Val Penny Answers Some Questions for fellow author John Jackson

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It seemed an appropriate way of introducing Val Penny, a fellow Crooked-Cat author, and writer of the very successful Hunter series of detective novels set in and around Edinburgh.

1            What makes a good story? Characters. A good plot is essential, but if the reader doesn’t buy into your characters, all is lost.

2            How have YOU become a better writer? By reading lots of good books in all the different genres. I firmly believe that before you write a word, you should read voraciously.

3            What inspires you? People. I think people are fascinating and a snippet of conversation or interesting outfit can inspire a whole novel.

4            What does your family think of your writing? I am lucky that my whole family is very supportive of my writing endeavours. They turn up at events, tell their friends, share things on Facebook and even buy the books!

5            What were the most surprising things you learned about yourself in creating your books? The amount of bad language I put into them!

6            If you could have written any book, what would it have been and why? I am quite happy writing the novels I write without being envious of those written by others, but I do enjoy the books written by Linwood Barclay and Erin Kelly.

7            How much research do you do? I have to do quite a lot of research into the crimes my characters commit, the language they would use and, at the other end of the scale, I need to research the CSI and forensic expertise and police procedures.

8            How do you relax? I spend time with my family, swim, knit and read. I also love to travel and find much inspiration from ‘people watching’ on my journeys.

9            Do you have any writing quirks? (and if so what?) I suppose we all have quirks, but I had never thought about it until now! I think I am quite organised, I write for promoting my work and write blog posts in the mornings and work on my novel in the afternoons. I am very focused while I am writing, I like to have a quiet writing space so that I can hear the voices of my characters in my head.

10         Why write in your genre? I enjoy reading crime thrillers and I started writing them simply because they are my favourite kind of stories.

11         How is your writing different now from when you started writing? I think it is more sophisticated and the plots are more closely interwoven.

12         What do people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that they don’t? They think crime novels are easy to write! They are not ‘literary pieces’: believe me, they are not a soft option from a writer’s point of view.

13         Your 3 favourite authors? Erin Kelly, Michael Jecks and Katharine Johnson.

14         In what ways do you ’service’ or ‘support’ your books? I try to share my stories by making author visits in real life and online. Support from other authors and all my readers is terribly important.

15         What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Everybody is entitled to an opinion. It is lovely to read good reviews but no writer will ever produce something everybody enjoys, so bad reviews are inevitable. I view getting good and bad reviews as a right of passage for authors. I think it was Harper Lee (who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird) who said, ‘I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent, he would be wise to develop a thick hide.’ She was right!

16         What makes your book(s) stand out from the crowd? One of the things I love about my books is the cover. They are produced by my publishers, Crooked Cat Books, but I think they are fabulous.

17         Tell us something about your road to being published. I began writing my first novel when I was recovering from cancer. I did not have the energy to go out with friends and family, travel and I was not allowed to swim during my treatment. However, I had the energy to read, and subsequently to write.

18         Plotter or Pantser. I was a pantser until I attended a course run by the inimitable Sue Moorcroft. She convinced me of the usefulness of plotting. So now I plot quite thoroughly, except for the very end – I never know who done it until I have finished writing.

19         Your main character. What makes him or her so special? Hunter Wilson is calm, thorough and thoughtful. He is flawed but compassionate and determined to uncover the truth.

20         What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Can I make Hunter’s Chase into a movie?

Val Penny isauthor pic 2 an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University.
She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.
Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The third book in the series, Hunter’s Force, follows shortly.
Hunter's Revenge Cover

Welcome Val!

This article first appeared on Tim’s Word Blog on 18.8.18 at https://timwordsblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/welcome-val/ 

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Today I am delighted to host fellow Crooked Cat author Val Penny, who’s here to talk about her latest novel, Hunter’s Revenge.  Welcome, Val!

Thanks, Tim.  I am pleased to be visiting your blog today.

My novel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’ is the second in my series of a crime thrillers that fall squarely within the Tartan Noire genre. The main protagonist is Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson.

The story begins in 1968 when Georg Reinbold has to flee from his home in East Germany after killing a Stasi officer.

