My Next Best Thing, & Happy Hundredth Barbara Pym by Valerie Laws

I was tagged in the Next Best Thing blog chain by Reb MacRath, author of chilled thriller APRIL YULE

and other sparky tales of twist and turn. Do check him out, here at

Now here’s the skinny on my own forthcoming second crime novel.

What is the working title for your book?


Where did the idea come from for this book?

Spending a lot of time in hospital years ago with a lot of smashed up bones after a car accident. I’ve a keen interest in anatomy and bio-medical science and have followed these up since then with Writer in Residence posts at pathology museums, anatomy and medical departments and research institutes at universities... the medical side of death fascinates me, what really happens, which feeds not only my science-related ‘CSI:Poetry’ but also my crime fiction.
This won't hurt...
I’m fascinated by how power can bring out the sadism and cruelty in human nature. I’ve seen medical professionals indifferent or worse to the suffering of patients... and you hear so many horror stories from people about doctors. Of course lots of docs are great, but the point is you are helpless as a patient, you have no voice, no choice. Surgeons in particular can seem to be ‘above’ caring about you as a person or how much you are in pain. I also feel too many women and children are victims of murder in fiction, and not enough alpha males, so I’m redressing the balance with this one!

What genre does your book fall under?

Crime fiction with a medical theme and setting. Female detective. More gruesome than cosy, but with some humour.  North East English setting, not exactly noir but quite dark. Medical thriller.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Benedict Cumberbatch for Will Bennett?
THE OPERATOR brings back the detective team from my first book THE ROTTING SPOT, fans of that book will be glad to hear. Erica Bruce, fitness fanatic, borderline anorexic homeopath, skull collector, fiercely protective, petite blonde, hm, well perhaps someone like Franka Potente
Franka Potente, blonded, to play Erica Bruce?
as she was in the excellent film ‘Run Lola Run’ without the scarlet hair! Her sparring partner, Detective Inspector Will Bennett, tall, dark, with very blue eyes, sceptical, also fitness fanatic, perhaps Benedict Cumberbatch if he can do less posh, he’s got the height and eyes, easy to get the black hair! I’d love the wonderful Jim Parsons who plays Sheldon Cooper in Big Bang Theory, he’s got the looks and the remoteness, but Will is dead sexy and I’ve not seen Sheldon do that! Though I love him to bits. Not sure he can do English accents either. The mouthy shameless ‘charva’ Stacey Reed, barging into the sequel, perhaps a large, busty, loud lass from one of the soaps... any thoughts, folks? Kingston the sadistic doctor could be envisaged as Mads Mikkelsen who plays the eponymous Hannibal... but more handsome and healthy-looking.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Someone’s killing surgeons, mutilating the bodies to mimic their specialisms... is The Operator a doctor, or a patient pushed too far?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

THE ROTTING SPOT was published by independent publisher Red Squirrel Press in paperback, and on Kindle as an indie. THE OPERATOR may well come out the same way. Or possibly I might go indie all the way as I’ve done with LYDIA BENNET’S BLOG. Either way the Kindle or ebook

First in the series.
version will be out fairly soon.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote an early version of THE OPERATOR some time ago. Then returned to it and did several major rewrites and a lot of tweaking. It was a theme, the power of doctors which could be misused, that wouldn’t leave me alone. Being in hospital unable to move for weeks or even months, losing your autonomy, is so profound an experience, I had to write it out of me. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I like to think THE OPERATOR is well plotted and has a large puzzle solving aspect, and a mix of professional and amateur sleuths, so in some ways a modern version of a ‘golden age’ crime novel, as Ann Cleeves was kind enough to say about THE ROTTING SPOT: ‘Valerie Laws is a fresh and talented new voice in crime-writing. The Rotting Spot takes the established form of the rural detective novel, but brings it bang up to date...’ But also it’s about why people do things and the psychology of murder and power, so perhaps more like one of Val McDermid’s novels or Thomas Harris.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The setting: THE ROTTING SPOT is set on the Northumbrian coast, contrasting beautiful cliffs and beaches, with seedy sea-front wine bars. THE OPERATOR too is set in the same area, with masses of action involving the dangerous, cold and beautiful North Sea. There’s a lot of medical detail in it
Tynemouth Pier, one of the action scenes in THE OPERATOR
so people who enjoy Casualty, A&E, Grey’s Anatomy and House would enjoy it.

The two protagonists Erica and Will have been an item between the books but there’s lots of sexual chemistry still sizzling between them as well as antagonism. There’s lots of comedy too, despite the seriousness of the crimes, in sizzling dialogue with plenty of typical Tyneside ‘banter’. THE OPERATOR is a sequel, but can be read alone, though there’s time to read THE ROTTING SPOT first!

Now to tag three authors for you to chase up!
MARGARET JAMES is at Margaret has published fifteen novels.
This is her recent romantic comedy THE WEDDING DIARY

TEEL JAMES GLENN is an 'urban swashbuckler', writer and stuntman! Find him at

Check out his crime thriller THE HARKER LEGACY

VICTORIA WATSON is at She writes short stories, also teaches creative writing and runs a copywriting/proofreading service.
Short story collection LETTING GO

And now, even more bloggy goodness, as I just have to use this perfectly timed opportunity to wish my favourite novelist BARBARA PYM a happy would-have-been hundredth birthday for June 2nd!

I am rereading her wonderful novels for the umpteenth time, but this time, for the first time, on Kindle, having bought them all in ebook form at one gulp. First my top faves EXCELLENT WOMEN and A GLASS OF BLESSINGS, then JANE AND PRUDENCE, and I'm currently enjoying SOME TAME GAZELLE, with the rest to follow. I recently discovered and joined the Barbara Pym Society and they are running a centenary 'Reading Week' (details here and they are also on Facebook) from today with bloggers sharing Pym lore, reading her books and spreading the word. They run conferences and competitions too. Barbara Pym, as well as being brilliant, was a quiet genius who spent years in the wilderness when her publisher dropped her most unfairly, only to be gloriously rediscovered and feted and published again before her death in 1980. An inspiring story to give us all hope!

My website:
comedy novel:  LYDIA BENNET'S BLOG
Follow me on Twitter: @ValerieLaws


julia jones said…
So many good things in this post - hard to know where to start. The operator is a splendidly sinister title and I think the other thing that struck me is the breath of your reading - from pulp to Pym. Wow!
Lydia Bennet said…
thank you Julia, coming from you a real compliment!
glitter noir said…
Val, you've got a terrific and singular hook for The Operator...and I've been fired up enough to check out The RS too. I'm drawn to writers with eclectic reading tastes--Authors Eclectic? My morning began on a high note with this post.
Margaret James said…
Thank you for tagging me, Valerie. I'm really enjoying Lydia's story - at last, the truth :-).

Popular posts

What's the Big Idea? - Nick Green

A Few Discreet Words About Caesar's Penis--Reb MacRath

Meet Author Virginia Watts, a Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award, and Find Out How She Does What She Does

I Wish I May, I wish I Might... Understand What These Writers Are Saying says Griselda Heppel

Misogyny and Bengali Children’s Poetry by Dipika Mukherjee