Soon after arriving home from Malice, I caught up with my Murder Squad friends. We’re all busy and don’t get together very often. Since moving north it hasn’t been as easy for me to do events in the rest of the country. We met up in Cath Staincliffe’s house, to celebrate achievements over the past year and plan for the future. It’s scary that Murder Squad will be ten years old next year. Publishing has changed a lot in that time and we’re fortunate still to be involved in the business.
Ten is a big birthday and of course we want to mark it. We’re planning a series of new talks, which we’ve called DEADLY DIALOGUES, conversations between two squaddies, exploring our work, our reading and our take on the way our writing has changed in the past decade. A discussion between two individuals sparks debate within an audience, and the dynamic between the speakers brings a new perspective to the subject. A conversation between Chaz and me, for example, would be quite different from one between me and Cath. So if you’re interested in booking a duo for your library or bookshop, do get in touch!
I took part in another dialogue later in May, at Crime Fest with Swedish crime writer, Hakan Nesser. Crime Fest in Bristol prides itself by celebrating the achievements of translators and authors read here in translation. Hakan had been invited as international guest of honour and I was asked to interview him. He’s a charming man, full of wit and fun, but not so easy to question. He takes his writing very lightly and doesn’t see the need to analyse it: he’s a storyteller. We did learn though about ‘Nesserland’ the fictitious country where he sets his Van Veeteren books and about the other series, featuring a Swedish cop with an Italian background, which hasn’t yet been published here.
It was a delight too, to moderate a panel of translators at Crime Fest. Perhaps because they weren’t so interested in plugging their latest title, there was a fascinating exploration of their work. How do you cope with editors who insist on interfering? How do you manage sex, swearing and slang in a different language?
While May was all about talking about books, I hope in June to settle back to the business of writing them. Then it’ll be July and a break from writing again for Harrogate. We’re already in the build up to that most exciting festival with the announcement yesterday of the Theakston shortlist. A very male list again this year, with only two women out of the fourteen authors chosen. This seems to me interesting because it reflects the retail market of the moment. A decade ago the big names in crime fiction were female and that’s completely changed. Definitely time for a swing back, I’d say!