Wednesday, June 7, 2023

A Peek Behind the Curtain: Into the (World) of Woods - Guest Post by Brett Battles

I have a story to tell—a story-behind-the-story kind. In this case, the story behind Stuart Woods’s latest Stone Barrington novel Near Miss, which is out June 6. 

Near Miss, as you may already know, is the book Stuart was working on when he passed away in July of 2022, and the book that I was honored and privileged to be asked to complete for him. This behind-the-scenes story of how that came about doesn’t start there, however, but in the fall of 2021, when I was chosen by Stuart to co-author the next book in his Teddy Fay series

Teddy is a former spy. I’ve written spy novels for years. Teddy now works in Hollywood. I used to work in Hollywood. A perfect match, if I do say so myself, and I was eager to help Stuart continue the series. 

I spent the next eight or so months working on Obsession (which comes out October 10), and submitted our final draft to the publisher in July, 2022, on a day that turned out to be just a couple weeks before Stuart left us. His passing was a shock and a sad time for his family, his fans, and those of us who worked with him. Personally, I had really enjoyed working with him on Obsession, and was looking forward to doing more with him in the future. But in light of what happened, I realized that Obsession would likely be my only experience writing in the world he had created. 

Not so fast. 

Skip forward to October 4, 2022. In what almost sounds like a globetrotting chapter from a Stone Barrington novel, that morning I and a couple friends left on a flight to Europe for a two-year delayed (thank you, COVID) river cruise with other friends we’d be meeting there. When we landed in NYC to change planes, I saw that I had a voice message from my agent. I was surprised when she told me about Stuart’s unfinished book, and even more so when she said that his family and the publisher wanted to know if I would be interested in tying up the loose ends and completing the story. 

Was I interested? Of course, I was. It would be an honor to finish a manuscript for a legend like Stuart. But the idea of it was a little daunting, too. 

Before I could say yes, I had many questions. Unfortunately, the travel gods worked against me that day. Our landing in NYC had been delayed by the remnants of a hurricane, and by the time we got to the gate, my friends and I had less than ten minutes before our plane to Zurich was to leave. 

Lucky for us, the flight waited and was just a gate away. We raced to it, were shuttled aboard, and the aircraft’s door was literally shut behind us. The unlucky part was that I had no opportunity to call my agent, so I had to live with all those questions rolling around my head until we landed again. 

Well, until we landed in Zurich and waited several more hours, thanks to the six-hour time difference, making it was still the middle of the night in NYC. It was two in the afternoon before I could finally make the call. My agent answered my questions, including telling me about the—shall we say—tight deadline. Of course, in spite of the short amount of time I would have, there was no way I was going to say no. I wanted to honor Stuart by shepherding what he’d started to its end. And I wanted to honor his fans, too, for their years of enjoying Stone Barrington’s adventures. 

That tight deadline I mentioned meant that I needed to get started right away, despite the fact that I was about to step into an eight-day river cruise up the Rhine, with a bunch of friends who would not be happy if I stayed in my room all the time. It was a juggling act of grabbing what time I could to immerse myself in Stone’s world, and enjoying time with friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years, but it all worked out. 

So, how does one go about finishing someone else’s book? With great care, and a lot of help. My first task was to read what Stuart had written so far, then sketch out ideas for the parts of the story he hadn’t gotten to yet. By the time I arrived back home, I had a plan in place and was able to immediately dive in to writing new chapters and making sure everything flowed well. 

My goal was to have readers not be able to tell where Stuart’s prose left off and my started. To that end, I paid special attention to keeping his words as unchanged as possible. And in the parts I wrote, I worked hard to create scenes and dialogue and characters that felt like they had come from his keyboard. 

The help came in the from Stuart’s editor at Putnam. Gaby and I would communicate all the time, and I would send her chapters as I finished for her to look over. She is an absolute delight to work with, and the finished book owes a lot to her advice and feedback and knowledge of all things Stone Barrington.  

Working flat out and taking only Thanksgiving Day off, I was able to finish a few days ahead of the deadline. Which ultimately meant Near Miss would be able to come out as planned. 

