Tag Archives: Denise Mina

Demon rules and the Glasgow underground

Did you know there are rules for summoning demons? And that crime writers all refer to the same rules?

I trust I didn’t imagine this. Michael J Malone chaired the Bloody Scotland Sunday afternoon supernatural event, talking to Alexandra Sokoloff, Gordon Brown (the other one) and James Oswald. Actually, I don’t suppose the event was supernatural. It was the topic. Although, Alexandra was described as the daughter of Mary Shelley, so I don’t know.

After a ‘warm bloody welcome’ Michael asked the three to blame someone or something for what they are doing. Gordon Brown didn’t know he wanted to write crime, but worked out that he could do a lot of horrible things to people if he did. He described a Glasgow pub fight he’d witnessed once, where one man was sitting reading a book, completely oblivious to the fighting going on around him.

Alexandra Sokoloff

Alexandra said that although she had a past working with juvenile crime in Los Angeles (where she’s from), it was the Scottish who led her to crime. Hearing Denise Mina and Val McDermid talk at BoucherCon one year, she realised that crime writing was the best way to address social issues, tired of the endless slaughter of women in books, and she wanted to turn that around, writing about a female Jack Reacher type.

James blames (hey, that rhymes…) Stuart MacBride. James was writing his epic fantasy series when Stuart told him to stop doing that. So James wrote a few short stories to see if he could write crime, but he hasn’t been able to totally shake off the fantastic element. Hence the demons.

James Oswald

Is evil a noun or an adjective? It can be both, but James uses it as an adjective. And he says that publishers want something different, as long as it’s the same as everything else. Gordon has a plan for putting two politicians into the same room, having the First Minister murder another Minister…

Sex? Well, Gordon doesn’t think he could write it very successfully. And can you let your mother read it? James doesn’t believe the reader should know about the detective’s sex life. They can have one, but you don’t need the details. Whereas Alexandra likes sex and so do her characters. She wants the stories to have erotic suspense, and besides, the books go on for too long for the characters not to have sex. But James said he feels the suspense can still be there with clothes on.

Have they met evil people? Gordon said you can’t possibly know. Alexandra thinks you can, and she has encountered many evil people in the past. James has led a sheltered life, but has come across evil intent, even if people are not evil.

Gordon Brown

Gordon said that if something feels gratuitous, then it probably is. It’s better to imply than to describe. It’s harder, but better, to get inside people’s heads. Alexandra gave up screenwriting because she didn’t like the ‘torture porn’ she was expected to write. She writes about violence, but doesn’t like to read about extreme violence. Humour, according to James, is true to life, so you need it in a book. If there is none, it makes the book hard to read.

Writing series – Alexandra has written two books, and is working on the third, but doesn’t know how long she would continue. Feedback from readers is a good thing. Gordon will write more if he likes the characters, but if he tires of them it’s hard to make it fresh. James doesn’t know. He’s got a contract for six McLean novels, and since his detective doesn’t die at the end of book six, there is scope for more. He gets to know him better with each book, so could go on forever.

Have they researched the supernatural? Well, there seems to be some ground rules about demons. Alexandra has read up on the rules. James relies on Buffy, and Gordon talked about getting the Glasgow underground wrong. The trains might go round and round, but you could still be on the wrong platform.

OxCrimes

Pop down to your local Oxfam and buy a copy of OxCrimes: 27 Killer Stories from the Cream of Crime Writers and support the work of Oxfam while giving yourself something good to read for the next few hours.

It’s got ‘practically every crime writer’ contributing. Even the ones I’d not heard of, as I had to confess to yesterday. But especially the ones I do know. Foreword by that Rankin chap who always pops up and takes part in every worthwhile venture going. (All right, not everyone. But 27 isn’t bad. Plus Ian Rankin.)

OxCrimes: 27 Killer Stories from the Cream of Crime Writers

The stories were of every imaginable kind, including a pretty scary sci-fi thriller crime tale from Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. There’s war crimes and ghostly crimes, sexy ones and the usual crime-y crimes. How Anthony Horowitz could be allowed to say what I’ve always suspected about public toilets (you know the kind…) is beyond my comprehension. Now none of us will want to go.

My favourite – if I’m allowed one – has to be Stuart Neville’s, which was brilliant in all its period simplicity. Not to mention chilling.

As for the rest, I think I’ve listed them all. You will know some better than others, just like me. You might find a new favourite, or even one you wouldn’t mind killing slowly and painfully. What do I know?

