Thursday, 31 May 2012

CrimeFest - Final Day and Round Up!

Okay, this is my final post about CrimeFest. 

So what did I wear at the gala dinner?  When packing for Bristol I was not sure what I was going to wear so I bought along with me an alternative top to go with the black trousers that I was going to wear.  In the end, I went with a pair of black trousers, a green bustier and a brown silk jacket.  I know that Ali Karim took some pictures so as soon as I manage to get him to let me have copies I will post them.  

Prior to the dinner a reception took place which was hosted by Million for a Morgue.  This was a fundraiser to raise funds for a state of the art morgue  at the University of  Dundee.  Professor Sue Black whom I have heard speak before was extremely passionate in explaining why the facility was needed.

In order to raise funds 1o crime writers have put themselves forward in support of the venture and the crime writer that garners the most votes will have the morgue named after them.  The ten crime writers are Val McDermid, Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, Kathy Reichs, Jeff Lindsay, Stuart McBride, Mark Billingham, Peter James and Harlan Coben.  Luckily for us three of them (Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver and Peter James) were in attendance at the reception and used the opportunity to “pitch” to all of us their different reasons why we should vote for them.  I must admit that I did like one of Jeffery Deaver’s reasons which was that he looked the most like a mortician!  More information about the Million For A Morgue campaign can be found here.

Dinner itself was really good fun.  I had on my table the lovely Sophie Calder from Titan Books whom I had met earlier in the evening. Titan Books publish Hard Case Crime, which have some of the loveliest pulp covers for their books.  Rather sadly, I have had to stop reading them on the train to work.  The number of glares and funny looks that I have received whilst reading them is unbelievable. Literary agent Oli Munson (Blake Friedmann) who made good the promise that he had made to me on Twitter and bought me a gin & tonic during the festival, Michael Ridpath former Vice Chair of the Crime Writers' Association, Tom Harper former Chair of the Crime Writer’s Association and fellow Shots contributor Kirstie Long.  There were also three  other ladies on the table whom I rather sadly did not get a chance to talk to.

Some awards were also given out during the evening.  These awards were -

The Audible Sounds of Crime Awards are for the best abridged and unabridged crime audiobooks first published in the UK in 2011 in both printed and audio formats, and available for download from, Britain’s largest provider of downloadable audiobooks. Courtesy of sponsor Audible UK, the winning authors and audiobook readers share the £1,000 prize equally and each receives a commemorative award provided by Bristol Blue Glass.

Best-Abridged Crime Audiobook:
Lee Child for The Affair, read by Kerry Shale (Random House Audiobooks)

Best Unabridged Crime Audiobook:
S. J. Watson for Before I Go To Sleep, read by Susannah Harker (Random House Audio with AudioGO)

The Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel first published in the British Isles in 2011. The £500 prize is sponsored by Goldsboro Books, the book collector’s bookseller. The winner also receives a commemorative award courtesy of Bristol Blue Glass.
Declan Burke for Absolute Zero Cool (Liberties Press)

The eDunnit Award is for the best crime fiction eBook first published in both hardcopy and in electronic format in the British Isles in 2011. The winning author receives £500, an eReader, as well as a commemorative award courtesy of Bristol Blue Glass.
Denise Mina for The End of the Wasp Season (Orion)

I have to admit that I was really pleased that Declan Burke won the Goldsboro Last Laugh Award.  Absolute Zero Cool was one of my top five favourite books last year and it is without a doubt a zinger of a book.  Dark, witty and incredibly funny I would urge people to read it. 

So did I stay up late after the dinner?  Yes I did. I found myself having a really interesting conversation with Damien Seaman about Noir novels and our favourite ones.  I also caught up with Ali Karim’s really lovely daughter Sophia who attends University in Bristol.  By the time I managed to drag myself off to bed it was 3:00am in the morning.  I even surprised myself by going to bed without a hangover! How good was that!

Getting to bed was not as easy as I had hoped.  Kirstie  (whom I was sharing a room with) had sent me a message to say that her key card for the room was not working properly.  Mine did not work when I wandered up to my room.  The hotel in their infinite wisdom had replaced the cards but had slipped them under the door.  This of course did not help me as I was still down in the bar when this happened. In the end, I managed to track down one of the night staff and got them to open the door.   Unfortunately, the replacement, replacement keys did not work so every time we left the room we had to track down a member of staff to let us in.  You can imagine how happy we were about that.

Sunday morning came too early for my liking but I still managed to get up and head down for breakfast before Kirstie managed to stir. I had a lovely breakfast with Meg Gardiner again.  Such excellent company! I the proceeded to chat with various people before the start of what is in my opinion always one of the best events CrimeFest – Criminal MastermindCriminal Mastermind is based on the original Mastermind programme. The difference is that the specialist topic is always on crime fiction and the general knowledge round also.  Maxim Jakubowski acts a quizmaster.  This year (and unlike I have done for the last couple of years where I have acted as timekeeper and scorer) I acted as timekeeper whilst Liz Hatherell acted as scorer.

The crime fiction aficionados that consented to brave the chair were crime writer Peter Guttridge whose specialist topic was the Richard Stark’s Parker novels, crime fiction blogger Peter Rozovsky who chose Dashiell Hammett as his specialist topic; Jake Kerridge, crime fiction reviewer for the Telegraph whose topic was the Albert Campion novels of Margery Allingham and Rhian Davies a crime fiction blogger whose topic was UK debut crime novels since 2010.

The first round was a close race between  the two Peter’s – Guttridge and Rozovsky.  Peter Guttridge had 11 correct answers plus one pass whilst Peter Rozovsky had 10 correct answers and two passes.  Jake Kerridge had 7½ correct answers and two passes. Rhian Davies had in the first round 8 correct answers and 1 passes.  The second round was once again a close race between the two leaders.  Peter Guttridge managed a score of 4 correct answers and 5 passes and whereas Peter Rozovsky had 5 correct answers and 5 passes as well.  Jake Kerridge and Rhian Davies did not do as well and managed to score 1 correct answer and 2 passes and 2 correct answers and 1 pass respectively.  The winner was Peter Guttridge who managed to have 1 less pass than Peter Rozovsky.  Criminal Mastermind is always exciting and a perfect way to end the festival.  Congratulations need to go to all of those that took part.   The questions were tough.  Peter Guttridge’s questions were devised Richard Stark’s (Donald Westlake) son Tod. The questions on Dashiell Hammett were done by his French translator and the questions on Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion novels were done by crime fiction critic Sarah Weinman.

So CrimeFest is over for 2012.  The dates for 2013 have already been announced.  Next year CrimeFest will take place between 30th May and 2nd June. One must say a huge thank you to the organisers for organising such a wonderful festival. It was the best so far. Brilliant panels most of them standing room only! Good company and lost of fun. I am looking forward to 2013 already!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Joys of The King

It never ceases to amaze us how productive Stephen King has become in recent years, especially with the astounding 11 / 22 / 63, and latest Dark Tower novel The Wind Through The Keyhole. We were also very interested in the recent feature in The Sunday Times with Neil Gaiman, which is available online here

We were delighted to receive this press release from Charles Ardai of Hard Case Crime, as they published Stephen King’s ‘The Colorado Kid’ a few years and now King has another from this US Imprint supported by the UK’s Titan Books -

Hard Case Crime, the award-winning line of pulp-styled crime novels published by Titan Books, today announced it will publish JOYLAND, a new novel by Stephen King, in June 2013. Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, JOYLAND tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. JOYLAND is a brand-new book and has never previously been published. One of the most beloved storytellers of all time, Stephen King is the world’s best-selling novelist, with more than 300 million books in print.

