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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.


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Love your overview of the weekend, Chris - thanks for sharing it. We watch Luther but find it a bit too violent at times!

Janice Horton said...

What a great write up. It's of curious interest to me, as a romance writer, to see how the crime writers do things and I liked the idea of the Deadlier Than The Male all woman panel - I bet that was great!

And of course it's always comforting to know the common theme of self doubt haunts all writers - even the uber successful ones.

Thanks for the post, Chris.

Janice Horton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melanie said...

Thanks for posting, Chris! Sounds like a fab time. I agree with Janice, it feels good to know that even successful writers have their moments of self-doubt.

Gwen Kirkwood said...

Great blog Chris and loved the photos.
Funny how we all like to know everybody has moments of uncertainty.

Chris Longmuir said...

Thanks for all the lovely comments, but Janice, the all female 'Deadlier than the Male' panel contained a cuckoo! Namely Martin Waites, crime novelist under his own name, and who writes as Tania Carver in partnership with his wife. Martin, however, makes all the personal appearances. As the blurb in the programmes saye - 'he has a stiletto in both camps'.