Friday, June 30, 2023

Four men on the window seat


"He dropped his trousers, slowly, shamefully to reveal the tea cosy of inspiration."

So, against all better judgement, I asked the four men  who are known collectively as Four Men In Search Of A Plot
 (or four blokes who haven't a clue) to attend an interogation on my window ledge.

It's a big window ledge.

I fired incisive, carefully constructed questions at them but they answered with the usual nonsense.

Mark was always first off the err.... mark.

Mr Mark Leggat (the inventor of the exploding nun)

What is your latest book? Why did you write it? And, is it any good?

M - PENITENT is my latest book, available in all good bookshops, and some crap ones too. Its been longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, as has fellow author Douglas DouglasSkelton. Its the first time Ive been longlisted. I wrote the book as 'the big idea' I had about it wouldnt go away, which is a secret room in a flat. Why is there a secret room, and who is in it? But I cant tell you as its a secret, so I wrote the book instead. As to whether its any good, I think it can only be described as a seminal work in the canon of European literary history, and up there with The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories(A Surkiss, 2003) and How to Avoid Huge Ships(J.W. Trimmer, 1992).



                                   Mr Neil Broadfoot, likes to throw his characters off the top of Scottish landmarks.

N Ive just finished the edit on Unmarked Graves, my sixth (!) Connor Fraser book, which is out later this year. Honestly, I wrote it because Ive got a contract to deliver a book a year, so its lucky that I got the idea for this one, which started with the thought of dumping a body in Airthrey Loch on the Stirling University campus. When I realised I probably couldnt do this personally, with Skelton ( fellow Scottish author) as the victim, I fictionalised it, and came up with a web of political intrigue, violence and secrets dating back decades. Is it any good – not a question to ever ask a writer whos just finished an edit, Im way too close to it, but its got all the usual elements folk have come to expect from a Connor Fraser novel.


                                     Gordon Brown- his lovely, very intelligent wife is really good at literary trivia.

                                                             Him?  He disappeared to the bar!

G – No More Games is my latest book, and Ive just stopped working on the sequel to answer these questions – Im easily distracted. No More Gamesis set in 1974, on the south side of Glasgow – a time of power cuts, three-day weeks and inflation – not far off what we went through this winter. It stars a young lad called Ginger Bannerman who, with his friend Milky, falls foul of a local gang lord and has to grow up fast to save himself, his friend and his family. Think Stand By Meset in Glasgow. As to whether its any good or not – all I can say is that its the best reviewed book Ive ever written. Can't say much more than that.


                                                                Douglas Skelton. Behind bars...where he should be

D I have two latest books, because unlike these others slackers I graft. ‘A Thief’s Justice’ is the second in my historical mystery/thriller/adventure/spy novels (I do try to cover all the bases) featuring Jonas Flynt. I wrote it because it’s part of a series and you can’t have series if you don’t write the books. To be serious, I wanted to have Jonas investigate a murder. The first book, ‘An Honourable Thief’ had crime - did I mention it’s been longlisted for the McIlvanney Award? - but it was also an adventure. This one is a mystery with a possible miscarriage of justice at its heart. As for it being any good, I’m in no position to say (of course it is). Did I mention I’ve been longlisted for the McIlvanney Award?

The other, coming very soon, is ‘Children of the Mist’, the fifth Rebecca Connolly novel. It’s also part of a series, so see above as to why I wrote it. Again seriously, I wanted to set a Rebecca in the Kinloch Rannoch area of Perthshire because I love the place. But is it good? That’s up to the readers to decide, he said with humility beaming from his face. Can humility beam? I must ponder that.


Are there any exploding nuns in the book? If not, why not?