Called “the best new American publisher to appear in the last decade” by Neal Pollack in The Stranger, Hard Case Crime revives the storytelling and visual style of the pulp paperbacks of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The line features an exciting mix of lost pulp masterpieces from some of the most acclaimed crime writers of all time and gripping new novels from the next generation of great hardboiled authors, all with new painted covers in the grand pulp style. Authors range from modern-day bestsellers such as Pete Hamill, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block and Ed McBain to Golden Age stars like Mickey Spillane (creator of “Mike Hammer”), Erle Stanley Gardner (creator of “Perry Mason”), Wade Miller (author of Touch of Evil), and Cornell Woolrich (author of Rear Window).

Stephen King commented, “I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book.”

King’s previous Hard Case Crime novel, The Colorado Kid, became a national bestseller and inspired the television series “Haven,” now going into its third season on SyFy.

“Joyland is a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book,” said Charles Ardai, Edgar- and Shamus Award-winning editor of Hard Case Crime. “It’s a whodunit, it’s a carny novel, it’s a story about growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time. Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved. When I finished it, I sent a note saying, ‘Goddamn it, Steve, you made me cry.’ ”

Nick Landau, Titan Publisher, added: “Stephen King is one of the fiction greats, and I am tremendously proud and excited to be publishing a brand-new book of his under the Hard Case Crime imprint.”

JOYLAND will feature new painted cover art by the legendary Robert McGinnis, the artist behind the posters for the original Sean Connery James Bond movies and “Breakfast At Tiffany’s,” and by Glen Orbik, the painter of more than a dozen of Hard Case Crime’s most popular covers, including the cover for The Colorado Kid.

Since its debut in 2004, Hard Case Crime has been the subject of enthusiastic coverage by a wide range of publications including The New York Times, USA Today, Time, Playboy, U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Houston Chronicle, New York magazine, the New York Post and Daily News, Salon, Reader’s Digest, Parade and USA Weekend, as well as numerous other magazines, newspapers, and online media outlets. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “Hard Case Crime is doing a wonderful job publishing both classic and contemporary ‘pulp’ novels in a crisp new format with beautiful, period-style covers. These modern ‘penny dreadfuls’ are worth every dime.” Playboy praised Hard Case Crime’s “lost masterpieces,” writing “They put to shame the work of modern mystery writers whose plots rely on cell phones and terrorists.” And the Philadelphia City Paper wrote, “Tired of overblown, doorstop-sized thrillers…? You’ve come to the right place. Hard Case novels are as spare and as honest as a sock in the jaw.”

Other upcoming Hard Case Crime titles include The Cocktail Waitress, a never-before-published novel by James M. Cain, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, and Double Indemnity, and an epic first novel called The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter that has won advance raves from authors such as Peter Straub, James Frey, Alice Sebold, John Banville, David Morrell and Stephen King.

Monday, 28 May 2012

CrimeFest Day 3 part 1

I am little behind in my blog posting, but I promise that I will catch up.  Funnily enough, I did not stay up too late after the Dagger nominations were announced.  I managed to get to bed around 12:30am.  For me that is incredibly early especially since there were loads of people that I really wanted to talk to.  Unfortunately, no matter how much the spirit was willing the body was sadly weak!  I missed the first panels but was determined not to miss the Lee Child interview.  A number of interesting interviews were due to take place alongside Lee Child’s.  P D James was being interviewed by Barry Forshaw and Sue Grafton by Maxim Jakubowski.  Luckily not all at the same time.  That would have been disastrous!  Peter Guttridge was interviewing Lee.  I did actually tweet during Lee’s interview, however, it was a very interesting interview and once Lee got going, he was a mine of information.  The room was full.

Of course (and I for one was not very surprised) when Peter started by asking him about Tom Cruise and the Reacher movie.  The film is due to be released on Boxing Day this year.  Lee explained that the film had been in the works for quite some time and there had been a number of actors interested in the film aside from Tom Cruise.  Keanu Reeves had also been interested in playing Reacher and had pitched for it.  He also described the rather surreal breakfast (actually, he had three) that took place at the Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel when they began to seriously discuss the making of the film.  There had been (and most of us I am sure were already aware that there had been) a lot of feedback online about the fact that many fans were unhappy about Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher.  This had included a Facebook page denouncing it.

He took his daughter to the first read through of the film that took place in Pittsburgh.  His daughter is a film buff and had been a tad upset when he stopped working for Granada. He believes that as a movie it will be a terrific crime film.  It is going to be 120 minutes long.  Lee Child jokingly promised that he would not hold a gun to anyone’s head and force them to go and see the film, neither would he come to anyone’s house and steal their books.  When asked about how many films could be made he commented that with his background in television that he felt that he did not want the series to be more than two or three and that he hoped that no more than three Reacher films would be made.  As it is, the film company are themselves cautious about claiming that it is a series.  One Shot is the first film, Bad Luck and Trouble is the third and with the second, there is a bit of a stumbling block.  Could possibly be Hard Way or 61 Hours.  Lee said that when he wrote 61 Hours it was the last book in his contract and that he never assumed that the contract would be renewed.  That is why 61 Hours as far as Lee was concerned could also be seen as a self-contained book.

One of the questions he was asked was whether in the light of Tom Cruise (and bearing in mind what happened to Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse) playing Reacher would he change Reacher.  Lee stated that despite the casting of Tom Cruise, he would not be altering Reacher nor would not be shrinking him.

Lee also revealed some interesting titbits of information about Reacher as a character.  He found out that Reacher is the best person to have an affair with, as he will not stay around afterwards to complicate your life.  He also has a feminine sense of justice.  He finds it extremely liberating that he has no job or no location.  He sees Reacher as a western hero a lá Zane Grey.  He also felt that there was a strong element of Mystery in the Reacher books.

 A little known fact about Lee Child is that he is a life-long member of the National Trust!  Sue Grafton was a massive influence on him.  His new book the Unwanted Man is due out in August and there will also be another e-book entitled Deep Down as well later on this year.  Lee also revealed that he did indeed have a cameo in the film.  In due course, look for him playing a desk sergeant who gives Reacher back the only permanent thing that he carries with him – his toothbrush!

