in one phrase/sentence? What do you like/dislike about them?  Male Protagonist; I like him most of the time, but he needs to control his anger. Female protagonist; I like her all the time, you never know what is going to happen next, and neither do I.

What next? The Silk Road – Underground banking, false flag terrorist attacks, illegal arms sales and mayhem!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Scottish Invaders at the Lit & Phil

Come join us at the Lit & Phil on Friday 21/10 at 7pm for what promises to be a most entertaining and instructive evening as we host 4 top-notch Scottish crime writers as they discuss all things crime fiction. Newcastle Noir has the pleasurable and yet rather daunting task of trying to keep order!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Trip down memory lane

It is hard to believe that Newcastle Noir was in May, nearly 6 months ago. Wouldn't it be lovely to go back to a pre-Referendum cherry-blossom Spring? Leonard Cohen once sang about the "merry-merry month of May" and wasn't it lovely to gather together in the grand old building of the Lit & Phil and listen intently to amazing authors? Let's reminisce through the wonderful pictures taken by Dona-Lisa Healy, let's head for "Gallery 2016" in the menu!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Noir at the Bar #2 - Wednesday, 7th September, 19:00–23:00

Calling all crime fiction lovers in the North East!

Join Vic Watson and Jacky Collins for the second Noir at the Bar in Newcastle.

It's a free event - everyone is welcome!

A selection of noir and crime authors from the North East will read excerpts from their writing, as well as drawing a wild card from the audience to share their work.

Held downstairs in the atmospheric Town Wall in Pink Lane, this is a night you won't forget.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Noirwich Crime Writing Festival

We're pleased to publicise a fellow crime writing festival that's taking place next month.

Writers’ Centre Norwich is gearing up for this year’s Noirwich – the annual crime writing festival organised in partnership with UEA and Dead Good Books, which will run from Thu 15-Sun 18 September. This year the festival will welcome international bestsellers Ian Rankin, Peter James, Charlie Higson, Sophie Hannah and many more.

As usual, they will be hosting a series of author events and crime writing masterclasses, as well as the spine-tingling Bloody Brunch set in the Dragon Hall.

You can find more information on this year’s programme here:

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Join us for Shelley Day's Newcastle book launch!

We’re thrilled to be part of this fab crime fiction event happening next month at Waterstones Book Shop in Newcastle! Can’t wait to interview author Shelley Day on the publication of her debut novel, The Confession of Stella Moon, published by Saraband.

Where? Newcastle Waterstones
When? Wednesday 13th July 19:00 - 21:00

Tickets available in store:

The Confession of Stella Moon (Paperback)

Stella Moon is a murderess. Upon her released from prison in 1977, she returns ‘home’ – a decaying, deserted boarding house choked with weeds and foreboding. Memories of strange rituals, gruesome secrets and shame hang heavy in the air, exerting a brooding power over young Stella Moon. She is eager to restart her life, but first she must confront the ghosts of her macabre family history and her own shocking crime. Guilt, paranoia and manipulation have woven a tangled web of truth and lies. All is ambiguous. Of only one thing is she certain...

“A timely and intelligent book. This work has passion, insight and a real understanding of both risk and mercy, Shelley Day delicately explores the tangled layers of family grief and guilt and what it is to be a daughter.” – AL Kennedy

“Shelley Day’s voice is exciting and unique ... and her fiction thematically rich.” – Jackie Kay MBE

SHORTLISTED, Dundee International Book Prize
WINNER, The Andrea Badenoch Prize

About Shelley Day
Shelley Day has been a family, criminal and litigation lawyer, a psychologist and research professor who has headed academic departments and research centres at leading universities and authored many publications on family psychology. She began writing fiction in 2007 and her short stories have appeared in anthologies, online and in newspapers and magazines, including New Writing Scotland. The Confession of Stella Moon, her first novel, won the Andrea Badenoch Prize and was shortlisted for the Charles Pick Fellowship when it was still a work in progress.

