#KillerFest15 – Mental Health and Crime

#KillerFest15 – Mental Health and Crime

I was privileged to take part in Killer Reads and Waterstones' Killer Crime Festival 2015 with a Twitter chat about mental health and crime fiction. There were some great questions and an ongoing discussion afterwards about crime novels featuring protagonists with mental health problems. Please share your recommendations in the comments. [View the story "#KillerFest15 - Mental Health and Crime" on Storify] If you enjoyed the chat, why not check out #psywrite, the monthly Twitter chat about mental health in fiction. We're taking at break for March but we will be back for your questions in April! And if you have any detailed queries for your writing, please get in touch - I'm always happy to help with accurate and sensitive mental health portrayals....
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Sticks and Stones: Mental Health Stigma and Crime Fiction

Crime fiction is entertainment. Writers' primary goal is to entertain. But what is the impact of the written word on the most vulnerable people in society? Does crime fiction contribute to mental health stigma? What is stigma? The term stigma refers to the negative stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination directed towards a group - in this case, people with mental health problems. For example, the stereotype "schizophrenics are psycho killers" may lead to attitudes like "all mental patients should be locked up" and "I don't want a nutter around my children" and actions like avoiding people with mental health problems, opposing mental health facilities in their neighbourhoods, and beating a man to death. Stigma is not just about public attitudes to mental health. People with mental health problems can direct these negative attitudes towards themselves - self-stigma: "It's my fault I'm depressed - I'm not strong enough to cope." There is also institutional or structural stigma, where organisations discriminate against individuals, such as quietly...
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Freudian Script: Police and Crime

Police officers - not the most likely custodians of society's mental health. However, they are frequently called out to mental health emergencies and they play an uneasy role alongside the mental health profession in enforcing mental health law. In commemoration of National Crime Reading Month, I'm going to explore the often-complex relationship between the police, mental health professionals and people suffering from mental health problems. Please note, I am neither a lawyer nor a police officer. These examples are mostly drawn from my own experience and attempt to offer insight for writers who wish to write about these topics. Why involve the police? Several situations may require a police presence in the context of a mental health problem. A few examples include: > A disturbed man in the street, running into traffic. > A desperate woman on a bridge, threatening to jump > A 999 call from a concerned mother whose son with schizophrenia has gone missing > A woman accused of assault says the demons made her...
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Dynamic Duos: The Crime Fighting Partners Formula

What makes great crime fighting partners? One mind, two bodies? Opposites attract? An office romance - or bromance? Or do you simply need a yes-man for your genius? I explore what makes crime fighting partners successful and compelling - and the building blocks required for writing a solid partnership. As the old Hollywood maxim goes: "The same, only different". But first, a little background... Crime Fighting Partners: A History From the very beginning of detective fiction, our heroes have worked in pairs. C. Auguste Dupin and his anonymous narrator friend, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson - a great detective can hardly impress if he has no one to question him. Early cinema derived heavily from detective fiction, including Dupin and Holmes, and brought Lord Peter Wimsey and his camera-wielding valet Bunter to screen. In the world of comic books, Batman Issue #1 introduces both Caped Crusader and acrobatic sidekick Robin. In the world of television, the 1960s brought an explosion of crime fighting partners in...
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Retitling: A Book by Any Other Name Would Sell as Sweet?

Further to my post last week about the acquisition of my novel by Carina Press, I thought I'd shed some light on one aspect of my journey to publication: retitling. The working title for my novel was Ctrl+Alt+Del. I'll admit that I was pretty happy with it - I felt it captured the elements of hacking, stalking and murder pretty aptly. However, Carina rightly pointed out that search engine results would commonly bring up the keyboard shortcut in preference to the novel. Therefore I was asked to go through a retitling process. It started with a Title Worksheet. This involved teasing out information about the book that could feed into a new title: genre, themes, conflicts, etc. The next stage was coming up with a new list of possible titles. I was surprised how difficult I found this, as I've always found picking a title one of the easiest parts of writing. Of course, this may because I'm naff at it... For inspiration, I decided...
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Getting Back On The Horse

I've been away from the keyboard for a while due to family things. I was lacking in inspiration and I had no idea where to start. So when an e-mail popped up asking me to meet with a producer to discuss feature film ideas, I thought this might be a good water-testing exercise. Get the creative juices flowing again. He gave me a location brief and I threw together a handful of ideas, condensed them into loglines and character sketches, and set off to London Waterloo for coffee. I come out of that meeting feeling positive. One of the ideas was adapted from an old story that had been brewing for a while but I hadn't found a way to make it work. It had been set aside for a number of months, occasionally pulled out for inspection, and then returned to the virtual drawer. Said producer was also enthusiastic about my percolated idea and, before I knew what was happening, I had...
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A criminal mind

I haven't got the head for crime. Stomach, sure - I've been watching CSI over dinner for years. And the heart, certainly: Castle, The Mentalist, Poirot, Sherlock are amongst my firm favourites. But the brain-juice? Not so much. I just finished Jeffrey Deaver's latest Lincoln Rhyme novel "The Burning Wire". Deaver's a genius and I've loved every single one of this series. But, once again, I couldn't see the twist coming. Or the second twist. Or the final twist. Or the one after that (and that may not look logical but, trust me, it is truth - the man's RELENTLESS with the TWISTS). I NEVER see it coming. I can never get the bad guy. Once or twice, I've guessed it. That's from watching about twelve seasons of CSI: Anyville, the above-mentioned shows, and numerous crime novels. Once. Or twice. Maybe three times tops. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem. Congratulations, you might say, the girl gets the fun and horror of surprise from every...
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