Why I Wrote Murder in Slow Motion

Lying in bed, listening to the neighbours upstairs as they screamed and shouted, as things were thrown and presumably broken, I wondered whether I should call the police. My neighbours were noisy people. Most nights I lay awake listening to their TV playing or their karaoke singing. Now and then voices were raised but nothing that seemed to suggest anything was wrong. But that night things were different and I wondered if I should do something. Should I go up and see if everything was all right? Should I call the police? And if so, did I call 999 or was it not considered an emergency? At what point would it become an emergency?

In the end, I did nothing. I lay awake until the noise finally stopped. And then I stayed awake, wondering what had gone on and whether I should’ve intervened.

In the days that followed I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I assumed everything was okay because the karaoke returned a few days later. But still it plagued me. What if someone had actually been hurt and I’d done nothing? At what point is it our responsibility to step in?

I’d just finished my first book, Stolen, and was starting to plan my second. I knew I wanted to explore these questions that’d been bothering me, but after months of trying, I just couldn’t find the right way to tell the story. In the end it took me until my fourth book to work it out.

Murder in Slow Motion was a difficult book to write but the one I felt most compelled to do. All the things that happen to the characters Lawton and Katy are things that really happened – either to myself, to people I know, or to women I learned about whilst researching the book.

Many people still believe that unless there is physical violence, a relationship is not abusive. Men like Andrew don’t see what they’re doing as abusive, women like Katy are reluctant to name what they’re going through purely because it’s not as bad as what’s happening next door. Family and friends are often oblivious, the abuse is so well hidden. And even if it’s not, even if there are niggling doubts, too often we shy away from intervening. We don’t want to make accusations, we don’t want to get involved in someone’s private life.

I never heard things get out of control upstairs after that night. Maybe it was nothing, maybe it was something. I guess I’ll never know. But the question I ask myself is, if it happened again, would I have the courage to speak up for those who are unable to reach out?


Free book alert!

Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate you can get Murder in Slow Motion for FREE on Kindle until tomorrow night!
(Actually, it’ll be until about 8 a.m. Saturday in the UK, so if buying books first thing in the morning is your cup of tea you’ll be sorted).

Get your copy here!


Which Parks and Rec Character Are You?


leslie mug


As I was procrastinating and watching Parks and Recreation (for the millionth time) rather than working, an important question came to mind. Which Parks and Rec character am I?

As my amazing mug suggests, I’d like to be Leslie Knope but I think I’m actually more of a April Ludgate (with a bit of Ron Swanson (luddite), Ben Wyatt (nerd) and, okay, Jerry/Gary/Larry Gergich (often making a fool of himself) thrown in).

So here’s the important question – which Parks and Recreation character are you most like and least like, and why?

(Apologies to those not familiar with Parks and Rec. But you really should go and watch it. It’s awesome.)

(Further apologies to those with actual things to do and don’t have time for such frivolity.)

The Ear Worm Book


Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies. I think Fleetwood Mac have taken up permanent residence in my brain. Ever since I (finally) came up with the title for the third Gardner book, the song has been ear worming into my head nonstop. Not that it’s a bad thing. Little Lies is a good song. I could’ve named the book The Birdie Song (although that probably would’ve been a very different book) and spent the last six months weeping as I did a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But anyway…

It took forever to think of a title for this book and after I’d spent too many days just staring into space without a thought in my head (or at least a thought relating to titles), I decided I needed inspiration and turned to my record collection. It was remarkable how many song titles seemed to fit the book but nothing seemed to fit perfectly (I do now have a list of possible titles for other books though, which is handy). And then I came across Little Lies. I thought about that and put it aside with all the others, ready to move on. But it’s one of those songs that once you think of it, it won’t go away until you’ve sung the chorus at the very least (or is that just me?). So the song played on my brain radio while I scanned more titles and then as I got to the chorus it hit me. Tell Me Lies. That was the title. What had seemed to be an exercise in procrastination had paid off. (I also seem to have absorbed more Fleetwood Mac vibes – in the fourth Gardner book there’s a character named Rhiannon.)

So now I feel like I’ve cracked it, this title business. There are thousands of song titles just waiting for the right book, and if the title of the song doesn’t work then I’ll dig deeper to the lyrics. It’s amazing. All these titles just waiting for me. All I need to do now is write the books to fit them.

Books Read in December


97. A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

98. Final Target – Iris Johansen

99. Taunting the Dead – Mel Sherratt

100. Hellbound – David McCaffrey

101. Shallow Waters – Rebecca Bradley

102. Writing Home – Alan Bennett

103. Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl – Carrie Brownstein