Many people have had a hugely positive influence on my writing career, whether it’s from direct advice, support in the dark days of rejection slips fluttering my way like obscene confetti, or introductions made to people who I’d benefit from speaking to. Some are friends and others are people I’ve met briefly along the way, but have learned from by reading their novels. They’re listed in no particular order as to me they’re all equally important.
My police procedural novels draw a direct line from many great authors and with the names on this list being so well known, it’s no surprise to learn that Jake Boulder has been influenced by Matt, Zoë, Tom and Lee among others.
If you like the books I write, then you're sure to enjoy the ones written by my influences
Author of the Joe Hunter and the Po & Villere novels among other writing, Matt is a close friend whose sage advice and friendly support has been an ever constant throughout my writing career. A fine author in his own right, Matt is the first real friend I made when entering the crime writing community and I love his books because they’re brilliant, not because he’s a mate.
Zoë is a wonderful supporter and a damned fine author. I’ve been friends with her a long time and she’s always been supportive of the crime writing community and has passed on many a wise word to me. It was her advice which solved a problem I was encountering with I Know Your Secret and she’s a font of knowledge about all aspects of writing.
A wonderful man and an amazing author. I’m proud to call Craig a friend and he’s an author whose books are not just a great read, but textbooks for the tradecraft of writing. I’ve never read a book of his without becoming wiser, and while his novel The Devil Aspect is his finest work and included in my top reads, his series of novels about the sardonic sleuth Lennox are a stunning body of work.
Al is one of those people who know everyone important in the crime writing community and is known by them. An award-winning author, a former publisher, an editor and a literary agent, Al is the kind of person I can always turn to for advice and feel confident that I’ll get a better answer than expected. He’s generous with his advice and the kind of man you’d always want in your corner.
I first met him at a crime writing course he was conducting with Stuart MacBride at the Harrogate Crime Festival, where he and Stuart both espoused a dislike for dialogue tags (He said. She asked) and championed not using any. I was struggling with tags during the writing of my debut novel at the time and this was a real lightbulb moment for me.
A conversation with Al in 2019 is also responsible for me moving from being a pantser to a plotter. (See the page on my writing process for a more in depth explanation.) I’m lucky to have him as a friend.
A fine gentleman and a wonderful author. His kind words throughout my writing career have spurred me on since the first meeting as mentioned in the piece above. An evangelist on the subject of dialogue tags, I can only dream of being able to write with his brevity although I try to follow his lead whenever possible.
Col is a great friend and the person who gave me my first credit as an author for a short story of mine he featured on a blogzine he co-ran, Col is a writer in his own right and we’ve shared many a late night conversation over a few beers where we discuss all things writing and brainstorm ideas to break test them.
His ever-present support has been a constant of my writing career, and whenever we meet up there is always beer and laughter on the menu.
Tom is one of the nicest guys you could meet. Generous with his time, he’s been a wonderful influence on my writing. His debut novel, The Accident Man, is the finest conspiracy theory I’ve ever read and the way he ended that series inspired me to write my own projection of what happened next such was its impact. Tom was the first person to show me what a proper edit was like, and his whole Sam Carver series is a lesson into the possibilities of the written word.
Michael J. Malone
A fellow crimesquad.com reviewer, Michael is a good friend and a spectacular writer who can breathe life into even the starkest piece of prose. He’s always been around with great advice and he’s a regular speaker at my Crime and Publishment courses as well as a guiding hand when it comes to programming the event.
The Blogging Community
My career wouldn’t be where it is without their influence so I have to give them a mention. I’ve been very fortunate to receive fantastic support from book bloggers. They’re very much the unsung heroes of the writing community with their enthusiastic support, promotion of books they love and the generous way they support authors of all standings.
On the afternoon of the day I attended the course ran by Al Guthrie and Stuart MacBride there was a session taken by Joseph Finder. Joe gave us exercises and he chose me to read one out. His comment of “cool twist” really gave me a shot of much needed confidence, and gave me the belief that I could string a few words together in a way that might just be entertaining to someone else. Since that day I’ve interviewed Joe for Crimesquad.com, had my review quoted on his website and been lucky enough to receive a blurb from him for my debut novel.
Joe’s standalone novels are breathtakingly brilliant, and – publishing schedule allowing – I’d love to try and write one half as good as his one day.
Without Lee’s newsletter, The Reacher Report, I would have never learned about the Harrogate Crime Festival I attended. That’s where it all began for me and I can trace my evolution from reader to writer right back to that email. More details of my journey are on my Q&A page.
Before an interview for Crimesquad.com, I gave Lee a copy of my debut novel and quickly gave him the story of how his newsletter had led to me getting a publishing deal. His class shone through when he handed the book straight back asking me to sign it for him.
A gentleman through and through, Peter always has time to pass on a kind word and as a fan of his Roy Grace series, I grew to care more about the series arc regarding Grace’s missing wife, Sandi. This series arc was something I grew to care more about than actually cases Grace was investigating, and the roots of the series arcs I gave to DI Harry Evans and DC Beth Young came from this.
My editor at Bookouture, by turn Isobel wields her red pen with the savagery of a shark attack or the precision of a heart surgeon’s scalpel. Since I began working with her, my writing has improved immeasurably and there are times when I’m throwing down a first draft, when I will alter something in anticipation of an edit I can predict will come my way. I’m lucky to have a fantastic relationship with her, even if she does spend her time thinking of ways to point out my mistakes or give me homework.
Mark’s Tom Thorne is a character I feel a deep affinity for above many others. I care about him on a personal level and when I was chatting to Mark, I asked him the rather naïve question. “Will you ever make him happy?” His answer of, “I’d only ever make him happy so I could take the happiness away again,” was very instructive and one I’ve always tried to adhere to when it came to my own writing, hence the mess that is Harry Evans’ personal life, the trauma I’ve put Jake Boulder through and the backstory Beth has to live with. Let’s face it, none of these characters would be as interesting if they didn’t have my interference spoiling their lives.