Sunday, 4 December 2011

Eyeball In My Martini

Hello, Dear Reader. I hope you had a lovely weekend.

No live version of today's Cramps blog title, I'm afraid.

Russel McLean is looking for some love and, in return, he'll give you some too.

Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG makes the Kansas City Star's top books of 2011. The book also gets a mention in the NYT's Sunday paperback reviews. And both Denise Mina and Philip Kerr get a mention in the New York Times' notable crime fiction books of 2011. Philip Kerr also features in the St Louis Post Dispatch's 2011 list. Audiobooks of the year in the Independent include Ian Rankin's THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD and Anthony Horowitz' THE HOUSE OF SILK.

On the other side of the equation Philip Kerr, Alexander McCall Smith and Val McDermid recommend their favourites in The Scotsman. Philip Kerr recommends Ian Rankin's THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD and Val recommends the truly brilliant BLACK FLOWERS by Steve Mosby.

UK Chica reviews THE FALLS by Ian Rankin, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reviews THE COMPLAINTS and Mystery File reviews DEAD SOULS.

A hunt for Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Ramotswe in Sleuthing Botswana.

Aberdeen MP Anne Begg is a big fan of crime fiction, and Scottish authors feature heavily on her list.

Over at the Blasted Heath Blog, I get to talk about sex (Dad, that link is not for you. Have some Antiques Roadshow instead.)

Last Monday, I went to the Christopher Brookmyre event put on by Doug Johnstone. Here, finally (blame two essays), is my brief summary of the event. Luckily, most of it is not printable, but if you do get a chance to see Chris Brookmyre, do ask him about the roast chicken story, about the mad woman from Dundee Book Events and the crucifix story.

Brookmyre also told a story about doing an event in Clydebank Library. He noted that a library open after hours, with the lights on, is a bampot magnet. "It's the flame, and all the moths are wearing Burbery". A bloke in a Burbery cap came in and hovered for a while before telling Brookmyre that his dad "loves the Glasgow crime books." He told Brookmyre that he had never actually heard of him, but that he would get his dad a book. "Now, what was it you done?" It became clear that the guy thought that Brookmyre was a criminal. Brookmyre was tempted to say "Ah murdered hunnerds of guys" but, in the end, settled for telling him it was fiction. "What, you're making it up?" said the guy.

Brookmyre said that he started writing at the age of 6, and most of his early stuff was a straight rip-off of what he was reading (he spent two months writing nothing but stories about sharks eating people after seeing Jaws). He had a great teacher at school and, when he wrote two versions of the same story in class (one cleaned up and one with swearing and necrophilia) she told him it was the best thing he had ever written. She supported him in writing it and gave it to the headmaster. Unfortunately, she did not choose her words carefully enough when she said to the headmaster "I think you really ought to see this."

Brookmyre wrote three books before his fourth was accepted. He said that for some reason publishers are not very tolerant of "books that are shite."

He worked for a newspaper in Edinburgh, doing football reports at a time when the results were brought to the paper by carrier pigeon (Hibs and Hearts both had pigeon coops on their roof. Oh, yes, there's another story I can't tell about one of the misprints...

He talked about crime writers he admired - including Val McDermid and Mark Billingham (and, incidentally, said that he thought Mark had done well to get out of the playground titles (Scaredy Cat and Sleepy Head) before he was reduced to Specky Four Eyes and Smelly Bum). This then led to him to worrying about Sue Grafton who must have thought that A Is For Alibi was a good idea until she got to K is For Kicking The Arse Out Of It. He wondered how she feels as she gets close to having to write a mystery where an important plot point has to revolve around a xylophone).

The follow up to WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED will be called WHEN THE DEVIL DRIVES and will be out next summer. Winning the Wodehouse prize was the least comfortable Brookmyre has ever felt professionally as he had to do a photo shoot with a very rare breed of pig that had its own escort. The pig wouldn't come out of its trailer (Hollywood style huff) and sent its piglets instead. Carrying a large jeroboam of champagne and surrounded by tiny pigs, Brookmyre said he looked like a hobbit. He's also writing a sci-fi/computer gaming novel called BEDLAM which allows him to make up a complete universe.

At the end, he read out a brilliant 'Irvine Welsh does Jane Austen story'. I wish you could have heard it, Dear Reader.

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