I attended the Theakstons Crime on Tour event in York last night (thanks to my free pair of tickets won via twitter) and it was an excellent evening. Bestselling author Peter Robinson introduced new authors David Moore and Steven Dunne:
David has been a journalist since the age of 17, first with his local paper, then on to the Telegraph and the Yorkshire Post. He admitted that so much luck is involved in getting the manuscript to the right person at the right time and even though he got an agent a couple of years ago, it wasn't until they separated and he got a new agent, that the new agent got a multi-house fight for the right to publish (this, a week after he had been told that it was too 'dark' to publish). His book 'The Dark Winter' is the first in a series and is now being sold all over the world.
Steven is a part-time teacher and 'The Reaper' was his first book. He had no publication deal and no agent, even though the advice is to get an agent and then a publisher, so he self-published. He loved American literature and then British crime and he had spent 4 years trying to get 'The Reaper' published before self-publishing and selling it in Waterstones in Derby and then further extended out. He sent them to a publisher and got his first publishing deal through his novel 'The Disciple.' He has since changed publisher and 'Diety' is his new book with his new publisher Headline.
Peter Robinson admitted that he sent his first sample chapters and outline out without giving away the ending (everyone laughed because this is a no-no), but he was asked to send the whole novel and 6 months later, he had already written the sequel. He had to go to the publishers in Toronto in January/February and he got the offer for 2 books. His first book was published in 1987 and now he is with Constable.
All the authors agreed that if you don't have a success with your first 2 or 3 books, then a publisher is unlikely to take more on and that Ebooks are changing everything, as this is an opportunity for authors not published to get their work out there, but that the quality is not guaranteed to be there.
David felt that Ebooks somewhat devalue the craft when authors give away their books for £1.99, but that some have used this platform to gain a traditional publishing deal. Peter felt that this also has drawbacks for the author, as publishers used to be happy with a book a year as the deal, but now expect 2 books a year or short stories to give away.
The floor was opened up to questions and David was asked why he had set his novel in Hull. He said that it felt natural to him as he had worked there when the murder rate was high and had attended endless murder trials as a journalist. He felt that there was room within that to craft a story, as he could drop a serial killer in Hull and it would be realistic, even if it gave cause for the Tourism Board to moan! Steven said that he had found the opposite in Derby as residents are happy that it is possible to have a serial killer in Derby for D. I. Brook to capture.
David said that he had lived in Hull for a long time, but now lived in Lincolnshire, but still had ties to Hull as his daughter goes to school there. Steven said that he was happy that Stephen Booth was the only other writer in Derbyshire. He explained again that 'The Reaper' had been self-published, but that he had been picked up by Harper Collins through anthology.com the 'slushpile' site. They had changed the cover, reproduced it and sold it around the world. 'Diety' is his first novel for Headline, but the 4th book in the series (all of which can be read as stand alone books), as the others are 1 and 2 of a trilogy. There are plans for the third in the trilogy, but he's not sure when, because of the change in publisher.
When asked how they had decided on their main characters, David explained that McAvoy had started off as a minor character in another book and David had decided that all his characters were horrid and different shades of ghastly apart from this minor character, who happened to be a big scotsman, so he became the likeable protagonist. In one night he got exactly who he was and how he would react in certain situations and now when he writes of him, he knows exactly what to do. Steven had produced D. I. Brook by picking things up from other books and jettisoning things he didn't like. He had a hint of the Sherlock Holmes figure as he enjoys the mystery and the chase, but no police politics. There is also a bit of Philip Marlowe as well, in that he was the superstar detective fallen from grace and stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Asked whether they would like to see their books adapted for TV, David admitted that part of him does think that'll be great, but he sees nothing wrong with this media (i.e. reading the book), but that it does seem to be the path now for most crime fiction. Peter enlarged the point by saying that he had written 20 Banks novels before he was approached for the TV adaptation, but that he had no control over the format or actors. For example, he did not see Stephen Tompkinson as Banks as he is too tall for a start off, but the actor did come and talk to him about the character when Peter was in Tampa, Florida, as the actor wanted a more serious dramatic role. Peter gets to read the scripts and make a few complaints (apparently Stephen Tompkinson had made similar ones too, so is really getting the character now) but he does ask for more costumes and more Yorkshire scenery.
David said that he thought that the best adaptation ever was The Shawshank Redemption, but now there seem to be too many writers on TV working on one script. Peter agreed and admitted there was not a lot of money in it. Americans don't pick from novels like the British do, e.g. he felt that Ed McBain was ripped off by shows like Hill Street Blues, but never got a penny. David admitted that Damian Lewis (of excellent series Homeland) had been sent a copy of ''The Dark Winter.' Peter thought it was strange that Damian Lewis was also considered for Banks, as was Rupert Graves, but that Sky wanted to do it with Ross Kemp! Neil Pearson reads the audiobooks and Peter likes him as Banks, but agrees that although they can work with editors to help them, ultimately it is their book, but with TV you can't do that.
Then David read the prologue to 'The Dark Winter' (the best bit in his opinion!) which really captured the essence of Hull and Steven read the first three pages and explained that 'Deity' is the search for immortality or celebrity by young people.
The event came to a close as attendees could then purchase books by the authors and get them signed. I am now the proud owner of signed copies of 'The Dark Winter', 'Diety' and 'Before the Poison.' Should you wish to find out more aobut these authors, or things discussed in this review, please feel free to click on the links below: