CWA Daggers 2016

9633431_origMy story, Rosenlaui, from The Adventures of Moriarty: The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’s Nemesis (edited by Maxim Jakubowski) has made it on to the shortlist, released today, for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger award for short fiction. The CWA judges say this of Rosenlaui:

‘An inventive and beautifully written new take on the encounter of Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach, told by a wheelchair bound boy who communicates only through blinking, but who is a keen, if perhaps unreliable, observer. Williams’ control of the narration keeps the story both thrilling and reflective, and casts an unusual shadowy light on crime fiction’s most famous showdown.’

It’s a great thrill to be in the running against such strong competition (including old chum and Watson, Little stablemate, Chris Fowler). The awards ceremony is in London on October 11th.

CW up for a CWA Dagger

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My story Rosenlaui has made it on to the shortlist for a prestigious Crime Writers’ Association Dagger award. I’m shocked and thrilled. The nominees were announced at CrimeFest this weekend. The awards ceremony will take place later in the year.

If you’d like to read Rosenlaui, along with a bunch of many other fine tales by many other fine writers, you can get hold of a copy of the anthology, edited by the redoubtable Maxim Jakubowski (who is also responsible for getting my PI Joel Sorrell on the scene, by the way), here.

Congratulations and good luck to all the other finalists.

The Napoleon of Crime

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Lionel Atwill as Moriarty in ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon’ (1943)

Yesterday I discovered that my story, Rosenlaui, will be included in Constable & Robinson‘s forthcoming The Mammoth Book of Professor Moriarty Adventures, edited by the venerable Maxim Jakubowski. The story concerns events in Meiringen, Switzerland, on the eve of that momentous confrontation at the Reichenbach Falls.

This is only the second time I’ve ever written a story containing someone else’s creation (I had a story in Stephen Jones’ Dracula anthology – another ‘Mammoth’ book – back in 1997), and I had enormous fun with it. I would certainly consider doing something similar in future (are you listening, Ian Fleming Publications?).

A New Voice

1616 words.

Paul’s been hogging the show since day one. He’s in every single scene and every single scene is being written from his point of view. Well, not any more. There’s a new character, with a new voice, and she’s going to be making the odd appearance throughout the story. There’s always a little wobble when such a decision is made. It might disrupt the feel of the novel (Blonde on a Stick was rejected by one major publisher who didn’t like the sudden injection of a new voice half way through the novel). But I think such risks can pay off, if you get the voice right, and if the story isn’t affected in any deleterious way. And this needs to happen, for plot reasons and pay-off reasons.

I remember the shock I had reading The Insult by the superb novelist Rupert Thomson. The first 250 pages are narrated by Martin Blom, who, after being shot in the head, is told he will be blind for life. It’s an amazing narrative, very compelling. Towards the end of part one, his sight returns, but with a twist: he can only see at night. The second part starts with a different narrator. A different story, too, albeit one that overlaps with Martin’s… a serious WTF moment. It works, but there’s a slight tinge of disappointment that a character you’ve grown with, whose voice you’ve trusted and been entertained by, has suddenly departed, never to return.

With Blonde, I knew there was going to be a similar wrench. I warn against such moments when I run writers’ classes. You get jolted out of the story, out of that zone; you become aware that you are reading a story constructed by a writer. It can be damaging. There’s the danger of losing your audience. But sometimes you have to run with your instincts. There was no way I could write the stories of Joel Sorrell and the Four-Year-Old as parallel narratives: that would have been even more of a distraction because the Four-Year-Old’s story is presented as a series of flashbacks and current events. So I had to separate the two halves of Joel’s narrative with an interlude devoted entirely to the Four-Year-Old’s rise. I liked it. My agent liked it. Maxim Jakubowski (bless him) at John Blake liked it, but some editors didn’t.

You have to write for yourself first, don’t you?

Listened to: Symphony no. 3, by Henryk Górecki