Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Recently in the UK, there have been newspaper and internet articles regarding books that people don't actually get to finish. I believe The Times started it off, and you can read the whole thing here.

According to a recent survey, "the average Briton spends more than £4,000 on books over a lifetime, but leaves nearly half unfinished". A high percentage of people surveyed confessed to buying titles that would look good in front of others. Admittedly my sons have the whole Harry Potter oeuvre but I've never delved into them.

My main reading time is taken up with reading for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and I must admit that out of the hundreds I have read, there are just a couple of titles I've not been able to finish (and that's in my three years as a judge). But here's the list of the top ten unfinished fiction books and you'll see that crime and thriller books comes out well.

1 Vernon God Little, D.B.C. Pierre
2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J K Rowling
3 Ulysses, James Joyce
4 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis De Bernieres
5 Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
6 The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
7 The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
8 War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
9 The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
10 Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky


And in an article in the Independent Online: The average author earns about £16,000, a third less than the national average wage, it is revealed. So what? They're doing what they love. But hidden behind that figure released by the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) is a grimmer truth: when you take away the superstars who are earning shedloads, the actual figure for the rest is closer to £4,000.


Hot on the heels of all this is an interesting piece on Minette Walters in The Guardian Unlimited. I've met Minette on several ocassions and we've always had a laugh and she comes across as a very genuine person, interested in what you have to say but, as the article states, does tend to fight shy of the camera. So it's lucky that Snapper Karim got this shot of her at a CWA Awards Lunch.


How Bond nearly came from Prussia with love
by Murdo Macleod in Scotman on Sunday

A VETERAN German actor has revealed how one of his country's top thriller directors planned to make Bond films before Sir Sean Connery hit cinema screens as 007.

Joachim Fuchsberger, who starred in German action and detective films in the 1950s and 1960s, was asked to play Bond but a funding crisis in West German cinema meant that the project could not go ahead.

In an interview with the Hamburg-based magazine Stern, Fuchsberger - now 79 - described how his country's top thriller director, Horst Wendlandt, met him in the late 1950s to discuss the possibility of turning the Bond books into a film. Wendlandt wanted Fuchsberger to play Bond.

Fuchsberger said: "I told [Wendlandt], you have to make it in colour. And then there are the exotic locations. It's going to be really expensive.'"

In the event the first Bond film, Dr No, was produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli for $1m (about £357,000 at the time) in 1961.

Fuchsberger added: "I think that Sean Connery is for me the best Bond, he played the role brilliantly. Whether I would have played the role the same, I'm not so sure. Everyone has their own way of playing different roles."

And for those of you with Bond Withdrawal Symptoms, Casino Royale is out on DVD is as a two disc set, with extras including how Craig became Bond, a look at Bond's ladies, and a journey into the stunts of the film. It is also being released in the Blu-ray and UMD formats, not to mention the dreaded "full screen" formatting.


Weird title change: Reginald Hill's Death of Dalziel becomes Death Comes for the Fat Man (Doubleday, Canada).


Amanda Burton returns as Commander Clare Blake in three new films for ITV1 in Lynda La Plante’s series The Commander.

Some of the guest stars taking roles alongside Amanda Burton: Celia Imrie (Kingdom, The Last Detective, Calendar Girls) Greg Wise (Trial and Retribution: Sins of the Father, Elizabeth David: A Life in Recipes) Yorick Van Wageningen (The New World, Commander: Blacklight)Simon Williams (Doctors, Heartbeat, The Gathering Storm) Matt Day (Spooks, Hotel Babylon, Shackleton)Penny Downie (Trial and Retribution: The Lovers; New Street Law) and newcomer Blake Ritson (Mansfield Park).

About these three films Lynda says “We have three really fabulous films with very different styles – each director giving their strong stamp to the already successful Commander franchise. I am very excited and confident that Amanda Burton is delivering another hit!”