The other interview that I attended was the Sue Grafton interview.  Like the Lee Child interview, the room was full.  I did manage to spot a number of ladies wearing some rather fetching t-shirts that stated "I Learned My ABC's from Sue Grafton".  In her interview with Maxim Jakubowski, Sue Grafton stated that her father CW Grafton who also wrote a number of crime novels gave her some very good advice and that was her minor characters were important along with punctuation and spelling.  Her father’s first novel The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope won the 1943 Mary Roberts Reinhart Award.  She also stated that she felt that sometimes a writing schedule was not always good for a marriage.  She confirmed that she wrote the plotline for A is for Alibi during her divorce, which had been rather acrimonious.  A is for Alibi is not her first novel.  She had written a number of earlier books that had not been published in the US.  A couple have been published in the UK.  Sue Grafton explained that she had also worked in Hollywood as a film and series scriptwriter.  She adapted two Agatha Christie novels, The Caribbean Mystery and Sparkling Cyanide.  As a result of her work in Hollywood she is determined not to sell the television or film rights to her books and has forbidden her family to do so either.  She also feels that it is crazy for authors to write two books a year.  She spoke to her publishers about this and they accept that this is not something that she would be doing.  She has seen good fine writers who do not know when to quit. She was asked if she would right anything else and she admitted that she would be tempted to do so if she felt worn out by the current series. Sue Grafton was asked that whilst she has made it clear that she would not sell the film or television rights she does not in fact not have any specific female actress in mind to play Kinsey Milhone.

Some things you may or may not know about Sue Grafton.  She admitted that not only did she have a devious and dirty mind but that she was not good at being a team player or a good sport.  She had been in the US edition of the Office.  She needs a shifting cast of characters to keep her fresh.  Whilst she loves computers she is not very good on them.  She only takes five days off in between books. She hates the letters that she receives from people telling her that she got something wrong in her writing especially as she knows that she has made it up. With regard to Kinsey Milhone, she likes the fact that she has to do her sleuthing the old fashion way. She has no mobile phone or internet to use. Listening to Sue Grafton talk was amazing.  She has a very dry wit and a really lovely sense of humor!

The final panel that I managed to attend before the last panel of the day which was on The Killing and David Hewson (whose new book is an adaption of series 2) was that between Paul Doherty and Philip Kerr: Masters of the Timeless Crime. They were being interviewed by Peter Guttridge.  Both of them write historical crime fiction.  Paul Doherty is in fact quite  prolific. Philip Kerr's new book involves Nazi's and the SS.  Whilst doing research the information that he found out the way the Nazi's lived made one think of the television programme of Downtown Abbey and the SS. He stated that he had always wanted to write about the Nazi's and the ordinary man but that there was not much information around. Paul Doherty's new book is called the Midnight Man and it deals with the 1303  theft of the Crown Jewels and how the Midnight Man deals with it.  The Midnight Man is a mixture of gothic and mystery.  Paul Doherty also stated that unlike what people thought, serial killers were not a recent thing but had been around for ages.  It was also clear that men were more visible as killers as opposed to women.  Philip Kerr also stated that as he had once been a lawyer he now had a horror of them.  Both Paul Doherty and Philip Kerr agreed that for some reason people were fascinated by Henry VIII and Nazi's.  They also both agreed that multiple sources were needed for research to ensure that facts were right. Paul Doherty was asked what he was working on at the moment and he informed the audience that he had just finished a novel on the last days of Henry VIII.

Saturday was rather a strange day. We had such lovely weather that it was a shame to be in doors.  I did in fact manage to seek sometime outside and spent it in the pleasant company of Thalia Proctor who is desk editor at Little, Brown. 

The only other thing that I had to do was to go and get all dolled up for the gala dinner.  Somewhere there are some photo's of me dressed up in all my finery.  They were taken by Ali "snapper" Karim and I am sure that they will surface at some stage.

My last post will cover the gala dinner, the last day of the conference and what happened on Criminal Master mind!  Stay tuned.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

CrimeFest Day 2 Part 1

Late nights!  Thursday evening was certainly a late night.  I managed to get to get to bed at 1:45am.  How I also managed to get up and be out of bed in time for breakfast, I don’t know.  I can only say that Coffee is my God at the moment. 

Anyway, because of me having to traipse up to Starbucks on Friday morning I had to miss a couple of panels.  I did get to the panel on Law or Justice?  How Does Your Protagonist Choose, which had Gerald O’Donovan, Zoe Sharp, Andrew Taylor, and James Sallis as panellists and it, was moderated by Stanley Trollip (one-half of Michael Stanley).  It was an interesting panel with a wide range of questions being asked.  These included whether or not the author’s felt that vigilantism was justified.  From the responses received, clearly they did not.  We also learnt that at the age of 65 James Sallis is learning to play the fiddle; Andrew Taylor can play the Ukulele and Gerald O’Donovan is still the under 9 backstroke champion at his prep school!

The other panel that I attend was the brilliant Kicking Ass: Spirited Protagonists and Tricky Situations.  The panellists were Brian McGilloway, Sue Grafton, Lee Child and Jacqueline Winspear.  Zoë Sharp was the participating moderator.  She always has been a brilliant moderator and listening to her with the panellists confirmed to me why I will always go to a panel where she is either a member or is the moderator.  She started off the panel with 5 degrees of separation between all the panel members.  This had the audience in fits of laughter as she managed to link all the panel members together.  Sue Grafton amazed me as she was much more grounded than I expected her to be and Lee Child was his usual charming self.  Brian McGilloway always gets me with his accent.  I could sit and listen to him talk for ages.  All the panel members worked well together.  Anyway, fan girl moment over now!  I am not going to go into intimate details about what was said because I have also been tweeting and therefore I am hoping that most people will have seen my tweets.  Nevertheless, they were asked if they fear killing off their character? Lee explained that with Reacher it will run its course and that it would not and could not be left unresolved.  At the end, Reacher would die.  Sue Grafton explained that for her books equalled life, death and crime.  She said that she would not kill off Kinsey Milhone.  Jacqueline Winspear that she would but would find it very upsetting.  She went on further to say that she had killed off a character in one of the books and that she had found that hard.  Brian directly said that he could not kill off Devlin. They were also all asked which were their favourite books.  For Brian it was his first one but, the one he considered to be the most personal is Little Girl Lost.  Sue Grafton like Brian said that her first book was the one that she was most proud of (A is for Alibi) but that she considered J is for Judgment the most personal.  For Lee it was the first Reacher novel The Killing Floor because he had no expectations.  Maise Dobbs, which was the first book in the series for Jacqueline Winspear as it, was a turning point in her life when she was recovering from a bad riding accident.  However, her most personal is one of the more recent ones The Mapping of Love & Death. It was inspired by a true story.  Once again it was standing room only for the event.  Some people even had to sit down at the front on the floor.  This year CrimeFest has been wonderful! Well organised, brilliant panels and wonderful people.

I did want to attend the Jeffrey Deaver interview but managed to get side-tracked.  Okay, I was at the Severn House drinks!  I also had to get my act together for the Crime Writers Association’s Dagger Shortlist Announcement Reception. My duties were to announce the shortlist for the short story nominations. I stupidly managed to leave my speaking notes at home, so I was rather pleased that I did manage to remember what I wanted to say off the top of my head.  I would before I forget like to thank my fellow Judges Adrian Magson and Paul Johnston for all their hard work.

