Sunday 26 December 2010

Looking Forward to ...

Well, Dear Reader, this will probably be my last post until January 3rd or 4th as I have a very busy few days of jollillities coming up. So, first of all, thank you for your company during 2010, for visiting Badsville, for putting up with me, for your comments and your e-mails, for the laughs and insights and friendship. And to those of you who humoured me with a story for the Ramones Challenge, a big Gabba-Gabba-Hey. I hope to see many of you during 2011 in person, so that I can give you a hug.

My best of 2010 post will have to wait until the new year, but in the meantime, I shall sign off for 2010 with a list of the Scottish crime fiction coming out in 2011. I've also included the paperback version where the hardback came out in 2010. If I've missed anyone out, I'm sorry! And please let me know.

Where I've linked to Amazon, it's only because I couldn't find a synopsis anywhere else easily.

Lots and lots of lovely stuff to look forward to:

Ray Banks - WOLF TICKETS (serialised in three editions of Needle Mag)

Stuart MacBride - DARK BLOOD

Charles Cumming - THE TRINITY SIX

Aline Templeton - CRADLE TO GRAVE
Doug Johnstone - SMOKEHEADS
Peter May - BLOWBACK
Philip Kerr - FIELD GREY
Quintin Jardine - THE LONER

Gerald Hammond - SNITCH
Gillian Galbraith - NO SORROW TO DIE

Alexander McCall Smith - A CONSPIRACY OF FRIENDS
Helen Fitzgerald - HOT FLUSH (but you can already get it as an audiobook)
Ken McClure - DUST TO DUST
Shirley McKay - TIME AND TIDE

Christopher Brookmyre - WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED
Craig Robertson - SNAPSHOT
Karen Campbell - PROOF OF LIFE
Quintin Jardine - GRIEVOUS ANGEL

Helen Fitzgerald - THE DONOR

Sean Black - GRIDLOCK


Errrr...nothing, apparently.

And some non-Scottish books I am really looking forward to in 2011:
Charlie Williams - ONE DEAD HEN - August
Steve Mosby - BLACK FLOWERS - April
Joe Lansdale - HYENAS in January and DEVIL RED in March
Donald Ray Pollock - THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME - July
Christa Faust - CHOKE HOLD - October
Megan Abbott - THE END OF EVERYTHING - July
Heath Lowrance - THE BASTARD HAND - March
Bill Fitzhugh - THE EXTERMINATORS - April
Kevin Wignall - BLOOD (first in his Mercian Trilogy for YA readers) - Autumn

I'm sure I shall think of plenty more as soon as I've pressed send.

And, on the' yes please could I have some' front, my wishes for 2011 are new books from Allan Guthrie, Eddie Muller, Daniel Woodrell, Scott Phillips, Declan Burke, Reed Farrel Coleman, Mark Haskell Smith, Ken Bruen, Anthony Neil Smith and a non-YA book from Kevin Wignall. It's not much to ask for is it?

So, what books are you looking forward to (Scottish or otherwise), and which authors do you wish would have something new out in 2011.

Lots of love, and a wonderful new year to everyone. May 2011 bring you everything you wish for yourselves, and much more besides.


Thursday 23 December 2010

I Wish You A Merry

What with my Mum trying to put everyone she meets off reading my stuff, you'd think that was enough family support of that type, wouldn't you? Well, you'd be wrong. A couple of days ago, my brother arrived home for Christmas. The following conversation took place shortly after.

Darren: I've read OLD DOGS.

Me: Have you?

Darren: Yes, it was excellent.

Me: Thanks, Darren. What was it about, by the way? [note: Darren has Aspergers, a very short attention span, and a tendency to exaggerate - this is, therefore, a normal type of question chez nous in order to ascertain the verisimilitude of what is being said.]

Darren: It was about...ummm...a detective who solves a crime?

Me: Nice try. You didn't read it, did you?

Darren: Well, no, I didn't read all of it...but what I did read was excellent.

Me: How much did you read?

Darren: Half a page.

So, there you go. My mum refuses to read OLD DOGS (not strictly true - she gave up at the sentence "Displays of wealth always gave him a hard-on and these two old bags were dripping with it". Since that's the second sentence, she did, therefore, actually manage to read the first sentence without too much distress), my partner says he might get round to it at some point but that I shouldn't hold my breath, my brother managed half a page before he apparently lapsed into a coma, and my Dad read it and said "You're a bit odd, aren't you, our Donna?"

Anyway, onto the news. The Geeky Girls call Denise Mina's A SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY "deliciously dark and suspenseful" and Horrorview enjoyed it too. And Mysteries Etc loves M C Beaton's BUSY BODY. Margot Kinberg puts Val McDermid's THE GRAVE TATTOO under the spotlight.

Karen Dunbar does Denise Mina at Glasgow's Oran Mor. While Mina pens a ghost story for Radio Scotland's Ghost Stories at Christmas between December 27th and 31st.

Ian Rankin, amongst others, on his favourite moment from The Archers.

Spinetingler has a collection of 'the best crime fiction of 2010' in one handy place.

Bid to be a character in a Stuart MacBride novel and help Buckie Lifeboat Service. And here's a Christmas present from Stuart MacBride - an exclusive short story in the Aberdeen Evening Express.

And, finally, a wee awwwwww story from my bus route.