Fast forward forty-five years and Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is devastated to find that the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Hunter finds there is also a new source of cocaine coming into his city and into the jail. He requires the assistance of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller. Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

I set my novels in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland because it is a city I know well. I did consider creating an imaginary town for Hunter. However, Edinburgh has everything a writer could need. It is a diverse city with all different kinds of buildings and people. It is small enough that characters can move around it quickly and large enough for it to be credible that anything I want to happen there, could happen.

Edinburgh is also a beautiful city with a castle, a palace and a cathedral, wealthy homes, horrible slums, fine restaurants, fast food outlets and idiosyncratic pubs. It is home to an Olympic size pool, the National Rugby Team and two famous football teams. What more could I or my characters want?

I am an American author living in SW Scotland. I have two adult daughters of whom I am justly proud and live with my husband and two cats. I have a Law degree from Edinburgh University and my MSc from Napier University.

I have had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However I have not yet achieved either of my childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, I have turned my hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. My first crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ was published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. ‘Hunter’s Revenge’ launches on 09.09.2018 and the third in the series, ‘Hunter’s Force’ is set to be published early in 2019.

Many thanks for sharing this with us Val.  Very best wishes for the success of Hunter’s Revenge!

 

author's photograph

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The third book in the series, Hunter’s Force, follows shortly.  You can find out more about Val and her books via these links:

http://www.authorvalpenny.com

http://www.facebook.com/valerie.penny.739

http://www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303

https://twitter.com/valeriepenny

myBook.to/HuntersChase

myBook.to/HuntersRevenge

Hunter's Revenge Cover

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is revenged.

 DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense? Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George’s killer. Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city. The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.

Eclectic Ramblings by Heather Osborne

Today on Eclectic Ramblings, I’m featuring author Val Penny and her newest release, Hunter’s Revenge! How awesome to find another American writing crime who lives in Scotland! Now, I’ve not read this one, but it looks amazing, so I’ll be adding it to my MASSIVE TBR list! Thanks for stopping by, Val! ♥


Hunter's Revenge CoverTitle: Hunter’s Revenge (The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries)

Author: Val Penny

Blurb:

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is revenged.

DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense? Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George’s killer. Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city. The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.


 

Reasons to Write a Crime Novel

 

People like crime, at least in novels! Often, I meet dentists and bank managers with clever plot ideas, or nurses who read every crime novel they can lay their hands on. If I visit a writing group, there are always members keenly producing new murderous plots. Lawyers and convicts show equal enthusiasm for this genre. For those who want to write a crime novel, there are several reasons to want to do so. Here are a few of them.

Emotional Release

Often, those who write crime novels find an emotional release in their craft. Crime novelists deal with the dark things that people usually push to the side of their minds in order to get on with every day life. The cathartic attraction of writing can be decisive.

Some crime authors tell of poor sleep patterns, punctured by night-mares that are repaired when they start to write. Others, panic, constantly scanning doorways for signs of danger. The stiffening fear that afflicts them resolves when they are busy writing crime.

The Story-Telling Urge

The sources for crime novels are many and varied. Ideas can spring from the news and current affairs; memories from the past and historical events or things that puzzle or fascinate the writer. Once an author begins to exercise their creative muscles, they often find that they run into stories demanding to be told. The stories demand to be told and will not stop coming.

For Companionship

It is often said that writers can be difficult people: gloomy, competitive and quarrelsome. However, for the most part, I have found crime writers to be an inclusive and convivial bunch. They are certainly hard-working. The pressure of producing a book a year is intense, yet they never seem to turn their backs on fun. If you have a chance to go to a crime-writers’ convention, do take it. They are exhausting, exhilarating and irresistible.

An Outlet for Aggression

Most crime-writers will tell you that they are good company because they channel all their belligerent thoughts into their stories, so in real life, the authors are meek and mild. It is not always true, but I can confirm the a crime novel is an excellent place to park your rage! The prospect of giving vent to righteous anger in a safe form can be a particularly pleasing device. When characters require to act in a violent way or commit violence the reader is willing to witness this on the page but they would shy from it in real life. Crime writers can let rip on the page in a way they avoid doing in the real world.

The Thrill of Research

I can personally confirm that the research you do for crime novels and for academic purposes are equally satisfying. It is also extremely diverse. It may involve visiting prisons, refuges, police stations or drug dens. Police are often very willing to be of assistance to crime writers, even if it is just to avoid being irritated when otherwise the writers would get police procedures wrong. This information is most useful and helpful. Indeed, when you are writing a novel, no information or experience is wasted!

