Re-blog post of Bloody Scotland – Mark Billingham and Richard Osman – 2 Entertaining, Warm Authors, 1 now published, the other is coming – 5 Star Review @Richardosman #TheThursdayMurderClub #TheirLittleSecret #BloodyScotland #Pointless

In light of the fact that there has been a cover reveal for Richard Osman’s new book – The Thursday Murder Club – published September 2020. I thought I would re-publish my review of his talk, when he was at Bloody Scotland in Stirling, to give you a glimpse of what was said. I must say, this is a book I am super excited about on the account that instincts tell me it’s going to be a very good book indeed. The premise of it sounds excellent and I am pretty sure that will translate well on the pages of the book.

Bloody Scotland
Mark Billingham in Conversation with Richard Osman
Rated: 5 Stars *****

The weather was warm and sunny on Saturday 21st September 2019 when I attended Bloody Scotland in Stirling. One of the greatest crime festivals, which also showcases new authors as well as the well-known ones. I was in for an amazing night and as my blog turned 1 year old, it was lovely to be able to be back at Bloody Scotland, where I wrote my first blog post.

I went to see Richard Osman and Mark Billingham in conversation. First up was Daniel James for the spotlight section, which gives new authors a chance to talk about their books and read an excerpt. First impressions were that his book – The unauthorised biography of Ezra Mass sounds intriguing and dark.

The main event was Richard Osman and Mark Billingham in conversation with each other. If you ever get a chance to see these two, go for it. You’ll be in for a highly entertaining time and they are both warm and very kind. What I liked too was the way they both seemed to have genuine respect for each other, even when they were ribbing each other about things, but it all seemed to be in good humour,the way that could only be done if someone knew each other well. It was a lovely atmosphere.

Richard Osman, who has produced many popular tv shows, such as 8 out of 10 Cats etc, presents quizzes and been a panelist on shows such as Have I Got News For You etc and can currently be seen presenting Pointless alongside Alexander Armstrong. He has a new fictional book called The Thursday Murder Club. Be aware that it amazingly isn’t published until September 2020. I felt very privileged to be part of an audience to hear so much about it, so far in advance. It is set in an enclosed retirement type of place with the main characters being in a gang of 4 in their 70s and because they are of an age they can get away with practically anything.  It was described  as having a cosy setting but very funny, moving and razor-sharp. Mark Billingham praised Richard Osman about how readers will get to know the characters quickly and of them being likeable. They talked about how there isn’t much police procedural but lots of cakes feature. I quickly decided that this is a book that I would like very much to read and would be happy to review. It seems to have an interesting premise and good “ingredients” to it.

It was so interesting hearing about how Richard Osman has always been a fan of crime fiction and how he always wanted to write and how he and Mark Billingham got together and about a lunch. It sounded like a great lunch, full of amazing opportunity.

It was fascinating to hear about the huge gap between writing and having a book published and on shelves and the public reading it and how with tv, the reaction is more instant. It wasn’t anything I’d ever heard authors talk about at events. There seemed to be great honesty spoken of. Other authors of course talk honestly too, but sometimes of different things. They spoke well and so openly about how authors, whether they are new or been writing for a while have some self-doubt and how so many wonder if their work is actually un-publishable. This wasn’t spoken of in a negative light as people may have expected, rather in a more positive one in some ways.

As for books, Richard Osman admitted that he didn’t read a book until 21. Just shows that no one is too old to pick up a book and start reading. He also talked about how contemporary fiction led to crime fiction and about writing something that is commercial.

Mark Billingham’s latest book is Their Little Secret. Already, it’s an intriguing title.

Tom Thorne is the award-winning Mark Billingham’s main  character and this is the 17th in the series. He has also written short stories, stand alone stories and a non-fiction book. He, alongside crime authors such as Val McDermid, is a member of the singing group – Fun Lovin Writers.

Richard Osman said of it that it was extraordinary how he moves the characters on and also praised about how it was detailed and modern. The interesting thing here was that Mark Billingham talked about the twists and all the other tricks and armour up crime writer’s sleeves, but reckoned the quieter moments were exciting too.