Brief details of the forthcoming series:

The Commander: The Devil You Know
Starring: Amanda Burton
Mark Lewis Jones – Celia Imrie – Simon Williams – Matt Day
2 x 60min
In a tragic opening, the body of a two year-old girl is discovered in a derelict mental institution, sealed in an oil drum. Eric Thornton, a schizophrenic ex-patient, soon emerges as the main suspect. As the hunt for Thornton intensifies, Commander Clare Blake (Amanda Burton) clashes with the drug squad tracking Thornton in a parallel investigation. In Blake’s desperate hunt to uncover the truth behind the girl’s death, events take an unexpected and deadly turn. Will the dark secrets of the hospital and its patients be revealed at last?

The Commander: Fraudster
Guest stars – Penny Downie - Greg Wise - Yorick Van Wageningen
2 x 60min
Donald Griffith, self-made millionaire, seems to have the perfect life - until he’s found dead in his own pool. Commander Clare Blake heads up the police investigation, alongside a returning Detective Van Hauten (Yorick Van Wageningen) from the Amsterdam murder squad. Together they uncover Griffith’s secret life of lies and deceit – a wife, a mistress and an affair with his secretary, plus seriously fraudulent financial dealings. Three women who appear to be adversaries, but all with motive - could they have conspired to pull off the perfect murder and inherit Griffith’s millions?

The Commander: Windows of the Soul
2 x 60min
On an East London estate, with a history of bad blood between residents and the police, a priest is brutally beaten and stabbed to death. Suspicion falls on Jimmy Bannerman, from the local boxing club – a talented fighter. Commander Clare Blake and DCI Doug James are polarised by this boxing protégé, the brutal competitiveness of the amateur boxing world resonating with Doug’s own youth. Following a vicious attack on a fellow detective, Blake and Doug are forced to put aside their differences and find the killer before he strikes again and more violence erupts on this already troubled estate.


Mystery Writers of America Elects New Officers; Bestselling Author Nelson DeMille to Serve as National President

New York, NY—March 7, 2007—Mystery Writers of America (MWA) recently announced the election of its national officers for the 2007-2008 term, including President Nelson DeMille.

DeMille is the bestselling author of: By the Rivers of Babylon, Cathedral, The Talbot Odyssey, Word of Honor, The Charm School, The Gold Coast, The General's Daughter, Spencerville, Plum Island, The Lion's Game, Up Country, Night Fall, and Wild Fire.

Serving alongside President DeMille are Secretary Frankie Y. Bailey, Treasurer Bob Williamson, and Executive Vice President Daniel J. Hale.

In his new role of Executive Vice President, Daniel J. Hale will be guiding the organization through a year of groundbreaking initiatives. Hale stated, “It is my great honor and pleasure to serve as the Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America, the premier organization for crime writers, professionals allied to the mystery writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those devoted to the genre.

“Mystery Writers of America is an organization dedicated to service. Through the newly announced MWA:Reads Library Initiative, we aim to provide books for American youth who might not otherwise have access to the wonderful world of mystery. We have also formed an Education Committee, one whose planned programs are designed to help increase the educational opportunities for the mystery community. Through it all, MWA remains steadfast in its dedication to promoting higher regard for crime writing, as well as raising the level of recognition and respect for its membership.”

Hale continued, “In the near future, MWA will launch its new website, one that has been completely redesigned. Not only visually stunning, it will usher in unprecedented opportunities for the 3,000 members of MWA, as well as those in the general public wanting to know more about their favorite authors.”

Mystery Writers of America’s membership includes publishers, editors, literary agents, and screen and television writers, as well as authors of fiction and non-fiction books.

The organization will celebrate the 61st anniversary of the Edgar® Awards on April 26th in New York City. The awards will be hosted by Al Roker of NBC’s Today Show and will honor Stephen King as the 2007 Grand Master. For more information about the Edgars, please visit www.theedgars.com.

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