M  - There is an exploding nun, but it takes place just out of scene. When my main character, Hector Lawless, is standing on the Royal Mile, having just been caught by CCTV, there is a muffled thud to his right. This is the unfortunate demise of Sister Ophelia BomberCantaloupes, who had just clenched her pipe bomb between her teeth, which was already overstuffed with top grade shag, when a gentleman tried to light it for her. Her mission to bomb St Giles Cathedral and start a Holy War will have to be postponed until after the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as itll look too much like all the other no good street acts.

N No, but there is an exploding university professor, if that helps? I wouldnt dream of using an exploding nun, thats Marks schtick and he does it very, very well. Now an exploding crime writer, that I could work with. Must tap Skelton again for some research….


G I think there is a woman in the street in my book, at one point, who may be an off-duty nun and passes wind violently – does that count? The thought raises a serious point – I promise its my only serious point. Memorable scenes – such as an exploding nun. I love memorable scenes in a book. Those Tarantino moments when the world around seems to vanish, when the characters lose themselves in the moment. Theres a scene in No More Games, while Ginger and Milky are lying on a garage roof, watching a baddy when the conversation turns to how easy, or hard it would be, to become an astronaut. Having not a clue as to whats required I just had fun imagining what kids think is involved, and vanished from the plot line for a few pages.

D I have no exploding nuns. I have no nuns in danger of imminent combustibility. In fact, I have no nuns. There’s nun of this and nun of that. After a conversation with Anna Mazzola and DV Bishop at last year’s Bloody Scotland, I realised that I am deficient in the number of clergy in my books because I find that when authors put nuns, or monks, they can’t stop. It becomes habit forming. I’ll get my cassock and leave now.

What do you favour as an instrument of mass destruction? – Avalanche? Monkeys?

M – Id start a TikTok craze where you can cook a sausage between your teeth in seconds by sticking a pair of scissors into an electrical socket. That should thin them out a bit.

N Badly played bagpipes. That skirling, off-key shriek is enough to drive anyone homicidal. Other than that, the current Tory government seems to have been quite an effective weapon of mass destruction if the COVID inquiry hearings are anything to go by.

G Id favour using the Hypno-Toad from Futurama. A world-wide broadcast with the toad hypnotising the planet, sending a simple message – ‘End It All. Of course Id be wearing a blindfold and ear defenders, and Ive had pre warned all my close friends and family in advance. That way we get to inherit the earth – and, of course, Id become supreme leader.

D I’d suggest forcing people to read Neil Broadfoot’s books but that would be far too cruel.


Do you wear a tea cozy of inspiration when you write? Do you have favourite writing socks? A favourite jumper? A truss?

M – Im a bit boring, really, nothing special, just the usual six foot tall tartan stovepipe hat, grass skirt, Victorian nipple tassels and screaming.

N Im too traumatised by Marks answer to provide my own. Im off to find a good therapist

G Comfortable. Thats the word I use. Whatever is comfortable. From naked to my favourite Pudsey costume – if I feel relaxed in it then that works. This can have its downsides. Writing in the buff, in a Pret-A- Manger in Canary Wharf is not recommended. I can vouch for this – Im currently asking the nice police officer if I can just have five more minutes to finish typing before he arrests me.

D I favour a vintage nautical blue peacoat (although I’ve yet to find the blue pea) with brass buttons, a pair of rough trousers (their foul language comes in handy while writing), Turkish slippers (they’re a delight), a cravat, pince nez and a long cigarette holder for long cigarettes. Occasionally I do wear the tea cosy of inspiration because I am its carer but mostly I don a Nepalese velvet smoking hat, although I’ve never seen it smoke any velvet yet.



If you were thinking of the top 5 of writers who would be number 2?  ( Im  number 1 obviously.)

M – Spike Milligan. His war memoirs are my desert island books.

N Craig Russell. A sublime writer and a good guy. He wrote a scene in a book called The Third Testament that is so immersive it gives the reader dementia for the duration of the scene. Powerful, terrifying and moving.

G Stephen King. I fall out of love with him every so often but unlike other writers, I always trip head over heels back into his arms. As Im known to say – read his book, On Writing, if you want to know how to write.


