Tag Archives: tania carver

Third time lucky

The programme for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writers Festival has been released and as always it’s looking very exciting. Steve Mosby is the programme chair and he’s ‘played a blinder’ as they say up North. There look to be some really exciting sessions and the programme covers everything crime related from family based novels or ‘domestic noir’ as it is labelled, to writing plot twists, through to science and forensics. There are of course some usual staples including the TV session which this year is Broadchurch (sadly David Tennant isn’t attending) and the New Blood panel which is always one of my favourites.

The release of the new programme of course means the start of a new challenge. I’ve printed off a copy and the highlighter has been out. It looks like I’ve a lot of reading to do if I’m going to be anywhere near completing the TOPCWFC 2014 (for any new readers that stands for Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writers Festival Challenge, more details can be found here)

There are 17 sessions not including the opening ceremony, the dinner or the quiz (all three of which we shall of course be attending despite not being able to recreate our beginners luck with our quiz team last year!) Within those sessions if my highlighting and counting is correct there are currently 52 authors.

This being the third year of the challenge however things are getting a little more complicated. For example can I only count authors where I’ve read their latest book, or can I count any I’ve ever read? Do audiobooks count or only those actually read? Can I count those I started but didn’t finish? Can I count an author if I’ve only read something they wrote under a different name?

Well as it’s my challenge, it’s my rules. Therefore in answer to the above, I can count authors if I’ve ever read anything by them (although I will try to read the latest one if I get chance) I can count audiobooks (although obviously they are tricky to get signed) I can’t count authors if I didn’t finish the book and I can count those where I’ve read something they wrote under a different name. For those of you who are wondering, I am not referring to JK Rowling in this particular question as I’m afraid The Cuckoo Calling actually falls into the previous category and I don’t think I’ve read any Harry Potter. However Martyn Waites will be appearing who also writes as one half of Tania Carver whose books I have read.

Therefore taking into account the new rules I’ve just made up, my current author count as of today is 18. Not a bad start really, however it looks much more promising if I count sessions. Of those 17 sessions I’ve read at least one author in 14 of them. I think that’s an excellent start, with 12 weeks to go I am pretty confident that I’ll complete the TOPCWFC 2014 lite. Therefore the big challenge this year will be to try and complete the full thing for the first time. This may be a stretch as I’d have to read 2.83 books a week which could be tricky especially as I return to work full time next week but what’s life without a few challenges and as they say third time lucky.

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Filed under blogging, Theakstons Festival

Doors Open

Well it’s over, the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival has finished, and I have no idea how to begin to describe this weekend. It was excellent!

Me and the Sister travelled over on Thursday afternoon. After a quick trip round the bookshops of Harrogate (market research obviously) we headed to the hotel where the festival kicked off to a great start with Denise Mina being awarded the crime novel of the year. Colin Dexter then made a guest appearance to accept the lifetime achievement award, he was a very witty man.

Breakfast the next morning and the celebrity spotting began before the first session of the day started. This was Mark Billingham (who incidentally was our first celebrity spot at breakfast) interviewing John Connolly. Obviously great friends it was a very funny interview.

The first full day of the festival included the science fiction session. Contrary to my original thoughts this turned into a very amusing talk and not completely geeky! In the afternoon there was the rather controversial e-book debate, which yesterday afternoon on twitter was rebranded ‘tossergate’. Some very strong views were aired, including one bookseller who pointed out that people are happy to pay over £8 to view a two hour film, but will balk against buying a £7.99 novel.

John Connolly then reappeared, this time as chair of the America’s Got Talent session with four great authors discussing their latest book and what they are doing next. After such a full day we decided to skip the Kate Mosse interview (although apparently she was absolutely fascinating) and headed into a very busy Harrogate for something to eat.

We got back in time to see what, to me was definitely one of the highlights – A late night chat between Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson. With Mark Billingham attempting to stand in as barman for the pair, it did seem that they were just out for the night having a couple of beers and a catch up which was excellent.

