© Paul Herrmann
Hello, you’ve reached the official website of Manchester based, crime writer Cath Staincliffe. I’m the author of the Sal Kilkenny private eye stories and creator and scriptwriter of Blue Murder, ITV’s hit detective drama starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. I write the Scott & Bailey books, based on the much loved ITV1 police series. My standalone titles, psychological fiction exploring topical moral dilemmas, have been very popular on the Amazon Kindle. Thank you to everyone who has borrowed, bought or downloaded one of my books. Here on the site you can find out about me and my writing, read my blog and flash fiction, sample extracts from my work, watch interviews and readings and find links to buy my latest books.
Most but not all of these are crime. There’s a great range of styles and, I now notice, locations too. Hopefully you can find something here that you’ll enjoy as much as I did
The Cartel by Don Winslow
In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward
The Lie by Helen Dunmore
And Sometimes I Wonder About You by Walter Mosley
After The Crash by Michel Bussi
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die by Marnie Riches
EntryIsland by Peter May
A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray
That was the word count* for my story Homecoming in the new Murder Squad and Accomplices anthology. A story inspired by a black and white photograph. Like many novelists I take the opportunity in between writing books to try my hand at short stories. It is a great way to experiment, to try out new styles and develop characters and situations that perhaps wouldn’t suit a full length novel. This project with publishers Graffeg was particularly enjoyable, combining as it does photographs and prose. If you’ve ever gone to creative writing workshops you’ve probably been asked to write something based on a stimulus – a phrase or a physical object, a newspaper cutting or a piece of music. I love that sort of exercise which I think often serves as a door opening, giving us permission to be inventive and go wherever our imagination takes us. For The Starlings And Other Stories we each chose a photograph from David Wilson’s Pembrokeshire book. The one I selected was of an isolated and derelict house. It immediately made me wonder whose home it had been, where they had gone, why the house had been left to rot and what would it be like for someone who’d lived there to return. You can find the answers to those questions in my story. And now I’ve read the whole of the anthology I can highly recommend it. It is fascinating to see where people went from that initial springboard of a single image.
*For those who recall my post about not doing word counts – I do tally up at the end and usually my heart sinks. But that’s not an issue with short stories
The tomatoes remain green. Stubborn. The sky sullen. Moss clogs the doormat. She longs for scorching stone underfoot, cypresses baking in the heat, the sizzle of cicadas. For the balm of salt sea.
Here’s another batch of recent reads. Some of these authors were on my panel at Theakstons Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. Other titles I heard about from Twitter – so thanks for the recommendations and keep them coming. Enjoy!
The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer
Everland by Rebecca Hunt
Weirdo by Cathi Unsworth
A Lovely Way To Burn by Louise Welsh
This Dark Road To Mercy by Wiley Cash
In The Rosary Garden by Nicola White
The 3rd Woman by Jonathan Freedland
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Tuesday Falling by S. Williams
Friday On My Mind by Nicci French
It’s been a while since I posted a list of recent good reads because I’ve been bound up with publication of my new novel Half The World Away. I was delighted when I was up at the Carlisle Crime Writing Weekend to hear from a librarian who appreciates these lists as it helps her to find titles to recommend to readers. Thank you! So here are some more excellent novels for your consideration.
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
The Exit by Helen Fitzgerald
The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber
This Thing of Darkness by Harry Bingham
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth
Sandrine by Thomas H. Cook
In the gaps between the words he understood that she was dying.
So far I’ve written twenty-two books. They are all set in Manchester except for my latest which, as the title suggests, ventures a little further afield – to China.
The book has a very simple premise – it’s the story of Jo and Tom Maddox, an estranged couple, who reunite in a desperate search for their daughter, Lori, who has gone missing in China. I chose China partly because my son lives there, and it would make the job of research a little easier, but mainly because China is such a fascinating country and so very different from here. A place in the throes of huge development and change and somewhere that my characters would feel completely at sea, unable to understand the language, unfamiliar with the culture and customs. I’d never been to China – or anywhere in Asia – so I’d little idea of what to expect when I visited. Once there, as I gathered background material for the book, I knew it was important to capture the particular feel of the city, Chengdu. Not just with visual descriptions but by conveying the sounds and smells, the tactile sensations of the air and dust, the taste of the spicy food, the atmosphere. As well as making notes on my visit, I also took lots of pictures and used some of these locations for scenes in the book. Here’s a selection below – to give you a flavour. If you read the novel you’ll recognise these places, I hope. And as I posted previously I’m delighted with how the cover reflects both the story of the book and directly references one of the most suspenseful sections in the hunt for Lori.
Half The World Away is published on June 4th in hardback and ebook and we’ve now reached Stage 5 of the process of making a book – the creation of the book cover. Here is it.
I’m delighted with it. In general authors don’t get much opportunity to contribute to discussions about the book jacket but in this case I was able to see some early draft ideas and give my responses. Already people have said that it draws them in and makes them keen to know more, which is exactly what you want from a book cover. I think it also works particularly well because it reflects the content of the story, we can see there’s a Chinese element to it and the blurring of the letters in the title combined with the shout line at the top signals the type of story you can expect. Also, and you’d only know this after reading the book, it echoes very clearly some of the most suspenseful chapters in the narrative.
Once a book is written it has its own identity. As a writer all my books feel distinct and different to me, and the hope is that when a cover is created it will match the identity of the book in my head. This doesn’t have to be literal, a cover can suggest mood or location or it can reference similar titles in the genre (I wrote about this in the past when some of my books were part of the ‘single female eye’ trend kicked off by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). I’m not aware of this new cover being part of a trend – but maybe I’m just not alert to it yet. Anyway big thanks to the designer and the team at Little, Brown and Constable & Robinson who’ve worked so hard on this. And happy reading everyone.
Versace, cooed one. Prada, squealed another. What’s yours? Eyes swivelled, bright, salacious. Brands, she muttered, are for cattle. She was never invited back.
**Originally commissioned by Cartwheel Arts
Some of you might have time off over the holidays, and a rare chance to read, or you might be a bookworm as it is. I can thoroughly recommend the following titles. Something here for all tastes, I think. Is it just me or are there an amazing number of great stories being published these days?
The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
Wake by Anna Hope
The Silent Boy by Andrew Taylor
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Vixen by Rosie Garland
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
How To Be Both by Ali Smith
Woman of the Dead by Bernhard Aichner
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters