Reading in Lockdown

Reading in Lockdown

Here are some ideas for reading in lockdown, my favourite read of April 2020 and my writing news.

Favourite Read

A Famished Heart by Nicola White

This book was my favourite read of April 2020. Two middle-aged sisters are found dead in their home in Dublin. Although the puzzle of their deaths makes for an intriguing plot, this is a character-led novel told from three well-drawn viewpoints. Father Timoney is the forlorn Catholic priest who found the bodies. In constant pain and belittled by his senior colleague, he teeters on the edge of a loss of faith. Francesca is the dead women’s younger sister, back for the funeral from America where she struggles to eke out an existence as an actress, unable to recapture her early promise. Vincent Swan is the detective inspector with a niggling doubt about the case even though evidence points to natural causes.

The frequent references to payphones, the background of The Troubles and the apparent novelty value of a new police computer database remind the reader that the book is set in the early 1980s, but it is an absorbing slow-burn story with a modern feel. Detective Inspector Vincent Swan and Detective Constable Gina Considine make perfect series characters. I look forward to their return.

Reading in Lockdown

There’s still a steady stream of posts on social media from readers finding it difficult to get into reading in lockdown. Here are a few ideas for getting the reading mojo back.

If concentration won’t hold for long, or if there are too many interruptions to attempt a full-length novel, why not try a short story? The Crime Readers’ Association website has launched a series of crime shorts by top writers from the Crime Writers’ Association. They are adding new stories all the time so check out the link here.

Another fabulous way to get short bursts of crime fiction is to tune into Virtual Noir at the Bar. Every Wednesday evening, writers read short extracts from their books. It’s a great way to hear from favourites and discover new talent. You have to register to be in the virtual audience on the night, but you can also catch up with the readings afterwards. Follow on Twitter or sign up to receive emails.

If it’s a combination of words and performance that float your reading boat, check out the Coronavirus Theatre Club. Brand new monologues are performed by professional actors in glorious lockdown isolation every Sunday night (for an 18+ audience). Follow on Twitter to find out more and view previous weeks’ performances.

For more tips on reading in lockdown, have a look at the blog of writer Rebecca Bradley. She has also recently relaunched her virtual crime fiction book club. I attended the first session last week. I kept a low-profile as it was my first ever time at a book club, but hope to become a more active participant at future meetings.

If you are able to find time during lockdown to try writing, you can click here for my tip on getting started.

My Writing News

The Roommates is available on Amazon Kindle at the special offer price of 99p until the end of April. Sales have been going well and it has been wonderful to see it flying high in various Amazon charts.

National Crime Reading Month takes place in May, but sadly all real-life author visits and festivals have had to be cancelled. However, the Crime Readers’ Association is pulling out the stops to connect readers and writers virtually.

I’m pleased to be able to take part in two of their initiatives. My cosy crime short story was the first one up on the Crime Readers’ website. Click here to read it.

Along with several other writers, I took part in an Writers in Residence interview about how I’m writing and reading in lockdown. My interview is here.

Despite the lockdown causing the temporary closure of universities, Bristol University’s Burst Radio was able to post the podcast interview I gave recently. Click here to listen.

I received a lovely message via my website from a reader who had enjoyed The Roommates. It didn’t include contact details so I wasn’t able to reply. If you see this, thank you, Julian, for taking the time to get in touch. I’m really pleased you enjoyed my book.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Her latest thriller, The Roommates, is a Closer Magazine "Must Read". Her other titles are The Good Teacher, The Perfect Neighbours and Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty. Rachel won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bristol Short Story Prize. She was born in Lincolnshire and is a graduate of Aberystwyth University. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

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