Tag Archives: Kate Ellis

Series – to abandon or not to abandon

That is the question.

As has become clear over the Bloody Scotland weekend, there are series everywhere. Not only do the long – and medium – established writers have series. The debut authors are also planning several books. Even the unpublished ones pitching their first novel, spoke of series.

If you are free to read whatever you like, whenever you can, with no blog commitments, you can probably keep up with lots of series.

I no longer know what to do. I tend to wait and see what happens. Because I can’t actually make the decision. It has to be made for me. I will – temporarily – abandon a series of books I love, if there is something else, equally loveable out there. Maybe something that is noisier when looking for attention.

And that first abandoning was never intentional. It just happened. It’s not you; it’s me.

In the last maybe fifteen years I have read and thoroughly enjoyed the crime novels by Kate Ellis and Stephen Booth. I read every one up to a certain point. I read about Mma Ramotswe. I read these usually in the right order, moving backwards to catch the odd earlier book, and then waited in real time for the next one to be published. It seemed like a long wait, until it wasn’t so bad, and then until the next two books were here and I didn’t know how to fit them in.

I discovered Sara Paretsky, whose books I still read when a new one comes along, and slowly reading the older ones.

Among my new people, as you know, are James Oswald and Vaseem Khan. I don’t know how long I can keep going. I want to. But I wanted to with the others as well.

With Sophie Hannah I grew too scared to continue, so that was an easier decison to make. And thankfully we have the new Poirots.

Or there is Harry Potter, but we knew how many books to expect. Knew there would be an end. As we did with Skulduggery Pleasant, at least until Derek Landy decided to keep going a bit longer. With Lockwood you might not have known for certain, but unless something changed, the characters would eventually be unable to do what they did because of their [lack of] years.

Which books do you keep? Will I ever reread the abandoned series? Will I restart one day? Which ones will I regret once I have ditched my copies? When we moved, we parted with about half our Dorothy Sayers. That seemed OK. Many of Agatha Christie’s books I’ve never owned as I borrowed them from the library.

And then I looked at my shelves for inspiration, and considered Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh. Those books I read slowly over a long time, and I don’t claim to have read all. But the thought that I might get rid of the books made me want to cry. They are staying. Campion is like a crazy older brother, and Alleyn some benevolent uncle. Yes, I know I have now bypassed them in age, as far as most of the stories are concerned.

So what to do about those just starting out? Not read at all, just in case? Read one and be hooked? Have nervous breakdown?


Deary me, how terryble

If you haven’t got money you won’t want to read books. In fact, you shouldn’t have the right to read them, because (other) taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund your free reading. Rather like education. Why should those with no children pay to put other people’s kids through school?

Those pesky children might of course turn out to be the surgeon who saves your life 25 years later, but never mind that. Let’s live for today.

The Resident IT Consultant felt I was being strangely insincere in wanting to hang on to libraries, seeing as I don’t – currently – use them. That’s mainly because I already have access to all I can read. I used libraries until I moved to Britain, even after I discovered I could afford to buy English paperbacks. I read more than I bought.

Then I must have fallen foul of the ‘I am new here and I don’t quite know what to do in someone else’s library’ law, so didn’t. When Offspring arrived they had the school library, and before that there were all the book parties. Usborne and Red House parties were de rigueur in my neighbourhood.

And after that the mobile library parked in our street and I went every time it came. I stopped because I helped in Offspring’s secondary school library and there were so many books there I was in heaven. Once I stopped at the school, the mobile library had gone to park elsewhere (was it my fault..?) and I spent a year or two buying books again, since we could afford to, until Bookwitch was born and soon after her, the TBR piles arrived on the scene.

So that’s me. I have very little against libraries. I think we should hang on to the ones we have. Occasionally people with no money want to read books. Quite often people with money read nothing at all. The reading/not reading is not connected to the wallet, unless it has to be.

The well-off middle class children Offspring used to play with in the mid 1990s were delighted to discover libraries when they came along one day. They were readers already, but knew nothing about libraries. I blame the parents.

For obvious reasons, the mobile library had limited shelf space. But I found good stuff there. It’s the place I was introduced to Malorie Blackman and Gillian Cross, and which allowed me to work my way through ‘all’ of theirs. I found Tim Bowler, too, and the lovely and murderous Kate Ellis. They all went on to become firm book friends of the whole family.

Would I have discovered them without the library? I might have been waylaid by something garish and pink in some shop. Who knows?

And as for what authors get from libraries. They acquire readers. As someone pointed out in the Guardian; you can get ideas in the library, and then you go out and buy books. Another thing I’ve noticed authors are ridiculously fond of is the PLR money. So many of them aren’t dreadfully wealthy, and they are happy when that PLR cheque arrives every year. I know, because facebook is awash with PLR happiness for a day or two.

Then there is the greater good. J K Rowling is always saying how grateful she was for benefits, back when she wasn’t rich. She doesn’t need PLR, but I doubt she begrudges others that money. J K wasn’t uneducated, just a bit short of funds. Perhaps she even went to libraries.

