Friday, March 27, 2015

Crime and Publishment And the Skinny Pigs


I'd like you to meet Graham Smith.  He's the Crime writer who runs the Crime and Publishment weekend that I did some work for recently, but more about that later. Graham is a very busy man, one of those chaps that always has a pen stuck behind his ear and a thousand things going on on his mind, all in the right order. I think he began life as a builder so this could well be true but I  think all writers should be caught up in the imaginative affray and not that well behaved really.  You know, vast of mind and rampant creative processes  which leads to terrible handwriting among other traits of marvelous.
However to his credit, he does have
                       a) terrible handwriting
                       b) the ability to tell a good story, short and sharp.
                       c) a very quick sense of humour
                       d) a pen behind his ear that I borrowed on many occasions ( I can never find mine!)

                                                  Graham behind the bar

The Crime And Publishment folk are a very friendly on-line bunch who seem to meet up every now and again to eat, drink and drink some more. As a bit of an outsider I was struck by the support and generosity they have for each other's writing, and was wondering if that was because many of them live in places ( I'm refusing to type the words 'the middle of no where'!)  that are more rural, a little off the beaten track and lack the  physical local writers group that we enjoy in the mid belt. 

I bet they all live in perfectly normal places  but I'm not letting that spoil the blog..

Here's what Graham had to say....

Who and what is Crime and Publishment?
Crime & Publishment is a weekend of crime writing masterclasses. It is held at the hotel I manage on the outskirts of Gretna Green.

                                                   The marvelous reviewer Chris.
                                           A well known face from Harrogate and Bristol

What does that location lend to the crime writing.... it struck me how close the motorway was--- for quick get away if I had murdered Chris Simmonds and stuck him in your wheely bin?
Being close to the motorway is great for quick getaways and the fact Gretna Green is a tourist town means there is a constant stream of visitors to the area and therefore lots of stories to be overheard.

Do you meet online? How often do you meet in person?
We have a group on the book of faces (Facebook) It’s a secret group complete with passwords, funny handshakes and a rather bizarre initiation ceremony involving The Da Vinci Code, self-flagellation and the words “I can write better than this”. To supplement this online activity we meet up for a meal and a natter about all things relevant to crime fiction every couple of months or so.
Why was it set up and whose idea was it?
I founded Crime & Publishment along with Inga McVicar as a way to help aspiring writers achieve their aim of securing a publishing contract.
Can anybody join?
We are open to all writers who are looking to learn more about their craft and improve their writing. We’ve had attendees from all over the country with varied levels of experience and previous successes.
Many of you seemed very well informed, did C and P stem from any review website?
Thank you for the compliment. Crime and Publishment was only made possible by the contacts I’ve established as a reviewer for Not only have I been able to attract talented authors as speakers, I’ve been lucky enough have attendees who know a certain amount of writing crime fiction.

And what is WCW?
WCW is the shortened from of Word Count Wednesday. This is a regular feature (weekly believe it or not) on our Facebook group. The idea is that you post the number of new words written towards a crime fiction story. It acts as a prompt for everyone and engenders a collective support system. Depending upon everyone’s commitments away from writing and where they are in their novel, the non-existent trophy can pass back and forth between any member.

How long has the C and P weekend been going?
2015 was our third year and I am already starting to plan for 2016.
      This is Mike Craven, a man who wears Spiderman socks... do not ask me how I know this....

Biggest success, apart from Ms Ramsay and Mr Malone's Jaws oscar winning performance?
I didn’t witness that performance myself, therefore under the mygaff / myrules jurisdiction it cannot be included. In all seriousness, the fact Mike Craven, Lucy Cameron and myself have all earned publishing contracts because of C&P is undoubtedly the greatest success. I never dared to imagine that after running the event twice I would have such a batting average.
        Lucy Cameron's pie chart to the great novel.
 I think the orange bit might stand for googling oneself!

Biggest Disaster?
There hasn’t been a disaster as such, but when David Thomas contacted me a week before the event with news of unforeseen family circumstance. I did see rather a large wave approaching my little boat. I was very fortunate that Neil White was able to step in and rescue me.

How do you split writing time with what must be a very consuming job?
It’s a struggle at times but when a story is burning inside me I have to get it out. My shifts at work get me three weekdays a fortnight when my son is at school and I tend to try and get at least an hour’s writing done after 9.00pm every night.

What book are you on now and how is it going?
I’m working on my own edits of a novel provisionally titled “The Watcher” and I’m really enjoying the discovery of all the stupid mistakes I’ve made. I hate the whole editing process but I know how much of a difference it can make. The way this one is going I may have to invest in a larger swear box.
                                                         And that is a Skinny Pig!

Tell us about the naked guinea pigs....
My wife breeds a rare kind of hairless guinea pig known as “skinny pigs”. I have as little to do with them as possible because of a firm belief they are nothing more than tail-less rats. However, I have writing as my hobby and she has her skinny pigs. With the bald wee buggers selling at over £100 apiece I’m gonna have to shift a lot of books to compete with her financially.

Caro Ramsay 27/03/2015


  1. Hmm, piglets and writing in the rural UK. Strikes me as inspiration deserving more than a sliver of red on anyone's pie chart. And that's not in any way meant to pooh pooh the experience (groan heard) for I really would like to make it to C&P some day if only to press Mr. Smith into hosting a return of what's obviously become a legendary JAWS performance.

  2. They would make you very welcome....and there's a fair range of Malts at the back of the bar....

  3. Piglets and Jeff aside, thanks for the column, Caro. Good to know that there IS life in the rural portions of your neck (of the woods).

  4. I had the pleasure of being at Crime & Publishment last year, Caro, and had a whale of a time. Glad to hear it's going from strength to strength. Don't remember the hairless guinea pigs, though!

  5. Indeed Zoe, the skinny pigs live in luxury and are unexposed to the wicked and evil ways of the crime writers. I mean imagine what Tanya Carver would do if (s)he ever saw one. (S)He'd have it kebabed in a millisecond.

  6. EvKa, walking in that part of Scotland (being very close to England) is a bit like walking through the Blair Witch Project with worse weather. And Wellies.
    The chip butties are good though - a French fry sandwich to you guys....

  7. Thanks for the comments, everyone. C&P is a great weekend thanks to the friendly nature of all those who come along as speakers or attendees. If anyone is planning anything similar I can't recommend Caro & Zoe highly enough for their generosity of spirit and fantastic wealth of knowledge.

    1. Are you quite sure that's not fantastic wealth of spirits and generosity of knowledge???

  8. Both were very generous with their sharing of knowledge. The rest of us dealt with the spirits.

  9. Caro, your mention of bodies behind wheelie bins and convenient getaways near Gretna Green...telling us something?

  10. Cara, you obviously haven't met Chris Simmonds - he has that effect on people.... ;)