D Whilst taking issue that you would be number 1, I would have to plump for Ed McBain. There are probably better writers out there but he’s the one who influenced me the most.

So there you go. That's what us Scottish crime writers have to deal with, imagine putting  up with that on stage. Live.  No wonder we are so good at thinking about killing people.....

Part 2 next week! Bet you can wait. I suspect everybody who reads the blog will be too busy next Friday.

Thursday, June 29, 2023


Wendall--every other Thursday

Over the last ten years, immersive experiences have become all the rage. 


From the Wonderland exhibit in Melbourne in 2017

Don’t just look at the art, be surrounded by huge digital representations of it, walk through it, see a whole artist’s career as a moving slideshow. Hurry to The Van Gogh Experience!



Or “be” Barbie and enjoy your own iconic Barbie-inspired hairstyle done by a Paul Mitchell Professional!” Then attend The World of Barbie “Sips After Sunset” (adults only) in her interactive world, in a local mall. This is pure marketing for the film, of course, but overall, what do these installations offer us? 


As of this morning, in addition to The World of Barbie, there are sixteen “immersive” experiences currently running in Los Angeles. There’s Bubble World—"an immersive experience designed to challenge the imagination. Step into a hot air balloon flight simulator, dive into massive ball pits, witness robot-led bubble shows, and much, much more!


There’s The Subterranean Forest. “Stepping into what feels like a painting, your senses will immediately be activated by instruments like sound bowls and drums, plus watercolors, games, and so much more. Don’t miss this immersive installation!”


Dinos Alive, anexhibition featuring life-size animated replicas in an immersive Jurassic venue. Walk alongside the massive creatures that roamed our world millions of years ago!”



There’s Explore Vatican: Immersive Experience! “Using cutting-edge technology, allow us to transport you to the heart of Europe, where you'll encounter a captivating, up-close encounter with the rich history and art of Vatican City. Prepare to be whisked away on a journey like never before to the wonders that await, as we bring the Vatican's treasures right to your doorstep!”


Terrifyingly, there’s also this. “Are you brave enough to revisit humanity’s dark history at the largest medieval torture museum in the country? Come explore over 5,000 square feet of exhibits containing hundreds of examples of torture, punishments, and execution devices. Find out how these contraptions were used with interactive activities and lifelike, silicon models (!! bold and exclamation marks mine!) depicting the action. Get your tickets for the Medieval Torture Museum with Ghost Hunting in Los Angeles!"

The interactive Medieval Torture Museum (!)

And perhaps, most hilariously, The World of FRIENDS™ —The One Near Long Beach. The one near Long Beach? How many are there? Inside this one, “Immerse yourself like never before by exploring interactive set recreations like Monica and Rachel’s kitchen, reliving the famous PIVOT! scene, and posing on the iconic orange couch in Central Perk. Plus you’ll get to learn about the making of the show with props, costumes and so much more! Now that’s what I call kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck fantastic!”


Even the Titanic Experience has immersive elements, no pun intended.


Be on the Titanic?

So, what do these experiences have in common, besides their ubiquitous exclamation marks? And what draws so many people to them? Is it just a natural extension of our armchair culture, and of the growth of virtual reality technology—a way to travel or participate without traveling or participating? Is it a need to be part of something bigger than ourselves? Or is it just, at heart, the need for the best selfies?


And is there a difference between an immersive experience that takes advantage of art that’s already been created, like The Van Gogh Experience, and living art, which is an experience in itself, created by an artist, like James Turrell’s “Breathing Light,” which challenges our perception of the objects, colors, and distances around us?


One of the James Turrell exhibits at MONA in Tasmania

In addition to several of Turrell’s installations, both in the U.S. and in Tasmania, I was lucky enough to walk through Rain Room at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2015. This piece allowed visitors to “walk through a downpour without getting wet,” via motion sensors, making them “performers in this intersection of art, technology and nature.”


