Tuesday, 30 June 2009
First of all we spent 5 days in New York. Our hotel was Hotel 57 on East 57th Street and I would definitely recommend it. The room was tiny but gorgeous and had a great view. I didn't take a photo of the inside of the room because by the time we had been there 5 minutes it looked as thought Hurricane Donna had swept through it (why is it that when you go on holiday you take clothes you haven't worn for years? Or is that just me? It's as though I have something in my brain that says "Donna, those lime green crimplene hotpants your mum made that you've been saving since the early '70s will be just perfect for this trip. OK, so they were never actually in fashion and you need to lose a little weight before you get into them - but what's 150 pounds between friends?") Luckily, Ewan only had half a suitcase full of clothes so I took over the other half of his. We still had too much luggage so I unpacked his suitcase before we left, decided there were some clothes he didn't need and threw in some extra shoes for me.
The first full day we walked over the whole of lower Manhattan. We wandered through the East Village (where we found this Joe Strummer mural). The East Village was a great area to just walk around and soak up the sights and sounds and smells (although on that note, may I heartily UNrecommend the public restrooms in Tompkins Square Park in Alphabet City.)
Then it was on to the Lower East Side, the West Village and Greenwich Village, taking in Chinatown and Little Italy, via a detour to Joey Ramone Place at the corner of East 2nd Street and the Bowery, just around the corner from what used to be CBGBs. Sorry about the photo - it was humid. My hair doesn't do humid. And nor does my face, apparently. And I didn't have time to make myself look decent because while we were taking photos here there was a major drug deal going on behind us. Discretion being the better part of valour, we thought it best not to linger. We returned to the East Village and the Bowery on numerous occasions - it was a great place and the location of our two musical interludes with the lovely Mary Reagan - Spinnerette at the Bowery Ballroom and The Crocodiles at the Mercury Lounge (a tiny club that only held about 250 people). The Crocodiles were one of the best bands I've ever seen - full of energy and passion, great songs and some brilliant Jesus and Mary Chain guitar fuzz noise. I bought a CD and later found they are playing in Glasgow in July - yippee!.
We did the whole tourist thing, spending approximately 2 minutes in Times Square before heading off to the peace and quiet of Central Park which was absolutely gorgeous. I managed to shoo several 5 year olds off the Alice In Wonderland statues so that I could get my photo taken like the big kid I am. We ate in Harlem (great to see you Mary, Sarah and Ed!), and met up with old friends (Kathy - it was a joy) and new ones - the charming Nick Towasser of Dissident Books met us for drinks after we had been to a comedy club on the Upper East Side and we spent a lovely evening with him drinking until the small hours. And if you get a chance to get hold of DON'T CALL ME A CROOK!: A SCOTSMAN'S TALE OF WORLD TRAVEL, WHISKY AND CRIME jump at it - it's a great fun read.
"But Donna, what about culture?" I hear you ask. "What of Broadway, and museums and art?" Well, we did that too. In fact, we went from the ridiculous to the sublime. On a rainy afternoon we decided to go to an off Broadway production. On the positive side, we got tickets for half price. On the negative side, it was utter shite. The play was The Perfect Crime, a long-running play which was supposedly a psychological thriller. Unfortunately there was far too much scenery chewing from the female lead, the male lead had the worst British accent imaginable (stopping just short of 'top hole, old boy, what?') and not enough thrills. Oh, there was one more good thing about the production - it had an interval, which meant we could mercifully leave at half time without looking too obvious).
So we decided to go to a museum instead, to try and recapture some of that elusive culture. And the museum we chose was the Museum of Sex which was fascinating, informative and extremely funny (apparently there are sex doll brothels). One of the exhibits was 'The Sex Lives of Animals' and I was really taken by the fact that macaque monkeys will give up snacks for porn. They will gladly hand over their food in exchange for pictures of female macaque genitalia. Well, let's face it guys, when you've got that naked, hot macaque centrefold in front of you, you're going to need both hands, aren't you?
San Francisco to follow.
Monday, 29 June 2009
Russel McLean alerts me to a new author name for my list - Chris Longmuir, whose debut novel DEAD WOOD recently won the Dundee Book Prize.
Harrogate Crime Festival asks readers to condense crime novels by various authors (including Allan Guthrie, Val McDermid and Arthur Conan Doyle into 50 words for the chance of winning a great prize.
A thought provoking interview with Helen Fitzgerald on her work with sex offenders.
Writers such as Ian Rankin and Iain Banks will be reading from the works of imprisoned writers as part of Amnesty International's Imprisoned Writers Series at the Edinburg Book Festival.
Val McDermid recommends some hot summer reads.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
Who could do marvellous things with a mercury thermometer
I cannot divulge because most were X-rated
But I'll tell you they left his girlfriend Xena elated.
So when with a Xylophonist from Xiangstan she found him in bed
She gassed them with Xenon and left them for dead.
Y is for Yves, a Yachtsman no less
Who when Yvonne said 'no' thought she really meant 'yes'
The Yobbish Yahoo tried it on with Yvonne
So she kicked him overboard; he Yelled, and was gone.
Z is for Zebediah a Zoot-suited Zoologist
Who began to court Zesty Zara, an animal psychologist.
When he told her the Zebra was a Zodiacal sign
She realised that Zeb was out of his mind,
That he was a Zero, a nothing, a phony,
So she sneaked some Zinc Sulphate into his Zabaglione.
The End - and aren't you glad?
Friday, 26 June 2009
U is for Umberto who was caught Unawares
With his trousers Unzipped at the foot of the stairs,
By Ursula who took Umbrage at the Unwitting fella
And stabbed him in the Umbilicus with her pointed Umbrella
V is for Victor - Veterinary surgeon from Venice
Who practiced on humans - the Villainous menace.
