CrimeFest, Day II: The spirit is willing, and the flesh makes a pretty good go as well
Or maybe it was L.C. Tyler's professed admiration for Allan Guthrie. Tyler writes comic cozy mysteries; Guthrie's work is anything but cozy. One author's respect for another who writes fiction of a different type is one of those salutary, mind-opening reminders that make events like this a joy.
Another was Leighton Gage's answer that his books begin with plot. If my memory serves me well, he was the only one of eight writers on two panels who gave that answer to the "Plot or character?" question.
Stephen Booth offered the disarming admission that "I didn't want to write about middle-aged alcoholics because other people had done it better" and the warning that too faithful a portrayal of procedure can be deadly in a police procedural.
Ros Schwartz, Dagger-winning translator of Dominique Manotti, offered shocking assessments of the miserable working conditions of literary translators in much of Europe and contrasted these with the far better environment for translators in the Scandinavian countries.
Håkan Nesser, in answer to a question about Nordic authors' reputation for dourness, noted their penchant for social criticism: "If your mission is to criticize society, you can't be very comical." (Editor's note: Your humble blogkeeper is author of an article on humor in Nordic crime fiction, including Nesser's. I believe that the general seriousness of crime fiction from the Nordic countries throws such humor as there is into especially sharp relief.)
Declan Burke, Chris Ewan, Steve Mosby and Kevin Wignall made up a panel on writing about villains. An observation of Mosby's neatly encapsulated the way the line between hero and villain can blur: "Every villain is the hero of his own story."
See the day's complete program here. And Burke discharged his bar debt in a prompt, gentlemanly manner.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009