Val Penny


author pic 2About the Author:

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The third book in the series, Hunter’s Force, follows shortly.

Author contact details:

www.authorvalpenny.com

www.facebook.com/valerie.penny.739

www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303

https://twitter.com/valeriepenny

myBook.to/HuntersChase

myBook.to/HuntersRevenge

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Introducing Crime Writer, Val Penny

Allison Symes: Collected Works

Introducing Val Penny…

One of the lovely things about writing is getting to meet other writers at conferences and so on. You can share tales of woe, exciting publication news etc and know the other person will appreciate where you are coming from. Sometimes you can find out about markets and competitions you hadn’t heard of, but above all you have friends – and social media makes it so much easier to keep in touch.

I was delighted to meet crime writer, Val Penny, at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School a couple of years back. I’m looking forward to catching up with her again there this year. I am very pleased to have Val join me on my blog tonight and she shares an excerpt from her forthcoming book Hunter’s Revenge, the second in the Hunter Wilson/Edinburgh Mysteries series. (Good news for those of you who like crime writing, as…

View original post 1,411 more words

Hunter’s Revenge – Edinburgh Crime Mystery #2

 

Hunter's Revenge BannerMy second crime thriller novel, Hunter’s Revenge, will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 09.09.2018. It, and my first book, Hunter’s Chase, are both available to order from Amazon now. myBook.to/HuntersRevenge

Hunter's Revenge and Me

I am thrilled to be able to share an excerpt from the novel with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Prologue

East Germany, January 1968

The last thing Georg did on his eighteenth birthday was kill a man.

He really hadn’t meant to kill the Stasi officer in front of him, but it was him or Georg – and Georg did not want to die. It was the first time he’d seen a corpse. The streets were slick with ice. The man lost his balance and cracked his head on the pavement. Georg stared down at the body: there was blood and brains all over the pavement. He looked into the officer’s eyes. They stared blindly to heaven, but Georg knew there wasn’t a Stasi officer on earth who was going there. He looked away from death and towards his friends in horror, but when they saw what had happened, they scattered. Georg picked up the officer’s gun and began to run.

More Stasi officers appeared as the boys fled.

Georg was out of breath when he got home.

“What’s the rush, son?” his father asked.

“Shit, Dad! It’s bad.”

“You’re drunk! No language in this house, boy,” said his grandmother.

“Dad, the boys and me were leaving the bar to come home and we saw a Stasi officer”

“So?”

“We were laughing and having fun.”

“And?”

“For a laugh I knocked his hat off.”

“Idiot! You know Stasi have no sense of humour. Ever. So what next?”

“He pulled his gun and told us to stand silently against the wall.”

“And you apologised and complied, I hope.”

“I panicked and punched him. He slipped on the ice and fell over. He hit his head on the ground, and when I checked him, he wasn’t breathing. He was dead. I just took his gun and ran.”

The silence in the room was deafening.

“You did what? You fucking idiot! Did you really punch a Stasi officer? Are you mad? You know we don’t even have to openly engage in resistance to draw the attention of the Stasi and incur its retribution. Just failing to conform with mainstream society can be enough. Shit! I sired a fool.” Georg’s father’s red face reflected his rage.

“And now you are here,” his grandmother added. “You ran home, leading them straight to us. We will all die now. Thank you.”

“What is all the noise?” Georg’s mother came through from the kitchen, drying her hands on her apron. His twin sister Ingrid and younger brother Wilhelm followed her. They looked bewildered. Their father rarely raised his voice, especially not to Georg.

As his father explained the issues, Georg’s mother burst into tears.

“They will kill him,” she whispered.

