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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Meet Jo Nesbo at Harrogate Crime Festival – Part 4

Finally it’s Sunday, the last day of the Harrogate Crime Festival and it’s up early to pack my suitcase. Now where can I put all those books I’ve bought, plus can’t forget to pack the bottle of Old Peculier that came in my goody bag. The only solution is to pack the canvas goody bag and carry it slung over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
Breakfast next, and I decide not to collect my flyers and bookmarks from the unwanted books table until after the first panel of the day – bad decision – when I went to collect them they’d all been binned. The Scot in me mourned the loss of my material, the hours spent preparing it, never mind the ink and paper. Ah well, that’s life. Next year I’ll be there a lot earlier.
The highlight of morning had to be the special guest, Jo Nesbo. The ballroom where all the events are held was packed, illustrating the popularity of this event. Jo Nesbo is one of the Scandinavian writers who have risen to popularity over the past few years. And he’s Norwegian, which means I have a special affinity with him because of my Norwegian grandfather, not that he’d know it, of course.

Mark Lawson interviewing Jo Nesbo
He was an entertaining speaker who expressed a reluctance to talk at events, however, he said he was forced by Mark Billingham to come. He claimed to be unable to write in his apartment and said he preferred to write on trains, planes and in airports, and that he was delighted when his plane was delayed. His main character is Harry Hole, which he said was a common Norwegian name which should be pronounced ‘Hoola’. The first of his books published in the UK was The Devil’s Star, although the first book in the series is The Bat, which doesn’t seem to be available in a UK or US version.
He took five weeks to write the first draft of The Bat, which is set in Australia, however, Harry Hole was not fully developed until The Redbreast, his third novel. The Bat – in Norwegian it is The Batman – is based on an Aboriginal myth about a half-man, half-bat, with links to the devil.
His second book, also unavailable in the UK or US, is The Cockroaches and is set in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Redbreast his third book is the first of the series available in the UK and US. It is set in the trenches outside Leningrad, on the Eastern Front, in 1944. When talking about this book he provided details of his family’s dynamics. His mother and her family were in the resistance during the Second World War, but his father was in the German army and fought Stalin, therefore they were on opposing sides. This was not unusual in Norway at the time because many people fought against the Germans, and many fought with them, but most people did nothing. As a result of his wartime career his father was imprisoned for two years after the war. The Redbreast was written using his father’s memories of the trenches, and as a result he considers this his father’s book.

Jo Nesbo
I found this session with Jo Nesbo interesting, fascinating, and I’m glad I didn’t miss it. Now, I really must read his books.
I won’t bore you with the details of my journey home, including train breakdowns, but before I left, I made sure I paid my deposit for next year’s Old Peculier Crime Festival at Harrogate. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.



Friday, 17 August 2012

Harrogate Crime Festival 2012 – Part 3

I can hear you say – at last, thought we were never going to get Part 3 of the Harrogate Crime Festival. that’s because I took time out last week to write about the Edinburgh Ebook Festival, because if I hadn’t the festival would have been over before it was posted. Anyway, thank you for your patience, and here is day three of the Old Peculier Crime Festival at Harrogate.
Before I start I want to give you a link. Remember in the last festival post I commented on the furore around the panel Wanted for Murder: The Ebook, when feelings ran high and caused quite a bit of media buzz. Well, the Harrogate Crime Festival site has produced an audio download of the panel discussion. It will cost you £3, but if you want to get at the truth around all the hype in connection with this panel, then you might want to listen to it. Here is the link

Peter James and Paul Blezard

So, on to Day 3 of the festival. We started off at 9 am, some of us more bleary-eyed than others, with the special guest Peter James who was interviewed by Paul Blezard. He was interesting to listen to and gave us snippets of information about his background. Like the time he worked as a cleaner for Orson Welles, but was sacked after a week because he was ‘not cut out for it’. Similar to a lot of writers he was an obsessive reader as a child, so I suppose his progression to being a writer was to be expected, although he said his first two books were very bad spy thrillers. He also had a stalker for over 5 years, and was given advice by the police to step up home security because they could do nothing unless she killed him. Lots of fascinating information in this interview, although, considering the furore the day before about cheap as chips ebooks, his publisher sells one of his books on Amazon for 20p and he has no say in this.