How they plan was discussed. The fact is they don’t really plan, compared to other authors. Everyone is different, which is exciting. It was interesting to hear of the challenges posed when that debut novel is out there and the second novel is being created and the differences between that and furthering a series, as well as reflecting what is going on in the world, especially if something major happens.

Mark Billingham spoke of where he got his inspiration from and so did Richard Osman and I won’t say what it is as the material that could be used in many talks, but there was a moment when Mark was telling of something extraordinary happening that really made me shudder and I am sure I wasn’t the only one to in the audience.

They both spoke of their love of creating books and it became clear that this was genuine by the way they spoke. Richard Osman talked about how he loves being a sidekick on the likes of Pointless but also loves the solitude of writing and of being part of the crime writing community and how lovely people are. I have to say that I too have found that authors are lovely and it was at Bloody Scotland a year ago when I started my blog and then went to another crime festival from there and even though they write about murder etc, the authors, I have found to be generous and very nice indeed.

It was interesting seeing their personalities being totally shown and hearing how hard they work and how pressures often come from themselves. Something I too can relate to. I often think that if you’re going to do something, you might as well try to do it to the best of your ability. Richard Osman also spoke candidly of being an introvert. I think he does amazingly well and it is inspiring how he still puts himself out there to do something, like being on the stage to do this talk or on tv. Sometimes it is just something that has to be done to acheive something, again something else relatable. 

Richard Osman is now working on his second novel, which he spoke a little of and I am already interested in what may happen to his characters and the first book isn’t even available yet. A whole year to wait! I’ll just need to try and be patient. Mark Billingham is working on a prequel to his series. At least there’s already one of his to be getting on with.

There was much fun to be had with a game of guessing author’s ages and it was Mark Billingham v the audience. All the way through the event there was much fun to be had as these men are sharp and are great at the humour as well as the serious and mix it up so well.

All in all I am looking forward to reading Mark Billingham’s book, who I thank for signing and writing such an encouraging message. I look forward to Richard Osman’s book being released and I hope he returns to Bloody Scotland when it is. I also thank Richard Osman for allowing me to talk to him briefly. I thank the two of them for such an excellent evening.

So, I will conclude in saying thanks and that I highly recommend to anyone to see these kind, talented and warm gentlemen and I hope that I get the opportunity to see them again. I also hope Bloody Scotland invites Richard Osman back when his book is actually published.

Let’s Talk Mental Health – Penultimate Morecambe and Vice Panel @MorecambeVice @drcjmerritt @Dr. LizBrewster @BarbaraNadel #Crimefiction #Psychology #Mentalhealth

Let’s Talk Mental Health

The Penultimate Morecambe and Vice panel

 

Tel: 0300 123 3393

Text 86463

This was a panel consisting of Liz Brewster, Barbara Nadel and Dr Chris Merritt.

Liz Brewster wrote a paper on the healing power of books – bibliotherapy. Teaches sociology of medicine.

Barbara Nadel is a crime writer and worked in psychiatric institutions and in the community. She herself suffers from depression and has psychotic episodes, that is under control. Her books are the Inspector Ikmen series.
Chris Merritt clinical psychologist and also writes crime. His series is the Boateng and Jones books about corruption and organised crime in London.
Dr Merritt panelLiz Brewster. Barbara Nadel, Dr Chris Merritt
I must admit to being really interested in what this panel had to say because it has long been said that reading is beneficial to well-being. I was also interested in hearing what the panel had to say about mental health within writers too.
There was such a fabulously thought-provoking question to start off with –
Are writers more at risk of mental health problems?
It was interesting because writers of any kind are all human after all and crime writers in-particular are writing about pretty dark characters at times. Some methods to assist in keeping good mental health as well as some very honest thoughts on their own well-being was talked about.
Dr. Chris Merritt sounded very wise and kept his advice do-able for everyone. He talked about writers spending lots of time in isolation and inside their own head as well as the heads of maybe unpleasant people (characters).
His recommendations  to writers are:
*   To try to be around some people like a cafe and write. It produces some good feelings.
*   Going for a walk, so it is not always just you and your material.
Liz talked about how writers (understandably) put their heart and soul in but rejection happens and reckoned you’ve got to learn how to deal with that.
Barbara said events can be hard, depending on the day, how you feel. Her advice is that you have just got to go out there for the publicity.
Challenging situations.
Dr. Merritt said, when writing, there’s got to be a purpose and not to cross the line into voyeurism.  He admitted has creeped himself out a little. He also said for writers, it can be upsetting when researching real crime.
Liz says you should work out how to make sense of getting through to the end of the book.