Rain Room at LACMA

I feel that these installations have actually challenged me and made me look at the world differently.


The entrance to the "Alice" exhibit in 2017

On the other hand, Wonderland, a 2017 exhibit at The Australian Center for the Moving Image, was pure fun. This exhibit had immersive elements, like having to enter by crawling through the tiny door, or attending the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party while surrounded by shifting images.


James entering the exhibit... 

Then Alice lets us into the passageway

Entering and sitting down at the Tea Party

The scene shifts 

On the other wall...

The exhibit also included the history of the depictions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice and the other  characters.


The Red Queen's costume

A room full of photos of Alice on film

Perhaps the most hilarious part of the experience was sitting for a photograph, which was then placed into an animated film of the famous croquet party. Obviously my husband James understood this idea much better than I, since he was smart enough to make a funny face, while mine is quite dull. 


A still of our animated adventures

I have always loved the Alice books and actually wrote a script about Humpty Dumpty, so it was certainly surreal to find myself beside him on a projected wall...


Me and my fave, Humpty Dumpty

Here's a video of our animated selves, if you have 36 seconds...


In the end, I think my favorite immersive experience is still a book, but how do you all feel about this trend and what it offers and perhaps, what it threatens?


     -- Wendall



Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Carving Up a Bombay Duck: How I Edit

 Sujata Massey

Surely, every writer has a different equation of how much writing they leave as is--and how much they willingly alter. Fine tuning is a major part of my work these days, and it's every bit as challenging for me as getting the first draft on paper. For my upcoming book, two editors read my manuscript and inserted line by line queries. After they finished, a copy-editor and a proofreader got to it. A lot of focused, analytical minds catch inconsistencies and errors, and I'm grateful.  

Before one of my novels goes into print, I rewrite it three or four times. I dwell the most on the line-edit draft. A line-edit happens after a book has been edited by a content editor with suggestions for theme and consistency and suggested changes in direction. Now the same editor--or an assisting editor--goes word by word, flagging repeated words, inconsistencies, and the like. When I submit a 425 page manuscript, and each page averages at last three editing marks, that means there are more than 1200 points for me to deliberate over (or should it be, ‘over which to deliberate?) In Microsoft Word, color changes in text highlight anything that has been rewritten by an editor. Any comments appear in thought balloons on the margin. 

All kinds of things that looked smashing and tight when I sent off that draft to be line-edited appear rambling and poorly worded to me on close reflection. And then, when I rewrite one sentence, it usually leads to a string of changes due to new ways of thinking; changes that my editors didn't expect and now need to edit again! And I create more work for myself because upon this third-or-so reading, I start to wonder if I got the research right. 


Here's an example of how I might go into overdrive on an edit. Let's look at what I'd call the “Bombay Duck” scene in my forthcoming Perveen Mistry novel, The Mistress of Bhatia House.


Bombay Duck is the Anglo-Indian nickname for a species of lizardfish called Harpoon Nehereus in Latin, and boomla, bummalo, bombil whose habitat is tropical areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They are best know for being fished in Maharashtra, the state that was known in colonial times as Bombay Presidency. Some have suggested that the nickname is related to “Bombay daak,” a famous train of that British ruled era, but that doesn’t seem particularly likely, because people started calling the fish this name before that long distance train existed. It was eaten locally in a number of ways, and it was also canned for export.

So I asked myself, how much of the above information does the reader need to know? And would this fish--which is not as universally enjoyed as say, shrimp or lobster--actually have been served at the Taj Hotel in the early 20th century?

I recalled how two years earlier, I'd walked the halls of the 1903 Taj Mahal Palace hotel with Nisha Dhage, their PR and Marketing director. Nisha had pointed out some of the original dining room menus posted in an archive gallery. I'd snapped a photo of a menu, but it didn't include Bombay Duck. However, I dug out a history of the Taj Hotel, which did show another menu with Bombay Duck included. That point was sound--but there were other matters to consider. 

