Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Barry Forshaw on Euro Noir

I'm delighted to welcome a fellow reviewer to my humble blog.

Barry Forshaw is a well known aficionado of all things crime, be they on the large or small screen or in print. His reviews and opinions have been aired on many platforms including TV, radio and his own  review site  Crime Time. His friends and contacts include everyone who's anyone in crime fiction circles

His opinion is sought by many and granted only onto the finest writers around. I've been lucky enough to read his latest release "Euro Noir" which looks at the cream of European crime writing both past and present. It's a wonderful guide which can be guaranteed to point you towards some fantastic entertainment.

It can be bought from Amazon UK and US

I've asked him a few questions on compiling  Euro Noir and posted his answers below. Feel free to comment at the bottom of the page.

  1. 1.      The knowledge and familiarity you show with the novels and authors discussed, suggests this guide has been years in the making. Can you tell me how you went about putting together such a comprehensive guide? BF: Like everything I've ever done as a writer, it was actually an organic process. I've been writing about these novelists for years (for a variety of newspapers and magazines, doing broadcast interviews with them and chairing panels). So without really trying, I suppose I built up a level of expertise in the subject. And by ‘organic process’, I mean that I've always – practically all my life -- been taking notes on and writing about books and films. I even have battered ringbound notebooks full of such things from the age of 12 onwards! Not that I can recycle any of that material-- too many spelling mistakes!
  2. 2.      Euro Noir is a fantastic introduction to many different authors which includes those still writing and some who are sadly no longer with us. How did you go about selecting which authors to include? BF: I appreciate your kind comments. Actually, I tried to be as inclusive as I could of both living and dead authors -- but as soon as the book was published, I gritted my teeth and waited for people to point out who was missing. Fortunately, I haven’t had too many such comments! But it was always supposed to be a concise guide in any case.
  3. 3.      While discussing the various novels listed you provide a fair and balanced opinion, being unafraid to highlight clich├ęs or failings in characters. How important to you was it to provide this fairness? BF: I don't think anybody would read a book like Euro Noir if I hadn’t tried to be objective. Having said that, I always try to err on the side of the positive as it is a guide, and there are inevitably writers with whom I'm not in sympathy – who others may adore!
  4. 4.     I got the impression that a lot of the novelists included in Euro Noir are more vocal on social issues in their writing than their British or US counterparts. Which UK or US authors do you rate as being the most socially aware in their novels? BF: That's actually a sore point; I get a certain amount of stick from British and American writers who say ‘We’re just as socially committed as the Europeans you write about!’ But there is undoubtedly a public perception – not entirely incorrect-- that European writers freight more social commentary into their novels. But if you want political anger, look at Val McDermid in this country and James Lee Burke in the US!
  5. 5.      You cover eleven different countries in Euro Noir as well as revisiting “Scandicrime”. Where do you plan to focus your magnifying glass next? BF: I mentioned above, I was getting a hard time from British crime writers for not giving them enough attention, although I actually write more about British writers than anyone else. Maybe I'll stop being beaten about the head when the next-book-but-one appears, Brit Noir, which will be published in 2016. But before that, I’ve got The Detectives and Sex and Film: The Erotic in British, American and World Cinema! There will be plenty of crime movies in the latter, of course…
  6. 6.       As well as covering crime fiction you also look at cinema and television programmes for each country or area. Which medium do you prefer? BF: Boy, that's a difficult one; I love all three mediums with a passion! So the fence-sitting answer has to be: whichever medium I’m engaged with at any given moment!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Cruel Losses


First of all I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to the family of Aj Hayes who died this weekend. He was a regular commenter here and I’ll miss his friendship as much as his support and advice. He was a true gent whose comments gave me the confidence to share my work. It feels decidely odd posting a piece knowing that one of his supportive and insightful comments won't be forthcoming. 

This is a little piece I wrote as an exercise during Crime and Publishment. During his session “Dicing with Dialogue” Michael Malone gave us some scenarios and I chose the following one. 

-          a mother who has just miscarried and her four year-old who wants a baby sister. 

The scenario is deeply personal for me and as I was writing it, I twice had to leave the room. However I don’t believe in shying away from tough writing. Anyway, after a little tightening up here is the piece I wrote.
 
‘What’s wrong Mummy?’
‘It’s…It’s…’
‘It’s what?’ Jordan’s foot stamped down ‘I want to meet my sister.’
Karen’s lip quivered as her head bowed down.
‘Mummy? Don’t cry Mummy.’
Jordan…I’m afraid…’
‘Don’t be afraid Mummy. Baby will be here soon and then I’ll have my sister.’
Karen said nothing. Preferring instead to draw solace and strength from Jordan’s sticky fingers as they grasped her thumb.
‘Can we call the baby Alice? I think Alice would be a good name for baby.’
‘I’m sorry darling. So sorry.’ A gulp was followed by a tearful swallow. ‘Baby won’t be coming.’
‘Why?’
‘Baby has… baby has decided to go to heaven instead. Baby wanted to meet the angels.’
‘Like Daddy?’
‘Yes…Just like Daddy.’