February 11, 2011
Welcome to Geraldine Evans, author of DEADLY REUNION, Rafferty & Llewellyn Crime Series
Today I welcome Geraldine Evans, author of Death Dance (Rafferty and Llewellyn Mysteries), her 18th novel and 14th in the humorous Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series (Dec. 2010, Severn House Publishers).
The next book in the series, Deadly Reunion (Rafferty and Llewellyn Mysteries), comes out in June.
About DEADLY REUNION:
Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty is barely back from his honeymoon before he has two unpleasant surprises. Not only has he another murder investigation - a poisoning, courtesy of a school reunion, he also has four new lodgers, courtesy of his Ma, Kitty Rafferty.
Ma is organising her own reunion and since getting on the internet, the number of Rafferty and Kelly family attendees has grown, like Topsy. In his murder investigation, Rafferty has to go back in time to learn of all the likely motives of the victim's fellow reunees. But it is only when he is reconciled to his unwanted lodgers, that Rafferty finds the answers to his most important questions.
(* Keep reading for prizes, links and excerpt.)
TEN TIPS FOR WRITERS
By Geraldine Evans
1 Metaphors are good, but don’t strain after them. When your prose starts turning purple is the time to pause for thought.
2 Take care over your presentation, as it matters. I’ve just held a contest for people to write the first 250 words of a crime novel and some of the presentation was poor. This is not impressive when the number of words required were so few.
3 If your grasp of grammar or punctuation is poor, try to get someone well-versed in this to read your work through and correct it. It’s off-putting when you read a story and – because of a lack of apostrophes, for instance – it’s unclear who, or how many, owns what.
4 Read as much as you can. I won’t say always read the classics because the style of older books isn’t going to help you write today. I’ve had 18 novels published as well as a number of shorter nonfiction pieces and I’ve still only read about three of Shakespeare’s plays and I’ve never attempted War and Peace. Read widely amongst contemporary authors with perhaps an occasional dip into the classics.
5 Each time you write a story, go through and cut by 10 percent. You’ll be amazed how much better the story reads.
6 Read your story aloud. Sometimes I do this for my husband as he’s not a keen reader. The errors just leap out at you.
7 If you belong to a writers’ group, offer to set your own writing contest, with prizes. You’ll find there’s nothing like holding a contest of which you’re the sole judge, for making you look more carefully at your own writing. I was scared to write anything immediately afterward (including this!) because I thought the critics would have at me with both barrels!
8 When entering writing contests it pays to study a little of the style of the judges (assuming they’re writers). For instance, I write humorous police procedurals and I’m more apt to look favourably on an entrant whose work makes me smile.
9 Make sure you catch the reader’s interest quickly. I find that the older I get the more unwilling I am to struggle on with a book whose author hasn’t troubled to engage my attention with humour or intrigue or maybe just a punchy first line. It matters. Think about it. If I, as a reader, can’t be bothered to stick with a book, how likely is it that an editor, with piles to read, will?
10 Enjoy your writing. If you find serial killers depressing, write about something else. It’s never a good idea to follow the crowd. Ploughing your own furrow, about something you feel passionate about, is more likely to spark originality and a strong story.
* See all Geraldine Evans's books - Amazon.com.
* See the trailer for her ebook, DEAD BEFORE MORNING.
* Follow the blog tour.
* PRIZES: At the end of the February tour, three winners who comment will win one signed copy of Deadly Reunion, and one copy of the ebooks, Dead Before Morning and Down Among the Dead Men. They will also receive a subscription to my blog (which they can let lapse when it runs out).
* See the excerpt and some of what Geraldine has learned from writing 14 books below.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED THROUGH BOOKS 1 – 14
I suppose I must have learned a lot, but it’s been such a gradual process that I’m not really aware of it, though, having said that, I’ve learned to do my best to keep things simple and not strive to write something beyond my ability as it only ends in tears.
I’ve learned to think a lot more about what I have my characters do as it saves me several drafts. When I started out writing novels, the number of drafts was frightening, but now I’m down to about three or four, with run-throughs of shorter pieces of the novel on top of that.
Don’t strive for a style. Don’t try to write like, say, Ernest Hemingway or P D James. Your style will come naturally if you just let the words flow in your own voice.