Here are links to Shelley Day’s Website & Facebook page:

About Contraband
Contraband – the crime fiction imprint from Saraband – publishes an eclectic range of crime, mystery and thriller writing, ranging from pacy detective stories to intriguing enigmas. Saraband – the inaugural Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year – publishes both fiction and non-fiction. Renowned as an innovator in digital publishing.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Noir at the Bar - More crime writing fun in Newcastle

Noir at the Bar comes to Newcastle for the first time on Wednesday, 1st June, but the concept has been around for about eight years. Peter Rosovsky started Noir at the Bar in Philadelphia in 2008 with Jed Ayres and Scott Phillips starting the second chapter in St Louis. Since then, N@tB has appeared all over the US including Brooklyn, Seattle and LA. 

Glasgow hosted the first UK N@tB thanks to Jay Stringer and in March this year, Carlisle becoming the first place in England to host this event. Now, it’s the turn of the North East. 
Regardless of where it’s held, Noir at the Bar is about collecting readers and writers of crime fiction in all of its guises, putting them together in a bar and letting them mingle. Depending on which Noir at the Bar you visit, the set-up can vary. The Newcastle event will feature a host of authors – both new and established – reading snippets of their work. There’s no requirement to be published in order to read at N@tB, similarly guests can read anything so, even if they’ve had a book published, they can read from their Work in Progress if they like. 

In-keeping with the spirit of the event, the organisers hope to create a community of writers and readers. Writing doesn’t tend to be a particularly social aspect but we’ve found that writers actually relish socialising, especially with people who appreciate their work. Noir at the Bar hopes to provide an opportunity for readers and writers to talk to one another as well as listen to some work.  
There’ll also be the opportunity for writers who aren’t on the bill to enter the wildcard round. One lucky reader’s name will be drawn at random and they will close the evening with their reading. 

When picking the line-up for our initial foray into N@tB, Victoria Watson asked writers she was familiar with from the region as well as inviting Tess Makovesky and Graham Smith, who appeared at Noir at the Bar Carlisle in March, to pass on the torch. 

The great response so far shows that there is a thriving community of readers and writers of noir in the North East. It’s been so popular that they’re already booking guests for Noir at the Bar NE #2

Noir at the Bar is happening on Wednesday, June 1st at the Town Wall pub (Pink Lane, Newcastle). It starts at 7pm but space is limited so get there early to ensure you don’t miss out!

When talking about this event, please use the hashtag #noiratthebarNE

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Newcastle Noir 2016 - Review

We were extremely happy with the way Newcastle Noir 2016 went, but it seems like we're not the only ones. Here's a number of wonderful reviews from The Book Trail, Frances Brody, Nordic Noir and Brew & Books:

We're extremely grateful for the opinions expressed here and other feedback we've received. If there are any other reviews out there, do please let us know, we'd love to share them.

We'll be meeting up again very soon to start planning for Newcastle Noir 2017. Who knows what delights will be in store for us next year...

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Newcastle Noir 2016 - a crime fiction festival to remember!

A week ago today we were caught up in the buzz that was Newcastle Noir 2016!! What an amazing weekend we had bringing together crime fiction authors and readers. Against the most fitting backdrop of Newcastle's Lit & Phil library, 40 local, national, and international authors (see the programme).

We'd like to say a huge 'thank you' to all those who took part and who helped make this event such a success. There'll be a much more detailed write up coming soon, but for now it's safe to say that given the fun we had this year, we'll be back for Newcastle Noir 2017!