When Virile Vince Visited expecting a swift appendectomy
That Vagabond Vic gave Vince a Vasectomy.
Poor Vince understandably turned Vigilante
And shot poor Vic in his delicto flagrantes.
W is for Wallace, a Wizard from Wells
Who tried very hard but just couldn't cast spells.
He tried to conjure up a Woman with sex on the brain
But ended up in Wandsworth with a Wrestler called Wayne.
When Wayne embraced Wallace and squeezed him too tight,
Wallace passed out and died of sheer fright.
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Who modelled himself on Dee Dee Ramone
His Rock and Roll antics were quite Rabelasian
And he always lived down to his bad Reputation
So no-one was surprised when he ended up dead,
When on stage with a Rabid Rat he bit off its head.
S is for Simeon, Serial Seducer from Streatham,
Got some Sausages in the post and, Starving hungry, et 'em.
But those Sausages were Sabotaged and Stuffed with Salmonella
Sent to Simeon by his latest victim, Stella.
T is for Theo, a Televangelist who Transgressed
And was found in a Toyota with Tiffany, undressed.
With Theatrical Tears for TV viewers' Titillation
He Told all his sins to a Tantalised nation.
But his Tormented wife found his behavious appalling
So she killed him and wrapped him in a Tarpaulin.
Took him to a Taxidermist in Tulsa called Tony
And had him stuffed and mounted so she'd never be lonely.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Who was found in his Office one day in a coma.
After making suggestions Obscene and Offensive
To his secretary, Olive, who went on the defensive,
And hit him on the head with the base of the phone,
Making a bit of a mess of his Occipital bone.
P for Percy and Phil, Paleontologists Par excellence,
Father and son, on a dig in Paris (that's France)
A fossil found by Percy caused quite a Palaver
Sending Phil into Paroxysms of jealousy at his father.
With Poison he injected his Pater's Pastrami,
And was tried for Parricide - but found utterly barmy.
Q is for Quentin, a Quantum mechanic,
Whose girfriend, Queenie, about dancing was manic
So he left his work early at the government Quango
And took Queenie out to a dancehall to tango.
But while Quentin amused himself solving Quadratic equations,
Queenie with a Quarterback had carnal relations.
So Quentin challenged the Quarterback to a duel
But the Quarterback fought foul, not by Queensberry rules
He grabbed poor Quentin by the scruff of the neck
And threw him in Quicksand off the coast of Quebec.
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Monday, 22 June 2009
Who Left his Lovely wife Letty to begin an affair
With a Libidinous Lapdancer named Lola, from Leith,
Whose top half was Lithe but who was tubby beneath.
"Oh Lola, you're Luscious, but I hope you won't mind,
If I say you need Liposuction on your behind."
Well, Lola was Livid and quite Lachrymose
So she picked up a Lamp and Landed some blows
Then she chopped him in bits and stuffed them in a cushion
And used it to rest her Lovely Large tush on.
M is for Malcolm, who worked at the Met,
And fell in love with Miranda, a drum Majorette.
They met in a band, where he was playing Maracas
About each other they were totally crackers.
But as Marriage went on things began to go wrong,
All they had in common were Mahler and Mah Jong.
To bring back the Magic, they Moved to Malawi,
But Miranda said "We're just not compatible, are we?"
With Malice aforethought quite Machiavellian,
She seduced a young chemist, by the name of Trevelyan.
She made him procure her some Mercuric Chloride,
Which she put in some Mushrooms - stuffed, and deep fried,
Malcom's favourite dish, so she loaded his plate
And with Macabre relish watched poor Malc Masticate.
N is for Norman, from Loch Ness, a Ned
With a Nylon clad body, and empty space in his head,
Fell out of a window while escaping detection,
Not murder, just Darwinian Natural selection.
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Frances Lloyd - Frances Lloyd was a speechwriter for politicians (so eminently suited for fiction, then) before moving to the north of Scotland, where she finally indulged a lifelong desire to write a crime novel. Her debut novel - NEMESIS OF THE DEAD - is set on a small Greek island and features Inspector Jack Dawes.
Frederic Lindsay - has written a number of standalone crime novels, plus a series featuring Detective Inspector Jim Meldrum with the Lothian and Borders police force - dark and brooding, with a great sense of place. His political thriller BROND (which has been described as a Glaswegian Day of The Jackal) was made into a TV movie and JILL RIPS was filmed as Jill The Ripper with Dolph Lundgren. Frederic Lindsay should be far better known than he is. His MY LIFE AS A MAN is chilling and thoughtful.
“A novel with a wholly individual flavor. Frederic Lindsay is one of the most interesting and underrated of contemporary Scottish novelists.” - The Scotsman
"Plenty of mystery and suspense... Hammond also injects warmhearted, feel-good romance and an authentic portrait of life in rural Scotland. It's a winning combination" Booklist on CRASH
Gillian Galbraith - a former advocate specialising in medical negligence (which was the focus of her first book, BLOOD IN THE WATER). She gave up law to become a full time writer. Her novels feature Edinburgh detective Alice Rice. Her most recent novel - DYING OF THE LIGHT - is the third in the series and was partly inspired by the case of prostitute killings in Ipswich.
"A vivid and exciting story, set against the background of Edinburgh's legal and medical circles. There is not a dull page from start to finish." Alexander McCall Smith
Gillian Philip - writes YA crime fiction dealing with strong themes - rape, religion, bullying, knife crime, alcoholism. The idea for her debut, BAD FAITH, came from a local news story about a man who had got lost and was never found, as well as Glasgow's Bible John murders in the 1960s.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
H is for Harold, who disliked Hankypanky
When his wife said `yes please', he replied `Oh, no thank `ee'
When shot with a Harpoon he died in the Hydrangeas
And his wife laid the blame on a party of strangers.
