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January 2001

A Life Of Crime
March 2001 Hackwriters Editorial

It’s a terrible crime - you get paid to work out the most god-awful outrage, do something absolutely brutal against humanity and you are allowed to display these grisly creations in shops all across the country. They even give you awards for it. It is depraved and unfair and yet - we all want a piece of the action. Right now ‘Hannibal ’ is all the rage, big in the box office and astonishingly, the soundtrack is played on classic FM. Why are we so fascinated by crime? Why do millions of books on crime sell every year? Crime fiction, True crime, Historic crime; there is no end to the appetite for this stuff and yet as crime figures rise in our cities and rural areas, so does our fear of crime. You’d think we’d want to read nice happy stories, wouldn’t you, to take our minds off it?

We have been very lucky at Hackwriters these past few weeks with the excellent and popular crime and thriller writers Joanna Hines and Michelle Spring visiting us to give us the inside view of making crime pay.

Joanna Hines's latest is ‘Improvising Carla' (published January 2001). It's a gripping psychological thriller that has found a deserved place in the bestseller lists. Joanna was teaching us how to avoid pitfalls and keep a novel on track. She is based here in Cornwall, so it’s great to have a local writer make time for aspiring future competitors. Joanna works hard and it is fascinating to see how skilfully she plans and develops her literary themes.

Michelle Spring followed closely on her heels. She is the author of the upcoming ‘In the Midnight Hour’, published this April. What we discovered is not so much about the craft of writing; we know it is hard and depends on good research and characterisation, but the astonishing amount of effort that goes into marketing, making sure you network, and getting people to know you. Michelle in particular taught us that the world isn’t waiting for us to finish our great work. You have to put in as much effort as you put into writing it into making sure people care about it and want to read it. In a forest of books, how do you get yours to be seen and bought instead of others? We learned a great deal from both authors and nothing they said deterred us from getting out there with our manuscripts to look for agents and publishers when the time comes. More importantly Michelle pointed us to her new collective of crime writers, banding together to support and nurture each other in a group called ‘The Unusual Suspects’. Check them out and when they appear in your area, go and support them. You’ll learn something and find a cracking good read.

Thank you Joanna and Michelle.

Joanna with the Hackwriters Team Pic:


The publisher, Robert Rimmer
"A chiller of a thriller about real women... beautifully crafted, subtle and good."
- Frances Fyfield
Paperback - 352 pages (19 April, 2001) Orion; ISBN: 0752824813 Sales Rank: 52,274 Synopsis:
12 years ago, a child vanished without trace. Now on a quiet street in Cambridge, the mother discovers a young man whom she hopes is her missing son. If he is, where has he been all these years? And what is his connection with the violence that begins with his arrival and ends with murder?

'Midnight Hour is a wonderfully tight portrait of a human tragedy. The setting and locations are wonderully realistic - you feel Michelle Spring is there in person documenting this family - excellent work' Sam North

See also The Unusual Suspects

This brings up to March in Hackwriters. We want to say a big thank you to for awarding us The Metaplus Creative Writing Website Award 2001. It has come at a time when we are launching our new First Chapters section in Hackwriters. Jayne Sharratt has sent us her wonderful opening to ‘Life in a Northern Town’ and Joerg Lisgard demonstrates his stuff with the first three short chapters of ‘Love’ a novella. Since I know no shame, my own novel ‘Going Indigo’ first chapter is up there too, as it has just come back onto the market following the termination of my old publishers. For publisher and agents, our showcased writers retain all their rights and we only request a finders fee should the books be taken on. We also retain our first chapter sample rights when we do a print version of Hackwriters.

Hackwriters is growing. We are a magazine that is constantly evolving and we do so with the help of our readers. It needs you, the reader, to help spread the word. If you are also a writer of quality work, submit it to us. (Yes, we do reject work; but we are here to encourage talent that attempts to respect the written word, good ideas, has style and wit. If you submit a first chapter, you must be committed to completing the whole novel). Or we send Oliver round with a big scowl.
All constructive feedback is sent to the authors. We hope this section of our award-winning fiction site will grow into something good and respected by agents and publishers.

Right now we are showcasing the very talented Carine who is looking for a media or publishing job in London. We will be showcasing other writers and contributors to Hackwriters in the near future

This month we're writing about Sport (this week's issue), the images that foreign countries project, Business and Politics and the Short Story. If you fancy any of those themes, write on. We want to hear from you. You chose the content, we set the theme.

All the best and may the farmers recover, the slaughter of the animals be forgiven and your rail journeys be safe. (What are the odds of Russia’s Mir space station landing on the 9.45 from Truro anyway?)

Sam North - Managing Editor

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