Goodreads Readalong

From 1st November, and throughout the month of November, I will be taking part in a readalong of my first novel Slur with the Goodreads group ‘A Good Thriller’. If you want to join in the readalong, please follow the link: Goodreads Readalong. You will have to join the group in order to post comments but otherwise you can just follow the chat. For anyone who is interested in thrillers, I would recommend joining this lively group. Later in this post I’ve outlined some of the fun online activities that this group organises.


The format that the readalong takes is that readers have an opportunity to read the book and discuss it with the author while they are reading. This gives them a chance to ask any questions about the author’s writing process, plot lines, characters or anything else that may interest them. The author then dips in and out of the thread to respond to questions and comments made by members.

Readalongs aren’t just open to people who choose to read the book during the discussion; people who have already read the book can join in too. The group has already hosted a number of successful readalongs, which have been enjoyed by both readers and authors.

Pick it for MeThis is just one of the threads that members of ‘A Good Thriller’ can take part in. It’s a very active group and one of the friendliest I have come across on Goodreads. As well as various themed chats, two of the popular threads that members can take part in are ‘Book Pals’ and ‘Pick it for Me’. With ‘Book Pals’, members read and discuss a book along with a partner. ‘Pick it for Me’ involves listing a selection of books that you would like to read, and members will then help you choose which books they think you should read next from that selection. There are many other fun threads too so this group is well worth checking out if you are a fan of thrillers.

If you would like to join in the readalong and get an insight into the mind of a crime thriller writer, it will take part from 1st November – just follow the link: Goodreads Readalong.


1980s Manchester – The Setting for my Debut Novel “Slur”

To get a feel for what 80s Manchester would have been like for the lead characters in “Slur”, here are a few of my own recollections.

The Music
I can remember that it was a time of big change on the music scene. On the one hand you had clubs that played mainly soul and disco music, and then were those that catered to the alternative music scene. My preferences were mainly soul and disco with Luther Vandross, George Benson and Whitney Houston amongst my favourites. However, I also remember listening to 80s Bowie, the Human League, Brian Ferry and the 12” version of Tainted Love in my friend’s house or mine while we experimented with make-up. We found some shiny purple eye shadow that my mother had discarded years previously and adopted it as lipstick. Bang on trend!

As we got towards the end of the 80s and into the 90s, Manchester started to develop its own music scene, known as Madchester. The emergence of groups like the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays and the Inspiral Carpets are linked to the Hacienda nightclub. At one point ‘Stone Roses’ was scrawled on virtually every wall in the city centre.


The Clubs
As for the clubs I used to frequent, I started in my late teens with Rotters, a converted cinema with a beautiful interior, and occasionally Tiffanys, which later became the Tropicana. At that time Pips and Placemate 7 were the places where the cool kids went. Placemate 7 was so called because of the 7 different dance floors, with each dedicated to a different style of music, so you got a real mix of people including New Romantics and Punk Rockers. In my 20s I moved onto Saturdays, Fridays and Sachas.

Out of all the clubs, Rotters and Saturdays were my favourites, mainly because they played a good mix of music – usually soul and disco but with some other genres thrown in, which suited my eclectic tastes. Another club I enjoyed was Legends. This was one that my brothers introduced me to and we were fascinated by the laser beams and strobe lighting. Occasionally we also went to the Ritz in the 80s and 90s. It had a bit of a bad reputation and the dance floor used to bounce if there was any particularly energetic dancing taking place.

One of the alternative venues I visited was Corbieres. This was a wine bar that hosted live bands and I went there with someone I was seeing who was into alternative music and dress. In an attempt to fit in I wore the trendiest outfit I could find. Acid Brights were really big that season so I turned up in my bright orange dress complete with matching white accessories. I was mortified when I descended into a dark cellar full of people dressed in black. I also went to The Venue, which I found a bit weird, and the famous Hacienda. The Hacienda was quite casual and full of student types who tended to dress down.

Disco dancing

The Fashions
There were so many fashions that came and went throughout the 80s and often what you wore would be linked to the type of music you preferred. I can remember feeling really daring going out dressed in mini-skirts and white stilettos. It seems that the mini-skirt re-emerges every decade. And yes, I did wear leggings the first time round; the original ones didn’t even have Lycra and they used to sag around the knees and bum by the end of the day. We also used to dance around our handbags in nightclubs – cringe!

Manchester also had its fair share of drugs and violence, as many major cities still do today. These are both evident in my book. In fact, it was due to drug problems that the popular Hacienda had to shut down. Because of this connection I have chosen to feature it in my novel.

The 80s were a great time for me as it was the time of my youth and I can honestly say that I never witnessed any of the crime that is featured in my book. I once saw a handbag snatched and I’ve seen a few nightclub brawls, but I’ve never witnessed a murder. I could go on reminiscing but that alone wouldn’t make a good novel. That’s why I decided to write a crime thriller. I’m hoping that readers will, like me, prefer something gritty and hard-hitting. I’ll be following up with an excerpt chapter from the novel in the coming weeks.

If you remember the 80s please feel free to share your memories in the comments box below. If you’re too young to remember the 80s, I hope you’ve been entertained by the reminiscences of an old dinosaur.