Meet the author: Susie Steiner - Missing, Presumed
This week there's a bumper book giveaway for you! We've got 300 copies of Susie Steiner's compelling novel Missing, Presumed - and are also sharing her tips for writing crime fiction. Apply for your copy now
This giveaway is sponsored by HarperCollins
About the book
Missing, Presumed is a page-turning literary mystery surrounding a missing girl, a desperate family, and a detective at breaking point.
It is mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. After yet another soul-destroying Internet date, Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep, with the low murmuring of the police radio as her only solace.
Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.
Is Edith alive or dead? Was her 'complex love life' at the heart of her disappearance? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?
"For those who love their crime fiction rich in psychology, beautifully written and laced with dark humour. Dive in!" – Lucie Whitehouse, author of Before We Met
"DS Manon Bradshaw is a messed-up, big-hearted detective in the best tradition." – Harriet Lane, author of Her
"Susie Steiner's writing experience and research skills shine through" – Emma Lee Potter, Mumsnet blogger
About the author
Susie Steiner began her writing career as a news reporter, first on local papers, then on the Evening Standard, the Daily Telegraph and The Times. In 2001, she joined the Guardian, where she worked as a commissioning editor for 11 years. Her first novel, Homecoming – described as 'truly exceptional' by the Observer – was published by Faber & Faber in 2013. She lives in London with her husband and two children.
Susie Steiner's top tips for writing crime fiction
1. Devour newspapers, especially crime news stories
Cut out or print interesting ones and keep them in a file. These are great idea generators. There's nothing as strange as life itself.
2. Watch crime drama on TV
No one does it better than Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley) or Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty). I know, tough background work, right? Someone has to do it. Notice how fear, excitement and tension are achieved. Think about your favourite elements and how the writers injected these.
3. Discard everything you picked up watching TV crime drama
The procedural details are often wrong or made up and you don't want to re-hash these clichés. Lawyers do not 'approach the bench' and cops do not go 'door-to-door' (it's house-to-house). Contact the police directly for research (the press office is the best place to start and regional forces tend to be more open than the Met). You never know, you might be pushing on an open door.
4. Remember - a crime novel is first and foremost just a novel with pace
Your characters must feel real, be motivated by believable desires, and your resolution must be satisfying. That's true of all novels. The structure of a criminal investigation mirrors the structure of all drama – there is a fragile status quo, fractured by the inciting incident, then the period of wilderness and lonesome struggle as the hero seeks resolution (often thwarted). Finally, there is resolution, and a new status quo achieved (along with change, self-knowledge, etc). Structure is everything.
5. Allow your manuscript to go cold
Leave it alone for a few weeks - the school holidays are ideal for this. Then when you pick it up again, you have a totally fresh view of the manuscript, allowing you to see what's wrong.
6. Consult the expertsCrime novels can come together at a very late stage of writing, when clues can be back-laid and endings finessed. If you are struggling, I heartily recommend Caroline Wheat's How to Write Killer Fiction.
7. Keep going!
We've got 300 copies of Missing, Presumed to give away to lucky Mumsnetters. This giveaway ends on Monday 6 September.
We ask all winners to share their thoughts about the book on the discussion thread. However, you don't have to win a free copy to take part in the discussion - anyone who has read Missing, Presumed can post their feedback (and you can buy the paperback now).
Everyone who posts on the thread before 18 October will be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 Love2shop voucher.
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Last updated: 4 months ago