From the screen to the page. The Metamorphosis of Murder. #killerfest15

Category: Author Post

What’s the difference between writing a novel and writing a screenplay?  It’s a question I’m often asked, being someone who earns a living doing both.  The answer isn’t as easy to pin down as you’d think.

An Act of Mercy began as a screenplay – Pilgrim, a speculative pilot episode for a TV series, or ‘spec script’.  I first had the idea for the story after reading an article about Charles Dickens, who was a massive fan of the newly-created detectives, often writing about them in his journal Household Words.  Unfortunately, his enthusiasm wasn’t shared by the public–at-large, especially the middle- and upper-classes, who thought there was something ‘sneaking and un-English’ about the concept.  Even the Police Commissioners believed that crime prevention was the key to successful policing; detection after the fact was an admission of defeat.

I thought it was a great starting point for a story.

Shortly after finishing the screenplay for Pilgrim, Ripper Street hit our TV screens.  I was gutted.  No-one was going to commission another Victorian crime series now!  But I’d enjoyed the company of Detective Sergeant Harry Pilgrim so much that I really didn’t want to abandon him.  I decided to turn the screenplay into a novel.

I started out with the dialogue and action of the script, and gradually built setting and internal monologue around them.  What I also had, right from the start, was structure (as any TV writer will tell you, a sound story structure is crucial if you’re going to sustain an hour-long TV episode). The only problem was that I only had enough structure and story for half a novel.

Turning Pilgrim into An Act of Mercy was a fascinating and occasionally frustrating challenge.  But I’m so glad I stuck at it.  Thanks to HarperCollins Killer Reads I can now share Detective Sergeant Harry Pilgrim with other lovers of crime fiction. I can also answer that tricky question with some authority.  What’s the difference between a writing a novel and a writing a screenplay?  Six months hard work!

Blog by JJ Durham

Latest book: An Act of Mercy

Blog profile: Killing Time Crime @thekillingtime #KillerFest15

Category: Interview

killing time

Your name: Gareth Watkins

Your blog’s name: Killing Time Crime

Blog’s URL:

Which types of books do you review? All types of crime fiction and thrillers, from hardboiled to cosy: contemporary, classic, historical, translated…

What do you like about crime fiction? The best crime fiction deals with big issues, issues of morality and justice, without sacrificing story. It holds up a mirror to society and makes us think about our place in it.

For anyone starting out, can you recommend 5 essential crime books to read?

  1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie – Christie’s best novel, and one of the best crime novels. Even if you know the famous twist, it’s still astonishing.
  2. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler – Another one regularly near or at the top of ‘greatest crime novels’ lists. Contemporary crime fiction would be vastly different if not for Chandler.
  3. Black and Blue by Ian Rankin –  I consider Rankin to be one of the greatest living writers (in any genre), and this is the novel that first convinced me of that.
  4. A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell – No list of crime recommendations is complete without Ruth Rendell, and this is probably her best and most surprising novel.
  5. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson – funny and heartbreaking, Atkinson proves that the boundary between good crime and ‘literary’ fiction is narrower than many people would have you believe.

Do you have 1 or 2 personal favourites? Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles was the book that first turned me to crime at an impressionable age and will always have a special place.

New crime fiction author you are most excited by? I was really impressed by William Shaw’s first two Sixties-set novels A Song from Dead Lips and A House of Knives. I don’t know if he’s still considered new, but James Oswald’s Inspector McClean novels go from strength-to-strength.

Greatest fictional criminal? It has to be Hannibal Lecter – no fictional character has scared me so much or so well.

Greatest fictional detective? A predictable answer because it’s the only one: Sherlock Holmes.

Are you on social media? Yes, you can find me on Twitter @thekillingtime

How can authors and publishers encourage you to review their books? Mainly by write and publishing original, exciting, intelligent crime fiction. Avon have also been doing some sterling work in creating a buzz about new books with some imaginative publicity.

How do you like people to contact you? You can email me at

Blog profile: Books & Reviews @ms_adler #KillerFest15

Category: Interview

Your name Elena

Your blog’s name Books & Reviews

Blog’s URL

Which types of books do you review? Crime fiction, mainly written by women, but also contemporary fiction by new women writers.

What do you like about crime fiction? I think that crime fiction is a tool that helps us deal with the worst parts of ourselves and society, those things that we would rather not see, but that are as part of life as the good ones.

For anyone starting out, can you recommend 5 essential crime books to read? Yes!

  • Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell.- The first in the Kay Scarpetta series, it is an incredible opportunity to explore the beginnings of forensic science as we know it nowadays. Can you imagine a modern world where DNA profiling sounded like magic? And where there were no mobile phones?
  • The Coroner by M.R. Hall.- Jenny Cooper is the first and younger woman to have been appointed Coroner at her city. What I loved about this book is how complex, troubled, flawed yet admirable Jenny is. Plus, have you read about any other coroner being a main character?
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.- A classic, this novella made me fall in love with crime fiction.
  • Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.- I love everything Atkinson writes, but her Jackson Brodie series are the perfect psychological crime novels.
  • Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.- Soon to be adapted for the Silver Screen starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, Moriarty’s first novel after her best-selling The Husband’s Secret takes place at a primary school in Sydney. I loved that this is the first crime novel set in Australia I’ve read.

Do you have 1 or 2 personal favourites? I love “A Scandal in Bohemia” because it features Irene Adler, one of the two people who fooled Holmes. Also, I love Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, I think there is so much to it, so many layers of psychological analysis!

New crime fiction author you are most excited by? I love Sarah Hilary and Paula Daly, and I have just recently discovered Rebecca Scherm who wrote an identity thriller – yes, that exists and you should read it! – called Unbecoming.

Greatest fictional criminal? If you consider her a criminal, then Amy Dunne from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but because I don’t, let’s say all the people in The Orient Express who planned everything together. As you can see, I tend to choose some relative criminals.

Greatest fictional detective? Sherlock Holmes and Kay Scarpetta, in equal meassure.

Are you on social media? Yes! You can follow me on Twitter (@ms_adler) and like Books & Reviews’ Facebook page.

How can authors and publishers encourage you to review their books? I want to meet new women authors who are writing exciting and challenging crime fiction, especially if their books have a detective or a medical examiner as a main character.

How do you like people to contact you? The easiest way is via Twitter (@ms_adler), but I also through my email account is