And, finally finally, I can just imagine the sniggering in the newsroom as this article was written. "It's a right cock-up"? Indeed.

Have a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, everyone. Back on Boxing Day. Xxx

Monday 20 December 2010

Now My Mum's At It...

It's not just my Dad who can be confusing. My Mum was sitting reading the paper - which is always a fraught time of the morning, since her conversation is interspersed with such gems as "Barbara Windsor is no better than she should be" and "I don't know why they don't just set fire to it" (don't ask). Today's discussion went like this:

Mum: I don't understand that Looky-Loo thingy.

Me: That what?

Mum: You know. That Justin LeStrange thing.

I, of course, am still none the wiser.

Mum: The com-poo-ter thing. [That is how computer is pronounced, by the way]

Me: WikiLeaks? Julian Assange?

Mum: Yes, that's what I said.

I mentioned in my previous post that my parents live in a wee retirement community. It's lovely, and very friendly. Every Christmas, there is a very detailed Christmas display with lights and snowmen and Santas and elves. Here's a picture of it.

But wait - let's get a close-up of Scary Santa and Evil Elf, shall we? Yep, that's right. It's a good job this place is full of pensioners, rather than children. I've only been here 2 nights and both of them have been filled with nightmares about that elf.

I think Evil Elf is saying to Scary blue eyeshadow-wearing Santa "Watch it, perv. You do that again and it won't just be your thumb I'll tie around your pipe."

My Mum goes for a walk up the corridor a few times a day. When the display was in the process of being built she was shocked to see what she thought was half a naked body lying in the corridor. It was Evil Elf when he was without his Elf costume. So, just Evil then.

I am staying upstairs while I'm here, in the building's guest room. In the room is a camp bed which was taken downstairs for my brother to sleep on. We had a little discussion about who was to carry it:

Mum: I'll send your Dad up for it.

Me: Dad's nearly 80. Darren (my brother) and I will bring it down.

Mum: Darren can help your Dad. But don't let Darren walk backwards down the stairs.

Me: Why?

Mum: I don't want him falling and breaking his neck.

Me: What about Dad? What about an 80 year-old man falling downstairs and breaking his neck?

My Mum shrugged, thought for a moment and said: Your Dad and Darren can carry the campbed. You walk downstairs in front of them, then you'll break their fall.

Cheers, Mater.

However, I finally saw her get her come-uppance today. She introduced me to one of her neighbours today. A dear, tiny 90 year-old lady who said to me "How do you put up with your mum, dear? She's a bit..." and then she made a face that I wish I could have bottled and dragged out to show my Mum from time to time.

Since I am currently writing a screenplay about a retirement community, this is all invaluable research...

Anyway, I promise I won't bore you with family tales any more. On to the Scottish Crime Fiction news.

Noirboiled Notes has a quickie with Allan Guthrie.

The Globe and Mail reviews Louise Welsh's NAMING THE BONES, the Irish Independent reviews Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG, the Book Faerie reviews Ian Rankin's THE COMPLAINTS and Shelf Abuse reviews Denise Mina's A SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY, as does Blogging For A Good Book.

See Lin Anderson, Karen Campbell and Aline Templeton at Edinburgh's Waterstone's West End on February 3rd. And Tony Black is in Florida on January 20th. Lucky Tony.

The Guardian talks about authors twittering.

Scriblets looks at Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy.

Ian Rankin on Deutsche Welle.

Bertie's Christmas by Alexander McCall Smith in The Scotsman. And an article in the Telegraph on McCall Smith and online novels.

The Guardian talks about the difficulties of bringing crime fiction to TV, particularly in terms of casting (I love the line "It's like coming home for Christmas and finding your Nan has been replaced by Dougray Scott.")

Saturday 18 December 2010

My Dad Reviews...

As you may be aware, Dear Reader, my Dad is a frequent commenter to this blog (under the pseudonym 'Anonymous'), occasionally dropping a facetious comment (which he believes are funny, for some bizarre reason). You may also be aware that he reviews books for me from time to time. Well, when I arrived yesterday, to spend Christmas with my Mum and Dad, almost as soon as I walked through the door he accosted me in an accusing manner.

"You're missing a Scottish crime fiction author from your website."

"Hello, Dad. How are you? I love you. Lovely to see you."

"Never mind that. I read a book by this author and it's very good. And she's not on your list."

"Well, I'm really sorry about that. Let me just dump my suitcase and take my coat off and I'll rectify the situation. What's her name?"

"I can't remember."

"OK, what's the book called?"

"I can't remember that, either."

"Do you remember what the main character's name was?"


"This might be a little bit tough, then, eh Dad? Are you sure it was a woman?"

"Of course I'm sure it was a woman, you foolish child. It's an excellent book. I really enjoyed it. Oh, it's set in Whitley Bay, and the author was born in Scotland."

A-ha - tangible clues, at last. But wait, Memoro The Amazing Memory Man had not yet finished.

"I remember her name was like a man's name... Michaela...that was it."

OK, now we were getting somewhere.

"Oh, and her surname was a town on the Isle of Man, I remember."


"That's it! Michaela Douglas. And it's a one word title."

Excellent. I opened Google. Typed in "Whitley Bay" +"crime fiction" +Michaela Douglas.

Nothing. I said as much to my Dad.

