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

Noelle Holten in Conversation with Lin Anderson – Morecambe and Vice Festival Review @Lin_Anderson @Noelle Holten @MorecambeVice @BloodyScotland @Blazespage #CrimeFiction #Bookish

Noelle Holten in Conversation with Lin Anderson

Lin Anderson closed the first day of the festival in style with her latest book – Time for the Dead as well as entertaining and interesting anecdotes and talk of festivals.

 

Lyn Anderson and Noelle Holton                                                     Noelle Holten and Lin Anderson

What a life Lin Anderson has had so far. She taught Maths and Computing before giving it up to write for a living with her first story to tell – River Child. She has a book optioned for tv and is the co-founder of crime book festival Bloody Scotland.

Noelle Holten has her debut novel published and was featured on the Spotlight part of Bloody Scotland before Ian Rankin talked about his latest book The House of Lies. Noelle’s book is called Dead Inside. She also reckons crime books have the most diverse collection of stories told within them.

Noelle was great at asking the questions to Lin about her latest book and a dog called Blaze – a border collie up in Skye, which she describes as being majestic as well as Bloody Scotland.

Lin Anderson has not just the talent for writing books, but also of telling amusing anecdotes to her audience, such as about Blaze taking her for a walk in a place which inspired the opening of her novel. 
She also talked about how axe throwing is empowering. I’ll take her word for it, never having tried that myself. Turns out she sounds like she’s pretty good at it.

Rhona McLeod books, are inspired by a place or a meeting and can be read as stand-alone.

Time for the Dead is Lin Anderson’s 14th novel.

She read an extract from her book and I must say it seemed atmospheric with the sounds and environment that is described, which would draw readers into the immediate surroundings. Very quickly there is intrigue that makes you want to hear more.


It w
as so interesting to hear about how Lin started to write with short stories and the courses and writing retreats she went to, one in-particular being situated in Inverness.

Noelle posed an interesting question asking how important are crime festivals and in inspiring and to aspiring new authors?

It turns out very important as crime books tell the world of today and cross all sections of society as police can get into it all.
Lin recalled Ian Rankin saying “if you’re going to go to a country you’ve never been to before, buy a popular crime book and you’ll learn more about the country than a travel guide”. It certainly was thought provoking. Crime writers certainly seem to, in my experience of reading their books, give great descriptions about many places and areas that aren’t necessarily touristy too, for example, I’ve never been to Gibraltar, but I feel I could confidently go if I were to have the time because of the way Robert Daws describes it in his books. Ian Rankin, Lin Anderson, Alex Gray and many other crime writers also allow readers to really gain good knowledge of a place through their skilful writing.

She then went onto talk about Driftneck and also how real life encounters can play into fiction. She has an amazing tale to tell about how she decided, her protagonist, Rhona McLeod, was going to be a forensic scientist. Some other situations were a bit more harrowing, but none-the-less important she brought them up and were worth mulling over and hearing things from a different perspective. Lin Anderson certainly seemed to ahead of time as she recalled it was at a time there weren’t many about in the fictional crime world. She talked more about forensics and the pace it changes and in relation to her writing. Talks like these are always interesting as they often throw something out there that a reader may not particularly always have thought about.

The talk about Bloody Scotland was so informative. This is another festival I also love and is amazingly so close to where I come from.

Everyone could tell how much work is put into putting on a festival. It was 3 1/2 year in the planning, although they got their headliners quickly for the first one. Credit to Alex Gray who suggested it should be in Stirling. Stirling has so many great venues to offer and so much to offer visitors, such as restaurants, the shops, the castle and the Wallace Monument, the scenery and the architecture.
The founders launched Bloody Scotland in both Stirling and London and certainly had a plan for a direction to go in and what they wanted to achieve. They had 3 aims:
1 – Find brand new writers – it became Pitch Perfect – it’s a 100 word pitch of your work.        They’ve seen writers being published from this.
2 – Give a platform for new writers – this became Spotlight where writers can read an            extract  from their books.
3 – Have authors at different stages in their career.
These all run simultaneously and I must say that they are more than acheiving this and are doing it incredibly well. Many things from crime writers quizzing, playing football, singing, giving talks and signings can all be seen during the weekend of Bloody Scotland.

Lin also gave a mention to Capital Crime Festival in London, which was on the same weekend as Morecambe and Vice Festival.

Lin went onto concluding talking more about festivals and also about how authors are approachable at them. I have to say they certainly are and it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’ve seen an author more than once or meeting them for first time, or whether they are a best-selling or award-winning author or not, in my experience anyway, they’ve always been warm and most approachable.

The Bloody Scotland segment of her talk certainly sparked interest (as did her books), but people were certainly asking others about the festival, trying to get more information and there seemed to be quite a buzz about it.

If anyone ever gets the chance to see Lin Anderson talk about any of her books, I highly recommend you do because you’re in for a fabulous time!
I also highly recommend attending Bloody Scotland in September in Stirling.

                                                   

Lin Anderson Books

 

Let Them Lead The Way – Morecambe And Vice Panel @Anne_Coates1 @nicki_thornton @sharnajackson #kidslit #crime #mystery #education #libraries

Let Them Lead The Way
Featuring Children’s and YA Books.

