The Lit and Phil
I've been a member of the Lit and Phil, a wonderful subscription library in Newcastle, for over a year. I joined when we were still living in West Yorkshire, just because I wanted to be a part of it. Kay, the librarian, is brilliant, a real supporter of crime fiction, and it holds a huge range of events from academic lectures to a comedy festival.
Phantoms at the Phil has become a tradition. Just before Christmas, writers from a variety of genres are invited to write a ghost story and read it aloud to the audience. The setting of the reading room, with its domed roof and traditional shelving, is perfect. There's mulled wine. Mince pies. A chance to meet up with old friends. For the writers, it provides an opportunity to experiment with a new form. Poet Sean O'Brien said it led him into trying prose. And it's popular. Each night - and this year it had to be repeated - is full.
But because I was living away from the area, I've only just discovered the Lit and Phil's lending stock. It's a feast of great contemporary fiction, but I was specially attracted to the backlisted crime. Wonderful writers who've been out out print for decades are available for loan. Everwhere you look there are the yellow spines of the Gollancz mysteries, the red and black Macmillan crime series. I chose two treats to keep me sane over Christmas - an absurd but witty Michael Innes and a very early WJ Burley.
So I'm thrilled that the Lit and Phil has agreed to host the launch of HIDDEN DEPTHS on January 30th. I want my friends, and other writers, and the team from Pan Macmillan to see the library. It'll be a good party.