Liz thinks you’ve got to find out  what your resilience is.

 

For Chris, it is about how you deal with, the presentation, the motivation of the book. Thinks nothing should be off limits.
It was discussed that for mentally ill characters, it is about how to present them and the types of mental health.
It was discussed that crime writers want to know why crimes are committed and the whole web of people who are affected by the psychology.
Liz reckoned that ongoing character development in crime series means that personalities can be developed further.
Why Crime Fiction is playing an important part in Mental Health
Liz talked about bibliotherapy and explained that it as a broad, diverse field. When people find books, it’s those that really speak to them that gives people time and space. It can be non-fiction, fiction, poetry. Research was done and said crime books are very important. It was discussed that crime books are intellectually stimulating and gives people something else to focus on. The other idea is there’s a sense of closure and there’s a safe distance. Sense of closure was said to of had real positive impact on mental health issues.
Chris PTSD overlap between trauma and PTSD in crime fiction. If depicted sympathetically and readers can empathise and sympathise and hopes that shows and feeds through in society.
He thinks there’s a responsibility to do your homework for a mental health disorder. He rates Val Mcdermid for writing this well.
Successful author, Simon Brett and others are trying to get more support for authors.
What they are enjoying reading just now
Liz is a fan of cosy crime and the mystery can be light and be solved. Can be very clever mysteries too. Likes locked room type of mysteries and can think about how to solve it yourself.
Chris likes any author that creates an immersive world, which can take him out of stresses and strains, such as Jo Nesbo and Michael Connelly.
Chris – said there is an arc in his books, but can be read as standalone.
March 2020 will see the start of a new series – Lockhart and Green.
I hope people who are needing some support will seek it out. Below (and above at the beginning of this post) are links and contact details to Mind. If you are feeling you need support, people are there to do this in a confidential manner and there will be nothing to be ashamed of. Humans are created with so many complexities and that is okay. The Morecambe and Vice team put in all their programmes for this weekend, the website to Mind and contact details too, for those of you who attended. I have done the same here. If you click on the link, no one will ever know, that includes me.

Tel: 0300 123 3393

Text 86463
These are a selection of books that were suggested in the Morecambe and Vice programme to “Read for Wellness”. Please note there will be many others and there are many other books in other genres too that get recommended in lists for Reading for Wellness. Visit your local library and your librarian or library assistant will be able to recommend “Reading for Wellness” books too.
Click below for the websites of both Dr. Chris Merritt and Barbara Nadel. Both have their books, but Dr. Chris Merritt also has some very interesting research and info on “tech psychology” too.
It was a pleasure to meet Dr. Chris Merritt, at the water-cooler as it happened. It was an interesting and pleasant chat. Thank you!
A Knife to the Heart (Ikmen Mystery 21) (Cetin Ikmen Mysteries) by [Nadel, Barbara]      Sinner        Bring Her Back: An utterly gripping crime thriller with edge-of-your-seat suspense
Incorruptible (Inspector Ikmen Mystery 20) (Inspector Ikmen Mysteries)         Toxic         Last Witness: A gripping crime thriller you won't be able to put down

Femme Fatales @MorecambeVice @WhartonEileen @kerryannrichardson #SheilaQuigley #CrimeFiction #Bookish #Review