And here is a sneak preview of the gorgeous pictures taken by Donna-Lisa Healy!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Time for Crime: Writing Workshop with Valerie Laws, 26th April 6-8, Lit & Phil

A gathering of assorted people intent on murder, in the Lit and Phil, on a wet snowy night - it could be the start of a Golden Age crime novel, and who knows, several novels and stories may emerge from the twenty writers who attended my Workshop last night. 
The old massively-carved tables had been arranged in a long line, as if some League of Assassins were expected. Some attendees had dabbled, or tried, crime fiction, and others were hesitating on the brink of villainy, as I assigned writing exercises to produce Chandleresque 'first lines' to grab the reader by the throat, to create villains, and to evolve their detective protagonists who might become as famed as Vera, Lord Peter Wimsey or Jack Reacher. 
I was not slow to remind them of one of the joys of crime writing, REVENGE! on school bullies, cheating exes and abusive bosses. 'Favourite tip tonight "Murder them horribly"' posted one on facebook later, one who may need to be silenced... bwahahahaha!   
Valerie Laws

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Newcastle Noir 2016 is upon us!

As our fringe events begin this week, the excitement is mounting and we look forward to a cracking criminal weekend in the company of some amazing local, national and international crime writers. Click here to see the line up!!!

There are still a few tickets left for certain panels, you can book directly online at Eventbrite, you can go to the Lit & Phil in person or you can call them on 0191 232 0192.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Calling all Ruth Rendell / Barbara Vine fans

Ruth Heholt (Falmouth University), Fiona Peters (Bath Spa University) and Gina Wisker (Brighton University) are editing a special issue of Contemporary Women's Writing Journal (Oxford University Press) on Ruth Rendell who died last year.

The purpose of the issue is to raise the profile of a writer (writing as either Ruth Rendell or Barbara Vine) whose work we feel has been unjustly neglected by scholars and to re-evaluate her importance as a contemporary crime writer.

We are looking for crime writers to informally discuss her work, her impact and her legacy and these discussions will be written up in the journal. This could either be answering questions via email, or participating in a (closed, invite-only) web forum.

If you would like to participate (and it would really help us out if you could!) please email me at: 

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Newcastle Noir 2016 (25th April-1st May)

We're almost there!!!! In a week's time the Newcastle Noir 2016 Fringe Events will be underway.

On the Friday evening we'll be celebrating the official launch of the festival in the
company of award-winning writer, Ann Cleeves. Then over the weekend we'll have an amazing array of local, national and international crime writers speaking about their work. Val McDermid, Sophie Hannah, Mari Hannah Yrsa Sigurdardottir and Gunnar Staalesen are just a few of the authors signed up for Newcastle Noir 2016.

We hope we can entice you along for a criminally fine festival! Click here to see what's on offer!!!

For tickets, you can book directly online at Eventbrite, you can go to the Lit & Phil in person or you can call them on 0191 232 0192.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Mari Hannah's Norwegian adventure part 2

We were aware that the previous link to the interview Mari gave to a Norwegian newspaper about her latest novel 'The Silent Hour' wasn't accessible. Thankfully we can now offer you the article & you can practice your Norwegian for Newcastle Noir 2016! Click here for part one and here for part two!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Thin Ice Blog Tour – Newcastle Noir in conversation with Quentin Bates

What a fabulous way to take place in our first blog tour chatting with Quentin Bates about his latest publication – the Icelandic murder mystery Thin Ice!

Quentin was one of the first authors to agree to appear at and support Newcastle Noir, so it felt only right we accepted the chance to be part of this blog tour. Thanks so much to Linda MacFadyen for the invite to do this and of course to Quentin for the insightful responses. Can we encourage anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of getting to know his Icelandic crime series with the inimitable Gunnhildur (Gunna) Gisladottir, you won’t be disappointed!

