Monday, August 02, 2010

Catching up isn't hard to do

Mes Amis

Been a while since I’ve posted here. Let me say simply, its me and not you. I’ve been tied up with deadlines, day jobs and assorted disasters, so I do hope you’ll forgive me (and yes, I know I’ve been using that there twitter thing but only because its quick and painless. I like to put some thought into these blog posts, even if it more often seems like the rambling of a lunatic).

So let’s start with the obvious.


Normally I blog from the festival and had every intention of doing so this year. But I forgot to even take photos, such was the madness I encountered. And madness it was. From wonderful, wonderful readers to incredibly talented and hugely accommodating authors, I met so many people that half of them I could barely remember by the end. Not their fault. My memory’s appalling.

The thing about Harrogate this year was that I was delighted to see writers who don’t always get the attention having the chance to bask in the spotlight. Charlie Williams and Ray Banks are two of my favourite writers what you ain’t reading. And the wonderful Zoe Sharp found out the news she’s been sitting on (that her Charlie Fox novels have been optioned by 20th Century Fox) was official thanks to an editor’s offhand, “Didn’t I see an email about you today?”.

It was also great to see Christopher Brookmyre do his thing opening the festival. If you go to see Chris’s current events, you may hear something about Dundee and how someone tried to “ban” him. Let me say on behalf of the city and the bookselling fraternity thereof that the incident was a one-off and believe me, Brookmyre, we want you back.

Other highlights included the sight of Stuart MacBride and Val McDermid miming and dancing the Gay Gordons during the Pub Quiz (did I mention that my rather talented team – including Zoe Sharp, her husband Andy, LC Taylor, Martin Edwards and Chris Ewan – came second? We were beaten by Uber-Agent Jane Gregory’s team, but feel rather respectable that we somehow came ahead of any team featuring criminal brain box Ali Karim) and being last in the bar two nights in a row (they closed it down on us!) and, of course, all the wonderful people at the bar. Because the bar’s where it happens, folks. A recent article by the brilliantly talented Mark Billingham states that “The hotel that hosts the festival has let it be known that the crime-writers and readers that fill the bar every night spend more in one hour than the average wedding party spends in an entire evening.” Like Billingham, I’m rather proud of this stat. Not because of the implied alcoholism, but because for all that drink no one (usually) gets boorish or out of control. It’s a cool atmosphere for the most part, even if chairs do mysteriously appear and disappear for no apparent reason.

So that was fun. And even since coming home I haven’t stopped. I am close to the end of this draft of book #3, which will got to Agent Al very soon. Its been a pain to write, but I think it will all be worthwhile and sometimes coming through the pain of a difficult project can be immensely satisfying.

Then, on Saturday night I took a break and went to see The Roots of Elvis at Perth’s Southern Fried Festival. Now, I’m not an Elvis maniac but I appreciate what he did, and this night wasn’t about capturing the King so much as reminding us of the power of his songs and how they’re still remembered as well as looking at some of the music that inspired him. Or else it was just an excuse for a big ol’ Jam from some very fine musicians. It followed the same format as last year’s Roots of Hank Williams; a bunch of artists from the festival getting together that morning for a swift rehearsal and then just jamming the old Evlis tunes for our entertainment. And that was the appeal. Despite the rumblings from some Elvis Die Hards (the truly scary kind) sitting near me who had no idea that it wasn’t just people impersonating The King (and frankly, that kind of thing I can do without – any tribute act that merely copies what has gone before always seems dead and pointless to me with very few exceptions).

Last year’s big discovery for me was The Wilders, a brilliant bluegrass style band from the US who blew everyone away on the Hank Williams night (later went to see ‘em live at At Andrews, and trust me, they’re on fire, these guys). This year the undisputed star of the show (aside from stalwart entertainer Justin Currie, formerly of Del Amitri and now an excellent solo artist, who managed to accidentally insert some choice swear words into the gospel numbers and who had his very own personal heckler somewhere to my right) was Yolanda Quartey, from Bristol based band Phantom Limb, whose blues/soul voice just blew everyone away. Her infectious energy lifted everyone else’s game up a notch and after a slightly shaky start where some artists had difficulty finding the right key, suddenly the evening lifted to another level. I love these kind of ramshackle shows where you never quite know what’s coming next, and clearly everyone on stage was having a good time, too. I don’t know what Roots they’ll be doing next year, but I’m looking forward to it immensely.

In other news?

Well, people stateside keep an eye out in October. I’ll be coming your way and doing some limited appearances up and down your fine country. Details are being ironed out and I still have a couple dates to fill (any suggestions, we here at These Aye Mean Streets’ll gladly take ‘em, especially if you’re an indie bookstore who wants a rambling Scotsman) but its looking like a fun tour so far. I’ll post the info up here as soon as it’s confirmed.

And do keep an eye out for the upcoming DAMN NEAR DEAD 2, which is due to feature some of the most villainous and terrifying old folks ever to grace a book’s pages. And just check the talent:

Denise Mina
Christa Faust
Don Winslow
Your Bearded Hero
And so many other terrifically talented types that I can’t believe I lucked into this lineup.

And for those who miss my regular ramblings, please do also keep an eye on where I appear every Friday. But don’t think I’m giving up here. I’ve just been very busy of late. But you all know I love yous.


Until next time mes amis

Au revoir


1 comment:

inkgrrl said...

I ADORE Ray Banks in a way that is not of God. As for the others, I am an uncultured git and will remedy my lack directly. Any other faboo writers you can point me at I'd welcome ;-)