Femme Fatales

Excellently, it was another panel with Dr. Jacky Collins, which covered many different and unique topics as part of the Morecambe and Vice Festival.
Sheila Quigley adores Stephen King. She intriguingly writes the title and then story.
Kerryann Richardson did a degree in creative writing and has written 6 books to date. 
It was talked about readers getting relief from real world as they read as most books (9 out of 10) do bring a closure that can be cosy and comforting. That being said, it was also debated about how there can be a dilemma in which character to root for at times as not all characters were just all good or bad. It was thought-provoking.
The next part of the talk was about the author’s books. It took a different take on it as they each had to think of their favourite/most memorable characters from them to enlighten the audience with,
Kerry Ann said Cas as she is  much like author, but her absolute favourite is Ben (female) strong character and keeps overcoming a lot that’s thrown at her and the relationship with Jacob.
Sheila – Smiler, 15/16 year old  in trouble with drugs and she said readers won’t let anything happen to character.
Eileen likes Elsie, who gets everything wrong, says everything wrong.
Places
How important to write the north-east of the country? Was a profound question for the authors to ponder over.
Kerry sets where she worked. Easy when you already know area. She sets hers in Edinburgh and they go down to Darlington.
Sheila loves the NE but characters do travel. She imparted on the advice that you’ve got to really know the place that you are going to be writing about.
Eileen, set in NE but then travels to many other places, including abroad and her characters then go back to NE.
When there are moments of it not flowing are you tempted to say you’re done.
Kerry says life throws things at you and can’t always just write full time, so got other job. Enjoys writing for her.
They talked openly about how some hard times, they still write and still want to continue to write, basically it brought about the fact that even though they are known people and have their names on books within bookshops etc, they are still human and sometimes situations in life can happen. It was good that this wasn’t any pity-party or anything like that, they just briefly talked about how things can be at times.
Positively they talked about what was next for them. They sound busy and industrious:
A short story is being written by Kerry. She has also started a new series and a new book for current series.
Sheila is writing a new book.
Eileen is writing a book and a sitcom. She has written a YA book, not yet published.
So plenty for people to be looking out for by them all.
It was interesting to hear how most the panel like reading female authors over male, whereas Sheila cares more about it being a good book etc and doesn’t care about the gender of author.
To inspire you to also try other authors:
Eileen likes Pat Barker
Kerry likes Mary Higgens Clarke.
It was lovely how they closed the panel by talking about the support they give each other.
Blanket of Blood (Paperback)   

Winner Winner @MorecambeVice panel write-up. @alisonbelsham @highlandwriter @rachelsargeant3 #crime #CrimeFiction #writingcommunity #Bookish #Review #Libraries #Festival

Winner Winner

Alison Belsham was moderating this panel and kept it all flowing very well.

She writes procedural crime. Her debut novel was The Tattoo Theif, set around a Brighton Tattoo Convention. A youthful, fast-tracked DI is on the case to find out who has literally been cutting off tattoes. Her latest novel is – Her Last Breath.

