Wednesday 23 June 2010

Roz Southey and Chris Nickson

The long-term health of the crime fiction genre depends on a number of things, including the willingness of publishers to bring out the work of new writers – and to keep publishing capable writers for more than a couple of novels. All too often, there is a tendency for new or newish writers to be picked up on, say, a two-book deal and then dumped thereafter if the figures don’t look good. I understand the economic reasons for this, but short-term thinking has major downsides in most businesses, and I doubt if publishing is an exception. Authors need to be supported over a number of years if they are to develop the confidence to make the most of their talent.

A good example of a small publisher which nurtures new, or relatively little-known, writers is Crème de la Crime. Their books are paperback originals, and thanks to the good judgment of Lynne Patrick, who runs the company, they have introduced a number of very talented writers to an appreciative readership.

Two of their recent novels sound interesting. Roz Southey has just produced her fourth book , Swords and Song, which carries praise from that accomplished writer Sarah Rayne. Southey is a musicologist and historian, based in the North East of England, and her interests inform her historical mysteries. In this one, her musician detective Charlie Patterson finds that a young woman he knows has been murdered and he becomes (as series detectives are wont to do) drawn into the mystery.

The Broken Token by Chris Nickson is another historical mystery, this time a debut. A map of the historic ‘town’ of Leeds, where the action takes place, is helpfully provided. I do like maps in books. Here, Richard Nottingham, Constable of Leeds, discovers a murdered man and woman. He knew both victims – the woman was a former housemaid of his – and so, as with Southey’s book, he has a personal stake in solving the mystery.

The idea of a detective having such a personal stake in the investigation is a very familiar one – I used it in my own first novel, All the Lonely People, in which Harry Devlin’s wife is killed – but it’s effective nevertheless. I look forward to reading these books.


Unknown said...

I agree. I love looking for new and talented writers which I feel will become less and less as the publishing industry goes down. But, I think we will find that even if there is no more money left, writers will still write mysteries because they have to. I think publishing will change but perhaps drop the middle man (the publishers) it will go straight from the author to the people at a cost.


Anonymous said...

Martin - It is good to know that there are some publishers who support new and newish talent. I agree completely that it can take some time for an author to fully reach his or her potential and hopefully, authors keep growing, anyway. Thanks for sharing the news about Crème de la Crime.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love indie publishers...their books are always interesting! I agree, the industry needs fresh ideas and writers and different types of mysteries.

aguja said...

I am so pleased that you have written this blog. I agree that writers need the nurture of pulishers and am glad that there are some wise enough to do this.
I also agree with Clarissa Draper's last point on her comment.
As a writer, but not of mysteries or detection, I have taken this path. Having been accepted by a publisher and then 'let go' because of the 'crisis' and need to publish 'big names' and 'money earners', I have created my own books (to the extent of making them).
To my delight, I have discovered that I have 'pitched' to the right readership (8-10) and am receiving such positive feedback that I am amazed. I now have satisfaction and encouragement - great feelings!
BUT, to return to the post - here's to those `publishers who care!

Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks for these interesting comments. Clarissa, I agree - and Aguja, I was pleased to hear that the new direction is working well for you.