Friday, 15 January 2021

On location in Portsmouth, Milton Common with DI Andy Horton in LETHAL WAVES


Lethal Waves, A DI Andy Horton mystery by Pauline RowsonLETHAL WAVES (13) is a multi-layered and complex investigation in the DI Andy Horton crime novels series of which there are fifteen. It is set against the backdrop of the sea, my trademark or brand if you like to call it. While Horton gets a step closer to discovering the truth behind his mother's disappearance when he was a child he is also embroiled in an emotional case which demands all his intuition and skills to solve, uncovering dark secrets that have led to lethal waves of destruction.

See the photographs of the locations used in LETHAL WAVES.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

This time last year Hampshire Library Cuts Protest March

Protest against cuts to Hampshire LibrariesWas it really a year ago on 13 January 2020, that I, and some of my fellow authors, marched on the county hall in Winchester to protest against proposed library cuts! So much happened in 2020 soon after this event with the Covid-19 pandemic and the libraries were closed for another reason and nothing to do with financial budgets. With the easing of lock down over the summer of 2020 the libraries gradually re-opened only to be closed again for browsing with the autumn and winter restrictions.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Blood on the Sand - DI Andy Horton #5 set in January 'A definite winner.'

A cold grey January morning, a woman with a gun in her hand - a corpse on an abandoned golf course on the Isle of Wight. Is she a killer? Horton doesn't think so. Soon he's uncovering a web of intrigue that ripples down the years and which someone is determined should never be revealed.

 'Another solid entry in a consistently well written series.' 

'A definite winner in the crowded field of British procedurals.'

Monday, 11 January 2021

The Page 69 Test - Read the extract from DI Andy Horton, DEAD MAN'S WHARF by Pauline Rowson

Dead Man's Wharf, Inspector Andy Horton crime novel

 The first I heard of the Page 69 Test was when a member of the public approached me in a bookshop where I was doing a book signing and said she always applied it when deciding which crime novel to purchase. She didn’t buy one of my novels so I’d obviously failed to reach her exacting standards, whatever they were! I can't recall which crime novel it was or when but I have applied the Page 69 Test to some of my crime novels including the Inspector Andy Horton procedurals, A KILLING COAST (7) and SHROUD OF EVIL (11). This time, as it is January and DEAD MAN'S WHARF is set in January I've applied it to this crime novel.

Read the extract - Page 69 of DEAD MAN'S WHARF

Sunday, 10 January 2021

A blast from the past at Monks Brook U3A

 On this day 8 January 2014 I was at Monks Brook U3A talking to the audience about my DI Andy Horton crime novels, how I draw my inspiration from the area in which the novels are set (the Solent area on the South Coast of England) and my method for developing plot lines and creating characters.

Pauline Rowson entertains audience at Monks Brook U3A 
 Events like these stopped in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the banning of all social gatherings. It is so sad. I know many people are missing them and I am missing entertaining the lovely audiences. There are no talks for me booked this year, 2021, at the present although I have been asked if I might be available to speak later in 2021 and I would be delighted to. Can't wait in fact. I am sincerely hoping that we can soon resume these events. In the meantime I will be looking back at some I have conducted over the years.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

The inspiration behind Dead Man's Wharf- a DI Andy Horton Mystery

Dead Man's Wharf, a DI Andy Horton crime novel
An Inspector Andy Horton crime novel by Pauline Rowson


TV diving personality Nicholas Farnsworth's life is threatened. A deranged elderly lady in a nursing home claims she's been attacked by an intruder. A mother's conviction that her son's death on Christmas Eve was no accident...are the incidents related? Horton believes not but soon he's forced to consider otherwise and finds himself caught up in a complex investigation with far-reaching international implications.

'Rowson turns out an exemplary procedural with the requisite plot twists, double-crosses and all loose ends tied up neatly in a sailor’s knot.' Starred Review Kirkus


Read about the inspiration behind DEAD MAN'S WHARF, number four in the Horton series of fourteen

Friday, 8 January 2021

It's January and DI Andy Horton is on three investigations

Three of my DI Andy Horton crime novels, DEAD MAN'S WHARF, BLOOD ON THE SAND and LETHAL WAVES are set during the month of January, so what  better time to promote them! 