"You're obviously not looking properly," was his response. "I know, I put it in one of the bookcases so that other people can read it."

I've mentioned before that my parents live in a flat in a lovely retirement community (a place where my Mum does all she can to put her neighbours off reading anything I write). So off we toddled, up the corridor, to the bookshelves. No Michaela Douglas. Gone. Just a space where my Dad had put the book.

We stood, looking at the bookcase for a wee while. Enter David, one of my Mum and Dad's neighbours - a very cheerful and cheeky gentleman.

He saw us looking at the bookshelves.

"Looking for a book?"

"I put a book here yesterday, a good book. And now it's gone," said my Dad.

"Oh dear, that's a shame," said David. "I'm reading a good book at the moment. I found it in the bookcase yesterday. About a murder. Set in Whitley Bay."

Dad and I looked at each other.

"Who is it by?" I said, excitedly.

David thought for a moment. "Do you know, I can't remember."

"What's it called?" said my Dad.

David thought for another moment. "I can't actually remember that, either. But it's in my living room."

By this time, I had begun to think that not only did the book not actually exist, but that I, myself, was actually in a book. Written by Kafka. Off we trotted to David's flat. Where we eventually found the book with a one word title, written by Michaela Douglas. Only it was a two word title. Written by Danielle Ramsay. My Dad was right - a name like a man's name and a town on the Isle of Man...just...not the correct ones.

As an addendum to this story, on the way back down the corridor we met Brian, the man who my Mum had tried to persuade not to read my book last time. "Oh, it's the author lady," he said.

"I'd like to read your book," said David.

We were outside the open door of my Mum and Dad's flat at the time. From inside came the panicked cry. "No, you don't." Yes, she was at it again. But David would not be stopped. "It's got a lot of swearing in," said my Mum. "And I don't know where she knows those words from. Our Donna never swears." I tried to look angelic. Both Dad and David looked at me, dubiously.

Oh, one more thing. David has promised to review both BROKEN SILENCE and OLD DOGS. So next time, this post may be titled "My Dad and My Dad's Mate Review..."

Anyway, without further ado, a reminder of my Dad's tastes and then a review of BROKEN SILENCE by Michaela Douglas...errrrr...Danielle Ramsay. And Dad, I've now added her to the author list.

My Dad:

DISLIKES: romance, books that have too much swearing in - I heard a lot of harrumphing when he was reading OLD DOGS. Also doesn't like horror, and books with vampires, pterodactyls and the living dead in them. Also, something called an ungoliant. No, I have no idea either - I think my Dad has been at the sherry.

: thrillers, spy novels, war stories and books with elves in (the elves can swear their little heads off as far as he's concerned). Oh, and maps. He bloody loves maps. If you ever meet him, for goodness' sake don't ask him for directions. Not even to the bathroom.

BROKEN SILENCE - Danielle Ramsay
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: October 2010
This is a book that you will love or hate. It is a first novel by this author and is set in Whitley Bay, in the North East near Newcastle. It tells the story of a young girl, Sophie Washington, who is found murdered and mutilated. The crime is investigated by DI Jack Brady, assisted by his partner DS Harry Conrad. She has been known by DI James Matthews who was with her on the night she died, and who originally started to investigate the murder.The chief suspects are the people who should have been able to help her - her step father, ex school teacher, and of course James Matthews.

The story takes you through the underworld of Whitley Bay and the undergrowth of a local park where all the low life of the area congregate. Brady, who has just returned to work after being shot and losing his wife through divorce, is, of course, feeling very sorry for himself. He stumbles through the investigation to a successful conclusion, to his own surprise and that of the reader.

This is a story well worth reading, even though I had guessed the identity and reasons of the killer before I was three parts through. It was well written and the characters were believable. I enjoyed the setting too. I'd like to read more by this author. I can only recommend it be put on your TBR lists.

Friday 17 December 2010

Fraught Notes and Intimate Questions

The latest in the sign on the door saga. This appeared this morning. I particularly like the fact that the word SENSE is written three times as large as everything else, and this is then followed by a normal sized thanks. What you can't see from this photo is that it's a whole A4 sheet, it's taped wonkily to the door at eye level and the marks the pen has made in the paper get deeper and deeper as the note goes on. Also, the paper appears to have been torn out of a notebook with some force. Someone is not happy, while still remaining polite. I await developments with interest.

Part 1 of an exclusive short story by Alexander McCall Smith in The Big Issue.

Murder By Type reviews Philip Kerr's FIELD GREY. The Bookbag reviews Denise Mina's A SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY. Lambda Literary on Val McDermid's FEVER IN THE BONE and Musings on Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES.

Apparently Stuart MacBride will be giving an intimate question and answer session in Aberdeen on January 12th. Ooo-errrr. And a reminder that if you're in Edinburgh on New Years Day, you can go and see Ian Rankin and Lin Anderson in conversation.

News about the plans for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's former home.

Sarah Weinman's best of 2010.

Following on from the excellent Carry A Poem, it's now Let's Get Lyrical time.

A salutary tale for writers from Michael Malone.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

"I guess I'm nuthin' but a gorehound born to thrill."

First of all, just a reminder that it's not to late to win my copy of RUT by the marvellous Scott Phillips.

