Book Launch Day – A Gangster’s Grip

The day of the launch has finally arrived and ‘A Gangster’s Grip’, book two in The Riverhill Trilogy, is now available in both a Kindle and print format from Amazon. Here is the link:

Gangster's Grip V4

I have plenty of events lined up to celebrate the launch of my second novel, including:

A Radio Interview – It will take place on 17th October at North Manchester Radio station in Harpurhey, Manchester. They have a Saturday afternoon slot specifically dedicated to books, creative writing and publishing so I am pleased to have been invited as a guest on the show.

Book Shop Signing – On 24th October I will be signing copies of ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ at Thackeray’s Book Shop in Denton, Manchester. Thackeray’s will also be stocking copies of both ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ and ‘Slur’.

Goodreads Giveaway – I’ll be giving away signed copies of ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ to two lucky winners in a Goodreads Giveaway so look out for details on my Goodreads author page by following the link here.

A Free Promotion of ‘Slur’ – From today ‘Slur’ will be available to download to the Kindle FREE of charge for five days. ‘Slur’ is the first book in The Riverhill Trilogy so if you haven’t already read it, this is a great opportunity to start at the beginning. Here is the link:

Online Interviews and Features – I will be taking part in a few online interviews and features. The first of these is a chat ‘Around the Cauldron’ with Wiz Green aka popular author Mark Barry, which has earned me the amusing nickname of Hardcore Heather. (I must point out that this refers to the grit lit sub-genre that my novels fit into rather than my lifestyle :).) You can catch the full interview: here.

I will keep you updated about the above activities by publishing further details on the blog as the events take place.

And there was I telling myself that I would be less busy after the launch; I guess I will have to postpone my winter break.


The Legacy of Gunchester

In a recent blog post I described the Gunchester Era of 90s Manchester when violent crime soared in the city. This is the backdrop to my forthcoming novel and if you haven’t already read my previous post, you can view it here. I would like to follow on from my previous post by looking at how the Gunchester Era has affected Manchester.

After the 1990s Manchester continued to experience gang related violence, and in the last decade the number of shootings across Greater Manchester peaked at 146 in 2007. However, an October 2013 newspaper article reported a reduction in the number of incidents to just 11 shootings in a period of six months. To put this into perspective, this is one of the lowest rates recorded in Greater Manchester, which is a county of two and a half million inhabitants. This level is also lower than the neighbouring county of West Yorkshire.


So how did Manchester manage to turn things around?

It is the result of a multi-faceted approach involving the community, the police, local councils and a number of other agencies all working together to tackle violent crime. The needless loss of young lives left family members devastated and led to various initiatives by relatives of deceased youngsters. Amongst these were Peace Week, Mothers against Violence and Fathers against Violence. The stand taken by communities meant that witnesses were given the courage to contact the police, leading to key arrests. This was a brave move as people had previously been too frightened to report gang-related crime.

The police also set up a specialist task force called Xcalibre whose function was specifically to tackle gun-crime and other gang-related crime. Xcalibre has been so successful in reducing the level of violent crime in Manchester that it is now held in high regard worldwide and hosts conferences for other forces so that they can follow its lead.


However, it is the cohesive approach between the community, the police and other agencies such as youth offending services, probation and local councils that is responsible for the ongoing reduction in violent crime. This was acknowledged by the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, who stated in a newspaper article in October 2013 that one of the aims was to provide alternatives for young people who might otherwise have joined gangs.

As the Gunchester period progressed it was recognized that gang members were becoming younger and younger and that children in schools regarded gang culture as their best option in life. At one time children as young as 13 were joining gangs but now that the police are working with schools and other agencies to raise awareness of alternatives, the typical age of gang members has become older.

People Working Together

The work of some of these groups has been so successful that it is now being taken up by other cities in the UK. Here is some further information on some of the groups that are still working to tackle violent crime and gang-related crime in Manchester:

Mothers against Violence ( – This organisation was founded in 1999 by two women who had lost sons as a result of gang-related violence. It started out as a peer to peer support group for victims of violent crime or for those who had lost family members because of violent crime. It now runs a Community Counselling and Emotional Support Service Programme (ACCESS Programme) and offers a range of other services.

Fathers against Violence ( – This group is sponsored by a number of bodies and provides guidance to youngsters, giving them the confidence and awareness to seek out alternative opportunities to crime. Fathers against Crime works in partnership with schools, parents, local authorities and community groups and encourages positive male role models.

