It’s back to business this week as I continue my theme of highlighting some of the fabulous people I’ve met on my writing journey. Today’s guest is Anna Britton. Anna is a freelance editor who worked with me on all three Eliza Kane books, and this week she is celebrating the publication of her debut novel, Shot in the Dark. I’m intrigued to know how she found the editing process with her publisher. But first, let’s hear about the book…

Welcome to the blog, Anna. Tell me a bit about Shot in the Dark. What drew you towards the crime genre? 

Shot in the Dark opens on a young woman running through a moonlit forest. She climbs a tree, believing she is safe. Then three shots ring out through the forest. 

The next morning, the body of Melanie Pirt is found. Detectives Gabe Martin and Juliet Stern are tasked with finding her killer. But a lack of forensic evidence, tightened resources, and suspects who will not stop lying make this the toughest case they’ve ever faced. 

I didn’t set out to write crime, but the scene of Melanie running through the forest popped into my head and I rolled with it! The story flowed from there, and Gabe is a character who I have really loved unpacking. She’s determined and strong, but often feels dragged down by traumatic experiences of her past. I loved writing her and Juliet’s partnership, and I hope readers will enjoy their story! 

How did it feel having your work edited by someone else? Were there any arguments?! 

Ha – fist fights all over the place!  

My editor was such a joy to work with. She totally got the story I wanted to tell and helped me get there. We made massive changes to Shot in the Dark, and I feel so happy with all of them. They have made the story much stronger. 

I think I recognised, maybe because of being an editor myself, that someone knowledgeable and kind is only ever going to give advice that they feel is going to make the story shine. My editor didn’t mind when I didn’t want to make a change, so long as I had a good reason, and she trusted me to know my story best. 

A sign of a good editor! I know we haven’t always agreed on aspects in my books but the story always became better because of the editing process. Can you tell me a bit about how you got started as a freelance editor? How many books/authors do you work with at one time? 

I started out reading friends’ stories for free, but quickly realised that the way I analysed stories and engaged with them critically was slightly different to what I was seeing elsewhere. I naturally thought about the plot as a whole and questioned characters’ motivations, picked up on bigger issues with their writing and focused on their strengths and what they could do more of. 

I started out taking on a few clients while I was still working at a library, but things snowballed quickly! I was able to switch to editing as my sole income, which was lovely as it gave me lots more time for my own writing too. Now I take on one or two bigger editing projects a month, but the bulk of my work is with long-term mentees. I love walking alongside other writers as they figure out their stories and develop their craft. 

What, in your opinion, are the most common mistakes authors make in their manuscripts? 

This is a tricky question, as each writer and story is so different. I know for myself that in one novel I will be really conscious of not over-telling, but in another it will slip in. I might be hot on describing the setting and characters one day, but then forget that readers can’t see inside my head on another. I genuinely feel like each writer has unique skills and weaknesses, and my job as an editor is to help them focus on their strengths while being conscious of their weaknesses. 

I think one big mistake a lot of authors make again and again is not trusting their gut. People send me their manuscripts with a list of questions or areas to focus on, and when they flag something to do with writing technique, character, or part of the plot, nine times out of ten, they’ve identified one of their issues. Sometimes, it’s because they weren’t sure how to fix it, but sometimes they just weren’t trusting themselves enough! 

Has scrutinising other people’s work has made you super critical when it comes to reading? Can you switch off, or do you find yourself thinking if I’d edited this book I’d have suggested this/that? 

Oh no, I totally switch off. Editing uses a very specific part of my brain that I am very happy to let rest when I’m reading for pleasure. Reading has always been such a joy and an escape for me – so I’m glad that my editor brain can be turned off! 

What’s your favourite genre of book to read? 

I’m not totally sure I have a favourite genre – I’m a massive mood reader so careen between sci-fi and romance and YA and historical depending on how I’m feeling. In all stories, I need strong characters I want to root for until the end.  

I know you didn’t ask, but some of my favourite authors are Becky Chambers, Natasha Pulley, Fredrik Backman, Elizabeth Strout, and Jane Austen. I would like to sit down to dinner with all of them (we would bring Jane back to life) and listen to them talk about crafting stories. 

What comes next after Shot in the Dark? 

Shot in the Dark two! (This is absolutely not its name.) I’ve signed a three-book deal with Canelo, so I am currently busy working away on Gabe and Juliet’s second adventure. This one is even more twisty than the first, and I’m loving diving back into this world! 

Shot in the Dark is published by Canelo on 26 October 2023



Moonlight slants through the trees on the ancestral Dunlow estate, where a young woman runs for her life. Gunshots break the silence.

The next morning, the body of seventeen-year-old student Melanie Pirt is found.

DS Gabe Martin is more than ready to take the lead on her first murder case. Determined to prove herself to the cold and mysterious DI Juliet Stern, Gabe can’t afford any distractions – especially not ones that wake her in the night, reminding her of a past she’d rather forget.

