Well, like the ambassador in a certain chocolate advert, I’m going to be ‘really spoiling’ you with blog posts this week, starting with last night’s First Monday Crime. The panellists were Robert Goddard, Cathi Unsworth , Simone Buchholz and G.J. Minett , with Joe Haddow chairing. First up , those all important books.
Anything For Her is G.J. Minett’s 3rd book. Set in Rye, it tells the story of Billy Orr, in his late 20s, who has returned to his home town to visit his ill sister. While there, he meets up with an old girlfriend, Aimi. She’s in an abusive relationship and wants Billy to help her. But is Aimi still the same as she used to be? And more importantly, is Billy?
Cathi Unsworth has weaved real life events from WW2 into her new novel That Old Black Magic. She looks at Helen Duncan, the last woman to be prosecuted for witchcraft in the UK. This might seem a bit odd but Helen was a medium who appeared to know state secrets about the sinking of the Royal battleship HMS Barham. She claimed she got the information from contacting dead sailors. Also during WW2, some boys found a body inside a tree in Hagley Woods. Ross Spooner, Unsworth’s fictional police officer, investigates.
Panic Room is Robert Goddard’s 27th novel. I think we should probably have given him a standing ovation for that accolade. Panic rooms are normally reserved for those who can really afford them. They may be in city dwellings but often they’re in isolated houses where you might have to wait longer for the police to turn up in the event of a problem. In a panic room, you will normally find food and drink and there’ll be a CCTV system that allows the occupant(s) to see what’s happening in the rest of the house. The door is locked from the inside. Robert’s book is set in West Cornwall and a young woman called Blake is housesitting a large mansion. While staying there, an estate agent comes round to measure up the house and finds a panic room – locked. Who’s in there? Very cleverly, the chapter numbers provide a countdown to the conclusion.
Simone Buchholz’s Blue Night is her first book published in English but the 6th book in her German series about Chastity Riley, a state prosecutor in Hamburg. Fathered by an American soldier based in Germany, Chastity finds herself looking at an organised crime gang who’s dealing in synthetic drugs. Simone said that her books are more like Westerns than a crime novel. That suggests a showdown!
Joe said that readers are getting more savvy these days. Do the authors feel the pressure?
G.J. Minett said no as he has such great editors. They pick up on things that don’t work and persuade him to change it.
Cathi Unsworth thinks that storytellers are a bit like magicians using sleight of hand. (I think that means staying one step ahead of the reader!)
It might be his 27th novel but Robert Goddard still feels the pressure. Although the technical side of writing is easier, he still has to come up with the ideas.
Simone Buchholz has the issue of dealing with translators as well. Her English translator will often send her emails to clarify exact phrases or ask questions. Simone has even changed her own German version after seeing something from the translator’s perspective.
A member of the audience asked – one thing you like being a full-time writer?
G.J. Minett – not teaching!
Cathi Unsworth – not being a sub-editor on a magazine.
Robert Goddard – the freedom to indulge his imagination. And it’s the only thing he’s good at. Although he did once model for a hardware catalogue.
Simone Buchholz – not only can she raise her voice about issues but she can be heard through her writing.
I have more scribbled notes that are a bit hard to decipher but hopefully that’s enough to give you a flavour of the evening. Now after all this bank holiday nonsense, we’re back to normal next month! So put Monday 4th June in your diaries and book your seat here. Details for next month’s panel will soon be released so keep an eye on @1stMondayCrime to find out more (*whispers: But I can tell you now, you won’t want to miss it!*).
Now, I don’t normally do more than a couple of blogs a week at most but I have three more coming up this week in the form of blog tours. Tomorrow, I have extracts for Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone and Death of an Actress by Antony M. Brown (plus a short review). Then on Friday I have a review for Salt Lane by William Shaw. After this, I’m going to be slowing down and only doing a few tours and posts as I concentrate on my own writing. But don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging for First Monday Crime.