I is for Idris, travelling through Indonesia
When he started to suffer strange bouts of amnesia
And pains he assumed a bug of the Intestinal persuasion,
But which turned out to be Invading alien Infestation
He was taken in a spaceship to a galaxy afar, so
He may not be dead, just Incommunicado.
J is for Justin relaxing in his Jacuzzi,
When a Juvenile burst in brandishing an Uzi
Justin Jumped up, attempting a wild Judo tackle
But was mown down by Junior, enacting Day of The Jackal.
K is for Kevin, Kidnapped by Knaves wearing Khaki,
And spirited away to some caves in Karachi.
They roasted him with Kumquats and dined on his Kidneys
Made him into Kebabs which they gave their King, Sidney.
Friday, 19 June 2009
Daniel Boyle - many TV and film scriptwriting credits including Taggart, Lewis, Rebus, Val McDermid's Place of Execution and Hamish MacBeth. In 2006 he also published a PI novel called ILLUSION (through Authorhouse), featuring a Glasgow PI called John Paris who is hired to act as bodyguard for the wife of a wealthy businessman.
David Ashton - an actor (Coronation Street, Dr Who, The Last King of Scotland) who has written for television (Dalziel and Pascoe, Eastenders) and radio. James McLevy was a real-life detective from Edinburgh during the mid 19th century. He had a reputation for always getting his man, and, in the 1860s, published collections of his cases. When David Ashton discovered the stories he developed the character of McLevy and his colleagues into a radio play and subsequently novels featuring the character.
"McLevy is a sort of Victorian Morse with a heart, prowling the mean wynds and tenements of the endless fascinating city. David Ashton impeccably evokes Edinburgh so vividly that you can feel the cold in your bones and the menace of the Old Town’s steep cobbles and dark corners." - Financial Times.
David Wishart - has written 12 books (so far) in the Marcus Corvinus series, featuring a high born protagonist who investigates crimes of a sensitive nature in Imperial Rome (PARTHIAN SHOT, for example, takes place in AD 35 during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius). David Wishart is a classical scholar and the books are a mix of intriguing historical detail and the language of Sam Spade.
"This is a good, racy account of life in Roman times, with many excellent details of the intimacies of life ... Corvinius is a fast talking, wisecracking detective, who inspires confidence in the reader that nothing much will get past his shrewd eye ... This is an entertaining read, with many vivid and humorous characters who can be recognised as types universally known both in ancient Rome and today. The combination of a modern detective story with an informed and well-researched description of ancient Rome is a winner."- Crimesquad
Denise Mina - Denise Mina's Glasgow is seen through the eyes of psychologically scarred Maureen O'Donnell in Mina's Garnethill trilogy. These are very dark books, which are humanised by the wonderful character of Maureen who is deeply flawed, completely compelling, and very likeable. The trilogy is harrowing, compassionate and dark, but with bright shafts of humour. In addition, Mina writes a series featuring journalist Paddy Meehan, another unique and memorable character. The series is set in Glasgow during the 1980s and 1990s.
"What marks Mina out as one of the most remarkable writers of her generation is the quality of her prose. RESOLUTION is packed with paragraphs so finely constructed you want to fight the pull of the story to go back and read them again. It's studded with images that stick in the mind long after the book is closed ... On this evidence, Denise Mina is set to carve a niche for herself as the Crown Princess of Crime" Val Mcdermid, The Express
Dirk Robertson - Actor, musician and writer of both non-fiction and fiction. BAD DAY FOR A FAT BOY has as its premise an overweight musician who trafficks musical instruments; DEEP POWDER is about a snowboarder who discovers there's an alternative meaning to 'snow' and HIGHLAND T'ING which is a black comedy about a south Londoner who inherits a title and a fortune.
Douglas Lindsay - Barney Thomson is a really crap barber who doesn't like his colleagues, his customers - or anyone really. Added to that, he's Scotland's most misunderstood serial killer. Bizarre black comedy at its finest. In A PRAYER FOR BARNEY THOMSON, for example, Barney joins Murderers Anonymous and in THE LAST FISH SUPPER there are several strange ninety-year old men all wanting Robbie Williams haircuts. Surreal.
"Pitch-black comedy spun from the finest writing. Fantastic plot, unforgettable scenes and plenty of twisted belly laughs" - New Woman
Thursday, 18 June 2009
From the lovely people at Waterstones West End, Edinburgh. What a stellar line-up.
Waterstone's Edinburgh West End is proud to host:
Crime-fiction panel featuring authors
Tony Black, Allan Guthrie & Helen Fitzgerald
6pm Thursday 25th June 2009
Evening talk & signing. Tickets £1, redeemable against a purchase of any of the featured authors' books.
To celebrate the release of his new novel, Gutted, acclaimed Scottish crime-fiction author Tony Black is joined by the award-winning Edinburgh noir writer, Allan Guthrie (latest novel: Slammer), and up-and-coming Australian author, Helen Fitzgerald (latest novels: My Last Confession and The Devil's Staircase). The authors will be discussing and signing their latest books.
Store event contact: Andy Jamieson or Chris Barker (0131 226 2666, Waterstone's Edinburgh West End, 128 Princes Street, EH2 4AD)
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
OLD DOGS is a crime caper set in Glasgow. It features two septuagenerian ex-hookers turned con artists who decide to steal a pair of golden, jewel-encrusted Shih Tzu dogs from a museum. Unfortunately, they're not the only ones after the dogs, everyone wants to get their hands on the precious artefacts - including the elderly ladies' dodgy chauffeur who wants in on the action, a pair of Glasgow neds who want to buy their own pub, an out of work insomniac bent on revenge, and an innocent young Scottish islander who wants the dogs returned to the Buddhist monastery they came from. Oh, and there's an Australian hitman after the elderly con artists. After hours on a Saturday night turns out to be the museum's busiest time. Burglary, kidnapping, murder and some very bad decisions.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog...
