I still have the message in my WhatsApp Authors thread:

 What do you guys think about putting together a charity crime anthology?

Like all the best ideas, it was thrown out without any real forethought or belief it would be taken up. I went downstairs to make a cup of tea. When I came back, there were fourteen replies flashing on my phone. They all said the same thing, or variations of it.

 I’m in

Great plan

Let’s do it!!

 And just like that, Afraid of the Light, was born. Of course, we had no way of knowing then it would hit #2 on the Kindle charts on publication day (just pipped to the number one slot by Stephen King) and go on to sell nearly a thousand copies in its first week with all proceeds being donated to the Samaritans.

Nor could we possibly know the world would be in lock-down when we launched it. And although putting out a new book in these circumstances was unusual to say the least (partying on Zoom is most definitely not the same as partying in the pub), I can’t help wondering if in a strange way lock-down has been one of the main reasons the book has taken off the way it has.

 We knew straight away that we wanted to donate our royalties to charity and as crime authors, the issue of mental health is always close to all our hearts. Certainly, from my own point of view, I’m as interested in exploring the psychology of the perpetrators I write about as the crimes they’ve committed.

 As Dom Nolan, one of the other contributors to the anthology says in his latest masterpiece, After Dark: “People are born. Monsters are made.”

It’s a theme I also explore a lot in my writing, largely because as a criminal profiler, my protagonist is obsessed with what makes people tick.

 Now, as the world shuts itself away, the subject of mental health has been put in the spotlight. According to studies, feelings of loneliness and anxiety have more than doubled and with them the risk of suicide, which is of course where a charity like the Samaritans comes in.

 There has never been a more important time to support this incredible organisation which literally offers a lifeline to so many. And although we chose to do so before Covid struck, I am so proud and grateful that we did. 

The proceeds of every sale of Afraid of the Light go to the charity and it’s great to know we’re doing something to help whilst also hopefully providing some distraction for our readers who have embraced our cause as much as we have.

 Which brings me onto the next point. I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything much at the moment. Certainly, I’m getting through the stack of novels by my bed much slower than usual. Short stories are different to novels. You can read them in one sitting and normally in the space of about five or ten minutes. As one reviewer said:

 “Afraid of the Light is not a long read, the reader can quickly fly through the pages. Each story is just enough to whet the appetite”.

 It wasn’t written for lock-down. But it could have been.

 Publishing a book at this time hasn’t been without challenges. All the usual outlets are closed to us, festivals have been cancelled and our launch party on Zoom wasn’t quite the boozy affair down the pub that we’d initially planned.

 But it’s also been amazing, not least thanks to the phenomenal response of our readers and the opportunity it’s given us to work on something together at a time when we’ve all been forced apart.

Afraid of the Light is available in eBook (£1.99) and paperback (£3.99) with ALL proceeds going to the Samaritans. To buy a copy and donate please visit: https://amzn.to/2W9xK2r