The shortlists are as follows –

Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction (sponsored by ALCS)
To Live Outside the Law by Leaf Fielding published by Serpent’s Tail
DarkMarket by Misha Glenny published by Vintage
Hood Rat by Gavin Knight published by Pan Macmillan
The Negotiator by Ben Lopez published by Little, Brown
Witness David Smith with Carol Ann Lee published by Mainstream
The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan published by Doubleday

Debut Dagger (sponsored by Orion)
Beached by Sandy Gingras (USA)
Broken Winged Bird by Renata Hill (Canada)
Chasing Shadows by Lesley McLaren (France)
Death by Glasgow by Jon Breakfield (UK)
Death Knell by Rob Lowe (UK)
Easy to Die by Sean Carpenter (UK)
Message from Panama by Britt Vasarhelyi (Panama)
One Man Army by Bram E Gieben (UK)
Port of Spain by Elizabeth Wells (Canada)
The Watchers by Karen Catalona (USA)
The Wrong Domino by Simon Miller (UK)
Trick by Sean Hancock (UK)

Short Story Dagger
The Golden Hour by Bernie Crossthwaite
From – Guilty Consciences, Edited by Martin Edwards and published by Severn House
Hixton by William Kent Krueger
From – Crimes by Moonlight, Edited by Charlaine Harris and published by Gollancz
The Message by Margaret Murphy
From - Murder Squad: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories, Edited by Martin Edwards and published by The Mystery Press
He Did Not Always See Her by Claire Seeber
From – Guilty Consciences, Edited by Martin Edwards and published by Severn House
A Long Time Dead by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
From - Best American Crime Stories 2011, Edited by Harlan Coben and published by Corvus
Laptop by Cath Staincliffe
From - Murder Squad: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories, Edited by Martin Edwards and published by The Mystery Press

The Ellis Peters Historical Dagger
A Willing Victim by Laura Wilson published by Quercus
Bitter Water by Gordon Ferris published by Corvus
Icelight by Aly Monroe published by John Murray
I Will Have Vengeance by Maurizio de Giovanni published by Hersilla Press
Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr published by Quercus
Sacrilege by S J Parris published by Harper Collins
The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau published by Orion

Dagger in the Library (Sponsored by Random House)
Steve Mosby
Belinda Bauer
Imogen Robertson
S J Bolton
Susan Hill
Peter May

The International Dagger for crime fiction in translation
The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri tr. Stephen Sartarelli published by Mantle
 I Will Have Vengeance by Maurizio de Giovanni tr Anne Milano Appel published by Hersilla Press
Until They Wrath Be Past by Åsa Larsson tr Laurie Thompson published by MacLehose Press
Trackers by Deon Meyer tr T K L Seegers published by Hodder & Stoughton
Phantom by Jo Nesbø tr Don Bartlett published by Harvil Secker
The Dark Valley by Valerio Varesi tr Joseph Farrell published by MacLehose Press.

Congratulations to all the nominees! More to follow later!

Friday, 25 May 2012

CrimeFest Day 1 Part 2

It looks like I am going to have to decamp to Starbucks on a daily basis if I want to have good free internet access.  Not too keen on traipsing up the high street.  Will have to see how it goes.  

One of the good things about attending CrimeFest, Harrogate, Bouchercon etc is the fact that you get the opportunity to catch up with people.  This was the case on Thursday.  It was lovely to see Matt and Denise Hilton, Adrian and Ann Magson, Mari Hannah, Cath Bore, Karen Meek, Peter Guttridge, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Chris Ewan, Chris Carter and many more and all of them before any of the panels had started.  Hanging around the reception area waiting for my room to be ready was evidently the best place to be!

So did I manage to get to any panels?  Yes, I did despite the fact that I had a spoke put in the wheels because of trying to get my room sorted out!

I did in fact attend the first panel They’re All Out To Get You – It’s a Conspiracy, which had Dean Crawford, Adrian Magson, Chris Ewan and Emlyn Rees participating along with Tom Harper as participating moderator.  I did actually tweet about this as it was taking place.  The room was full and a lively discussion took place.  Emlyn Rees stated that he was initially in denial over the fact whether or not he actually read any thrillers until he looked on his bookshelves and realised that he did.  Chris Ewan who is best known for his Good Thief series has written his first standalone novel, which comes out in August.  He explained that he found it challenging to write a criminal conspiracy novel. I did not find this surprising as his Good Thief series are anything but thrillers.  They are thrilling books to read but are more comic capers!  Adrian Magson pointed out that he had not realised that he wrote conspiracy thrillers until after a review pointed it out.  Conspiracy thrillers seem to be popular due to the recession.  People do not trust the Government.  They are not being told the truth; they feel disenfranchised and therefore see conspiracy thrillers as an escape.

Emlyn Rees felt that it was a rollercoaster in terms of information.   An example that he used was Umberto Eco’s Foucault's Pendulum.  Dean Crawford stated that he felt that it was a war of the worlds, which was very realistic in the 50s.  One just had to look at the recent news and information that was available to write about.  Chris Ewan and Emlyn Rees referenced Dr David Kelley and David Shayler as prime examples.  The panellists also commented on the fact that even though theorists are real it does not mean that the conspiracy is.  Adrian Magson pointed out that he would not use a real life event as the basis of a novel.  Questions were asked but the most interesting one was by Ruth Dudley Edwards who asked why did conspiracy theorists tend to be male?

Unfortunately I managed to miss Matt Hilton’s panel.  Not because I wanted to but mainly because I finally managed to get into my room!  I did go to see Frederick Forsyth being interviewed by Peter Guttridge and unsurprisingly it was standing room only! I will put my hands up now and say that whilst I am fan of his early works especially The Day of The Jackal and the Odessa File, I have not been too keen on his stuff for quite some time now.  He did explain that he does have a new book coming out that will have some technology in it – cyberspace!  However, he also pointed out that it might well be his last book.  Frederick Forsyth is not a computer geek. He does not use email and uses a typewriter to type his novels.  90% of his plotting is without a word being written.  It is all research and then the story. He writes one A4 page per chapter to describe what is happening.

He went on to explain that he lived most of his life via the Cold War. He had been a journalist at 23 after coming out of the Air Force but did not know that he wanted to be a writer.  It took him 35 days to write his classic 1971 novel The Day of The Jackal.  It was written without any corrections.  It was also turned down by four publishers before it was picked up by Hutchinson’s.  He stated that he felt that the original film was terrific but that it was nothing to do with him and that Michael Caine, Charlton Heston and Roger Moore all wanted to play the Jackal, the role that was subsequently played by Edward Fox.

He stated that for the Odessa File he managed to interview Simon Wiesenthal and it was he that proposed Simon Rushman as the villain. Rushman was known as the Bucher of Viga and he was exposed living in Argentina because of the film.  Frederick Forsyth explained that in this day and age it was a lot more difficult for terrorists to get away unobserved.

He was asked about his reading tastes and he explained that he mainly read non-fiction but did enjoy and had read all John Le Carré’s.  He also enjoyed reading tom Clancy with whom he was good friends, David Baldacci, John Grisham (however he had not liked the last three and Michael Connelly.  He tended to do his reading on the plane.

I was not that impressed with Frederick Forsyth himself, but maybe it was because I could not hear him properly and also he had this tendency to talk in threes!