Saturday morning started with Peter James and quite a disturbing story about his stalker. At one point he was receiving up to 40 emails a day from her, how on earth did she find the time? The day continued with a fascinating debate on whether the 1920s/30s really can be called the ‘Golden Age of Crime’ before Val McDermid took to the stage for the New Blood panel. This was her choice of the best new writers of the year and  included the lovely Elizabeth Haynes who I later met in the queue for Harlen Coben and again in the toilets (Contrary to what it may sound like, especially after the earlier discussions I wasn’t actually stalking her!)

The afternoon continued with the same gusto. One panel was an interesting discussion between 3 female writers and ‘reader in residence’ Martyn Waites (who writes as a women) as to whether women write more gruesome stuff than men. There was also a special event around the TV show Luther, where journalist Miranda Sawyer interviewed its writer Neil Cross alongside production team members and two actors (I confess I now have a bit of a crush on Warren Brown who plays Ripley).

Early evening and we went along to the Come Die With Me dinner hosted by Ann Cleaves, and were sat on a table with SJ Parris. It was then straight into an interview with Harlen Coben who was talking to Laura Lippman. It was another interesting session, and again they are obviously great friends and it was a very natural interaction.

Me and the Sister then rather nervously went along to the Late Night Quiz. Neither of us are particularly good at quizzes, and not knowing anyone else we did have visions of ending up bottom on our own. However it was great fun. We met two very nice ladies again on their own, and rather amazingly (Especially considering the competition in the room) we came third out of the readers teams and fifth overall.

Another late night in the bar (although much earlier than most people) and then our final day started with a discussion around translation, before the final session which was Mark Lawson interviewing an interesting Jo Nesbo. A quick trip to Betty’s as we’d not had time to go during the weekend and we left the Swan Hotel sadly behind.

People keep asking ‘which was your favourite’ and I can honestly say, I haven’t got a clue. I can’t pick one as it would feel like a disservice to all the others. Each session was fascinating and I came away from each one thinking ‘wow’. Admittedly that only lasted for the 10 minutes I was queuing for the book signings before it was straight back into the next session. It was a full on weekend and I loved every minute of it. Roll on 2013!!


Filed under Crime writing, Theakstons Festival

A judgement in stone

 This weekend I was asked by a friend to recommend what I thought was the best ever crime book. She has recently got back into crime fiction via way of Lisa Gardner and was asking what to read next. This is quite possibly one of the hardest questions I’ve ever contemplated (after do you want toffee or chocolate ice cream – always both!)

Even just asking for who I think is the best ever author would be tricky. Patricia Cornwell is definitely one of my favourites; however I would say that to do her justice you really should start with her first ever book to truly enjoy them. I’ve read her whole series a couple of times so know them pretty well. I think some of her books are good as stand alone stories but in my opinion the relationships between Scarpetta, Benson, Marina and Lucy are an integral part and one of the things that make them so popular.

 Mark Billingham would definitely be in my top 5 authors. ‘Scaredy Cat’ was the first of his I read (his second Tom Thorne novel) and it was gripping. The writing was violent and gruesome, but the blood and guts were not gratuitous. A Lisa Gardner novel started this whole debate, and all her books are excellent. ‘Love you more’ was the last of hers I read, and there is a copy of ‘Catch Me’ sat in my pile which i’m dying to read (although as she is unfortunately not at this year’s festival it is  just going to have to wait!)

One of the great things about this challenge has been that I’ve added a lot of new authors to my repertoire. John Connolly is definitely going into my top author list having just finished ‘The Burning Soul’ and I’m looking forward to tackling his back catalogue.

It might be easier to suggest the top male and top female writer, but then I love Tania Carver, a husband and wife duo who’s novel a ‘Cage of Bones’ is quite chilling, so where would they fit? Nicci French is another great  male and female writing duo so maybe I’d need three categories but how can I narrow them down?

