Criminal Shorts is the combined work of members of the UK Crime Book Club on Facebook. The group was started by David Gilchrist and his daughter Caroline Maston in January 2016. The group grew very quickly, and at the time of writing, is almost fourteen thousand in number, with a very high proportion of regularly active members.
The aim of the book club is to help to promote UK writers and their work, by sharing reviews, book offers and publication days. We are mainly a discussion group but we have always aimed to encourage writers. Our regular story events allow published and would-be writers the same platform to share their work with the public.
David asked people if they’d like to write and post a Christmas story in the run up to our first Christmas as a group. Those interested were given a date in the fortnight before Christmas. It was very successful and was repeated the following year. It was open to everyone, author or not, and many of us looked forward to the daily Christmas-themed story.
As the group grew, the number of admins was expanded, and we all have an area for which we take responsibility. When Will Templeton joined the group, he took on, amongst other things, organising the group’s story events. There was interest in more, and it soon expanded to include Easter Shorts, Summer Shorts, Scary Shorts (Halloween) and the original event became Santa’s Shorts. The organiser gives everyone a date to post, so we ensure there’s a post every day during the event.
These stories come straight from the writer, are not edited nor critiqued, so everyone gets a chance to write. Some have said they love the events because they are a ‘safe place to try out ideas’. The stories are just long enough to read over a coffee or lunch break.
Eventually, someone came up with the idea of an anthology, and to keep the flavour of our regular writing events, it became known as Criminal Shorts. With the others, it’s not vital that you write a crime story, though many of them are. With Criminal Shorts, it was a stipulation that it should be crime, in one of its many forms. These stories are longer.
When the admin group discussed the idea, we wanted to make the profits available to a charity. We chose The Red Kite Special Academy because one of the author members of the group has a child there, so we knew about the great work they’re doing.
We put out the word on the group, explained that there would be no payment for authors, so they needed to offer a new piece of writing in the knowledge that profits went to the chosen charity. We were gratified by the number of people wanting to give us a story, including some well-known crime-writing names, both self- and traditionally-published. In keeping with our ‘Shorts’ events, we encouraged first time and unpublished writers to have a go, and a couple of stories in there are by new writers. In buying this book, you can read twenty-two brand new stories.
Two editors read and critiqued the submissions, and chose the final stories, which are presented in the book in alphabetical order of the authors’ names.
We kept the editing, formatting, cover photograph and cover design all within the admin group, to keeps costs down and maximise the profit for the school.
We believe that an on-line presence is vital for an author, and have always offered ‘author chats’ in the form of written questions and answers. When the virus took hold, and people in the group mourned the loss of live events where they could meet their favourite writers in person, we decided to see what we could do. Three of the group admin team now host hour-long video author chats live on the group, and they’re later put on our own YouTube channel for people to catch up with later. Members can ask questions beforehand, and the host puts them to the author. We think we’ve filled a gap there.
We’re proud of our group collaboration and believe that Criminal Shorts is a very good read. If it proves popular enough, we may well do it again, though we’re aware that authors have their own writing to do. If you read it, we really hope you enjoy it.
(c) Kath Middleton
(c) Will Templeton
About Criminal Shorts: UK Crime Book Club Anthology
This anthology is sold for the benefit of The Red Kite Academy in Corby, Northamptonshire, a ‘richly diverse community in which children with many special needs, languages, cultures and religions learn together in harmony’.
The authors of these stories have donated their work free of charge. You may find a favourite author here, or discover new favourites. Their stories cover crime in all its aspects. You’ll find stories to terrify you, mystify you, or maybe even raise a smile. We hope you enjoy them.
Andrew Barrett, Ben Bruce, T. G. Campbell, Brian W. Caves,
Lexie Conyngham, M. W. Craven, Robert Crouch, Jan Edwards,
Tony J. Forder, Susan Handley, Michael Kerr, Jon Mayhew,
Kath Middleton, Wilf Morgan, Barbara Norrey, Cecilia Peartree,
John Penfold, Jack Probyn, Will Templeton, Sam Thomas,
Bill Todd and Paula Williams
Order your copy online here.