Because while Gabe and Juliet have few leads, there are plenty of suspects. And every one of them is lying…

Buying link

Social media links (Twitter Instagram Bluesky) @BrittonBookGeek

Many thanks to Anna for coming onto the blog. I wish her every success with her new book. You can find out more about Anna and her editing and mentoring services at


Carry on Cruising

They say travel broadens the mind, but when you’re cruising it also broadens the waistline.

Me and Mr T have just returned from a holiday and I thought it would be fun to write a little travel blog – after all, that’s how my writing career started off . We’re not seasoned cruisers but when you live in Southampton, have family and friends in the business, can see the tops of the cruise ships from your bedroom window, it’s hard to avoid the lure of the liner.

A cruise is an opportunity to explore a lot of different places in a short space of time. Last year we set off in search of winter sun, and as any regular followers will know, it ended in disaster. Three choppy days at sea and in our first port of call, Lisbon, I fell over, broke my arm, and we flew straight home. This year we decided to cut out the Bay of Biscay and fly direct to the sunshine for a week’s exploration of the Adriatic embarking in Valletta, Malta.

To be honest, Malta has never appealed as a travel destination, simply because for many years our parents used to holiday there. Our reasoning was if they liked it, we probably wouldn’t. Now, of course, we’ve reached the age our parents were when they started visiting the island, so we booked ourselves in for a three night stay ahead of the cruise to sample Valletta’s delights. The old fortified city is very impressive, history seeps out of the crumbling masonry every which way you go. In a three hour walking tour on our first morning we learned an awful lot about the country’s troubled past from the Crusades to World War II, but nowadays Valletta is vibrant and bustling. Despite myself, I liked it.

As for the cruise itself, we’d booked onto P&O’s Azura for seven nights. We’d selected the cruise for its itinerary – we’d visited Croatia before in 2016 and always wanted to go back. This trip included four ports – with only two sea days at either end of the trip.  Sea days give you time to join in with the onboard entertainment programme, get to know your fellow guests, and of course, take advantage of the endless food and beverage options. One thing I have learned over the years is that cruising attracts the very people who should never be allowed anywhere near an all-you-can-eat-buffet, not just for their own health and welfare, but for the future burden on the NHS.

We were joined on our table one morning by a rotund couple who plonked themselves down opposite us with their over-loaded plates. “Steak for breakfast”, Mr Extra-Large gleefully proclaimed, marvelling at his haul, “whatever next”. Seriously, it took all my powers of restraint not to quip back “a heart attack?”

To be fair, it’s easy to over indulge with so much food on tap. The buffet restaurant only closes for five hours between 1.00 am and 6.00 am, you have to stock up. Before you know it, you’ve joined the roly-poly club. The shorts I wore on my first day were definitely tighter on the last.

There are other restaurants to choose from besides the stuff-yourself-silly option. I know some complain the dinners in the main restaurants are not plentiful. They’re perfect for me, but if you’ve a voracious appetite you may find yourself wanting. I must admit I could have done with a bit more of this gorgeous frozen chocolate and raspberry lollipop – but it was just the “pre-dessert” in a five course menu.

The writer in me relishes the opportunity to eavesdrop and observe my fellow passengers. Our set dining companions were a lovely couple from Ipswich and if you’re in the Ipswich area and want your roof fixed, I’d highly recommend James the roofer, despite his fear of heights (hashtag wrong job question mark). Other passengers we encountered were not so humble. There seems to be a competition amongst travellers to see who has covered the most nautical miles; up the inside passage, across the artic circle. You name it, they’ve done it. Nor do you have to be covert in your eavesdropping, some people need a volume control fitted as well as a gastric band. Mrs Booming-Voice from Connecticut who we encountered in Valetta is definitely going into a future book. In fact I may have to send Eliza Kane on a cruise specifically so that Mrs Booming-Voice can be bumped off.

At least the ports of calls excelled our expectations. We explored the ancient city of Split, took an excursion from Trieste in Italy to Slovenia which was a revelation, another trip from Zadar to the Krka National Park was a real highlight, and then our final stop Dubrovnik, now a mecca for Game of Thrones fans, as busy as always. I’m just so glad we’d stayed in Dubrovnik on our previous trip because it meant we could skip into the old town and then fight our way out without feeling we were missing anything.

Beautiful Lake Bled

Krka National Park

On our return to Valletta we weren’t being transferred to the airport until the afternoon. We whizzed back into the city for one final look around and decided to visit the Co-Cathedral, which our walking tour guide had told us was a must-see, but with all the splendour and opulence on display, not to mention the collection of Caravaggio’s, needed at least an hour and a half of our time to be fully appreciated. He was wrong. Me and Mr T did the whole cathedral in thirty minutes. Forget the culture, you can’t linger when you’ve got one last chance to sample the delights of the all-you-can-eat-buffet before you fly home.

The magnificent Co-Cathedral in Valletta

Never mind the Carravaggio’s, the tombstones on the cathedral floor are pretty impressive – I’m seriously re-thinking my gravestone options!