9am saw another very busy room at the start of the first full day at this year’s festival. Special guest John Connolly seems to always draw a good crowd and rightly so. His double-act with festival Chair Mark Billingham is always good value and this was no exception. Covering the author’s highly popular Charlie Parker series, his standalone work (in particular The Book of Lost Things which Billingham confessed brought him to tears) and even the recent film adaptation of his short story The New Daughter to film with Kevin Costner, this was a great event to kick start Friday.
There’s a excellent piece on John Connolly’s other passions at We Love this Book, here.
The next panel I sat in on was ‘Crime in Another Dimension’ in which authors discussed the different setting and timelines in which ‘crime’ fiction can still work. Chaired by David Quantick, who described typewriters to a confused panel as being ‘like an iPad but made of metal!’ Full of comedy and interesting insights; Christopher Fowler revealed that there is a nose within Admiralty Arch (possibly for Policemen to rest their spectacles on) and Stuart MacBride talked about the current trend for ‘mash-ups’ with the possibility raised that he would one day bring us ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Silence of the Piglets!’
The early afternoon panel ‘Wanted for Murder: The E-Book’ was always going to stir up emotions within the panel and audience, but I don’t think anyone quite expected the resultant friction that was created by a barrage of seemingly self-sacrificing comments from Stephen Leather on the panel. Twitter was on fire with each comment made and resultant responses and this is something that, one week on, is still gaining momentum as the debate continues on social networking sites.
If you missed out, then probably the best report on the panel can be found here ‘Mark Billingham goes Hell for Leather.’
The ‘America’s got Talent’ panel was another great sit-in, with chair John Connolly setting off to ridicule Chris Mooney at every opportunity during introductions (something he took in very good humour). Connolly seemed at pains to abuse the US panel at every possibility with the comment ‘What the Hell is wrong with you people?!’ but there was a clear mutual respect throughout the conversation. This was despite the fact that one member of the panel, Ryan David Jahn, clearly upset writers on the stage and in the audience by declaring that he loves deadlines and when faced with one he can often achieve up to 12,000 words a day! The audience were also very pleased to hear from rising star, Gillian Flynn, that she is currently writing a screenplay for her breakthrough novel Gone Girl.
At 10pm the room became the location for ‘The Drinking Detectives’ pub’ – a great setting complete with pub sign and bar with working pumps to enable Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson to sit and chat in their perfect environment. This was a return after 10 years for the authors to share a pint and discuss their work and their characters on stage. Introduced by Mark Billingham, who poured their first pints, sorted out their crisps and then left them to it, this was a very entertaining late night discussion full of wonderful anecdotes and news. Robinson declared that when it comes to people’s perception of Alan Banks on screen, there is only ONE Banks and he is in his mind. Rankin is often asked if McCafferty is alive or dead and he simply stated that he is in the upcoming new Rebus book ‘Standing in another Man’s Grave’ – a title based on a misheard Jackie Leven song title. Rankin himself admitted that he had mis-credited a song ‘I can see clearly now’ to Marvin Gaye in his novel ‘Black and Blue’ whereas it should have been Jimmy Cliff, but he has left it in all editions as a self-punishment for his error.
When discussing old jobs, Rankin described himself as the ‘Schindler of the chicken farm’ as he would often save some male chicks from the gas chamber.
Discussion turned to the ’50 Shades of Grey’ phenomena – with Rankin quipping ‘I’ve read Jilly Cooper, why would I read 50 Shades…?’
Pausing only briefly halfway through to pour themselves a second pint, this was a great hour’s entertainment and the only panel where an author (Rankin) has been heard to ask that not too many people come and get their books signed afterwards – as he was keen to get home for a Dr John concert the next day
(photos copyright Tim Cook).