Stephen Leather

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Stephen Leather
Stephen Leather Profile.jpg
Born (1956-09-25) 25 September 1956 (age 57)
Manchester, Lancashire, England
Residence Thailand[1]
Nationality British
Education BSc in biochemistry[1][2]
Alma mater Bath University[2]
Occupation Author
Years active 1992–present
Known for Thriller books: Dan Shepherd Mystery and Nightingale Series
Website
Official website

Stephen Leather (born 1956) is a British thriller author whose works are published by Hodder & Stoughton. He has written for television shows such as London's Burning, The Knock, and the BBC's Murder in Mind series.[3][4] He is one of the top selling Amazon Kindle authors, the second bestselling UK author worldwide on Kindle in 2011.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Leather was born in Manchester. He grew up in Sale and Chorlton-cum-Hardy, and attended Manchester Grammar School.[6] He attended Bath University, where he obtained a BSc in Biochemistry in 1978.[2]

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Leather was employed as a biochemist for ICI, shovelled limestone in a quarry, worked as a baker, a petrol pump attendant, a barman, and worked for the Inland Revenue.[2] He began his writing career as a journalist, working for newspapers such the Glasgow Herald, Daily Mirror, The Times, Daily Mail, and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong.[7]

Writing career[edit]

Leather began writing when he was in college; however, he "never managed to get beyond a few pages,"[8] and did not begin writing full-time until he had worked as a journalist for more than ten years.[7]

His first novel, Pay Off, was written while he was still employed at The Daily Mirror.[7] It was published from the "slush pile" at HarperCollins. The novel is a thriller about a merchant banker who takes revenge on two gangsters who killed his father.[9] The book is set in Scotland, where Leather worked for five years on The Glasgow Herald as a business writer.

His second novel, The Fireman, was written while he was working as the business editor of the South China Morning Post.[8][10] In The Fireman, a British tabloid journalist travels to Hong Kong to discover why his sister committed suicide. Both novels, and his third, Hungry Ghost, were published by HarperCollins.

Leather wrote his fourth novel, The Chinaman, while working as night news editor on the business desk of The Times in London.[7][8] At the time, the Provisional Irish Republican Army's bombing campaign was at its height, and in The Chinaman, a Vietnamese man loses his family in an attack loosely based on the bombing of the Harrods department store in London. Having been turned away by the authorities, the man, a former Viet Cong assassin, travels to Ireland and hunts down the men responsible.[7][11][12][13]

2012 Harrogate Crime Writing Festival[edit]

On 5 August 2012, journalist Nick Cohen wrote in The Observer that Leather had created phony Twitter accounts in the name of another writer, and used those accounts to praise Leather's own books.[14] Cohen quoted Leather's response to a question, as a panelist, at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, which was recorded for BBC Radio 4:[15]

"As soon as my book is out I'm on Facebook and Twitter several times a day talking about it. I'll go on to several forums, the well-known forums, and post there under my name and under various other names and various other characters. You build up this whole network of characters who talk about your books and sometimes have conversations with yourself."[14]

Leather's comment was widely reported,[16][17][18][19][20][21] and, on 3 September 2012, forty nine other British authors, including Ian Rankin, Lee Child, Val McDermid, Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride, issued a group statement in which they 'unreservedly condemn' the use of sock puppets, or paid reviews.[22][23][24] The statement mentioned Leather, and also R. J. Ellory and John Locke as 'three cases of abuse we know about'.[24] The Crime Writers' Association also condemned the use of 'fake identities on blogs, Twitter or Amazon' by authors.[20]

Published works[edit]

Leather's novels frequently include themes of crime, imprisonment, military service, and terrorism. Settings are typically London and the Far East. Leather writes different series in slightly different genres. The main character of one series, Dan 'Spider' Shepherd, is a former Special Air Service soldier who becomes an undercover cop. Another series, "Jack Nightingale", is about a former police negotiator who becomes a private investigator;[25] this supernatural detective series is also published by Hodder & Stoughton and includes the books Nightfall, Midnight, Nightmare, Nightshade[26] and Lastnight.