EXCERPT from Chapter One, DEADLY REUNION
A Rafferty & Llewellyn crime novel by Geraldine Evans
Griffin House was an imposing building, dating back to the late 1500s. It had been recently featured in the local paper, the Elmhurst Echo, as part of a series on Essex’s historic houses and Rafferty, keen on history and old buildings, had kept a cutting. The school was approached by a long, straight drive with mature trees and shrubberies either side of the road. It was built of red brick that had mellowed over the years to a deep rose and it had the tall, twisted chimneys so typical of the Elizabethan age. Like a lot of the houses of the period, it was constructed in the form of a letter E, in tribute to the virgin queen. It had once been the main home of the mad Carews, a family of aristocrats who had gambled and fought and wenched their fortune away. It had gone through various metamorphoses over the years, including being a bawdy house and the county lunatic asylum, but had been a private school since the 1880s.
They found the headmaster, Jeremy Paxton, waiting for them outside the huge grey oak door of the school’s main entrance. Paxton was a tall, gangly man who seemed to be all elbows and knees. The headmaster was a surprise to Rafferty. He’d expected an older, donnish type, with a gown and mortarboard in keeping with the school’s venerable status. But Paxton could be barely forty and seemed to have adopted an eccentric mode of dress comprised of a cream silk cravat and a scarlet waistcoat reminiscent of some regency rake. To Rafferty it seemed as if he was trying to mitigate for his youth by adopting the fashion popular during the Carew family’s last dying days.
Paxton led them to his study. Considering the school was a prestigious establishment with fees to match, the headmaster’s study was not even shabby-chic. Yes, he had the obligatory computer and other high-tech gadgetry on his desk, but the oak-panelled walls with their scabby varnish looked as if they had some unfortunate disease and the furniture appeared to have stood here since the school was founded in the late nineteenth century. And while the mahogany desk was large and inlaid, its leather surface was scuffed and stained with ink blotches. There were several ill-assorted heavy Victorian chairs in front of the desk and Paxton invited them to sit down.
Paxton had a foppish manner to go with his dandy clothing. He tended to wave his arms about a good deal and generally gave off an air of being like an escapee from a St Trinian’s farce. But in spite of the clothing and mannerisms, he must have been considered suitably qualified for the post. Perhaps the parents expected an eccentric character given some of the post’s past incumbents, one of whom had been a scientist in the mould of Dr Jekyll, who, instead of using himself, had used his pupils as guinea pigs for his outlandish experiments. If Rafferty remembered his local history correctly a couple of the pupils had died and the headmaster had been removed from his post and just escaped a murder charge.
Rafferty had explained about the situation with Ainsley over the phone and now Jeremy Paxton displayed an efficiency entirely at odds with the foppish appearance, He gave Rafferty a list of the school’s old boys and girls who were currently staying at the school as well as a detailed map showing the school’s sprawling buildings, which dated over several centuries.
‘You said over the phone that Mr Ainsworth would have died within two or three hours of ingesting the poison. That being the case, I’ve taken the liberty of inviting those who shared his table at lunch that day to wait for you in the Senior Common Room.’ Paxton paused, then added, ‘You’ll need somewhere to interview the reunees, I imagine. There’s a room opposite the Senior Common Room which is empty and which has a desk, chairs and a phone. I hope it suits you.’
Rafferty thanked him. ‘You’ve been very through. If you could show us to the Senior Common Room, we’ll get started.’
‘Of course.’ Paxton stood up. ‘Please come with me.’
Rafferty and Llewellyn followed him along several dark, art-strewn corridors and up a flight of massive stairs to the first floor. Paxton opened the door of the Senior Common Room. It was large and surprisingly airy with an array of well-worn mismatched settees, a large plasma TV and the usual technological gizmos deemed essential by today’s youth. The occupants of the room were as ill- assorted as the settees; all seven looked to be in their early thirties, but that was where any similarity ended. They wore anything from ripped jeans to City suits and everything in between.
Paxton introduced them to the group and vice versa, then left them to it, saying he’d have coffee sent up to their new office across the way. The group comprised four men and three women, and while their hairstyles and clothing might be widely dissimilar, they all had a wary look in their eyes. Jeremy Paxton had told them that he had explained the situation to the reunees, who had all received the best education money and the county could provide, so would be under no illusion that – if, as seemed likely, given the dreadful symptoms the poison produced, the dead man had been murdered – they were all suspects.