Here is a taste of what's in store for DI Andy Horton in each of them.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Dead Man's Wharf - DI Andy Horton #4 - set in January - 'An exemplary procedural.'

DI Andy Horton is on a complex investigation in Portsmouth in January. TV diving personality Nicholas Farnsworth's life is threatened. A deranged elderly lady in a nursing home claims she's been attacked by an intruder. A mother's conviction that her son's road death on Christmas Eve was no accident...are the incidents related? Horton believes not but soon he's caught up in a complex investigation with far-reaching international implications. 

'Rowson turns out an exemplary procedural.' Starred Review Kirkus (USA)

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Behind the fictional characters - DI Andy Horton, Art Marvik, Inspector Alun Ryga


Tide of Death, DI Andy Horton 1. By Pauline RowsonOne of the essentials of a good novel is a strong central character, someone the reader can have empathy with, urge on, and sometimes get angry and frustrated with. He or she doesn't have to be perfect, far from it, after all who is? And strong doesn't mean the character has be forceful, on the contrary he or she can find strength through experience and overcoming adversity i.e. the plot/s. So let's take a look at what has shaped my fictional sleuths: DI Andy Horton, Art Marvik and Inspector Ryga in his 1950s world.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Should you start with a plot or a character ? Which is more important plot or character?

Pauline Rowson plotting her crime novelsl  
 The prescribed wisdom states that novels are either plot driven or character driven. What, you may ask is the difference? And it's a very good question. Essentially character driven novels centre around the protagonist's journey, his or her internal thoughts, the experiences he/she undergoes, the choices he/she makes which ultimately drive and affect the plot. Whereas plot driven novels focus on yes, you've guessed it, the plot. Here the protagonist takes a particular action which drives the plot and there are plot twists and turns as a result, action and conflicts which in turn drive the plot to its outcome. If that sounds rather confusing then don't worry, you are not alone. For me the distinction between the two is rather blurred although essentially critics and reviewers will say that my novels are plot driven and I agree to an extent. But the two  aspects - character and plot - are invariably interlinked

The characters drive the plot. Characters must be real in the sense of their motivations, behaviour, personalities which along with their experiences, background and education drive their actions which in turn affects the plot.

Dead Passage A DI Andy Horton crime novel by Pauline RowsonIn the case of my rugged and flawed detective, Inspector Andy Horton, he is a man driven by a desperate need to belong and a strong sense of justice to see that those who exploit others, particularly the weak and vulnerable, are caught and banged up. He's greatly influenced by a childhood spent in children's homes and foster homes after his mother disappeared when he was ten, and his subsequent need to discover what happened to her. His actions, not always approved of by his nit-picking boss, the by-the-book-copper DCI Lorraine Bliss, affect the investigations and therefore to some extent the outcome of the plot.

But the DI And Horton crime novels are also plot driven in that I start with a body in a certain location on Andy Horton's patch (Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight), or parts of a body (FATAL CATCH), a situation such as a missing person (SHROUD OF EVIL) or even a mysterious phone call by a woman asking Horton to meet her on a ferry (DEAD PASSAGE). So there is an investigation to undertake which gives the novel a certain structure and hence drives the plot.

Art Marvik Mystery Thrillers by Pauline RowsonIn the Art Marvik mystery thrillers, Marvik is struggling to adjust to life out of the Royal Marines following injuries sustained in combat. He thought he’d be able to carve out a new career for himself on the sea, but his first job as a private maritime security operative goes very wrong when the luxury motor cruiser he was travelling on and had been detailed to guard, gets attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean, and Marvik finds himself with a bullet in his shoulder and the boat’s owner dead. He failed on his first mission in civilian life, and Silent Running opens with him reeling from it.

Marvik’s not sure what lies ahead for him until a former Royal Marine comrade, Shaun Strathen, enlists his help to find a missing computer scientist and a former girlfriend of Marvik’s goes missing after visiting him in his remote Isle of Wight cottage. Marvik finds himself attached to the UK's newly formed and covert National Intelligence Marine Squad (NIMS) led by Detective Chief Superintendent Crowder. Marvik's skills, background, experiences all dictate his actions but essentially, like DI Andy Horton he is engaged on investigations. In Marvik's case covert ones, and as he is not a police officer he can act outside the law.

