Category Archives: Caroline Lawrence

Lizday

At 9.59 there was considerable panic among Horrid Henry fans. Parents were seen running with their children across Charlotte Square, and then back again a minute or so later. It’s also known as ‘I didn’t need the toilet before but now I do.’ The event started at 10.

Liz Kessler

Francesca Simon

My first – literary – port of call was with Liz Kessler. I then had half an hour in which to take pictures of her signing, run across the square to see if I could catch Francesca Simon still at it, and then get myself to my second event with Gill Lewis. That’s when I remembered I had a book I wanted Liz to sign, and being a popular sort lady she still had a long queue and I wasn’t anywhere near the front of it. So I thrust the book at her publisher Fiona Kennedy and asked her to see to it that Daughter got an autograph. Surprisingly, Fiona seemed to know who I was.

Gill Lewis

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

After Gill’s event I had slightly longer, so had time to take pictures of her, and to dash across the square for Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart in the other signing tent. Had to remember to go back to base and get my hopefully signed book back. Then I went to meet Caroline Lawrence, whose Saturday event I had been forced to miss, but who very kindly sacrificed some of her time on me today.

Norse monster

Norse monster

Norse monster

Kate O'Hearn

We decided there was time for an ice cream – because we both carried spare food in our rucksacks, so didn’t need lunch – and we exchanged news and discussed what’s hot and what she’s working on now, and then she ran on to hear Kate O’Hearn, whose rather fantastic team of Norse monsters were a sight to behold. I caught up with them in the bookshop an hour later, where they chatted to babies (who will never forget this early literary experience) and posed and were generally rather unsusual.

Michael Rosen

Meanwhile I had found Michael Rosen signing across the square, talking to his young fans with his normal charm and performing facial acrobatics. He too had caused a late rush on the toilets, so that seems to be a hazard with young fans.

Simon Armitage

‘Backstage’ I found Carol Ann Duffy and I saw Peter Guttridge at a safe distance from sleeve-tugging. Again. While I waited for Simon Armitage to come to his photocall, Kate O’Hearn and her monsters returned, and thanks to Chris Close I got another opportunity to snap these fantastic creatures.

Kate O'Hearn

Elizabeth Wein

Elizabeth Laird

Chris Riddell

My final event this book festival was another couple of Elizabeths; Laird and Wein. I even had a few minutes during which to take photos of Liz and Liz, as well as of Chris Riddell who was still signing away an hour after his Goth Girl talk, before I ran off to find a tram to the airport. It was high time to collect Daughter from her Californian adventure.

EIBF and me, 2014

It is here. The programme for this year’s Edinburgh International Book festival. And I’m sorry, but all I can think of is that Sara Paretsky will be there. It’s been three years, and she is finally coming in the summer rather than freezing her nether regions off in February/March. Which is so sensible.

OK, there must be a few other authors scheduled for the two and a bit weeks. Think, witch, think!

There are some very interesting looking events where authors one admires talk about authors one admires. I’m going to have to see if I can catch one of those, because they look like tickets might sell out fast (small tent). Then there is Patrick Ness who will give the Siobhan Dowd talk and Val McDermid will pretend to be Jane Austen.

Wendy Meddour is coming and there is a lovely pairing of Francesca Simon and Irving Finkel. Another interesting pair is Caroline Lawrence with Geraldine McCaughrean. Elizabeths Laird and Wein will cooperate, and Gill Lewis is also making an appearance.

Many more excellent authors like Sophie Hannah and Arne Dahl, Tommy Donbavand and Liz Kessler will be at the festival. I have to admit to paying less attention to the ‘grown-up’ authors again, in favour of my ‘little ones.’ Those who are given orange juice instead of wine (although I am sure not at EIBF!) because they write for children.

Have to admit that many of my hoped for events are school events. I am glad that some of the best looking events are for schools, because it means someone thinks school children deserve the best. I want to be a school child on a very temporary basis at the end of August.

Deck chair

I’m hoping for plenty of stamina on my part. I have planned a number of full or nearly full days, for about two thirds of the festival. (I was thinking of having a holiday at some point.) The event I am fairly certain I won’t be able to go to but wish I could, is Eleanor Updale talking about Vera Brittain. That would be really something.

Perhaps I will see you in Charlotte Square? (If my eyes are – temporarily – closed, just give me a gentle nudge.)

