Crime Writers in Residence – at home with GJ Minett

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with GJ Minett

Hi! My name is GJ Minett and my fourth novel, which will be published on July 9 by Bonnier Zaffre, is called The Syndicate.


The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write. 

For several years I taught in an 11-18 comprehensive. I’ve always written so I decided to do a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. My dissertation for that course won a national competition and ultimately became the Prologue for my debut novel, The Hidden Legacy. I’ve been a full-time novelist ever since and live in Pagham on the south coast.

I write psychological suspense novels built around a strong lead character. For me the storyline comes from knowing the characters well enough to be able to identify the Achilles heel and then put that weakness to the test. I enjoy reading novels that provide me with a puzzle and do not short-change me with some unlikely coincidence or contrived ending, so I try to offer the same courtesy to my own readers and respect their intelligence.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing? 

Pretty much what I’d have been doing under normal circumstances, with a book a few months away from publication. There’s a need for greater planning maybe when it comes to getting the book out there and attracting the attention of readers who haven’t come across my novels so far. Oh . . . I’m also working my way through the Harry Potter books, re-reading them over the phone to my two grandsons every day. Otherwise . . . not a lot has changed.

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

Not much. I’m maybe exercising more, finding it harder to come up with plausible reasons why I don’t have time to do some gardening but I’m incredibly fortunate not to be affected as badly as many others.

The CRA: Tell us about your forthcoming book. 

Jon Kavanagh has, for the past 20 years, been leading a quiet and uneventful life, running a bookshop in Wareham, Dorset and exercising every morning up over Durdle Door. It’s in marked contrast to the life he used to lead as an enforcer for an organised crime group in London. He’s been able to walk away from it all thanks to an agreement he’s hammered out with Maurice Hayes, the head of the syndicate. But twenty years on, Maurice has died and others who see Kavanagh’s defection as a dangerous precedent are now calling the shots. Haunted by ghosts of his own, Kavanagh realises his past is about to catch up with him . . . and with a vengeance.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction? 

It is a redemption novel, the story of a man with a conscience and his determination to right the wrongs of the past.

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM? 

Several. In recent weeks I’ve read novels by Chris Whitaker, Lisa Hall, Simon Brett, CJ Carver, Gilly MacMillan, David Jackson . . . all great writers.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over? 

First chance we get, my wife and I will meet up with our two daughters and son, whom we haven’t seen other than online since March, take them for a meal somewhere and give them the biggest hug imaginable. It’s been too long.


The Syndicate is available for review now on NetGalley and can be pre-ordered from Amazon:

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with JG Harlond

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with JG Harlond

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write. 

After many years living and working in different parts of Europe I am now settled in a rural Andalucía with my Spanish husband. Ten years ago I gave up a safe and successful career in international education to become a full-time author. It was a big risk but I also write school textbooks, which cushioned the blow.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing?

The lockdown in Spain has been pretty drastic, we may not leave the house except for essential shopping or to walk the dog. I have a horse that needs feeding and grooming so I am able to get out into the fields every day, but nobody is riding out. To be honest, the routine is not so different to my normal daily life: writing keeps me very busy. I do miss occasional trips to Málaga to meet up with author friends for a gossipy lunch, though.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent book.

Private Lives is the second story in the Bob Robbins Home Front Mystery series, although it can also be read as a stand-alone. During World War Two, retired policemen were called back to replace younger men who had joined up. Dumpy, grumpy Bob Robbins is one such man. In this story he is enjoying a few days’ leave in North Devon when he becomes involved in a murder on a derelict farm. An elderly farmer lies injured then a young man is shot in the chest. Bob rushes to help, but the farmer has vanished, and there is no weapon in sight.

Bob reports the incident at Bideford police station then learns he must investigate the crime himself. Not being as young and fit as he was, Bob asks for the assistance of a bright young police recruit, Laurie Oliver. They stay at Peony Villas, an odd sort of guest house run by an ex-West End diva named Jessamyn Flowers. A group of travelling players are also in residence, and Bob and Laurie soon find themselves caught up in a web of scandals, secrets and homicide.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction?

This is cosy crime with a sinister twist and a dash of dark humour. Most families have secrets, and as Noel Coward says in his 1933 play ‘Private Lives’ “very few people are completely normal really, deep down in their private lives”. Small rural communities are aware of, or share, many family secrets, which they may discuss among themselves but not with outsiders. Sometimes there are dark, unpleasant things going on behind closed doors that nobody is aware of at all.

Crime fiction readers enjoy identifying clues, trying to solve the mystery or crime before the detective. In this story, almost everyone has a secret, but who is guilty of what exactly, and why?

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM?

I’m reading Matthew Booth’s excellent book When Anthony Rathe Investigates. I love the way the separate short stories connect, and his atmospheric settings and sharp dialogue.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

A big family get-together outdoors.

Find out more about JG Harlond and her books on the CRA website.