Alison has some great anecdotes about getting a tattoo.
The Tattoo Thief            Her Last Breath: The new crime thriller from the international bestseller
Robert Scragg writes police procedural. His second book is out this year.
What Falls Between the Cracks was his debut novel, set around a 30 year old crime scene, where there were notions of what could be the perfect crime. The woman who owns the flat hasn’t been seen since the 1980’s and yet no one had looked for her.
What Falls Between the Cracks: The gripping debut that will have you reading late into the night (Porter & Styles Book 1)
      Nothing Else Remains: The compulsive read (Porter and Styles Book 2)
Margaret Kirk writes the DI Lucas series, set in Inverness. Shadow man is first in series. It introduces DI Lucas and his team and Anna Murray, sister of murdered woman. She says the subplot forms ongoing story arc.
In her second book, there is a 70 year old case tied up with modern case.
Shadow Man                          What Lies Buried (Lukas Mahler 2)
Rachel Sargeant has written 3 books. Perfect Neighbours is set in Germany. It came out of experience of being army camp in Germany. Inspired by a crime she read about in papers and closed community.
The second book is  The Good Teacher and The Room Mates being her latest.
The Perfect Neighbours                The Roommates: A gripping, addictive, psychological thriller full of shocking twists from the Kindle top ten bestseller by [Sargeant, Rachel]
Winner winner panel on stage
They spoke about what their winning moments were. They told their stories most humbly, which I liked. They seemed to be quite grounded. It was perhaps quite apt that this panel came after the one about festivals because both Alison and Robert pitched at festivals. Alison pitched at Bloody Scotland and Robert pitched at Harrogate and at Newcastle Noir. It was interesting to hear some of the ins and outs of pitching and how they had only a few minutes to pitch and they got professional critique and feedback.
Alison won the Bloody Scotland pitching competition and had an agent take her on.
Alison’s advice is to pitch at these competitions as it is a chance to make an impression.
Robert – says he also went to workshops run by other authors and gives opportunities to pick their brains.
Pitched in front of Mark Billingham. He has a day job as well as writing and reckons everyone wants others to do well.
Margaret – took a different route. Wrote short stories. Good feedback after entering comps. Sent Romantic Novelist Association for free feedback. She went to a workshop with Val McDermid and Louise Welsh. She entered a short story competition. She won and she got an agent and publishing deal.
Her advice is that there are many paths to publication. Seek the one that suits you.
Rachel – creative writing workshop, had to write a little for 5 mins, good feedback. Saw a short competition and in time, the story grew to around 80,000. Harper Collins took her on. It means she will keep going. She felt that first win legitimised her and she kept going.
It was interesting to hear that, even though they are published, they still go to writing groups, whether it is a local one or one online. I’ve noticed this about a few authors.
This was another great panel and it was better than what I thought it would be all in all. The insights were all interesting and hopefully it will make the reading public think a little bit more about what they are buying into when they read books. Hopefully people will have gained some knowledge about what goes into being an author.
Sunshine Moments
The theme this year at the festival was sunshine moments. This is the authors sunshine moments:
Rachel met 3 writers at a summer school. Put into a syndicate to share and critique each other and are her ray of sunshine.
Margaret says the  crime writing community is supportive.
Robert mentioned when he was at the Harrogate pitch, he saw someone who is aspiring an author and saw the same guy in Stirling plug his book.
Robert talked of doing library events and was asked if he could give feedback on someone else’s work too. He remembered that he had been there done that and was in a position to do that and humbled someone wanted to so that. Margaret will also do this. I love that they do this to benefit others.
Alison went back to pitch perfect at Bloody Scotland. She talked of  Susie, whom she taught, who then went on to win the competition.
Rachel talked of valuing book-bloggers and thanked them all. For me, this felt so lovely and nice as there are so many of us working for free, writing reviews, articles etc in our free time to try and get authors work known to people too. It was most humbling and lovely and so unexpected, to hear a thanks to all book-bloggers, verbalised at a festival like that, so I thank you for this.
I thank the authors for allowing me to photograph them.
Alison Belsham winner winner panel
Robert Scragg, Alison Belsham, Margaret Kirk, Rachel Sargeant

Write up of Festival of Festivals @mcdevitt_bob @bloodyscotland @ayewrite @CollinsJacky @NewcastleNoir @NoirBarEdin @bradleybooks #NorthernStoryFestival @graskeggur @MorecambeVice #IcelandicNoir #writingcommunity #crimefiction #review

Festivals of Festivals

First thing on a Sunday morning (lots of dedication to be at the venue early, but it was all completely worth it and better than the average Sunday).
Festivals of Festivals was a great behind the scenes insight to a certain extent by those who actually put together these festivals. If it weren’t for them, they wouldn’t be happening. This was an amazing panel of people who have dedicated a huge amount of time in creating festivals. Not just any festivals, but those that are now well-known by many.

    The festivals being discussed and their organisers:

  • Bloody Scotland, Aye Write, Winter Words – Bob McDevitt
  • Newcastle Noir and Noir at the Bar – Dr. Jacky Collins
  • Northern Short Story Festival – SJ Bradley
  • Icelandic Noir – Quentin Bates
    Find out below which months each of these are held.

Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates

Bob McDevitt runs 3 literary festivals – he talked about Bloody Scotland and how over 10,000 people attended during a weekend in Stirling. Winter Words in Pitlochery focusses on nature and travel, Aye Write in Glasgow in March – 250 authors attend. Had short films, sometimes and not all are your usual book panels. It spans across 3 weekends.

Aye Write is staged in Glasgow. It interestingly was started by library service. It mostly Scottish and some English authors. For Pitlochery, he spoke about it depending on what publishers can do. He highlighted the Spotlight section like Bloody Scotland and what it means for up and coming authors. He has had event experience of organising from his time working in Waterstones.
He made clear that ALL Scottish festivals pay their authors.

These are some amazingly staggering figures – 350 authors pitched and 80 authors make it. Independent publishers also invited to Bloody Scotland.

SJ Bradley runs the Northern Short Story Festival in June with readings and workshops. They also have Frightfest in the winter.

Leeds Litfest also got a mention and has predominantly northern writers.
SJ Bradley primarily wanted to shine a light on authors. As an author learnt a lot too about publishing world and had some opportunities for networking.
The festival has a focus on celebrating short stories.  they also aim to make it: Affordable, Inclusive and Accessible. She talked about where funding came from and about audience sizes in that smaller audiences for short stories.  She too pointedly remarked that they also pay their authors.

Quentin Bates is the man behind Iceland Noir and organises it every second year in Reykjavik. It consists of some British and Nordic writers and was decided from the outset that everything would be in English. It was interesting that festival happens in Iceland and yet the locals don’t really do this type of thing. It was thought that it is perhaps to do with Icelandic culture and also the fact they don’t commit to anything.
The festival started in 2013. Why? Well, apparently that’s what happens when 3 folk share a curry and beer, leading to someone mentioning it strange there was no crime festival in Iceland. 4 weeks later they talked more and 6 months later and it began. The next one is in 2020.

Jacky organises Newcastle Noir. She has a great anecdote about her boss telling her to change her research and how she ended up with Newcastle Noir. It is on the premise of ticket price is always accessible. Never become a big festival. No point in replicating others. National and International authors. 2014 started.

Jackie also gets involved with Noir at the Bar in Edinburgh. Authors established and new go to this. It is there to create a community for writers and have a social occasion.

The conversation changed to community spirit and how festivals create a sense of community at festivals for authors and returning audiences as well as for the organisers.

She talked about how some festivals sadly not paying their authors. She went on to mention that some authors do charitable and library events for free to support.

Jacky talked about how to invite authors, some say just ask and others like to go through their publisher/publicist.

There was an interesting question – Should authors go to festivals? Consensus was yes. There was talk of how authors can practice at the likes of Noir at the Bar and try to get onto festivals. It was considered important to get out there and if you’re good at talking to an audience, people want to buy your books. This is true I have to say. I’ve attended festivals and bought books sometimes just from hearing the person talk and the same with some library events, I’ve bought books I may not have otherwise.
There was talk of doing  your own promotion as publishers won’t always do this for you.

There was some great advice for authors. People can’t abide rudeness, even if you’re a good author and written a lot. Don’t take stuff out on volunteers, even if you’re annoyed at something. They’re doing their best.

Be polite in your engagement in the festival. Don’t send snarky emails or slag off other festivals.

Be prepared for your talk. Be punctual. If you’re late because of trains being delayed, then that’s seen as being acceptable as it is out of your control.

Remember sometimes speakers/authors can’t turn up at times. Always be gracious as stuff happens and there is normally a good reason behind the appearance being changed or cancelled.

  • Bloody Scotland – September
  • Aye Write – March
  • Winter Words – February
  • Newcastle Noir – May
  • Noir at the Bar – September
  • Northern Short Story Festival – October
  • Icelandic Noir – November
  • Morecambe and Vice – September

If you ever see them talk about their festivals, then do go. It’s a very insightful talk, which was done very well. It was so enlightening.

With thanks to Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates for permission to take their photo. Thanks to Bob McDevitt for the nice chat about Bloody Scotland, of which I attended this year and hope to in 2020 too.

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