Sitting here in the yurt in Edinburgh listening on my iPod to Terry Reid. Yeah, I know – who he? One of the great soul voices. Made two fantastic albums – River and Seed of Memory (produced by Graham Nash) – with five great, great ballads alongside some more forgettable rock tracks. I saw him in 1971 at Sheffield Uni, supported by a certain Rod Stewart and The Small Faces. I was carrying a dead chicken in a plastic carrier bag at the time. Let’s not go there. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, I saw him at the Isle of Wight Festival a year earlier with the great guitarist, David Lindley (Tiki Torches at Twilight anybody?) but I have no memory of him there.
However, don’t get me started on who I did see there because this is a crime writing blog. The reason I mention the music I’m listening to is that I’ve been talking to GEORGE PELECANOS today by email, and he’s a music nut. (I was asking if he’d read my second novel in the Brighton trilogy and, if he liked it, say nice things but he’s stopped doing that. Damn.) And then I had a chat with IAN RANKIN over lunch and he’s still rebuilding the vinyl collection he sacrificed to CD by buying it all on vinyl again. Interesting notion. Where did I put all those Betamax videos?
DENISE MINA and STUART MCBRIDE are about to do their thing – on stage, I mean. Denise is in a Michelin man coat and very fetching red Ugg boots – she looks great except that we’re in the middle of a heat wave in Edinburgh and she’s sweltering. Of course, she lives in Glasgow – a totally different climate zone even though it’s only a 20 minute train ride away.
At lunch I was with the Scottish chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association, at their kind invitation, in a room on Princes Street with a spectacular view across to the castle. ALEX GRAY and LIN ANDERSON were on fine form, as were the Scottish crime-writing twins I’ve entirely forgotten the last name of (it’s been a long day) although I spoke most to MORNA, the twin who was sitting beside me. Of course, they did both go off to the toilet at one point so when they came back I could have been talking to her sister thereafter.
Alex and Lin are planning a Scottish crime writing festival, possibly based in Stirling. Good luck to them. I’m changing my name to McGuttridge. Shameless? I don’t know the meaning of the word.
In many ways the Edinburgh festival is a Scottish crime writers’ festival as everybody is here. Although PAUL JOHNSTON has given it a miss this year to have a holiday with his family. Lightweight.
I missed my mate QUINTIN JARDINE yesterday afternoon because I had my own events but I saw IAN RANKIN being interviewed by the aforementioned LIN. They are both Tweeters and on-stage checked in to see if anyone was tweeting about the event. Four people in the audience were. Hilarious.
Ian popped by at the lunch today, as I said, and Tweeted from the table. Never thought I’d write that sentence in my life. Check it out. (His tweet that is, not my sentence.)
Had a bracing time the other evening not with a crime writer but with SIR IAN BLAIR, former Commissioner of the Met, whose run in charge of London policing was blighted by the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. I liked him. He didn’t shirk the tough questions about that shooting and other real-life controversies but showed he knew a fair bit about crime fiction too (not to mention the real identity of Jack the Ripper).
He didn’t like the violence in the first STIEG LARSSON. That bloody Scandinavian comes up almost as much as DANBROWN used to when crime writers gather and I’ve scarcely met one who understands his success. I’ve heard a rumour that a certain ALI KARIM is also puzzled now about the fuss he originally made about it. Sanity returns to the world of crime fiction. Well, for the moment.
TONY BLACK, creator of Gus Drury, and GILLIAN GALBRAITH, the Alice Rice creator, were both on fine fettle in their joint event. And CHRIS BROOKMYRE got the bit between his teeth so much he went to do a stand-up set in the late night Spiegeltent.
S J PARRIS (in real life Stephanie Merritt, who I knew for email years when she held down a desk as deputy books editor of the Observer but never actually met until this week) was droll in describing her Tudor mystery novel, Heresy. And honest when she said her false moniker deliberately had the sound of C J SANSOM, whose Tudor Shardlake series is so successful.
And here’s a real life mystery. NICHOLAS PARSONS wandered through, looking as miserable as sin, before his main theatre event. I’ve heard from the mouths of several horses involved with Just A Minute, on BBC Radio 4, that he’s not altogether popular there. Why has no enterprising crime writer figured out a way for such a character’s fictional demise…?