17 September 2015

Organising Committee Secretary Position

Would like to invite Applications for the Post of Organising Committee Secretary

The post of Organising Committee Secretary has now become vacant as the current secretary is moving out of the area. All applications are welcome.

Contact: Barbara Large, Chinook, Southdown Road, Shawford, Hampshire SO21 2BY 

Duties and Responsibilities

1.       To record the minutes of the Organising Committee on a monthly basis or at additional meetings, if the need arises.

2.     To issue the first draft as soon as possible following the meeting to the attendees for comments and amendments within 5 working days of receipt.

3.      To re-issue the amended minutes to the Organising Committee members after the next meeting.

4.     To issue the agenda for the next meeting at the same time as the draft minutes are re-issued.

5.     To be a focal point for committee members to contact when unable to attend a meeting.

6.     To keep a file of agendas and minutes for reference as hard copy and electronic.

7.     To give support to other members of the committee as and when required.

For example: Assist the Publicity Secretary with the distribution of flyers.
Assist the Membership Secretary at the monthly meetings with the collection of subscriptions.

10 September 2015

M.J.Arlidge, James Marrison and John Hayes speak at HWS 8th September

A Night of Crime and Darkness...
Two purveyors of crime and mystery talked about how they weave dark and compelling tales.

Report by Lisa Nightingale

Special Guest - John Hayes

John Hayes is Smug! Winchester’s first satirical magazine Remember Viz, Mad and Punch? Well, it’s a bit like those. Smug is a mix of humour and investigative journalism backed up by in-depth research - people watching!

Hoping to launch in December 2015, Smug needs input. Spoof news stories, reports, short-stories, anything relevant to the prevention of Winchester disappearing up its own bottom! The deadline is ASAP. Even if it’s just a crazy idea, let John know at john@wfa.uk.com You should be able to find Smug in the Art CafĂ© on Jury Street – John owns it!

Also the very first announcement of the Winchester Short Film festival 2015. John is keen to pair up screenplay writers with directors so if you have an idea for a film of under 15 minutes contact him through the Winchester Short Film festival website www.winchestershortfilmfestival.com/submit by 15 October 2015.

In 2016 Winchester Short Film festival is going international! Next year films will can be up to but no longer than double the length of this years. There is also a new category for 2016 – Write a Short Script for any Genre. Entries need to be submitted by December 2015

Speaker:  Crime Writer, M.J. Arlidge

‘I am not a woman,’ says Matt Arlidge. One and a half years ago, it was his agent’s idea to submit the plan for DI Helen Grace as gender neutral. Four books later, the name has stuck.  Unfortunately for Matt, it is common misconception among his readers that as the main protagonist is a woman then so must the writer be.

It has become apparent to Matt that women are infinitely more interesting than men and that life for a woman is fraught with difficulty. He fully accepts that this is tragic for women. But, not so at all for fiction writers. Plus, it seems to be the time of the female crime solver. So, a female DI with a fetish for leather and motorbikes cannot fail to sell.
Matt admits to finding a story’s baddy more intriguing and so the characters of his serial killers come fairly easily. In a crime novel the denouement is the most important element. So Matt works backwards, meticulously planning and reworking the chapters as he goes. Then the fun part - playing with the characters.

Matt started out a junior story-liner working at the BBC on East Enders  before moving onto many happy years writing for Monarch of the Glen, he then moved into writing crime for independent television. This is when Eeny Meeny was born into a society controlled by reality TV. What if a serial killer was to ask the question – who should be evicted next?
MJ Arlidge is a writer of thrillers not police procedure, so he does not have deep contact with the police, in fact he confessed to making some of it up! The come-down after the action of the denouement is important to the reader – they need to ‘come back up for air’. It can also be used to lead into the next instalment.

It is important to remember that writing might be a craft, but publishing is a business. A publishing house is almost guaranteed to like a genre. They will also want to ensnare those readers for a long time, so a series is much more likely to grab their attention. ‘Don’t be shy.’ he says, ‘Think Big.’
A secret – Little Boy Blue, the prequel to DI Helen Grace, will be launched over the twelve days of Christmas in chunks. It will only be available in e-book and on Kindle. 

Liar Liar by MJ Alridge was published on 10th September 2015 by Penguin.

James Marrison & M.J.Arlidge

Speaker: Crime Writer, James Marrison
Scary music, downloaded photographs, banging a tennis ball on the wall and strict routine all go into James Marrison’s writing day at his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

He sets himself targets as most writers do. But, not word-count. He uses time. Rigidly! Have a break or a time when you ‘call it a day.’ And switch off; it is so important.