Manchester City Council – Integrated Gang Management Unit ( – This is a multi-agency team, which includes the Xcalibre task force. Its aims are to safeguard people affected by violent gang-related activity, and to support gang members that want to leave the gang lifestyle. It also encourages young people to follow alternative pathways to gang crime, and enforces the law related to gang crime.

In a news report on 14th February 2015 the latest figures showed a slight increase in gun crime from the previous year in the Greater Manchester region, but this was nowhere near the number of incidents when Gunchester was at its peak. This is an indication though that for Manchester, like many cities, the fight against violent crime is an ongoing battle.


Work in Progress Blog Hop

I was nominated for the Work in Progress Blog Hop by the lovely Georgia Rose who blogs at Georgia Rose Books. Georgia is a prolific blogger who reviews books on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team. She is a very supportive member of the indie author community and also writes revealing and entertaining author interviews via her blog. Georgia is currently completing her third book in the excellent Grayson Trilogy and I know that I am amongst the many readers who are looking forward to reading it and finding out what happens next.


Thanks for the nomination Georgia. My second novel is currently at the first draft stage so before I revisit the first three chapters to see whether they pass muster, I want to introduce four other bloggers in line with the blog hop rules which are:

  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Write a little about and give the first few lines of your first three chapters from your WIP.
  • Nominate some other writers to do the same.

So, here are my nominations:

Guy Portman’s Blog – Guy shares lots of insightful information about famous authors and notable novels via his blog. He also includes details about his travels and other interesting observations.

Marilyn Chapman blogs at Guernsey Girlie. I love the retro feel of Marilyn’s blog and she covers history topics (amongst others) in an entertaining way – I think my school history teachers could have learnt a thing or two from her about approach.

Sue Coletta blogs at Crime Writer Blog, which has a wealth of information for anyone who writes in the crime genre. As well as her murder blog Sue generously shares crime writer’s resources, writing tips and a whole lot more via her website.

Yasmin Selena Butt blogs at Hello You. Yasmin’s blog is full of personality and she’s a girl who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. I’ve also included Yasmin because I can’t wait to find out more about her second book.

Here’s a little about my work in progress:

I’m currently writing the sequel to SLUR and am at the first draft stage so I might edit some of these excerpts at a later date. We’ve now moved on five years to 1991. During the 1990s Manchester was infamously nicknamed ‘Gunchester’ by the local and national press due to the upsurge in violent gun crime by drugs gangs in certain areas of the city.


In SLUR I hinted at the fact that Rita (one of my main characters) had a father who was a petty crook and a sister who hung around with some dodgy characters. I’ve therefore decided to explore her story further and make her the main character in the sequel.

Rita returns from Greece for reasons that I don’t fully disclose until later in the book. When she arrives at her parents’ home she finds out that her sister is going out with the local gangster. She senses danger straightaway but her parents refuse to take her seriously for their own dubious reasons. Despite the lack of support from her parents Rita sets out to lure her sister away from her boyfriend. This proves more difficult than she anticipates and many lives are put at risk due to the boyfriend’s shady dealings.

Here is the first paragraph of each of the first three chapters:

Chapter 1

Rita couldn’t wait to get to her parents’ house, unaware of what to expect when she arrived. It had been so long since she’d been home from Greece and she had missed everyone, despite their shortcomings. She rushed to the front door while Yansis struggled behind with their overstuffed suitcases.

Chapter 2

The scene at her best friend Julie’s house was in complete contrast to the one Rita and Yansis had left behind half an hour earlier. Before they even got inside Julie’s home, the differences were apparent. Rita’s parents lived in Longsight, a deprived area of the city that Rita had been glad to leave behind when she had gone to live in Greece five years ago. The estate where her parents’ home was situated was particularly run-down. During the years that Rita had lived there she had grown accustomed to the abundance of litter, overgrown gardens, graffiti ridden walls and areas of worn grass used as dumping grounds for old furniture. The latter doubled up as play areas for small children who used the bug infested mattresses and sofas as trampolines.

Chapter 3

Leroy was at the wheel of his black BMW driving along the busy Cheetham Hill Road on his way to a meeting with his suppliers. He cruised through this vibrant multi-cultural area where new architecture mixed with old, and industrial units, furniture stores and car showrooms stood alongside churches, mosques and synagogues. He’d left early with the intention of collecting some other goods before his meeting.

I’m looking forward to seeing everybody else’s blog posts and finding out more about their WIPs.