Get a Clue!

I already knew that crime actually does pay, if you’re a crime writer, that is. But I had no idea how widespread the fascination is, until I read a recent (July 19) article by Louise Millar, one of the Guardian’s reporters, in which she picks some of the best crime-writing festivals. They are held in places as far flung as Reykjavik, Munich, Oslo, Bristol and New York. If you’re a crime fiction fan, and would like to meet your favorite authors, here’s a way to do it.

The best crime writing festivals around the world

Whether you’re a fan of Scandi dramas or planning to pen your own thriller, add a twist to a city break at a crime-writing festival. The hunger for Scandi TV and fiction has sparked a new interest in crime festivals (as perhaps will JK Rowling’s foray into the genre with Cuckoo’s Calling). No longer solely the domain of die-hard thriller fans, these events are increasingly offering everything from live music and food stalls to film screenings and tie-in tours. If you want the thrill of seeing your favourite crime author in the flesh on a city break, here’s our round-up of the best crime-writing festivals around the world.

(The first on the list was in Harrogate, England, but it’s just finished, so I’ve left it out. GC)

Stirling: Bloody Scotland, 13-15 September 2013

A stunning setting is part of the appeal of Scotland’s crime festival, with views over Stirling Castle and the Forth valley. At the Stirling Highland Hotel this year, you can meet lots of Scottish crime writers, including Denise Mina, Louise Welsh and Stuart MacBride, alongside Jo Nesbø, Lee Child and many more well-known authors. As with Harrogate, events are individually priced (from £7), leaving you time to explore the medieval city. For an extra thrill, attend the festival dinner to hear the live announcement of the Scottish Crime Book of the Year.

The book to read: Cold Grave by Craig Robertson (Simon and Schuster, £6.99) follows DS Rachel Narey’s investigations into a 20-year-old cold case that haunts her retired detective father, that of a young woman who disappeared after walking across the frozen Lake of Menteith in winter.

Take a local literary crime tour: Follow in the footsteps of Ian Rankin’s DI John Rebus in Edinburgh. The guided tour starts at the Royal Oak Pub on Infirmary Street on Saturdays, 12-2pm, £10, rebustours.com. (The tours will be running every day during Edinburgh Festival.)

Click here to read the rest of the article.Banner

 

TwitFic via the Guardian – 21 authors try their hand at 140-character novels

Last Friday, the Guardian published this great inspiration for those of us with writer’s block. Even blocked, surely you can write a 140 character story, right? here’s the beginning of the article. You can see the whole thing here.

We challenged well-known writers – from Ian Rankin and Helen Fielding to Jeffrey Archer and Jilly Cooper – to come up with a story of up to 140 characters. This is their stab at Twitter fiction

Twitter View larger picture

. Illustration: Kelly Dyson

Geoff Dyer

I know I said that if I lived to 100 I’d not regret what happened last night. But I woke up this morning and a century had passed. Sorry.

James Meek

He said he was leaving her. “But I love you,” she said. “I know,” he said. “Thanks. It’s what gave me the strength to love somebody else.”

Jackie Collins

She smiled, he smiled back, it was lust at first sight, but then she discovered he was married, too bad it couldn’t go anywhere.

Ian Rankin

I opened the door to our flat and you were standing there, cleaver raised. Somehow you’d found out about the photos. My jaw hit the floor.

For David Lodge, Sophie Hannah, Helen Fielding and more click here

Literary Festivals – they’re all in Britain

I love literary festivals. That’s to say, I love the idea of them. I love the thought of rubbing shoulders with my favorite writers, mixing with other bibliophiles and generally indulging my taste for reading and writing for a glorious few days without interruption. Actually, though,  I’ve never been to one, which considering what an author groupie I am, is surprising. Maybe the reason is that I live in the US and most of the English language literary festivals take place in the British Isles. (British Isles – how quaint! That’s because I’m including Ireland). You can find a comprehensive list of these festivals here and there are still plenty left to visit this year.

At least it seems that they’re all in Britain. I Googled literary festivals USA and got a couple of individual ones, but no comprehensive list. If you know of such a list, do let me know and I’ll be sure to add it to this post. There are plenty of book fairs, but I don’t think they’re the same thing, and most of them aren’t open to the public.

Britain has approximately 135 of them a year, a staggering number for such a small country. The grand-daddy of them all, the Hay Festival,  is celebrating 25 years this week, and the authors that have been lined up for it include Martin Amis, Ian Rankin, Michael Morpurgo and Hilary Mantel, among many others. The Festival is sponsored by the Daily Telegraph, and you can follow it on their live blog 

Hay-on-Wye is normally a small Welsh town of fewer than 1500 people, once famed for having 39 bookstores, mainly selling second-hand and antiquarian books. (That’s one bookshop for every 36 residents, in case you care…) The bookstores are still there, of course, doing a brisk trade all year with collectors all round the world, but when the festival is on, 80,000 people visit the town. Heaven knows where they stay…

Other British Newspapers sponsor literary festivals too. The Times supports the Cheltenham Literature Festival (October), The Sunday Times does the Oxford festival in March,

But British festivals don’t end there. There are specialized festivals: ones that feature particular writers – Graham Greene (Berkhamsted in September), Dylan Thomas (October, Swansea), Daphne du Maurier (Fowey, Cornwall, May), T.S. Eliot (Little Gidding in July). There’s one just for travel writing: Immrama – the  Lismore Festival of Travel Writing (June 7-10, Waterford Ireland) and another in Manchester just for children’s books (June/July). It goes without saying that some of these are poetry festivals.

My question is: why? Why so many? I know that more books are sold in the US, (over 3 bn! versus 230m in the UK), although almost as many are published (just under 250,000 in the UK and just over in the US). So you’d expect that there would be more festivals like this in the US to cater to those readers. Maybe it’s the distances that put people off. After all, in Britain you’re never more than about 3-4 hours away from anywhere, so these things are accessible. But that can’t be the whole story. Maybe they bring up the Brits to be writer groupies. Maybe knowing our favorite writers live just around the corner (metaphorically speaking) makes people think of them as personal friends, whom they want to visit periodically. I don’t know. But I’m thinking I might visit a festival next year. After all, so long as I don’t visit in December, there’s always a literary festival going on somewhere.