Val Penny

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Val Penny on Hunter’s Chase by Dave Rigby

This article was initially published on 07 January 2018 on Yorkshire Writers’ Lunch at https://yorkshirewriterslunch.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/dave-rigby-interviews-val-penny

Posted: 07 Jan 2018 10:30 PM PST

 
 
To start things off Val, can I ask how you began writing fiction? Was there a specific trigger?
There was indeed a trigger, I began writing my first novel when I was being treated for breast cancer. I had taken early retirement and was beginning to wonder how I had ever had time to work when I received the unwelcome diagnosis of breast cancer. As my treatment proceeded, I started to blog about my experience. My writing here still receives considerable attention: www.survivingbreastcancernow.com. I found my treatment very tiring and had little energy to do anything but read, so I started reviewing the books I read on www.bookreviewstoday.info.I have always enjoyed reading crime fiction and I began to think that, as I had the time, I would try my hand at writing a crime fiction novel. It was not an easy task, and it took a lot longer than I thought it would, but the result was Hunter’s Chase.
The novel features DI Hunter Wilson. How would you describe him?
Hunter Wilson, like all my characters in Hunter’s Chase, is a combination of several people that I have found interesting. I needed my main protagonist to have certain characteristics including patience, perseverance and a desire to achieve justice for those who could not attain that for themselves. Hunter is a compassionate man who fights for the underdog and is a fine team player. These are important qualities in my main character. But I also needed Hunter to have flaws. Everybody has faults and to make Hunter believable, he had to have them too. He is not a saint. He is divorced, he is untidy, he likes to win, he bears a grudge.
 
How did you first come up with the plot for the book and how did it develop from those initial ideas?
The original idea came from a former employee of mine. She had worked in a lawyer’s office, in the north of Edinburgh, where they specialised in criminal law and when she came to work for me in a rather different type of office in a rather elegant part of Edinburgh city centre. The comment my employee made was “It is lovely not to work in a place where you smell the clients before you see them!” It was this comment gave me a kernel of an idea that formed the basis of the Johnson family in Hunter’s Chase from that central family and their story, my novel evolved from there.
To what extent is a sense of place important in your books and how do you create this?
I chose Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland as the setting for Hunter’s Chase. Setting is most important to a novel and Edinburgh is a beautiful city of around half a million people. It is big enough so that anything that I want to happen in my novels can happen, but it is also a small enough city that many people in the city know each other. The main protagonist of ‘Hunter’s Chase’ is Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson. He lives in Leith, an area to the north of the City and drinks in his local pub, the Persevere Bar. His home is also close to the Hibernian (‘Hibs’) football ground. The other main character, Detective Constable Tim Myerscough lives across the city from Hunter, in the south-west of the city. He moves into a flat Gillespie Crescent between Tollcross and Bruntsfield. His local pub in the Golf Tavern, off the Bruntsfield Links. DC Tim Myerscough’s father, Sir Peter Myerscough, lives even further to the south in the Morningside district of Edinburgh. From his large house he has fine views across the Pentland Hills.
Plot, character, setting, theme, genre…which of these do you focus on initially when you are developing a new book?
My novels fall squarely within the genre of crime thrillers. I first draft out a rough idea of the plot of my novel. That tells me who I need to populate the story and make it come to life. InHunter’s Chase, DI Hunter Wilson struggles to ensure the crime in Edinburgh does not go unpunished. Hunter’s Chase introduces a new detective, DI Hunter Wilson into the ‘Tartan Noire’ genre. I am delighted to be compared to other proponents of Tartan Noire such as Ian Rankin, Alex Grey and Quintin Jardine. I think all crime novels explore the triumph of good over evil. The readers know the criminals will not succeed. Still, the thrill of the chase and the problems overcome to achieve justice for the victims must enthral and satisfy the readers.
How do you come up with names for your characters?
I have always been interested in names and this interest has stood me in good stead when populating my novel with characters. In many cases, the characters told me their own names. Hunter Wilson, for example: reflects the fine Scottish tradition of using surnames as first names. Wilson is a popular Scottish surname and I do like the conceit of having an investigating detective who goes by the name of Hunter. Meera Sharma is another character who told me her own name. I once knew a very pretty girl whose name was Meera. I partnered the first name with the name Sharma because I thought it had a good ring to it. As for Timothy Myerscough, I have been savouring the name Myerscough for over twenty-five years and the first name Timothy balanced it nicely. Names for the characters come easily to me and I enjoy finding names for my characters very much.
I see from your biographical details that you have a background in law – both in practice and in teaching. How has this influenced your writing?
I write crime fiction, but I was never involved in the practice of Criminal Law. Indeed, I only passed my Criminal Law exams at university by promising the Professor that I would never work in that field! However, I did meet many policemen and sat through many court cases. There is no doubt that my background fired my interest in crime novels.
Do you have a regular writing regime? What would a typical writing day look like and do you have things which help you along, such as a regular supply of coffee, music, or a stimulating view from the window?
I usually write in the afternoons. In the mornings I take care of the regular household and social matters that I need to deal with. In the evenings, I tutor local children for their English exams at school, so in the afternoons, when I have the house to myself, I write. I find Earl Grey Tea, quiet, familiar music and watching my cats all help in their own way if I have a block in my flow. However, most help is afforded to me by chocolate. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!
And, can I ask, is there a new book in the pipeline?
Only this week, I heard from my publishers, Crooked Cat Books, that they have accepted the sequel to Hunter’s Chase: Hunter’s Revenge. It is very early days, but we are aiming to get the novel completed and edited with a view to publication during August or September 2018.
Click for more details
 