Peter Rozovsky has a slightly more serious blog post about the interview over on his blog.  For some reason I cannot link to the actual post.  However, it is easy to find.

The evening was good fun.  This year I did not do the quiz!  I just decided not to take part.  I did have a lovely evening as I ended up being taken out to dinner with the lovely people from Quercus along with Elly Griffiths, Martin Walker and Asa Larsson.  Also in attendance were the ever-delightful Nicci Praca (who organised the dinner) and my erstwhile fellow Shots colleagues Mike Stotter and Ali Karim.  By the time we managed to stagger back to the hotel it was after 11:00pm and by the time I got to bed it was 1:45am.  It looks as if late nights are going to be a regular occurrence! How I managed to be up by 7:00am I don't know.  Coffee has a lot to answer for.

My whinge is that the Marriott charge £15.00 per day for Wi-Fi access and there is not even free Wi-Fi in the lobby area.  I am sorry but in this day and age it is so wrong.  I am wondering if I am being too annoying over this but don’t actually think so because it does not cost that much for Wi-Fi and nowadays most hotels even if they do charge you for using Wi-Fi in your room tend to have it free in the public area.  Come on Marriott you need to change your policy over this!  Does anyone know if the Marriott have a twitter account and if so what their Twitter handle is?

Well I have various panels to attend and the short story nominations to announce as well later on.  One decision to make is what I am going to wear!  Choices, choices!

By the way, I am tweeting (when I can remember to charge my phone) using the #CrimeFest2012.  Look out for my erratic tweets!

CrimeFest Day 1 Part 1

Those of you that have followed and read my previous blog postings on CrimeFest will know what to expect.  Those of you that have not don’t worry!  Be prepared for my postings to run the gamut from the irreverent and the comedic to postings on panels and what I have generally been getting up to over the course of the next four days and whatever other snippets of information I endeavour to remember to post.

This post was actually done on the way up on the train as I made my way down to Bristol from Paddington Station.  By the way, and as aside and I do hope that someone will be able to help me with this, whilst I was at the station waiting for my fellow travel companion fellow Shots reviewer Kirstie Long people were taking photographs of Paddington Bear and patting him on the head as well as they walked past.  Why? I can understand why they would want to take a photograph but why the need to pat him on the head as well?  I am assuming that this was for good luck but am I missing something here?  Is Paddington Bear the unofficial patron saint for travellers?  I thought that Saint Christopher was the patron saint for travellers?  If he is the unofficial patron saint for travellers than my apologies Paddington for not giving you a pat on the head before I left.  The omission was not done on purpose.  I genuinely did not know.  I shall remember the next time I am making my way through Paddington Station!

I have been having an umpteenth look at the programme trying to decide which panels I want to attend. Deciding has not been easy but I think I have just about managed to come to a decision.  Luckily, on Thursday they only have one strand of panels taking place. First Stop is going to be They’re All Out To Get You – It’s a Conspiracy which features Chris Ewan who writes some of the funniest crime fiction around at the moment with his “Thief’s Guide to….” series of crime novels.  His protagonist Charlie is said to resemble Gary Grant in To Catch a Thief  and Adrian Magson who not only writes brilliant crime novels is in my opinion one of the nicest crime writers around.  And he did not pay me to say that!  (Pay up Adrian!!!!!)  It should be an interesting panel. Following that I am hoping to attend Killers & Cops: Which Side of the Law are you On? which Matt Hilton who is the author of these tough-guy thrillers whose main protagonist is Joe Hunter who is an ex-special forces officer is moderating.

As much as I like discussing Forgotten Authors, I think I may have to give this panel a miss. I may be dying for a drink by this time if I have not had one already.  I am certainly going to attend the Frederick Forsyth interview this afternoon.  He is this year’s recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger Award and he is being interviewed by Peter Guttridge. I anticipate that there will be many people wanting to hear what he has to say.  The Day of The Jackal is in my opinion a classic.  I enjoyed the book immensely when I read it many years ago and the original film featuring Edward Fox and a really young Derek Jacobi is one that I can watch time and time again.  Don’t get me started on the remake! My only problem is that I am not that keen on Mr Forsyth’s politics. I am tempted to ask him about them but think not, mainly because I can’t really be bothered.

Anyway, getting to Bristol and the hotel was a breeze.  Checking in not so! The usual vagaries being that the room was not ready despite my long conversation with them last weekend about an early check-in.  What was good fun was bumping into Peter Rozovsky who has the brilliant blog Detectives Beyond Borders.  Peter is doing Criminal Mastermind this year.  Should be interesting.  I shall once again be helping the quizmaster Maxim Jakubowski with the score keeping.

More to follow shortly.........

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Forthcoming books to look forward to from Constable & Robinson

The Thief is a seasoned pickpocket.  Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves in and out of Tokyo crowds, stealing wallets from strangers so smoothly sometimes he doesn't even remember the snatch.  Most people are just a blur to him, nameless faces from whom he chooses his victims.  He has no family, no friends, no connections...But he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when Ishikawa, his first partner, reappears in his life, and offers him a job he can't refuse.  It's an easy job: tie up an old rich man, steal the contents of the safe.  No one gets hurt.  Only the day after the job, does he learn that the old man was a prominent politician, and that he was brutally killed after the robbery.  And now the Thief is caught in a tangle even he might not be able to escape.  The Thief is translated from Japanese and is by Fuminori Nakamura.  It is due to be published in August 2012.

A Time for Patriots is by Dale Brown and is due to be published in August 2012.  When murderous bands of militiamen begin roaming the western United States and attacking government agencies, it will take a dedicated group of the nation's finest and toughest civilian airmen to put an end to the home-grown insurgency.  U.S. Air Force Lieutenant-General Patrick McLanahan vows to take to the skies to join the fight, but when his son, Bradley, also signs up, they find themselves caught in a deadly game against a shadowy opponent.  When the stock markets crash and the U.S. economy falls into a crippling recession, everything changes for newly elected president Kenneth Phoenix.  Politically exhausted from a bruising and divisive election, Phoenix must order a series of massive tax cuts and wipe out entire cabinet-level departments to reduce government spending.  With reductions in education and transportation, an incapacitated National Guard, and the loss of public safety budgets, entire communities of armed citizens band together for survival and mutual protection.  Against this dismal backdrop, a SWAT team is ambushed and radioactive materials are stolen by a group calling themselves the Knights of the True Republic.  Is the battle against the government about to be taken to a new and deadlier level?  In this time of crisis, a citizen organization rises to the task of protecting their fellow countrymen: the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the U.S. Air Force auxiliary.  The Nevada Wing - led by retired Air Force Lieutenant-General Patrick McLanahan, his son, Bradley, and other volunteers - uses their military skills in the sky and on the ground to hunt down violent terrorists.  But how will Patrick respond when extremists launch a catastrophic dirty bomb attack in Reno, spreading radiological fallout for miles?  And when Bradley is caught in a deadly double-cross that jeopardizes the CAP, Patrick will have to fight to find out where his friends' loyalties lie: Are they with him and the CAP or with the terrorists?  With A Time for Patriots, Dale Brown brings the battle home to explore a terrifying possibility-the collapse of the American Republic.