• What got you started on this idea?
To start with I wanted to play with the idea of one set of bad guys robbing another, so a serious crime taking place but one that the police wouldn’t hear about unless some civilians happened to get caught up in it, which is just what happens in Thin Ice. The villains’ getaway to the sun goes wrong and that’s when their plans go badly adrift. I also wanted to explore what happens when two very different characters who don’t like or trust each other are forced to get along, and adding the two carjacked women to the mix made it even more interesting as the four of them were thrown together and isolated

Drug related crimes/organised crime in Iceland
There’s a lot of drugs in Iceland these days. I’ve no idea if there’s more in circulation than in other western countries, but there’s a lot of it about in Iceland. I gather that majority of the prison population is there for something drug-related, from people caught with a few grams of something funky to those convicted of heavyweight trafficking, although the real kingpins don’t tend to get their hands dirty or end up doing time.
It’s not something I get the feeling Iceland copes with all that comfortably, as heavy-duty dope is pretty new. But Icelanders do this well… Icelandic skunk is (so I’m told) exceptionally powerful and weed is rarely smuggled in these days as there’s enough quality home-grown for the market. I gather that the stuff that comes in from outside tends to be the harder chemical variety.
There had been an undercurrent of drugs for many years, a few people who indulged and liked to get quietly high, but in the years since I moved away it has become very prevalent.
It’s difficult to tell what’s going on with organised crime as it’s not exactly visible, but certainly in the years since the turn of the century there’s a new class of bad guys who have come from other countries. They tend to be more ruthless than the home-grown variety. While they seem to keep out of each other’s way, one day the two are going to clash and that’s going to be bloody.
 Then there’s also the cottage industry of distilling moonshine. That took off in a big way a few years ago when the government lifted the price of legal booze too dizzying levels and there’s no shortage of ‘landi’ to be had if you know where to ask.

Icelandic fatherhood & how it's portrayed in Thin Ice
Maybe things have changed now… but at one time it was nothing unusual for people to start families very young, in their early twenties or even earlier. It’s something that comes into the books as Gunna is no exception, although her circumstances are a little different for a variety of reasons. There’s no particular stigma attached to single parenthood, or being born out of wedlock, or families with half-siblings. It happens all the time, it’s no big deal and hasn’t been for a long time. Icelanders have long been more relaxed about sexual mores than we southerners used to be, although it hasn’t always been that way.
So there’s nothing unusual about families with an absent father somewhere in the background. In Thin Ice, Magni the down-on-his-luck former seaman is just such a character, the unhappily absent father who rarely sees his children. Gunna’s son Gísli hasn’t had a relationship at all with his own father, and I felt that this had been a motif through the books for long enough. It was time to (briefly) introduce Thorvaldur Hauksson and then shunt him off the scene. The poor lad’s been through enough trauma already, not least as he’s in the position of having two children of his own by different women. It’s a facet of Icelandic life, but I felt this had been dwelt on long enough so it was time to move on. But maybe I’ve also been unnecessarily hard on this particular family.

Biker gangs in Iceland
There are two several species of bikers in Iceland. There’s the disreputable kind who may or may not be involved in dubious activities, such as the Undertakers in Thin Ice. I wanted to explore a little of the idea of some of these guys seeing legitimate business opportunities ahead of them as well as less salubrious ways of turning a penny, hence Rafn, the über-smart Undertaker who has seen what he’s able to do for himself on the back of the bike gang’s business. Then there are the silver bikers, often professional people in middle age who have some very smart wheels that they bring out at weekends and then go back to the office or the golf course on Monday. At first glance it’s not easy to tell them apart as they all wear leather…
I know a few bikers in Iceland, but they’re all the silver variety, and I have to admit that the Undertakers are (almost) entirely imaginary.

How representative is Magni's experience of the state of the fishing industry in Iceland?
Ah… I can go on about this for hours… There’s nothing unusual about Magni’s experience. People can be laid off at the drop of a hat as boats and quotas are sold, and the older they are the harder it can be to find another berth. Iceland’s fishing industry has contracted enormously and there has been a great deal of pain involved, much of which could have been avoided with wiser management. I hesitate to say too much about fisheries management here, but the quota system absolutely hasn’t been the unqualified success it has been trumpeted as. Fair enough, for a fairly small group of businesses, it has been pretty good. For many other people, and for many smaller communities, it has been a nightmare. It’s very much a dog-eat-dog environment and in many ways what has developed is completely mad. But the problem with the ITQ system is that once the genie is out of the box, it stays out of the box. There’s no way back. It’s all very controversial in Iceland, although it gets very sensitive when anyone outside Iceland (like me) says anything vaguely derogatory about it all.