Leather has written screenplays for London's Burning, The Knock, and the BBC's Murder in Mind series.[3][27][28] Two of his novels, The Stretch and The Bombmaker, were screened for made for TV movies and filmed for Sky Television. The Stretch starred Leslie Grantham and Anita Dobson, two popular soap opera stars from the U.K.[29]

Amazon Kindle releases[edit]

Leather became successful in the Amazon Kindle market in 2010.[30] Amazon UK opened an eBook store that year. As reported in The Guardian, Leather anticipated that people buying eBooks would be seeking bargains, and he priced his books at the minimum price for independent writers in order to get his books into the top ten.[5] He then marketed the books on various forums online.[5]

Early in 2011, Leather's books The Basement, Hard Landing, and the vampire novella Once Bitten occupied the top three places in the UK Kindle bestseller list, a feat matched only by Stieg Larsson with his The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.[31] That same year, Leather was the second bestselling UK author on the Kindle worldwide, beaten only by Lee Child.[32][33]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2002, Leather's book Tango One was nominated for the inaugural CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, awarded by the Crime Writers' Association.[34][35] His book Hard Landing was nominated for the award in 2004.[36]

His book Cold Kill was nominated for Best Novel in 2007 by International Thriller Writers Inc.[37] In 2011, Leather sold over 500,000 eBooks[citation needed] and was voted by The Bookseller magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the UK publishing world.[13]

Bibliography[edit]

Publication year Title Original publisher ISBN Notes
2014 Lastnight (Nightingale Series) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 1444742655 Hardcover (2014), and eBook (2014)
2013 Nightshade (Nightingale Series) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 9781444740684 Hardcover (2013), Paperback (2013), Audio Book (2013), and eBook (2013)
2013 True Colours (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) Hodder & Stoughton
2013 False Friends (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 1444736779
2012 Nightmare (Nightingale Series) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 1455866792 Hardcover (2012), Paperback (2012), Audio Book (2012), and eBook (2012)
2012 Short Fuses (Four free short stories) Three Elephants Available via eBook only
2011 Fair Game (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340924969 Hardcover (2012), Paperback (2012), Audio Book (2011), and eBook (2012)
2011 Midnight (Nightingale Series) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 1444700669 Hardcover (2011), Paperback (2012), Audio Book(2012), and eBoook (2012)
2011 Crime Scene Singapore: The Best of Singapore Crime Fiction Monsoon Books ISBN 9810854374 Paperback (2011) and eBook (2012)
2011 The Basement Amazon Encore ISBN 1612181481 Paperback (2011), Audio Book (2012), and eBook (2011)
2011 Once Bitten Amazon Encore ISBN 1455871702 Paperback (2011), Audio Book (2012), and eBook (2011)
2011 Bangkok Bob and The Missing Mormon Monsoon Books ISBN 9810877765 Paperback (2011) and eBook (2010)
2010 Rough Justice (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340924934 Hardcover (2010), Paperback (2010), Audio Book (2010), and eBook (2010)
2010 El terrorista (Books4pocket Narrativa) (Spanish edition) Urano ISBN 8492801409 Available in paperback only
2010 Nightfall (First in Nightingale series) Isis Large Print ISBN 1612182291 Hardcover, Paperback, Audio Book, and eBook (2012)
2010 Dreamer's Cat: A Sci-Fi Murder Mystery with a Killer Twist Three Elephants ASIN B00486U6VU eBook
2010 Furia en la sangre (Spanish edition) Urano ISBN 8489367779 eBook
2010 Infiltrado (Books4pocket Narrativa) (Spanish edition) Urano ISBN 8492516992 eBook – Spanish version of Soft Target
2009 Live Fire (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340921730 Hardcover (2009), Paperback (2010), Audio Book (2009), and eBook (2009)
2008 Dead Men (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340921706 Hardcover (2008), Paperback (2008), Audio Book (2008), and eBook (2008)
2007 Hot Blood (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340921692 Available in paperback and eBook
2006 Cold Kill (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340834102 Hardcover, Paperback, Audio Book, and eBook
2005 Private Dancer Three Elephants ISBN 9810539169 Paperback and eBook edition Available in English and German.
2005 Soft Target (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340834072 Hardcover (2005), Paperback (2005), Audio Book (2005), and eBook (2008)
2004 The Tunnel Rats Ulverscroft ISBN 0753170655 Hardcover (2004), Paperback (2006, Audio Book (2009), and eBook (2009)
2004 Hard Landing (A Dan Shepherd Mystery) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340734116 Available in Hardcover, Paperback, Audio Book, and eBook
2003 The Eyewitness Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 034082400X Hardcover (2003), Paperback (2003), Audio Book (2004), and eBook (2008)
2002 Tango One (Stephen Leather Thrillers) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340770341 Hardcover (2002), Paperback (2006), Audio Book (2004), and eBook (2009)
2000 The Stretch (Stephen Leather Thrillers) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340770325 Hardcover (2000), Paperback (2001), Audio Book (2001), and eBook (2009)
1999 The Bombmaker Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340689552 Hardcover (1999), Paperback (2005), Audio Book (2003), and eBook (2009)
1997 The Solitary Man Ulverscroft ISBN 0340628375 Hardcover (2004), Paperback (1997), and Audio Book (2010)
1996 The Double Tap Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0753175002 Hardcover (1996), Paperback (1997), and Audio Book (2006)
1995 The Birthday Girl Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340632364 Hardcover (1995), Paperback (2006), Audio Book (2007), and eBook
1995 The Long Shot (Stephen Leather Thrillers) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340632372 Published in eBook format in 2009
1993 The Vets Pocket Books ISBN 0671743031 Hardcover (1993), Paperback (1994), and eBook (2004)
1992 The Chinaman (Stephen Leather Thrillers) Pocket Books ISBN 0671743015 Hardcover (1992), Paperback (1992), Audio Book (2007), and eBook (2008)
1991 Hungry Ghost HarperCollins ISBN 0002236370 Available in Hardcover (1991), Paperback (2008), Audio Book (2008), and eBook (2008)
1990 The Fireman St. Martin's Press ISBN 0312038313 Hardcover (1990), Paperback (1996), Audio Book (2011), and eBook (2008)
1988 Pay Off St Martins Press ISBN 0312014872 Hardcover (1988), Paperback (2002), Audio Book (2011), and eBook (2009)