Anne Coates was moderating/interviewing Sharna Jackson, Sarah Todd Taylor and Nicki Thornton.

Anne Coates writes for both children and adults. I had heard of her adult books and she certainly gets good reviews, so it was interesting to hear she writes books about children. Anne Coates skillfully opened up conversations to cover many subjects surrounding children’s books, from about the books themselves to age banding to tips.

 

Children's Authors            Anne Coates      Sharna Jackson   Nicki Thornton        Sarah Todd Taylor

About the Books

Sarah’s passion for cats and theatres really came across so well and she has clearly studied cats a lot to come up with ideas for her books, that sounded so intriguing. She’s even come to learn that cats have different purrs for different occasions. The detective in her stories is indeed a cat called Max. Her book – Max the Detective Cat – The Disappearing Diva is set in a theatre. She talked about wanting to reflect the reality of how things and people aren’t always how they seem. I reckon it sounded like it could certainly feed children’s curiosity. Theatres can of course be interesting places with all manner of nooks and crannies and all sorts of people and especially actors taking on the guise of someone different for a couple of hours or so.

Nicki also has a cat as her detective, called Nightshade, who speaks English. The book is based in a hotel and she mixes criminal activity with magic and in her book, but managing not to go too far into fantasy. The mix of crime and fantasy sounds fun. It sounded like there was some humour to be found in it too. 

Sharna is a director at Site Gallery. She has also written her debut novel – The High Rise Mystery, set on an estate in skinny towers, based on brutalist design. It was interesting to hear that she actually talked to an architect about this and how she didn’t want to stereotype her characters.

There was an interesting discussion about the interactivity that can be gained within stories, somewhat a different angle, which really got my attention. I myself like this too. It doesn’t seem to matter what you’re reading to someone, there’s always ways to interact, whether it is through some repetition or discussion or other involvement. It was mentioned how reluctant readers have got into the authors books and how there is something very universal about crime books. It was useful to hear how crime books for children can actually empower them as they try to find the clues to solve the mystery, alongside the protagonist to see how far they can go in being a detective too as they read.

There was much discussion about crime for children’s books and this was really interesting, since any criminal activity is obviously quite dark, but the discussion resulted in that there can be motives and it can be written in a way children can understand.

Age Groups

It was great to hear authors talking about age indicators when it comes to crime, such as books now being Middle Grade, YA etc. The discussion brought many interesting elements such as parents wanting guidance, but authors do reckon that children are well equipped to deal with death. This went further into stating that it’s the way things are written and the fact there are resolutions at the end can bring comfort to children, even when characters have been through a lot. It was mentioned that these stories can bring some elements of learning for children. It was decided that sometimes some subjects are more suitable for YA than for younger children.

There was a nice mention of librarians in that the authors mentioned that librarians can work out which books are the best “fit” for individual children, which I must say is a skill.

The authors talked about what they have heard children say. They talked about how author events help children to discover books. They said children have said how involved they become in stories and want to inhabit the story’s world using their imaginations.

Tips when writing a children’s story

  • Read a lot and learn from other writers.
  • Don’t feel the need to dumb down.
  • Remember there really are hundreds of good story books for children, despite there being a thought by some that there may not be enough good books.
  • Got to make sure children can follow your book, so there are perhaps red herrings, but the plot needs to be clearer for children. There is a fine line between clues and understanding and comfort in resolutions in the end, even though characters can be put through a lot.What the Authors Liked to Read

    The books these authors have enjoyed are – Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie’s books and Choose Your Own Adventure. I myself have read these books and to choose your own adventure means you can go on many adventures and also have different endings each time.Latest Books and Books Being Discussed

    High Rise Mystery    Max the Detective Cat: The Catnap Caper  The Bad Luck Lighthouse (Seth Seppi Mystery 2)
    Sharna Jackson               Sarah Todd Taylor                      Nicki Thornton

    Max the Detective Cat: The Disappearing Diva    The Last Chance Hotel (Seth Seppi Mystery 1)
    Sarah Todd Taylor                 Nicki Thornton

    Anne Coates was holding one of her adult crime books

    Songs of Innocence (Hannah Weybridge series, book 3)Perdition’s Child

     

    With thanks to the authors for allowing me to take their picture. It was nice to meet the authors and I would recommend checking them out.

The Influence of Music within books, writing and more

A Short Essay of The Influence of Music within Books, Writing and More

music notes    book clipart

I, these days find rooms can sometimes be too quiet, so I was listening to some music on Spotify that got me suddenly thinking of music, film and books. Not least because as I was randomly looking, up came an option called “Reading Soundtrack”. It is theme tunes and incidental music to listen to whilst reading. I have found it fills the room with nice music, but with no words, all just instrumental, which means writing and reading can still be concentrated on, and yet there’s now no complete silence. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I like complete and utter, blissful silence or I need it to concentrate at a different level on something. Other times, it is just good to have a music filled room and get on with things so the mind doesn’t wander onto a million other thoughts. I like music in general, we all have particular songs that generate different memories and emotions or can conjure something quite exquisite up in the imagination. Music is a powerful medium, whether it is instrumental or is in song. We all have favourite pieces and those pieces that just get on our nerves. Music can conjure up memories for some; sometimes bad, sometimes sad, sometimes deep joy, sometimes a brightness. We also have pieces that we know so well, that it can drift into the room and into our subconscious that we can work and have a music-filled room without it being a distraction.