I have just ordered my copy of the splendid Out Of The Gutter magazine, This edition is billed as US vs UK and not only has a story by the brilliant Tony Black (author of Edinburgh set Gus Dury series), but also my warped and lovely friend Jools, and is described thusly "That's right, the Americans are ready to kick some British ass again. It's gonna be drunken, drug-addled, overweight, semi-literate assholes fresh from the firing range pitted against mild mannered, tea sipping, jagged-toothed, sheep-shagging, disarmed blokes who like to dress in drag." There you go, how can you resist?

And more short story goodness - Needle Mag of Noir 2010 Winter issue is now available. There looks to be some brilliant stuff inside, including part one of a new Ray Banks novel called Wolf Tickets - worth buying for that alone, methinks. My copy is going to have to wait to be ordered until after Christmas as shipping to the UK is twice the price of the magazine (ouch!), but for those of you in the US, shipping is currently free with a special discount code.

A few reviews - first of all, a look at the not quite yet available SHATTER THE BONES by Stuart MacBride. Next, a review of THE COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES, VOLUME 1. A policeman's view of Kate Atkinson's HUMAN CROQUET, while thinks she deserves a Booker Prize for STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG. Milo's Rambles reviews Ken McClure's DONOR and Notes For Novel Readers reviews Aly Monroe's WASHINGTON SHADOW. Spinetingler Magazine looks at Val McDermid's TRICK OF THE DARK,

A day in the life of Christopher Brookmyre. And Denise Mina on the Saturday Review. Both are on the BBC iPlayer, so I'm not sure how long they'll be there.

The lovely Crimeficreader is having a series of Books For Christmas posts. Excellent stuff.

The real life No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

Peter May on writing and wine.

And, finally, various writers and musicians share their musical obsessions, which made me think about my own. In the days when we had one of those combined wooden hi-fi stereo and cabinet things - you know, one of those things where you could keep the trimphone on the top. It was probably next to the cocktail cabinet where you stored your Cinzano and your Martini. You opened the top and inside there was a record player. There was a combined place for speakers and cupboard for keeping your records in. You could listen to them when you weren't watching It's A Knockout on the black and white telly.

There were several songs from my parents' record collection that I used to want played over and over. Dorothy Provine's Don't Bring Lulu (my Mum's collection), Hank Locklin's We're Gonna Go Fishing (my Dad's collection), Roger Miller's King of the Road (Dad again), and the wonderful Ottilie Patterson's Taint No Sin and I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (Mum). I seem to recall that the first record I ever bought was T.Rex' Metal Guru but since I was only 10 when it came out, it was more likely to belong to my mother the rock chick (which would probably make my own first record purchase...ahem...The Bay City Rollers' Shang-A-Lang (before you ask - Eric. And yes, my mum turned up a pair of blue crimplene trousers for me and sewed some tartan down the sides). Anyway, between Mum and I there was a lot of T.Rex played around the house in the 1970s. Another record I remember playing to death was Althea and Donna's Uptown Top Ranking.

And then I discovered punk. From then on, my parents and I never shared a record collection (although I did teach my Mum how to do the chicken strut to The Cramps' I Ain't Nuthin' But A Gorehound (which she insisted on calling it 'the turkey trot') and she is quite partial to The Ramones. Two musical items which I miss - my bootleg cassette tape of a Siouxsie and the Banshees gig at the Brixton Academy (nicked out of my car), and my picture disc of Alien Sex Fiend's Ignore The Machine which got trampled on at a (very rowdy) party. Ah, watching those videos reminds me how much my little heart beat for Lux Interior and Nik Fiend...

So, dear reader, before I blow the dust of my LP collection and wallow in nostalgia for the rest of the evening, what were some of your musical obsessions?

Monday 13 December 2010

Knobs, Coffins and Ranting

Do you have "a knob-sized coffin?" If so, Helen Fitzgerald needs your help. Funny, last time I saw her, she was looking for a, Donna, remember that your father reads this blog. And that Helen will probably kill you.

The lovely people over at Crimesquad review Aline Templeton's CRADLE TO GRAVE. Caro Ramsay's DARK WATER and Karen Campbell's SHADOW PLAY this month.

Would you let Stuart MacBride direct a kidnapping scene? HarperCollins will. Good stuff.

A brilliant piece on Denise Mina in the Glasgow Herald. And, as a double bonus for my dear friend, Bobbie, who is a big fan of Denise Mina, here's a review of A SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY.

Irvine Welsh picks his five favourite crime novels - including Louise Welsh and Tony Black - nice one.

The lovely Declan Burke with his top 10 thrillers for 2010. And the equally lovely Nigel Bird picks his top 10, which includes a fair smattering of Scottish authors, for Crimefactory Magazine. I probably owe him some money now. Cheers, Nigel!

A few reviews for Philip Kerr. One for THE GRID, one for the Berlin Noir trilogy, and The Independent reviews FIELD GREY.

Dorte discovers one of my favourite authors - Karen Campbell.

The Leslie Flint Educational Trust on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Edmonton Journal reviews Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG.