Plotting is James’ nemesis. He does it in his head which can mean that sometimes, he has precious little in the way of tangible evidence of work. But plotting is work and he has to remind himself that he has actually done a lot today. Agatha Christie, one of his favourite authors was a plotter. And she often hid her killer in the open – a friend or a colleague.

Characters definitely do lead the plot. He fell back on his own emotional experiences of living away from his home for the answers to his main protagonist DCI Guillermo Downes. Once Downes had been given a backstory, he burst into life.

James agrees, it is the unveiling of the killer that is the reader’s reason for choosing crime. But, the day-to-day frustrations of police investigations are pivotal to the plot. Essential information dumps must be handled with care. So, James weaves in the character’s traits, keeping the text interesting. He also has no continual contact with the police but their procedures are not difficult to discover – the internet can give you all the information you need.

In crime writing, pace is imperative. Steer clear of over-describing. Sweep everything along for the ride. Keep working up to that key action scene.

It wasn’t until he started doing it that he actually realised that writing was what he wanted to do. He became a journalist. He collected details of strange and grisly murders carried out by the most demented serial killers and published his findings.

Writing is a lonely job, but James is keen to stress that at times it is also crowded. His agent and editor are vocal and blunt, and he is able to rely on them. Doubt, however can be a destroyer if it is allowed to creep in. Until your work is finished – put publishing out of your mind.

The Drowning Ground  by James Marrison was published on 27th August 2015 by Penguin.

Competition Results for 8 September 2015

Competition Report 8th September 2015 
Write a Scene in which the Victim of the Crime is Found

Our adjudicator was Carl Major, of Waterstones, West Quay, Southampton, and although Carl was unable to be with us he said he thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries. Carl’s criteria and adjudications follow:

“Firstly, I was very grateful for being asked to judge this competition. Booksellers – like book browsers – see a lot of books and read a lot of first pages. If a reader has got as far as reading the first few sentences of a book or scene it is worth considering the things they might be subconsciously weighing up about the writing and the writer. The main one must be 'Is this a story or writer I am intrigued enough to commit money and (more importantly) time to reading?' The temptation is to grab at the reader with a 'hooking' sensational opening or the imagined vividness of the first person. But often – for this reader, at least – it is a kind of confidence in the grasp of the writer and that could be a nice touch of humour, a willingness to trust the reader with a gradual revelation, a telling and interesting detail or simply some small grace of language or observation. I think the reader always wants to know that whatever horrors or twists the story may contain that they are in good hands and often it is the small detail of the writing rather than the sensational content that provides the reassurance. I felt the three winners here all absolutely knew that and put it firmly into practice. It is no small skill. In the case of these three writers I was disappointed that I only had 300 words and would happily have trusted them to lead me on into the world behind this scene.”

Carl’s Adjudication:

1st Place: David Eadsforth, (pseudonym Alec Russell) The Artist

“Extremely well-crafted. The unsensational language heightened the gruesome revelation. Much information about the place and personnel conveyed in passing – and a welcome levening of dark humour! My feeling was that I was in the safe hands of a writer fully in charge of their subject and style. I immediately wanted to know more and read on,”  

2nd Place: David Lea, Home to Roost

“Conjured the protagonist's world in a few deft strokes. The mix of humour and grim detail of Jason's job set up a scenario in which the discovery of a body was somehow of a piece with the violence of industrial farming. I valued the detail of this writing and the skill of the writer in allowing the content rather than the language to provide the sensational effect”.

3rd Place: Anne Eckersley, Too Soon to Die

“This piece intrigued me from the first mention of the missing street lights. I believed the scene I was seeing had a real social context. I felt certain that in this writer's world murder victims, murderers and police would have a wider context of family, friends, society. The plausible weariness of our protagonist and the deft use of ironic humour sealed the deal. I wanted to read on.”

Highly Commended: Louise Morrish, Dogsbody

Highly Commended: Avril Stephenson, Untitled

Prizes and Awards:

The lucky winners each received two signed books by our main speakers, James Marrison and MJ Arlidge as well as certificates of adjudication by Carl Major.

