Fresh Blood

Name: Noelle Holten

Title of Book: Dead Inside

'...a stunning debut from a fantastic new talent.'

The killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered... and he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?

Every once in a while a debut novel kicks the feet right out from under you with the way it exceeds your expectations; Dead Inside is one of those debuts. Right from the get go Holten grabs the reader by the throat and as the pages fly past her grip on your attention gets ever tighter.

While the murders of the domestic abusers by an unknown vigilante are the main thread of this novel, for me Lucy’s story is the emotional heart of the tale and such was Holten’s sublime narrative and characterisation that I found myself hoping , nay praying, that the odious Patrick would be dispatched by the vigilante.

That would be too simple a tack for a debutant of Holten’s renown and true to form, she confounded my expectations not once but several times as she reached a most satisfying conclusion.

With harrowing accounts of domestic abuse, brutal kills and a wonderful characterisation throughout, Dead Inside is a stunning debut from a fantastic new talent.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) ‘Dead Inside’ is often harrowing or infuriating in places when we see Lucy’s home life. Was it your intent to make these parts so hard hitting?
At the time of writing, I don’t think I really thought about whether or not those scenes were hard-hitting. I was portraying the experience as true to life as I could – both from what I knew professionally as well as my own personal experience with domestic abuse. It is very easy to look on things in hindsight or from an outside perspective and get angry – why didn’t they leave? But by doing this, you make the abuse their fault and I wanted to show that. It can happen to anyone and leaving is the hardest part. It had to be both harrowing and infuriating.
2) From your bio, I see that like Lucy, you used to work in probation, how much of what you’ve included in ‘Dead Inside’ draws from your experience as a probation officer?
I’d have to say quite a lot. I worked in a multi-agency team and for me, I thought this was a fresh approach to crime fiction. Crimes are solved by taking on board the information that many agencies accumulate. None of the characters were based on specific people, or the cases – but I definitely took on board many of the things I learned in my years and tried to get that information across in the novel.
3) Will we be seeing more of Maggie and Lucy in the future or is ‘Dead Inside’ a standalone?
Well I am delighted to say that although I initially had a two-book contract, I now have a further three book deal for the series. So, in total, there will be five books in the DC Maggie Jamieson series. Woohoo! As I have always wanted it to be an ensemble series, each book will see the characters from ‘Dead Inside’ included at some point or another. ‘Dead Inside’ was always Lucy’s story. ‘Dead Wrong’, the next in the series will show a bit more insight into DC Maggie Jamieson as she returns to her team in Stafford and faces a case from her past. Dr Kate Moloney also has a role in ‘Dead Wrong’.
4) As ‘Dead Inside’ is your debut, can you tell us how you managed to get that elusive publishing deal?
I was forced to face my fears at Harrogate by Graham Smith (who was very encouraging throughout my writing of ‘Dead Inside’) and Abigail Fenton (editor at Bookouture at the time) by pitching my book to Finn Cotton – an editor at Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK. I had submitted my book online to various publishers at the time, but as Finn was at Harrogate, both Abi and Graham thought it would be a good idea to pitch it face-to-face. That was the Saturday. On the Monday, Finn emailed me and asked for the full MS. By the following Monday I was offered a deal. Then two more publisher were in touch, one offering me a deal for ‘Dead Inside’ and the other asking me to submit any future novels as ‘Dead Inside’ was too close to other series on their list. After getting some advice, I went with Killer Reads as Finn understood the novel, had some great ideas to strengthen it and I felt that he /Killer Reads could offer me the best for what I hoped to achieve with my debut.
5) Your day job is as a Publicity and Social Media Manager for the publisher Bookouture. How do you find publicising your own book in the evenings compared to the books of others during the day?
I am the absolute worst when it comes to publicising my own book. I struggle with confidence and I guess I find it difficult to talk about my own book. Anyone else’s and I am shouting from the rooftops. It’s a struggle for sure but a necessary evil. I’m still working at getting the balance right.
6) Can you tell us a little about your writing process?
I write for one hour every day. In the evenings. After work. I usually get anywhere between 1000-1500 words down. I do not write chronologically – in order for my brain and the story to flow, I have to write whatever is in my head at the time and then worry about editing it in the correct order afterwards. I write the first chapter and the last chapter and then everything in between. Sometimes one or both of those chapters will change.
7) What is the single most valuable piece of writing advice you have received?
Write first, edit later. That for me was important. Also write every day. However, I also found what works for some, does not work for me – so really, take advice but find what works for you best. There is no right or wrong way if you have a story at the end.
8) What three books would you take to the proverbial desert island?
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky

Sophie’s World - Jostein Gaarder

The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris