Pre Order | Crime Writers | Rod Reynolds | Cold Desert Sky

So a little while ago, you might remember that I featured Rod Reynolds on my Crime Writers Q&A Series.  You can read the interview here, and it seems lots of you loved it, based on the messages I have received.

With that in mind, I thought I would share something with you.

Rod Reynolds third novel in the Charlie Yates series is being published on 5th July 2018, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon.

Cold Desert Sky, as mentioned above, is the third book in this series by Rod Reynolds, and both book 1 and 2 have had amazing reviews.

Pre Order | Cold Desert Sky

Pre Order | Cold Desert Sky

If you would like to read a little bit more about Cold Desert Sky you can do so here, and you can also pre-order the book so that it lands on your doorstep once it has been released in July!

Rebecca x

Crime Writers | Rod Reynolds

Having met Rod Reynolds at Monday Night Crime I knew I wanted to feature him on my Crime Writers Series.  He was a brilliant panelist but also everyone spoke very highly of him in terms of personality but also his writing ability.

So a few tweets and an email later, here is my interview with Rod Reynolds.  As always, links to books are at the bottom (just click on the book title)!

Crime Writers | Rod Reynolds

Crime Writers | Rod Reynolds

Who are you and what have you written? 

My name is Rod Reynolds and I am the author of the Charlie Yates series, published by Faber. My debut novel, The Dark Inside, came out in 2015 and is loosely based on a set of real life killings known as The Texarkana Moonlight Murders, which took place on the Texas/Arkansas border in 1946. The sequel, Black Night Falling, came out in 2016 and is set in the nearby town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, a hotspot for the Mob in the 40s, and the town that served as the inspiration for their plans for Las Vegas. My third novel, Cold Desert Sky, is published in July and is set in Hollywood and Vegas, just as the first casinos were opening.

Why do you write crime fiction? 

It’s what I’ve always been most interested in as a reader. Although I never really looked at labels or genres, just picking up books that interested me, I always seemed to gravitate towards crime. And one of the things I’ve learned as a writer is that you have to write what you enjoy, otherwise 100k words becomes a real slog.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? 

No, I only started writing in my 30s. I’d always been a big reader, but never dreamed of being a writer because, growing up on a council estate in north London, I didn’t know anyone who did anything like that. Even when I left university, I ended up working in advertising for almost a decade. It was only when I turned thirty and started trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life that I decided to give writing a try. And I loved it so much, I knew I’d found my passion.

How did you become a writer? 

I took a year out of my previous career to try writing a novel. I didn’t know anything about it so I signed up for a distance learning course to get a grip of the basics. I wrote every day, working longer hours than when I was in a job – because I just loved it. I finished my first (unpublished) novel in three months and although it was rejected everywhere (I sent it to about 40 agents), I had some very positive feedback that encouraged me to try again. Then just as I was about to go back to work, I stumbled across the true life story of the Texarkana Moonlight Murders and started researching the book that would eventually become, four years later, The Dark Inside.

You undertook the City University’s Crime Writing Masters course? How did you find this? Do you recommend courses like this for aspiring crime writers? 

I really enjoyed the course and found it helped me a lot in a number of ways. And the City course was the first to offer a qualification specifically in Crime Writing. But I’m very clear whenever I answer this question that doing a Masters is not a prerequisite for becoming a published author; I’m fortunate enough to have met a lot of authors at this point, and probably the minority took an MA. I think what counts is understanding that writing is a skill and it requires practice, hard work and dedication. For me, the route to that was signing up for a masters degree, but that was a personal choice; I didn’t sign up for the degree expecting to get a publishing deal out of it – I did it because I loved writing and wanted to get better at it.

What influences the content that you write? News? Books? Personal experiences? Previous jobs? 

All of those things. I think most writers allow themselves to be influenced by all sorts of things – it’s part of the skill. My books are specifically influenced by real life places and crimes, but beyond that, all sorts of elements go into them. I’m always looking out for character traits in people I know to help bring my characters to life, for example.

Do you have to do lots of research when you are writing? 

I’ve done a fair amount, because I wanted to nail the real life elements of my novels and make sure I knew the historical facts before I started writing. I studied history, so I enjoy that part of it, to be honest. I also had to research the places my books were set, as they were all parts of the US that I wasn’t that familiar with (apart from Las Vegas). But the key is to make sure you then draw on that research sparingly. Research should give the reader the confidence that the author knows their subject – it shouldn’t take up page after page. A little goes a long way.

