Am super excited to be kicking off the Newcastle Noir blog tour today. As some of you may be aware, sadly the event had to be cancelled due to the recent Corona virus pandemic. Obviously this was a sensible decision but it has left many of us book lovers bereft at missing fabulous events such as this one. Luckily for us, the wonderful organisers thought they would still go ahead with the blog tour so we can at least get a little bookish fix
So for any of you who may not have heard of Newcastle Noir, here is a little bit more about them. Although please do check out their website here.
Newcastle Noir is a literary festival celebrating the best in contemporary crime writing. The festival, rooted in the North East of England, brings together writers from the North East, across Britain, as well as from further afield.
Based at Newcastle’s City Library, the festival is hosted in an amazing venue, with plenty of time between events to meet authors, buy books and have a break!
This annual gathering of crime fiction authors and readersoffers events geared to a wide audience including panel discussions, readings, talks and crime writing workshops.
So for my stop, I am delighted to have Zoë Sharp join me. Zoë was due to appear on one of the many panels at the event. Very happy that Zoë agreed to me interviewing her instead.
Zoë Sharp opted out of mainstream education at the age of twelve and wrote her first novel at fifteen. She began her crime thriller series featuring former Special Forces trainee turned bodyguard, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox, after receiving death-threats in the course of her work as a photojournalist. As well as the Charlie Fox books, she writes the Lakes crime thriller series, featuring CSI Grace McColl and Detective Nick Weston, as well as standalones, short stories, and collaborations with espionage thriller author, John Lawton. Her work has won or been nominated for awards on both sides of the Atlantic, been used in school textbooks, inspired an original song and music video, and been optioned for TV and film. When not in lockdown in the wilds of Derbyshire, she can be found improvising self-defence weapons out of ordinary household objects, international pet-sitting, or crewing yachts in the Mediterranean. (It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.) Zoë is always happy to hear from readers, reader groups, libraries or bookstores. You can contact her at Zoe@ZoeSharp.com.
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Zoe-Sharp/e/B001KHFSH2
From an author’s perspective, what’s it like appearing at a book festival/event?
I think any kind of public appearance is always going to be nerve-wracking to a certain degree. Writing is such a solitary existence, normally, that getting out from behind our keyboard and mixing with readers, other authors, bloggers and reviewers is just such a lovely experience. With very few exceptions, they’re a wonderful crowd. People have been asking how I’ve been coping with the current UK lockdown. I say that life more or less goes on exactly as usual. With the possible exception that I seem to be using more bleach…
Do you suffer with “stage” fright and does it get any easier?
I confess that I don’t get stage-fright. My biggest fear is usually that nobody’s going to turn up and it will all have been a waste of so much effort for the organisers, be that a festival, bookstore or library. As soon as I know there’s going to be an audience, I can relax. I tend to treat appearances as stand-up comedy—I take what I DO very seriously, but I can’t take myself seriously at all.
What in particular were you looking forward to most about appearing at Newcastle Noir?
I was at one of the very first Newcastle Noir events, back when it was at the gorgeous Lit & Phil. In my previous life as a photojournalist, I spent quite a bit of time working in Newcastle and Gateshead, and the place is full of stories and characters. It’s always a treat to go back. And how can anybody resist the enthusiasm of the utterly charming ‘Dr Noir’ Jacky Collins?
What is the most common question you get asked?
Good question! Probably… is Charlie Fox based on you? I used to deny this, and go into explanations of how the character evolved from my being on the receiving end of death-threats years ago. And also not being able to find the kind of female thriller characters I wanted to read about. Now I just say, “Oh yeah, it’s entirely autobiographical…”
If you could interview one author, who would it be?
There are just too many terrific authors out there, how on earth could I limit it to just one? I suppose I regret not ever having the chance to interview Robert B Parker, who was one of my literary heroes. His pared-down prose style is a lesson in how to say so much in the least number of words possible. I had the honour to be on a panel with him at my first ever US event, many years ago.
Which of your books means the most to you and why?
I view what I do as a craft rather than an art. So, with every book I write, I hope I’m honing that craft a little more each time. Therefore, the next latest book is usually my favourite and the next book will be the best. I sweated and slaved over them all, and fretted over the characters and the motivations and the storyline. All of them mean the world to me.
How do you choose the names for your characters?
I don’t know where most of the character names come from. Charlie Fox just strolled into my head one day, introduced herself, pointed a gun at me and said, “I have a story to tell. You might want to write this down…” On the other hand, Grace McColl and Nick Weston—the duo at the heart of my Lakes thrillers—went through a few different names before they settled into those incarnations. Other character names are taken from real people who ask/bid/volunteer to be in the books. In the latest Lakes thriller, BONES IN THE RIVER, the Force Medical Examiner is one Ayo Onatade, who will be a familiar name to all those who read Shots Crime & Thriller Ezine. In the last Charlie Fox thriller, BAD TURN, it seemed that half the characters in the book were real people.
If you didn’t write, what else do you think you would be doing now?
That’s a tricky question, because I’ve been earning a living from words in one form or another for so long that I’m now utterly unemployable… But, over recent years I’ve been doing a fair bit of international pet-sitting. I also love house renovation, and can turn my hand to most aspects of the job from wiring and plumbing, flooring and tiling, to joinery and plastering. It’s why people often say, “Come and stay…bring tools!”
What has been your hardest scene to write?
They’re all hard in their own way, because it matters so much to me that I get them right, and make them sound true to life and natural. And when I write, I watch a movie in my head and then write down what I see. If I can’t visualise the scene, I can’t write it. In BONES IN THE RIVER, I think the hardest scene for me was the dialogue between two characters when one of them has just been forced to admit to an affair. It was a conversation I never got to have.
What are you currently working on and when can your readers expect to see it out in the world?
BONES IN THE RIVER, book No2 in the Lakes crime thriller series, will be out on May 26. You can grab a sneak peek at the first three chapters here. I’m also preparing to start on a new Charlie Fox, which will be book 14! I can hardly believe it. There will be more shorter fiction, too, and maybe something completely different. Apart from that, I’ll just be loafing…
A huge thank you to Zoë for joining me on my blog today and for Newcastle Noir allowing me the honour of kicking off the blog tour. Please don’t forget to follow the other stops on the tour on these amazing blogs.