Creative writing



Crème de la Crime

An interview with
Zoe Sharp

An interview with
Darley Anderson

An interview with
Jeff Kleinman

New York literary agent











by Maureen Carter

Published August

2008 by

Crème de la Crime 
ISBN: 978-09557078-3-4
Paperback original
Extent 288



by Roz Southey

Published July 2008

by Crème de la Crime
ISBN: 978-0-9557078-2-7
Paperback original
Extent 288



by Kaye C Hill

Published April 2008
ISBN: 9780955158995

by Crème de la Crime 
Paperback original
Extent 288



Crème de la Crime

contact details
Tel : +44 (0)1246 520835
Write to: PO Box 523,
Chesterfield S40 9AT

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An interview with

Lynne Patrick from

Crème de la Crime



Murder has always always popular - both in the real world and and in the world of fiction. And not just murder, but blackmail, robbery, fraud, kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, counterfeiting, hijacking, vice, burglary - and a thousand other crimes and misdemeanours.

It's all bad stuff, but fascinating stuff, guaranteed to get the pulse racing, the hair crackling, and the door bolts clocking into place - which is exactly what Crème de la Crime, a relatively new arrival on the volatile and unpredictable publishing scene, is hoping to do.

Lynne Patrick is the owner and managing editor; a woman with both hands on the cosh of criminal contentment and a very clear idea of whose blood is going to be spilled on the carpet of a literary genre that's older than print itself.

Twenty straight questions returned twenty straight answers. Read. Absorb. Learn. Submit. The company is actively looking for stories of dirty deeds darkly done.

Check out their website and see if you've got a little murder in your own soul (or any criminal tendencies whatsoever) that you can work out between the pages of a small, hardboiled, high tension manuscript.


Hello Lynne, tell us about Crème de la Crime in 25 words or less.

Well, we’re small, flexible, independent and fast-moving. We publish up to six titles a year, high-quality original crime fiction aimed at discerning readers.


Is there a target or typical age group of your market?  

No target; no typical reader that I’m aware of. Our list is as eclectic as a crime list can be. One fan I’m in regular touch with is in her 80s; another is 32.


What are the definite no-nos and yes-yeses for the books you’re most interested in? 

The only definite no-no is length: anything under about 68,000 or over 80,000 words. That’s not only a practical consideration to do with production costs; it’s also where we place ourselves in the market – books for a train journey or flight rather than a fortnight’s holiday. Other than that, we just have to love it. There are detailed guidelines on our website, but rules are made to be creatively broken.

Has crime fiction reached a plateau in terms of themes and originality? Or are their still new islands of intrigue awaiting discovery?  

I think serial killers and levels of goriness and criminal ingenuity have gone about as far as they can without losing credibility. Maybe we should be thinking about crime novels without bodies? A well-planned heist? An inventive conman? Crime doesn’t have to mean murder.

Creme de la Crime really seeking British only writers? Or are you looking for international talent?

We’re certainly not prejudiced! The fifth book we published was by an Australian author. But our main markets are the UK and the USA, and we rely on our authors to be their own publicists, so if they’re based elsewhere it could impact on sales. And if the books don’t sell, we cease to function at all.

How has political correctness impacted on modern

crime fiction?  

Not at all, I hope. Women are no longer the ones who make the sandwiches and cry ‘Hay-elp’; and the police have to behave better towards women and minorities, in real life as well as in fiction. But both those factors are a rebalancing of society, not political correctness. Where excessive PC attitudes impact on the story, good authors use it to advantage.

Are there any crime topics or areas you will not handle?

I won’t touch gratuitous violence. It has to be part of the storyline.

Writers are becoming increasingly frustrated with mainstream publishing companies who are less and less willing to take chances. How, if at all, can smaller publishing houses such as yourselves help significantly address this problem and re-balance the market?

Actually, it’s not true that mainstream (by which I assume you mean large) publishing houses don’t take chances. Someone had to be the one to publish the first family saga/chick-lit/serial killer story; and at least one of the top houses has an imprint which only takes new authors – and some pretty risky stuff from them, too. It’s all a matter of perception. We’re too small to make much of a dent in people’s perceptions, though we do try to publish at least one debut a year. Larger houses publish far more.

Do you accept unagented authors?

Only one of our authors is agented. As a rule, agents don’t like us much; we don’t pay five-figure advances (in fact we don’t pay advances, period) which they can take their slice of up front. They have to wait to see how successful the book is – just as we do!