 
Thanks very much for answering our questions and good luck with ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and your future projects.
Thank you for allowing me to visit the blog today, Dave. I really appreciate it. I can be contacted on social media at:
Friends of Hunter’s Chase – www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303
Val was interviewed by Yorkshire Writers’ Lunch member, Dave Rigby.

Winchester Writers’ Festival, University of Winchester, West Downs Student Village, Winchester, England

The Winchester Writers’ Festival is held in the middle of June and attracts over three hundred emerging novelists, poets, short story writers, children’s writers, script and memoir writers  from across the UK and the world to the University of Winchester. Delegates attend workshops, talks and one-to-ones with over seventy literary agents, commissioning editors, authors and expert practitioners throughout an inspiring and supportive weekend. This year was the first time I had ever attended The Winchester Writers’ Festival, but it was recommended to me by my friend and mentor, Simon Hall.winchester

I had the opportunity to meet with four agents and publishers, three of whom expressed an interest in my work. However, it was eventually Crooked Cat Books, whom I had submitted my work to, prior to attending Winchester, that accepted my debut crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ for publication.

At Winchester, I stayed in student accomodation. My goodness, it took me back! Accommodation with breakfast is available at the University of Winchester in basic student rooms in the West Downs Student Village and in Beech Glade on the main King Alfred campus.  A free shuttle bus service will run between West Downs and the Festival venues on the main King Alfred campus at key times over the weekend. En suite and Standard (shared bathroom) accommodation is available at very reasonable prices. Beech Glade is much more convenient for the main campus where the talks, meetings and meals are held, but only West Downs has en-suite accommodation, so the deal was set. I was staying in West Downs. The West Downs Student Village is at the top of a steep hill, so I was glad the course ran a shuttle bus morning and afternoon.

winchester university diningThe accommodation is basic, but clean. My room contained a bed, wardrobe, desk chair and book shelves with an ensuite shower room. Basic bedlinen, toiletries and towels were provided too. I was only there for a long weekend, what more did I need? Accommodation includes hot and cold buffet breakfast for the nights you stay. If you are attending the conference for the day, lunch is also included. Dinner is not and requires to be booked and paid for separately. The meals were ample and tasty and there was provision for vegetarians. Prices in the bar are much lower than in the real world.

Winchester makes great play of being inclusive and having rooms suitable for wheelchair users. I did not see any wheelchair users at the conference. The pack I received states that, although there are stairs leading from conference buildings to the bar and dining roomm, there are lifts for those with mobility issues. I do not have mobility issues, but there were delegates who required assistance to walk. The lifts did not work. That was unsatisfactory.

Free, but limited, parking is available at West Downs and further parking is available in the main car park and Medecroft car park on the main campus but as I travelled to Winchester by train, this did not affect me.

lemnsissayThe keynote speech was delivered on the Saturday morning by Lemn Sissay. I enjoyed the talk and found him a motivating and interesting speaker. Unfortunately, as many people queued to buy his books after his talk, we were told he had somewhere else to be. As a result of this, he stopped dedicationg the books and just signed them, then he left. Not all those waiting with books go them signed. This was bad organisation disppointing and tacky. I have never seen this happen anywhere before. I opted not to buy any of his books.