The Night Raid

Boys will be boys. They were – mostly – just the same back in Roman times. Or do I mean Greek?

Caroline Lawrence has written her first Barrington Stoke story, and it is both an exciting read and quite educational for people like me. If you’re a bit shaky on the Classics, then The Night Raid is for you.

Caroline Lawrence, The Night Raid

It begins with the fall of Troy, when two young boys, Rye and Nisus, flee for their lives, having lost family members. Both want revenge, but first have to start new lives with the leader of the Trojans, Aeneas.

The reader learns what happened to the Trojans in exile, and how they arrived in Italy, years later.

If the story sounds at all familiar, it will be because a chap called Virgil wrote a poem called the Aeneid, and Caroline has borrowed from that to tell us what happened to the teenagers, Nisus and Rye.

I think it’s fantastic the way an author can take something old and seemingly difficult and bring it to a new audience by re-writing something that many of us will happily avoid for as long as we possibly can.

Thank you for educating me a little bit, Caroline.

Bookwitch bites #117

Oh, what a long time since I have ‘bitten!’

It’s also rather a while since it was relevant to mention Christmas trees, but I was intrigued to read about Adrian McKinty stealing one. He knows it’s wrong, though. The interview by Declan Burke is very good. Almost as good as…

Adrian’s been busy. He and Stuart Neville have been working on Belfast Noir, which is another short story collection I am looking forward to. It’s obviously got a Northern Ireland angle, so I’m not sure how they will explain away Lee Child. But anyway.

While we’re over there, I might as well mention Colin Bateman’s plans to reissue Titanic 2020 with the assistance of one of those fundraising ventures. I hope to assist by finally reading it, having long suffered pangs of guilt for not getting to it last time round.

The Costa happened this week, and it seems we have to wait a bit longer for the next overall winner to be a children’s book. But it will happen.

There are more awards in the sea, however, and I’m pleased for Teri Terry who won the Falkirk RED award on Wednesday. If you ever see photos from that event, you’ll realise quite how red it all is.

Shortlists and longlists precede awards events and the Branford Boase longlist was very long. It was also embarrassingly short on books I’ve actually read. But the thing is that it can be harder to know you want to read a first novel, purely because you may not come across a new writer the way you do old-timers.

The Edgar lists have appeared, and while pretty American, it was good to see they appreciate Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood, as well as Caroline Lawrence’s Pinkerton and Far Far Away by Tom McNeal. (I know. Two of them are Americans.)

Finally, for the Oxford Literary Festival in March, one of the organisers has pointed out that they have a lot of fantastic panel events. They do. And that it might be easy to miss them, if you search for author name to find something you want to buy tickets for. So it might be wise to search even more carefully, and that way you’ll find all kinds of events you simply must go to.

One day I will learn not to read ‘chaired by’ as meaning that XX hits selected people with a chair. That it’s not a chair version of ‘floored by.’

OK, I’ll go and rest now. I’m not myself.

Q & A with Caroline Lawrence

New covers. Again. I can never make my mind up which set of covers I like best. Sometimes new ones are so fresh that I have to love them. And then I think back to those that were ‘my’ covers and I think I might love them more. And for people like Caroline Lawrence who gets new covers ‘all the time’ there are others in-between to enjoy as well.

So, here are the third lot of book covers for her Roman Mysteries short stories. I read both of them back when, but had some trouble finding my reviews. (Could it be my system isn’t good enough?) Here’s what I said about the Legionary. Trimalchio will no doubt turn up of his own accord.

With Threptus having come to an end, and these stories popping up again, and my concern over saying goodbye to Pinky, I found myself overflowing with questions. So I asked, and the lovely Caroline answered.

Caroline Lawrence, The Legionary from Londinium and Trimalchio's Feast

With the newly re-jacketed The Legionary from Londinium and Trimalchio’s Feast, I suddenly found myself back in Ostia again, with Flavia and co, and that made me all desperate to hear more of their adventures and happinesses ever after. Which, I’m sure was the cunning thought behind sending them out into the world one more time. Will we ever return to Flavia and Ostia and all that?

I would love to return to Flavia et al… but wanted to do a YA spin-off trilogy first. See below.

I know we’ve sort of remained there, in the company of Threptus, while he continues to solve mysteries as Lupus would have done. Am I right in understanding that the fourth recent book about Threptus was the last one?

