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Monday, 22 September 2014

Countdown to CSI Portsmouth tickets on sale from 29 September

Tickets for CSI Portsmouth 2014, part of Portsmouth BookFest, where crime fiction meets crime fact will go on sale on Monday 29 September.  Tickets sell fast for this highly popular one day event being held on 8 November so make a note now to buy yours!

A stellar line up of crime authors, police and forensic experts debate crime fiction and crime fact in two panel events during the day. Joining crime author Pauline Rowson, founder of CSI Portsmouth, are  crime authors, M.C Beaton, Hilary Bonner and Jessie Keane along with officers from Hampshire Police Fingerprint and Footprint department, cyber-crime and covert intelligence, drug related crime and organized criminal groups plus a forensic entomologist from the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, Portsmouth University.

Venue for CSI Portsmouth 2014

The National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard, one of Britain’s oldest maritime museums, is the superb venue for CSI Portsmouth 2014. We're grateful to the museum for their support.


Tickets on sale from 29 September 2014. Cost £15 for the day which includes £3 off a book bought at the event.

Available  on line and from the Box Office after 10am, call  023 9268 8037. Also available from  Central, North End and Southsea Libraries or from the Hayling Island Bookshop on 023 9246 6620.

Sponsor for CSI Portsmouth 2014

Publisher, Bello, Pan Macmillan’s digital imprint, bringing lost classics back to life is the sponsor for CSI Portsmouth 2014

Bello - bringing lost classics back to life

CSI Portsmouth is part of Portsmouth BookFest a festival of popular literature organised by Portsmouth City Council and runs from 24 October to 9 November.

Portsmouth BookFest 2014

Click here for full programme

Click here for details of the panel

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Ambition, murder, adultery.. DI Andy Horton has a week to find a killer in Deadly Waters

The second in the DI Andy Horton series of British Police Procedural crime novels.

Buy Pauline Rowson's Books on Amazon  UK

Buy Pauline Rowson's books on Amazon USA

Buy at your local bookshop.

Also available for loan in UK, USA and Commonwealth libraries

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A packed audience at Emsworth WI listen to tales of crime with Pauline Rowson

A packed audience at Emsworth Womens Institute sat enthralled by the mechanics of writing a crime novel and the exploits of my flawed and rugged Portsmouth based copper DI Andy Horton at the talk I gave on Friday 12 September. They were a lovely audience, very friendly and asked lots of questions at the end of my talk in addition to buying signed copies of my crime novels.

Pauline Rowson entertaining the audience at Emsworth WI

Emsworth is a coastal village on the borders of Hampshire and West Sussex and features in some of my crime novels. It borders the beautiful Chichester Harbour, an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Chichester Harbour looking across to the mill at Langstone, area featured in Tide of Death (DI Andy Horton 1)

I talked about where and how I get my inspiration, how I develop plot lines and characters and the adventures of my fictional series detective, DI Andy Horton.

Pauline Rowson talking about her crime novels to Emsworth WI members

I also talked about the idea behind my standalone thrillers, In Cold Daylight and In For The Kill, which like the Horton series are set on the South Coast of England.

I'm delighted to say that my crime novels have been hailed in the USA and the UK as the 'Best in British Crime Fiction.' They have been translated into several languages and reviews have described them as being 'compelling', 'full of twists and turns', 'cleverly plotted,' and 'atmospheric'. They have drawn interest from film and television both in the UK and in America.

The latest in the Horton series, Shroud of Evil, was published in the UK and USA in 2014 by Severn House. It is the eleventh to feature the enigmatic detective DI Andy Horton and is available in hardcover and as an ebook.
How far would you go to protect a secret? For DI Andy Horton there is no choice, withholding information in a murder investigation could cost him his job.

"A compelling protagonist and mounting suspense make the book hard to put down.." Publishers Weekly

You can view all my forthcoming speaking engagements on the events page on my website.

Buy Pauline Rowson books on Amazon USA

Buy Pauline Rowson books on Amazon UK

Or buy from any online store or your local bookshop.

Also available on loan from libraries in the UK, USA and Commonwealth 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

How to write a crime novel - Pauline Rowson, author of the Solent based crime novels, explains her system

Is there a perfect system for writing a novel? Well, what is perfect for one writer is a disaster for another. Every author works differently and it takes time to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Once a writer hits on a system he or she usually sticks with it.   Finding that ‘perfect system’ is often a matter of trial and error until bingo, something clicks.  That’s how it was for me. So where do you start?  What comes first plot or characters?