Looking thorough my notebook at the list of books I’ve read, I score them all out of five. One of the highest scores is for ‘Dark Places’ by Gillian Flynn so maybe that needs to go down as one of the best. But then the score is only on a par with all those already mentioned and Peter James. He is also high scoring, with his novels based around Brighton which have some completely unpredictable twists which are very exciting.

 I think trying to suggest a favourite book, is a completely impossible task. Its like trying to pick my favourite band, or favourite ice cream flavour there are just too many to limit myself to one. It totally depends on what mood I’m in, and also what I last had/read. Often the latest book I’ve read is my favourite, until the next one anyway. Having been upstairs to look at my bookshelves there are too many ‘favourite’ authors I haven’t mentioned. So far I’ve just been looking at authors who’ve written books in the last couple of years, don’t even get me started on the likes of Agatha Christie, and of course I’ve not mentioned PD James, or Ruth Rendall.

It’s just not possible. Maybe I could do a top 20 books, but even then I don’t think I could narrow it down. There are so many great books I’ve read, and so many more I want to read that just thinking about it makes my head want to explode. So what about other people, if you had to recommend the ‘best ever’ crime novel for my friend  to read next what would you suggest?


Filed under book review, Reading, Theakstons Festival, Uncategorized

61 hours

The programme for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate has been released. Whilst it doesn’t seem to have the ‘big hitters’ of last year’s festival such as Lisa Gardner and Tess Gerritsen, the actual programme looks very exciting and features more ‘home grown’ talent.

The festival opens with the award for the Crime Novel of the Year. Last year’s winner was Lee Child. The shortlist hasn’t yet been released as far as I can see but I might make reading the books on it my mini-challenge within a challenge.

One session I’m most looking forward to is called ‘Deadlier than the Male’. This includes Jilliane Hoffman and Tania Carver (a man called Martin who writes with his wife, neither are actually called Tania) discussing whether women write the most graphic violence. In my completely non-scientific and non-proven opinion I do think there is a difference in the portrayal of crime between men and women writers. I think the men tend to write more physically violent descriptions with fights and punch ups, whereas I think women are often more psychologically mindedwith their descriptions of torture and fear for example Chelsea Cain springs to mind. It will therefore be interesting to hear this point debated by those who actually right it.

The session titled ‘America’s got talent’ is looking good as I have just read Gillian Flynn which was fantastic, review coming soon for her book, recently read on a trip up to Edinburgh (where for those who read my previous post, the delay on the train this time was due to a slow running train)

There is also a special event called Luther, looking behind the scenes at the TV series of the same name. As a big fan of the tv programme I’m looking forward to hearing writer Neil Cross talk. His books are definitely on my to read list and with any luck the rather handsome Idris Elba might make a surprise guest appearance too!

Sunday morning (a later start after the murder mystery dinner on Saturday night with Anne Cleaves creator of Vera) begins with ‘50 different words for murder’ with Deon Myer and Camilla Lackberg discussing the art of translation in crime novels. The final session of the festival is Jo Nesbo talking to Mark Lawson.

It’s a pretty full programme over the just under 3 days with a late night appearance on Saturday by Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson. I haven’t yet read any Ian Rankin but I’m in Scotland for a few days soon so going to save it for that. There is also a quiz on the Saturday night with quiz masters Mark Billingham and Val McDermid. Unfortunately I am not great at quizzes as they involve remembering things, I do have quite neat handwriting though so hopefully me and the sister can join someone elses team and I can always offer to be the scribe!

My new aim for this challenge, in case I don’t complete the whole thing is to try and read at least one author from each session. I will give ‘Crime in another Dimension’ a miss though as Science Fiction is not really for me, sounds like a good time for a trip to Bettys and a bit of shopping in Harrogate.


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April 25, 2012 · 5:31 pm