Deadlier than the Male panel
I missed the Golden age and the New Blood Panels because I was chatting with Alex Gray and then went out for a welcome breath of air. The Deadlier than the Male panel was interesting. It looked at why women write violent crime fiction, and why the majority of it is bought by women readers. The main points I took from that were –

1.  Violence is associated with males, which makes it more horrific when associated with a female.

2.  Women have a much more terrifying imagination than men.

3.  Women crime readers want to know what makes the dark side tick.

Special Event: Luther
The Special Event: Luther was something special. The panel was made up of Neil Cross, the creator of Luther; Claire Bennett, the producer of the series; Simon Morgan, police adviser; and two of the show’s stars, Michael Smiley who plays Benny, and Warren Brown who plays Ripley. Neil Cross talked about wanting an iconic police character, a mad copper. He is a lover of the TV show, Columbo, and he wanted to put his mad copper into a Columbo format. I must say I never associated Luther with Columbo before, but as he is the creator I take it he knows what he’s done. The panel also talked about Idris Elba having a ‘presence’, and they never thought they would get him, but he was keen to star in the show. One thing came out that I didn’t know, was that Idris Elba has a soul singer career on the side. There was lots more, but if I detailed it we would be here forever. So I’ll close this panel with the information that the next show in the series – Series 3 – is carnage from beginning to end.
Laura Lippman interviewing Harlan Coben

 The last guest of the evening was Harlan Coben who was interviewed by Laura Lippman. Harlan is an excellent speaker and he told us that when he finishes a book, he is empty, and it is only the fear of having to work in a department store which impels him to write again. He says he suffers from a level of insecurity and insanity when he is not writing well. He took up golf a few years ago, but when he is doing something else there is a voice in his head which says he should be writing. But when he is writing he fluctuates between thinking it is crap or genius, and he suffers from lots of self doubt. This was something that appeared over and over again during this festival, the insecurity of writers, no matter how successful, who all fear that they will never be able to write another good book. There is also something else he shares with most writers I know, and that is, if he writes and no one reads it, he is not a writer. He also said that he keeps writing because he hasn’t written the perfect book yet, and he never will. All I can say is that Harlan Coben is a thoroughly nice man.
Quizmasters extraordinaire - Val McDermid and Mark Billingham

 Considering Harlan didn’t stop speaking until 9.30 pm you would be excused for thinking the day would be over, but you would be wrong. There was still the infamous Harrogate quiz night chaired by those most experienced quiz masters, Val McDermid, and Mark Billingham.

The Scarlet Ladies - Sonia, Justine, Me, and Isobel
The quiz is always hilarious with lots of cheating going on and much good natured shouting. I was in the Scarlet Ladies team, which also included Lucy, Isobel, Justine, and Sonia, and we came fifth, which wasn’t bad going. I was really glad we didn’t come first, not as if that was ever a possibility considering the competition we had. I was also glad not to win the raffle. I can hear you asking – why on earth would you want to lose? Well, the reason was the size of the prizes. Massive hampers that I would never be able to carry, let alone get on the train with, plus the largest pile of books to go along with it. There were several of the prize hampers plus books and I was really glad not to have to cart them off. Mind you, the top prize of next year’s Harrogate festival for two, all expenses paid was a beaut.
Well, that’s Day three finished, time to stagger to bed. There’s only Sunday morning to go now before it’s all over for another year. But I’ll tell you about Sunday the next time.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

NEWSFLASH: Edinburgh E-Book Festival

If you’ve been looking forward to part 3 of the Harrogate Crime Festival then there’s no need to worry, it will be with you in the next couple of days. However, I simply had to let you know about something fabulous that is happening right now.
What is it? Well, it’s only the first ever Edinburgh Ebook Festival which is running at the same time as the internationally known Edinburgh Festival. For those of you who have been to the Edinburgh Festival, you will know that it has many faces including the Edinburgh Fringe, Edinburgh Tattoo and the Book Festival. However, the Edinburgh Ebook Festival is an independent virtual festival with no ties or association with the commercial entity that is the Edinburgh Book Festival. It is something unique, never been done before, and I am so excited to be part of it.

This is how the Edinburgh Ebook Festival site describes itself:-

“The great thing about the Edinburgh e-book festival (launching this year) is that it comes to you, you don’t have to go to it. So you are doing your bit to be eco-friendly too: No paper, no carbon emissions and no money spent. The environment will love you for it. You’ll love it back. And you may learn something about the digital publishing revolution and loads of great writing out there you’ve never heard of. From new writers to seasoned professionals re-publishing their back catalogue to award winning authors who are choosing to publish via ebooks for a whole range of reasons, there will be something for everyone.

We’ll be bringing you a host of items online each day from August 11th right through till August 27th.”

The festival events start on 11th August and will run to 27th August, but you can get involved right now because the ‘Rolling Launch’ started on Friday. You can explore the website, click on the tabs and see what’s already there. Here is the link for the Home Page, you can access everything from there –Click here
I’ve just clicked through all the tabs and there’s something on each page to bring you the flavour of what is to happen when the events explode onto the scene beginning on 11th August. There is also a Who’s Who link to introduce you to all the authors taking part. Some authors have a more active role than others and I’m lucky to be one of them. If you want a quick link straight to Who’s Who, click here
I hope you find the idea of an Ebook Festival as exciting as I do, and I hope we’ll meet up there.
I’ll be back in a couple of days with Part 3 of the Harrogate Crime festival.