You might have an idea for a plot or a theme – in my case a victim and location – but without the right characters that plot can never come alive.  Therefore creating and developing characters is a good way to begin.

Creating a likeable, interesting and complex main character, one the reader can have empathy with, one they want to trust, feel his/her pain and disappointments, root for throughout the story is vitally important.  And it's not just the main character but the supporting cast, the villains and the walk-on parts who all need characteristics that are believable even if they are eccentric. The cast must be real to the writer and therefore real to the reader.

A DI Andy Horton Mystery
I start developing my characters using spider grams.  I draw a circle and put each character in the centre of that circle and then I throw out lines and ask a series of ‘open’ questions about each of them.  For example, if I have the victim in the circle then I’d ask questions such as who is he? How did he get where he is?  Why would someone want to kill him?  Who killed him? How was he killed? What’s his background, family, education, experience? What’s his occupation? How old is he? Where does he live? What’s his personality? What does he look like?  What has shaped him? How are the victim’s family, friends and others going to react?  How do they see this character?  What’s my main character (in my case my detective, DI Andy Horton) going to do next?

I draw up character profiles for each of the main and secondary characters, some might be sketchier than others.  But don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions before you begin writing your novel, in fact you won’t be able to because it isn’t until you start putting dialogue into their mouths and have them walking around and interacting with people that they come alive.  Until then they are just notes on a piece of paper. But those notes can be added to as your characters start to take shape through your writing.

The characters’ actions drive the plot. The surprises, twists and turns all spring from the characters' motivations and as you write you will find ideas occurring to you that you hadn’t previously considered.  You might also discover that someone you thought was going to be a minor character turns out to be much more interesting when you write their part, and a major character becomes boring and sometimes unnecessary, if that happens then cut him out. 

As you write ask yourself what will this character do in this situation?  What will he/she do next?  Throw out more lines around that spider gram. Continually ask questions about each character. Answer them as the novel progresses. Shape and reshape them. Put them in difficult or unusual situations, and as you do the story will unfold and the tension will build. 

Shroud of Evil, the latest DI Andy Horton crime novel set in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

How far would you go to protect a secret?

For DI Andy Horton there is no choice, but withholding information in a murder investigation could cost him his job.

Buy Pauline Rowson's books on Amazon USA

Buy Pauline Rowson's Books on Amazon UK

Buy Pauline Rowson's books at your local bookshop

Also available on loan in UK, USA and Commonwealth Libraries

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Writing a crime series and keeping it fresh

Writing a crime series and keeping each novel fresh is always a challenge for crime writers. There are now eleven in the DI Andy Horton series which is set in Portsmouth against the backdrop of the Solent, and number twelve is with my publisher while I write number thirteen. DI Horton has come a long way since first appearing in Tide of Death in 2006

The first in the DI Andy Horton police procedural crime series

So how does a writer keep the series fresh and the central character of interest to readers?

Readers buy my books because they enjoy the style, the setting and reading about the same characters, but the challenge is how to keep faithful to my readers and make each novel fresh and different?

For me creating a central character with a back story, which can be progressed with each new novel, is one way of introducing a fresh element. DI Andy Horton has the continuing mission, along with all the accompanying internal strife, of trying to discover why his mother (Jennifer) abandoned him at the age of ten, where she went and what subsequently happened to her.

It is suspected that she was involved with a master criminal code named Zeus, who the Intelligence Directorate, Europol and Interpol are very keen to get their hands on and are eager to enlist Horton’s help in finding. But as the series progresses it is clear that there is more to Jennifer's disappearance than Horton has been led to believe. (I won't reveal what and spoil it for new readers).

Then there is the question of Horton’s father. Who is he? Where is he? Is he still alive? Along with this there is Horton’s continuing struggle to gain regular access to his daughter, Emma, from an antagonistic former wife.

While these elements must not be allowed to dominate the novel (and not all of them are in every novel) they keep the reader wondering what might happen and allow the development of subplots and other sides of Horton’s character to be revealed.

The main character’s personal life does, to some extent, have an impact on the plots, but each novel contains a new murder mystery to be solved and that mystery is resolved at the end of each book.

