From the middle of the Atlantic
I'm writing this from the Queen Mary. At noon every day the captain makes an announcement and he's just told us we're half way between Southampton and New York City. It's more than a thousand miles in each direction. I'm here with an Elderhostel group of mystery readers: we met up at the crime-writing festival in Harrogate, we did Oxford for Morse and Dorothy Sayers, London for Dickens and Conan-Doyle and now they're on their way home. I provide a lecture a day on board ship and in return get a free trip to New York. A good gig.
The ship is enormous and this crossing it's full. There are 4 swimming pools, a spa and lots of places to eat and drink. Each day there are lectures, movies and shows. It's a surreal experience; we're sailing above 4000 feet of water but there's hardly any movement. Some people never venture into the open air. My group members are a delight - they promote my books shamelessly to the other passengers - of course the food and service is fantastic and because the prices are in dollars the drinks seem very cheap.
All the same this isn't really my scene. Imagine a classy holiday camp from which there's no escape. Give me the Northlink to Shetland any day.
See you in Harrogate?
Itís that time of year again Ė the middle of July and weíre heading for Harrogate and the crime-writing festival. I love Harrogate. Itís a chance to catch up with old friends, to hear the gossip about writers and publishers and more importantly to meet readers. Some of the regulars have been coming to the festival since it started and I canít wait to see them again.
Iíll be doing my usual stint as reader-in-residence, asking for people to share their favourite crime books and running the book group on Saturday lunchtime. This year weíre talking about Golden Age crime. This is a place where writers, agents, publishers and readers meet on equal terms, so if youíre passionate about Christie or John Dickson Carr, or even if you canít understand what all the fuss is about, come along on Saturday at 1.00pm.
These days there are book groups everywhere Ė in pubs and cafes, libraries and bookshops, prisons and office canteens. If youíd like to set up your own group, but youíre not sure how to start, or youíre already in a book group, but feel itís running out of steam a bit, Iím holding a readersí surgery on Friday and Saturday afternoon. Call in at any time between 2.00 and 4.00 for a chat. Find me by the readersí noticeboard.
And this year Iím actually on a panel! 10.30 on Friday morning, with Stephen Booth, Aline Templeton and Jim Kelly. Hope to see you there.