A winter's evening and a trio of unruly youths board a bus and gang up on teenager Luke Donnelly, hurling abuse and threatening to kill him.  The bus is full but no one intervenes until Jason Barnes, a young student, challenges the youths.  Luke seizes the chance to run off the bus but his attackers follow.  Andrew Barnes is dragged from the shower by his wife Valerie: there's a fight in the front garden and Jason's trying to break it up.  Andrew rushes to help and the assailants flee.  Jason shouts to his father to phone an ambulance - Luke is badly hurt.  Minutes later Jason collapses in their living room, he has been stabbed.  The blow proves fatal.  Valerie and Andrew are devastated by the loss of their only child, and react in very different ways to their grief.  Valerie wants justice, revenge even, but Andrew is desperate to find some meaning in Jason's sacrifice, some understanding about what led to such a tragedy.  Luke survived the assault thanks to Jason's actions, but is in a coma.  His mum Louise keeps vigil at his bedside, waiting for him to wake and trying to keep the rest of life as normal as possible for her younger child Ruby.  As his marriage disintegrates, Andrew secretly visits Luke and his mother Louise and a fragile friendship develops.  Meanwhile the press begin to paint a picture of Luke as a less than innocent victim and raise questions about the cost of Jason's heroism.  One of the offenders confesses to the attacks and shows remorse while the others plead not guilty.  Conflicting accounts emerge during the trial.  With some parties prepared to lie, the matter of uncovering what really happened is far from straightforward, and the jury's verdict hard to predict.  Split Second is by Cath Staincliffe and is due to be published in July 2012.  It is a novel that explores the issue of whether to intervene or look the other way and the fall-out from either decision.  "Split Second" tackles questions of bravery, fear, and kindness and depicts the human impact of violent crime.

When Inspector John Carlyle discovers a disorientated girl in a park near Buckingham Palace, he takes it upon himself to find out who she is and where she's from.  His hunt for the identity of this lost girl takes him from Ukrainian gangsters in North London to the lower reaches of the British aristocracy.  Soon, the inspector is on the trail of a child-trafficking ring that stretches from Kiev to London, and back to the palace itself...  Buckingham Palace Blues by James Craig and is the third book in the series to feature Inspector John Carlyle and is due to be publish in August 2012.

Tooth for a Tooth is by T F Muir and is due to be published in September 2012.  What secrets from the past was he about to uncover?  When a woman's skeleton is discovered in a shallow grave, DCI Andy Gilchrist is tasked with finding her murderer.  But a psychic's warnings and markings on a rusted cigarette lighter found among the rotted remains set Gilchrist off on a trail that will take him back 35 years back to his past and on course to find his brother's killer in a fatal hit and run accident.  When dental records from an extracted tooth force Gilchrist to confront the unthinkable - that his brother was her killer - he keeps his fears to himself, only to be suspended on suspicion of destroying evidence.  But Gilchrist battles on in his quest for answers.  Who was the woman?  Why was she murdered?  And was the fatal hit and run really an accident?

Due to financial hardships at Tawcester Towers, the Dowager Duchess has decreed that the only way the family fortunes can be restored is to marry Blotto to an American.  So begins the fourth adventure in the Blotto and Twinks series, and this time the aristocratic sleuthing siblings end up being transported across the Pond to the gangster-ridden hellhole that is Prohibition Chicago.  Reluctantly, Blotto being together with Twinks and his trusty chauffeur Corky Froggett set sail on ocean liner S/S His Majesty.  He feels like a condemned man as waiting him in Illinois is fabulously wealthy heiress Mary Chapstic.  She is the only daughter of meatpacking magnate Hiram P. Chapstick III.  But it's Twinks who discovers early on that all is not as it seems and that Hiram P. Chapstick III is in fact up to his neck in a bootlegging operation run by the notorious Chicago mobster, Spagsy Chiaparelli.  So Blotto and Twinks set out to unmask the villainy of Hiram P. Chapstick III, where a final shootout takes place among the filthy stockyards, abattoirs and caning factories of Chicago's Meatpacking District.  Will Blotto and Twinks ever make it back to dear old Blighty?  Blotto, Twinks and the Bootlegger’s Moll is by Simon Brett and is due to be published in July 2012.

A Brief Guide to James Bond is due to be published in September 2012.  The world's fascination with Bond is unstoppable.  James Bond is the greatest British fictional hero of the post-war era.  He also has a huge following in the US - and around the world - as a legendary Cold War warrior, and now as a daredevil able to take on the villains of the post-Cold War world.  The Bond books are all in print.  With new stories by Sebastian Faulks and Jeffrey Deaver and a forthcoming book by William Boyd and Charlie Higson writing children's versions.  In this comprehensive guide to Ian Fleming, the books, the films and the world that was created out of "007", Nigel Cawthorne uncovers Bond's allure.  It comes with special sections on the main characters - Q, M, the Bond Girls, and the women who first inspired them; the cars, and the incomparable baddies.  It will be the ideal gift for fans and aficionados alike and will be published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of "Doctor No".

His and Her is by M C Beaton and is due to be published in October 2012.  Agatha has fallen in love - again.  This time it's the local gardener, George Marston, she has her eye on.  But competition for his attention abounds.  With her shameless determination, Agatha will do anything to get her man - including footing the bill for a charity ball in town just for the chance to dance with him.  But when George is a no-show Agatha goes looking for him - and finds he has been murdered, having been bitten by a poisonous snake and buried in a compost heap.  Agatha and the rest of her crew plunge into an investigation and discover that George had quite a complicated love life.  And if Agatha now can't have George, at least she can have the satisfaction of confronting those women who have and finding a murderer in the process.
 Ted Bundy.  America's most notorious serial killer.  For two women, he is the ultimate obsession.  One is cop whose sister may have been one of Bundy's victims.  The other is a deranged groupie who corresponded with Bundy in prison - and raised her son to finish what he started.  To charm and seduce innocent girls.  To kidnap and brutalize more women than any serial killer in history.  And to lure one obsessed cop into a trap as sick and demented as Bundy himself...  The Fear Collector is by Greg Olsen and is due to be published in November 2012.

The Fourth Crow is by Pat McIntosh and is due to be published in July 2012.  The crows are gathering above Glasgow, watching the movements of the clergy and townspeople alike...Tied to St Mungo's Cross by the cathedral to be cured of her madness overnight by the saint, the young woman is found in the morning beaten and strangled, still tied to the cross.  But is she who she seems to be?  And who would flout the saint's protection like this?  Gil Cunningham must trace the dead woman and find her enemies, track down the thieves and murderers and identify the watchers in the shadows, particularly the elusive fourth person who holds the secret of what happened that night.  Questioning cathedral staff and apprentice boys, pilgrims and tradesmen, he uncovers only more puzzles.  And then there is another death.  How is it connected to the first?  While his wife Alys deals with the tensions within their family, Gil has to untangle the threads of the mystery to find the 

Pulse is by John Lutz and is due to be published in October 2012.  The infamous transsexual serial killer known as Daniel Danielle escapes from prison during a Florida hurricane and Frank Quinn fears he has returned and is wreaking havoc as the body count rises.  Or it could be a copycat killer working with stunning originality but whoever it is, this evil force must be stopped before another victim is claimed.  Pulse is due to be published in October 2012.