In addition, DI Horton is based in CID with an abrasive female boss, DCI Lorraine Bliss, who is introduced in novel three The Suffocating Sea but it is the Major Crime Unit which deals with the homicide cases so there has to be a new way of getting Horton drawn in to each investigation, which makes it challenging and interesting.

The third in the DI Andy Horton Crime series

I also introduce officers seconded from other units, which in turn alters the chemistry between the characters and the ensuing dialogue.

Setting is another key element in the Horton series. In the Solent there is plenty of contrast and action, both on and off the water, and this helps to create variety, conflict and keep the stories fresh. Added to this is the fact that Horton lives on board his yacht, so he can always up sticks and travel – on holiday, or for a day out sailing… and who knows what might happen? Blood on the Sand

The fifth in the DI Andy Horton police procedural crime series

In Death Surge DI Andy Horton is also out sailing off the Isle of Wight during Cowes Week when he is called back by Sergeant Cantelli who is frantic with worry because his nephew hasn't shown up to participate in the racing during Cowes Week, as arranged. What begins as a hunt for a missing man soon becomes a hunt for a ruthless killer.

The tenth in the DI Andy Horton crime series

There is always plenty happening in the Solent for me to draw inspiration from, and never a shortage of ideas. Taking those ideas and turning them into plots that will have readers eagerly turning the pages and waiting for the next installment is the tricky bit. So far, with eleven in the series, it seems to have worked.

I enjoy writing a series and seeing the characters' lives unfold, and publishers like a series because more sales can be generated as the readership grows with each new novel. I'm currently writing the thirteenth DI Andy Horton and also working on a new series featuring a new hero. So a lot more to come yet.

Buy Pauline Rowson's books on Amazon USA

Buy Pauline Rowson's Books on Amazon UK

Buy Pauline Rowson's books at your local bookshop
Buy Pauline Rowson's books at your local bookshop

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

How long does it take to write a crime novel? Pauline Rowson answers

It's always a scary moment when I press 'send' on the keyboard and a completed MS for a new crime novel wings its way through the ether to my editor at my publisher, Severn House, it's rather like waiting for an exam result or a report from the teacher - could I have done better?  Should I have rephrased something or added or omitted something? It's also an equally nerve wracking moment (although also joyous) when the novel is published, because then it is absolutely too late to change anything. I have just sent the twelfth DI Andy Horton to my publisher and hope I can pass on news to readers when this is to be published.

I'm often asked how long it takes me to write a crime novel.  At present I'm writing the thirteenth in the DI Andy Horton series, which I started at the beginning of August 2014. I aim to have this finished by the end of January 2015 so I can leave you to work how long it takes me to research, plan, plot and write a novel.

So what does DI Horton get up to in DI Andy Horton number twelve?

Obviously there is a new crime to solve and there is a new twist in his private investigations into the disappearance of his mother over thirty years ago.  I'm not going to say anymore than that! I wouldn't want to spoil it for readers..

Meanwhile there is Shroud of Evil ( DI Andy Horton 11) which is now available as an e book and in hardcover.

How far would you go to protect a secret?

For DI Andy Horton there is no choice, but withholding information in a murder investigation could cost him his job

When Horton of Portsmouth CID is assigned the case of a missing person: Jasper Kenton, a private investigator, the formidable Eunice Swallows, Kenton’s business partner, seems unwilling to give Horton any useful information, and Horton – irritated at being assigned such a low-ranking investigation – suspects the disappearance has a mundane explanation. Either Kenton is with a woman, or he’s stolen from a client and absconded with the money.  But when Kenton’s car turns up, and a shocking discovery is made, things turn serious. Immediately, Horton finds himself embroiled in an investigation that has major personal ramifications, and one in which he has no choice but to withhold vital information. As he struggles to crack the case, he knows it is only a question of time before someone discovers he’s kept silent, and when that’s revealed, his part in hindering a major investigation will end his career . . .

"A great read for mystery lovers with plenty to keep you guessing until the last moment." Crime Book Club

And there are plenty more in the DI Horton series as well as my two standalone crime novels to try, In Cold Daylight and In For The Kill.

Happy reading.

Buy Pauline Rowson's Books on Amazon

Buy from your local bookshop

Buy Pauline Rowson's books at your local bookshop