Tag Archives: Dan Brown

If she sees one coming

Grandmothers! We were enjoying tea and Christmas cake (except for me. I had Stollen, on account of sensitivity to all that brandy I had been pouring over the cake since October), and as so often happens, the conversation strayed to Maths and other intellectual topics.

When that last happened a few days earlier, Son moved closer to his mother in order to escape the numbers and funny words discussion, in exchange for something suitably light for the two of us.

But at this point the Resident IT Consultant entertained his mother – the Grandmother – by showing her the new Brewer’s. She browsed for some minutes before pointing out they’d got Fermat’s Last Theorem wrong. She read it out, with the Resident IT Consultant and Dodo all nice and alert, and Son and me turning our eyes heavenwards.

As it happens, she was right. It is wrong.

We moved on to secondhand bibles, as you do. The Grandmother works in an Oxfam bookshop, and they get lots of Bibles in, and they sell like hotcakes. She displays all the various kinds of Bibles, and when she returns they have all sold and she has to start over again.

What a ‘shame.’

Something they also have lots of but which doesn’t sell the way of the Bible, is The Da Vinci Code. It might once have been an Oxfam bestseller, but if she sees one coming, she throws it out.

That’s the spirit!

After Fermat, they moved on to Faraday’s complete letters. Someone found a letter where it was mentioned that Mrs Giles would have been very happy to see him. Faraday, that is. The Grandmother was surprised to find the volume she was holding only covered a few years of Faraday’s life (there are six in total), and marvelled at quite how many letters got written back in the olden days.

I’m thinking the stamps didn’t cost 50 pence in the 19th century.

Where are the wild dogs when you need them?

I don’t suppose Adèle Geras expected her email alert to have quite this effect on me. But that’s the blogging world for you. I was out all Sunday so did not, in fact, see the Observer article where Ed Docx – ‘literary author’ – tears Stieg Larsson and Dan Brown to pieces. And the crime fiction genre and genres in general. Thank god for real literature. What would we do without it?

Ed Docx 2

A brief meeting with the good Ed means I seem to know that he has a literature background, which will be why he knows so much. He lectures quite strongly, and wrongly, in this Observer piece. Just as he did at the bookshop event I went to, where he thought nothing of telling the assembled readers, most of whom were at least twice his age, how to read a book. He wasn’t trying to be funny, either.

On Normblog Mr Geras had this to say about the article. Such a relief to find some well put-together sentences such as ‘Oh dear, Yeats! If only he’d roamed free of those poetic forms’, even if Norm doesn’t share my fondness for crime.

Stieg Larsson would surely turn in his grave if he knew he was being bracketed with Mr Brown of Da Vinci fame. There is a lot of difference between the two, and I think Ed would have been better to concentrate on complaining about only one of them.

Over on Crime Always Pays there is also a debate going on, with John Connolly sticking up for Ed. Which I will forgive him for. This time. And I agree with the comment about Lee Child, but then I would.

I was going to find a way to link to what I wrote about Ed a couple of years ago, but technical difficulties are getting in my way. Besides, when there are quotes like this one from the Observer comments section to enjoy, who needs old witch material? ‘The important thing is that anyone who claims to be a writer and writes copy like Docx’s should have their bowels torn out by wild dogs.’

(And you can never have two many drinks. As long as they balance.)

John Connolly on how to lose a Ferrari

John Connolly finds when meeting fans at events, there are some he likes a lot. On Monday night in Preston he looked around the room at County Hall and came to the conclusion that that wasn’t going to happen with us. Yes, we loved you too, John. (That’s enough of the insults. Can we please get on with all the love?)

Spending a beautiful May evening in the dark, but impressive, rooms at County Hall may seem a bit daft, but I really did want to meet the man who wrote The Gates, one of the best children’s books last year. (Yes, I know all the other fans were there for the regular crime novels, but I don’t mind being odd.) SilverDell Books of Kirkham organised this event, and I have to admit to having begged for a free ticket, which these amazing ladies who sell ice cream and books were happy to offer a complete stranger. Nice running into Super-Librarian Jake, as well, and Phil of Jodi Picoult jellybabies fame. And then there was a roomful of fans, who egged John on to give in to his urge to bang the chairman’s club really hard. It was loud.

