I had a rare night out night tonight, in a bookshop, perfect. It was to see a collection of crime writers talk about their books. I think that’s a great idea for author promotion, go round in packs, although at the book signing afterwards it’d be a bit depressing if everyone else was having massive queues to have their books signed and no one was queuing for you!
Under the title Kingston Killers, I saw three groups of three, the first was a trio of historical crime writers; Ariana Franklin (Mistress of the Art of Death series), Laura Wilson (Stratton’s War series) and Nicola Upson (Josephine Tey series). Franklin writes fiction set in the 12th century and Wilson and Upson write in the 1930s and 1940s. They all read excerpts from their books and they all sounded really good. In the Q&A afterwards, they talked about why the write historical fiction and they all pretty much agreed that we need to understand our history, to know where we’re coming from, how things have changed, I like that. Franklin in particular talked passionately about her chosen era and how she didn’t need to think about plots, it was all there already. I liked the sound of Wilson’s plans to have her Stratton series follow the career of an ordinary policeman (i.e. not depressive/gambler/alcoholic/etc) through the 40s and on into the 60s. And Upson’s books about the real life crime writer Josephine Tey’s supposed real life inspiration, sounded really interesting.
The next trio was Yaba Badoe (True Murder), Cathi Unsworth (writes books set in the 60s and 80s) and Johan Theorin (Echoes from the Dead, The Darkest Room). Badoe’s book is set around events in a girl’s boarding school and Unsworth writes books set in London with a heavy music influence. Theorin is the next big thing from Sweden in the current wave of Swedish crime fiction and writes quite spooky sounding, atmospheric books.
The final trio was Chris Carter (The Crucifix Killer), NJ Cooper (starting a new series about a forensic psychologist) and RJ Ellory (he of Richard and Judy fame). Carter’s Crucifix Killer sounded really good, apparently too gory for the US market. Cooper’s book had a really chilling openings. RJ Ellory’s reading, sounded well, like an RJ Ellory book (in fairness to him, of all the writers there, he was the only one I was familiar with, so with him it wasn’t a ‘learning something new experience’). In the Q&A afterwards though, they did ask Ellory a question I’ve always wondered, he’s British, so why does he write about the US all the time? His answer was that he thought British crime fiction had a tendency to fall into stereotypes, whereas crime fiction set in the US was more of a blank canvas and it’s such a big country that you could in effect write one story in one part of the US and then write the next in another part and it would be like writing about different countries (I’m heavily paraphrasing here). He was also quite inspiring when he spoke about the sort of book he wants to write; one that people still remember, weeks after reading and he was very inspiring when he said how many books he’d written before getting published (amounting in the twenties).
I could have easily have brought all the authors’ books, but could only buy three (and really shouldn’t have done that, but they were on a one night 3 for 2). Chris Carter’s book was sorely tempting, but I didn’t have the money for a hard back, I ended up getting books by RJ Ellory, Johan Theorin and Ariana Franklin and all three were very charming when I asked them to sign their books. It was a great night, basking a little in the glow of publish-ability, maybe some of it will rub off!