Summer Update

It’s been a busy summer so far, and it looks set to get even busier. In addition to a few bookstore events in the UK, I also took part in two major festivals and visited my Hungarian publishers, General Press, in Budapest. They produce beautiful hardcover editions of the books.

Of course, everyone was talking about the amount of rain that fell in the UK in June and July, and driving back to Richmond from a signing at Grove Books in Ilkley in hail, thunder and lightning was quite an experience. As was the mud at the Beverley Fold Festival. This small and friendly festival happens every year in Beverley, an attractive market town in East Yorkshire, and usually manages to get an interesting line-up. This year I got to see Steeleye Span for the first time in about forty years, and they were terrific. Martin Carthy (once a member of Steeleye) was one of the headliners at the festival, and I got to do an event with him on Sunday lunchtime.

Onstage with Martin Carthy at the Beverley Festival, June, 2012.

I had worked with his daughter Eliza Carthy on a few occasions at Beverley and other festivals, but this was my first time with Martin. I wrote a short story specially for the occasion, a story based in the world of folk song collecting and murder ballads, and Martin selected a number of songs to echo and amplify the themes. We played to a full house – or tent – and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, especially us. The story was called “The Variant,” but I have changed the title to “Enchantress,” and it should be published in The Strand magazine before too long. I’m also hoping to post a link to a video recording of the event as soon as it comes my way.

I managed to make time to spend a day on the set of second series of DCI Banks. They were filming in the old Yorkshire TV studio on Kirkstall Road in Leeds, so I was able to get my father and stepmother down there to watch the proceedings. They were both thrilled, though I think a little surprised by the number of times each small scene is filmed.

On set with DCI Banks. My father in the foreground!

This is an unusual series in that Andrea Lowe, who plays Annie Cabbot, was seven months pregnant when filming started and could only take part in the opening of the first episode. The producers and writers managed to come up with a completely new character, someone I have never even mentioned in the books, called Helen Morton. She is played by the excellent Caroline Catz (The Vice, Murder in Suburbia, Doc Martin). The books that Left Bank have adapted for this series are Strange Affair, Dry Bones that Dream (Final Account) and Innocent Graves, and there are many fine guest stars you are sure to recognise. The series is set to show in the UK in January 2013. We still have our fingers crossed for US/Canadian distribution, and most European countries have already picked up the series.

Stephen Tompkinson (Banks) and Jack Deam (Ken Blackstone).

In mid-July it was time for the tenth anniversary of the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate. And what a line-up they had, including international guests such as Laura Lippman, Jo Nesbo, Camilla Lackberg, Harlan Coben and Deon Meyer. You can see some photos here.

My event at Harrogate involved sitting on stage with Ian Rankin at 10pm on Friday evening and chatting for an hour, as we did at the very first festival in 2003. The festival kindly provided a bar on the stage, and Theakston’s brewery supplied a cask of bitter. Mark Billingham poured us the first pint as he introduced us, but after that we took care of ourselves. The chat was wide ranging and often involved quite a lot of laughter. The event was sold out, with around 500 people attending, and a good time was had by all. Afterwards, Ian and I signed books for an hour, then it was back to the bar! Though I value the time I did have chatting with fans from as far away as Liechtenstein and with fellow crime writers I don’t see very often, there were many others I would have liked to have spent more time with. But I had to get back to Toronto the following day.

And now it’s almost time for the book tours to begin again. Watching the Dark is published in the UK on August 16 and in Canada on August 28. US publication is not until February, 2013, and most foreign editions, including those in Sweden, France and the Netherlands, should be out next year. The large format paperback editions should be out in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, among other places, around the same time as the the UK edition. In an exciting move, my Canadian publishers McClelland & Stewart have made some early copies available for my appearance at the Festival of the Written Arts, in Sechelt, British Columbia, August 16 to 19. My 7 pm Saturday night event is sold out, which means an audience of close to 500. This festival is always a great event. The organisation is very professional, the location could hardly be better and the audiences are enthusiastic. McClelland & Stewart are also producing a TV ad for the book to show on PBS.

I no sooner touch down in Toronto on Sunday, August 19, than I’m flying out to London on August 20 to start the tour there the following day. Here are the appearances arranged so far:

Tuesday, August 21, 6.30pm. Talk at Swiss Cottage Library, with Waterstones, Finchley Road, selling books. Tickets are £3 (available from Waterstones, Finchley Road) and proceeds will go to the Swiss Cottage Users Group. London.

Thursday, August 23, 12.00pm. Signing at Waterstones, United Reform Building, 89a Broad Street, Reading.

Friday, August 24, 8.30am approx. BBC Breakfast Television.

Friday, August 24, 12.00pm. Signing at Waterstones, 78-80 St Peter’s Street, Derby.

Friday, August 24, 7.00pm. Talk at Waterstones, 1/5 Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham.

Saturday, August 25, 12.30pm. Signing at Waterstones, 61-62 Bishopgate Walk, Ridings Centre, Wakefield.

Saturday, August 25, 7.00pm. Talk/signing at Waterstones, 93 Albion St, Leeds.

Monday, August 27, 12.30pm. Signing at Waterstones, 38a The Plaza, East Kilbride.

Monday, August 27, 7.00pm. Edinburgh Festival. Scottish Power Studio Theatre. Edinburgh.

Tuesday, August 28, 12.30pm. Signing at Atkinson Pryce, 27 High Street, Biggar,

Tuesday, August 28, 6.30pm. Event at Forum Cinema, Market Place, Hexham.

Wednesday, August 29, 1.00pm. Signing at Waterstones, Emerson Chambers, Blackett Street, Newcastle.

Wednesday, August 29, 7.00pm. Event at Carlisle Library, 11 Globe Lane, Carlisle.

Thursday, August 30, 12.30pm. Waterstones, 102 High Street, Northallerton.

Thursday, August 30, 7.00pm. White Rose Bookshop, Thirsk. TBA.

Back in Canada, I have several events lined up, including Word on the Street, in Toronto, The Ottawa Writers Festival (with Mark Billingham) and a writing workshop at the Huntsville Festival. More details later.