The Winchester Writers’ festival was interesting some seventy-five speakers delivered fifty separate talks, readings and workshops to almost three hundred writers. The accomodation was adequate. However, bearing in mind the conference only lasts three days, it is extremely expensive. I would not attend the Winchester Writers’ Festival regularly, but I may attend again in the future. I believe there are other writers’ events that are better value for money.

Val Penny

Exciting:An Excerpt From Hunter’s Chase

Hunter's Chase bannerPrologue

Edinburgh, November 2012

DI Hunter Wilson took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

There had to be an answer. How did it stay under the radar? The new supply of cocaine into the city made the drug little more expensive than tobacco. Fury mixed with exasperation to sting his pride. He was damned if any low-life was going to offload this junk on his watch. Bastards!

Hunter sighed and stared at the spreadsheets on his desk. The investigation wouldn’t start tonight, so maybe he should get down to the pub to unwind and think about the darts match. If he left now, he might not be late.

As he grabbed his coat, there was a knock on the door. Hunter was surprised to see DC Winston Zewedu, better known as “Bear”, stick his head round the door.

“Boss, I know you want to get away tonight, but we’ve just had a call from Sir Peter Myerscough. He’s had his house broken into.”

“Of course he has!” Hunter snarled. “That arse just has to get his stuff nicked on my darts night. Come on, Bear, let’s go.”

Chapter 1

Jamie Thomson swaggered along one of the tree-lined streets in the wealthy Edinburgh suburb of Morningside. To him, the capital of Scotland was really just a big village. Everybody knew everybody else, and tonight, everybody would know Jamie Thomson. He felt it as he moved quietly along the dark street. Excitement. Pop was away, but, although he had just turned twenty, Jamie would show folk it was business as usual. Pop would be so proud.

Jamie’s uniform was clean: black trousers, black jacket with a hood – other folk might call it a hoodie – black silk gloves, and cheap, new black shoes. So much more difficult to trace, especially as he chose to wear them a size smaller than was comfortable. If he left a footprint they police would be looking for the wrong size of shoe. Genius!

He was glad of the hood. The rain was not heavy, but there was a lot of it. The wind blew it into his face and almost took his breath away. His Granny called this wet rain. Jamie missed her. A lot. Silly old sausage! Who ever heard of dry rain? He was glad the road was quiet. But then nobody with any sense would go out in this unless they had to, and Jamie had to.

The house was dark. Jamie smiled. Good. He liked it quiet and peaceful when he was working. He could concentrate, get on with it and get the job done quickly. Very satisfying. The old boy was usually out late on a Thursday, Jamie knew. Jamie watched. The old boy would come home with a babe, back of eleven o’clock, usually. Jamie had no idea what the hotties saw in the old geezer, but good luck to him.

Jamie sauntered up the path as if he belonged, although it was not easy to saunter with shoes so tight. Still, the pain was worth it.He quietly slipped the lock and the door creaked as it swung open. Then he sighed wearily as the burglar alarm sounded. He found the control panel behind the door (they always put it behind the door) and hit in a code. Silence.

Jamie nodded. He could not believe how many folk left their alarms on the factory settings, but he was very glad they did. Idiots. They deserved whatever they got, or whatever he got, more like it. He chuckled at his own wit.

Jamie pushed the door open and paused as it creaked. He breathed in deeply. Cigar smoke. Expensive. Didn’t the old boy know smoking was bad for your health? But the carpet was lovely! Thick. Far more expensive than that stuff Mam and Pop got on sale from Carpet Worth. Jamie flexed his knees and felt the thick, soft pile give beneath him. Class. He switched on his torch to check the soles of his shoes. No wet, no dirt. Good. Torch off. He didn’t want to leave muck on this carpet; that would be criminal.

Shit! He jumped. A mirror on the cupboard door gave him a fright! He thought it was a burglar dodging against him. Jamie didn’t like to fight. Violence wasn’t his game. He felt all hot and sweaty. He stood still for a moment, holding his chest while his heartbeat returned to normal. Then he looked around. Two doors to the left, two doors to the right, and in front of him a staircase and a door. He opened the first door on the left and slipped into the room. He was pleased; this was the room with the French windows. Jamie unlocked them, just in case he needed an escape route. As Pop always said, you couldn’t be too careful.