Can you explain the differences between how male and female writers handle crime fiction?  

No. I haven’t really noticed any. Some of our women authors write about male protagonists, and vice versa. The ratio of men to women authors on our list reflects the submissions we receive.

As the demographics of Britain changes, are we likely

to see very different styles of crime fiction with, for instance, titles such as Murder Most Muslim, or

The Polish Detective?

Quite possibly! Bring it on!

You probably receive submissions that range between huge extremes in terms of quality of writing and plots. Without naming names, can you give us some sense of the best and worst examples?

 We publish the best, so I don’t mind naming names there! The worst? I rarely get beyond the covering letter when there are three typos and a missing apostrophe in its opening para. The main problem with plots is that they don’t get started soon enough. We ask for the first 10,000 words; by the end of the extract we should have met all the main players and the crime should be well under way. The most common problem we encounter (apart from the three typos and missing apostrophe) is 9500 words of back story and scene-setting in which nothing actually happens.

Who are your main competitors?
Um… every publisher with a crime list.


You charge £25 for feedback on submissions: a subject that is largely covered on your website. Are you saying that you give no feedback whatsoever on rejected manuscripts? And if not, why not?

Publishers don’t. They can’t. Open that door a crack and nothing else gets done. I don’t know of any publisher who offers feedback, even on a paid-for basis. We made the decision to do it because we want to encourage inexperienced writers – and what we provide is well worth the £25. Occasionally, if a manuscript almost works and we think it could be made to work for us, we send the author away to redraft with a few pointers to move the process along.

Are you looking exclusively for up-to-the-minute

crime fiction? Or would you, for example, accept anything from a Stone Age mystery to a murder set significantly in the future?

We already have a historical strand, and our first title ever (A Kind of Puritan by Penny Deacon) was futurecrime, set 50 years hence. We’re happy to look at submissions from any era, past, present or future. It just has to be sharp, well written and totally engaging and enthralling.


How difficult is it for stand-alone adventures - as opposed to novels that feature a serial hero - to get a publishing deal with yourselves?

Every debut starts off as a standalone; if we love it and there’s room on the list, we publish it. If it proves successful and the author wants to develop the character – as several have - we’re not going to pass up a good thing.

How often do you see a manuscript that, in its current form, is unacceptable but nevertheless has a certain spark of originality and style that you feel can be fanned into a satisfying little flame? Or are all, or at least most, submissions pretty much beating the same bush?

In general, we simply don’t have the time or resources to work with an author through draft after draft. The first has to be pretty close to publishable; ‘a certain spark’ isn’t enough. Your second premise isn’t true at all; no two are ever alike. Some are great stories but not very well written; others read as smooth as cream but haven’t much plot. But they’re all different.

Do you notice distinct trends in manuscript submissions that correspond to current media issues, such as knife-crime or terrorism or the state of the economy? And if so, how do you feel about that?

Not so far – but I don’t think we’d want it. Topicality is a two-edged sword; there’s always a significant time-lag between submission and publication, so different issues could be making the news by the time the book’s in print.

What’s the crime fiction equivalent of the perfect
one-act play?

Um… a short story? Other than that, I’m not sure there is one. And perfection is a matter of opinion.


Does Crème de la Crime plan on becoming big, or staying as a smaller, more focussed publisher?

While I own it, Creme de la Crime will remain small enough to allow me to keep a firm hand on the tiller. I wouldn't want it to grow into something remote and impersonal.



Mr Edit YouTube videos


Meanwhile, here are some of my You Tube videos that might be of interest to you. Hope you enjoy them.

You Tube video for writers and authors


Mr Edit. Let's talk about dialogue




You Tube literary agent video help


Mr Edit. Pitching fiction to a literary agent.




You Tube video - how to write fiction


Mr Edit. 5 Minute Fiction Fix.




You Tube video for authors and novelists


Mr Edit. Let's talk about tautology.





Links for writers


Preditors & Editors. Here's where you can check out the credentials of literary agents and publishers. A must for any writer.


Creative Helps. Helpful resource for the creative community. Articles, links and tips.


Nick Daws' Writing Blog. Lots of useful posts on all aspects of writing, both for print and online, plus a guest post for anyone who wants to make a contribution. Check it out.



Other links we like


Sump Magazine. Great motorcycling magazine.

Classic Bike Bargains. Cool T-shirts for sale




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