Reading my writes: on crime thrillers

Well, I made it through. One major operation and two infections later and I live to tell more tales.

Sounds more like the premise for a gore-fest, horror novel than something you would expect from a crime thriller writer; but hey, in this digital age of publishing, genres aren’t so restrictive anymore!

Hell, I can write what I like! More about that in future posts.

Anyway, here we are, just two weeks away from the release of our next book – ‘Snow White’.


It’s a really exciting (and nerve-racking) time for us.

We have now passed the 75,000 copies mark with ‘Sugar & Spice on Amazon alone – not bad for a debut novel that agents didn’t have the ‘dangly bits’ to touch!  😉

It continues to sell thousands a month and is sitting pretty comfortably in the Top 100 on Amazon UK.


It’s a well-known fact among authors (up there with having a great cover and blurb) that the more books you publish, the more you sell. Write, publish, then write another. We get it.

So that’s what we’re doing. Writing commercial crime thrillers with a USP that we hope, readers will love and tell their friends about. (see Kristen Lamb; I am still reading and following the WANA mantra!)

We hope to have the second book in The Rose Red Series (‘Rapunzel’) out in time for Christmas 2011 and that will take us to 4 books published in 12 months – something that a year ago, would have been nothing but a figment of my ever-overflowing imagination.

So yeah, scary and at the same time, ‘squee-ably exciting’!

I mean, we just said ‘no thanks, not at the moment’ to representation by the biggest Lit agency in New York and the chance to pitch our books to ‘The big six’ – we must be crazy, right?

No, but it helps. It helps when writing crime thrillers too.

It’s a tough genre to write in – crime thrillers. There are millions of great writers out there, many of whom I have read avidly over the years and still do; so when we chose this genre (or rather, it chose us) it wasn’t a decision made lightly.

We were (and still are in some respects) tiny, unknown fish in a literary ocean and the competition from the predators is fierce. James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, Jo Nesbo, Konrath, Stephen Leather, Stieg Larsson; the list of sharks is endless and they have massive teeth! So deciding to go head-to-head with them was a biggie.

Would we sink? What was going to get us noticed in a sea of super-writers? How do we take on the big fish?

All questions that went through our heads when we first released Sugar & Spice, but you know what? We did it.

There isn’t some magic formula (so you can stop emailing and asking thanks) or ‘how to’ guide (although we may publish some tips that wannabe writers might find useful in the future) and success is never guaranteed. But if you have the balls, a bit of market savvy and a decent story, then who knows? You might just make it.

Snow White is a pretty unique concept and one that kinda crept up on us without us realising. That’s the fun bit about writing. In the words of Forrest Gump “You never know what you’re gonna git.”

 Both Mark and I are ‘pantsers’, we never plot or sketch out ideas. We start writing and see where the story takes us. Sure, this isn’t for everyone, but for me, it’s freedom.

Freedom to write what I want, how I want and about what I want.

We didn’t want to write a typical crime thriller. I have lost count of the reviews I have read where readers have accused writers of ‘following the rule book’ and producing the bog-standard thriller.

We also wanted to do something completely different to Sugar & Spice.

There may well be a sequel (and even a third) book in that series in the future, heaven knows, we have discussed it enough, but for now, we wanted to give our readers something totally different. Something that hasn’t been done before.

I think we did it with The Rose Red series. Honestly, I do.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill thriller. Yes, it is set in modern-day London, there is a bad guy (or two) and the protagonist fights constant battles and jumps through hoops to achieve her goals, but that’s where the similarities end.

If you are looking for a fast-paced, urban thriller, with characters you can relate to and some you wouldn’t want to, then this is for you.

Everyone remembers their fairy tales, right? Well Rose Red is re-writing happy endings.

As for nice fairy tales, well ours is just beginning.

I can’t wait to get Snow White out there and see what the readers think. I can’t wait to write the next one – I am in love with Red and the family already. We hope you will be too.

I like being a writer, in fact, I love it and who knows what we’ll come up with next?

The oceans are vast, there’s room for everyone; but it’s survival of the fittest – do or die – and we don’t intend to be sleeping with the fishes any time soon. 😉



I’ve always been a writer.

It isn’t a career option or a lifestyle choice; it’s just there.

I actually once thought that I was insane (and some people will probably back me up here…) until I realised that the voices in my head were characters, people. People asking me to tell their stories. Once I had that down, I was kind’a relieved.

But any writer lucky (?) enough to be equally cursed and blessed will tell you that once you have the basics figured out, it’s something to love. Putting words down on paper…

Hey, my name is Saffina and I am a writer. A.. *screeches to an abrupt halt, narrowly missing the car in front* … a what writer? What do I write?  What is my passion? Where does my allegiance lie?

Sugar & Spice is a crime thriller; and a damn good one at that. (Hey, I’ve gotten over modesty, we’re number 4 in the Amazon chart peeps!)

And my bookcase will tell you that I LURVE James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, Karin Slaughter and anything remotely criminal (not something that looks good on a school report or C.V) but if you slide your peepers across the way, you’ll see a whole host of other writers on there too.