Winners Anne Eckersley, David Eadsforth and David Lea

1st Place: The Artist - Copyright © David Eadsforth, 2015

  Detective Inspector Ian Chambers stepped out of his car and stared at the blank wall that comprised the front of the industrial unit.  Of all of the crime scenes he had been called to in his career, this would probably have been the least likely candidate.  Detective Sergeant Terman, who had been waiting by the entrance, now approached him.
  “Good morning, Sir; sorry it was such an early call, but the shift here starts early…”
  Chambers nodded and waved his subordinate to silence.
  “Okay, okay; what have we got?”
  Terman hesitated.
  “Um, I think you just better see for yourself, Sir.”
  Chambers shot him a dubious look.
  “The last time you said that it was a naked curate with a plastic bag over his head and a noose around his neck…”
  “This is a bit different, Sir.”
  Terman led the way through the entrance and on to a series of huge doors, around which stood a number of men in white overalls.  Chambers nodded to the chief of the forensic team, a man in his fifties who wore a somewhat grim expression.
  “Morning, Alfred; well, what have you got for me?”
  Alfred Bingham did not reply, but instead grasped the huge lever that was placed on the front of the door and swung it open.  A gust of bitterly cold air hit Chambers’s face and Bingham indicated that Chambers should enter.  Chambers entered the huge refrigerator and stared at the vision before him.  In the centre of the chamber stood a huge block of ice, two meters square, and inside it was the naked form of a man, his arms and legs stretched out in an ‘X’.  Chambers was silent for a few seconds, then he turned to Bingham.
  “Um, we’re not calling this suicide, are we?”

2nd Place: Home to Roost - Copyright © David Lea, 2015

Jason had started at 6:30, as he did every day during the holidays: out of bed by 5:45, cup of coffee, cereal, on his bike and away. No need of a wash because he had bathed very thoroughly the night before. He bathed very thoroughly every night, lying in the suds, knackered and dreaming while his mum and his sister watched the tele down stairs. He dreamed of a future when he wouldn’t have to work on Guy Featherstone’s farm, a future when he could afford a motorbike, or even a car. When he could afford some decent clothes.
When he could afford a girlfriend.
Girlfriends are costly.
Anyway, he smelled.

By 8 0’ clock he had almost finished the cleaning. The electric lights were on eighteen hours a day to give maximum laying time, so it was already hot. The hens were housed in rows of metal cages three tiers high, with three or four birds to a cage. Four long alleyways of birds, all shrieking and squalling and pecking. And shitting.  But Jason’s first job before the shit shifting was to remove the bodies – five or six a day. They were so bored and cramped and demented that they pecked each other to death. It usually started when one bird was laying an egg and the other birds pecked around the hole as the egg squeezed out. Jason wondered how they decided which one to attack. Perhaps they chose the weakest, like at school.

Although Jason was a loner, nobody messed with him.

He trundled the awkward, overloaded shit- machine to the trapdoor and pulled the lever to release its load onto the pile below.
It was then he noticed the leg, naked and white.
Except for the Argyll pattern sock.
And then it disappeared under the slurry.

3rd Place: Too Soon to Die - Copyright © Anne Eckersley, 2015

This tax year council savings and vandalism had turned off all street lights in Woodley, so just before midnight Longmoor Road was as dull as a dead man’s eyes.  But death in Jonas’ world rarely occurred in broad daylight.

The rain had stopped. Puddles the size of lakes and the stench of sewage its legacy.
Jonas shivered. He wasn’t cold, thick jumpers, waterproof trousers and heavy boots made sure of that.  Parking between two police cars he headed towards the motorway flyover. The noise of cars passing overhead amplified by the silence of the night.

Signs warned of danger of death from the electricity substation or the risk of prosecution from trespass although missing sections of fence provided easy access. The area had always attracted graffiti artists and the homeless who clearly ignored the signs too, but then rising water levels over the winter should have worried them more. 

The police hadn’t bothered to open the gate and Jonas opted for the shorter route too. His phone’s torch helped him pick his way through floating debris to the blue and white tape stretched round the scene.

A tent had been erected at the river’s edge. A number of silhouetted figures were moving around. Jonas sighed. He would have liked to be alone to assess the scene before anyone demanded answers or foisted information on him. Those first few minutes were crucial. The position of the body. The arrangement of the clothes.  Seventeen series of Silent Witness had a lot to answer for. Nowadays everyone in the country was qualified to express an opinion.

A noise on his left made him spin. Suddenly he was face to face with four bundles huddled round a shopping trolley and several cardboard boxes who were watching his progress with evident interest.

In Conclusion:

The competition secretary, Jim Livesey, thanked everyone who had entered. Crime proved very popular as 18 entries were received, a good start to our new season.

The competition for October is to write a ghost story – 300 words and the adjudicator will be Carolin Esser-Miles, Medievalist, and Senior Lecturer, English Language, University of Winchester.

Please email your entries to the Competition Secretary, Jim Livesey competitions.hwsAThotmail.com by noon (BST) 1st October 2015. (Please replace AT with @)

Please read HWS Competition rules