Today we’re so pleased to welcome author Steve Burford to TNA, on the tour for his new novel It’s a Sin. Enjoy Steve’s guest post, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a NineStar Press Book credit.
I was asked the other day, what was the hardest thing about writing “It’s a Sin”.
I was tempted to say, “Finding time free from pestering friends and their daft questions,” but as, at the time, I was eating a rather good meal paid for by one of those pestering friends, that seemed harsh. So I gave the question some thought – after the pudding.
It hadn’t been the characters. As I’ve blogged elsewhere, one of the reasons I write (apart from the fame and stacks of cash) is to overcome a frustration at the presentation of gay characters in fiction. It’s obviously impossible to say everything there is to say about twenty-first century gay men through just one character, but I hope Dave Lyon does something to counter the clichés and stereotypes that lazy media use to represent us, and that even some gay men are coming to believe are viable ‘guidelines’ for life now that a general public is accepting of them rather than openly hostile. (At which point, I pause for breath and climb down from my soap box.)
And once I had Dave, Claire Summerskill followed right after. Dave’s done well in the force, but not as well as perhaps he should have done, and definitely not as well as he thinks he should have done. A forceful Welsh woman was obviously what he needed to help him realise his full potential. (It worked for me, but that’s a whole other story!)
Was it the plot? Yes and no. When all’s said and done, a crime plot is mapped out for you. There’s a crime, and your main characters have to solve it. And the crime has to be murder. (Well, would you read a whole novel about a traffic offence?) Actually though, that was a problem as, in my line of work, I rarely mix with murderers (not those who ‘fess up, anyway) and I found it genuinely difficult to get into the head of one. But, needs must… so I went for it and I must admit a quiet though dark satisfaction as the pages piled up and the blood flowed.
No, I have to admit, the hardest part about writing this book was finding the title. I love titles that sum up everything about a novel and then manage to tie it up in an elegant verbal bow of a pun. But I just couldn’t do it with this book. I sat and thought until in the end I picked up a random CD, put it on, and within seconds of the music starting I had my title. In fact, a ton of ideas for future novels just fell into my lap.
Hope you’ll be back for future novels in the Summerskill and Lyon series: “Rent”, “Domino Dancing” and “West End Girls”.
How different it might have been if I’d put that Abba CD in.
Blurb: “He is a talented and very promising young policeman. Make no mistakes, he deserves the promotion.”
But when gay Detective Sergeant Dave Lyon is assigned to Detective Inspector Claire Summerskill’s team as part of the Service’s ‘positive discrimination policy’, no-one at Foregate Street Station is happy. And that includes Summerskill and Lyon.
Mutual suspicion and mistrust must be shelved however, when a young man’s beaten body is found on a canal tow path, and a dead-end case of ‘happy slapping’ unexpectedly turns into a murder investigation.
Why would someone want to kill middle class arts student Jonathan Williams? And how is his death linked to that of rent boy and would be ‘adult’ film star Sean?
As Summerskill and Lyon’s investigations proceed, the newly-promoted detectives begin to untangle a web of connections, false assumptions and sheer prejudices that force them both to question closely not just their relationship with each other but with the rest of their colleagues at Foregate Street Station and with the Police Service as a whole.
“It’s A Sin” is the first in the “Summerskill and Lyon” police procedural novels.
Excerpt: Three people walked past him on the canal path that cold November morning before anyone realised something was wrong.
The first, a professional man, out early for the morning paper, saw him sitting under the small footbridge that crossed the narrow strip of dark water. He took in the face-concealing hoodie, the flashy and doubtless ridiculously expensive trainers, and kept as far away from him as he possibly could without actually walking on the water itself. The skin on the back of his neck prickled nervously as he walked past the youth, and the Guardian was rolled tight in his fist ready to beat the lad off if he leapt on him from behind. But the slouched figure remained immobile, his back to the bridge’s crumbling brickwork, and the man passed by unscathed, relieved and curiously exhilarated.
A young mother pushing her pram had been next. She hesitated when she came upon the sitting figure, glanced nervously at the precious bundle in front of her, then steeled herself and marched straight past him, arms stiff, pram a small juggernaut. She passed safely, and laughed a little to herself at the frantic hammering of her heart and her breathlessness. She cooed nonsense to her child about ‘silly mummys’, and inwardly vowed never to go that way again at that time of the morning.
It was the elderly man walking his dog, diligently employing his pooper scooper, who wondered what a young lad would be doing sitting on the damp grass, propped against a dripping stone wall so early in the day, and who asked himself if, maybe, something might be wrong. He moved a little closer, pulling slightly at the dog suddenly grown restive on its lead. Perhaps the boy was drunk. Well, he’d had a couple of mornings like that himself when he’d been that age. Or maybe he was stoned or high or whatever the hell they called it nowadays. And what were you supposed to do then? He hesitated. His dog whined.
And then it hit the old man: what if the boy in front of him was dead?
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