Sometimes intelligence and the wish to read doesn’t increase with the bank balance. Actually, it could even be the reverse.

If and when my supply of review copies dries up, I’ll be down at the library too. If it’s still there.

Bookwitch bites #73

How about we go totally miscellaneous today? I feel all higgledy piggledy, completely lacking in plans and any greater pictures.

This lovely pirate photo appeared before me only yesterday. It’s really Marie-Louise Jensen behind that mask, and I gather the handsome young assistant pirate is her son. I wholeheartedly approve of people who make full use of their children, and junior is to be admired for agreeing to be dressed up. The event was for Marie-Louise’s new book, aptly titled The Girl in the Mask.

Marie-Louise Jensen

In fact, authors who dress up to ‘go to work’ in support of their work are to be admired. Normal people just have normal clothes to fret over. Have you even considered what it must feel like to get on the bus dressed like a pirate?

Stephen Davies (of Ouagadougou fame, if you recall?) also has a new book out, which is anything but masked, seeing as it’s called Goggle-Eyed Goats. I’ve not read it, and am very intrigued about Stephen’s comment re polygamy. That’s  not your typical topic for a young child’s book, but no doubt reading it will reveal all. Sort of.

I am busy missing book events here. Friday night saw Joan Bakewell at the Stockport Plaza, launching yet another new book. It’s an adult novel, so I know nothing. The reason I heard about the event was that Mrs Pendolino mentioned that her father, being childhood pals with the beautiful Joan, was wanting to go along and renew the friendship. I hope he had a good time.

And I probably won’t be going to Formby. At least not this Thursday evening, because it’s a long way and it will be dark. But I do want to. I have been meaning to visit Tony Higginson’s bookshop, and the weeks and months are simply slipping by. The fact that I won’t be there is no reason for the rest of you not going, so do pop along if Formby is within your reach.

Tony is offering a Night of Crime, for a mere £3, at six o’clock on Thursday 15th March. The ‘criminals’ are two favourites of mine, Kate Ellis and Martin Edwards, who both write crime novels, and they do it much closer to home than Formby, so perhaps I should ask them round for tea instead of haring across Lancashire in the dark.

Actually, once you start looking for events (not) to go to, there is no end of them. Although I am not totally ruling out Stephen Booth, another fairly local crime writer, at the library in Dukinfield on Wednesday. That’s at ten in the morning, so will require getting out of bed. I know they all do, but not as early.

I’ll think about it. I am always more willing the further away it is in time…

Seeking the Dead

Kate Ellis can’t leave history alone. Her new crime series, featuring policeman Joe Plantagenet, and set in fictional Eborby, has some fairly unsavoury historical facts as background to the modern day murders.

The Resurrection Man goes round murdering people by putting them in coffins until they die. Not very nice, in other words. As can be expected, the police end up with a chase against time, trying to save the last victim from an unpleasant, certain, death.

Joe Plantagenet is an interesting detective, who initially intended to become a priest. He works with his superior officer, Emily Thwaite, who combines being a wife and a mother of young children with police work.

Eborby, which is really York, is a perfect creepy historical setting for crime. I couldn’t work out how to pronounce it, without getting my tongue in a twist, until I asked Kate the other day. Now I know.

I did work out whodunnit, but I kept wondering if I was just falling into a trap set by Kate, to make me think I was clever. But, no, it was…aarghh….

A Friday miscellany

Happy Birthday to Daughter! I didn’t really know this, but it would seem that becoming 16 is a bigger thing than silly old me could ever understand.

Thursday saw the witch back in Didsbury for another literary lunch. Adèle Geras had expressed an interest in meeting Kate Ellis, so I oversaw this event, in an Indian restaurant, which was empty apart from us three. Was it something we did? Kate and Adèle compared notes on how to write novels, and I sat there pretending to know all about it, too. 

The book world is small enough for everyone to have at least somebody in common, but I don’t believe there was anything incredibly juicy being said. I was far too cool to bring any books for signing, but Adèle brought a Kate Ellis novel with her to be signed. And we were so busy talking about other things, that the promised gossip from the Booker evening was forgotten. Typical.

Afterwards I made brief forays into a couple of charity shops for Christmas presents, and there was a coincidence involved, but I can’t mention it here, because then it won’t be a surprise.

The Blood Pit

There is such a thing as too much blood. Kate Ellis is now dangerously close to my target for blood. I used to be a real wimp, but have hardened myself quite nicely over the years. However, just the title of Kate’s latest offering in paperback is enough to make me feel a bit faint. I feel drained of blood, too, but perhaps more metaphorically so, than Kate’s victims.

Not only has Kate made the most of all the blood this time, but the lovely woman has cruelly killed off one of her characters, and I won’t tell you which one. And poor DI Peterson continues to abandon Mrs Peterson and the children all the time. And on the whole you don’t want to be associated with the Tradmouth police force, because too many associates come to sticky ends. Or near ends.

The Blood Pit is another good read from our local crime writer. Trust me. I did wonder how long Kate can keep going with her Devon murders, but she’s in full stride here. This is the prefect book for those of you who fancy blood spurting from carefully cut holes in the human body. I suspect that 35 years ago I may not have been able to cope, so be warned.

