The Black Hand, vol.3

Fake fingerprints

I’m sometimes asked by students in workshops if it wouldn’t just be easier for criminals to remove their fingerprints before they commit a crime. And yes, it absolutely *would* be easier, if fingerprints weren’t basically inscribed onto your DNA.

You can get rid of your fingerprints temporarily – in fact, workers who pick pineapples find the friction ridges on their fingers wear away, because the chemical bromelain in pineapple works a bit like meat tenderizer (you can’t just dip your fingertips in pineapple juice – it doesn’t work like that, sorry). But this kind of anonymity doesn’t last: your fingerprints grow back exactly the same in 4-6 weeks. Fingerprints are just stubborn like that.

You can try changing your fingerprints in other ways, but if you go that nastier route (ouch! Not the cheese grater again!), you usually end up with highly distinctive (ie. readily identifiable) prints anyway. It’s REALLY REALLY HARD to change your fingerprints permanently, unless you get finger transplants (don’t do that at home, kids). This article in Vice explains how maybe fake fingerprints might be a solution for the enterprising criminal of the future.

Currently reading

Holy crap, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix was so damn good. It’s adult horror, so mind the gap, but I really do highly recommend it, and this quote from Hendrix explains why:

Because vampires are the original serial killers, stripped of everything that makes us human-they have no friends, no family, no roots, no children. All they have is hunger. They eat and eat but they’re never full. With this book, I wanted to pit a man freed by all responsibilities but his appetites against women whose lives are shaped by their endless responsibilities. I wanted to pit Dracula against my mom.

As you’ll see, it’s not a fair fight.

Hendrix is obviously the real deal – I’ve gone through his back catalogue now, including Horrorstor (remember the horror book that looked like an Ikea catalogue? That one) and We Sold Our Souls (outstanding fun for the bangin’ metalhead in your life…unless you’re the bangin’ metalhead, in which case it’s outstanding fun for you) and both of those are also excellent. Hendrix’s books tend to be funny (a lot of actual belly-laughs – unusual for horror) and witty and perceptive…as well as gory and tense and mind-bending, like regular genre horror.

I enjoyed Hendrix’s turns of phrase so much, I actually read every article in his The Great Stephen King Re-read article series for Tor. That is a very cool series, and yes, it helped a lot that I’m completely fascinated by King and his work (I picked up Carrie when I was about fourteen and never looked back). If you’re fascinated too, give it a shot.

Anyway, Southern Book Club is by far Hendrix’s strongest work. It gets pretty damn dark, and reminded me of Dan Simmons for batshit-craziness, but it’s also enormously fun and an absolute page-turner. If you’re in the mood for off-beat, masterful horror, I recommend you pick it up without delay.

I made myself a walking desk

It’s actually an old study desk that a friend didn’t want any more, and I shamelessly asked if I could have it for free. And then another friend was trying to offload an old treadmill, which I also gratefully accepted. Son3 helped me add the extension legs (thanks honey!). Yes, I know it looks like it’s all held together with duct tape, but that isn’t so – I love duct tape (it’s so useful in so many different situations, heh…), but this is actually all screwed together with proper screws.

Why am I doing this? I’m sure some of you are shaking your heads, but honestly, I just can’t sit still any longer. On an average writing day, I spend approximately 6-8 hours sitting in front of my laptop. That’s…a lot of sitting down. It’s not healthy, and I’m getting a very bad back (and a very large butt).

This is better. While I can’t write prose while walking, I can do loads of other laptop-related tasks, like answering emails and making graphics and writing newsletters. It’s set up on our back verandah, so I get to look at a lovely view when I’m not typing, and I’m walking an extra 30 minutes a day (a massive improvement on what I was doing before, which was basically nothing).

I’ve only just started with it, but I promise to report back.

None Shall Sleep is going off

My little book is still going gangbusters, which is quite amazing and delightful to me, and it has now surpassed all my other books except Every Breath on GoodReads – wild!

If you’ve read any of my books and would like to leave a review, I would be hugely appreciative, not just because writers live on praise (we do, but that’s another issue), but because every review raises a book’s profile and helps get it into other readers’ hands – thank youuuu! And if you have any book images you’d like to splash on Instagram, that would be awesome - please do tag me @elliemarney and I will signal boost (and smile a heckuva lot).

If you haven’t checked out my books and you’d like to, you can find them here at my fancy-pants Linktree (all the retailers links are there! I told you it was fancy!)

Honkaku crime stories

There is apparently a tradition of Japanese crime writing called Honkaku, which are clever little stories designed as intricately as a traditional puzzle box. Honkaku stories focus on a detective following a purely logical process of criminal investigation – and nothing is withheld from the reader, so each story contains all the clues that the reader needs to solve the crime.

I find the whole idea delightful, and I just discovered it thanks to this article in the Guardian –I’ve now added The Honjin Murders, the first Honkaku novel released by acknowledged master of the form Seishi Yokomizo in 1946, to my TBR pile.


This month we’re reading Waking Romeo by Kathryn Barker – feel free to join in with bookclub any time, we are extremely laid back :)

What I’m writing

Well after all my puff and blow last month about figuring out what to write, the whole plan fell to nought because I basically got my edits the very next day. Huh!

That’s not to say I’m not still working on my other projects between bouts of editing – I’m getting down words every moment I can – but my edits are actually to a rather tight deadline, so the sooner they get done the better.

I wish I could tell you what I’m editing right now (I’ve been giving lots of clues on social media!) but I’m afraid I can’t. This book hasn’t been announced yet, so it is still officially embargoed. It’s SO ANNOYING to have a secret, one that I’m squirrelling away on constantly, and not be able to explain what it’s all about… But I guess I will have to hold on a bit longer, and so will you.

In the meantime, here is a pic of the notes I’m working from to complete this edit - it’s blurred out, but you get the gist, editing is a big job:

Publishing Is Hard

I’m often asked – every writer gets asked – whether I’m a plotter or a pantser. We keep trying to insist that it’s not really like that: it depends on the book you’re writing, the work you’re doing, the day you’re having. The dichotomy of Plotting Vs Pantsing is an artificial one (like most dichotomies!) and even when I plot a book out, I leave room for switching things around and taking diversions. This great post by Dong Wen, from his regular newsletter Publishing Is Hard, gives some insight into why nobody is really a plotter all the way down to the bone, and how “A book is a journey, and getting lost is part of the plan”.

That’s it for this month - hope you’re keeping well, and keep an eye out for giveaways soon, because once my hardcover copies of None Shall Sleep arrive from the USA, I’m going to be sending some of those babies out into the world.

Rock on!