It’s all in a good cause, even if the blood flows fairly freely in places.

‘With previous books OxTravels and OxTales having raised over a quarter of a million pounds since their 2009 publication, Oxfam is hoping OxCrimes will raise even more, helping to tackle poverty and suffering around the world. Visit Oxfam’s Emergency Response pages to find out more about how you can help.’

Hell has already frozen over

If a book title contains the word snow, it’s sure to be real literature and will eventually win the Man Booker. Whether winning is a good thing or not was on debate on Saturday afternoon in Bloody Stirling. Nick Barley from the EdBookFest tried to keep order as Ian Rankin and Peter James told us why crime novels should be allowed to win the Man Booker, while Stuart Kelly and Willy Maley was of the opposite opinion.

Stuart Kelly, Willy Maley, Nick Barley, Ian Rankin and Peter James

Crime has already won the award by stealth, pretending to be ‘real’ literature, and as someone pointed out, perhaps these rich crime writers should let others enjoy the fame and money that comes with winning. It’s a well known fact you can write a crime novel in three days and spend the rest of the year in the pub.

The fascinating thing is that during the debate, people changed their minds. Both the debaters and the audience shifted in what they think is right and what should happen. Nick Barley pronounced Stuart and Willy the winners, because they argued successfully against.

But there is that ‘phoney halo of respectability’ which goes with reading Man Booker shortlisted novels to consider…

Before lunch we had dragged ourselves up the hill from the Albert Halls to the Highland Hotel for some forensics with Lin Anderson and Andy Rolph. Andy runs a company called R2S, return to scene, which has revolutionised crime scene forensics.

Andy Rolph and Lin Anderson with volunteer

It could have been boring. But I didn’t expect it to be, and Lin didn’t let me down. She chirpily predicted what fun we were going to have, and then she read from her new book Picture Her Dead, stopping just as we wanted to know what was hiding behind the…

Then it was volunteer time, when they dressed a member of the audience up as a forensics expert in one of those white overall things. There is a lot to it, you know. It’s hot. Uncomfortable. And the many layers of stuff, including the double gloves are easily missed on television. Our plucky volunteer even did a forensics catwalk strut.

The forensic outfit

It was a quick, but serendipitous, decision for Lin to let her main character work in forensics, and she is excited about quite how fascinating it all is. So were we.

I got my Lin Anderson book signed, as I said hello to her afterwards, while my photographer caught the group from the Fresh Blood event posing obediently. I hope it means what I hope it means, and not the other way round.

Gordon Brown, Frank Muir, Anna Smith, Sara Sheridan and John Gordon Sinclair

Working backwards here, we began the day with evil things. Denise Mina, who looked as nice as ever, talked evil with Peter James, who has been to Broadmoor. Not as an inmate, though.

Denise Mina, Alan Riach and Peter James

Reading from their books, Peter offered up the shortest chapter one I have ever met. So he read a little more. Denise stopped just as she got to the bit about orgies, which was mildly disappointing. But there could have been young people in the audience, or we could have become so well informed we wouldn’t then need to buy the book.

Peter James

Grandiosity is the sign of a psychopath, and somewhere in the discussion Americans entered into this. And there were more sock puppets.

Authors writing their own book blurbs is another kind of self advertising.

Denise never knows how her books are going to end, whereas Peter does. And then he changes his mind.

Denise Mina

The hotel turned out to be easier to leave than to arrive at. Both by picking the right door this time, but also because we made good use of the geriatric shuttle bus laid on. The authors, on the other hand, had been allocated their own named parking spots in the car park. We saw an empty one, bearing the name of Val McDermid, for instance.

Peter Guttridge

Val, along with Karin Fossum, spoke to Peter Guttridge on the subject of Deadlier Than The Male, and Peter felt distinctly spooked at times. I think it was Karin’s no-nonsense approach to death, which made him burst out with ‘you are seriously freaking me out.’ Wimp.

Trying to get rid of her character by moving her to America didn’t work for Val. She immediately felt the need to have her back, except her agent said ‘you can’t just leave the dog in America!’ So on discussing the dog conundrum with Laurie King, Val’s fictional dog has now moved crime series in order to avoid months of quarantine.

Val McDermid

Fans who know best can make the oddest comments. Between hardback and paperback Val was asked ‘are you aware that you can no longer turn right at those traffic lights?’ along with the suggestion she change it.