A little wrap up before I go away on holiday. There will be posts while I'm away as I've worked out how to do the scheduled posts thing, but I won't be able to respond to comments until I get home. But please do comment and I promise to answer in due course.
Ian Rankin has donated the first four pages of his yet to be published book THE COMPLAINTS to the Samaritans - a charity very close to my own heart. It will be auctioned on 22 June and the winner will also receive a signed first edition when it's published in September. Amongst other items going under the hammer is a handwritten unpublished poem by Alexander McCall Smith.
I've dipped into this book a little so far and it's really good fun - Bob Moore's DON'T CALL ME A CROOK: A SCOTSMAN'S TALE OF WORLD TRAVEL, WHISKY AND CRIME, originally published in 1935. The first sentence is "It is a pity there are getting to be so many places that I can never go back to, but all the same, I do not think it is much fun a man being respectable all his life. "
Scottish publisher Two Ravens Press - a small independent press whose love of books is clear, post a thoughtful and thought-provoking blog post about the future.
I've added a new author to the list of Scottish authors. The lovely people at Hodder and Stoughton sent me a copy of Julie Corbin's TELL ME NO SECRETS which is a psychological thriller set on the east coast of Scotland.
And so to holiday. First of all a note for burglars - don't even think about it - there will be someone here. Ewan and I are off on Thursday morning for 5 days in New York and 5 days in San Francisco. Apart from meeting up with some good friends, some of my highlights are going to be:
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Who stole an Enormous Emerald from the Earl of Darjeeling
The Earl (who of the police had no Expectation)
Embalmed poor Eric following Evisceration.
F is for Frederick, next in this Fable
Who routinely drank his Friends under the table.
He Fetched up in France, on a Farm Filled with vines
Where his Felonious Flaw of Filching Fine wines
Made the Farmer Fed up of light Fingered Fred,
So Full of Fury he took a Flagon to Fred's head,
And beat him quite senseless, and with Frenzy demented
Left him Face down in a vat where poor Fred Fermented.
(PS - a wine taster Found bottled Fred "Quite shoddy
A Feeble vintage - no Flavour, no body.")
G is for George, whose fate was so Gory
That I hesitate to include poor George in this story.
For his habit of flashing - so Gross and obscene
He had an appointment with Madame Guillotine.
And, without being Gruesome, he ended up dead
But what was chopped off - well, it wasn't his head.
For George's Ghastly crime of Grim saturnalia,
Poor George went to hell - without Genitalia.
Monday, 15 June 2009
Ian Rankin talks about the successor to Rebus. And more Ian Rankin news on the graphic novel Dark Entries, due out in August from Vertigo
Alexander McCall Smith gifts a considerable sum of money to the Edinburgh Book Festival. And is featured in the Globe and Mail's Ask An Author column.
I love this summary of the 10 most stunning art thefts in world history, which includes the inspiration for Conan Doyle's Moriarty.
Aline Templeton talks about her writing habits.
And finally, and very funnily, Allan Guthrie on his Edinburgh.
Sunday, 14 June 2009
I shall resume normal service tomorrow, but in the meantime, because I'm a lazy moo, here are the first 4 verses of a very silly poem I wrote a while back (and which you may already have seen if you know me). I'm off on holiday later on this week so I thought if I can work out the technology I shall do some posts in advance to post while I'm away. The rest of the verses will be some of them (sorry), but I'll try and do some real stuff - hopefully some more entries in the alphabet of Scottish authors (especially for Bernadette, who I know is looking for more recommendations :o) ).
So, in the meantime, here we go. An A-Z Killing Spree - verses A to D
A is for Alfie, whose life was Abridged,
When pickled in Aspic and stuffed in the fridge.
Slain by the Accountant at his old Alma Mater,
And served up with Asparagus and a potater.
The Accountant - poor Al - had a motive Abstruse
Four years of hideous verbal Abuse,
From Alfie, whose tongue was as sharp as an Adder
And just made timid Al slowly madder and madder.
B brings us on to the tale of poor Bertie,
Brained by a Billiard Ball before he was 30.
At a Bed and Breakfast in Bath, where he paid with his life
For an afternoon's Bonk with a Baronet's wife.
C is for Curtis, whose end was quite silly,
Hung from a Cable Car in the mountains of Chile.
He Courted a most Captivating Calypsoing diva,
And in her had sparked a murderous fever,
When he Callously Chucked her and went out with her mother,
Her Cousin, her grandma, her aunt... and her brother.
D is for Derek, who should have known not to Dally
With Delphine, a Delicious Danceuse from the ballet.
To Dance was this Damsel's only Delight,
She Danced in the Day and she Danced in the night.
She Danced in her Dreams when one of her feet,
Gave Derek a kick in the Nutcracker Suite.
He jumped from the bed in need of pain medication,
Crashed through the window and died of Defenstration.
I'm so sorry...
Friday, 12 June 2009
"Campbell Armstrong- the literary equivalent of an AK47-is back with another high octane magnificent grit-fest that sprays out plot strands like bullets. Several dead bodies,a crimeworld coup,a missing person,an absent love interest,a hand that seems to have misplaced the rest of its body and a headless corpse in a clown suit. And thats just in the first 50 pages. Not to mention an endearingly carnaptious detective who makes Mark McManus's Taggart look chipper. Lou Perlman doesn't do romance.He doesn't do authority.He definitely doesn't do housework.But he is in a class of his own." Daily Record
Caro Ramsay - Caro wrote her first novel ABSOLUTION whilst recovering from a bad back injury. Detective Chief Inspector McAlpine is given the unenviable task of leading the hunt for “The Crucifixion Killer”. The killer has already mutilated and murdered two women, laying out their bodies in the form of a cross.It’s a gripping psychological thriller-cum-police procedural with a troubled protagonist and a great cast of supporting characters. Secrets, torments, chills and obsession.