Completing Near Miss for Stuart is an experience I will never forget, and one I will be thankful for always. I am also so pleased with the results. I hope you are, too.



Brett Battles is the USA Today bestselling author of more than forty novels, including the Jonathan Quinn, Rewinder, Project Eden, and Night Man Chronicles series. He is a three-time Barry Award nominee, winning for Best Thriller in 2009 for his novel The Deceived.

Stuart Woods was the author of more than ninety novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Stone Barrington series. A native of Georgia and an avid sailor and pilot, he began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. Woods passed away in 2022.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Bletchley Park New State-of-the-Art Learning Centre opens on D-Day Anniversary

Bletchley Park
welcomed the first group of students through the doors of its new state-of-the-art Block E Learning Centre, housed in a refurbished once top-secret World War Two building. The opening of the Learning Centre coincided with the anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944. 
Block E Learning Centre, an important wartime building, welcomed 29 Year Six students from Moorland Primary School in Milton Keynes. 
To celebrate the opening of Block E Learning Centre a group of students had the opportunity to meet two Bletchley Park Veterans: 101-year-old Cynthia Holden who worked in the building as a Morse Slip Reader, and 99-year-old Patricia Owtram, who worked as a Special Duties Wren intercepting German Naval messages and passing them onto codebreakers at Bletchley Park. The group also enjoyed a hands-on learning experience with an Enigma machine. 
Block E was built in 1943 and was the only block devoted entirely to communications at Bletchley Park during World War Two. Using encryption machines such as Typex, staff working here handled incoming and outgoing messages, and the distribution of material to various departments throughout Bletchley Park.
The new dedicated educational spaces includeight learning spaces to accommodate everyone from primary school learners to higher education students.  The rooms are bright, well-equipped, tactile spaces, easily accessible by all learners and are designed to host a range of tailored workshops. External spaces have been reconfigured to provide coach drop-off bays and safe access for the visiting staff and students. 
Bletchley Parks award-winning learning programme hosted more than 30,000 students in 2022 but, due to a lack of learning spaces, was heavily oversubscribed. The completion of this project will enable Bletchley Park to increase capacity and grow the learning programme to accommodate even more participants in this dedicated learning facility, inspiring learners with the achievements of the Codebreakers and their relevance to today’s world.
Examples of what is on offer for learners at Bletchley Park: 
·              An overview of World War Two history, with a focus on Bletchley Parks involvement. 
·              Codebreaking through the ages, problem solving and key mathematical skills through both formal and informal sessions. 
·              A close-up look at wartime machinery where students are able to use an Enigma machineand other examples from the Bletchley Park collection to explore codes and ciphers, and to work as a team to solve problems, test their tenacity and exercise lateral thinking skills. 
·              Hands-on interactive learning allowing learners to try their hand at real intelligence-management techniques used at Bletchley Park, and experience some of the daily challenges faced. 
·              A chance to explore contemporary parallels between Bletchley Parks information-intensive wartime work and the digitised world of today. 
·              Onsite learners also receive a guided tour around the site, providing an opportunity for students to delve deeper into the Bletchley Park story. 

THE MARLOW MURDER CLUB: Mystery TV on Masterpiece PBS

has announced the co-commissioning of the TV adaptation of Robert Thorogood’s hit novel 
The Marlow Murder Clubalongwith UKTV. Airing in four parts on PBS, the series will star Samantha Bond (Downton AbbeyHome Fires) who is joined by Jo Martin (Doctor Who,Back to Life), Cara Horgan (The SandmanTraitors) and Natalie Dew (SandylandsThe Capture).
The story follows retired archaeologist Judith Potts (Bond) who lives alone in a faded mansion in the peaceful town of Marlow. During one of her regular wild swims in the Thames, she hears a gunshot coming from a neighbor’s garden and believes a brutal murder has taken place. When the police are reluctant to believe her story, she finds herself forming an unlikely friendship with local dog-walker and empty-nester Suzie (Martin) and unfulfilled vicar’s wife Becks (Horgan) as they start an investigation of their own.

Stay tuned for more news!!

Monday, June 5, 2023

Partners in Crime: Guest Post by Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles On Collaborating in Writing the Molly Murphy Series

: Two years ago my daughter Clare came to me with an unexpected proposition. She said, “I think I’d like to write the Molly Murphy series with you.”