Karin has discovered that when she puts back in what she has already taken out of a book once, it’s time to stop editing. She mentioned how she wanted to make her detective dizzy, so she did. She didn’t know why he was dizzy, so this is something she now has to work out. This also worried Peter.

He compared her to Ruth Rendell, whom Karin admires, and who admires her in return. Karin also writes poetry, which is mainly about death, so it has a lot in common with her crime novels.

Both Karin and Val had long signing queues afterwards, which is why I didn’t practise what I’d been talking about over afternoon tea earlier. The lovely Keith Charters drove over to Stirling for a chat with the witches, and to deliver a vacuum. He is very kind. Keiths really do seem to come bearing gifts.

Karin Fossum

Anyway, we were talking languages. He was intrigued to hear that when Scandinavians talk to each other, we do it in our own languages. So I really should have ‘pratat’ with Karin, giving her the opportunity to ‘snakke’ to me.

And she’s not scary!

Rain and fizz

Steve Cole

Were you scared? Could you work out that Spiderman was really – only – Steve Cole? See, nothing to worry about.

Steve Cole

Steve came out of his lunchtime event fizzing. So did his Pepsi. All over the signing table. Hence the ‘handy-with-a-cloth’ Spiderman you can see here.

Steve Cole

Most unusual sight. Make the most of it.

We’d heard about the suit. Seeing it was almost better than the anticipation. Didn’t see much of the squirrels, though. Those that weren’t appropriated by the audience had already been stashed into a bag. (And they looked like teddies!)

Let’s see how long we can spin out our last weekend in Charlotte Square. There will be more detailed reporting on events, but the general goings-on come first.

We began by getting the first train out of Stirling, in order to go to Michael Grant’s morning event. It was worth it. Once you’re actually out of bed and dressed and all that, it’s not too bad.

Michael Grant

He had a very long signing queue, but after more than an hour we were permitted to drag Michael behind the tent to the dustbin area for a private photocall.

We hung on for Steve Cole’s signing, having found two well positioned chairs to watch from. I couldn’t help but admire the ‘Cole Mothers’ who were still smiling after over an hour waiting with their children.

Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson sat on her chair for a considerable time, and her ‘Gruffalo parents’ were very patient indeed. Her event was on first, and she was still there, signing away, hours later. Julia’s trusty musician entertained the crowds, and the Gruffalo did his bit.

The Gruffalo

A lovely message came via facebook, with the news that Jenny Colgan – who doesn’t know us at all – had managed to find Daughter a ticket for her Doctor Who talk that evening. It made our day.

Steve Cole

We trailed after Steve back to the yurt, where everyone jumped at the chance of seeing him jump. He jumped for a solid ten minutes for Chris Close while director Barley watched, along with Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Patrick Ness, Melvin Burgess and many more, who happened to be passing.

Found Holly Webb in the children’s bookshop after her early morning event. Very long queue.

Holly Webb

Once things quietened down, we sat out in the yurt ‘garden’ again, until I spied Theresa Breslin and Nicola Morgan and we ran over for a signature in Theresa’s new book, Spy For the Queen of Scots. I made the mistake of telling the Guardian’s Michelle Pauli it wouldn’t rain. Hah.

Peter Englund

Back to photocall with Peter Englund of the Swedish Academy. He was bemused to be getting instructions in his own language on how to turn. In typical Swedish fashion he shook my hand. I suspect that is as close as I’ll ever get to a Nobel Prize. Oh, well.

As we ran to get to his event, we spied Philip Ardagh, so stopped to chat briefly. That’s when he decided to lean on me. Someone will have to tell him it’s not good manners. Besides, the cool red shoes of 2011 are no more. He’s back to black brogues.

Mrs, Baby and Mr Wigtown and Philip Ardagh

Philip introduced us to Mr and Mrs and Baby Wigtown, which was nice of him. Apparently they have nine star hotels in Wigtown. (Like I believe that!)

Mr Wigtown and Philip Ardagh

Then we ran on, and after Peter’s event the heavens opened. It’s a most effective way to make people take cover. If they have a cover to take, that is. We really, really needed to go and eat lunch, seeing as it was coming on for five pm, so covered all our techie stuff in polythene, looked at the one umbrella between us, and panicked. All was not lost. In the entrance we found people covered in some delightful white bin liners with the words The Guardian on the front. We bought an Observer and got ourselves two ‘free’ bin bags to wear, and the afternoon was a little drier. So were we.

