Mystery Without Gore...Bio Historical with Love

Category: RESOURCES FOR AUTHORS (Page 1 of 7)


This is Number One of a Series of Three About Creating a Crime Series


Psst! Do you want a few tips on how to commit the perfect murder?


You do? Okay. But before I advise you on planning the dispatch of your mother-in-law, you’ll want to know why I can help you avoid having your collar felt.


Publication History

I’ve had twenty-one crime novels published. Sixteen traditionally (Macmillan; St Martin’s Press (US); Worldwide (US / P/B); Severn House), and the rest Indie.


ALT: four mystery books free

Want Four Free Rafferty & Llewellyn Mystery Novels? Go to HOME


I come from an Irish Catholic working-class background. I suppose you could say I was one of life’s late developers in the area of personal ambition.




I certainly had no idea what a criminal direction I would end up in. Killing people – and getting away with it – was far in the future.

When I took the 11+ examination — which would decide my educational future, I confess, I was far more interested in winning Jimmy Smith’s prize 4-er marble than I was in taking tests.


Geraldine Evans's Books CREATING A CRIME SERIES 2020 August 10

From Wikepedia Creative Commons


What can I say? I was young for my age. Still very much a kid. Unlike eleven-year-old’s in 2020!


Darlings – I won the marble – but failed the 11+ examination.

So it was off to secondary modern for me.


Secondary Modern Education


For those who don’t know, secondary-modern schools existed to teach people the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Then send them out into the world at fifteen or sixteen to have jobs rather than careers.


So you could say it wasn’t the best start in life.

Unsurprisingly, after I left school at 16, a long list of dead-end jobs followed. I won’t bore you with a litany of them.

Ambition Found Me

But somehow, somewhere, along the way, I found ambition. I realised that i wanted to do something with my life, rather than fritter it away.

I’d always been a keen reader. So trying to become a published writer seemed a natural step on the road. Fortunately, I was too ignorant to know any better!


Oh Boy! Was I in for a Shock!



Frightened woman

I first started writing in my early/mid twenties. But I was an amateur. A rank amateur. I knew nothing about research. Nothing about creating characters or plot. I hadn’t a clue, basically. I was a dilettante, and never finished anything.

One of Those Age Milestones

But hitting the age of thirty concentrated my mind. I determined to finish a novel, rather than just play about at the edges. And gradually I learned how to write novels—and how to finish them. 

Long Apprenticeship

From the age of thirty, I wrote a book a year for six years before I achieved publication.


Photo: Pexels

That book was a Romantic Novel called Land of Dreams. It was set in The Canadian Arctic (trying to be the same, but different, from what had been published before).

Robert Hale

After that brief brush with publication, Robert Hale rejected my next Romantic Novel. It was back to Rejection Alley.

Angry and Dejected


By then i was pretty fed up. Nobody likes being repeatedly rejected. My ‘stuff you’ mentality came into play. I felt like murdering someone. So I did.


I turned to Crime

Remarkably, my very first crime novel was taken from Macmillan’s slush pile, and published. It was also published by St Martin’s Press in the USA, and Worldwide in P/B.

Murderous Methods

I’ve done them all. Stabbings, poisonings, smotherings, bludgeonings. You name it and I’ve done it. I’ve even hanged someone, but that was after they were dead.


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So, How Do You Start Creating a Crime Series?

By thinking, long and hard. The first book in a crime series is, I believe, the most difficult and demanding. You have to master the problems of plotting, clue laying, and red-herring scattering. You also have to learn about police and forensic procedures. And at the same time, somehow, create a cast of characters who are capable of supporting a series.

A Tall Order!

A pretty tall order for a first effort in a genre I think you’ll agree.

There must be many neophyte writers who have fallen by the wayside in attempting to write crime novels. I might have been one of them if I hadn’t decided to do my own thing rather than follow the crowd.



Maybe the word originality explains why so many fail. That single word strikes terror into the hearts of a lot of new crime writers. I know it did mine.

After a writing history of five rejected romantic novels followed by the publication of the sixth. And then more rejection. As well as the publication of various articles. The writing of a crime novel seemed much more demanding than anything I’d tackled before. It was also extremely intimidating.


Intimidating Authors

I admit I was scared by the crime writers who are regularly praised for their devilish ingenuity, god-like intellect and masterly characterisation. It was enough to have more ordinary mortals, like me, quaking in their boots at the thought of trying to emulate them.