I had put that series on hold after book 17 because I was already writing two books a year, one of them a big historical stand-alone novel that required loads of research. I simply did not have time for a third book. But, as Clare pointed out, I got a constant stream of emails saying “when is the next Molly book coming out?”

I was ambivalent about Clare’s suggestion. I knew she was a good writer, but what if she couldn’t get Molly’s voice or the tone of the novels? She was my daughter. I loved her dearly. What if I had to tell her it wasn’t working out? But I agreed to give it a try. I was so pleasantly surprised. I had expected to do a lot of hand-holding to start with, a lot of rewriting, mentoring.

Instead Clare read all 17 books again then hit the ground running. She got Molly’s voice perfectly, and she came to that first book with so many good ideas.

CLARE: I loved the Molly Murphy series from the first book and didn’t want the series to die. I knew that to be successful as a collaborator I had to get Molly’s voice. So I not only read through all seventeen of the novels taking notes, I also listened to the audiobooks. Early on, Rhys gave me some great advice. She suggested that whenever I felt stuck I picture myself sitting in Molly’s house at her kitchen table while she tells me a story about her life. I try to be the listener as I write, and that was it is Molly who drives the story in her own words. 

RHYS: We fell into a smooth way of working. We talk through the main theme of the book, we decide on our characters and their names, do the preliminary research, then we work together on the first chapters. After that it’s all rather organic. Clare might tell me she can picture the party scene so she takes it.  I read it through, sometimes tweak here and there, and go on ahead. She reads through my scenes and then goes ahead again. We talk every day, bouncing ideas off each other.

CLARE: It is such a gift to have a co-writer. For one thing, I get instant feedback on each scene that I write. Most writers have to just live with their self-doubt! And each time I write ten pages, Rhys has written ten more, so I get to be a reader as well. We spend hours discussing the tricky details of the murder. We want to play fair and give the readers clues, but also have a clever solution. In ALL THAT IS HIDDEN, our latest Molly Murphy, we blithely gave ourselves the challenge of a locked room mystery. And then we had to figure out how the murderer could have done it!

RHYS: Obviously books set in the early 1900s require a lot of research. Clare has turned out to be the queen of research. She reads the New York Times archives for every day we write about and has come up with great ideas that we’ve incorporated into our plots. I come with the background knowledge of having written almost twenty books set in the time and place. I know Molly’s New York intimately, having walked every street when I was writing the first books, as well as having assembled a collection of photographs of the city, restaurant menus, Sears catalog for 1900 etc etc.  So when Clare is writing she will leave details of Molly walking across Manhattan and what she might have seen to me. And I leave it to her to find out details about Tammany Hall corruption, the mayor’s election, dirty dealings at the docks.
Clare, tell the readers what brilliant news items you found for our new book, ALL THAT IS HIDDEN.

CLARE: One of the first articles I read was about a boat catching fire on the Hudson. The New York Times gave an exciting account of the boat being engulfed in flames as the crew struggled to dock and couldn’t, then finally made fast at a small dock that promptly burst into flames. Rhys and I knew we had to put Molly on that boat. And that detail shaped a major character. We knew we wanted a wealthy man involved in our mystery, but when we decided to include the boat it led us to the docks and Tammany Hall. I scoured the Times for mentions of Tammany Hall and read about the Republicans teaming up with William Randolph Hearst’s Independence Party to try to take control away from Tammany. Those stories formed the background to the novel. 

RHYS: We have just turned in our third book. This one was exceptionally fun to write because we set it in the Catskill mountains at the very beginning of the Jewish bungalow communities. Again I left it to Clare to do the research. She found videos of a train ride through the mountains, old maps and what were the plums, Clare?

CLARE: I learned that the streets of New York were paved with bluestone that came from quarries in the Catskills. In 1907 Portland cement was replacing blue stone and the quarries were in trouble. A new Catskills state park had just been formed with the first park Rangers and chestnut trees were still abundant, although the blight was spreading. My favorite find was an artist’s community that was a summer destination for bohemians like our characters Sid and Gus, and for many professional women. It still exists today with lodging and a theater. We decided to make a fictional version for Molly to visit and have the liberal inhabitants come out in protest against the blue stone quarrying that was disturbing the peace of the Catskills.