Do you have a writing routine? 

Not really. I have two young kids so I’m also a stay-at-home dad, so my day is structured around school and nursery runs. I do get a couple of hours each morning when my youngest is at nursery, and then it’s naptimes, evenings, whenever I can find the time. I tend to work to a target word count each day and each week, depending on what time I expect to have.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome this?

I’ve never had the kind of block you read about, where I literally can’t get anything out, but I’ve spent my share of time just staring at a blinking cursor. I’m not sure there’s any way around it other than to just write; it’s hard if you feel like whatever you get down is wasted because you think you’ll just end up deleting it, but honestly, if you can force yourself to get to that computer and start tapping away, eventually it will come. I find I have to reassure myself that nothing is ever really wasted – even if I delete it the next day (and I’ve done that plenty) it’s just part of the process.

Which authors and books do you like reading? 

I love reading so there are way too many to mention. American authors have always been my biggest influence – James Ellroy, James Lee Burke, Raymond Chandler, Don Winslow and many more – but I also love reading what current writers are producing, and there’s a huge amount of talent out there right now. To pick just a few – Mick Herron, David Young, Steph Broadribb, Caz Frear, Susi Holliday, Tim Baker, Mark Hill…I could literally go on for hours, but those are some of the most recent ones I’ve read so they’re fresh in my mind.

Your first two books are part of a series, was this the intention from the outset?  Would you ever consider writing a standalone book? 

Originally I planned my second book to be set in the same universe but with a different set of characters – but when I got my deal with Faber, they liked Charlie Yates so much that they wanted to bring him back. Hence a series was born! So, in truth, The Dark Inside was written as a sort of standalone – and I’d have no qualms about writing another (although there are challenges to either approach).

What are your future writing plans? Can we expect another book in 2018? 

Yes, Cold Desert Sky publishes in July, and I’m in the early stages of writing something very different at the moment. Watch this space.

If you could recommend just one of your books to my audience, which one would it be and why? 

Definitely my first, The Dark Inside. Not just because it’s the start of the series and because everything that happens in the subsequent books stems from the events of that one, but because it was my first and I spent so long with it rattling around in my head, I think I’ll always have a particular attachment to that one!

How have you found the overall writing experience, from ideas and writing the novels, to getting an agent and being published? 

It’s been a blast. I love writing, and that hasn’t changed from pretty much the first day I started out. Certainly there are highs and lows, and I’ve experienced both, and it’s a career that requires a lot of self-discipline, patience and persistence. But when it’s just me, at a keyboard, with no distractions, it’s a great feeling.

Where can people find more information out you? (Website and social media?) 

You can find me on Twitter, @Rod_WR, and on Facebook. I love talking books, my own or other people’s, so don’t be afraid to @ me.

And I’m also usually at First Monday crime, the monthly event for anyone interested in crime fiction; check out the website and do come and say hello!


The Dark Inside                                                                                                                                                                                                    Black Night Falling

Black Knight Falling

Black Knight Falling

The Dark Inside

The Dark Inside










A massive thanks to Rod Reynolds for taking part in this Crime Writers interview series.  Do check out Rod’s books and also, if you do like reading crime, consider coming along to First Monday Crime.

Rebecca x

p.s. if you have liked this interview and have some other favourite crime writers why not drop me a message and I can see if I can interview them.  Or if you are a crime writer reading this, send me an email if you would like to be interviewed.  Email can be found on my contact page here!

Crime Writers | John Gilstrap | 25 Days of Crime Writers

Lawyer In The Making followers for this Crime Writers Q&A… meet John Gilstrap.
I was beyond excited when John Gilstrap emailed me back saying that he would take part in my Q&A series.  He has had a great writing career and one of his books saw Warner Bros buy the rights for!
Crime Writers | John Gilstrap

Crime Writers | John Gilstrap

 Who are you and what have you written?

I’m John Gilstrap, and over the course of two decades, I’ve written 18 novels, four screenplays, and a handful of short stories  My most recent thrillers have featured my series character, Jonathan Grave, a freelance hostage rescue specialist.

Why do you write crime fiction?

The only stories that float into my head are crime stories.In my fictional world, justice always triumphs over the bad guys.  There’s something very compelling about that.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, always.  Literally, for as long as I can remember.  Even in elementary school, I loved to write stories.

What influences the content that you write? News? Books? Personal experiences? Previous jobs?

All of the above influence my storytelling. I often say that it’s hard to conceive of a better time to be a thriller writer. It helps that my past jobs have included 15 years as a firefighter and EMT, plus years in the weapons manufacturing business.