So How Do You Set About Creating an Original Crime Series?

All I can tell you is how I went about it.

I suppose you could describe the Rafferty and Llewellyn mystery novels, which form my first series, as Inspector Frost meets Del Boy Trotter and family.

For those who don’t watch British TV, Inspector Frost is something of a bumbler who’s anti-authority, but he’s smart enough to get his man.

And Del Boy Trotter is a market trader (market stall not the stock market), who’s into buying dodgy gear. He’s working-class and a bit of a ducker and diver, but witty with it.

So if you’re looking for the intellectual, Sherlock Holmes, type of crime novel – steer well clear! Though, having said that, I had one reviewer who likened me to Holmes(!).

In short, the Rafferty family has more than their share of ‘Del Boy Trotter types’. Their leisure-time activities are far from Adam Dalgliesh and his poetry writing. Or Morse and his Wagner.

The Rafferty family pursuits are nothing so refined. They’re into back-of-a-lorry bargains and other diversions of equally questionable legality.

And Rafferty’s ma, Kitty Rafferty, often leads the field in such pursuits. She uses emotional blackmail to make Rafferty feel guilty when he upbraids her.

Having far more than her share of Blarney Stone baloney, she always wins these little arguments.


Don’t Restrict Yourself

Given the above, don’t restrict yourself to what you think are the usual sort of police characters. Like middle-aged men in suits. If something else would come more naturally to you, go for it.

Like me with Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty and his back of a lorry-bargain family – try to find the main character that’s right for you.


The Tricky Business of Originality

To get back to this business of originality for a moment, I think we can all agree that being original is a tricky business.

A book that one person considers a true original might be thought of as over the top by another.

While a third person might consider your hard won originality is nothing more than a poor copy of a well-known writer’s style that’s been given a bit of a twist.

So, originality’s a pretty movable feast.

What Publishers Want

Who knows?! Publishers themselves are often pretty vague when they try to define what they’re looking for.

But, even if they can’t tell you what they want, they find it easier to tell you what they don’t want.

No editor is going to be impressed by a writer who’s a copycat. For one thing, it’ll put the publisher in danger of being sued. So—no second rate plagiarism.


Ask Yourself Some Questions

Okay, so where do you start? You start by asking yourself a few pertinent questions. About yourself, your background, your family, warts and all. And then maybe oomph it up a bit.


Unusual Background

Maybe, like ex-British Prime Minister John Major, your family has a circus or funfair background?

Maybe you could have a sort of Gypsy Rose Lee type in there somewhere? A travelling crook detector with her crystal ball ever at the ready!

Outlandish, perhaps, but then wacky might be just your thing.

Or maybe your working background’s a little more conservative? In insurance, for instance.


An insurance investigator could get to look into a lot of suspicious deaths. And he doesn’t have to be your average stereotypical insurance worker. Whatever that is.

Maybe he desperately wants to get out of the insurance business and into the world of entertainment. An insurance investigator as comedian, given to cracking tasteless jokes at the crime scene.

A man who’s learned to judge the witnesses as he would judge an audience.


Feel Free

They’re just a couple of ideas to get you thinking. Feel free to use them. Or not!


Bit of a Scruff

To get back to me, and the choices I made when I was creating my crime series. I decided on the surname Rafferty because I wanted his name to suggest someone who was a bit of a scruff – a rough Rafferty, in fact.

I chose the name Llewellyn for his sidekick because I wanted to give the suggestion of royalty.

Dead Before Morning #1

Alongside the main story runs a humorous sub-plot, in which Rafferty is ensnared in the first of the series’ many family-induced problems.

I’ve just started #19 in the Rafferty series. I know–I should have started it months ago. My excuse is that a modern writer can no longer just concern him or herself with the story. I wish. I had it easy starting before the invention of the internet. Or Social Media / Websites / Photoshop / WordPress / Social Networking / Marketing / Categories / Niches / and a whole host of their brothers and sisters.


So you have to do some serious studying. Which is what I’ve been doing. Biting the bullet and accepting that my website needs a complete overhaul. From start (in 2010) to finish (now, midway through July 2020). Ten years worth of work. It’s enough to send a girl sobbing into her dotage.

To Return to Series Creation

And similarities. I thought if Rafferty shared class and education with me, he might as well have other elements of similarity. Why not? Other writers do.

Would a non—classical music lover have created Morse? Would someone who knows little and cares less about poetry have created the poetry writing Adam Dalgliesh?