"This is a tightly plotted and skilfully handled book. The multiple plot lines are carefully interwoven and it boasts a veritable host of interesting characters among the police and the myriad suspects and secondary roles." Eurocrime
Carol Anne Davis - Carol Anne Davis writes both true crime and crime fiction. Her crime fiction is hard-hitting stuff that covers such subjects as necrophilia, rape, sadism, torture, and noisy neighbours (I know that doesn't sound too bad given the other topics but believe me, it's pretty damn disturbing!).
Catriona McPherson - Dandy (short for Dandelion) Gilver is a respectable socialite who keeps her sleuthing secret in this light series set in 1920s Scotland.
“The strengths of Bury Her Deep all derive from the voice of the narrator. Respectably married to the deeply conventional Henry Gilver, Dandy is brisk, baffled, heroic, kindly, scandalised and — above all — very funny as she sleuths her way with through the Scottish countryside," The Guardian
Christopher Brookmyre - a writer who likes his villains to be likeable and his good guys to be edgy. He's written 12 books, including several featuring slightly dodgy investigative journalist Jack Parlabane, as well as several standalones. Surreal, anarchic, very funny. The new one due out later this summer - PANDAEMONIUM - a secret military experiment run amok is about to unleash the forces of hell on a group of unsuspecting Glasgow teenagers. Oh yes - can't wait.
"The kind of thing that Agatha Christie might have written if she'd been off her tits on manky crack" - Time Out
"Clio is that rarest of finds, a natural writer…she has an incredible flair for atmosphere, imagery, setting and description. There is a strangeness and originality about her work – halfway between historical fiction and magic realism. Reading her is like being at a sumptuous feast in a palace, just before it is stormed." - Alan Bissett
Colin Galbraith - his latest book - STELLA - is about an ageing spy and the world's most beautiful assassin. Also writes poetry and non fiction.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
It's looking good. The crime fiction events are as follows:
Saturday 15th August
Daniel Depp - 5pm-6pm
Allan Guthrie and Stuart MacBride - 6.45pm - 7.45pm
Sunday 16 August
Lin Anderson and Caro Ramsay - 6.45pm - 7.45pm
Monday 17 August
Crime Writing Workshop - 11am - 12pm (with Lin Anderson)
A L Kennedy, Ian Rankin and James Robertson - 7pm - 8pm
Tuesday 18 August
Alex Gray and Denise Mina - 6.45pm - 7.45pm
G J Moffat and Yrsa Sigurdardottir - 7.30pm - 8.30pm
Ian Rankin - 8pm - 9pm
Wednesday 19 August
Ian Rankin - 6.30 - 7.30
Thursday 20 August
Val McDermid 4.30pm - 5.30pm
Clio Gray and Catriona McPherson - 6.45pm - 7.45pm
Eugenio Fuentes and Petros Markaris - 7.30pm - 8.30pm
Friday 21 August
Paul Johnston and Robert Wilson - 6.45pm - 7.45pm
George Dawes Green - 8.30pm - 9.30pm
Saturday 22 August
Henning Mankell - 11.30am - 12.30pm
Karen Campbell and Helen Fitzgerald - 6.45pm - 7.45pm
Sunday 23 August
Alanna Knight and the Mulgray Twins - 6.45pm - 7.45pm
Quintin Jardine - 8.00pm - 9.00pm
Wednesday 26 August
Mark Billingham - 3.00pm - 4.00pm
Lindsey Davis - 4.00pm - 5.00pm
Christopher Brookmyre - 8.00pm - 9.00pm
Thursday 27 August
Andrea Maria Schenkel and Gunnar Staalsen - 7.30pm - 8.30pm
Friday 28 August
Tobias Jones and Hakan Nesser - 6.45pm - 7.45pm
Saturday 29 August
Creating a Crime Series - Workshop - 2.00pm - 3.30pm (with Aline Templeton)
James Fleming and Anne Perry - 6.45pm - 7.45pm
Sunday 30 August
Frederic Lindsay and Charles Maclean - 6.45pm - 7.45pm
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Two books out at once. The reason for that, according to her agent, is that after he read the first three chapters of DEAD LOVELY, he asked to see more of her writing - so she sent him four manuscripts. He described her books as "exciting, fresh, fun, disturbing fiction."
Helen described how odd it was to be an author, where your duties are:
- spend 8 hours a day alone
- google yourself obsessively every hour
- stand on a stage and talk about yourself (she was sorely tempted to dance while whistling as if she was on Britain's Got Talent).
Her writing is inspired by the question "Wouldn't it be terrible if..." She is a binge writer and takes about three months to write a book and then she collapses in a heap for a couple of months. She doesn't suffer from writer's block - she terms it "I can't be bothered."
MY LAST CONFESSION features the protagonist from DEAD LOVELY and Helen is currently working on a adapting the Krissie books for TV. I'm not sure how close that is to happening, but I hope it's soon! She's also written a teen novel called AMELIA O'DONOHUE IS SO NOT A VIRGIN.
Helen FitzGerald is an excellent speaker and very funny. If she comes to a town near you, do go and see her. Waiting to get a book signed at the end of the evening, she greeted a friend of hers in the queue as "Oh, hello, it's Lovely Bum." If I ever meet her again and she says "Good evening Fat Arse" I shall cry.
- The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant and David Niven. I watch it every year before Christmas and each time I watch it I start crying at an earlier point. I'm now at the stage where I'm bursting into tears as I take the DVD out of its well worn case. "The only people who grow old were born old to begin with."
