Tag Archives: Craig Ferguson

YAY! YA+

And they have gone live! I might have whispered about Kirkland Ciccone’s grand YA plans before, but now the website is publicly available and it’s actually got stuff on it. Not too much dust yet, either.

Kirkland Ciccone

We can’t let London have all the fun, and not even Edinburgh or Glasgow. It makes sense to take Scotland’s first YA festival to Cumbernauld. It’s where it’s all happening. (Secretly I’m hoping for Craig Ferguson.)

Keith Charters

But if I can’t have Craig, then Kirkland has put together a lovely list of YA authors from, or living in, Scotland. They are Catherine MacPhail, Linda Strachan, Barry Hutchison, Theresa Breslin, Keith Charters, Matt Cartney, Victoria Campbell, Lari Don, Roy Gill and Alex Nye. As well as Kirkie himself. There could have been more names on the list, and by this I mean that there are more YA authors in Scotland. Many more. Some were busy. And then I gather Kirkie and his Cumbernauld theatre venue ran out of space. (The answer would be a second day… Or a third.)

Theresa Breslin

The day we do have is April 24th and I’m so looking forward to it. I have demanded to revert to being 14 again. If that’s not possible, I’ll have a press pass (which will probably be home made by Kirkie, but hey, as long as it gets me in).

This time round it will be for schools only. It’s a good way to start, and will mean larger audiences than the old-fashioned way with organic ticket-buying individuals. But I would say that if you are of the organic persuasion, I’d pester. Like crazy. Or there is always gate-crashing.

Linda Strachan

I’m quietly hoping this Yay! YA+ will be a success, and that it will grow into something big, and regular. Because, as I said, we have lots more authors were these came from. This year’s list contains lots of my favourites, and erm, no one that I hate, plus a couple of unknowns (to me).

So that’s all pretty good.

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Masters of the Dark

Masters of the dark they may well be, but Mark Billingham and Stuart Neville are also a lot of fun. With the help of Peter Guttridge as chair, Bloody Scotland offered a marvellous morning of entertainment, well worth braving a dark and stormy Stirling at noon. You could ask yourself ‘who goes out to a literary event in weather like that?’ and the reply would be, ‘quite a few, actually, including Arne Dahl’ who presumably needed to check out the competition.

Peter Guttridge

Peter was back to his usual sparkling self, and we could have gone on forever. We only got an hour, but it was a good kind of hour. I knew nothing about Mark before, and emerged rather fond of this writer who is brave enough to go out with uniforms, just to see what it’s like at ‘the sharp end.’ Fun, until reality calls, when it gets pretty grim. In the police car it’s mostly filth and farting.

The two policewomen who gave Mark the guided tour suggested putting his DI Thorne back in uniform, which you can do, apparently. They keep their rank, but discover that the bad treatment dished out to uniforms rubs off on them as well. A lower rank non-uniform policeman will talk down to someone in uniform even if they outrank them.

Truth is stranger than fiction. There was some unmentionable stuff featuring cats, pigs and horses. The horse and crime scenes tape story was ‘fun’ though, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing that policeman going over the fence.

Stuart’s new book Ratlines is a standalone which has received heaps of praise. It is about Ireland’s history with the nazis. Set in the 1960s, it features Hitler’s favourite commando, Colonel Otto Skorzeny.

It was a break for Stuart, who wanted to write the story before someone else did. He says ‘you couldn’t make Skorzeny up.’ He lived publicly as a minor celebrity, as well as being an acquaintance of Charles Haughey. Stuart did some research on life in the 1960s, which included finding out you can’t dress a woman in an off-the-shoulder dress. It would have been scandalous. You have accuracy versus authenticity, and it’s the feel of truth that you want, rather than truth itself.

Stuart Neville

Jumping into a police car to see what the job is like, isn’t something you can do in Northern Ireland, because of the paramilitary aspects of policing. The police have a fact sheet which sets out what happens at a murder scene, and ‘that is all you’re getting.’

Strangely enough, Stuart had been criticised for having been unfair to the nazis. He said that the Skorzeny/Haughey set-up made things larger than life, and he had to prevent things from becoming too cartoonish.

Mark said about going back in time that you need to get away from CCTV and mobile phones which you have ‘forgotten’ to charge. There are only so many times you can use that. The Lleyn peninsula is good for having no mobile signal. (I think that’s where his Book 14 is set. The title is under discussion, with the editor disliking what Mark wants.)