How much consultation have you had with the police in Reykjavik to inform your writing?
I have a couple of friends in the police force and I can go to them with questions, but I try not to overdo it as I don’t want to flood them with questions. I’ll check points of procedure with them to make sure I’m not making massive mistakes, but getting it exactly right also has to balance the needs of the story. I’m really more interested in hearing how they interact, how they speak to each other and what they think of their superiors – the background stuff rather than the fine details of which hat they’d wear for a particular job.

Timeline of the novel - why a week?
No particular reason, that’s just the way it worked out. It was longer in the original draft. The last quarter especially rambled too much, so quite a few scenes were pulled and condensed to make it tighter. A week seemed to be about right and it seems to be my natural habitat as the last few books also covered similar time spans.

Being fluent in Icelandic, are you able to convey an Icelandic 'voice' in your writing, even in English?
I’d like to, but I’m not sure I manage to accomplish this. There are a couple of places where I’ve included idioms that to me seem perfectly acceptable, and the copyeditor always highlights these, maybe concerned that people won’t get them. Generally these get to stay in there. I’m sure my readers are a shrewd and intelligent bunch who can figure out the occasional Icelandic idiom when it’s rendered into English.
American readers complain that the books sound too British. Sorry, Americans, but that’s just the way they are.

The sense there's criminal potential in all of us
I’m sure of it. Anyone plucked from their comfort zone and starting to get hungry is going to become desperate, and their scruples will drop away rapidly the emptier their bellies get. Desperate people will take desperate measures, and turning normal people into desperate characters is central to writing crime. If all the supermarkets closed down, we’d find that we’re only three meals away from a revolution. All right, maybe four. Or just two if the TV stations closed down as well.

Prospects for Icelandic young people
Very different to what they were in the past, although history tends to repeat itself, with variations. A generation or two ago there was a mass movement of people from the coastal and rural regions of Iceland to the capital area as they sought different work to what was available in their smaller communities, as well as also seeking education that was only available in the city. That stripped the smaller towns and villages of many young people who went away to study and never returned. I get the feeling that the same thing is happening again now, except that people are leaving the country, often for much the same reasons as their parents and grandparents left the countryside all those years ago. There has also been an exodus in the wake of the financial crash back in 2008 and a great many people moved abroad, just as also happened in 1968 when the herring fishery came to a sudden and unexpected halt, but that’s another story.

Is the Emperor a real location?
It’s not a particular bar, but it could be any one of several drinking spots. I’m no night owl and I keep my research for daylight hours. The bus station cafeteria and the couple of dockside eateries mentioned in the books are very real.

The vulnerability of empty properties during the winter
There are plenty of summer houses around the country that it wouldn’t be a huge problem for someone with a little determination to break into and stay a night or two. A lot of people have these summer cottages, but for the most part they’re just that, summer cottages and they stand empty through much of the winter.

The weather/landscape as complicit in crime
Crime and heavy weather seem to go hand-in-hand. For some reason, a winter backdrop of snow or a storm is a more comfortable setting for a crime story. It shouldn’t have to be, although there’s a certain expectation from both publishers and readers that anything with a Nordic setting should be have snow on the streets. I deliberately set one story (Summerchill) at the blazing height of a hot summer to challenge this, and the publisher still produced it with a snow scene on the cover.
Weather is more important to me than landscape, although the two are inextricably entwined. The weather is such a vital feature of life in Iceland that for any scene I write, even if it’s just two people talking with a desk between them, I have to have an idea of what kind of day it is outside. Weather colours everything, and in a nation of what was until very recently predominantly farmers and fishermen, weather is crucial to safety and survival.