And, finally, I really, really should stop reading articles like this one by Edward Docx in The Guardian. I didn't care much for the one and a half Stieg Larsson books I read, but I care even less for Mr Docx saying that crime fiction is constrained and limited. I agree with Mr Docx that it bothers me when I see articles by people sneering at literary fiction. However, then Mr Docx boiled my pish by doing exactly the same thing - sneering at crime fiction and writing the whole genre off with a sweep of his pen and a witty bon mot. Why why WHY can people who take such stances not see that there is good and bad in every genre? I'm not the best read person in the whole world but I've read some wonderful literary fiction. I've also read some absolute twaddle (you don't want to get me started on Alain Robbe-Grillet's LA JALOUSIE. No, really you don't). I've read LOTS of superb crime fiction. Crime fiction that is most definitely not constrained or limited. In many cases it bloody well soars. I've also read some utter shite crime fiction. I just prefer not to talk about it here. I prefer to reserve my energies and my blog posts to revel in the books that I have read and loved.

So, rant over. I am going to unboil my pish and, instead, perhaps send Mr Docx something to broaden his knowledge of crime fiction. Something really bloody brilliant that will make him sit back and say "Hey, maybe this genre stuff is pretty good after all." Some Daniel Woodrell, for example. Or Megan Abbott's BURY ME DEEP, Eddie Muller's THE DISTANCE, David Corbett's THE DEVIL'S REDHEAD, or Joe Lansdale. I'm not even going to start listing Scottish writers or I would be here all day. What it comes down to is that there are good books and bad books - that's all. In fact, who am I to say what's a good book, or a bad book? There are books I like and books I don't. There are books Mr Docx likes and books he doesn't. And that's it.

Friday 10 December 2010

Ruts, Egg-Cups and Post-Apocalyptic Dustbins

Hello, Dear Reader. How do you fancy a free book? A while ago I posted about my excitement at receiving a copy of RUT, by the wonderful Scott Phillips. I've been a big fan since reading THE ICE HARVEST, and his historical novel COTTONWOOD (which is like Little Whore House On The Prairie) is one of my very favourite books of all time. I was not let down by RUT.

It's almost impossible to describe RUT and still sound sane. So here goes. Take some crystal meth. Now drink a bottle of tequila. And now imagine a post-apocalyptic novel but without the apocalypse. See what I mean? It's set in a dystopian* near-future where wine is traded on the black market, religious fundamentalism is a must, toxic waste hasn't had a positive effect on the wildlife and Big Brother is most definitely watching. RUT is quirky, witty and funny but also thought-provoking and slightly unsettling.

*spellcheck wanted to change that to dustbins.

And here's the book giveaway bit. RUT is published by the Concord Free Press - a revolution in publishing. They give books away for free. Yep, totally free. All they ask is that you make a donation to charity of some description (and record it at their website) and, once you've finished it, you give the book to someone else. Hopefully, that person will also make a donation to something or someone of their choosing. Each book is numbered and can be tracked at their website. A totally brilliant idea.

So, if you would like a copy of RUT, please leave me a comment, or send me an e-mail telling me the one thing you would do if you knew the apocalypse was coming. We'll take all the "kiss my family" stuff as read (because I know, of course, that many of you would travel miles and miles to kiss my family). Basically, I want to know your apocalyptic bucket list. Although you only get to do one, so it's more like your apocalyptic egg-cup list.

And now, Scottish crime fiction news...

Bluecat Books with a reviewlet of Denise Mina's A SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY. And a longer one from The Comics Journal. I'm not really into graphic novels, but I think I really do need to get hold of this one.

The Book Nut reviews M C Beaton's DEATH OF A TRAVELLING MAN.

Irvine Welsh to have a cameo role in Ecstacy.

Edinburgh is crowned Scotland's one and only creative hotspot. Harrruuummmppppphhhh.

And the wonderful Tony Black helps Edinburgh's young writers. Good on ya, Tony.

Ian Rankin in video for Edinburgh Eaterie Illegal Jack's.

The Metro's Top 10 crime fiction books of 2010.

And I don't know how she does it but Margot Kinberg always comes up with posts which are jam-packed with interesting stuff. Here's one on Healthy Reading for 2011.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Warm Hearts, Cold Snow, Bad Lungs, Good Music

First of all, thanks to everyone so far for your on- and offline responses to my Alternative World Book Night post. We might not make 1 million books, but it looks as though we'll make a good dent. Thank you.

The poor Glasgow gangland snowman in a nearby garden that I mentioned earlier took a pounding yesterday when we had fresh snow. Lots of fresh snow - enough to bring Glasgow to a standstill. He's now looking the worse for wear - as though he has been having a good bevvy down the pub, fell over in the snow, and got a kicking from some Buckfast-fuelled neds.

Luckily for me, I have had a relapse and am still stuck inside with the bloody pneumonia (which has now outstayed its welcome like an annoying aunt who re-arranges your spice rack and your knicker drawer). It meant that I unfortunately missed the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club gig last night which I'm gutted about, but, on the plus side, I am warm and toasty and working on a screenplay. I have the internet, antibiotics, orange juice, warm socks, books and Sonic Youth playing in the background. Bliss, or what?

Alexander McCall Smith at the Bath LitFest on 3rd March.

Marilyn Stasio of the New York Times includes some Scottish crime fiction in her best of list for 2010. And here's a handy round-up of many of the 2010 favourites features in the Press.

