CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Shortlist 2018

In preparation for the announcement of the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award next week, we interview our last shortlisted author, Colette McBeth and ask her about her book An Act Of Silence.

How does it feel to be on the shortlist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger?

It’s a real honour, the Daggers are a big deal. And even though my books aren’t your typical action thrillers, I always try to give readers a reason to turn the pages quickly. Being shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger is recognition that I might have done that.


If you could summarise An Act of Silence in ten words, what would you say?

The abuse of power and status and its devastating consequences.


What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?

Until recently I would have said I plot, often to the point of insanity. An Act of Silence required a huge amount of plotting and rejigging and hair pulling, and for a long time, I didn’t think I could make it work. I had a five metre sheet of wallpaper with my scenes and POVs colour coded, and then I would add notes as I went along. But the book I’ve just finished resisted that method and in the end, I opted to freestyle it. It was a lot of fun to write, all of which makes me think there is no right way, the only thing that matters is that you find a way.


Which thriller writers do you most admire?

I’m a big fan of Liz Nugent’s writing and I’ve recommended Unravelling Oliver to just about everyone. Sarah Hilary is a brilliant storyteller and I’m very jealous of her way with words, likewise Sabine Durrant. I’m also eagerly awaiting the next one from Renee Knight. I was a great admirer of Disclaimer.


What makes a killer thriller?

It has to surprise me otherwise I end up feeling cheated. Also, the motivation has to be right. If that rings true, you can make a character do almost anything.

Beyond that, my ideal thriller makes me think long after I’ve finished the last page. And it unravels as it goes along; the drip feed, rather than the one big reveal at the end. I don’t want to be starved of information all the way through a book because it’s rare an ending is enough to satisfy my hunger.

We have now heard from all the shortlisted authors: Colette McBeth, Mick Herron, Emily Koch, Don Winslow, Attica Locke and C J Tudor.  Find out who the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger is on 26th October.

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