Remember, remember the 6th of November,
Booker, Harper, MacBride and Khan,
In City abiding, with Forshaw presiding,
As the authors spin us a yarn.
As you can probably tell, poetry isn’t really my thing. It’s much easier to kill someone on a page than get the scansion right in a poem but the sentiment was sincere. Barry Forshaw did an excellent job with chairing and the authors did not disappoint us with their yarns.
Stuart MacBride’s latest book is Now We are Dead. This is a standalone novel about DS Roberta Steel, a former DCI who was demoted for fitting up a suspect. If you saw Stuart on Celebrity Mastermind, then you’ll know that his specialist subject was AA Milne. So the title of this book is a small, albeit slightly unusual, tribute to the great man. Now We Are Six is a wonderful book of poetry.
Simon Booker’s second novel is Kill Me Twice and is the sequel to Without Trace. Both books feature Morgan Vine, a single mother and investigative journalist who looks into miscarriages of justice. Simon has previously written for TV including The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Holby City. His partner is author Mel McGrath and they regularly discuss murder over the breakfast table.
Elodie Harper will be well known to you if you live in East Anglia as she’s a TV journalist with ITV News Anglia. Her debut novel is The Binding Song and inspiration came from the creepy landscape of Norfolk [especially with November fog!] Set in a prison, it features psychologist Dr Janet Palmer who has to investigate a string of suicides. Elodie has also won a short story competition that was judged by Stephen King.
Vaseem Khan’s Inspector Chopra series is set in Mumbai. Having lived there for ten years, Vaseem was keen to show the various sides of India – the new modern side as well as the poverty. He also wanted to show that not everyone jumps up and dances every five minutes. Having said that though, his latest instalment is The Strange Disappearance of the Bollywood Star who is abducted in front of a live audience. (You can read my recent Q&A with Vaseem here)
One of the questions that Barry asked was – are awards something to aspire to? With newly crowned CWA Dagger winners, Chris Whitaker and Abir Mukherjee in the room, it was a very relevant question.
Simon Booker posed the question – who doesn’t want to win an award? But sadly, no prize so far for this Booker! (This was Simon’s joke. I take NO credit for it whatsoever.)
Vaseem waited 23 years to be published so just seeing his book in print and being read, is prize enough.
Elodie suggested that no-one would say no but she would prefer to be a popular writer. If you win an award though, you probably deserve it.
For Stuart, it’s not the ‘be all and end all’. He’d rather write a really good book.
Another question from Barry – are there any areas that Crime Fiction can’t touch?
All the authors agreed that there aren’t really. Except as Simon pointed out, maybe don’t kill the dog. For Stuart, Crime Fiction reflects society. Vaseem suggested that there are two issues here – the writer who wants to write about a particular topic vs the publisher who may not want to publish it.
Are we in an age of dumbing down?
Simon said yes and mentioned something about a particular building in the USA… He also thought that our attention spans are less.
Elodie thought that we live in challenging times and people are much less deferential these days – less likely to listen to ‘experts’.
Vaseem said that this is the first age where people, who should remain silent, don’t, and have a huge platform through social media to broadcast their views.
Stuart said that there was a growing lack of critical thought and people just listen to what they want to hear.
Final question was one from the audience – what’s a common mistake that writers make?
Stuart – not writing! Have to work towards that dream.
Elodie – not finishing your book.
Vaseem – not realising how bad you are! Important to get others to read and critique your work and not just your Mum who will love your book regardless.
Simon – got to finish something. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress.
If you want to know more about the authors and buy their books then
Stuart MacBride – click here
Vaseem Khan – click here
Elodie Harper – click here
Simon Booker – click here
So that was the end of First Monday Crime for November – a great evening all round and continued on in the pub. But what about next month, I hear you cry? Well, the line-up is terrific! CWA Dagger winner, Chris Whitaker will be there, along with Susi Holliday, Louise Jensen and Mel McGrath (maybe she can tell us more about talking murder over the breakfast table with Simon). Claire McGowan will be keeping the panellists in line (especially Chris Whitaker).
But wait, THERE’S MORE! There will be a very special pitching panel, where we, the audience, get to judge. So, which authors will be pitching their best, sorry – worst book ideas? MC Howard Linskey will invite Rod Reynolds, Abir Mukherjee, Cass Green, Leye Adenle, Susi Holliday, Derek Farrell, Lisa Hall, Christ Whitaker and James Carol to present their best worst ideas. But only one can be the First Monday Pitch an Audience Champion 2017.
There will be FREE wine, courtesy of No Exit Press. There will be FREE cookies (yes, I am making them – just make sure you get one before Rod Reynolds finds them). Buy one of the panellists’ books from Big Green Bookshop on the night and receive a FREE goody bag. And finally, no Christmas/office party would be complete without a Secret Santa! Bring in a wrapped book (new or unused) of your choice and you’ll get to take one home in return. Now obviously, this is only going to work if we all do it. So have a think about what book you’d like to bring. Maybe it’s your favourite read from this year or an absolute classic. Maybe it’s a very well-known book, or maybe it’s one that you thought deserved more attention. Just remember to reserve your FREE place at firstmondaycrime.com
See you on Monday 4th December!