One of the best things about running a small publishing company for seven years was meeting new people. Almost without exception, crime writers are the kind of people I want to spend time with. There’s a theory that they get rid of all their demons and dark side on the page, so what’s left for real life is plain old-fashioned nice-ness.
But despite all the best intentions, a major life-change like selling the company inevitably meant losing touch with a lot of the people I had come to regard as friends – so it was a great end to last week to meet up with some of them again, and also to make the acquaintance of someone whose path hadn’t crossed mine during those seven years. All the more so because one of my favourite leisure activities is sitting round the table after a good meal, making conversation with congenial people.
(Now, there’s a marketing ploy you may want to consider – accept a dinner invitation from a voracious reader. All you have to do is be good company for the evening.)
There were six of us round my table last Saturday evening: three crime fiction writers, one former crime fiction publisher (me), one avid crime fiction reader and one other for added interest. The conversation ranged far and wide. Among many other topics, other crime writers were discussed, as were agents and editors, but a little surprisingly, since it almost invariably does happen where two or more writers are gathered, we didn’t talk about money. Well, not much.
And my to-read bookshelf is now four books heavier, which is always a bonus.
The writer I’d never met before, even though he lives half an hour away from me, was one John Lawton. I’d never met his books either, though there are several to choose from. (So many books, so little time...) And though international Cold War thrillers aren’t generally high on my list of favourites, I just may dip a toe in that water now. Watch this space.
Though first I shall gobble up the two new Zoë Sharps. Can’t resist those. Anyone who has been to a crime fiction convention, in the UK or the US, must surely feel the same; Charlie Fox is one of the most engaging characters I’ve ever encountered.
Chris Nickson, the third writer at the table, doesn’t have a book out that I haven’t read (he’s a good friend, so I get sneak previews), but his latest, Gods of Gold, is published this month. I strongly recommend it, since he’s far too modest to do so.
Though since he’ll be posting in this slot next week and the week after, while I’m basking in the Charentais sunshine and pigging out on wonderful French food and even more wonderful English-language crime fiction, it’s possible he may mention it.
A toute à l’heure, mes amis.