A few reviews - first of all Gillian Galbraith's BLOOD IN THE WATER over at the Mystery and Suspense Blog. Rundpinne reviews THE SHERLOCKIAN by Graham Moore. Amused By Books enjoys Kate Atkinson's BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE MUSEUM, Scotland on Sunday reviews Catriona McPherson's DANDY GILVER AND AN UNSUITABLE DAY FOR A MURDER. Heaven-Ali on M C Beaton's AGATHA RAISIN AND THE HAUNTED HOUSE. And the lovely Dorte reviews Aline Templeton's COLD IN THE EARTH.

The Novel Road interviews Ken McClure.

Stuart MacBride on having cabin fever.

Morrigan Books - the talented people behind the excellent short story anthology REQUIEMS FOR THE DEPARTED are looking for submissions for their new e-book range.

And, finally, Un:Bound now has a new online video magazine-style show webcast-y thing, for genre fiction news, reviews and interviews.

Sunday 5 December 2010

"I went outside for a fag and my snowman was gone"

Saturday 5th March 2011 is World Book Night. I think it's a brilliant idea. 1 million books to be given away by passionate readers. 20,000 readers who apply will be chosen to give away 50 copies of their chosen book from a list of 25 titles. As I say, brilliant. I was, however, a bit disappointed by the list of books. Not because they're bad books. But because they are, on the whole, big, well-known books. They've either won awards, or had a lot of press for one reason or another, so most readers will at least already have heard of them, even if they haven't read them.

So, dear reader, how about an Alternative World Book Night? Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't afford to give away a million books. Or 50 books. But I can afford to give away one book. A book that maybe isn't so well known but which I love and which deserves to be far better known - maybe Eddie Muller's THE DISTANCE, or Donald Ray Pollock's KNOCKEMSTIFF, or John Welter's NIGHT OF THE AVENGING BLOWFISH, or one of Douglas Lindsay's Barney Thompson novels, or one of Paul Johnston's Quintilian Dalrymple series, or Declan Burke's EIGHTBALL BOOGIE or...or...or... So many choices. Books I have either bought copies of for people, or thrust my copy into peoples' hands saying "Here, you have to read this book."

Any bloggers fancy joining me on 5th March and giving away a book you love which other people may not have heard of? I know it's a long way away, but I'll remind you :o) All you have to do is post on 5th March with a summary of the book, why you love it and offer it to someone (however you want, competition, draw it out of a hat...whatever). If you're joining in, let me know, and I'll link to them all here. Anyone without a blog who wants to join in, also let me know and I'll host your book rave here. So, what do you think? Anyone in?

And now, some Scottish crime fiction stuff.

Ian Rankin on family. Lovely stuff.

The Times Colonist on Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG. And Book Bird Dog reviews M C Beaton's BUSY BODY.

Over at Type M For Murder, Peter May introduces Aline Templeton. And Murder By Type takes a look at Peter Turnbull.

An article on Alexander McCall Smith at Jumeirah.

New of the Danny Boyle Trainspotting sequel.

Congratulations to Louise Welsh, who has been appointed Writer In Residence at Glasgow University.

And, finally, a couple of snow stories. I'm just imagining my mum's reaction to the video one...

Thursday 2 December 2010

He who pees by the sword...

In a garden near mine, someone has made a snowman wearing a kipper tie and a trilby, and with his arms up and his mouth in an O, as though he's a gangland boss who's just been surprised by a rival bearing a shotgun. The best bit though, is that he's accompanied by a little, fat snow dog (possibly a pitbull) with a set of false teeth. Human false teeth... Ah, Glasgow, I love thee.

I missed this originally - the lovely Bookwitch went to see Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah and insists she wasn't stalking them.

And, talking of stalkers, what about those Amazon reviews?

As part of Nigel Bird's brilliant Dancing With Myself series, Tony Black interviews Tony Black.

Picky Girl reviews a couple of M C Beatons, and The Book Nut reviews DEATH OF A VILLAGE. The Morrill Public Library Blog reviews Alexander McCall Smith's THE CHARMING QUIRKS OF OTHERS and The Mutation has high praise for Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels.

Luetut Opukset reviews Stuart MacBride's BLIND EYE. As you know, dear reader, I do love me a bit of Babelfish or Google Translate. This time I thought the Finnish would be the same as the perfect English above it, but it's not and, having read the Google Translate version, I am still not much the wiser. Although I have learned that 'Välillä' is Finnish for 'sometimes'. Well, according to the translation it is. Based on previous experience, I wouldn't be surprised if the actual meaning was actually 'fried egg'. I would also like to know how to pronounce 'vastaavantyyppisistä'.

Lin Anderson talks about becoming a writer.

And, almost finally, a completely gratuitous, and very funny, Tom Waits video.

Finally, finally...don't ever pee on a Glaswegian's bottle of Buckfast.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

"Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin"

The bad sex in fiction award has been...errrr...awarded.

A few days left to listen to Ian Rankin's favourite music of 2010. And Rebus' favourite pub is named as one of the Famous 100. While the pub featured in Trainspotting is up for a Pub Oscar.

News from Douglas Lindsay's blog that he's started work on a new non-Barney Thompson crime novel. Excellent news.

Charles Cumming in conversation with Dominic West.

A review of M C Beaton's DEATH OF A CHIMNEY SWEEP, the Washington Times reviews Alexander McCall Smith's THE CHARMING QUIRKS OF OTHERS, and Laura Wilson in The Guardian reviews Aline Templeton's CRADLE TO GRAVE.

