Last night, and again today, I was truly humbled and touched by a number of tweets I received in response to the news I tweeted out that I have decided to park this blog and to stop reviewing books for the foreseeable future – so, firstly, a big thank you for the very kind messages (you know who you are).
As I mentioned in tweets, I’m remaining on twitter (@keithbwalters) and might tweet the odd short review through that from time to time.
I feel the need, whether you care or not, to spell out just why I’ve made the decision – partly, I guess, to justify this move on my part to myself.
Firstly, I love books and continue to enjoy crime fiction in particular, but am wanting to spend more and more time catching up on old classics that I really should have read by now. I’m still buying lots of books and they then sit alongside towers of books sent very kindly for me to read and review, I feel their stare into the back of my neck like small children being ignored. I cannot get away from the fact that with every book I read to review, there are stacks of others sitting alongside, giving a feeling that at all times lots of people are being let down.
For the past few weeks I’ve been reading older stuff, classic Lawrence Block, Elmore Leonard, watching lots of dvd’s that I really should have seen years ago – and I’m really enjoying it.
Until recent weeks, I would log every arriving book onto a spreadsheet (grimacing at how many were already on the list as the days/months past publication slipped by), I’d drop an email back to whichever kind publicist had sent the book to let them know it had arrived safely – the admin alone often took more time in my day than my ‘job’ admin, and that’s when it starts to flash up some big warning signs.
I need to spend more time at weekends with my children, not telling them that daddy HAS to finish and review THIS or THAT book, there’s stuff that needs doing on the house, I’m getting fatter through not being active, oh, and did I mention I got into all of this to write my own books?
Yes, as ironic as it might seem, one of my first pieces published was an overview of Mark Billingham and Minette Walters with their Crime Writing Masterclass at the London Book Fair – the article appeared in ‘The Verdict’ – the then crime fanzine in Ottakars (remember them?) bookstores. I went to the event as a paying punter who wanted to learn the craft of crime writing and came away and wrote about the event itself! This set a pattern of course, with my initial labour of love write-ups of the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival for Ottakars and then my own blog, turning into my blogger in residence gig for the past two years. Author interviews from this years event WILL appear somewhere at sometime, but the sheer volume of transcription is daunting in itself.
The last couple of years have been full of amazing experiences – attending recordings of The TV Book Club, having my video review of Before I Go to Sleep broadcast on the show, attending the launch of the first World Book Night in Trafalgar Square, being interviewed by Radio 4 for their World Book Night coverage, going to the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards….and many great festival and book launch events.
In many ways, I only have myself to blame – I created a monster – my second one in fact.
Years ago, when at art college, I wanted to work in special make-up effects and made props and models in my spare time. This led to me meeting cast and crew from movies such as Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and Nightbreed. But guess who ended up writing up signing events and interviewing the cast and crew for my own photocopied fanzines, and one for Marvel Comics? (yes, this was before the internet, and yes it was me, once again spending time writing about the work of others rather than getting on with my own).
I’m fairly certain I’ll be eating my words (or at least some of them) and will return with a blog or website of sorts in the future (maybe even resurrect this one), but with more emphasis on my own writing perhaps, alongside the occasional author feature – who knows?
But for now, just a big big thank you to all that have written great crime books, have sent me great crime books and have kindly shared wine at many a launch event or crime festival.
All very best