How do you feel Gunna has developed since you first created her?
I’m not sure she has developed all that much. She was already fairly cynical and suspicious right from the start and hasn’t become any less so. In the first book she was a uniformed officer in a coastal backwater and quite happy not working too hard as she had children at that point who needed more attention. By the time the second book was being written, she had been given a new job in Reykjavík and a lot more responsibility that she just took to without breaking a sweat, although that elusive promotion to the next step on the ladder still eludes her. Maybe in the next book… we’ll see. I feel that the people around her have developed while she remains much the same. Her children have gone through all kinds of traumas, especially Gísli, and maybe Laufey will be next to rock the boat, while Gunna also acquired a bloke in the first book who is still there, somewhat to my surprise.

• 'Women rarely disappear' - is it different regarding men who disappear in Iceland
Strangely, it seems to be only men who disappear. I don’t think there’s a single instance of a woman’s unsolved disappearance in the last fifty or so years, while there seem to be several men every year who vanish. Over the years, a proportion of them have been lost at sea, so what happened to them is known even though they aren’t always found. But there are quite a few mysterious disappearances, such as Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson who both disappeared in the 1970s. People were arrested and served prison sentences for their murders, on what now appears to be the flimsiest of evidence, but there is still no indication of what happened to them. People can get lost in the snow or in the wilderness. Even walking your dog in a lava field could be dangerous if you don’t have a phone with you. Some of them possibly wanted to disappear for whatever reasons. Some of them may well have been victims of crime, but who knows? Maybe one day old bones will come to light to tell us where these people are, if not what happened to them.

Quentin, thanks again for taking time out to give us more insight into your writing. We wish you every success with Thin Ice and look forward to welcoming you back to the Toon for Newcastle Noir 2016!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

From Newcastle to Norway

Our very own Mari Hannah, who was interviewed recently in a Norwegian newspaper, about her most recent novel, The Silent Room, also gave Newcastle Noir a fantastic plug. Thank you ever so much! Here is the evidence!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Newcastle Noir 2016 Grand Opening

After rather humble beginnings in 2014, as Crime Saturday, we’re thrilled to announce that Newcastle Noir 2016 will be officially launched by the award-winning crime writer, Ann Cleeves. Famous for the Vera and Shetland series, both adapted for TV to critical acclaim, Ann will open the festival with a discussion about her work and we’ll also be treated to her reading from selected passages. We can think of no finer way to begin these criminal proceedings!

The launch is sponsored by Sintons Law.  Free, with complimentary drink on arrival provided by Richard Granger Wines.

This event is FREE, but do make sure to book a place either:
-  Directly online at,
- In person at the Lit & Phil (23 Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SE)
- By telephone on 0191 232 0192.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Latest Newcastle Noir exploits

Last week we had the honour and great pleasure of interviewing the critically-acclaimed crime writer Mari Hannah about her latest publication, the stand alone thriller The Silent Room. Mari provided some splendid insight into her work, the inspiration behind this gripping novel and also how her approach to writing has developed since her first novel in the Kate Daniels series The Murder Wall. As part of the evening, Mari kindly agreed to read from The Silent Room. Choosing the opening chapter, we were left in no doubt whatsoever that this novel provides the reader with a tense, roller-coaster ride in the company of a new set of wonderfully well-drawn characters.

This week, we’ll be returning to the Lit & Phil for the ‘Killer Women – Deadlier than the Male’ event. In discussion with crime authors Erin Kelly, MJ McGrath, Louise Millar and Kate Rhodes, we’ll consider the following: Why do women love to read – and write – crime fiction? Are men and women equally subject to violence? What does the latest research suggest about violence in the male and female brains? Where do the Killer Women find their inspiration? And much, much more!

Finally, we’ve been receiving some extremely positive feedback on social media about Newcastle Noir 2016’s fab line up, thanks so much for that! If you haven’t had a chance to have a look at the programme yet, here’s the link. For tickets, you can book directly online at, go to the Lit & Phil in person or call them on 0191 232 0192. Hope to see you in Toon at the end of April for this celebration of crime fiction in all its noir glory!