Writers Turn to Crime?

I am very pleased to welcome two writer friends and collaborators to the blog today: Alison Morton and Helen Hollick, both of whom I met for the first time at the 2012 Historical Novel Society Conference in London. Crikey, what a long time ago that seems!

Both Alison and Helen have been successful in the genre of historical fiction, but now they are applying their considerable skills to an entirely different genre.

It was only when Helen Hollick met up with Alison Morton for an author get together in Bristol, that they realised, purely by coincidence, that they were both considering branching out from their familiar genres to turn to crime … writing it that is!

Alison (a self-confessed ‘Roman nut’) has six novels, a collection of short stories and two novellas from her Roma Nova alternative history series firmly under her belt. As Derek knows, she had always wondered what a society would be like if part of the Roman Empire still existed. And she took to creating characters and their adventures of courage and endurance in the face of treason, conspiracy and insurrection – all very Roman elements! However, it was the thriller element of these stories that she enjoyed writing the most.

Author Conn Iggulden, who read and endorsed Alison’s novel INSURRECTIO, suggested that she should turn one of her Roma Novan heroines into a member of a modern day European investigation agency and write the story as a crime thriller. The result, is Double Identity. French-English protagonist, Mélisende des Pittones, expects a peaceful retirement from her army life into domestic married bliss, but when her fiancé is murdered she finds herself recalled and forced to work with grumpy English detective DS McCracken.

Helen had her Arthurian trilogy, two novels about the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (one of which was a USA Today bestseller,) her pirate-based Sea Witch nautical adventure voyages, a couple of non-fiction books about pirates and smugglers and several short stories included in a couple of anthologies. She  discovered the ‘cosy mystery’, genre through reading (and enjoying!) author Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers series. These led to reading more of the same genre – some of which made her think, ‘I could do as good as these.’ She chose to base A Mirror Murder on her decade of experience of working as a library assistant back in the 1970s, with her protagonist, Jan Christopher, being the niece of DCI Toby Christopher –  and the girlfriend of his Detective Sergeant, Laurie Walker.

Helen is now working on a second murder mystery for the Jan Christopher Mysteries, and one of these days she’ll get Voyage Six of the Sea Witch Voyages finished. Alison has around 34,000 words of a Roma Nova story in early draft form,  and 27,000 words of the second instalment of her new crime thriller series. Both will be eagerly awaited by her readers!


Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.

 It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.

Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.

But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self. Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?

Buying links

For all ebook and paperback retailers: https://bit.ly/3s0XUlV

Kindle:  https://mybook.to/DoubleIdentity    


Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.

But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram,  a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered…  Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into  murder?


Amazon Author Page (Universal Link) http://viewauthor.at/HelenHollick


Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers series featuring tough, but compassionate heroines.

Grips like a vice – a writer to watch out for” says crime thriller writer Adrian Magson about Roma Nova series starter INCEPTIO. All six full-length Roma Nova thrillers have won the BRAG Medallion, the prestigious award for indie fiction. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices.  AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The Bookseller selected SUCCESSIO as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review.

She blends her deep love of France with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history. She now lives in Poitou in France, where part of Double Identity is set and is writing a sequel as well as continuing her Roma Nova series. Alison continues to write thrillers and drink wine in France with her husband.

Connect with Alison on her thriller site: https://alison-morton.com

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alison_morton @alison_morton

Alison’s writing blog: https://alisonmortonauthor.com

Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/ckNeFL


Helen and her family moved from north-east London in 2013 after finding an eighteenth-century North Devon farmhouse through being a ‘victim’ on BBC TV’s popular Escape To The Country show.

First accepted for publication by William Heinemann in 1993 – a week after her fortieth birthday – Helen then became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she also writes a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages. She has other ideas for other tales – and would like the time to write them!


Website: www.helenhollick.net

Newsletter Subscription: http://tinyletter.com/HelenHollick

Facebook: www.facebook.com/HelenHollickAuthor

Twitter: @HelenHollick

Thank you, Derek, for hosting us on our joint tour. Readers may recognise us as your fellow contributors to the recently published Betrayal anthology of historical stories as well as seasoned historical fiction writers. But as with everything in the writing world, things never stand still…

This entry was posted in Alternative History, Blog Tour, Crime, Historical Fiction, Indie authors, New release and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Writers Turn to Crime?

  1. Thank you Derek for hosting us today, your support and enthusiasm is highly appreciated 🙂

  2. “When shall we three meet again?” as Bill Shakespeare would say.
    Well, we did today – almost an HNS 2016 reunion – and you did us proud, Derek. Thank you! And I hope your readers found it intriguing…

  3. Derek Birks says:

    Great to have you both on the blog and see how you have successfully turned to crime.

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