West Hampstead crime writer raises money for Samaritans with chilling anthology

Victoria Slotover and am image of her crime girl podcast

Victoria Slotover and am image of her crime girl podcast - Credit: Archant

Victoria Selman rallied 14 fellow crime writers to each pen a grisly story and raise money for the charity offering emotional support for those in distress

Crime Anthology Afraid of The Light is available as a paperback or Ebook

Crime Anthology Afraid of The Light is available as a paperback or Ebook - Credit: Archant

What do you get if you put 15 locked-down crime writers in a virtual room?

The answer is an anthology of chilling stories that are raising money for Samaritans.

Afraid of The Light was the brainchild of West Hampstead author Victoria Selman, inspired by the Plato quote ‘we can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark, but the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light’.

That was the springboard for 15 very different short stories, ranging from a futuristic chiller about a man who falls in love with his robot, to Selman’s comic story about teenager who finds a severed finger in the freezer.

“We all met at crime writing festivals over the years and have a WhatsApp group,” says Selman, who writes the Ziba MacKenzie series including the award-nominated Blood For Blood.

“We had the idea to raise money for a mental health charity even before Covid 19 -as crime writers we are all interested in mental health and the psychology of our perpetrators as much as what they do. It seemed a good fit.

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“Then with the effect of the lockdown and isolation on everyone’s mental health, there seemed a greater need than ever for Samaritans, who have seen a huge increase in calls.”

Selman says the authors had to get ceative to publish during lockdown.

With no technical support from publishers, they taught themselves how to design a cover and format it for Kindle. The anthology has sold more than 1,000 copies and is doing well in the crime and thriller charts.

“There’s a great range, from sci-fi crossovers such as Adam Southwood’s story of an Alexa turning on its owners, to Dominic Nolan’s dark prison romance that has a twist that blows your mind. My comic story Sausage Fingers is about love, lies and serial killer mums.”

Bodies turn up in domestic gardens and at lakeside campfires; there’s a deathbed confession; an insurance scam that goes wrong, and a blackmailing stalker.

Selman says: “Crime writing is a strange profession, we go into our caves and plot murders and it’s nice to have other people who understand. Every now and again we send WhatsApp messages like ‘how to you dismember a body?’ or ‘look what I made for lunch’.

“At this time when we are all pushed apart, it’s been nice to produce this in collaboration. Writing short stories are like a palate cleanser between novels, instead of lots of different characters and story arcs they have one idea.

I’m glad readers seem to be enjoying their crime in bitesize chunks.”

Afraid of the Light is available in eBook (£1.99) and paperback (£3.99)

Buy a copy and donate to Samaritans: amzn.to/2W9xK2r