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The Sirens of Suspense




ZoŽ was born in Nottinghamshire. She opted out of mainstream education at the age of twelve and wrote her first novel at fifteen. She became a freelance photojournalist in 1988 and created her no-nonsense bodyguard heroine, Charlie Fox, after receiving death-threat letters in the course of her work. Charlie Fox has been optioned for TV, and Sharp’s writing has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Benjamin Franklin and Macavity Awards in the United States, as well as the CWA Short Story Dagger in the UK.

Find Zoë on Twitter and Facebook and on Murderati.

Just for the Fun of item1

When was the last time you did something just for the fun of it? Or took a moment to really observe rather than just see your way through a familiar journey?


As a race, we humans are becoming hardened to beauty, disconnected from the simple pleasures in life, and I find that very sad. As a writer, part of my job is to dig deep into the kind of emotions that drive us on a primal level. To do that, I need to be in touch with those kind of feelings.item10

And maintaining a sense of wonder definitely falls into that category.

Andy (my Other Half) is as daft as I am about this. We rush to the office window to see a steam train passing on the other side of the valley, a low-flying Hercules transport plane lumbering overhead, or a particularly beautiful strake of sunlight on the hills behind our house.

I still build snowmen – and snow-bears, and snow-Easter-Island heads, and I was in the middle of a full-size horse last year, but the snow turned powdery and its head fell off, dammit. I know – what an excuse – the wrong kind of snow …item11

I still ride the shopping cart back to the stack after we’ve loaded up the car at the supermarket, still laugh like a drain at dirty jokes and whoopee cushions. But frost on leaves or winter mist or sunitem12light through a cloud leaves me breathtaken.

Because how can you hope to write something that will instill any sense of wonder if you don’t have it yourself?

We are not simply hardened to beauty in the modern world, but isolated from it. A fabulous cliff view will now have a safety railing to save you from yourself. Everything, we are told, would be better with our lives if we just had the latest gadget, a larger TV, a newer car, a bigger house. And it takes something drastic to make us realise that those things are not important.


Don’t worry, I’m not going to come out with some worn platitude about the best things in life being free. Whoever said that has never had to pay for meds, make the rent, or put food on the table. Those things cost money, and you better have it when the red bill arrives, or life is going to turn pretty ugly pretty fast.

item14At the moment I’m caught between rich and poor in my writing, and it’s making me re-evaluate a lot of things. By definition, my bodyguard heroine Charlie Fox works for those wealthy enough to afford her services. In the latest book, FIFTH VICTIM: Charlie Fox book nine, she’s babysitting the rich and powerful of New York’s Long Island playground. She sees what too much of everything has done to these people, and it makes her reconsider what’s important in her life – love, health, happiness.

And just as FIFTH VICTIM is gearing up for its January 2012 publication in the States (sorry, but it’s been out in the UK since March this year) I’m also hard at work on the next in the series – DIE EASY: Charlie Fox book ten. For this book I wanted to set the ‘haves’ much more firmly alongside the ‘have-nots’. Where else was better to do that – where was the contrast more stark – than New Orleans, post Katrina.

item15OK, so the centre of NOLA looks very much as it always did, but some of the outlying areas are derelict ghost towns. It’s a fascinating setting for a book, and one that grabbed me from our first visit last year. As for the huge recycling plant – Southern Scrap – a crime thriller writer couldn’t asitem16k for a better location for a confrontation, or a show-down.

But driving round the place it was hard not to be saddened and sobered by the destruction still on view. I came away grateful for what I have, and even more determined that as I pass the good things in life, I don’t want to miss them because I have my eyes in a text message and my ears in an iPod.



SO, SIRENS – WHAT DID YOU SEE TODAY? AND WHAT WILL YOU NOTICE TOMORROW? Tell us what inspires you or ask ZoŽ a question by commenting below or visit us and share your thoughts on our Facebook page and be entered to win one of the first five Charlie Fox eBooks or the eAnthology of short stories FOX FIVE!

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