And a couple of reviews for Philip Kerr - one for A QUIET FLAME, and one for THE ONE FROM THE OTHER. And the man himself talks about writing, his office and yoga on the Sky Arts Book Show.

Jane Hammons goes to Bouchercon to see Kate Atkinson.

New Zealander Andrew Porteous wins an international publishing competition with his book A POLITICAL AFFAIR, about a half-Maori, half-Scottish detective. Congratulations, Andrew.

The lovely people at Five Leaves on Scotland's apparent shortage of names - citing both Russel McLean and the newly signed up Michael Malone as examples.

Sunday 28 November 2010

I Miss The Dead Dictators' Widows' Society

Bookblog for Bookworms with a piece on Kate Atkinson.

The best of the year lists are starting to appear. First of all, Ian Rankin (amongst others) weighs in with his favourites in The Guardian, and over in The Telegraph, Sadie Jones enjoyed Alice Thompson's THE EXISTENTIAL DETECTIVE.

Heath Lowrance over at the excellent Psycho-Noir has been getting people to list their top 20 noir novels. And here's my list (thanks for asking me, Heath, it was fun (of course, I'm now kicking myself for the ones I didn't include)).

Alexander McCall Smith will be appearing at the Bath Literature Festival at the end of February.

Denise Mina is interviewed in The Scotsman.

Val McDermid's Pick Of The Week on BBC Radio 4.

A Good Old-Fashioned 120 Unit Week reviews John Buchan's GREENMANTLE. Nice to see old stuff getting reviewed.

A report on the Lennoxlove Book Festival, including Ian Rankin thrilling the crowd with the revelation that Rebus may be back.

And another report of Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah at the Manchester Literature Festival. And the lovely Dorte reviews DEAD BEAT.

I've been wondering why I haven't received a request for cash from Mrs Sese-Seko and the rest of The Dead Dictators' Widows' Society for a while and here's my answer - they're all too busy conning Scotland's councils.

And, finally, talk about adding insult to injury...

Thursday 25 November 2010

The Day I Sent My Mother P-O-R-N

I was all set to do a proper Scottish crime fiction related post but time has escaped me, so you'll just have to put up with this, dear reader.

I've mentioned before how my Mum won't read anything I write (too much swearing, and she thinks that every female over 50 is based on her). I've also mentioned how she tries to protect her neighbours from me too.

So, you can imagine the trauma of The Day I Sent My Mother Porn.

I've always had to protect her from my tastes. She's great fun and has a wicked sense of humour, but is easily shocked. I thought she would be really angry with me when I dyed her hair bright pink (by mistake I hasten to add), but she was actually quite proud and told everyone she was now "a punker".

I taught her how to do the Chicken Strut to The Cramps' I Ain't Nuthin' But a Gorehound and she surprised me by joining me on the dance floor at the Pupils and Parents school disco. Unfortunately, the whole 'Cool Mother' effect was then ruined when she stayed up to headbang to Status Quo and I had to spend the rest of the evening in shame hidden in the school toilets with a bottle of Pernod and a box of tissues.

But, as I say, she has a strangely prudish outlook. When I was a teenager, during love scenes on TV I used to sweat a lot and start up a ridiculous conversation about weasels, or tulips, in a very loud voice to distract my mother's attention just so that she wouldn't start tutting like a crazed woodpecker. My Dad was no help. He'd clear his throat and vanish behind his newspaper. Protecting Mother from Indecency fell on my tender shoulders.

And it's still the same. When she used to come up to visit, she would rummage through my bookshelves (when she's not checking that the baked bean tins are properly arranged in my cupboards). "Now, dear, what have you got that I would like?" she says - unerringly pulling out Christopher Brookmyre, or Allan Guthrie, or Ken Bruen, or some other favourite author, whose books are peppered with salaciousness, scatology and...shock, horror...sweary words.

I would have to make sure I had a supply of the cosiest cosies on hand otherwise she would berate me for half an hour in hushed tones:

"Dear, I don't know what type of books you're reading lately, but you have to stop. I was shocked. Shocked I say. Why, on page 40, the heroine said a very bad word. Not just a fairly bad word. Not that word I slapped you on the leg for using when you were 10, but a really, really bad word that I couldn't even read in my head without blushing. And then on page 64 she gets into bed with a man who is not her husband, and there are three pages of description about what they do in bed. I had to read those three pages twice, before I understood what they were talking about. I don't want to read about all of that sort of stuff. Especially not when I've just sat down with a nice cup of tea and a banana. What happened to all those nice books you used to read when you were 12? You know, those ones with that nice young lady who solved crimes with her friends? She never used to go out without a fresh handkerchief in her handbag and wearing a clean pair of knickers just in case she was involved in an accident. What was that series called now?....Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys, that's it....."

So, you can imagine how I felt on that dreadful day which is now known as The Day I Sent My Mother Porn. You see, we'd been discussing presents and she wanted a bed-jacket. She was a bit vague in what she was looking for - I wasn't sure if we were talking elegant chiffon and lace or cosy flannel. So I decided to look some up on the internet and e-mail her some websites. I typed "bed-jacket" into Google and clicked on a few. If I saw one that looked like just the thing, I immediately e-mailed her the link. I should have known that things weren't going well when she rang me up and told me off for sending one from the Help The Aged website. I think she thought I was insinuating something.

