... and the living's anything but easy. Well, easy enough maybe, but not lazy. This summer seems to have been a busy time of train journeys, events and meetings. All very enjoyable, but it's been hard to find a concentrated time to write. Which is why I'm delighted to be heading off to Oxford tomorrow. More about that later.
The Harrogate Festival was as successful as ever and I enjoyed it more this year because I was there as a visiting author and not working as reader-in-residence. Martyn Waites, who's taken over from me, is doing a magnificent job. He travelled all over the north of England in the run-up to the Festival, promoting the delights of crime reading. Whenever I saw him over the weekend he was his usual good-natured self but he did seem a bit frazzled and exhausted. It's a responsible role and I was more than happy to hand over the responsibility!
My panel with forensic scientists attached to the Macauley Institute in Aberdeen was a joyous experience. These were lovely people, confident in their own skills and passionate about their work. The fact that they threw mild criticism in the direction of me and Mark Billingham - OK, I accept that a CSI might not disturb a crime scene to look for the murder weapon, and if 'd known that the consultant pathologist covering Shetland was going to appear with me on a panel I might not have described him in BLUE LIGHTNING as overpaid - only added to the fun. The room was full to bursting point and I think we could have answered questions for the next hour. I'm doing another event with the Macauley folk during the Orkney International Science Festival in September and I'm really looking forward to it.
I was home for a night after Harrogate, then I was down to London for the Readthrough of Telling Tales, the second ITV episode of VERA. It was weird meeting up with the regulars - Brenda Blethyn, David Leon and Wunmi Mosaku - in a church hall in Bloomsbury. Last time we met was on a freezing set on the Northumberland coast. Again Paul Rutman has done an astounding script, capturing the essence of the book. The relationship between Vera and Joe is cemented here and there are flashes of wit and humour to lift the mood. I think it might be even better than Hidden Depths. There's a great list of supporting actors too.
And tomorrow I'm off to Oxford. I dropped out of university without getting a degree, so when I was invited a few years ago to speak at the St Hilda's Crime and Mystery Conference, I was pretty intimidated. Presenting a paper at an Oxford college! But the regulars were so friendly that I enjoyed it hugely and since then I've been hooked. For the past couple of years I've gone to St Hilda's early to stay in college and have a few days uninterrupted and self-indulgent writing time. I pretend that I'm a student and I absolutely love it. If you enjoy the gentler art of crime-writing, perhaps St Hilda's would be for you.