On second thoughts, we could have sheltered under Ardagh’s beard. Should have.

Post lunch we returned for Daughter’s eight o’clock Doctor Who talk, which she very much enjoyed. A quick chat with Jenny Colgan over signing, followed by a dash for a train.

We are now officially back at Bookwitch Towers.

Evil and deadly and Scottish (ish)

It’s going to be blo*dy difficult to choose. I am talking about Bloody Scotland. The programme goes live today, and I have to urge you to buy tickets while stocks last and all that. Hurry.

You might also want to stock up on stamina. I began making a list of what I want to see and hear, and setting aside that little inconvenience of having mislaid my timeturner, meaning I can only go to one event at a time, I have come to realise it could turn out to be too taxing going to one event for every slot in the day. Do you think? Or perhaps I can?

Bloody Scotland venues

It’s in Stirling, and what better place for it? The organisers have commandeered the Albert Halls and the Stirling Highland Hotel. They are near each other, so the toing and froing will be OK. Or would be but for that little matter of the hill. The hotel is the former Stirling High School, the alma mater of the Resident IT Consultant. (No, he didn’t go to school in a hotel. He had to go somewhere else.) The Albert Halls sounds grand, and seeing as it has been good enough for the Singing Kettle, it will be good enough for the cream of crime.

I’m aware that I haven’t listed all the crime writers who are appearing. You will just have to check out the programme. Karin Fossum and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir are coming, which means it’s not exclusively Scottish. It’s northern, though, and Scotland has expressed this understandable interest in joing the Nordic countries. And I daresay that if they murder well enough, we might let them.

There are so many great looking events I don’t know how to choose, and I won’t even try to list them here for you. What I absolutely mustn’t miss is Gillian Philip and Cathy MacPhail with Helen FitzGerald talking about YA crime.

A couple of fancy dinners are also part of the programme, where you can dine with your favourite crime writers. I hope that the former school does nice meals. They say the dinners go on until late. Luckily it’s downhill on the way home (unless, of course, it isn’t – depends on where you intend to sleep), so that’s all right.

Get on that website now and book your tickets. There are even reduced prices if you buy lots (except I’m not sure they have been reading those maths books I’ve mentioned) of tickets.

See you there!

Sara Paretsky in Glasgow

Willow Tea Rooms

I looked forward(s) and left and Hope Streeted it up to Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, just as per my email instructions from Julie Bertagna. Before getting even that far, I had crawled out of bed at an insufferably early hour, muttering to myself ‘why do I get these stupid ideas?’ and I had enjoyed an upside-down film on the train, where well-groomed American actresses drank coffee from upside-down cups and I was most impressed with the little dog running up (or down?) some stairs without falling off.

Mitchell Library

Sorry, getting sidetracked there. Anyway, I had decided that the best place to catch up with Sara Paretsky this time would be to hotfoot it north to the home of the Ned (non-educated delinquent). That’s why Julie very kindly offered to meet up, so she could protect me (she’s smaller than I am…), and generally believing that I’m useless at navigating (I’ll have you know the broom comes with satnav), she sent me careful instructions on how to get to the Mitchell Library, and it’s doomed roof. Sorry, domed.

Glasgow

This is where the Resident IT Consultant started talking about the motorway and how I just had to know it was there. Can’t miss it. Well, I have always thought of it as ‘a big road’. It still is. And it is a motorway but not up in the air. Here is the proof. It’s down below. So is the rather sizeable hole in the pavement. The Mitchell is nice, though.

Mitchell Library

I had several minutes in this lovely building before the fire alarm went off. (Maybe it wasn’t that Norwegian’s fault back in October? Maybe it’s me?) All out. So rather than meet in its café, Julie and I rendez-voused outside in the street, followed by super-fast tea once we were back in, before sitting down to hear Sara Paretsky and Denise Mina talk about Sara’s new book, Body Work. Sara looked wonderful, and as Julie pointed out, Sara ‘can do the scarf thing’.

Sara Paretsky and Denise Mina at the Mitchell Library

They sat in those kind of armchairs that look as if their hind legs have been sawn off. Very fashionable. Sara thought Denise’s introduction was so nice it made her speechless, but said she wouldn’t be ‘speechless for long’. And then she read from her book, a very good excerpt, where the bad guy slips on V I’s vomit. As you do.