However, the second time she rang me up she whispered in a shocked way "Donna. Why have you sent me to a naughty website?"

I was confused - until I went back to the site. It was a seemingly innocuous site selling lingerie and underwear. Near the top of the page was the little bed-jacket I saw. Unfortunately, I'd neglected to scroll down to the crotchless knickers, peephole bras and... errrr...some things even I didn't recognise and which looked VERY uncomfortable. But not as uncomfortable as I felt when some of the pictures even further down the page showed people wearing them.

My Mum was in shock for some time after that. My Dad told me that she sat with a glass of sherry in her hand for 3 hours, shaking her head and mumbling "I wonder if they come in pink."

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Odds and Oddments

The note on our close door, written on the betting slip, now has a small addition. Somebody has decided that the horse named "Please shut the door behind you, thank you" is running at odds of 10/1. Or perhaps that's the odds of someone actually taking notice of the request. Who knows, but I'm in for a tenner.

An interview with Denise Mina in Publishers Weekly.

And another interesting PW article on violence in novels.

Matt Tuckey of Power is a State of Mind attends an event at the Manchester Literature Festival with Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah.

Loads and loads of upcoming literary events in Edinburgh's libraries.

The wonderful Charlie Stella reviews Alice Thompson's THE EXISTENTIAL DETECTIVE and also mentions Len Wanner's interviews with Scottish crime fiction authors, which I've had the pleasure of dipping into.

Constable and Robinson are to publish a new (well, old) series by M C Beaton - not crime fiction but C&R believe it will appeal to fans of Beaton's Agatha Raisin.

A review of Caroline Dunford's Burke and Hare play.

The Vancouver Sun reviews Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG. And the Secluded Charm blog looks at the opening of BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE MUSEUM.

And, finally, I'd already realised this years ago when it seemed as though every drunk bloke in a British crime drama was slurring in a Scottish accent.

Sunday 21 November 2010

"Don't bring me a fat one"

Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe would not be happy. I particularly love this quote from Botswana's President (amazingly, he's single):
"He then turned to the corpulent Botlhogile Tshireletso, a female minister, and said: "I don't want one like this one. She may fail to pass through the door, breaking furniture with her heavy weight and even break the vehicles' shock absorbers.""
Damn - it looks like I should give up those girlish dreams of being queen of Botswana, then.

Some videos have been posted by the Edinburgh Book Festival with some of the events - including ones with Louise Welsh, Denise Mina and Karen Campbell. Each one of those has a Part 2.

And, talking of Louise Welsh, here's an excellent review of THE CUTTING ROOM.

Ian Rankin on the best Scottish albums of 2010. I'm looking forward to seeing Mogwai in January. But before that, I have a second Black Rebel Motorcycle Club gig to look forward to. Oh, and while we're on the subject of gigs - Sonic Youth - next time you play a gig in the UK, please could you let me know before all the bloody tickets sell out. Thanks. Grumpy of Glasgow.

But I digress - back to Ian Rankin - he's in conversation with Phil Jupitus at the Edinburgh Bookshop on 16 December.

Supporter of the arts? Fan of Glasgow Celtic? Like William McIlvanney? Unbelievably rich? Then this is the gift for you.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Douglas Lindsay's blog - brilliant stuff.

Christopher Brookmyre talks about what makes a good title on BBC Radio 4.

Over at the excellent Psycho-Noir, Heath Lowrance has invited various crime fiction luminaries and ne'er-do-wells to come up with their Essential 20 Noirs. The lovely Nigel Bird of Sea Minor weighs in with his list, which includes several great Scots (plus several other favourites of mine - KNOCKEMSTIFF by Donald Ray Pollock, a Joe Lansdale, and Camus' L'Etranger). I've been watching this series of posts and noting down with glee the noir suggestions that I haven't read. And, by the way, Mr Lowrance, I am awaiting with some impatience a tap on the shoulder from THE BASTARD HAND.

And, finally, huge congratulations to my friend Michael Malone. Looking forward to reading BLOOD TEARS and putting your name on the roster of Scottish writers, our Michael!

Friday 19 November 2010

Good Books and Bad Sex

A wonderfully touching blog post from Peter May. Well worth a read.

A few reviews - first of all Stuart MacBride's SHATTER THE BONES, one of Denise Mina's graphic novel A SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY, and Inkcrush reviews Helen Fitzgerald's young adult novel AMELIA O'DONOHUE IS SO NOT A VIRGIN. I really need to get my hands on that one. A review of Alexander McCall Smith's CORDUROY MANSIONS, and one of Grant McKenzie's NO CRY FOR HELP.

I've been bemoaning the fact that Marten Claridge hasn't had anything new out for a while and, interestingly, Google alerted me to this. And not only a new one, but a re-release of the earlier books.

Ian Rankin and Richard Havers talk music and writing.

The knowledgeable (CrimeFest Mastermind winner for the last few years) and charming Martin Edwards reviews William McIlvanney's LAIDLAW for Patti Abbott's Forgotten Friday series.

And finally, dear reader, has it really been a year since we had bad sex? Well, it's only another week or so to wait and then we can lie back, think of England, and smoke a cigarette in the aftermath. By the way, does "off the beaten track" strike anyone else as a euphemism? No? Just me? Oh, OK.