Mark Billingham

With old age – as opposed to old, old age – Mark has found he doesn’t care for violence, and much prefers the effect of a single drop of blood. He has discovered, much to his surprise, that he enjoys the ‘window moments’ when a character is resting, instead of charging around in action scenes. Detectives need plenty of depth; the reader should get to know what troubles them away from the crime solving. Stuart has a female detective discovering she has breast cancer, for instance.

You can have too much of a good twist. Mark has dubbed them ‘Chubby Checkers’ where they twist, and twist again. And you shouldn’t keep hinting thoughout a book. You know something, you share it. And he definitely doesn’t believe in characters that take over and tell the author what to do.

Peter Guttridge, Mark Billingham and Stuart Neville

Cumbernauld-man-gone-to-Hollywood, Craig Ferguson, has written the screenplay of Stuart’s novel The Twelve, and it looks like Pierce Brosnan is down to play one of the characters. (Looking forward to that!)

Despite hatemail and abuse on Twitter, Mark feels ‘the time comes when you have to kill a character.’ Absolutely. And Stuart likes ‘rooting for the killer.’ That’s not character-killer Mark, btw. I think he meant fictional killers.

I’ve already lost track of where paranormal noir came into the picture – I didn’t even know there is such a thing – and poor Stuart reads very little these days. That’s the problem with babies.

There was another dead cat, with no truncheon involved, and both these writers have definitely evolved from the early days ‘when you’re often rather like someone else.’

Bookwitch bites #49

I’ve turned all nice and pink. At least my mind gets a little pinker. Have some not bad pink tulips at the moment. The daffodils didn’t amount to anything – again – so I depend on my tulips. However, most of the pinkness has been on my desk, aka as the kitchen table. I stole a pink Marimekko folder off Daughter, and there was the unfortunate incident last year with me buying a pink blog diary. They go well together. Nicely complemented by the red plastic ‘thing’ Daughter made in school. I was about to chuck it (I’m not a nice person) when I thought it’d be good to put some of my smaller bits and pieces in. Or should that be on?

My Ballet Dream

For a few days now I’ve had a beautifully pink book next to my tottering ‘admin piles’. Adèle Geras’s new ballet book was published this week, and I know I’m too old for this, but there is something irresistible about ballet and pink pictures. Although one little problem in this story about Tutu Tilly has to do with colour. But you know that problems in ballet picture books are there to be overcome. Everyone’s getting ready for The Recital, which is all Tilly can think about. Shelagh McNicholas’s illustrations for My Ballet Dream are perfect and adorable and very pink. I love them. Maybe I was deprived when I was the right age for pink and ballet? I’m simply compensating, however belatedly.

A Year Without Autumn Blog Tour

Speaking of belated; I have totally omitted to put up the poster for Liz Kessler’s blog tour. It’s the bus coming in threes syndrome again. There is either too much to blog about, or too little. But, all is not lost. The tour is still on the road, so I’m not shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Or something.

Gillian Philip's blog tour

In order to avoid repeating this next weekend I will post another poster while the posting is good. Who knows what will happen next? That was a rhetorical question. I’m a witch. I know. Just not saying. Blog tour posters come in twos, and I offer you Gillian Philip’s.

Hmm, this business of posting pictures is fun. Let’s continue. I got this one of Theresa Breslin the other week. She is posing with two of the boys who are in her Divided City play; one of each colour, which in Glasgow is deadly serious stuff. At least none of them are pink. I don’t even know what football is, so will say nothing about their shirts except to say that they both look lovely. So does Theresa, although she’s done that thing and changed her hair. How can I not walk past her?

Theresa Breslin meets Bryan Wilson (Drumchapel High) and Kyle Nolan (Bannerman High) Divided City. Photo by Tim Morozzo

I see those boys are in agreement about which beer to drink. It is beer, isn’t it? In which case you didn’t see it here.

From Glasgow it’s not far at all to Cumbernauld. I know, because I once visited a petrol station there. Cumbernauld has a famous son, who apparently likes ferrets. I offer you this ferret plate (yes, really) courtesy of Ebony McKenna, who writes books about a ferret. A very fanciable ferret. Remember Hamish? Book two is out now. (Watch this space.) Anyway, plate man is called Craig Ferguson, and he’s quite cute here on his plate. Mad, obviously. Lovely accent. Just like Hamish.

Craig Ferguson and his ferrets

Notice how the pictures got bluer as we went from girls to boys?