- Night of The Hunter with Robert Mitchum - that singing of his sends chills down my spine every time. "There are things you do hate, Lord. Perfume-smellin' things, lacy things, things with curly hair."
- Kind Hearts and Coronets - comic genius from Alec Guinness. "It is so difficult to make a neat job of killing people with whom one is not on friendly terms."
- Little Miss Sunshine - sweet, lovely, funny and quirky. "Everyone, just... pretend to be normal."
- Newport Pagnell
- St Ives - not very thrilling, really!
- The Wire
- Mad Men
- The Apprentice
- Later with Jools Holland.
4 places you have been on vacation:
- Alaska (the most beautiful place in the whole world, and the nicest people. I spent 2 weeks there last year and 2 weeks the year before teaching creative writing in Yup'ik schools - the link is my other blog)
- Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Bracklesham Bay (and that's absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it's on the Manhood Peninsual - we used to go there for years and years when I was little and I have very fond memories of fresh doughnuts on the way down to the beach, ice cream, sandcastles, and spitting sunflower seeds at my little brother from my lofty position on the top bunk).
4 of your favorite foods:
- Aqutak (eskimo ice cream - beautiful light, fluffy, tangy stuff (sounds lovely doesn't it?) made of fish, lard, sugar and fruit (doesn't sound quite as appetising now, huh?)
4 Web sites you visit daily:
- Friend Feed Crime Fiction Room
- 4 Mystery Addicts yahoo group
- Gallery of Regrettable Food (I don't visit this one every day, as it doesn't change regularly, but I'm putting it in anyway as it deserves to be visited more often by more people)
4 places you would rather be right now:
Right now I would rather be in the loo, because I am desperate for a wee, but other than that:
- at a Ramones gig
- taking tea with Cary Grant
- sitting chatting to family/friends
- walking along the banks of the Kuskokwim river with the kids from Alaska.
4 things you want to do before you die:
- live for about another 50 years
- abseil off the Forth Road Bridge
- visit Machu Picchu
- read every book in my TBR pile
4 books you wish you could read again for the first time:
I have no idea, so I'm not going to answer this one and tag anyone, but please leave any answers in the comments if you like!
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
I went to the launch of Tony Black's latest book GUTTED this evening through in Edinburgh (us Weegies do occasionally venture through to the east coast).
It was an excellent event – Tony read a couple of excerpts of GUTTED (which is a superb book) and was then interviewed. Tony's first Gus Dury novel – PAYING FOR IT – is about human trafficking, and GUTTED has illegal dog fighting as part of the plot, so Tony was asked what it is about crime fiction that makes it such a good vehicle for exploring social issues. I liked his answer which was, essentially, that it deals with society, and people on the fringes of society; it shows human life at its worst, and at the edges.
Tony also gave a few teasers for future books – in the third Gus Dury (LOSS - out in February 2010) Gus is off the drink. Unfortunately, he's now on amphetamines. The fourth one will be called LONG TIME DEAD and Tony also has plans for a few standalones and would like to alternate between series and standalones in the future.
When asked how he came up with the character of Gus, Tony said that he didn't have a character map in mind, but he did make him look slightly similar to Robert Carlyle because that's who he would want to play him on screen! Despite also being a journalist, Tony says that the only thing he has in common with Gus is that he used to have a pair of Docs just like him. Tony's right - he's much cheerier than Gus - not to mention a lot more sober.
Being a journalist has given Tony discipline. He said you never seen a journalist standing around the newsroom waiting for the muse to strike – you just get on with it.
On the topic of publishing, Tony said that he was once rejected because the publisher “already had a Scottish author.” After that, he was rejected because “We don't want a Scottish author.” When his first book was published his publishers warned him that it would basically be ignored. It actually made quite a bit of a splash and garnered loads of good reviews. So when the second book came out Tony was told that, since the first one was so well received, the second one would be slated...That prophecy hasn't come to pass either.
Tony cited Al Guthrie, Russel McLean and Ray Banks as being authors he admires and who are doing new and exciting things in the genre (and I would definitely agree with all those). ,He is also, like me, a huge fan of Ken Bruen and said “I can die happy knowing that Ken Bruen likes my work”
And in case this brief summary of events has whetted your appetite for more Black, here are a couple of interviews with Tony. Firstly, he talks about shag pile and stuffed koalas in an interview with The Times. Secondly, one from the Press and Journal. And here's a great interview of Tony with the lovely Declan Burke over at Crime Always Pays.
Finally, I learned something new this evening. Raymond Chandler's answer to what to do when you've run out of plot was to bring in a man carrying a gun. Al Guthrie's is to throw in a rubber chicken
Monday, 8 June 2009
Publisher: Faber and Faber (5 Feb 2009)
First published in 2007 by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 978-057 1236503
Paperback 298 pages
Helen FitzGerald's debut novel, DEAD LOVELY has been described as chick-lit. Well, only if chick-lit is more "Does my bum look big in this murderous, psychotic rage?" and less obsessing about chocolate. Krissie and Sarah have been best friends since childhood. Krissie sleeps with anything that moves, and a drug fuelled encounter in a nighclub toilet in Tenerife leads to an unwanted pregnancy. Sarah, on the other hand, has been trying to get pregnant for ages and her marriage to Kyle is suffering because of it. Krissie now has post-natal depression and Sarah's obsession for a child is becoming uncontrollable, so Krissie, Sarah and Kyle decide to go on a nice little camping holiday on the West Highland Way to try to take their minds off their troubles and to reclaim some of their carefree youth. Needless to say, with two exceedingly hormonal females on board, things don't quite work out as planned.