Well, possibly, i suppose. But it’s far more sensible to make use of elements from your own life, as I presume those devilish types did.


A Character You Can Empathise With

One who was as near me as I could get. Believe me, it helps!

Even though I’m not a man, I made Rafferty male because I felt the relationship with his ma was important. I felt, rightly or wrongly, that there would be more scope for humour with a male main character.

You’ll Have Enough Trouble

In creating a plot that conceals as it reveals. With coming up with clues, red herrings, a satisfying denouement and the rest.

You won’t need to increase your difficulties by having a lead character from a totally different social background from yourself as well.

As I said, my background is Irish-Catholic working-class. So is Rafferty’s. I was educated (sic) in a Roman Catholic secondary modern. So was Rafferty. I come from a large family. So does Rafferty.

There are a few differences, of course. Apart from the differences in gender. But the basic elements of similarity are there. They all help to give the writer a ‘feel’ for a character and their background. Something I regarded as essential when I hoped to carry him through a series of novels.

Unsavoury Habits of Youth

There are a lot of working class policemen out there – just like Rafferty – who have risen up the ranks. Leaving behind them the less savoury habits of youth and family.

Often, they’ll have had to shed or at least conceal, certain aspects of their character. Prejudices of one sort or another, for instance. Or, like Rafferty, a family with a love of dubious ‘bargains’.

But just because our policeman character has found it necessary to change doesn’t mean to say his family would be so obliging as to do likewise. He would have parents, siblings, nephews, nieces and so on, all with their own ideas of what constitutes right and wrong. And all beyond the lead character’s influence or control.

Imagine such a family. They’d be only too likely to embarrass your lead character.


Think of Ex-PM

Now, i know we’re talking fictional policemen here, but just think again for a moment, of John Major and his family. Of Terry and Pat, and the trapeze-artist, gnome-loving father.

Nothing criminal there, of course. But still, what ammunition they provided his enemies – of whatever political persuasion. He must have often wished he had been an only, lonely orphan. Rafferty often wishes the same!

It doesn’t take a major (go on – groan!) Leap of the imagination to see that a policeman, in a position of authority, with the need to be seen to uphold the law can easily be embarrassed by a less than honest family. He could even have his career put at risk by them.

I was well into my stride now and decided that if Rafferty was going to be working-class like me, he might as well have other elements of ‘me’. Why not? it not only makes life easier, it also helps me relate to the main character and to the past which has helped to shape him


But in order to have a ‘past’, he’s got to have memories. And the best memories, from the point of view of believability, are one’s own memories.

Which is something else you might perhaps care to bear in mind if and when you start creating your own mystery series.

I’ll give you an example.

In Down Among The Dead Men, the second in the series, I had Rafferty reveal – just as I remember doing – that as a schoolchild he and his classmates would attend Friday afternoon Benediction at the local Catholic Church. There, they would sing Latin hymns without – as they had never been taught any Latin – having a clue what they were singing about.

Not much, perhaps, in the broad sweep of a novel, but it’s little touches like that which help to bring a character to life. Which perhaps helps a reader to identify with them, to the point of saying, ‘yes. I remember doing that.’ it helps to make it all more real.

Once i had Rafferty down on paper, i gave a lot of thought to his sidekick. But that’s for the second in my three-parter articles. So tune in next time!



Rafferty & Llewellyn-Mystery-Series

The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)


I’m afraid, because my website is misbehaving itself, you are unable to see any of the pictures I inserted.

But fear not, because next month I will get my revenge, when I get a brand-new website, courtesy of:


The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) is a professional business membership organisation for self-publishing authors.



A non-profit, they provide trusted advice, supportive guidance, and a range of resources, within a welcoming community of authors and advisors.


Meet The ALLi Team

Unfortunately you can’t. But in July you will be able to!

The team, starting from the top, are Orna Ross, Founder and Director; Philip Lynch, Co-Director; Sarah Begley, Member Care and Publishing Assistant; Sacha Black, Self-Publishing Advice Centre Blog and #selfpubcon Manager; Kayleigh Brindley, Social Media Administrator; John Doppler, Services Watchdog; Dan Holloway, Self-Publishing News Editor; Michael La Ronn, Member Q & A Podcast Co-Host and US Ambassador; Howard Lovy, ALLi Multi-Media Manager; Robin Phillips, ALLi Webmaster and Tech Support; and Debbie Young, Special Projects and UK Ambassador.












