Category Archives: Festivals

Iceland Noir dispatches: Day two

It’s day two here at Iceland Noir. It’s bucketing down outside and the wind is blowing a gale. So it’s a small mercy that we’re inside enjoying more back-to-back panels at the Iðnó theatre.

This morning, we saw Danielle Ramsay, Laura Castoro (DD Ayres), Valentina Giambanco, William Burton McCormick on one panel; Felicia Yap, Jeffrey Siger, Louise Voss and Stuart Neville on another; and Louise Mangos, Mary Torjussen, Sarah Ward and Sandra Ireland on another.

The audiobooks panel was really fascinating. The whole festival is sponsored by Storytel – a subscription service for audio books and streaming – and this is the way the world is going now. Iceland seems a good fit as moderator Lilja Sigurðardóttir explained – the country has a culture of storytelling and, more importantly, telling stories to one another out loud. On the panel was Ed James, publisher of Orenda books Karen Sullivan, Storytel’s Stefán Hjörleifsson and one of Iceland’s best-selling and best-known authors, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.

With the advent and popularity of podcasts and audio streaming services, this is an important subject. It was fascinating to hear what the authors and Karen, a publisher, and Stefán, head of Storytel, had to say about it. They spoke about the whole construction of the stories, what actors are best to tell the stories and, in Yrsa’s case, how she hates to listen to her own books. But the most important aspect of the discussion was the ethical side of streaming services, and the fair payment of authors. It’s something that the likes of Spotify grapples with and makes people feel uneasy when it comes to payment of musicians. Stefán was keen to stress that his company was transparent in its payments to authors, and Yrsa described the way that previously free audio services to the blind had been abused by people.

It’s the eternal conundrum – streaming services in every medium (whether it be Netflix and Amazon for TV, Spotify and Deezer for music, and Audible and its ilk for books) offer a great, all-you-can-eat way to watch and listen to a variety of media, but they must be fair to the creators of content and pay a decent wage.

Michael Malone, Christopher Brookmyre, Craig Robertson and Doug Johnstone

Next, a group of fantastic Scottish authors held court: Michael Malone, Christopher Brookmyre, Craig Robertson and Doug Johnstone. In a wide-ranging discussion, the whole concept of ‘Tartan Noir’ was thrown around. Of course, we’ve had Nordic Noir, which has always seemed to me a lazy handle, but Tartan Noir is a thing now. Craig said that he also felt it was a lazy tag, because there’s such a diversity of output. Doug, on the other hand, didn’t mind so much because internationally, it’s recognised and can only be a good thing for Scottish authors.

They all bigged up Irvin Welsh and the late, great Iain Banks, and discussed how the early 1990s saw a huge explosion in Scottish crime fiction. Christopher mentioned the impact of football fanzines, which provided much more authentic takes on football and culture and argued that Welsh’s work came out of this fanzine culture.

It was good stuff.

Later on the afternoon, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (M), Antti Tuomainen, James Oswald, Johana Gustawsson and Lilja Sigurðardóttir treated us to crime fiction’s first ever Eurovision panel!

Stav Sherez wins the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Festival Crime Novel Of The Year

The first post of our coverage of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate reveals the winner of the festival’s Crime Novel Of The Year.

There is some significance for crime drama fans – here past winners have included Val McDermid, Denise Mina and Mark Billingham, who have all seen their novels adapted for television.

This year’s shortlist included Mick Herron’s Spook Street, Val McDermid’s Insidious Intent, Denise Mina’s The Long Drop, Stav Sherez’s The Intrusions, Susie Steiner’s Missing, Presumed and Abir Mukherjee’s A Rising Man.

As lists go it was stellar.

So, this year’s winner is… *drumroll* Stav Sherez for The Intrusions.

The story: When a distressed young woman arrives at the station claiming her friend has been abducted, and that the man threatened to come back and ‘claim her next’, Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into a terrifying new world of stalking and obsession. From a Bayswater hostel, where backpackers and foreign students share dorms and failing dreams, to the emerging threat of online intimidation, hacking and control, the duo find themselves in the middle of a complex and disturbing case involving a highly intelligent and ruthless killer who engages in a refined form of torture and murder. Under scrutiny themselves, and with old foes and enmities resurfacing, how long will Carrigan and Miller have to find out the truth behind what the two women have been subjected to?

(Personal praise: this award couldn’t have been won by a nicer, more talented writer.)

In other, ahem, trifling news, John Grisham picked up the lifetime achievement award.  That’s JOHN BLOODY GRISHAM!

More reports from Harrogate over the weekend.