John Connolly

He reckoned we looked quite nice (so did John in a purpley sort of maroon jacket affair and artfully arranged grey scarf), but couldn’t be sure we’re not the sort of fans who prefer the new book to be just the same as the last one, only different. I suspect we were, John. It seems that’s what authors who own yachts (or lose their Ferraris) give in to, but obviously John is above that sort of thing. His characters are all him, more or less, and Charlie Parker is John, except handsomer. (Now how is that possible?)

This ‘wet liberal, mediocre Catholic who still believes in hell’ talked a lot about soldiers returning home, and how very hard it is for them to settle to normal life again. Like most authors he goes round looking for things in life that he can steal and put in books, and I believe the homecoming soldier problem (in the new book The Whisperers) is one of those. John listed a lot of facts on the suicide rate of soldiers and the subsequent cost to society, and said he hoped we can support soldiers to make life better for all of us.

John Connolly

He read us a short piece from his latest book, about a ghost encounter in the woods. That’s another thing John does. You’re not meant to put the supernatural into a crime novel, but he likes doing it. To keep the fans happy, while not acquiescing to writing the same book over and over, John writes a ‘different’ book every other time, and he reckons it shows in sales.

Speaking of yachts, we somehow got onto the subject of Dan Brown. (Hang on, didn’t I say I was never going to mention him on here, ever again?) We had to do a hands up on whether we had read ‘that’ book, which of course I haven’t. John had, but the experience he takes from it is that he will never ‘waste time reading crap again.’ He had some opinions about authors not realising that many readers already know certain facts, mentioning mirror writing as an example. He had also once had an unfortunate trip to the cinema in connection with Angels & Demons.

Thanks to the woman in his life John has also escaped becoming a freemason, which can be hard to do if you live somewhere that boasts five masonic lodges. He has only ever met Stephen King once, but at least he managed to have all his Stephen King first editions topple over the master of horror, and I think the occasion wasn’t as good as he’d wanted it to be. Other than that, and the unfortunate geographical proximity to Dan Brown, John finds that living in Maine has freed him from having to write Irish novels. And he firmly believes that an average crime novel is better than an average literary novel. So true.

But – it has to be said – John is as funny and entertaining as most other Irish writers I’ve come across. One fan laughed so much she was barely able to walk.

And he’s polite. His mother clearly brought him up properly. He shakes my hand and pretends he’s really pleased to meet me at last. At last… Hah. And he promised me there are only two more chapters of the next children’s book left to write.

Elaine, John Connolly and Sue

John likes events. Even when it’s an ice cream free event, a fact he returns to so many times that Sue and Elaine of SilverDell look ready to drive back and get him some. And he tells of the customer at crime bookshop No Alibis in Belfast who asked what happens at an author event, as she’d not been to one before, and was told that the author reads a bit and talks about his/her books. And then there would generally be questions. She shrank from this, saying she didn’t think she’d be up to answering any questions.

From DaVinci to Jordan

I have said some not so nice things about The DaVinci Code, haven’t I? I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned Katie Price and her literary pursuits, but there is a first time for everything. Consider it done.

There was one last lesson learned at Random last month. In my chat with Philippa Dickinson she pointed out that they had made much money on books like the above. And it’s not just that publishing companies like making money. We all do. But with the profits from bestselling –  if light – books Random, and others, can do great things.

Basically it’s the Robin Hood idea. You take money from the big sellers and use it to publish narrower taste books. Not all books make any money for the publisher. And although they are lovely people, they can’t publish and publish and not mind the lack of income.

So with this in mind, from now on I will try to cheer as I see the other kind of books for sale, because they are busy paying for the books I want to read.

I hope I will never say anything bad about Dan and Katie, ever again. I may do, but it will be a slip of the keyboard. Honest.