I am writing this as I bid a sad farewell to the beautiful town of Harrogate in Yorkshire, England.
A town where 200 acres were set aside, by law, in 1770 so that the residents could enjoy natural beauty in the very heart of the town and appreciate the health-giving properties of the natural springs that bubbled just below the surface.
It is the greenest and cleanest town I have ever visited, and this weekend was home to Europe’s biggest Crime Writing Festival. The hotel that plays host to the heart of the event is the very hotel from where, in 1926, Agatha Christie went missing for eleven days.
So, I have just had four days of delicious murders, forensic dissection and labyrinthine mystery. My own book, The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is due for release on October 8, 2013 and I felt a bit of a fraud – a crime writer still in his cocoon waiting to emerge as a butterfly (or a death’s-head moth).
But I was amazed by the warm welcome and generosity of the other authors, and the incredible knowledge and questioning minds of the other crime readers. It was truly inspiring and I had the ultimate honor of the great Ian Rankin shaking my hand and saying: “Your book’s sitting on my bed stand – I’ve heard great things about it.”
I almost died – but then Ian Rankin would have been my killer! But it did lead to the question: What’s on my bed stand?
Well, as of tonight, it is all change as I have been inspired this weekend to buy a truck load of new books. So here is what now sits at the top of my MUST READ pile.
Mark Billingham’s Rush of Blood. What happens when a couple get friendly with another couple on holiday and later wish they had never met them?
Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls. Time traveling serial killer. It will either be brilliant or silly – I am betting on brilliant.
Belinda Bauer’s Rubberneckers. Narrated, both by a man with Aspergers and a cadaver. Last week it won the CWA Dagger in the Library Award and this weekend the author strangled me to death for a photo shoot (she seemed to enjoy it a little too much).
The most inspiring talk of the week was given by the godfather of Tartan Noir, William McIlvanney, who has been out of print for years and his Laidlaw series is now re-issued. All three are in the pile now, and I was totally charmed by the man.
His advice to new authors was: “We all serve our private Gods and have strange loyalties.” Yes we do.
The last book on the bed stand is one that has been there for many months and I read it at least once a week. Duckling Gets a Cookie by Mo Willems. My daughter loves it and I love reading it to her.
It is a crime novel . . . of sorts. Okay, time to read some more.
RIFers! What’s on your beside table? We want to know! Tell us in a comment.