Debbie Young. Picture by Clint Randall


ALLi has a wide range of Indie Authors from across the world.

They have a Facebook Page. And are on Twitter.


If you are an Indie Author, for £89 a year, you, too, can join.


ALLi has a regular Newsletter, keeping its members informed about the Indie world.

  • Advisory team – all questions answered

  • Book Listing

  • Free author advice guides

  • Private moderated member’s forum

  • Discounts for vetted author services

  • Affiliate earnings program

  • Approved Services directory

  • Online advice conference

  • Daily blog, twice-weekly podcast

  • Author member website badge


  • Public author-publisher profile

  • Contract vetting

  • General legal advice

  • Blogging opportunities

  • Speaker opportunities

  • Interview opportunities



ALLi has three grades of members:

  • Associate at £69.00 a year

  • Author at £89.00 a year

  • Entrepreneur at £119.00 a year


Here’s what you get as an Associate Member:

You are preparing your first book for self-publication. You could also be a student of creative writing, multimedia, or publishing with an interest in author-publishing.


Associate members receive:

  • Advisory team – all questions answered

  • Free author advice guides
  • Private moderated member’s forum
  • Discounts for vetted author services
  • Affiliate earnings program
  • Approved Services directory
  • Online advice conference
  • Daily blog, twice-weekly podcast
  • Associate member website badge


    Author Members receive:

  • If you’ve published one book or more, this is the membership for you. This could be a full-length book (50,000+ words) for adults, a number/series of shorter books, or children’s books.


    Author members receive:

    • Private moderated member’s forum
    • Discounts for vetted author services
    • Affiliate earnings program
    • Approved Services directory
    • Online advice conference
    • Daily blog, twice-weekly podcast
    • Author member website badge



  • The Association of Independent Authors (ALLi) Author Badge

    The Association of Independent Authors (ALLi)


    • Book listing
    • Contract vetting
    • General legal advice
    • Blogging opportunities
    • Speaker opportunities
    • Interview opportunities

    Advisory team – all questions answered

    Free author advice guide
  • Public author-publisher profile


Authorpreneur Members Receive:

Geraldine Evans's Books The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) 2020 August 10


  • Authorpreneurs earn their living from self-publishing and associated business. This membership is assessed – you will need to show evidence of 50,000 book sales in the past two years and/or KU or business equivalent.

Authorpreneur members receive full Author benefits PLUS

  • Author business and rights focus group
  • Books included in ALLi’s rights guide
  • Indie-friendly panel of literary agents & rights buyers
  • Literary Agent Consultancy

Specific business, tax, legal, and contract advice


I’m an Author Member

I am an Author Member and have been for several years. It’s a great organisation, that enables you to get to know other authors in a friendly environment.

They have a wide choice of Guides to help you with you Indie career, a knowledgable team able to give advice and encouragement. The Forum on its own, is a great resource, bringing together as it does, a wide range of experienced Indies.

I’m always learning something new, and that can only enhance my career. I find ALLi a remarkable organisation. They are to be applauded for the altruism of their founders: Orna Ross and Philip Lynch.


Why not check them out for yourself today?

Good old-fashioned mystery, thriller & suspense: Facebook Groups

I found a new Facebook Group today. Its full title is 


Authors & Readers…good old-fashioned mystery, thriller & suspense


I found three books that I wanted to buy, which is great–and then not so great, as my TBR list is reaching halfway to heaven! I’ll try to remember to let you know what I think. Though with so many distractions, I don’t know if I’ll manage it! Anyway, these are the books.




Geraldine Evans's Books Good old-fashioned mystery, thriller & suspense: Facebook Groups 2020 August 10

Geraldine Evans's Books Good old-fashioned mystery, thriller & suspense: Facebook Groups 2020 August 10


WordPress: Post? Page?

ALT: noscript

I’m overhauling my website

Told you I was no geek! I’ve only been blogging since 2010–slow learner, or what?! Just the other day, I finally learned the difference between Posts and Pages.

Pages are used for items that have a long life.

Such as Resources for Authors. I’ve only been adding to this fairly recently, and I only used Pages for the Titles, such as the Resources Page. Everything else I used Posts for. Big no-no, apparently. You should use Pages for all the articles you store under Resources and your other Headings (apart from Blog).

Posts Have a Short Shelf-Life

They are used for things like date-sensitive items. Say if you’re having a promotion between certain dates. After the last day of the sale, it’s of no further interest to readers.

