|Me at Eshaness, Shetland|
Literary festivals aplenty both hither and yon have been honoured with my presence and performance, among them several Crime Festivals. The venues for these are becoming more and more atmospheric Noir-wise, especially with the burgeoning popularity of Scandi Noir. Last November, I was at Iceland Noir, snowmobiling on a glacier, enjoying the spectacular landscape in the four-ish hours of almost-daylight, and meeting some luminaries of Icelandic crime fiction, some of whom are now translated into English. This November, I again headed North, to Shetland for the eponymous Noir instigated by Ann Cleeves who has a series of novels based there, now on TV.
|View from my hotel bathroom...|
|View from my hotel bedroom... bit wet out there.|
|My and the fest's first panel|
|Douglas Henshall, Helen Grant (short story comp winner) et moi, Town Hall reception.|
Some of the panels got quite argumentative and feisty, especially about violence against women in crime fiction. It was interesting to hear top writers talking about their agents or editors insisting they changed things about their stories and even characters, and how they seemed to accept this. Interestingly a couple had been forced to make their (female) characters younger. I wonder why… There are plenty of unfeasibly old male ‘tecs still chasing scumbags on TV and film. While I accept that editors sometimes know best, and that writers should be open to changes which will tighten the story etc, I suppose this kind of interference is something indie authors can avoid, though no doubt to many it’s well worth it for the big advances, the book tours, and the fame! Interestingly there was some discussion of book length, and it turns out that some publishers are indeed insisting on very long crime novels, with the result of too much filler and not enough killer – Golden Age novels were slim volumes by comparison with not a word wasted.
One pleasant surprise for me was that my book The Operator actually sold well – all but one were snapped up – often festivals are poor for book sales as there are just so many writers and so many books, and so little suitcase space for taking them home.
|Typical view of heath and water|
We had a glorious gift of a day on the Sunday, when the wind stopped completely and the sun shone, for our bus tour round Ann’s Shetland locations, a chance to see mainland Shetland properly, and very beautiful it is. Lots of moorland, and water, water, everywhere, the sea and the land enmeshed, the human element very Scandinavian, like Shetlandic itself, so that it was very like Iceland with Shetland ponies but less lava. Another joy of the internet is meeting facebook friends, two of whom I met in Shetland for the first time in person, Welsh poet Sheenagh Pugh and film festival force of nature Kathy Hubbard. The next storm got going again just in time to make the journey home interesting, on an even smaller plane. Lovely. But could someone please invite me to a crime fest somewhere hot next time perhaps, just for variety?
|Cute Flybe planes: left, outward, right, home. Aww!|
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