Do you have to do lots of research when you are writing?

I tend to write within the boundaries of things I understand, but there are always holes in my expertise.  I’m blessed to have many friends and contacts who are very, very knowledgeable in some pretty esoteric areas, and they’re very generous with their time.

Do you have a writing routine?

I guess I must, because I’m able to produce a book every year, but I don’t think of it as a routine.  My deadline arrives every September 15, but then with the various levels of edits, it’s usually mid-January before I can really move on to the next story. Early on, I spend two or three hours a day writing the book.  Come summertime, though, as the deadline looms, I’ll end up writing eight to ten hours per day.  I’m always exhausted when I turn a book in.

Your first (technically fourth) novel, Nathan’s Run was received so well with Warner Bros. buying the movie rights shortly after the book rights were sold.  How did that feel?

The feeling is hard to put into words, to be honest. During that first week in March, 1996, I earned the equivalent of roughly 10 times the money I had earned, cumulatively, during my whole life leading up to the sale. (For perspective, I was 38 years old when I wrote NATHAN’S RUN.) That night changed every conceivable thing about my life.

I found it really interesting to read that after the huge success of your first and second novel, Nathan’s Run and At All Cost (after selling both the book and movie rights) you returned to a full time job.  Did you still find time to write?

Here’s one I cannot explain. When I went back to a day job (my wife called it my big-boy job), I was more prolific as a writer than I’d been up till that time. I think it had something to do with the forced focus. When writing is your only job, and deadlines occur only once per year, procrastination is easy. Throw in a job with responsibilities and a commute, and procrastination is not an option.

What made you decide to return to writing full time?

From the first day when I returned to the day job, I promised myself that as soon as the job ceased to be fun, I would walk away from it. That’s exactly what happened. For lack of a better way to put it, the intra-office corporate bullshit ran me out.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome this?

I don’t think writer‘s block is a real thing. There are days when I’m not motivated, and there are days when I feel hopelessly lost within a story, but so what? As a professional, my job is to power through the moments when it feels easiest to quit. When I feel like I don’t have a good idea, I start writing the best bad idea that’s floating in my head. I see creativity as a flow, once it starts–once a writer starts writing anything–it keeps going.

Which authors and books do you like?

I’m an omnivore. I read a lot of nonfiction, but I also read thrillers. It’s always a mistake to name names, because I will always forget someone. That said,k off the top of my head, I read pretty much everything written by Nelson DeMille, Reavis Wortham, Stuart Neville, Tess Gerritsen, Jeffery Deaver, Eric Larsen, and many more.

If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers which one would it be and why?

Hmm. You know that’s a really tough question, right? My most recent Jonathan Grave thriller, Final Target, has a lot to offer for pretty much all readers–except those who are looking for romance. My most recent non-series book, Nick of Time, would be a good choice, too. That one tells the story of a terminally ill teenager who runs away with her childhood crush–who happens to be wanted for murder.

Where can people find more information out you? 

My website is Email: Facebook: JohnGilstrapAuthor. Twitter: @JohnGilstrap


As always, the links below are all clickable and take you to Amazon. I have tried to share as many of John’s books as possible but do check out his website for the complete list.

Final Target 

Nick of Time 

Friendly Fire

High Treason

Against All Enemies

End Game

Threat Warning 

Damage Control 

Hostage Zero

No Mercy 

Thank you John for taking part in this series! I have loved hearing more about your writing career.

Rebecca x

Crime Writers | Hollie Overton | 25 Days of Crime Writers

Everyone meet Crime Writer, and all round author/tv writer, Hollie Overton.

So I couldn’t be more excited to share this Crime Writers Q&A with you.  From reading about Hollie Overton, I knew I wanted to feature her on here, and thankfully she said yes. As a little preview, Hollie attended the Warners Brothers Writers Workshop, which sounds amazing, and once I knew she had attended I made sure I dropped a question in about it.

Who are you and what books have you written?

My name is Hollie Overton and I’m the author of two crime thrillers, Baby Doll and The Walls.

Why do you write crime fiction?

I’m by nature a very upbeat and positive person, which is why people are often surprised by the dark nature of my books. But growing up my father struggled with addiction and his violent temper was a constant, so I was always analyzing him to try and ensure I stayed out of the crossfire. In some ways, I believe that’s translated to my own writing, allowing me to explore what makes people tick. I’ve always wanted to understand why bad guys commit crimes, how good guys overcome the worst and that’s what I do in my books.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I always loved writing and always seemed to have a knack for it. My mom bought me my first journal when I was seven and I filled dozens more over the years. But it took me awhile to realize writing was my career path. Acting was my first love and the way I learned to express myself.

