A Write-up of a talk between Chris Brookmyre and Jenny Colgan
Event took place on 27th July 2022
The event was held by Stirling Waterstones upstairs in a pub in Stirling, Scotland called The Curly Coo (or The Curly Cow for those abroad wondering what a coo is).
Chris Brookmyre’s book is – The Cliff House and Jenny Colgan’s book is – An Island Wedding.
Both are available to purchase now!
Review Link for The Cliff House
– link is also after my write-up here as are links to The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, Bloody Scotland and website and social media links.
Although both authors do not have the commonality of crime fiction/mystery within their new books, they do share the theme of a party.
The talk covered their books, writing, music and more…
I have included a link to my book review of The Cliff House By Chris Brookmyre within this for those who haven’t seen the separate post of it. I am yet to read The Island Wedding by Jenny Colgan.
Me and Jenny Colgan
Me and Chris Brookmyre
The atmosphere was jovial and warm. The talk was mostly humorous and they treated those who attended to a reading of extracts from their books. They talked about the last time they met to do a talk together was in 2006 in Shetland. Chris Brookmyre recalled that William McIllvanney was on the audience guestlist and how that felt.
They talked about if and when they re-read their books. 2008 was the last time Chris Brookmyre last read one of his old books as he was writing a sequel.
A rather scary aspect of the talk was when Jenny Colgan talked about a book she had written and how the USA branded the 1990s as historical fiction.
They talked about each others books and how Chris Brookmyre writes books from different characters points of view, which you will see in The Cliff House.
Weddings and Parties
What is interesting and was brought up as they talked, was the fact that in lockdown, weddings were cancelled and people postponed them (a family member of mine, included) and how everyone knew what that was like, and how now there are many books set around parties.
I, myself have seen and got some books to review that are and seems to be quite a big theme this year as Chris Brookmyre talks about how people are writing vicariously about parties after being in lockdown and mentions authors such as Lin Anderson and Claire MacIntosh.
Jenny Colgan talked excitedly about how she writes about all different weddings; she also loved doing the research for them, especially for the most extravagant weddings and just to enjoy wedding again. It was interesting hearing how her attitude has changed to wanting to go to them all and with a gift, from pre-pandemic and wondering whether she wanted to or not and the cost of a gift etc.
Chris Brookmyre interestingly talked about how he was inspired by people going to private islands. His island is fictionalised and he seems to like that he could make up his own rules. He talked about this for the many genres he writes.
Jenny Colgan also creates a bit of fiction in her places and advised people not to write about where you live, unless perhaps it is a city and alluded to how that would be different as there isn’t so much of a very tight-knit close community, whereas people may recognise themselves or think they do in somewhere small.
Chris Brookmyre talked a bit about his book and its concepts of his character Jen getting married again and can’t accept the concept of happiness as seems all too good to be true, but has a hen party anyway. He talked about friendships and how there are different levels of this, some you see a lot, but don’t actually truly know and people who you may not trust, which are concepts within the book.
The island itself, he describes is as like an upmarket Airbnb. It is a book of 7 points of view. When asked about why the characters were all women, he stated he wanted to write about women and not men and alluded that it would be a very different story if the characters were men.
He talked a bit about “And Then There We’re None by Agatha Christie” and how books, such as his are often compared to this, but talked about how they differ and one of the ways is that was a story of retribution but his book is essentially about forgiveness of themselves.
He later talked about liking mismatched crime books.
Writing and Marketing
The talk moved onwards to the interesting topic of covers, but without getting into it all too deeply and heavy. They mainly focussed on the pink covers, since both of them have pink on them and there are a few around in many genres just now. They pointed out that the “pink” etc doesn’t necessarily show much about what is lurking inside the content of a book.
They talked about marketing a little bit in-terms of genres, marketing spaces. Jenny Colgan declared she didn’t really believe in genre. For Chris Brookmyre, he said the term “Tartan Noir” was good for marketing but his book – The Cliff House is more uplifting and about friendships, so less “noir”.
They talked about timers within books. The writer has got to solve the murder at a certain stage, in a rom-com the writer has got to get their characters together before Xmas. When writing different genres, Jenny Colgan reckons she doesn’t find that too difficult, but does however find it hard to kill off characters.
She also alluded that it is a bit different for Doctor Who as this is an already created person. It was fascinating hearing about the pecking order and the way Doctor Who works for writers.
Like Jenny Colgan, and perhaps even more so, Chris Brookmyre writes in many genres and how he is Ambrose Parry when he writes historical fiction, with Marissa, his wife, who sounds like she likes rules, plotting and planning, so he revealed he does a bit more of that now, but still likes the element of surprise in the direction his characters take him in. He also talked about something exciting happening with Netflix.
Jenny Colgan on the other-hand isn’t a fan of overly researching, but does do some.
Jenny Colgan added to how she writes and had a bit of advise for new writers and says you can start at 200 words and write to that target and then get on with the rest of the day (she writes thousands and then gets on with her day, but says hundreds is also fine). They both talked about getting the first draft down, in brief, they say that this needs to be finished and then it can be fixed after that and also write about what you know.
Chris Brookmyre is a member of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and they will be playing at The Edinburgh Fringe 2022.
Jenny Colgan can play the piano and recently learnt how to play the harp.
I thank both authors for the photos and for signing my books, which I now treasure.