Joey McCarthy is stabbed to death in a pub car park in a random act of violence.  Shortly afterwards Charlotte Stone's terminally ill mother dies and then, within weeks, two of her teenage friends commit suicide.  With her home life disintegrating and both her father and brother racing towards self-destruction Charlotte realises that her own personal nightmare may not be over yet.  When DC Gary Goodhew finds the body of another suicide victim he is forced to recall some deeply buried memories of an earlier death; memories which lead him to Charlotte Stone and the events in her life.  From their individual points of view, they both begin to wonder whether all these tragedies are somehow linked to a bigger picture.  And if they are right, then who will be the next victim?  The Silence is the fourth book in the DC Gary Goodhew series by Alison Bruce and is due to be published in July 2012.

Author Hannah Dennison has two books due out in September 2012.  First, Expose - When an early morning call wakes Vicky from the arms of her dream man, reality had better be worth it - and it is.  A tipster tells her about the secret funeral of local celebrity Scarlett Flemming, organised by her grieving husband Doug.  The entire town is baffled by the sudden death and oddly discreet funeral.  After all, in life Scarlett had hardly been a shrinking violet.  Vicky's suspicions are heightened when she learns of the Flemings' shaky finances - and that Doug has as many admirers as Scarlett had enemies.  And while canvassing suspects and juggling three potential suitors, Vicky must stay one-step ahead of a killer once she realises she's no longer writing an obituary - she's writing an expose!  The second book is Thieves, after a spate of local robberies Vicky's hot on the trail of gypsies, tramps and thieves!  Unaware that their temporary pitches is also the official gathering site for the upcoming annual Morris Man Dance-a-thon, the gypsies have set up their illegal campsite at The Grange - much to the dismay of almost everyone in town.  And when shortly afterwards there is a slew of sliver thefts in the area, blaming the despised uninvited guests makes more than a little sense.  But when the body of an unnamed woman is found in a shallow stream, Vicky suspects there's a connection between the murder and the recent thefts - and she's determined to prove it.  It's a criminal conundrum suited only for the mind of Vicky Hill, Cub Reporter on the "Gipping Gazette", and she's determined to uncover answers and clinch her fourth national exclusive!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Film news - Bond Skyfall and Sin City 2

It’s a good year to be a James Bond fan. Not only will the iconic secret agent be back on the big screen after a four-year absence (with Skyfall), but a biographical picture about Bond creator/author Ian Fleming is finally on the way.

A trailer can be seen below -

Duncan Jones, the cult director of such sci-fi titles as Moon and Source Code, is onboard to helm the Fleming biopic. Currently, the filmmaker is casting the project – which is slated to begin production before the year’s end.

The last substantial report about an Ian Fleming biopic was over two years ago – when James McAvoy shot down the rumor that he was locked down to portray the man behind 007, in a $40 million adaptation of Andrew Lycett’s 1996 non-fiction book “Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond.” Nonetheless, it’s always ...

Click to continue reading Duncan Jones to Direct Ian Fleming Biopic
Even though Robert Rodriguez has been promising that he will in fact be making a second Sin City movie sooner than later (since last summer, at least), it wasn’t until Dimension Films officially confirmed the project – fully titled Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – that most fans accepted the news as fact.

Dimension Films has unveiled another press release – this time, revealing that A Dame to Kill For will hit theaters in the U.S. on October 4th, 2013. In addition, the studio has confirmed the return of important players like Jessica Alba and Mickey Rourke, while also teasing the involvement of other “huge names” in pivotal roles.

A Dame to Kill For is expected to combine elements of the original Sin City graphic novel (of the same name) with new original ...

Click to continue reading Sin City 2′ Lands a Fall 2013 Release Date; Will Be 3D

Friday, 18 May 2012

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Long list revealed!

A mix of writers old and new will do battle in this year's Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious crime writing prizes in the country. Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London which imagines magical mayhem in the Metropolitan police force goes head to head with SJ Watson's smash hit debut Before I Go To Sleep and Tom Rob Smith's Agent 6, the final in the trilogy about a former MGB agent, Leo Demidov. Power-house authors John Connolly, Ian Rankin, Robert Harris, and Val McDermid are represented by The Burning Soul, The Impossible Dead, The Fear Index, and The Retribution respectively and former journalist and screenwriter Belinda Bauer makes the longlist for the second year running with Darkside, following her critically acclaimed debut, Blacklands. Neil Cross, who will be discussing the hit TV series Luther at this year's Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, also makes the list with The Calling.

Now in its eighth year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, in partnership with Asda, and in association with the Daily Mirror, was created to celebrate the very best in crime writing and is open to British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1st June 2011 to 31st May 2012.

The longlist in full:

· Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz)
· Darkside by Belinda Bauer (Corgi)
· Now You See Me by SJ Bolton (Corgi)
· Where the Bodies Are Buried by Chris Brookmyre (Abacus)
· The Burning Soul by John Connolly (Hodder Paperback)
· The Calling by Neil Cross (Simon & Schuster)
· The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris (Corvus)
· Bryant and May and the Memory of Blood by Christopher Fowler (Bantam)
· Blue Monday by Nicci French (Michael Joseph)
· The Fear Index by Robert Harris (Arrow)
· The Retribution by Val McDermid (Sphere)
· The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina (Orion)
· Black Flowers by Steve Mosby (Orion)
· Collusion by Stuart Neville (Vintage)
· The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin (Orion)
· Mice by Gordon Reece (Pan Books)
· Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster)
· Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson (Black Swan)

The longlist will then be whittled down to a shortlist of six titles which will be announced on Thursday 5th July.

The overall winner will be decided by a panel of experts which this year comprises of DI Tom Thorne actor David Morrissey, Festival chair Mark Billingham, journalist and crime novelist Henry Sutton, Ruth Lewis, Fiction Buyer at Asda, and Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston Ltd; as well as members of the public. The public vote opens on Thursday 5th July and closes on Tuesday 17th July at

The winner of the prize will be announced by broadcaster and festival regular Mark Lawson on Thursday 19th July, opening night of the tenth annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakstons Old Peculier.

Congratulations to all those on the longlist!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Lawrence Block & Matt Scudder Film News!

According to Liam Neeson is set to star as Matt Scudder in A Walk Among the Tombstones, the Scott Frank-scripted adaptation of the Lawrence Block book series. The movie will begin production February, 2013 in New York and is the first film in a new three-year deal between Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures to develop, finance and produce at least two films per year, with budgets up to $65 million.

In A Walk Among the Tombstones, Neeson plays Scudder at the time he’s an ex-NYPD cop and unlicensed private detective and recovering alcoholic. He’s hired to find the kidnapped wife of a drug dealer.

Matt Scudder is the most well-known of all the characters created by Lawrence Block. He debuted in 1976's The Sins of the Fathers as an alcoholic ex-cop who had recently quit the NYPD and left his family after accidentally causing the death of a young girl. A Walk Among the Tombstones is the twelfth book in the series and was published in 1992.