He kept the torch on low beam and swept the light around the room. He started at the mantelpiece and shoved the silver and ornaments into his Asda bag. Shocking having to pay 5p for a plastic bag now. Daylight robbery. As opposed to nighttime robbery.

Moving over to the desk, he found a thick roll of cash. Lucky. And a cheque book. Did anybody still use these? Very old-fashioned. He stuck it in his pocket anyway. Bingo! Boxes: jewellery boxes; watch boxes.Nice. Lots of gold, bracelets, necklaces, and rings with big sparkly stones. The watches were impressive: a Rolex, and this one: a Breitling Transocean thingy. Well over £20k. Sweet.

Jamie was clearing the contents of the boxes into his pockets and congratulating himself on his cleverness when he heard a creak. He stopped. Listened. Shit! The front door. Lucky it needed oil, really. Who was it? Piss.

Jamie heaved his stash into his pockets and his bag, and shoved the cash down his trousers. Didn’t even have time to examine his haul.

***

Sir Peter Myerscough came back early. He came back alone. That day he had had to brief the First Minister on the action taken to contain the suspected terrorist threat in Broughty Ferry, then he had taken his parliamentary researcher for dinner. It did not take long to get through the three courses and coffee at the New Club. He had tipped off the staff to keep the meal coming.

He was both saddened and furious that the girl was leaving, because she was lovely. He would have been proud to have her as a daughter: he would have been more proud to have her on his arm. What eye candy! He was disappointed he had never got into her pants. It was such a pity she had never been up for it with him.

Her leaving now was bloody inconvenient because her salary was cheap, while she was efficient and easy on the eye. She was also damn good at her job. This was a most unusual combination, and Sir Peter had no doubt that his assistant would be all but impossible to replace on those terms.

He chose not to express his irritation. After all, she was moving to that dreadful tabloid The Nation’s Voice.As the Justice Minister, Sir Peter suspected that sooner, rather than later, it would be useful to have a little goodwill at that reactionary rag. So he swallowed his pride, paid for dinner and made polite chitchat with the young woman this evening. He wanted to make sure that she could not think too badly of him in the end.

Arriving home, Sir Peter staggered slightly as he got out of the taxi and handed the driver £20 for the £10 journey. He felt obliged to keep up appearances. He stared at the door, wondering why it was open. He walked sideways up the path. Can’t be too careful. As he reached the door he pushed it a bit harder than he had intended. It creaked painfully then bounced back. He shoved it again, more gently. It stayed a little further open. He knew he had locked it and put on the alarm. At least, he thought he had put on the alarm. So why was the front door open? He hadn’t even put his key in the lock, but the door offered no resistance at all and the alarm was off. Monika was visiting her aunt in Switzerland. She would not be back until later in the month. He did not like to admit it, but he missed her. Ever since Louise had died, he had never got used to coming back to an empty house.

Since being widowed seventeen years ago, he avoided serious commitment to the fairer sex but always ensured a string of attractive young women with uncomplicated agendas vied to fill the void in his life. Monika was the latest, and had lasted the longest. He did rather like her; although she was not intelligent, she was tall, absolutely stunning, and attentive in the bedroom. The shoulder massage she gave was beyond compare. Still, she did have expensive tastes. In her absence, he would call the agency for some company. His mind wandered as he smiled and thought about which one to choose. Who would offer him most?

He was brought back to the present abruptly as he heard a floorboard squeak in the ground-floor living room that he used as an office. Sir Peter flicked on the lights. He frowned and entered the room swiftly. He was appalled by the space on his mantelpiece and the mess around his desk, on the floor. What was going on?

Then he caught sight of the thief. The bastard was right there, red-handed, rooting about. For the love of God: the violation! That desk was private. It held his late wife’s jewellery, his watches, his valuables, his emergency cash, and his stuff – even his expenses receipts. Sir Peter let rip a blood-curdling yell that echoed around the house.

***

Oh fuck! Jamie looked up in horror, but luckily his hood hid his face. He grabbed as much extra as he could, stuffing his pockets with sparkles, watches and gold, then he was off, disappearing through the French windows. Glad he had had the foresight to unlock them, but then, Pop had taught him well. He ran.

Bugger those tight shoes. Great for avoiding detection; not so great for ensuring escape.

Hunter's Chase book cover