Throughout those years when I was acting, I’d always jot down ideas for short stories or character sketches, but I stayed focused. Once I committed to my writing and told myself I was going to pursue it as a profession, great things started to happen. I realized after awhile that acting wasn’t where my heart was any more and I’m so glad I did. Writing is a much more natural fit.

You attended the Warner Brothers Writers Workshop, can you explain a little bit more about this?

The Warner Brothers Writers Workshop is one of the best things to ever happen to me. It’s basically a TV Writers boot camp (my description, not there’s, but I think it’s apt!)

It’s a truly incredible opportunity. Every year, thousands of aspiring TV writers submit a spec script (a sample of a current episode on TV) and out of those thousands of entries, they narrow it down to a few hundred and request a second original television pilot. Once they’ve narrowed those writers down to 20, you’re interviewed by a committee. If you’re really lucky, you’re one of seven to ten writers accepted into the program.

Once you’re in the program, it works like a simulated writers room, teaching the writers what it’s like being staffed as a writer on a TV show. While you’re in the program you write another script. Upon completion if they feel that you’ve proven yourself, they help you find representation and a job as a TV writer. It doesn’t cost anything besides the fifty-dollar entry fee and for me, it was like winning a lottery ticket. I have always been so grateful that I was got in. It’s what gave me my first big break.

You have written for some amazing TV programmes, and were staffed on Cold Case. How was this experience?

Working on Cold Case was an incredible experience. I was hired on the seventh and final season, so by then the show ran a well oiled machine. The best part about the experience was working with all these talented writers and absorbing how the room works. It’s a fast paced place where ideas are flying and you have to jump in and figure out how to make your mark. It was great that my first opportunity as a TV writer was working on a crime show.

What made you turn from screenwriting to writing books?

Frustration is the answer I’d have given back then. Now I believe it was serendipity. The show I was working on had been cancelled, and I was unemployed at the time. I was going on interviews and trying to develop my own TV show. I felt like a lot of what I wanted to write wasn’t resonating within the TV marketplace and I was really frustrated creatively. I missed just writing for the love of writing. Not because I wanted to sell something or because someone else thought it was a good idea.

One night after my husband went to bed, I had thought about two sisters who were separated and reunited. A line rattled around in my head, “A deadbolt has a very specific sound.” That was the first line in my debut novel, Baby Doll. I started writing this story about the sisters. I always hated when writers would say this, but in my case it was true. The first half of the story poured out of me. I loved writing that first book, I knew I had to do it again. Now I’m on my third and I’m definitely not stopping.

Do you prefer writing books or screenwriting?

I get that question a lot and I’ve yet to find an answer. It’s too hard to pick my favorite. The best part about TV writing is the collaboration and working with other people. Being in a writer’s room is like being at the cool kids table in high school, if the cool kids were also the smartest people you knew. Together you develop a script, you write it, and then a few weeks later, an entire team of people are working to bring it to life. It truly is like playing make-believe except with a much bigger budget.

When you’re writing books, you don’t get that immediate sense of gratification that you get when you’re watching a scene you wrote being filmed or your episode is airing on TV. But the writing process is purer in some ways, because you’re all alone, with just the story you’re creating. But that’s also what also makes it so special. All of that to say that I intend to keep doing both for as long people keep hiring me/reading my work.

Do you have to do lots of research when you are writing?

Research to me is a crucial part of my writing process. In TV you’ll often have assistants or researchers to help you, but in books, that all falls to you. It’s really important to me to understand how things work. A lot of what I’ve written lately focuses on law enforcement and unique jobs within that world.

In my 2nd book, The Walls, my protagonist is a publicist for the prison system and death row. In my new book The Runaway, my lead is a psychologist for the Department of Mental Health. Understanding how these jobs works, the in’s and out’s is important because their jobs are almost a character in the book. I also write a lot about current issues; like domestic violence, mass incarceration, mental illness, and homelessness, issues that personally affect a lot of people. It’s important to me that I do the research so I can properly portray them and make sure it resonates.

Do you have a writing routine?