On the very first page of DEAD LOVELY we find out that Krissie gives her best friend's husband oral sex in the shared tent, and, to add insult to injury, subsequently murders said best friend. I've always said that nothing good comes of camping. I was thinking midges and lack of toilet facilities rather than bloodshed and butchery, though.
Alternating first and third person narratives tell us how we got to where we are at the start of the book, and then continue, like a bicycle without brakes, careening downhill to an inexorable and bloodthirsty end. DEAD LOVELY touches on some very dark subjects and is gory, gruesome, touching, thrilling, heart-stopping...and often very, very funny. There's an absurdity about it which doesn't take away from the realism and believability.
I started off disliking all the characters but caring what happened to them (rather a difficult trick to pull off). In the end, the more unhinged they were, the more I came to like them (which led me to worry about my own sanity and judgement). DEAD LOVELY is a tough book to review. It's both grave and irreverent, full of glee and full of sorrow. I laughed and grimaced in equal measures.
This was the first time in ages that I have picked up a book and read it straight through. I still don't quite know what to make of it, apart from the fact that I loved it, and I shall be snapping up the rest of Helen FitzGerald's books forthwith. Great fun - the lovechild of Bridget Jones and Hannibal Lecter.
On Saturday 13th June at 1.30pm Helen FitzGerald will be at Eastwood Park Theatre discussing her work and signing copies of her books. Her most recent book is MY LAST CONFESSION which has the following tips for parole officers:
1. Don’t smuggle heroin into prison.
2. Don’t drink vodka to relieve stress.
3. Don’t French kiss a colleague to get your boyfriend jealous.
4. Don’t snort speed.
5. Don’t spend more time with murderers than with your son.
6. Don’t invite crack-head clients to your party.
Yep. Looks good to me.
Sunday, 7 June 2009
I've also added two new Scottish authors to the list. The first of these is Gordon Brown, whose debut novel, FALLING is out on Tuesday 10th June. The book looks good. "Charlie Wiggs is a quiet, unassuming accountant who has worked in a Glasgow firm for thirty years. When he agreed to look after a package for a work colleague he didn’t expect to be flung from the roof of a forty storey building. He didn’t intend to be caught up in a world of money laundering and blackmail. Nor did he ever think he would find himself being hunted by a vicious criminal gang." I just have one problem - his name. My Google Alerts are exploding. I put in search terms of 'Gordon Brown +Falling' - possibly a mistake this week.
Another new name to me is Colin Galbraith, whose paranormal mystery novella STELLA is published today.
It's a busy week for book launches this week. First of all, I will be through in Edinburgh for the launch of Tony Black's GUTTED on Tuesday June 9th at Waterstone's Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh.
On Wednesday, I will miss the launch of Gordon Brown's FALLING (which takes place in Borders, Glasgow, on Wednesday 10 June at 6.30pm) as I will be attending the book launch for Helen FitzGerald's MY LAST CONFESSION which is taking place Glasgow Watersones, Sauchiehall Street at the same time.
Talking of Helen FitzGerald, on Saturday morning I bought her debut novel DEAD LOVELY. By Saturday evening I had finished it. It's been ages since I have sat and read a book straight through like that. Deliciously wicked - chick lit meets CSI with a great dollop of very black humour thrown in.
And finally, another book festival for Scotland in Inverness, from 5th to 13th June, with crime fiction authors Karen Campbell and Sophie Hannah, plus a talk on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Friday, 5 June 2009
The Glasgow version of the ned is a quaintly dressed specimen. He's invariably kitted out in a shell suit (generally white or various shades of blue) that rustles cheaply when he walks, and causes sparks as his legs rub together. It usually has 'Lacoste' or 'Fila' emblazoned on the back, front, and all down the side of the legs. He wears trainers of the expensive variety, but the only exercise he does is kicking empty cans down the street. His socks are white sports socks and also have a famous brand name down the side. You can easily tell this because for some reason, the fashion this year is for shellsuit bottoms to be tucked into the socks, leaving about 4 inches of sock showing. Perched on top of this lovely ensemble is a baseball cap. Often Burbery. When the hell did Burbery start making baseball caps? And, more to the point, who told these arbiters of fashion that a blue and white nylon shell suit went like a dream with a beige, red and black checked cap? Anyway whatever baseball cap they're wearing, it too has a name emblazoned on it.
Seeing a ned is like seeing one of those taxis covered in advertising. I keep expecting to see one lurching along the street carrying a sign saying "This ned sponsored by Reebok. To advertise on similar neds call...."
Without the baseball caps their hair is short and stuck down with enough gel to float a battleship. Either that or he has a Barlinnie haircut (ie shaved in jail) Should you be unfortunate enough to see a ned naked, you can still recognise him without his flamboyant plumage, by the enormous gold sovereign rings. About 8 of them. The female ned is distinguished by the 18 gold necklaces round her neck (most of them saying 'World's Greatest Daughter/Sister/Mum') and the ponytail poking through the back of her baseball cap (the Glasgow facelift).
Anyway, back to my three specific neds (who were indistinguishable from the rest of their obnoxious breed so I don't need to describe them any further.) As I walked past them they fell silent and stared at me. I carried on walking and heard the ominous sound of the crackling of shell-suited thighs as they followed me. There was still no-one else around. Oh dear. They surrounded me so I had to stop and one of them said:
"Gonnae gi's yer money". Several responses floated through my head:
"It's 'Gonnae gi's yer money PLEASE' young man."
"Listen, I've been mugged three times - the first time I got hurt, the second time no-one got hurt and the third time the mugger got hurt, so come on punks, make my day."
In the end I settled for a stern "No."
"Aye ye are."
"No I'm not."
"Aye ye are."
Scintillating though this conversation was, I tried to move off and they closed in until I thought I was going to be smothered in nylon. And the smell of cheap aftershave was making my eyes water.
"Gi's yer purse."