The 10 Best Crime Dramas This Week (Monday 15th – Sunday 21st January)

Just when you thought it was safe to switch off your TV set and go out and engage in social interaction with other humans, well… it isn’t. Aside from all the amazing stuff that’s on at the moment – Spiral, Craith, Kiri et al – two new Swedish series start up this week. I think I’m right in saying that both Before We Die and Rebecka Martinsson: Arctic Murders (pictured above) are broadcast both in linear fashion (on Channel 4 and More4 respectively) but also available to view in their entirety on All4. Enjoy! Continue reading The 10 Best Crime Dramas This Week (Monday 15th – Sunday 21st January)

The Killing Times Dispatches: Twin Peaks UK Festival

Twin Peaks: The Return has been one of the television events of the year, no question. Its dizzying, surreal, visceral, infuriating, terrifying, stunning brilliance not only confirmed that David Lynch is still one of the most creative and notable auteurs of both the 20th and 21st centuries but also… there’s still nothing out there like Twin Peaks. During the weekend, the eighth annual Twin Peaks UK Festival took place at the resplendent, Modernist Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre in north London, complete with cabaret, film screenings and Q&As with cast members old and new. It was quite the weekend. Continue reading The Killing Times Dispatches: Twin Peaks UK Festival

Harrogate Dispatches #4: Julia Crouch and Endearing Monsters

I know I’m doing this all out of whack, but yesterday I managed to sneak into a panel with a seriously fantastic panel – not only was the brilliant Julia Crouch (she could be my favourite moderator) holding things down (and telling us about her strange fascination with ‘squeezing spot porn’) but there was also Mick Herron (creator of the much-loved Jackson Lamb series of spy novels), Sabine Durrant (whose Lie With Me has been wowing readers for a year now), Stave Sherez (who, similarly, is wowing people with his latest, The Intrusions) and Canadian writer Shari la Pena. They were discussing the subject of endearing monsters, and it was a cracker. Continue reading Harrogate Dispatches #4: Julia Crouch and Endearing Monsters

Harrogate Dispatches #3: New Blood Panel With Val McDermid

I say it every year, but the New Blood panel, hosted by Val McDermid, is one of the highlights of the festival. Why? Well, as a fan of crime fiction it’s always interesting to hear panellists talk about their work – and not least debut writers – who present a raw, often unvarnished and unrehearsed version of their journey to publication. This year’s panel was another cracker. Continue reading Harrogate Dispatches #3: New Blood Panel With Val McDermid

Harrogate Dispatches #1: Lee Child

And so it begins. After an opening ceremony/party where Lee Child was awarded the Oustanding Contribution To Crime Fiction award (and Chris Brookmyre win the Crime Novel Of The Year award for Black Widow), the 15th Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival snapped into gear. Elly Griffiths is this year’s chair, and she and the festival team have done an outstanding job at putting together a really great line-up. I’ll be doing my best to bring you as much of the action as I can (although I’m kind of working today a bit). First up, some bloke called Lee Child. Continue reading Harrogate Dispatches #1: Lee Child

Val McDermid announces New Blood panel for this years Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing festival

Regular readers will know that I like to get out and about and go to a few crime literature festivals across the year, and then report back here on some of the panels and some of the words spoken within them. Arguably the biggest is the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, held at the Old Swan hotel. One of my highlights every year at the festival is the New Blood panel, where crime writing legend, Val McDermid, hosts a panel comprising four authors who have published debut novels during the past year (or are about to publish). Val herself picks the panellists – which is a ringing endorsement in itself – and this year, the panel has been announced ahead of time.  Continue reading Val McDermid announces New Blood panel for this years Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing festival

Krimfestivalen Dispatches #6: Juan Pablo Escobar

Three words I never thought I’d be typing on this blog: Juan Pablo Escobar. In among all the crime fiction authors here in Oslo for Krimfestivalen, there has been one exception to the rule: the son of one of the most notorious criminals the world has ever seen. Juan Pablo is here in Norway to promote his book Pablo Escobar: My Father and he has been a big draw – last night he commanded the stage alongside other big names at the Osly Nye Centralteatret, and today he formed a one-man guest panel. (It should also be noted that the likes of Anne Holt, Arne Dahl and half an hour of crime-based improvisational comedy were also part of the theatre program.) The session was packed. There seems to be a real interest in the man and his life, and you could hardly move –  it was easily the most attended session here at Krimfestivalen. But it felt strange to me: the Colombian drug wars of the 1980s and Pablo Escobar’s empire feel like a world away from Norway, and Escobar Jnr was someone I was genuinely not expecting to encounter. No matter, it was fascinating stuff and the crowd was rapt so I’ve combined the two sessions and tried to summarise them both. Continue reading Krimfestivalen Dispatches #6: Juan Pablo Escobar