Inspector Ryga Mysteries by Pauline RowsonThen there is my 1950s set detective series with Inspector Ryga. Again I needed to understand what makes Ryga tick before I launched him on an investigation. His character needed to be formed and understood. I didn't want a hero in the traditional sense and I also needed to bring in my trademark, or brand- the sea. I therefore chose to make Ryga an ex-merchant seaman whose ship was raided by the Germans and he ended up spending four years in a German prisoner-of-war camp.  His experience at sea, and as a  prisoner-of-war, has made him unique in his approach to solving coastal  based  crimes.  He's observant, analytical and reflective.  He's witnessed compassion, cruelty,  cowardice and heroism, mental breakdown and despair. He’s made a promise to himself that  whatever happens after the war he’ll keep an open mind and never judge.

I use spider grams to create the characters involved in the novel.

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 the victim I'll ask myself -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?

At this stage I have hardly any answers to these questions but they will come to me as I write the novel. In particular once I start putting dialogue into their mouths and have them walking around and interacting with people. I add to my notes and my storyboard/plotline as the characters’ actions start to drive the plot. So does that make me character driven? Confusing isn't it? Added to this is the fact that I never outline the entire plot before writing the novel because I have no idea what happened, who did it, how and why? And I might find that as I write, DI Andy Horton or Art Marvik will discover something about themselves, or their past, and make a decision that will affect the plot and change its direction.

To me the surprises, twists and turns spring from the characters' motivations and as I write I find ideas occurring to me that I hadn’t previously considered.

I sometimes also discover that someone I thought was going to be a minor character turns out to be much more interesting while a major character can become boring and sometimes unnecessary, if that happens then I cut him or her out.

As I write I ask myself what will this character do in this situation. What will he/she do next? I continually ask questions about each character and answer them as the novel progresses. I shape and reshape. I put my characters in difficult or unusual situations, and as I do the story unfolds and the tension builds.

So answering the question what comes first character or plot? For me it is the character although at the same time I am toying with plot ideas.

And answering the question are my crime novels plot driven or character driven? I'll leave you to decide when reading them.



Sunday, 3 January 2021

What's on in 2021 for crime author Pauline Rowson

 The words 'who knows!'spring to mind. After 2020 no one can predict what the forthcoming year will bring, we hope and pray that it will be better than 2020. For me 2021 will be filled with writing. I'm delighted to say that two of my crime novels will be published - the Art Marvik mystery thriller 4 DEAD SEA in March 2021 and the third 1950 set Inspector Ryga mystery DEATH IN THE NETS in September 2021 so something for my readers to look forward to. And for all you DI Andy Horton fans there will be another. I am currently writing number 16 in the series and that will be completed in 2021 and published early 2022 ( God willing!).

For me 2021 will be filled with writing, and I'm delighted to say that two of my crime novels will be published in 2021 - the Art Marvik mystery thriller no. 4 DEAD SEA in March 2021 and the third 1950 set Inspector Ryga mystery DEATH IN THE NETS in September 2021 so something for my readers to look forward to.  And for all you DI Andy Horton fans there will be another. I am currently writing number 16 in the series and that will be completed in 2021 and published early 2022 ( God willing!).

At this time of writing, libraries are open for business and long may they be, they are a vital and valuable community resource, although I fear there will be changes and cut backs to them in the UK. I hope elsewhere in Europe, the Commonwealth and the USA they will survive and thrive. And I look forward to the day when I can once again meet library readers.

I also hope that my talks to other groups can resume in 2021, probably in the autumn as it would great to get out and talk and interact with audiences again. I know the many clubs I've had the privilege to speak at are greatly missing their social events: Probus, Womens' Institutes, Tangent, U3As and many others.  I hope to see some of you in 2021.

I'm also pleased that I will still be able to get out and about on my walks, always looking for a good place to put a body, and along with DI Andy Horton 16 I'll be working up ideas for Inspector Ryga 4.

Here's wishing you all a happy and healthy 2021 and a safe passage through the year.