Writer, TheatrE Actor and Professional Actor
I spent the next fifteen years or so mainly doing theatre as well as TV and commercials. All the while I was telling people I was going to write a novel. I never actually did anything about it, but the thought was there. I wrote a couple of awful plays that will never see the light of day but no prose. So I wrote a short story. Then another one. And they started getting longer and more involved. I figured I was ready to write a novel.
The only thing that fired me up at the time was American crime fiction. I wanted to take that template, the vitality and sense of engagement with their subject matter, that involvement that I found largely lacking in British crime fiction and set it in a recognisably contemporary British city. The obvious place was Newcastle.
The result was Mary’s Prayer, a noirish crime novel featuring the flawed but interesting Stephen Larkin. It was published five years after I started it. I followed it a year later with Little Triggers, again featuring Larkin, then Candleland and the Larkin trilogy was complete.
Born Under Punches followed, an ambitious novel about the miners’ strike and its legacy. It won the Grand Prix du Roman Noir Etranger at the Beaune Festival International du Film Policier. Then I wrote the White Room, a harrowing, fictionalised account of a child killer not unlike Mary Bell set in Sixties Newcastle. The Guardian named it as one of the books of the year.
I then created Joe Donovan and his Albion team and wrote The Mercy Seat. It was nominated for the Crime Writers Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for thriller of the year. I was also nominated for the CWA Dagger in the Library for best body of work and the CWA Short Story Dagger for ‘Love’, a story that had appeared in the anthology London Noir. Didn’t win any of them.
The next Donovan novel was Bone Machine, a serial killer thriller set in Newcastle. The third, White Riot, was released in January 2008 followed by the most recent Donovan novel, ( hate to say final) Speak No Evil, in February of 2009.
I then became Tania Carver for most of the next decade, writing eight internationally best-selling thrillers featuring police detective Phil Brennan and profiler Marina Esposito. The first in the series, The Surrogate, was shortlisted for the Theakstons Award for Crime Novel of the year. It was followed by The Creeper, Cage of Bones, Choked (US title: The Black Road), The Doll’s House, Truth or Dare, Heartbreaker and The Lost Girl.
During this time I was approached to write the sequel to Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black for Hammer Books, to coincide with the release of the sequel to the movie. Angel of Death was the result.
I also collaborated with Mark Billingham, David Quantick and Stav Sherez on Great Lost Albums, the funniest music book ever written. Or so we think.
Aside from the novels I have also held two writing residencies in prisons. One at Huntercombe Young Offenders Institution and one at HMP Chelmsford. I have also delivered drama and creative writing workshops to socially excluded adults and teenagers in South London and Essex. University work includes spells at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge teaching an MA in Creative Writing and two stints as the RLF Writing Fellow at Essex University. I also do manuscript appraisals and freelance editing work.
I returned full time to writing under my own name with The Old Religion, the first in the Tom Killgannon series in 2018. This will be followed by The Sinner, the next in the series, in August 2019.
Also look out for Feast of Fear, my first Doctor Who audio adventure for Big Finish. It’ll be out in the autumn. It was a dream come true to write this and I hope there’ll be more of them.
And that’s the story so far.