Sunday 30 October 2011

Head above the parapet

In between writing an essay on the relative merits of Freirean process and Alinsky style Community Organizing (ma heed's nippin' as we say in Scotland, so a short and sweet post today) we watched a couple of great films this weekend. The first was HEAD-ON (GEGEN DIE WAND) about the lives of Turkish immigrants in Hamburg. A raw, painful love story that is sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful. Great soundtrack too - The Birthday Party, The Sisters of Mercy and Depeche Mode mixed with Turkish music. The second film was VIVA RIVA! a gritty crime thriller set in Kinshasa about a small-time criminal called Riva who steals a truck-load of petrol cans from a rather nasty Angolan gangster. Since petrol is an expensive and scarce commodity in the Congo, the gangster wants it back. Did I say Head-On was brutal? Well, this is even more so. Not as satisfying as Head-On because you don't get very deep into the characters but a good film and a reminder that I never want to visit Kinshasa.

The Guardian are offering a free audio download of Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes' book about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's real life fight for justice.

You can vote for Val McDermid's favourite walk if you like. And more Val here, on the Million For a Morgue story.

A review of Ian Rankin's THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD. And one of Philip Kerr's PRAGUE FATALE.

The totally brilliant Douglas Lindsay almost answers the question of whether he wants to drink the blood of his new publishers - Blasted Heath - and vomit on their graves.

And now, a plea. I'm helping to organise the Samaritans conference again this year. I'm looking for raffle prizes - signed books, unsigned books, holidays to the Maldives...all donations gratefully accepted, just drop me an e-mail. Thank you, my lovelies.

And now, I am giving up on the essay for the night. I've done 3,500 words - they're not very good words, and they're not in the right order, but right now I'm going to bed with a cup of tea and to read some fiction for the first time in a month. Bliss.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Thee Most Exaulted Potentate of Love

Another Cramps-related blog post title (and no, those aren't typos). This one's for Heath Lowrance (not because he's an exalted potentate of love (although he may, of course, be just that), but because he asked for it.

I mentioned in a previous post that the wonderful ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL by Declan Burke has been short-listed for the Crime Fiction section of the Irish Book Awards. If you have read it, and would like to vote for it, you can do so here:

A report from the Vancouver Writers' Festival on the event with Denise Mina, Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin. And Stuart's questioned by the National Post, while Ian is reviewed in the FT.

A review of THE NARRATIVE OF JOHN SMITH - the unfinished lost novel of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Economist considers Conan Doyle's voice, and a trailer for the new Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movie A GAME OF SHADOWS.

Jason Isaacs on Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie. And a review of STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG.

A review of M C Beaton's AS THE PIG TURNS. And one of the comedy stage version of John Buchan's THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS.

If you're in Edinburgh between October 26th and 29th, you might want to go and see Caroline Dunford's BURKE - about half of Edinburgh's notorious serial killing duo.

More on Val McDermid's favourite walk. And on the Million For A Morgue campaign which Val is closely associated with.

Hollywood Today talks to Catriona McPherson and reviews DANDY GILVER AND THE PROPER TREATMENT OF BLOODSTAINS.

Monday 24 October 2011

How Far Can Too Far Go?

Still on The Cramps for post titles.

An awful lot of Ian Rankin today - an interview with the National Post, a piece in The Windsor Star, one in the Ottawa Express, the Guardian reviews THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD, as does the Ottawa Citizen, and a TV interview with Studio 4 in Vancouver (the man appears to be taking over Canada)

Spinetingler on the exciting forthcoming titles from Blasted Heath. And they mention one of the forthcoming books - a debut from Damien Seaman. I've read it and it's very, very good. And here's Anthony Neil Smith reading from ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS. He's a scary guy, that Neil.

Val McDermid on writing about violence. And here's the longer version of the full interview on Hard Talk. Well done that woman. And here, on the other side of the interview, is Val McDermid interviewing one of the actresses of The Killing - Sofie Gråbøl.

More TV: Mystery Scene looks at Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES.

Three books about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

This is a weird story on so many fronts but I find myself being most puzzled about why he was barred from Scotland...

Thursday 20 October 2011

I got a garbage brain, It's driving me insane...

Post title courtesy of The Cramps' Human Fly (which also happens to be the only thing I can play on the guitar).

Catch Russel McLean at Dundee University on October 28th, talking about Scottish crime fiction. And Alexander McCall Smith is in Norfolk on October 24th and in Bridport on 20th November. Russel is free, Alexander McCall Smith will set you back £15 and £12 respectively. It's official - Russel is chea..errr...very good value.

And there's lots of Scottish crime at the Reading Festival with Denise Mina, Stuart MacBride, M C Beaton and Quintin Jardine. Denise and Stuart will also be appearing at the Toronto International Festival of Authors, along with Ian Rankin. And the Vancouver Sun asks Denise Mina some questions.

How Ian Rankin infiltrated police college. And he tells the National Post that he's a frustrated musician and how he's awaiting the volleys for THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD. And here he is, talking about Cromarty. I wonder whether he ever gets fed up of people asking him about anything and everything...maybe I should ask him.

Denise Mina's FIELD OF BLOOD actors up for Scottish BAFTAs. And, in other awards news, congratulations to Gordon Ferris whose THE HANGING SHED is up for the CWA's Ellis Peters Historical Award. And he's not Scottish, but huge congratulations to Declan Burke for his nomination for the Irish Book Awards.

Kate Atkinson on Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie. And a review of the show.

Conan Doyle's lost first novel is to be the highlight of the Portsmouth Literary Festival.

Peter May on his French award.

Irvine Welsh gets cut from his own film.

And now I am off for the best part of the week - a virtual creative writing class via Skype with a class of 4th and 5th graders in Alaska. The next best thing to being there. Today I'm giving them feedback on some brilliant and hilarious Halloween stories they've written.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

I Ain't Nuthin' But a Gorehound

For authors thinking of signing up for Crimefest, better do so before the end of the month if you want a guaranteed panel. Author slots are almost full. That means I can start programming soon.

More on those Blasted Heathens. And here. And the always brilliant Douglas Lindsay on Blasted Heath. The man is a comedy genius.

An interview with Val McDermid over at Jen's Book Thoughts. And Val will be in Durham this Saturday. How does she ever find the time to go on her favourite walk?

Denise Mina and Ian Rankin in Quebec on 28th October.

Paul Brazill reviews Denise Mina's END OF THE WASP SEASON. A review of Ian Rankin's THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD, Dwell in Possibility reviews Josephine Tey's THE SINGING SANDS. And Talk Books 247 reviews Aly Monroe's ICELIGHT.

More on the Ian Rankin night with the Willard Grant Conspiracy. AndDoug Johnstone interviews Ian Rankin.

Vancouver gets to know Denise Mina's workspace.

Congratulations to Peter May whose THE BLACKHOUSE won France's biggest readers' prize - the CEZAM Prix Litteraire, which voted by 3551 jurors. Très bien, Monsieur May. And, talking of prizes, congratulations to the nominees in the Crime and Thriller category of the National Book Awards, especially Val McDermid and Ian Rankin.

Finally, if you're looking for gifts for your pulp fiction loving female friends, you should hop over to Miss Demeanour's Etsy store. I treated myself and just received this and this in the post today. Gorgeous. I tried to take a photo of me wearing them, but all I got was gratuitous breast shots.

PS - my brain is numb and I couldn't think of a title for this post, hence the totally unrelated Cramps reference.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Good Reviews, Bad Reviews, Great News...

Look at this Blasted Heath loveliness. I've come over all un-necessary. And an interview with Allan Guthrie - half of the deadly duo.

The charming Aly Monroe talks to CrimeTime about ICELIGHT. And Aly will be at the Guildford Book Festival on October 22nd.

A great post and comments over at Helen Fitzgerald's place on the topic of bad reviews. And congratulations Helen and for this (not sure what is in the public domain yet, Ms Blabbermouth, so I'll just make this a blanket to cover all your good news!) Brilliant stuff.

Over at Detectives Beyond Borders, Peter muses on the brilliance that is Ray Banks. And I Meant To Read That reads Ray Banks' GUN. Good to see Mr Banks getting some well-deserved praise.

Alexander McCall Smith on Australian TV. And a review of the first couple of the Corduroy Mansions series.

Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES to return to BBC 1. And SFGate suggests subtitles.

Over at Mulholland Books Kate Atkinson asks Denise Mina some questions. And a review of Denise Mina's THE END OF THE WASP SEASON.

Ian Rankin on the joys of vinyl, and on the rather more dubious joys of author readings.

Philip Kerr's Desert Island Books.

Heath Lowrance reviews Nigel Bird's SMOKE.

I have just had a brilliant idea for a new book. Now I just need to find the time to write it...

Thursday 13 October 2011

A Fiction Feast

Val McDermid will be appearing in Lichfield today and at the Durham Book Festival next week (and I love the idea of the Book Doctor). In other Val news, EuroCrime reviews THE RETRIBUTION.

10 of the best films set in Edinburgh. They missed out one of my favourites - Crying With Laughter. Talking about Edinburgh films - the truth behind Trainspotting.

Les Edgerton says that he can't do Ray Banks' BEAST OF BURDEN justice, and then proceeds to do just that. Nice.

David Tennant is set to play Robert Louis Stevenson in a BBC Radio drama.

More on the NO REST FOR THE DEAD anthology.

A report from the Portobello Book Festival on a writing workshop featuring Allan Guthrie.

Ian Rankin's Edinburgh Playlist. Some good stuff there. Talking of Ian, here he is on The Wright Stuff, where he refuses to eat a rotten egg. Probably the most sensible thing he's ever done.

Finally, here's more on the exciting Blasted Heath news. Doesn't that Blasted Box look delicious?

Monday 10 October 2011

Where the place?

Upon the Blasted Heath, that's where.

Yes, indeedy, this unscheduled post is to celebrate the launch of new digital publisher Blasted Heath - brainchild of the wonderful Allan Guthrie and Kyle MacRae (whose wonderfulness I can't vouch for and only suspect, since I don't know him).

Look out on 1st November for their hot-looking launch of 5 (yes, that's FIVE) books. You can listen to the authors reading from their books at the links below:

Ray Banks - DEAD MONEY (which I'm really looking forward to reading. It's apparently a total rewrite of THE BIG BLIND which was a fantastic book).
Douglas Lindsay - THE LONG MIDNIGHT OF BARNEY THOMSON (which I already own multiple copies of and am looking forward to having another one. So there)
Anthony Neil Smith - ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS - in an interview here, he talks about it and it sounds fascinating (of course, it's Anthony Neil Smith - how could it be anything less than brilliant?)
Gary Carson - PHASE FOUR
Brian Pendreigh - THE MAN IN THE SEVENTH ROW which sounds like mad metaphysical genius.

as well as Gerard Brennan's WEE ROCKETS (a novel about granny mugging) in January 2012.

Huge congratulations to all involved - it's bound to be brilliant, exciting and warped, if that line-up is anything to go by. Right up my dark and twisted alley. I shall be first in line, kindle in hand, on launch day.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Sunday Smatterings

Film viewing this weekend was a nicely nasty thriller called Night of The Sunflowers (La Noche De Los Girasoles). It's set in rural Spain and tells a story from six different perspectives. It looks at how one event can have a ripple effect that affects everyone. Really good stuff.

I went to the CWA lunch in Glasgow on Friday where much of the talk was of Scotland's first crime festival - Bloody Scotland in September 2012 - which is shaping up to be excellent.

Helen Fitzgerald was also there with this news, and other exciting stuff that cannot yet be spoken of.

Nice - The Willard Grant Conspiracy and Ian Rankin in Belfast on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th November. There should be more of this cross-fertilization between the arts. Now, give me a moment while I go and cross-fertilize with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club...

More Ian Rankin - an interview in The Scotsman. And I've said it before - he's one of the nicest men in crime fiction. (And he mentioned the wonderful Sonic Youth (one of my favourite tracks here) on The Review Show.

A new novel from Karen Campbell is due out in 2013. Not a crime novel, but she is such a brilliant writer that I will most definitely be reading it. Her writing is amazing. If you've never read any of her Glasgow-set police procedurals, do yourself a favour and get one.

Denise Mina will be at Houston's Murder By The Book on October 12th, and at Book Passage in Marin County on October 15th. And in Ottowa between 20th and 25th October, along with Ian Rankin.

More on the Philip Kerr Diana film (she says, rolling her eyes).

A review of Gordon Ferris' TRUTH, DARE, KILL, the Book Whisperer loved Val McDermid's THE TORMENT OF OTHERS. And Reader's Advisory enjoyed Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES.

The NO REST FOR THE DEAD anthology, featuring Alexander McCall Smith amongst others.

Talking of no rest for the dead, I am the happy, happy possessor of three new books:
CHOKE HOLD by the lovely Christa Faust
THE OUTLAW ALBUM by Daniel Woodrell
HELL AND GONE by Duane Swierczynski
...and have no time to read them because of university stuff. I am absolutely loving my course, but haven't had time to read anything for fun, let alone write anything other than essays, for the last six weeks. And these three books are now sitting there, tantalising and tempting me with their gorgeousness. Still, if I have to have a temporary hiatus from reading gorgeous books, at least I can wear them. Can't wait until this arrives from the talented Miss Demeanour.

Thursday 6 October 2011

From the ridiculous to the sublime

Ian Pattison, on how writing Rab C Nesbitt is more lucrative than crime fiction.

Why, Philip Kerr? Why? Well, there's one film I won't be going to see, anyway.

John Buchan's The 39 Steps a comedy thriller?

Louise Welsh in Iowa City on Sunday, Ian Rankin at the Aberfeldy Festival, Denise Mina in Berlin next February (sometimes I wish I was a famous writer rather than an obscure one). And Val McDermid and Alexander McCall Smith at the Dundee Literary Festival.

Lots of stuff about Alexander McCall Smith today.

Ewan McGregor on Irvine Welsh's TRAINSPOTTING.

Ken Hebenstreit pronounces Chris Ewan "not in the best of shape" but marvellous despite that.

Hmmmmmmm, I might have to subscribe to the Ayrshire Post so that I can get the new Tony Black early.

He's not Scottish, but here's a great interview with one of my favourite authors (and all round lovely man) Ken Bruen.

And, finally, the utterly brilliant (and totally bonkers) Douglas Lindsay on 'lugzhury'.

Sunday 2 October 2011

An Early Sunday Round-Up? Shock, horror

Birthday week finished with a flourish - gig tickets to see The Vaccines and comedian Sarah Millican (yippee!) as well as a complete Teach Yourself German course, some Killing Joke and crime novel A SINGLE SHOT by Matthew Jones, which has a blurb from the brilliant Daniel Woodrell, so I'm looking forward to it. Anyone read it?

And I've finished my first university assignment, thank goodness. If I never again see another article on The Big Society it will be too soon. I'm taking the rest of the day off and tonight we're off out to see Bombay Bicycle Club at the Glasgow Barrowlands.

This weekend's cinematic viewing was Korean film MOTHER and the new JANE EYRE remake. In MOTHER A young man with learning difficulties is arrested and imprisoned for the murder of a teenage girl. His doting mother sets out to prove his innocence. Tragedy, melodrama, black comedy, violence, poetry - this film has it all. Understated, surprisingly, and with gorgeous cinematography. A real gem. I'm not a huge fan of the Bronte sisters (they're all a bit lacking in humour and a bit too much brooding hand-wringing for me) but the latest remake of JANE EYRE is really enjoyable. I really enjoyed the way the story was told, and the settings are perfect. If I had one quibble, it's that Michael Fassbender is far, far, far too good looking to play Rochester and Mia Wasikowska is too pretty to play Jane (although I was less bothered by this as she looks appropriately severe, and the character's spirit really shines through).

And now, the Scottish crime fiction news and reviews.

The lovely Aly Monroe talks to Shots about how childhood memories influenced her new novel ICELIGHT.

Talking of lovely people - Chris Ewan is interviewed by Len Wanner over at The Crime Of It All..

Caro Ramsay went down well at Stirling's Off The Page book festival.

A review of NO REST FOR THE DEAD a group whodunnit in which several big names, including Alexander McCall Smith, wrote a chapter each, a review of Val McDermid's TRICK OF THE DARK, And one of Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG.

More on Val McDermid, here's a great podcast interview with her.

A day in the life of an independent bookstore.