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Haylen Beck Writers Tip

Haylen Beck

Haylen Beck is the pseudonym of Northern Ireland writer Stuart Neville, an acclaimed, Edgar-nominated author whose crime fiction has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and made best-of-year lists with numerous publications including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.

Today Haylen shares his writing tips for aspiring authors.

Simply writing more. A common mistake writers make is finishing one novel, then flogging it to death instead of getting on with writing the next one. Really, the only way to learn to write is simply to write..

Read more about Haylen and his writing journey

Haylen Beck

Haylen Beck

Haylen Beck is the pseudonym of Northern Ireland writer Stuart Neville, an acclaimed, Edgar-nominated author whose crime fiction has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and made best-of-year lists with numerous publications including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing
    My real name is Stuart Neville, I’m forty seven years old, and I live in Northern Ireland with my wife, two kids, and a very scruffy dog. I’ve been writing almost all my life, but it was around 2006 when I started to take it seriously. My debut novel, ‘The Twelve’, was published almost exactly ten years ago.
  2. Can you tell us a bit about your new book, ‘Lost You’
    ‘Lost You’ begins with the disappearance of a little boy in a holiday resort in Florida. His mother Libby is frantic trying to find him, but her greatest fear is not that he’s lost – but that he’s been found. When CCTV footage shows him being led away by another woman, she knows years of secrets are about to unravel.
  3. You are a successful author under your own name Stuart Neville, what made you decide to write under a pen name?
    It was mainly because of the change of setting from Ireland to America. Crime authors often become associated with a specific location – Ian Rankin is Edinburgh, Jo Nesbo is Oslo – and under my own name, I’ve become very much identified with Belfast. The first Haylen Beck novel, ‘Here And Gone’, really needed to be set in the States, and it was a somewhat different style than my previous books, so the pen name seemed like the right way forward.
  4. Who’s your favourite villain or hero?
    I like a good anti-hero, so if I can roll a villain and hero into one, it would be Jack Carter from Ted Lewis’s ‘Jack’s Return Home’, which was adapted for film as ‘Get Carter’, starring Michael Caine. That book was a huge influence on me, and Ted Lewis is terribly underrated.
  5. Why do you think Northern Ireland is so popular and successful for crime authors?
    When my first novel was published ten years ago, there was some resistance to fiction from Northern Ireland, and nowhere more so than in Northern Ireland! That resistance has really broken down over the last few years, with a lot if crime writers coming through, plus Anna Burns’s deserved Booker win. I think we’re now able to tell stories that aren’t necessarily rooted in the Troubles, which has opened things up a lot.
  6. Has there ever been a film that’s been better than the book?
    ‘Jaws’ is the big one. It’s one of the greatest movies ever made, but it’s not a good book! I’d also add ‘The Godfather’, parts I and II, which are better than Mario Puzo’s novel.
  7. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Probably my bandmates – Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Val McDermid, and Luca Veste – from the ‘Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers’. We have so much fun making music together, I’m sure we’d have a laugh talking books too.
  8. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    “The rain rained.” from the above mentioned ‘Jack’s Return Home’.
  9. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    James Ellroy’s ‘American Tabloid’, Tom Wolfe’s ‘Bonfire Of The Vanities’ and Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’.
  10. Lost You

  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Simply writing more. A common mistake writers make is finishing one novel, then flogging it to death instead of getting on with writing the next one. Really, the only way to learn to write is simply to write.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    A notebook. For every novel I start a brand new Moleskine A5 notebook and I scribble in them constantly when I write the first draft, then through revisions, edits, even up to the copyedit and page proof stage. I then use the same notebook for when I give talks about the book after it’s published.
  13. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website.
    I’m currently working on a new novel under my own name, which returns to my series character, DCI Serena Flanagan. Once that’s done, I’ve got a couple of screenplays I want to work on just for the hell of it, and I’ve plans for two more novels.

    You can buy ‘Lost You’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshop.

    Follow Haylen Beck on Twitter and his website for updates website

Noireland – The Best Crime Festival In Town

Noireland International Crime Festival, Belfast

It’s fair to say that the first Noireland International Crime Fiction Festival went off with a bang. With a packed programme and a well thought out schedule that made sure no one missed out on a precious moment, there was plenty of food for thought for the aspiring author as well as book lover.

Set against the backdrop of the Europa Hotel, with its mirrored walls and winding staircases, it was the perfect setting for this atmospheric festival, slap bang in the centre of Belfast.

On the Friday, I participated in workshops with authors, Gerard Brennan and Claire McGowan and both workshops, were informative and interactive as we engaged in some light writing exercises as well as given the opportunity to question published authors.

The event kicked off on Friday night with a ‘Line Of Duty’ panel and Strabane author, Brian McGilloway quizzed the shows creator Jed Mercurio, actor, Adrian Dunbar and the show’s producer Stephen Wright about the success of the Northern Ireland show.

Over the weekend, there were talks catered for everyone who has an interest in crime and varied from the research and ideas of genre, as well as some added humour to lighten the dark subject.

Between each talk there was ample time and opportunity to browse the compact bookshop as well as chat to the authors and get books signed.

I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of Noireland. It was wonderful to see such an exciting range of talent from across the water and to meet the people who have written for books and screen. With panels of authors featuring some of my favourite authors such as Ali Land, Liz Nugent and Sophie Hannah, as well as a packed out rooms for the events featuring the people behind ‘Line of Duty’ and Aidan Gillen.

It was also exhilarating to be amongst such talent and to be able to listen about their own writing experiences as well as meet other like-minded people, who like myself are also tentatively starting their own writing journey’s.

One particular moment that stood out for me, was when Brian McGilloway asked me if I was a writer. I was hesitant with my response as I am trying to be and I’m actively working on something at the minute, so I told him that I was trying to and his reply stayed with me all weekend.

“You are a writer, even if you’re not published”

As an aspiring author, I found the festival to be an absolute fountain of information, packed with support and advice. I parted ways with Crime Noireland on a high, loaded with books, inspiration and a lot lighter purse.

A monumental thank you and well done to David Torrans, his staff from No Alibis Bookshop (the best bookshop in Northern Ireland) as well as all the volunteers who were all so friendly and approachable. They did such an amazing job of organising a fabulous event and gave book lovers and writers an unique opportunity to network and engage.

With a promise of another festival next year, I’m already counting down to 2018. Hopefully by then, I will have finished all the books that I bought at this year’s event!

Noireland International Crime Festival, Belfast

Noireland International Crime Festival, Belfast

If you’re a fan of the crime genre, whether you enjoy reading the books or aspire to be an author, then Belfast’s debut crime festival is a must attendance.

Noireland (great name by the way) will be running from 27-29th October and taking place in the Europa Hotel.

Organised by the people behind the amazing bookshop ‘No Alibis’ which is situated in Botanic in Belfast, this festival celebrates the island’s love of crime fiction.

The 3-day event will be showcasing the amazing talent emerging from Ireland currently as well as some of the popular authors from all over the world, such as Sophie Hannah, Arne Dahl and Benjamin Black, to name just a few.

Noireland International Crime was organised to provide a platform for the wealth of crime writing talent emerging from Ireland, showcasing it alongside some of the biggest international names in crime and thriller writing.

With a jam-packed programme of great authors plus a selection of entertaining events, this debut festival is an exciting introduction to Northern Ireland’s love of all things crime and suspense.

As a very new and independent organisation they rely on partnerships, sponsors, donations, ticket sales and volunteers to support their work.

If you are interested in partnering with Noireland or sponsoring them you can contact them at info@noireland.com

For more information and updates about the events plus tickets, go to Noireland.com