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For two days the sun shone and I used it as an excuse to escape into my vineyard. Jobs need doing and they provide time away from a particularly trying section of my new novel, The Unwanted. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing but sometimes the whole process is so intense I find a break is absolutely necessary.

That might be going out into the vineyard and doing some pruning, tying in or weeding but at this time of year it has to be something other than drinking the fruits of my labours! Did I say there are about 1200 bottles in the wine cellar, so if I started I could be drinking for some time!

During the winter and also because I wanted to keep my mind on crime fiction, I decided to have a trawl around and see what other people were doing. The reason I started is because I have just made a video, am I allowed to say you can see it here?

Well, I have now, it’s too late!

Therefore I was interested to see what other videos there are on YouTube and came across one by Denise Mina whose latest book is called End of The Wasp Season. It put me in mind immediately of Ian Banks’ Wasp Factory and although I am yet to read it, I thought I would definitely give End of the Wasp Season a try.

The author talks about the role of the female protagonist in contemporary crime fiction and I was sorry when her minute and a half was up as she only just grazed the surface and personally I was interested to hear more.

She talked about how female protagonists in crime fiction were seen differently these days compared to the past. No longer do we read or watch in awe and wonder that a woman is in a detective role. Neither do we necessarily expect them to underline their femininity the whole time either. Mina made me laugh when she suggested the killer was finally cornered as she went to have her legs waxed.

We now see female characters in crime fiction as having their own place and being female is just a small part of the complex characterisation we expect from someone who sets out to solve crimes.

Denise Mina is published by Orion books and she certainly seems like a writer worth reading; perhaps you already have and it is only me who is behind!

Another title I came across in my internet travels, which is yet to be published, is also by another female crime writer called Kate Ellis.

Her latest book The Shadow Collector deals with a character called Lilith Benley who is convicted, with her mother, of murdering two young girls in their teens in a particularly brutal manner. This in itself is a slightly different take and in addition there is a suspicion of witchcraft.

The past resurfaces when Lilith goes back to the home where she used to live and a body is then discovered on a farm which just happens to be close to Lilith’s home.

The added ingredient that makes the whole quite different is the fact a reality TV programme is being shot there at the time. As strange as that may sound I suspect it gives the author an opportunity to add another perspective to the crime fiction mix and give it contemporary relevance.

Wax dolls, fragile egos and 17th century witchcraft all make up this plot and gives the DI, Wesley Petersen a few things to ponder in his search for the killer.

I enjoy looking at plot resumes and know just how difficult plotting can be.

Both books are now joining my ‘to read’ list and I hope the Unwanted will join yours later in the year. If you can’t wait then please check out The Uncounted and The Unseen on Amazon. Both have bad and good females strutting the pages with confidence. http://tinyurl.com/c9ultl3

Now you must excuse me but James McKenna needs to start penning his own crime fiction novel once again. Speak soon!