But I did guess who did it, quite early on. And contrary to what some people say, I don’t mind. It makes it more interesting to see how the author tries pulling the wool over the reader’s eyes. And this time the chapters begin with modern writing, rather than historical. So much scarier.

When the witch met Kate Ellis

The interview with Kate Ellis is up. Read all about her here.

The final few hours

Nine on a Sunday morning is very early for a panel on the importance of psychics. No, sorry, that should be sidekicks. But for the 20+ who had staggered out of bed, it was very interesting. It was hot, too, and one day I will learn to carry a fan round with me. The semicircular kind.

Next after the psychics came the comedians, and it worried me slightly that I had had dinner with three of the four on the panel. The losers, I have to point out. Those who didn’t win The Last Laugh Award, which went to Ruth Dudley Edwards. Naturally I felt the need to sample one of her books, too. The authors very carefully pointed out that they were not funny in real life. Could be, but they were a lot funnier than many others.

Humour is contagious, and I spent some of the time writing down notes of very funny stuff. I’ll probably throw it away tomorrow.

The witch had time for half of the last panel of the CrimeFest, which had a very wide subject area to cover. Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll, and Great closing lines. Laurie King moderated excellently, and dealt with the first three at great speed.

Authors really are very nice people. The thing to remember about this bunch, though, is that they have killed more people than most.

It will take me a lot of the week to recover, I suspect.

New friends

Now, I obviously don’t mean that all these illustrious writers are my friends. I’m thinking more along the lines that I’ve had my eyes opened, and my interest has been awakened, and all that. And there are many more that I won’t list here, to avoid boring you as much as one of Saturday’s moderators bored me.

Managed to have a gap Saturday morning, that fitted in well with Stephen Booth, and we had a long fruitful conversation, which only fleetingly dealt with goats. Ruth Downie continues to be very friendly, and so does Kate Ellis. My foreign-ness caused a temporary obstacle with Declan Hughes yesterday morning, but never mind that I came across like an idiot. I am an idiot.

Ian Rankin was wonderful, and thankfully he refrained from singing to us. I was very taken with Rhys Bowen on Friday, and reluctantly revisited Blackwell’s to buy two of her books, for which they proceeded to overcharge me by £8. Will not buy from them again. But anyway, Rhys was lovely when cornered by the witch, and I’m really looking forward to reading her books.

Saturday night offered the big gala dinner, which I felt might be a bit iffy, but I was wrong as usual. Shouldn’t advertise hotels here, but the Marriott Royal have done a good job this weekend, and the dinner was no exception. The dessert could have been smaller, if I must complain. Not all dinners have speeches by Karin Fossum, Jeff Lindsay and Ian Rankin, but this one did.

My new Argentinian granny sat next to me at dinner, and through her I was introduced to a very interesting forensic scientist, and I heard a lot about the mud in Hay.

And whoever it was that did all that drinking in the cocktail bar on my behalf on Friday morning; I hope you enjoyed it. The receptionist was willing to tell me what I’d drunk, but after the first glass the teetotal witch felt dizzy and stopped her. Skål!

More Bristol crime

I still haven’t worked out what I should do with all six pillows I’ve been allocated. It will come to me, I suppose. And after my conversation with Ruth Downie about the minibar, I sincerely hope I won’t be charged for a whisky for each time I get my pint of milk out for a cup of tea. And I’m proud that I can cope nearly every time with my key card, even without Offspring here to help the elderly witch.

The CrimeFest organisers have provided everyone with something for their name badges, which hangs round people’s necks and makes even the toughest crime writer look like a child evacuee. Not me, as I refuse to wear it, and hence nobody knows who I am. They wouldn’t anyway.

I should be used to this by now, but I’m so struck by all these authors behaving like normal people. I had my M&S sandwich sitting on a bench outside the cathedral, thinking that the man sitting opposite me eating a sandwich looked very much like Stephen Booth. No, it can’t be. Yes, it was.

After we had both travelled all the way from Cheshire to Bristol, Kate Ellis and I had a chat in the lounge about her writing. I’ve enjoyed Kate’s Wesley Peterson novels, set in Devon, for years, but always managed to miss her wherever she’s been.

One little gripe would be about Blackwell’s, who sell the books here. They don’t take book tokens. I rarely pay for books these days, so the opportunity to use a book token doesn’t often come along. And it didn’t here, either. There are many ways of losing a customer, and I’d say this counts as one.

After a long day’s listening to panels on various aspects of crime, I found myself having dinner with nine people I’d never met before, and only one of whom, Declan Burke, I knew at all. I strongly suspect he had something to do with the four tealights that turned up along with my dessert, and I know for a fact that Daughter had something to do with it as well.

Lovely people. I even acquired a temporary Argentinian granny from Oklahoma, thanks to a not entirely sober man who claimed to be from Edinburgh. Not with that Glaswegian accent, I’d say.

This seems to be more about food than literature, but as it’s a Saturday, who cares?