I can’t believe I forgot to write this post! I’m going to blame it on the fact that we had such a great time on Monday night that I slept REALLY badly! Think it knocked my brain out for the rest of the week. I was definitely buzzing after our US vs UK Noir event. Rod Reynolds, author of The Dark Inside, Black Night Falling and Cold Desert Sky, represented the US while Amer Anwar, debut novelist with Brothers In Blood, was carrying the flag for the UK.
Both authors started by telling us about their books. To give you some idea about what they said, here’s the blurb for each.
Cold Desert Sky
No one wanted to say it to me, that the girls were dead. But I knew.
Late 1946 and Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie have returned to Los Angeles, trying to stay anonymous in the city of angels.
But when Yates, back in his old job at the Pacific Journal, becomes obsessed by the disappearance of two aspiring Hollywood starlets, Nancy Hill and Julie Desjardins, he finds it leads him right back to his worst fear: legendary Mob boss Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, a man he once crossed, and whose shadow he can’t shake.
As events move from LA to the burgeoning Palace of Sin in the desert, Las Vegas – where Siegel is preparing to open his new Hotel Casino, The Flamingo – Rod Reynolds once again shows his skill at evoking time and place. With Charlie caught between the FBI and the mob, can he possibly see who is playing who, and find out what really happened to the two girls?
Brothers In Blood
THEY’RE NOT BOUND BY FAMILY. BUT A FAMILY COULD TEAR THEM APART.
Southall, West London. After being released from prison, Zaq Khan is lucky to land a dead-end job at a builders’ yard. All he wants to do is keep his head down and put the past behind him.
But when Zaq is forced to search for his boss’s runaway daughter, he quickly finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception, murder and revenge.
With time running out and pressure mounting, can he find the missing girl before it’s too late? And if he does, can he keep her – and himself – alive long enough to deal with the people who want them both dead?
Back to the evening. As the theme of the event suggests, we wanted to know more about the setting and why they chose it.
For Rod, it was discovering a true story – the unsolved Texarkana Moonlight Murders – that sparked the idea for his debut, The Dark Inside. While he was out there doing some research, he came across another town called Hot Springs. Looking into its history, the town tied nicely in with the first story and that became the setting for Black Night Falling. The Mob feature in the second story which then linked perfectly for Los Angeles and Las Vegas for Rod’s most recent novel – Cold Desert Sky. Setting the stories in 1946 is great for atmosphere but it’s not always easy for Charlie Yates (Rod’s protagonist) to find a telephone!
Amer grew up in West London, so he didn’t have to travel far to research Southall and Hounslow for Brothers In Blood. For Amer, it wasn’t the setting as such that gave him the idea but rather the people he knew in the area. He wanted to read a novel about Asian life in Britain. When he realised that no one else was going to write it, he thought he’d give it a go. Little did he know just how long it would take – over 10 years! I can’t do Amer’s publishing story justice in just a few words. If you ever get the chance to meet Amer, ask him to tell you the tale. But make sure you’re sitting down with a drink in your hand. You’re going to be there for a while! The one thing I can tell you though is that Amer’s story is one of perseverance. If you’re feeling discouraged in your writing life, then take comfort from Amer.
Rod had a much easier road to publication. He went from starting to write to published in 3 1/2 years! Both Rod and Amer did MA courses which helped to focus and fine-tune their writing.
But we come to the highlight of the evening! I always think it’s a good idea to prep the authors on my questions. Except, I had a mystery round for them. They knew there was something but had no idea what. Well, to really decide which is better, US or UK, we had to have a quiz. And what better way of testing their knowledge than naming classic US or UK TV themes! There were 12 intros altogether for them to guess. Rod and Amer had to write down their thoughts before I asked the audience for the answer. I have to say – the audience were very good! I even had a few bonus questions for the authors to answer in relation to the shows. It was a lot of fun! And the winner? Representing the UK, Amer took the win by just 1 point!
I want to say thank you so much to Rod and Amer for coming along and being such good sports. They were a hit with the audience and someone has already said to me that I should get them back again. Maybe when they have new books out.
Thank you also to the Friends of West Barnes Library who make these events happen. I couldn’t do this without them.
And talking of events, keep Monday 18th March free when Rhidian Brook, author of The Aftermath and now a movie starring Keira Knightley (out March 1st) and Elisabeth Gifford, author of my top book of 2018, The Good Doctor of Warsaw, will be coming to chat about the real-life inspiration behind their novels. I’ll let you know when booking opens.