Threptus was fun for a while but my heart lies with Flavia and her friends and that slightly older age group (both characters and readers).

Does the fact that Threptus might ‘take a break’ mean we can revisit Flavia and the others? Please?

Hoping so… See below.

We wouldn’t object to that trip to London we were half promised several years ago. Could we?

The first in a spin-off trilogy takes one of the kidnapped twins to Londinium. But I have to rework it, as it was deemed too edgy for my readership. (So maybe I should stick to the 9-12 age group which is my own inner child’s age!)

And what about the twins? You had ideas for a separate series of books about them I think?

Yes, that was the idea for the YA spin-off trilogy. A story reuniting Soso and Popo 14 years after Popo was kidnapped and in the final year of the evil Domitian.

If I don’t come across as too greedy, I would also like to know what the future holds for Detective Pinkerton.

I’ve enjoyed writing the Pinkerton books but they haven’t really taken off and it’s incredibly hard to write in a vacuum of reader response!

I understand that not all power lies with you as the author, and that publishers also have to have some say in what gets written and published. But if you could forget about them for a moment; what would you write next?

I have also been thinking about writing something set in present day London, but with flashbacks to San Francisco in the mid 1960s, the days of Flower Power. And Barrington Stoke have commissioned me to write a retelling of a story from Virgil’s Aeneid.

Finally, is there anything else you can tell us, that I haven’t thought to ask you about?

Still waiting for the next lightbulb moment! Or film deal. 😀

Well. I can’t think of a better Flower Power girl than Caroline. I’ll just sit down and wait. It’ll be worth it.

The Two-Faced God

What do you know? I have learned even more things I didn’t have a clue about. I almost hesitate admitting this, for fear I sound stupid and uneducated. But you’ll want to know that this fourth book featuring the lovely Threptus is as educational as the other three.

I just love the chickens! They’re not educated or educational, but very wise. I don’t know where Threptus would be if he didn’t listen to Aphrodite. (She’s a chicken.)

This time Caroline Lawrence offers us a ‘faustum annum novum,’ which is New Year (the last book was Christmas), and it is more appropriate than you might think for July. I’ve been considering a new start, and what better way than with a new year?

I had no idea Janus was anything but two-faced. Not that he’s a God, nor that he has given his name to January, because he does his godding at the start of that month.

Threptus’s guardian Floridius needs to earn some money, again, having drunk and gambled the last lot. He offers to read a freshly sacrificed liver for a banker who hears bumps in the night. (Don’t ask.) Trouble is, liver makes him faint. So what can Threptus do to help his dear Floridius? The chicken knows.

It’s nice the way a few simple plot devices work together, making this a very satisfying read. The Two-Faced God ends well. Obviously.

Happy New Year!

Caroline Lawrence, The Two-Faced God

A Romantic Job

Caroline Lawrence, The Case of the Pistol-Packing Widows

Or The Case of the Pistol-Packing Widows, as Caroline Lawrence’s third P K Pinkerton Mystery is officially called. That sounds good, too, but nowhere near as satisfying as all this romance stuff.

It’s funny. P K finds kissing disgusting, and there is a fair bit of that going on in Carson City, where he/she has gone on a case. It appears to be yet another ‘romantic job,’ which is tedious for this rational detective, but it pays well. So P K leaves Ping to mind the shop in Virginia City, and goes off to see about widows and other unusual females.

I loved this adventure, where P K is almost growing up; learning about legislation, learning shorthand and coming to realise that whereas never having time to yourself can feel bad, the opposite is not necessarily better. (I know that feeling well!)

This is another great history lesson disguised as a fast-paced and funny crime western. I could barely put it down, and I suffered when P K suffered, and triumphed when he/she did. (One ‘clew’ for you; we learn which it is in this book. Is P K a boy? Or a girl?)

Those widows are really something. Is the pistol-packing one good or bad? Who is killing all those men? And can P K trust his/her old friends? As ever, P K also makes new friends, and it seems that if you know your Bible, you can always count on making decent and true new friends.

The endings of the first two mysteries were more than satisfying. The finale of this one is extremely funny and just what I would have hoped for. Not too much, and not too little. (Of – you know – what…)

Please let there be many more!

P K Pinkerton badge