Sara Paretsky reading from Body Work

Denise moderated as beautifully as ever and she asked just the right questions. We now know just how well Sara is acquainted with President Obama (there’s nothing like using the same supermarket for food shopping). And I believe my prayers have been answered, because from now on Sara’s characters will not age. They are old enough, and they need to be allowed to get on with what they do best.

V I is Sara in as much that she is Sara’s voice, but takes risks where Sara is too shy. On a recent visit to her old family home in Kansas Sara came face to face with the fact that her old cellar harboured not just the spiders she always avoided, but it’s also home to snakes. Currently the tally is 42 snakes.

Sara Paretsky

I’m glad the first question from the audience dealt with V I’s clothes. There’s nothing like getting your priorities right. Sara is about to insert her grandfather and his sewing skills into her next novel, so we’re looking forward to that. I think we also expected Sara to be suitably peaceful in her outlook on life, but she’s ‘always wanting to deck people’.

Sara has tried writing about new people and places, but finds she can’t leave V I and friends, and she can only write when she cares about something. She won’t ‘write by numbers’, because in that case she might as well go back to selling computers to insurance agents. Sara likes her characters because of their flaws, not despite those flaws. There is a difference.

Her New Year’s resolution was to stop trying to be perfect, because ‘it really does slow you down.’ One of her displacement activities before sitting down to write is making the perfect cappuccino, which involves throwing out all the not so good ones. At least this means the poor coffee farmer will earn more money. And chocolate solves any other problem.

Sara Paretsky and Denise Mina at the Mitchell Library

There’s a question on the ever longer acknowledgements in the books, and I have to say here that I feel I need a mention next time. It’s only the first-time writer who gets away with just ‘thanking their mother for having given birth to them’.

A guide dog in the audience caused Sara to feel homesick, because she misses her own dog so much. This is something she always mentions. It’s a shame Callie can’t come on tours.

Sara Paretsky

When the hour with Sara and Denise was up, Denise sprinted away in her Glasgow goth pixie outfit, in a hurry to get to the next point of call for the day, while Sara sat down to sign books in the magnificent corridor. And that’s where I found Hodder’s Jack, Sara’s minder ‘up north’.

Hodder's Jack

Prior to the day I’d been having problems telling my Hodder men apart, but now I can truthfully say I’ve never met Jack before. For such a non-stop talker he was surprisingly shy about photographs. Hence the hiding in the window with the light behind him. Between you and me, I think he liked Julie. And they discussed where she should take me to feed afterwards. Though he did say I was welcome to tag along to Peebles with Sara and him. That’s after Sara got her allotted nine minutes of Glasgow museums. Mean man.

Or was it a joke?

Jack and Sara went off, and Julie accompanied the only partially hobbling witch to an Italian restaurant within spitting distance of my train. Very handy. Would that count as lunch, between three and six? I’m not sure. It was good. Very Italian. Marble-y. Wood panelling. Gorgonzola. Unlike the place that has Italian lessons in the toilets, this one just caused someone to get lost. And it wasn’t me. Just saying.

I wasn’t even allowed to catch my train by myself. Do I look incompetent, or something?

If you’re wondering why after all those other photos, there is not a single one of Julie, don’t blame me.  I’ll get her. One day.

If Julie’s next book is delayed, it’s nothing to do with me. Julie offered to waste her day on me. And all that publishing gossip we covered? You won’t find it mentioned here. I think the Gorgonzola sealed my lips, somehow.

Charitable crime

The best kind, perhaps. I’ve had Crimespotting, an Edinburgh Crime Collection introduced by Irvine Welsh, on the TBR pile for a year now. Donna Moore was singing its praises on her blog and I hastened to buy it. Yes, buy it. Actually. Felt that since it’s in aid of charity (the OneCity Trust) that I should pay. I hope there is a slight logic in this.

Ten well known crime writers have each written one short story featuring a crime that has some connection with Edinburgh. Some I liked a lot, others less. There was one I didn’t quite get, and one where there was an uncalled for attack on homeopathy.

Ian Rankin’s one was clever and scary, although I did wonder about one fact which jumped out at me. Margaret Atwood has written a nice historical/modern tale featuring Elizabeth I among others.

James Robertson’s 19th century story made me think of Sherlock Holmes with a conscience. Denise Mina’s contribution is very short, which just goes to show how brief you can be and still have an impact.

