The Kernel of Truth

For a long time I was jealous of my friend Thom Atkinson (read about him here). His short stories and plays, justly award-winning, hit a kernel of truth that I couldn’t seem to reach in my own writing (you really should read his work. He’s honestly that good). What I produced was readable, but it was all surface, it didn’t resonate deeply.

Maybe I hadn’t lived enough. Maybe I just hadn’t reached far enough inside. I don’t know.

I had a stack of unpublished novels, six or seven of them. Fair enough.

Finally, though, I did manage to touch that core and find that elusive truth when I wrote The Broken Token. I like to feel that the Richard Nottingham and Tom Harper books all manage that, to a greater or lesser degree. Some – At the Dying of the Year, for instance, or Gods of Gold and Skin Like Silver – have been very emotionally draining to write. When that happens, I feel fairly sure I’ve achieved work that’s the best I can do.

Some of my other books perhaps don’t delve quite as deep. But I hope that they each have their own truth that shines through.

This is a preface to saying I’ve just completed a book that was quite exhausting to write. Currently titled The Tin God, it’s the next in the Harper series, and Annabelle figures more largely than ever. Soon enough it will be with my agent and then, I hope, my publisher, who will give the thumbs up or down. If it’s success then I’ll let you know, of course. But the issues involved are timely. Women running for office – which they could in late Victorian Leeds, either for the School Board or as a Poor Law Guardian – and the problems they face from men.

My publisher will hopefully receive this new manuscript just after On Copper Street appears in hardback in the US, and everywhere as an ebook (obligatory ad!). I was a little stunned a couple of weeks ago when Booklist, an American publication, named it as one of the best crime novels of the last 12 months before its publication. That is heart-stopping and left me immensely proud.

Over lunch last week, a writer friend told me: ‘You own Leeds.’

I don’t (or if I do, where’s the rent?), but it’s lovely to be so associated with a city I care for so deeply, that’s helped me find the heart in my fiction.

I’ll be talking about that on June 8 with a great historical crime writer, Candace Robb, who feels about York the way I do about Leeds. Details are here – please come if you can.

A finally, I mentioned Richard Nottingham before. After four years away, he’s returning. Here’s a little teaser…



6 thoughts on “The Kernel of Truth

  1. Stefanie Adams

    Hi, Chris- It’s lovely getting these updates and info from you in my inbox now and again.

    From time to time you wonder what happened with the special people that sort of wafted in and out of your life now and again. You know them a little, but not all that much, and you wonder where their own personal story led them.

    It looks like yours brought you back home, and you can’t hope for more than that.

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your life now and again.

    All the best and continued success to you!

    Stefanie Feagin Adams

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. That you, Stefanie. We all have people like that, although half of them seem to end up on Facebook…
      I never imagined coming back to Leeds to live. Now I’ve back back here getting on four years, I can’t imagine anything else.


    Just a quick question! When do you think “Free From All Danger” will be released in the US? So enjoy your books ect. Diane

    1. It will indeed! It comes out here in October and the US probably four months later – so February next year. Meanwhile, On Copper Street is out in the US in just over a week, on June 1, of course 🙂

  3. Barbara Oehm

    All your characters are really interesting. I have just finished reading Modern Crimes (Lottie Armstrong) I was pleased to read that that there is another Lottie book in the pipeline. I loved the Dan Markham/Stephen Baker books and wondered if you have another planned…I hope so, But just keep writing your fantastic stories for us 🙂 we love them all.

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