So, the Spotify Reading Soundtrack has 54 (at time of writing) relaxing tunes on it. To name a few books that became films and have music on this soundtrack – it begins with The Boy Who Flew Away, there’s also Mocking Jay, Jane Eyre, Christopher Robin, Spiderman, A Testament of Youth, Lord of the Rings, The Maze Runner, Game of Thrones, Schindler’s List, Band of Brothers, Geisha, Cinderella, The Imitation Game, Cloud Atlas and many others. All are peaceful enough to use whilst reading or writing. It really is worth a listen to. I cannot claim to reading all the books, nor to have seen all the films that are mentioned in this soundtrack, but they are all peaceful and have an air of calm about them. There’s no need to concentrate on the music, instead concentrate on the work you do and the music does the rest as it penetrates through the mind, but without piercing into it and envelopes you in a peaceful embrace of music notes without you having to think of it. All you have to do is think about the real task in hand. I have written short stories (3 got published), all with music on at various points in the process, I have written a few blogs with music on and done the more mundane things such as ironing with it on. You just find what is right for you and the tunes and songs that you most enjoy.

music notes

In September 2018 I wrote a blog about Music within Books and Music to Die For off the back of a panel I had watched at the Morecambe and Vice Festival. It shown that musical influences are being used more in books. More than what I had really thought about. 

Alan Parks uses 70s music such as Small Faces and David Bowie for the cultural scene in 1970’s Glasgow.

Joe Thomas has music references that are used to categorise different parts of his book in some ways, for themes of political, joy and melancholy that are infused into his first novel, “Paradise City”, which is set in Sao Paolo.

Hugh Fraser has music in Stealth that is set in the 1960’s that create the right atmosphere for the time period of the club, especially, that features within his book.

Joanne Harris has music in BlueEyedBoy, which gets mentioned at the beginnings of each chapter, which sets a certain tone.
book clipart
The above list just names a few. There is music mentioned in children’s books, young adult books, adult books. There are numerous non-fiction books about music as a genre or about its creators, whether it is the artist, the composer, singer etc.

Music can play a vital part within some books, in setting the scene and/or atmosphere. There are many films that are written from books. Within many of the films there is music throughout, it creates a sense of time and place sometimes. Take a period piece, say, any of Jane Austen’s books for example, there are many dances within the season. Music gets mentioned and watching the tv dramatisation or film versions and there it is as it would have been. So, sometimes music can be very deliberate, would be a bit odd to read about a dance or watch one without hearing the music (since this was before the era of silent disco of course). Other music can be used as incidental music or to create a certain mood or to build up tension. Done well in film/tv or written well in books, it can have a good desired effect and can fill the imagination even more as the mind’s eye for the written word creates the scene or when watching, can tense up the body and have you on the edge of your seat or make you think how lovely a scene is. This can also be true of the stage. Of course in a musical, there’s music and song to convey the story, it’s obvious, but take plays for example too, okay there’s not often song, but sometimes there can be music, to create the atmosphere and/or a scene or give even more of the sense of a time era, whether it is past or present. Often, but not always, music is used in the form of characters listening to a radio, so it can also be used as an activity within that character’s day. The music however always appears to be carefully selected, so it fits and that’s the same for film and tv.

In both the written and the spoken word, music can create different emotions, when done well. When it isn’t done well, however, it can become too much or so grinding that the viewer no longer feels the flow of the music and acting working in harmony, or reader can either become too bogged down in the music that the atmosphere is lost.

The thing is however, that music spans into everything. Music is a universal language. For decades there have been music festivals showcasing all sorts of genres, from pop to rock and classical to folk and can be read about and listened to on so many platforms. Whatever the genre, the art form, it has this innate ability to partnership with it all to enhance a story or be a medium inwhich the story itself is told in. It has become such an important part of global culture within everything we watch or read or do. Music is many things to many people and has so many topics within it, that it can present itself on the stage and within books as part of the story that is being told. Music itself is a story being told. Music itself is subjective, but then, so are the books you read, the tv and films you watch and the stage musicals and plays you see, which also assists its ability to be within every other art form too.

I will digress slightly for a moment, take a painting or a photograph of an orchestra or just a solo piano or a guitar. We may not actually be able to hear the music being played – it’s a painting after all, but the majority of us know what these instruments sound like, so can imagine it, so even in something like a painting, music can sometimes still be part of the story being told.

When I think about it, all music tells a story within itself too, no matter the genre. Some time in the not too distant future I am going to return to music and tales and have an interview published with a particular musician and songwriter who’s style of music definitely tells a story, owing especially to the genre she composes within. I am not intending, not at the moment anyway, in branching out into music reviews, but it is a medium that crosses all art forms, including those I concentrate on within this blog.