Shortlists and Shetland and summer, oh my!
Usually by June I'm well into a new novel, deep in the world I'm creating, understanding the characters and walking their landscape. I might even have hit the mid-book depression when nothing seems to be going right. This year though, I've hardly started and I'm experiencing a mild panic. Even as a student I was no good with tight deadlines.
The reason for the late start to the new Shetland novel is that my publisher came up with a couple of new projects just as I was about to start. I'm not allowed to talk about the first yet, but the second was a non-fiction book about Shetland. Pan Macmillan had published Poldark's Cornwall by Graham Winston and thought something similar about Shetland might work too. I thought it'd be a doddle. Lots of lovely photos of the islands and only 25,000 words of text from me. What could be the problem? Hmm. It seems I'm only happy when I'm making things up and finding a narrative structure to hold the reader's interest was really tricky. If I'd been able to introduce a dead body, it'd have been a lot easier. (In fact there are a few bodies - there was a gruesome murder in Lerwick in the nineteenth century). But now, with the help of Shetland poet and broadcaster Mary Blance and librarian Karen Fraser the book is nearly finished and I think it'll provide an insight into the landscape, culture and history of Shetland.
As I write I've been nominated for two awards: the CWA Dagger in the Library, which will be announced on June 30th at a dinner in London and the Dead Good Books Lee Child Best Lone Detective award for Vera, which will be presented at the Theakston's Harrogate Festival in July. I'm deeply honoured to be shortlisted for both. I'm passionate about libraries and anything that gets people talking about how important they are is terrific. I'm up against Ian Rankin and J. K. Rowling for the Lone Detective award, so I'm in pretty prestigious company. That one is decided by readers and if you'd like to vote for Vera, you can do that here: http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/lee-child-award-best-loner2015/
For many crime writers, the summer means only one thing: The Theakston's Old Peculier Crime-Writing Festival in Harrogate. This year I've chaired the programming committee and some of my very favourite writers will be there. Do check out the programme. I'm specially excited that Arnaldur Indridason has agreed to come to talk about his fantastic Icelandic novels. He rarely travels so this is a great opportunity to meet a lovely man and a great writer. I hope to see you there!
Now, I'd better get back to that novel...