Screenplays[edit]

Date Show title Notes
2001–2003 Murder in Mind Wrote two of the first series episode (2001) and two episodes of the second series (2002). Also wrote an episode for the 2003 series.[27]
2000 The Bombmaker Made for TV movie based on the book written by Leather
2000 The Knock (Series 5) Episode 2. 90-minute special
2000 The Stretch Made for TV movie based on the book written by Leather. Movie created, written, and produced by Leather
1999 London's Burning Episode 9 & 10. Screened March 2000
1998 The Knock (Series 4) Episode 4, 5, and 6. Screened in 1999

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Stephen Leather features on Thailand Tatler". University of Bath. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Stephen Leather". Thailand Tattler. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Murder in Mind – Drama". DigiGuide. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Stephen Leather". The Bookseller. Retrieved 13 August 2012. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ a b c "Kindle gives thriller writer a plot for success – at 71p a shot". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Unsworth, Emma (25 January 2007). "Hot on the trail of terror". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Ingham, Tim. "Stephen Leather". Metro. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Leather, Stephen. "The Author". Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Pay Off". Amazon. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Spelman, Judith (August 2008). "Judith Spelman Talks to a Best Selling Author Who Produces A Thriller A Year". Writing Magazine: 8–9. 
  11. ^ "The Chinaman". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Chinaman". Amazon. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Bookseller 100". The Bookseller. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Cohen, Nick (5 August 2012). "Welcome to Britain, a home fit for shysters". The Observer (London). Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  15. ^ "The e-book debate - threat or opportunity?". Front Row (BBC Radio 4). 2012-08-29. Retrieved 2013-11-03. "(Quote, in response to audience question, at around 26.53)" 
  16. ^ Kerridge, Jake (2012-08-06). "A crime author, at the festival, with a kindle". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  17. ^ Kerridge, Jake (2012-09-04). "Are RJ Ellory's faked reviews the tip of the iceberg?". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  18. ^ Miller, Laura (2012-08-10). "Social media scamsters". Salon. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  19. ^ Vinjamuri, David (12 September 2012). "Do Consumer Reviews Have A Future? Why Amazon's Sock Puppet Scandal Is Bigger Than It Appears". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-12-05. 
  20. ^ a b Flood, Alison (2012-09-03). "Sock puppetry and fake reviews: publish and be damned". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  21. ^ Miller, Laura (2013-01-01). "Talking with Daniel Mendelsohn about the year in literary criticism". Salon. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  22. ^ Hough, Andrew (2012-09-03). "RJ Ellory: fake book reviews are rife on internet, authors warn". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  23. ^ Hayes, Steve (2012-09-04). "Leading writers condemn fake online reviews". Digital Journal. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  24. ^ a b Page, Benedicte (2012-09-03). "Condemnation grows for sock puppet reviews". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  25. ^ "Success Story 11 – Stephen Leather". Writers Services. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  26. ^ "Nightshade". Hodder & Stoughton. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  27. ^ a b "Joe Andoe". Star Trader. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  28. ^ "Stephen Leather". TV.com. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  29. ^ "The Stretch – Drama". DigiGuide. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  30. ^ Skidelsky,, William (27 February 2011). "Kindle gives thriller writer a plot for success – at 71p a shot". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  31. ^ Jones, Phillip. "'Confessions' is e-book of the year". The Bookseller. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  32. ^ "Lee Child most successful UK Kindle author". The Bookseller. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  33. ^ "The top 50 e-book bestsellers of the year". Future Book. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  34. ^ "Tango One". Isis Publishing. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  35. ^ "The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2002". Crime Writer's Association. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  36. ^ "THE CWA's 2004 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award". Crime Writer's Association. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  37. ^ "ITW Thriller Award nominees and winners.". Thriller Writers. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 

External links[edit]