RHYS: So now we had plenty of conflict. Plenty of potential for clashes and motives for murder. Obviously we are writing about a community that is not our own. We felt this was okay to tackle as it is all seen through Molly’s eyes, the eyes of an outsider. However we wanted to make sure everything about the Jewish community was completely authentic so I enlisted the help of an old friend in New York, who comes from a distinguished Jewish family, and we had her go through the book for us. She is a former editor and she went through with a tooth comb! And miraculously she found very little to criticize or change. 

CLARE: I don’t think you could write about the Catskills without including the Jewish community. At that time the large resorts had signs saying, “No Hebrews”. It didn’t matter how wealthy or educated the family was. If you are a fan of the Molly books you know that many of them deal with a group who is excluded because of their gender, race or religion. Including, of course, the Irish who arrived in New York to signs that said, “No Irish need apply.” I hope we are able to continue to tell those stories. 

RHYS: It is my plan to step back gradually with each book until I can hand the series over to Clare and I’ll lurk in the background as the mentor.  So watch out for her. She’s already coming up with brilliant ideas for her own series.


Rhys Bowen is the NYT bestselling author of the Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series as well as several internationally bestselling historical stand alone novels. Her daughter Clare Broyles is a teacher, music composer whose work for theater won an Arizona Zoni award, and now a perfect partner in crime.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

International Thriller Writers 2023 Thriller Awards

International Thriller Writers (ITW)  2023 Thriller Awards

Best Hardcover Novel
Sundial, by Catriona Ward (Macmillan)

Best Audiobook

Things We Do in the Dark, by Jennifer Hillier; narrated by Carla Vega (Macmillan Audio)

Best First Novel
The Resemblance, by Lauren Nossett (Flatiron)

Best Paperback Original Novel:
The Housemaid, by Freida McFadden (Grand Central)

Best Short Story:
“Stockholm,” by Catherine Steadman (Amazon Original Stories)

Best Young Adult Novel:
Daughter, by Kate McLaughlin (Wednesday)

Best E-Book Original Novel:
The Couple at Causeway Cottage, by Diane Jeffrey (HarperCollins)

Charlaine Harris and Walter Mosley received the 2023 ThrillerMaster Lifetime Achievement Awards. Minotaur Books was named the winner of the 2023 Thriller Legend Award.


Happy Pride Month! Sisters in Crime
is accepting entries for its third annual PRIDE Award, a $2,000 grant awarded to an emerging LGBTQIA+ crime writer. Entries must be submitted by July 31, and the winner will be announced later this summer.

The award is the legacy project of past Sisters in Crime President, Sherry Harris. “Each past president is required to do a legacy project, something that they feel passionate about. When thinking about what I wanted to do, I kept two things in mind. First, why SinC was formed — to equal the disparity in how female crime fiction writers and male crime fiction writers were reviewed and won awards. Second, I love our Eleanor Taylor Bland Award for emerging crime writers of color. With those two thoughts in mind, I realized I wanted to start a similar award for the LGBTQIA+ community."

“SinC supports marginalized writers in many ways," says Sisters in Crime Executive Director Julie Hennrikus. "This includes the PRIDE award and the Eleanor Taylor Bland award, two exciting ways for emerging crime fiction authors to get acknowledgement and support for their writing journey.”

The no-fee submissions are open to any LGBTQIA+ crime writer who has not published more than ten short works or two novels. More information is available at

Sisters in Crime (SinC) was founded in 1986 to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. Today, the organization boasts over 4,500 members and more than 50 chapters worldwide. SinC programs and initiatives include other grants for emerging crime writers; the SinC Writer’s Podcast; webinars on craft, the business of writing and research; grants for academic research into the roles of women and underserved voices in crime fiction; cash awards to libraries and bookstores; and surveys and monitoring projects which determine visibility and representation of women and diverse voices in the genre and across the marketplace. For more information on its programs and author members, visit the organization’s website at

Complete guidelines and the application can be found at