 More information can also be found at Indiewire.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

David Mark talks about The Dark Winter and being an author!

Photograph by Nicola East
Today’s guest blog is by David Mark who talks about the background to his debut novel, The Dark Winter.  David was a journalist in Yorkshire for 15 years before being signed by Quercus after a multi-house auction. His crime novel introduces Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy, who will be the main protagonist in a series set on the streets of Hull.
People keep asking how it feels.  It’s the first thing everybody says to me.  Moreover, it’s not really a question.  They have their own ideas on that point.  The word ‘must’ seems to be getting thrown around quite a lot.  ‘Wonderful’ crops up a bit.  As far as they’re concerned, it’s bloody obvious how all this feels.  
It must feel wonderful,” they say.  I know, walking into Waterstone’s.  Seeing your book on a shelf – all those people saying nice things and asking when the next one comes out.  What does it feel like?  It must feel amazing ….. Go on, how does it feel …?”
I don’t know. I’m a writer. I choose my words carefully. It would be easy to nod and grin like a fool and confirm that yes, it feels bloody wonderful. But does it? I’m not sure there is a word for the mixture of awe, insecurity, giddiness, bafflement and frustration that is sloshing around in my skull and ribcage, and which has been for as long as I can remember. The Germans probably have a word for it. They’re good at that, the Germans. But I don’t. It’s just, well, “aaagh!” followed by some rocking back and forth.
I’m happy, of course. A few weeks ago, I walked into Waterstone’s, and seeing the tower of books with my name on them did strike a feeling within me that probably required musical accompaniment.  Then I began to wonder why it was still a tower. Why hadn’t they sold? Why weren’t people rushing in to snaffle copies for their friends and relatives, delivering headlocks and kidney punches to anybody with the temerity to try and get there first? Would they ever sell? Was it all going to end in tears? Oh Christ, I need to get out of here …
And there it is. That’s being David Mark, the writer. I’ve been David Mark the journalist since I was just turned 17. I’ve seen my name in print for half a lifetime. Nobody else ever looked at it, of course. The by-line is just something to show newspaper readers that a real person actually went and knocked on doors and made some phone calls and risked a kicking on some horrible estate. Nobody really cares.
It’s a bit different, now. I’ve got a book out. A book! Which rather means that my single, abiding and all-consuming dream has come true. I’ve wanted to be a novelist my whole life. As a kid, the games I played with my He-Man figures had sub-plots and a twist at the end. The yarns (and by this, I realise I mean ‘lies’) that I would spin my mum as a teenager were worthy of a Booker. I was a nightmare. My brain didn’t see people – it saw ‘characters’. I used to pause movies halfway through and see if I could write the ending. When mine was better, I’d know that perhaps, one day, I could create stories for a living. When mine was worse, I’d retreat to the shed and smash planks with a hammer. I was weird.  Moody, philosophical, over-analysing, obsessive, creative, always late, bit of a twat – my school reports were an indictment on more than my academic performance. I lived inside my own brain. I read compulsively. I’d got through Agatha Christie’s back catalogue by the time I was eleven, and on the Carlisle estate where I grew up (coupled with the fact I played the clarinet) that was like sticking a ‘kick me’ sticker on your forehead. Thankfully, I boxed too. Asking somebody to hold your clarinet case before a street-corner scrap is a surreal experience.
I’m rambling. Sorry. It’s just, well; I’ve got a book out. That’s what it’s all been for, hasn’t it? All those years. All those words. Typing until my fingers were numb and drifting onto motorway hard shoulders while lost in internal story arcs.
How did we get here? Well, I put the final full stop on a finished novel when I was 21, and sent it off to a few agents. Nobody liked it. I don’t blame them. It was shit. Undeterred by my shitness, and with four years of journalism under my belt, I wrote another. This was a bit less shit, but so dark that there was a good chance it would one day show up in court as Exhibit A. Again, the agents said no. So I wrote another. I don’t tend to give up, really, unless there are stairs involved. This one was far less shit. It was, however, slightly psychotic and vile. Nevertheless, one agent liked it. He phoned me up and said nice things. For a moment, there were fireworks, stars, sparklers, and heavenly choirs. He said he would like to represent me and that he had a good feeling. I sat in an armchair with a whisky and waited for my dreams to come true. But they didn’t. The publishers he showed it too like the writing, but said it was “too dark”. I didn’t really know what to do about that, and my suggestion that we drop in some passages where the protagonist played with a puppy and took a stroll on the beach at Bridlington, were not met with real enthusiasm. After a while, it sort of fizzled out. That was it. It wasn’t going to happen.
So, I did what I always do. I wrote another book. This time, I decided to keep the darkness to a minimum. What was more important was the story. The characters. The setting. It wasn’t about showing what a great writer I was. It was about writing something people couldn’t put down. My brain handed me Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy; a giant, timid, humble Highlander, living and working on an elite crime squad in Hull. It handed me his wife, his boss, his nemesis. In a flurry of activity and a sense that something important was happening, I scribbled it all down before it leaked away. The story came together in one evening with a notepad and a bottle of Jameson’s. Sole survivors. People who walked away when everybody else died. What if somebody was bumping them off in the way they cheated death? Hmm. My fingers were shaking when I started to type. That was probably the Jameson’s.
In stolen moments, I wrote what would become The Dark Winter. When I put the final full stop, I knew this one was different. It wasn’t shit at all. It went to my agent, and despite some soothing and appreciative noises, we didn’t really get anywhere. To be fair to him, he was a decent sort and he suggested that perhaps I find somebody else. One of the editors I’d got to know during the previous round of submissions, had been a fan of my work, and was a colossal help when it came to advice, suggestions and doing all those bits that editors do so much better than I do. He gave me the name of somebody he thought would like it. And so poor Oli Munson at Blake Friedmann received an email from the washed-out, wrung-out, very nearly down-and-out David Mark, journalist, beseeching him to take a look. He did. He liked it. He liked it a lot. And within a month, there were several publishing houses bidding for it, and it was being snapped up in Italy, Germany, Greece, Turkey, and cor blimey, America.
That was just over a year ago. Since then, I have experienced more emotions than I can name. I’ve lost my mind a few times, lost my temper frequently, and been a bloody nightmare for my long-suffering partner and kids. I’ve discovered that journalists move quicker than publishers do. Tectonic plates and the Arctic ice-shelf move quicker than publishers do. I’ve done rewrites, amendments, nodded sagely at front cover ideas and written the second in the series. I’ve answered lots of questions and people have said very nice things. I’ve sat at work and taken a phone call in which Val McDermid called me ‘exceptional’. I’ve shivered with both delight and fear. My every insecurity has bubbled to the surface and through a combination of Oli, my publishers, my family and a lot of whisky; I’ve survived the longest year of my life. I’ve been launched. I’ve been reviewed. The word ‘shit’ hasn’t cropped up in any of them. I’m appearing at festivals and people are asking me to sign things.
And now, I can walk into Waterstone’s. I can see my book on a shelf. How does it feel? It must feel wonderful.  It does. Just frigging mental at the same time.