Duh, not a real crime wave but oodles of mystery and thriller writers from all across the globe, here in Christchurch … yes … really … woo-hoo. I’ll be at The Press Christchurch Writers Festival to marvel at the twisted, tortured minds of these crime-peddling scribes.
The line-up includes:
Simon Kernick, specialising in high-octane thriller, his latest bestseller The last ten seconds is some crazy voodoo, believe me. I read it in only two sittings without blinking, barely breathing and compulsively turning page after page. Could be mind-control or maybe darn good writing? I need to know, and blog-readers I will find out.
Neil Cross, now living here in Godzone, this British ex-pat excels at twisty-turney, dark psychological novels. Neil’s thriller Burial is in the running for the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and he is also promoting his latest title Captured. Mr Cross is nothing if not versatile; having written an exquisite memoir Heartland, a Man Booker long-listed novel Always the sun and scriptwriting the BBC’s Spooks series. Someone told me he is funny too, so c’mon Neil make me laugh.
Liam McIlvanney holds the Stuart Chair in Scottish Studies at Otago University and spends most of his time introducing youthful kiwis to the extremely dubious pleasures of Rabbie Burns, James Hogg and Sir Walter Scott. Liam is also the author of All the colours of the town, a richly textured thriller exploring the long shadow of Scots-Irish sectarianism. Ayrshire born, he is appearing in conversation with Iggy McGovern and will be chatting about something close to my own heart: the boozy, conflicted and violent Scots.
I too have been lucky enough to be selected to attend the Press Christchurch Writers Festival. I’ve even changed my gravatar. I’m going to see one of my favourite authors – Barbara Trapido – speaking about her latest novel Sex and Stravinsky. It reminded me a little of her Travelling hornplayer in its style where coincidences abound in the run-up to the finish. Trapido also features in Good stories.
If you want to know more about Barbara Trapido, try British Council: Contemporary Writers for a profile. This gives biographical information and critique her books up to Frankie and Stankie so is a bit outdated. Or best of all check out Trapido’s writing room on The Guardian’s website.
Is anyone else hoping to catch Barbara at The Press Christchurch Writers Festival?
There is a bug doing the rounds and I have got it again. No worries though, because this is The Festival Bug and it is a good bug – strikes once, lasts forever and engenders feelings of terrific euphoria. What is more, you can get it too!
This time it is The Press Christchurch Writers Festival that has me all a-twitter. I learnt that I was to be part of the library team covering this event whilst sitting in a hot, dark, funky little internet cafe in Durban with a backdrop of blaring township rap.
In the mood to celebrate my good news, I bounced out of the cafe and straight up to Musgrave Centre where I sat myself down with a cappuccino and my best holiday read – the latest Barbara Trapido novel – Sex and Stravinsky. Famous for her first book Brother of the More Famous Jack, I cannot wait to meet this author at the Christchurch Festival. We grew up in the same city, lived in the same suburb, attended the same University and studied in the same faculty. Then she went on to become rich and famous. Say No More.
It was then that I was struck by how often I have read books in the places where they are set. And we are not talking Lonely Planet travel guides here either, but books like The Bone People by Keri Hulme which I read while on holiday at Okarito and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, read in the atmosphere of Norwich Cathedral. A large part of Sex and Stravinsky is set in Durban and I had a clear view from the coffee shop of the very escalator that is mentioned on page 148 in the book. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. I am curious to know if any of you have experienced this with books and how it affected you?
The festival has a great line-up and Atlantic: The Biography of an Ocean by Simon Winchester is also high on my list. In the spirit of reading books on-site I asked Greg how he felt about a little Atlantic cruise, with me on deck sipping G&T’s whilst paging through Winchester’s book. His look said it all. I am lucky apparently, but not that lucky!