And then there’s Duncan’s mother, aka Lin Anderson. Duncan is a Philip Pullman fan, which is how I’ve heard of him and his mum. And now I’ve sampled Lin’s style, I know I’d like to read more. Her Dead Close is a mix of forensics and ghosts.

Before I’d even read this collection, Donna blogged about another one. I somehow suspect I’ll never quite catch up.

‘so I write a bit’

Wellie water

Miraculously all the seats in the middle of Charlotte Square were empty when I turned up on day 2. That’s because it was raining. Staff wore their wellies. One very nice spotty pair with dangling dogs belong to a most helpful press lady who sorted out all my ticket problems, once she had concluded she’d not come across such a bad case of ticketitis before. Her equally kind colleague personally went and got me a mug of tea. (They only have coffee for the press. Most likely to keep them awake at night.)

Val McDermid

Being photographer-less I wielded my own little pocket camera when Val McDermid popped out for a photo session. Thankfully she didn’t jump or pose as much as Gerald Scarfe and Neil Gaiman. Neither does she talk, apparently. Someone next to me wanted an interview, but Val has been gagged. The things you hear when ‘eavesdropping’.

I got up to wait for the Judith Kerr photo call, but as she never turned up, I feel safe in saying she probably didn’t feel up to it. I wouldn’t either, if I was her. I then decided to tidy away my empty mug, which was a lucky move as Neil Gaiman suddenly appeared and sat down in ‘my’ seat in the press yoghurt. Yurt, I mean.

Time for Judith Kerr’s event, which was very sold out, and sensibly scheduled to fit in with children not truanting from school to see her. Though there were a lot of previous children in the audience. We all love Judith, and it felt pretty much like an audience with a beloved aunt, who you don’t see so often. It was a shame Judith hadn’t come out for photos, as she looked particularly lovely all in pink.

The weather chose to turn extremely noisy as Judith started talking about her childhood in Berlin, so an angel on the staff knelt by her side for an hour holding a handheld microphone. Judith read from When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, and I gather she has been given a number of pink rabbits over the years.

Lots of good questions from the audience for the second half. Her first cat was called Mog, and her ninth and last cat Katinka. Judith stopped writing about Mog, because she tired of doing all those stripes. She likes having cats in her books, however, as they do much sillier things than you could ever make up.

It seems that when Judith writes her books she wishes she was drawing, and vice versa. But she does see herself as someone who draws, and only says about being an author ‘so I write a bit’. If she wasn’t an author, she’d be a painter. And she claims to read Harry Potter. Judith feels that one important thing she has learnt is knowing what it’s like to be a refugee. She says about her adopted home that ‘this is a good country’.

Judith Kerr

The signing afterwards was popular, and I noticed Julia Donaldson hovering among the many children and mothers.

With my Mog and my Pink Rabbit safely signed, I withdrew to the yurt for a sandwich while waiting for my last event for the day, with Ian Rankin and Neil Gaiman. I try not to stare too much at people, so I was digging my hands deep into the almost empty bag of ‘cool tortilla chips’ when someone came in and started reading the newspapers on the table. When I looked up I discovered it was Ian Rankin. I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say, so had some more tortilla chips instead.

I’m also too cool (= too lazy) to queue a lot, so didn’t join the queue that stretched round the whole of the square and more. There are sold out events, and then there are sold out events. This was one of the latter. I overheard one fan saying she wasn’t staying for the signing, because she had had Neil sign all her books last year. No wonder Ian had to wait so long for dinner.

My ticket came courtesy of a fervent Gaiman fan who couldn’t make it, so I’m really grateful. Denise Mina chaired the event as though she hadn’t already done an interview on the subject of graphic novels for The Culture Show. Neither Ian nor Neil managed to stay serious for long, and we quickly had a discussion about ‘magic hostess trolleys’, which is a subject that apparently works well in comics.

Boys will be boys, so Ian just had to mention the word balls (yes, that kind of balls) to see the sign language interpreter do the sign for balls. Very funny. And I don’t think we should take them too seriously on the rumours of writing for Doctor Who. JKR instead of RTD?

Under rated books, being a cult writer, reading Gilgamesh as a comic, and being reviewed in the New York Times, all came up. Neil, who incidentally talks much more than Ian, would prefer to skulk at the back of the bookshop, and doesn’t like this change where his books aren’t hidden and read by the very few.

Neil feels he needs to be original and come up with new things all the time, whereas Ian has pressure from the publisher not to change too much. It’s not easy being a best-selling author, is it?