I’d call my routine organized chaos. I wish it were more structured. When I’m not writing on a TV show, I work from home or an office space I rent. I am by nature a total night owl, so I struggle to work during the day. I wake up between 9-11, and I’ll write a few pages, but there are always emails to return and administrative tasks to take care of. The bulk of my writing is done late at night when it’s quiet and everyone is asleep. When I’m on a show, I have more of a 9-5 schedule and I adapt accordingly. But I always seem to get in the zone t around 10pm and continue until 2am. And when the muse calls, you have to answer!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome this?

I’ve always answered no to this question, because usually I have a stack of stories I’m excited to tell. And then this summer rolled around and I was started freaking. I simply didn’t have an idea for my new pilot. Looking back, I was burnt out. I’d spent two years writing on a show, writing two books and my brain was like, “We’re tired.” It was a good lesson. I did some traveling and it was the recharge I needed. By the time I got back to LA, I had a whole list of ideas I was interested in.

Which authors and books do you like? The list is endless, but I’ll give you a few.

Gillian Flynn, Gillian McAllister, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark, Ruth Ware, Michael Connelly, Stephen King, Tess Gerritsen….

If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers which one would it be and why?

I’m partial to Baby Doll, even though I love them both. It was my first, and it gave me this whole new career so obviously that’s really special. But it’s a story about twins and family and a lot of my relationship with my own twin is in it, which is why I’d suggest checking it out.

Where can people find more information about you? (Website and social media?)

They can visit my website and I’m also on Twitter @hollieoverton and Instagram @hollieoverton.

What are you working next?

I’m developing a TV pilot that I’m excited about and will hopefully be able to discuss in the coming months. I’m also finishing up my 3rd novel, The Runway, which will be out Aug. 2018.

Do check out Hollie’s books on Amazon, and connect with her on social media!

Rebecca x

25 Days Of Crime, Thriller and Psychological Suspense Writers | Claire McGowan

When I was pulling together a list of people I wanted to feature on this 25 Days Of Crime, Thriller and Psychological Suspense Writers, I really hoped Claire would say yes.

So here is my interview with Claire McGowan.  You can check out her books on amazon below the interview! Claire’s most recent book is called Blood Tide, and it was published last month.  It was the 5th book in the Paula McQuire series.

1.       Who are you and what have you written?

I write crime fiction as Claire McGowan, and also women’s fiction as Eva Woods.

2.       Why do you write crime fiction?

I sort of fell into it by accident, but then realised it’s the perfect way to explore lots of big issues and themes, while still being entertaining and pacey. Plus I love a mystery!

3.       Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Definitely, I started trying to write books when I was still at primary school.

4.       What influences the content that you write? News? Books? Personal experiences? Previous jobs?

Mostly it’s things I see in the news or unusual stories I come across – I keep a file of ideas I’ve saved or bookmarked.

5.       Do you have to do lots of research when you are writing?

I’m not a big researcher, but will often read around a topic widely before I start, then just get on and write, then check the details later once I have a full draft.

6.       Do you have a writing routine?

I’ve always had other work to do as well, so it’s difficult to have the same daily routine. If I’m writing something new I just try to get down 1,000 words a day, and that can be done anywhere, any time I find a few minutes!

7.       Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome this?

I don’t think it’s a real thing, but I have definitely had periods where I felt burned out or discouraged. Usually you just need to rest, or otherwise to fix some fundamental issue with your story.

8.       Your stories have also been featured on Radio 4, can you explain a little bit more about this?

I was commissioned to write a short story set in Northern Ireland, so I wrote one about archaeologists looking for ancient bog bodies, only to find a recent one. It was narrated by Conleith Hill from Game of Thrones, which was amazing! 

9.       You also help budding authors, what services do you provide and do you have a top tip for anyone contemplating writing a crime based novel?

I read manuscripts and give feedback, and also run workshops and provide a mentoring service. My main tip is to make sure you have an urgent, compelling story in the present – a problem your lead character has to solve and fast. 

10.   Which authors and books do you like?

I’ll always read anything by Liane Moriarty. Tana French, Erin Kelly, Susie Steiner, and Sharon Bolton.

11.   If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers which one would it be and why?

I would say start with The Lost, as it’s the first in the series. For women’s fiction my new one, How to be Happy, is getting some lovely reviews.

12.   Where can people find more information out you?

I’m on Twitter at @inkstainsclaire and also have a website at

Claire has written many books and you can read more about each of them on Amazon here:

The Fall: A murder brings them together. The truth will tear them apart. 

The Killing House (Paula Maguire 6) 

The Dead Ground (Paula Maguire 2) 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this and do check Claire out online, and also her books!

Rebecca x