The Black Hand, vol.21
This newsletter is late
I mean, maybe you noticed (or maybe you didn’t? That’s okay too).
Mainly it’s because I’m in the middle of writing a new book (I’ll tell you about it further down). Drafting is hard, y’all! Also, my brain is tired. It’s November – isn’t your brain tired, too? We’ve all been working our little butts off. So my apologies for the tardiness, but I think it’s okay to be a bit tired and slow as the end of the year approaches.
Haha, Substack put a ‘Subscribe!’ button right after I confess to being tardy with my newsletter - niiice. But look, if you’d like to receive new posts and support my work, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The doyenne of forensic investigation
This is a wonderful article about a woman called Angela Gallop, who has been called ‘the queen of crime solving’. Angela Gallop is a forensic scientist who has cracked some of the UK’s most notorious homicide cases.
Gallop started out in the 1970s as a PhD candidate (her thesis was about sea slugs) and then transferred her scientific skills to the UK government’s Forensic Science Service. Over the last 50 years, she has worked on everything from the death of Princess Diana to the murder of James Bulger. The article also highlights how the quality of forensic science in the UK is in danger from lack of leadership, funding, and poor research and development.
A really fascinating read. Also, I wouldn’t have wanted to be Gallop’s ex-husband – she frequently asked him to help her recreate murder scenes in their backyard in Oxfordshire.
Twitter is currently a crime scene
Hilarious but true. Since Elon Musk took over, and the blue verification tick on the platform became a simple $8 subscription, various companies have seen their share prices tumble as ‘verified’ imposter accounts made delicious tweets like these:
For an $8 investment, some hero knocked a cool $15billion off Lockheed Martin’s sharemarket value - not bad, huh?
At the moment, as it circles the drain, Twitter is actually quite an amusing place to be. There’s a real ‘Party at the End of the World’ feel to the place.
Every day some new weirdness erupts, and Musk seems helpless to stop it (or to be actively encouraging it). People are joyously adding to the chaos, and watching to see what happens next.
I mean, obviously the ‘next’ – as advertisers flee, and users decamp for new territory – is that Twitter will collapse. For all that Twitter has been banal and infuriating and entertaining and madcap by turns, I’m sort of sad to see it end. Perhaps you’ve never been on what users call ‘the hellsite’, in which case I congratulate you. But Twitter has been a place of genuine community for me over the past decade – it’s where I chatted with other writers, connected with publishers, celebrated my wins and received commiseration on my losses. It was far from an ideal town square, but it was one of the only global town squares we had, and certainly the only one where written words (as opposed to curated images or pithy videos) were the primary means of communication.
Still, I’m an old hand at this stuff. I lived through the end of LiveJournal, and the devolution of Facebook, and I guess I’ll survive the finale of Twitter. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll be transferring to another platform – I am Very Online already, and with Instagram and Tiktok and this newsletter, I feel as if I have enough to be going on with. For the time being, you can still find me on Twitter, although that may change (especially if Musk decides to put the site behind a paywall).
Please admire my new haircut
While I’m talking about Tiktok, here’s me and my nu harr:
These are the things that pop up on my videos from time to time.
What I’m writing
As I said, I’m drafting. I’ve actually got two book proposals currently on submission – one is a standalone political thriller, and one is an action thriller series, and I am hoping at least one of these proposals gets picked up by my current publisher.
But the thing I’m actively creating at the moment is a new thing for me, and I’m very excited about it. The pitch is Top Sekret, so alas I can’t reveal much except that it exists and it leans more scary. What can I say – everyone seemed to like the scary bits of NONE SHALL SLEEP so much that I thought you’d be happy for more!!
It’s been harder than I thought to try something new, and I’ve rewritten the beginning of the story at least four times now (I binned 40,000 unsuitable words yesterday – oh, the joy of writing). But now I think I’ve got a handle on it, so I’m hoping to finish the first part of the story before year’s end. Once that early part is done, I’ll give it to my agent to submit to publishers as a proposal.
If it sells, like I think it might, then you’ll definitely be hearing more about it in the new year.
THE KILLING CODE news
Oh, my little book is just getting into its stride!
It was delightful to see THE KILLING CODE featured in a bunch of articles (it was in Forbes!) around Halloween, and it also got a fab write-up in Publishers Weekly, which was nice!
I’d like to ask, if you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, if you would very much mind posting a review of it somewhere – anywhere you like, really, although GoodReads is a great place to find reviews. With more reviews, the book will be seen by more readers. It’s a simple (and free!) way to give an author a leg-up, and helps a book you love to take off. If you’ve already read and reviewed, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
SOME SHALL BREAK 2023
SOME SHALL BREAK, the sequel to NONE SHALL SLEEP, will be out June next year. I am completely stoked that this book is arriving, and I have already received a couple of advanced review copies to share, so stay tuned for a giveaway early next month (and another in the new year).
You’re not ready for this book.
No, really. You’re not ready.
What I’m watching
There’s so much to watch at the moment, and honestly the only way you can see it all is if you make watching things your full time job? (hahahaha, no)
But the things that have jumped out at me lately are:
Nope – I watched this in the cinema, and whoo baby, it was a ride. Yes, it has some narrative-structure problems (that is the kind of thing a writer notices while watching films?? It’s really annoying??) but it’s visually amazing, has fantastic performances, and is utterly original. I saw it more than two months ago and I’m STILL thinking about it – that qualifies as a good movie in my book.
House of the Dragon – yes, I watched the dragon show along with half the rest of the world. I thought it was entertaining, although the actors shifting with the timeline was a bit jarring. The actors themselves were great. I love Emma D’Arcy and Matt Smith and Eve Best. I thought HoD started slow but picked up momentum as it went.
The Amityville Horror – the 1979 version, with James Brolin and Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger. It was great, and I mean that in a ‘surprisingly spooky but also sometimes unintentionally hilarious’ way. Watch for the bits with the flies, lol. Oh, and I encourage you to listen to the You’re Wrong About podcast episodes that discuss the book, they’re fab. Top stuff.
We’re doing another throwback book this month, with LIFE IN OUTER SPACE by Melissa Keil. It’s a delightful romantic comedy, and I encourage everyone to have a read. You can join us in bookclub anytime here.
If you live around Kyneton, Victoria, I’m dropping in to visit the Squishy Minnie YA bookclub this Wednesday night 16 Nov at 6PM. We’ll be talking about THE KILLING CODE, and I’ll be showing off my drafting notebooks, and generally having a nice chat. It’s a small store, and it’ll be a small gathering, but I reckon we’ll have a nice time 😊
All right, that’s enough blathering from me. I hope you’re staying dry (if you’re in Australia) or enjoying autumn (if you’re in the USA) or otherwise having a good time wherever you are, and that life is being good to you. Stay tuned for that giveaway next month! And I hope you’re giving yourself permission to be a little slow and tired as the end of year approaches – we shall all plod on, and before we know it, a new year will have arrived.
See you next month, and happy reading!
The Black Hand, Ellie Marney’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.