OK, I was a bit fed up now. I was wearing cheap unlabelled clothes, a pair of silver earrings and a silver watch. Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Tweedledumber were covered from head to foot - literally - in labels, and between them they were wearing enough gold sovereign rings to send a small gold mine owner into an orgasmic frenzy (by the way, it's the gold mine that's small, not the owner. I have no idea of the average size of goldmine owners).
I could tell they weren't serious (as in slash my face with a razor serious). And I was more exasperated than scared, so I said the first thing that came into my head, which for some reason happened to be: "Look, I'm tired, I'm p*ssed off, and I couldn't find any boots that I liked so F*ck off." So they did.
I wish I could say that they limped off licking their wounds from the ass whooping I gave them, using my finely honed self defence moves. Well, I COULD say that, but it wouldn't be true. Instead, they just slithered off like poorly co-ordinated lizards badly in need of a makeover.
So there you go.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
"be prepared to be manipulated and have your moral compass reset by this master storyteller. This book is clever, tightly constructed, immensely satisfying and peopled with a cast of completely believable characters" Dumfries and Galloway Standard
Bill Knox - Bill Knox was a crime reporter for a Glasgow newspaper. He began writing crime novels in the 1950s and wrote over 50 novels - many of them published under pseudonyms such as Michael Kirk, Robert MacLeod and Noah Webster. He wrote 24 novels featuring Glasgow detectives Thane and Moss between 1957 and 1997. After his death in 1999, Martin Edwards completed the 25th in the series - THE LAZARUS WIDOW. Knox also presented a true crime show on Scottish television, asking for the public's help in solving crimes.
"The expertise is interesting, the invention good and the writing literate and lively." The Sunday Times
Bill Liversidge - Bill Liversidge has published his crime thriller A HALF LIFE OF ONE on the internet. It's about a man who gets into serious financial difficulties. His creditors are chasing him, and his wife is considering leaving him, so he decides to kidnap a celebrity businesswoman as a means of solving his problems.
"Events rush ahead at a furious pace in this energetic novel, carrying the reader along. Nick's bluster and self-delusion are realistically portrayed" Maxine Clarke, Eurocrime.
Bruce Durie - born in Kirkcaldy in Fife, Bruce Durie is a genealogist and historian He has an interest in Victorian crime and recreated the books of J E P Muddock, who wrote stories about Dick Donovan, Glasgow Detective during the late 19th and early 20th century, (as well as Russian Secret Service agent Michael Danevitch, Vincent Trill of the Detective Service, private detective Tyler Tatlock and early forensic criminologist Fabian Field). Durie then created his own Victorian detective - war hero Captain David McArdle of the Black Watch. Supposedly the first in the series, THE MURDER OF YOUNG TOM MORRIS was set in St Andrews in the 1870s and is, apparently, taken from the writings of a Chief Constable of the time. It doesn't look to be available and I can't find any sign of a second!
"...prosaic, practical touch that notes detail and if some of the stories require a certain leap of faith, it simply adds to the fun." Scottish Review of Books
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
For fans of Alexander McCall Smith, he'll be taking readers' questions at the Globe and Mail until June 10th.
And in Festival news, apart from the fact that I am really looking forward to seeing The Kings of Leon, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at T In The Park (which I'm sure nobody reading this is excited about), and I'm seriously thinking of going to the Wickerman Festival there are a number of book festivals in Scotland which are looking good.
The Edinburgh Book Festival programme will be released on 11 June. The festival takes place between 15th and 31st August and is always great to visit.
The Borders Book Festival (between 18th and 21st June) has a number of excellent events, including Ian Rankin and Christopher Brookmyre
A stellar line up including Iain Banks, Ali Smith and Roddy Doyle will be at the Wigtown Book Festival from 25th September to 4th October.
All those - and you even get to use proper loos...
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Alastair Sim - his first book - THE UNBELIEVERS - was published on June 1st (congratulations Alastair!). A historical set in Victorian Edinburgh. The blurb says: 'Scotland's richest man has been shot dead and dumped down a well. Was the Duke of Dornoch murdered by one of the miners whose wages he cut because of 'market forces'? Was he killed in return for his part in clearing the Highlands of their people? Did a discarded lover take their final revenge? Inspector Allerdyce and Sergeant McGillivray VC must find out before the killer strikes again. But their search, from the material heights of Victorian society to its moral dregs, threatens to overturn everything Allerdyce believes and loves.'
Allan Guthrie - Five books, one novella - all of them dark, warped, gritty, original, funny, and sheer genius. I love his writing and his latest, SLAMMER, is one hell of a book. It's about a prison officer who's...well, let's just say he's a tad stressed. SLAMMER grabs you by the throat, pounds your head against the wall, and then bites your nose off and spits out the gristle.
"Guthrie writes with an urgency, energy, cynical realism and mastery of casual violence that is rarely encountered in British crime writing." The Times
"As in all the best espionage stories, the personal and the political are inextricably entangled. " The Spectator
Monday, 1 June 2009
Two completely different sounding Sherlock Holmes films are currently in production. First of all the Guy Ritchie directed film starring Robert Downey Jr as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson - with nary a deerstalker in sight. Here's the trailer. The second stars Sacha Baron Cohen as Holmes and Will Ferrell as Watson. Hmmmmmm, I think I know which one I will prefer.
Here's an article on Aberdeen author Bill Kirkton. I've never read any of his books and I need to rectify that.
A couple of nice reviews for Ray Banks, just in time for his birthday on June 3rd. June must be a bumper month for Scottish crime fiction authors because it's Val McDermid's birthday on June 4th And Al 'Sunshine' Guthrie's on June 5th. Happy birthday all - I wish you great reviews, huge advances, and lots of chocolate.
And finally, Kate Atkinson says "not being published would be great."