Turning Posts into Pages

Use Vice-Versa Plugin. There are hundreds of Posts to change to Pages. This plugin will make the chore far simpler.

Bear with Me

I hope you’ll bear with me. Even with Vice-Versa it’s going to take a while… Life used to be so much simpler. Who decreed that we’re all to turn into geeks? Or pseudo-geeks, in my case!

Why Everything has to be so d*** complicated

I never saw anything from WordPress warning me of this. As I said, I’ve only been blogging for a decade! And the first I heard of it was a few days ago. And I had to go on Youtube to find it.

For the meantime, I’m leaving all my tags, etc on this Page.

As a just in case measure. I’ll change them when I’n certain whether I’m on my Blog. That, I do know, you have to use Posts every time (apart from the heading). And I’m on a Page at the moment. But I’ll stick this under the Resources for Authors Page. Then everyone else who’s not a Geek can access it. And learn the difference between Posts and Pages. And what a congenital idiot I am!

In my Defence

Though, in my defence, who the hell has the time to study WordPress, as well as Photoshop, SEO, CSS, and a whole host of other initials? There is no time. I haven’t looked at my so-called work-in-progress for weeks (months?). Supposed to be an author? Fat chance.

One Thing at a Time

Sometimes I’m dealing with half-a-dozen things at once. I start on one thing, like this WordPress post. And then something else pops up, so I leave my post and start working on that. But before I’ve tackled that, yet another thing pops up. And so it goes on. By the end, I’ve forgotten what the hell I was doing in the first place! Better to stick with doing one thing at a time.

I’m only an Author

But I seem to be turning into a WordPress slave. All I really wanted was a place to display my novels and other books. But I got swept into this blogging frenzy, where if you don’t blog, you get left behind. God help me. And if He won’t, I guess it’ll be the Samaritans…

Someone Save Me from this Madness

I just want to get back to writing books. That’s all. Is it so much to ask?

Paperback Edition-Reluctant Queen: The Story of Henry VIII’s Little Sister

Paperback Edition-Reluctant Queen: The Story of Henry VIII’s Little Sister


Geraldine Evans's Books Paperback Edition-Reluctant Queen: The Story of Henry VIII's Little Sister 2020 August 10

The Defiant Little Sister of King Henry VIII.

Paperback Edition-Reluctant Queen. This is my Biographical Historical Novel About the Little Sister of Henry VIII.

‘A very readable account of a fascinating woman who dared ‘to stand up to Henry VIII and survived. It is thoroughly researched, admirably written and the author’s love of the Tudor period shines through.’ Historical Novels Review


Geraldine Evans's Books Paperback Edition-Reluctant Queen: The Story of Henry VIII's Little Sister 2020 August 10

Paperback Cover

One NOT about any of the six wives! Henry had plenty of other relatives, most of whom, given his short-lived dynasty and shaky right to the crown, the always insecure Henry had executed throughout his reign in order to secure his throne.

Can you imagine what it must be like to be the little sister of infamous, English king, Henry VIII? Remember, this is the king who went on to have six wives, two of whom he had beheaded.

And although the teenage Mary Rose is his favourite sister (he even named his famous ship after her), his shifting alliances and ruthless desire to have his own way, made him push the young and lovely Mary into a hateful state marriage with the ailing and ancient King Louis XII of France.

But, a reluctant Mary Rose, as strong-willed as Henry and passionately in love, for the first time, doesn’t give in easily. Before agreeing to the match, after a relentless campaign to get her to say yes, by her loving brother, Mary Rose extracts a promise from Henry. A promise she is determined he will keep.

Very easy to read, very hard to put down. This made a Mary Tudor so accessible and relatable to the reader.’ READER REVIEW

‘Thoroughly enjoyable.’  READER REVIEW




Reluctant-Queen paperback

‘Evans creatively imagines the private life of Mary Rose Tudor in this richly textured historical novel. A thoroughly researched, elegantly written historical tale.’ KIRKUS INDIE, Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744

‘I’m a sucker for anything to do with the Tudors, and Reluctant Queen by Geraldine Evans was no exception. She did a wonderful job of bringing Mary to life for me. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. During a time when women did as they were told, Mary went against the grain and chose her own destiny, which always makes for an interesting Tudor era read!’ HISTORICAL FICTION OBSESSION

Review Writing


Geraldine Evans's Books How to Write a Book Review 2020 August 10

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