Everyone asks writers in interviews what their favourite book is and what/who inspired them – I get it all the time. I usually lie.

I want to sound witty and intelligent, right? I usually say ‘To kill a mocking bird‘ by Harper Lee and that isn’t a lie. It is a wonderful book and has many great memories for me. I even called my cat Scout.

But it isn’t my favourite book and it isn’t why I wanted to be a writer.

Do you want to know what is?

Imagine this:

My ma and pa weren’t rich. They were (and still are) decent, honest, hard-working, young parents, with three daughters to clothe and feed, all under the age of 10.

Me being me (and anyone who knows me, especially my little sis and better half, will vouch for this) wanted everything that I saw – there and then. Tomorrow wasn’t good enough. Never has been, never will be,. After all, tomorrow never comes, right?

So when my primary school teacher (who eventually got convicted of a sex crime against his charges. Imagine that?) came in and gave us a Book Club form, I was beside myself.

That glossy, fabulously smelling list of paperbacks was where it all began.

Seventy pence! 70p for a whole book! I filled it in with my new, blue (fat? what was al that about?) Biro and ticked the box against the book that had the scariest cover. I shakily completed my address and confirmed that yes, my father would pay the money and handed it to the teacher.

Six weeks! I had to wait six-effing-weeks for that book! In that time, I managed to get grounded twice (once for robbing my hard-up parents of a much-needed 70p and another time for scaring a kid on my estate with a story about aliens coming out of the drain covers – you know who you are, Cooky!) and remove the skin from my knees more than once, but it was the longest six weeks of my life.

I will never forget the teacher walking into the classroom with that box of books. And the excitement I felt when it landed on my desk. Before I even read it, I knew that I would be a writer and one day, my book would change a person’s life (maybe not Sugar & Spice eh?) forever.

The Mystery of the Crimson Ghost by Phyllis A.Whitney.

The cover’s changed, but the feeling I got when I saw it, hasn’t. I read that book over a hundred times. It scared me to death. If I could hold it in my hands right now, my Kindle would go out of the window.

I get why people are reluctant to swap real books for e-books. The smell, the feel of the pages, the sound of them turning, the way you can’t wait to come home and pick it up…that stays with you forever.

I never knew how much it meant to my parents to have to scrape the money together to get me that book, I probably never will, but it made me who I am today; and it made me a writer.

I couldn’t believe it when I found it on line. I will be sending the author an email and telling her how she is responsible for my downfall.

But, I digress. I am blathering. The point of this post? Where the heart is.

I have had a book in my head and in my desk drawer for nigh on thirteen, maybe fourteen years. Hell, it’s probably been there as long as I have!

Equilibrium: First blood is a dark, urban fantasy novel; for grown-ups. It isn’t Twilight and it isn’t Interview with a vampire. Hopefully, it is something that no-one was expecting. It is a tale of love, obsession and the price you pay for both. It has vampires (although they don’t sparkle), angels and everything in-between.

My co-author tells me that it is what will make me famous. He also tells me that it will be out before Halloween this year. On both counts, he is hugely optimistic.

But what he is right about, is that it is MY book. If it’s true that everyone has a book in them, then this is mine.

Until I finish it, it won’t let me rest. It won’t let me sleep. Or should I say, Gabrielle and Jess, won’t stop nattering in my brain! It has to be written and I hope, read.

Which actually leads me to the point of this rambling blog.

I have made lots of confessions in the last year.

This one is just another in a looooong line of them to come.

I write fantasy.

I love crime and thrillers and I can’t wait to do the sequel to Sugar & Spice, Puppy Dogs’ tails, with Mark; but the Equilibrium trilogy is what will make me believe that I am truly a writer.

So, how are our readers going to take the news? Will the thousands of people who have bought Sugar & Spice, want to read Eq? Most people stick to a genre. Unless you’re James Patterson and have a licence to print the green stuff, can you cross over to the other side and will loyal followers buy it?

If I had a quid for every time someone had emailed or commented “You need to write another book”, I could retire today. My brother-in-law sat on my lounge floor yesterday and told me that I “need to get my pen out!”

But what will come out when I do? And will everyone like it? Can a writer cross genres successfully?

Who knows? I guess we’ll find out. But d’ya know what? If I see Equilibrium out there and ONE person tells me that it made them feel the way I felt about The Crimson Ghost – I won’t care.


*annnnnd breathe* 😉


  • Buy Sugar & Spice from Amazon

  • Buy the French edition of Sugar & Spice (Paraphilia)

  • Buy Snow White from Amazon

  • Buy Snow White in PRINT from Amazon

  • Buy Rapunzel from Amazon

  • Buy London’s Burning from Amazon

  • Buy Ring A-Ring O’Roses from Amazon

  • Buy The Night Before Christmas from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story in PRINT from Amazon

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Buy ‘Awakenings’ – Book ONE of INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

%d bloggers like this: