Sunday 29 January 2012

Kill The Poor

I thought this track from The Dead Kennedys was apt, since I believe it is Her Maj's favourite punk song. I appear to have been invited to a Royal Garden Party. Thinking fast, I said I would only go if my Mum wanted to go. Since, apparently "Scotland's too far to come and visit you now I'm 80, our Donna", I thought I would be safe. How wrong I was. Apparently, Scotland is now a mere sparrow's fart away. Her only worry is that she now has to find a fascinator. And now I, too, am left with the terrible dilemma of finding a fascinator that matches my Docs.

My Mum now has the other residents of the retirement community curtseying to her when they meet in the hallways. And then there's my poor Dad...I said to Mum that she needed photographic ID to get into the Palace, and no, that her pension book wasn't enough. "What about your passport?" I said.

"I think my passport's out of date since my ankles are too big to fly, these days," (don't ask).

I heard my Dad in the background "My passport's in the kitchen drawer."

"We don't care about your passport, Patrick," came the scathing response. "Who is it that's going to the Royal Garden Party?" Silence. "Who, Patrick, who?"

"You, dear."

"That's right. So, what don't we care about?"

"My passport, dear."


I have created a monster. A monster who is now on the hunt for a fascinator.

Irvine Welsh's ECSTASY is screened in London on February 9th.

A review of Val McDermid's THE RETRIBUTION.

Ian Rankin's THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD on ABC Radio National. And Mr Rankin himself on his best story ever.

Gordon Ferris' THE HANGING SHED has, apparently, sold 150,000 e-copies.

Alexander McCall Smith to appear at Scotland's most remote literary festival.

An interview with Michael Malone.

A set of first editions by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is discovered in a charity shop.

Denise Mina wonders if sentiment is the new taboo.

For my latest blog post over at Blasted Heath, the talented Smudge doctors a poster for Nightmare Alley to make me look almost attractive. Well, from the neck down, anyway.

Tomorrow, it's the last proper day of lectures on my course before I start on my placement, and then I'm off to Allan Guthrie's event at Strathclyde University before going out to dinner with lovely pals Tony Black, Michael Malone and Kieran G. I'm planning to get them drunk so they will tell me all their secrets. I will, of course, share those secrets with you, dear Reader.

Friday 27 January 2012

Wilder, Wilder. Faster, Faster.

A lesser known Cramps song today. Incidentally, I teach a creative writing class and this week I did an exercise using songs. I started them off with some Flaming Stars (to lull them into a false sense of security) moved through Killing Joke, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, and The Clash and finished up with this one from The Cramps. I think they were a bit puzzled by The Cramps. It was great fun.

Len Wanner, author of an excellent book of interviews with Scottish crime fiction authors, will be interviewing Tony Black in person on Saturday 4th February in Dalkeith. Also on 4th February, Stuart MacBride will be at the University of Dundee. And you can go to the screening of Irvine Welsh's ECSTASY and the after-party on February 18th, if you are so inclined.

And a reminder of an event on Monday - Allan Guthrie at the University of Strathclyde. See you there if you're going.

Those lovely chaps at Blasted Heath would like to serve you some #broth.

Crime Fiction Lover on comedy and crime, and recommends Chris Ewan.

Helen Fitzgerald's yummy new book cover.

Nigel Bird is featured in the East Lothian Courier.

Val McDermid on method and madness.

Douglas Lindsay does not want to be an astronaut. Which is a relief, really.

A crime writing MA? I'd sign up, if only to be taught by the rather excellent Martyn Waites.

Finally, a man plans a murder, with the intention of pinning it on the cat.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

"People Ain't No Good"

Your Cramps title for today.

Soon, I will get back to blogging more than once a week. Soon...

This weekend, we watched Vietnamese film Three Seasons. It tells the stories of several characters - a girl whose job is to pick lotus flower and her relationship with her hermit employer, a cyclo driver and his infatuation with a prostitute, an American GI who is looking for someone, and a little boy who is a street peddlar. It's quite a slight film in many ways, but it's beautifully filmed and really interesting from the point of view of seeing a strange location.

The programme for the Aye Write! festival is now available and here are the crime fiction related events.

Friday 9th March
11am - 12.30pm or 4.30pm - 6pm - Helen Fitzgerald and Sergio Casci - Making the Pitch and Not Striking Out: From Pitch to Published (Creative Writing).
1pm - 2pm - Helen Fitzgerald and Sergio Casci - Book to Film and Film to Book: Adaptations (Creative Writing).
4.30pm - 5.30pm - Christopher Brookmyre - The Making of a Bestseller (Creative Writing)
6pm - 7pm - William McIlvanney.

Saturday 10th March
3.30pm - 4.30pm - Alex Gray and Ian Rankin: New Scottish Crime
8pm - 9.30pm - Panel Debate: Scotland's books - includes William McIlvanney

Sunday 11th March
3.30pm - 5pm - Panel Debate: What's Wrong With Women's Writing? - includes Karen Campbell.

Monday 12th March
7.30pm - 8.30pm - Alexander McCall Smith

Friday 16th March
9.30pm - 10.30pm - Mark Billingham and Christopher Brookmyre are Indiscreet

Saturday 17th March
2pm - 3pm - Gillain Galbraith and Karen Campbell - Ethics
3.30pm - 4.30pm - Lin Anderson and Caro Ramsay - Forensics

I think that's it - apologies if I've missed any!

And, in other news, K T McCaffery reviews Ian Rankin's THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD, and the Sun Sentinel reviews Val McDermid's THE RETRIBUTION.

Irvine Welsh on his various projects, Jame McAvoy in FILTH, and a not particularly positive review of the ECSTASY film.

An interview with Philip Kerr.

Helen Fitzgerald blesses our libraries. And me too. My PLR is nowhere near as large as Helen's, but it took Ewan and I out for dinner at one of my favourite places, where I have discovered the joys of Hacienda de Chihuahua Crema de Sotol. Best of all though, is the thought that all those people were interested enough to borrow OLD DOGS. Thank you library users. That's the best thrill for me.

Finally, a final plea for any donations of books, or anything else for the helpline charity I volunteer for. All donations gratefully received for the charity raffle coming up. Thanks to everyone who has given stuff so far - I could hug you all. x

Tuesday 17 January 2012

New Kind of Kick

Back to The Cramps again today.

This weekend's cinematic viewing list consisted of two very different films. First of all the Korean film THE MAN FROM NOWHERE - a very dark film about drugs, child slavery and heartless criminal gangs, with lots of violence and gore flying about. But there was also a little girl who gave the film a wee bit of heart and humour. I enjoyed it even though I spent several scenes covering my eyes. The second film was Iranian film A SEPARATION - a film about relationships of all sorts in which what you don't see is just as important as what you do. An emotionally powerful film that I absolutely loved.

Ian Rankin takes Alan Yentob to the Oxford Bar and calls for tax incentives to help new authors. And this weekend Ian will be at the Brighton and Hove Albion First Fiction Book Festival.

A review of Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG, Norm at Crime Scraps loves Aly Monroe's ICELIGHT, The Morning Star recommends Stuart MacBride's SHATTER THE BONES, and Lambda Literary reviews Val McDermid's TRICK OF THE DARK.

Christopher Brookmyre and Louise Welsh at the Margins Book and Music Festival on February 24th. And Allan Guthrie at the University of Strathclyde on January 30th (see you there if you're going along).

Den of Geek (what a great name) with the top 10 portrayals of Sherlock Holmes. I thought the third episode of the new series was totally brilliant. I have no idea how the ending happened (she says vaguely) but I loved it. And the series has boosted sales of the original Holmes books. Excellent.

Margot Kinberg puts the spotlight on Denise Mina's GARNETHILL.

The film of Irvine Welsh's ECSTASY gets its premiere in February.

Finally, a break in my university essay schedule and I am able to read proper books again - lovely, lovely crime fiction books. I've missed you so. I have just started Donald Ray Pollock's THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME, which is shaping up brilliantly so far. This will be followed by THE ADJUSTMENT by the brilliant Scott Phillips and some lesbian pulp from the wonderful Christa Faust with BUTCH FATALE; DYKE DICK — DOUBLE-D DOUBLE CROSS. Life is good.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Has it really been a week?

Hello, world, I'd forgotten what you look like. You're really rather lovely, aren't you?

Essays are done, but were swiftly followed by more whooshing deadlines. This week's involved me sitting on a bus listening to conversations. This almost led to me getting my wee head kicked in. But it was fun. I also spent two and a half hours going through a large bin of shredded paper trying to piece together something which should never have been shredded. Successfully, I may add. I felt like I was in a really long, very boring version of CSI Glasgow.

Anyway, just a wee Scottish crime fiction update.

Some Sherlock stuff first: a review of the film A GAME OF SHADOWS, and another one, and Steven Moffat on the TV Sherlock (which I'm really enjoying).

Alex Gray, Caro Ramsay, G J Moffat and Craig Robertson at the Pitlochry Festival from January 27th.

A review of Ian Rankin's THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD, one of Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG, Josephine Tey's THE MAN IN THE QUEUE and reviews of Alexander McCall Smith's THE FORGOTTEN AFFAIRS OF YOUTH and THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO RAIN.

Peter May on the Quercus Couch.

Peter Rozovsky at Detectives Beyond Borders gets into Allan Guthrie's shorts.

A really interesting interview with Louise Welsh about Scotland.

Hopefully, I will get back to normal posting some time soon...maybe by July...

Friday 6 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Hello, Dear Reader. This is just a very quick post to wish you a Happy New Year and let you know I haven't fallen off the ends of the earth. I have two essays due in on Monday and have been immersed in them since my last blog post. So this is just a very quick few links for your delectation.

A review of Quintin Jardine's AS EASY AS MURDER, one of Val McDermid's THE RETRIBUTION and one of Ian Rankin's THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD. An interesting slant on Ken McClure's DONOR from someone with an interest in organ donation (I wonder if they've read Helen Fitzgerald's THE DONOR - Helen, maybe you want to get in touch with her!). Publishers Weekly reviews M C Beaton's DEATH OF A KINGFISHER.

A review of the Sherlock Holmes film A GAME OF SHADOWS.

The London Evening Standard on books they're looking forward to in 2012.

A video trailer for Peter May's THE LEWIS MAN.

Catch Stuart MacBride in Aberdeen on Monday.

An interview with the lovely Tony Black.

And that's it for today. Sorry it's so brief! Back next week. Now it's back to ideology, hegemony and social justice.