Some Of The Best Welsh Crime Writers
Welsh crime writing – an emerging and exciting genre.
By authors Alis Hawkins and Matt Johnson
Is your writing affected by where you’re from? Of course it is. The country which raised us or in which we’ve chosen to live works its way under our skin and into our psyche whether we know it or not. Whether we like it or not. It gives us a very particular view on life.
Which is why Welsh crime is different. A bit off beat. It comes from a different, slightly sardonic place. It sees things from left-field.
Welsh Crime writing is original, different and going places. We all go where TV leads these days, and Drama series such as Hinterland, Hidden and Keeping Faith have put Welsh crime on the map and a collective of Welsh crime writers is trying to do the same thing.
Crime Cymru – the brainchild of three very different writers: Alis Hawkins, Matt Johnson and Rosie Claverton (see AsianNoir) – aims to bring Welsh crime to the world. How? Through festival appearances, media interviews and through writing excellent crime fiction.
Some of our work is set in Wales. Some isn’t. But all of it has a Welsh inflection, a different take on life.
Whether it’s police procedural, thriller, cybercrime, historical noir or domestic thrillers, Welsh crime is at the cutting edge of where crime fiction is at the moment.
Crime Cymru was recently represented at Bloody Scotland, Newcastle Noir and CrimeFest. September 2018 saw the first Crime Cymru day as part of the renowned Crickhowell Literary Festival. We now have a Website (www.crime.cymru), a Twitter Account (@CrimeCymru) and a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/crimecymru) where anybody can come and find out about Welsh crime writing and speak directly to us.
April 2021, we hope, will see the first Crime Cymru Literary Festival.
Some of the best Welsh Crime writers
Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. Her inner introvert thought it would be a good idea to become a shepherd and, frankly, if she had, she might have been published sooner. However, three years reading English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford revealed an extrovert streak and a social conscience which saw her train as a Speech and Language Therapist. She has spent the subsequent three decades variously bringing up two sons, working with children and young people on the autism spectrum and writing fiction, non-fiction and plays. She writes the kind of books she likes to read: character-driven historical crime and mystery fiction with what might be called literary production values.
As a historical writer, Alis takes her research very seriously which sometimes has unexpected consequences. Research into the techniques of medieval charcoal burning led to a fascination with the craft and she and her partner are now regular members of the team that keeps the earth burn charcoal-producing technique alive in the Forest of Dean.
Series: The Teifi Valley Coroner historical crime series, featuring Harry Probert Lloyd and John Davies. Published by Freight Books 2017, second edition coming soon from The Dome Press (November 2018).
Trilogy: The first of the Black Death trilogy, The Black and The White, published by Sapere Books (summer 2019).
Standalone: Testament – previously published by PanMacmillan, re-issued by Sapere Books (June 2019).
Matt Johnson served for 25 years as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer. His debut novel Wicked Game – a crime thriller – was published by Orenda Books in March 2016. The sequel Deadly Game, was published March 2017 and the final part of the trilogy, End Game, in 2018.
Wicked Game was listed for a Crime Writers Association Dagger award, has topped Amazon and KOBO charts in several categories and in 2018, Matt was voted at #22 in the WH Smith UK national poll of the world’s top 100 best-ever crime writers.
Peter James, the international best-selling novelist said of Matt’s work – “Terse, tense and vivid writing. Matt Johnson is a brilliant new name in the world of thrillers.”
Sir Ranulph Fiennes said of Matt’s books “From the first page to the last, an authentic, magnetic and completely absorbing read.”
Matthew Hall, BAFTA winning writer of TV Drama ‘Keeping Faith’ said “Johnson is a natural. Taut, knife-edge thrillers, you won’t put down until the last full stop.”
In 1999, Matt was retired from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whilst undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. His novels are the result of that process.
Katherine Stansfield is a multi-genre novelist and poet who grew up on Bodmin Moor and now lives in Cardiff. Her Cornish Mysteries crime series is set in the 1840s and features unorthodox detective duo Anna Drake and Shilly Williams. The pair investigate crimes based on real events in Cornish history and involve a good dash of local folklore. Think ‘Sherlock Holmes meets the X Files meets Daphne du Maurier’.
Katherine is also one half of the writing partnership DK Fields, with her partner David Towsey. Head of Zeus published their political fantasy novel Widow’s Welcome, the first in The Tales of Fenest trilogy, in August 2019.
Matthew Hall (who also writes as M. R. Hall) is both a novelist and screenwriter. He is the Wales BAFTA winning writer of the hugely successful television drama series Keeping Faith, starring Eve Myles.
Matthew was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford, where he graduated in law. Whilst working as a barrister he spent his spare moments between cases writing screenplays, getting his first commission with the ITV hit series, Kavanagh QC starring John Thaw. He went on to write further episodes and shortly afterwards was commissioned to create a series for the new Channel Five, Wing And A Prayer. The first season earned him a BAFTA nomination in the best series category.
Matthew wrote exclusively for the screen for ten years, producing more than 40 hours of prime-time drama for BBC1 and ITV before writing his first novel, The Coroner, published by Pan Macmillan in the UK in 2009, The Coroner was nominated for the Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger in the best novel category. His fourth novel, The Flight, was shortlisted for the same award in 2012. His books have been translated into many languages and published in the USA.
Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa and now lives in Wales. She worked as a journalist and a screenwriter before finally writing a book to appease her nagging mother.
For her debut, Blacklands, Belinda was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year. She went on to win the CWA Dagger in the Library for her body of work. Her fourth novel, Rubbernecker, was voted Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.
Her eighth novel, Snap, was a Sunday Times bestseller.
It was longlisted for the Man Booker prize and voted Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the Specsavers National Book Awards.
Her books have been translated into twenty-one languages.
Harry Bingham is the author of the Fiona Griffiths series of crime novels, set in Cardiff and featuring a heroine described by the Sunday Times as ‘The most startling protagonist in modern crime fiction … brutal, freakish and totally original.’
Harry – slightly less freakish than his creation – lives in Oxford with his wife and young family.
He also runs The Writers’ Workshop, an editorial consultancy for new writers. His books on Getting Published and How to Write are among the leading titles in their field
With over 2 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Clare is the multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015.
It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016. Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers.
All three of her books were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club, and together have been translated into over thirty-five languages.
Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies.
She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.
Rebecca Griffiths grew up in rural mid-Wales and went on to gain a first class honours degree in English literature.
After a successful business career in London, Dublin and Scotland she returned to mid-Wales where she now lives with her husband, a prolific artist, and their dog and pet sheep the size of sofas.
The Primrose Path, her first novel, was published in 2016 and her second novel, A Place to Lie, in December 2018.
Rebecca is currently working on her third novel.
Beverley (BE) Jones
Beverley (BE) Jones is a former journalist and police press officer, now a novelist and general book obsessive.
She was born in a small village in the South Wales valleys, north of Cardiff, and started her journalism career with Trinity Mirror newspapers before becoming a broadcast journalist with BBC Wales Today TV news.
Most recently Bev worked as a press officer for South Wales Police, dealing with the media and participating in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning. Perhaps unsurprisingly she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and her insight into the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.
Her latest novel, Where She Went, is published by Little Brown under the name BE Jones.
Emma Kavanagh was born in Wales in 1978 and currently lives in South Wales with her husband and their one year old son.
She trained as a psychologist and after leaving university, started her own business as a psychology consultant, specialising in human performance in extreme situations.
For seven years she provided training and consultation for police forces and NATO and military personnel throughout the UK and Europe.
Her third novel, The Killer on the Wall, was published in April 2017.