This is what I originally wrote:


Alice was already studying the menu. “I think I’ll take the Bombay Duck. Will you share? And I’m thinking about Pommes Anna, in case the duck doesn’t come with rice.”


            “Yes.” Perveen ran her eyes down the listed dishes. “It depends on whether they are going to make the fish European or Indian.”


            The Taj occupied a special place in Bombay. Not only was it the city’s most luxurious hotel, it was built by a Parsi, Jamsetji Tata, who adored The Continent. The menu steered French and Italian.


The waiter arrived late, only after Alice had raised her arm to flag him. 


“And how is the Bombay Duck served?” Alice inquired.

“Breadcrumbs fried.” 


That’s it?” Perveen asked. She was accustomed to it prepared many ways, but always with spices and fresh green chili.


“White sauce option.” 


“Never mind,” Alice said. “I prefer it cooked in toddy, and with chiles. The Indian way.”


“This is a continental restaurant, madam. My apologies.”


“This is a lovely place,” Alice reassured him. “I’ll take the chilled shrimp cocktail, Chicken Americaine, Potatoes Anna and Salade Lyonniase. How about you, Perveen?”



Can you guess the rabbit hole I found after reading this? I was compelled to doublecheck the recipe that Alice believes exist. I went to one of my favorite references, The Essential Parsi Cookbook, written by Bhicoo Manekshaw (1922-2013). I found ten recipes for boomla! 

I also wondered: do these fish run during the month of June, prior to rainy season? That's the time of the novel. Mrs. Manekshaw had no comment on boomla season, so I went to the internet and came away with the impression that they are widely available April to September. 


And there was the matter of the waiter, who barely appears at all. The unimportance of people who serve is what I dislike about a lot of British colonial fiction about India. So, I’d have to take care of that. by the same token, I needed to decide Alice’s annoyance about food to remain. An Englishwoman who’s never boiled an egg probably wouldn't know so much about an Indian dish.

I decided I'd better leave the critical questioning to Perveen. 


So here’s the rewrite:


When Perveen reached the Garden Room, she told the maître d’ that Alice would be arriving shortly after her. The maître d’ apologized that lunch orders would be ending in twenty-five minutes and only one table for two was left--close to the hotel wall, not the center of the garden. Did she mind?

“Thank you very much!” Perveen said, glad for the shade and greater privacy this table provided. A young man dressed in white coat with a banded collar and black trousers dashed over from the next table to take her drinks order: a sweet lime for Alice, and salt-lime for herself, both with plenty of club soda and ice. Within ten minutes, the waiter was back with the drinks, and Alice rushed up, face pink from exertion, with wet hair hanging lank to her shoulders. 

“You are her guest?” The waiter quickly pulled out the chair for Alice, almost toppling as she moved forward to take her seat. 

“Yes. Sorry to look like a drowned rat—I had to race to be first in the showers.”

Perveen laughed. “I rather the think his surprise was because of your missing chapeau.”

She clapped her hand to her crown. “I must have forgotten the damned boater hat in the changing room.” 

“Never mind. Just look at the menu—I want to get in the orders before lunch service ends.” 

The Taj’s menu steered toward France and sometimes Italy; there were only a handful of Indian dishes on the menu. Given the heat, both women opted for a chilled shrimp cocktail and Salade Lyonnaise. Perveen selected a dish she’d never heard of called Chicken Americaine. Alice inquired about the ingredients contained in the day’s special, a fish called Boomla that bore the Anglo-Indian name “Bombay Duck.” 

“Breadcrumbs fried,” the waiter answered, as if he’d said it a thousand times.  

“That’s it?” Perveen asked, disappointed. The small, scaleless fish that belonged to the lamprey family was typically cooked with many spices.

“This is a Continental restaurant, madam.” The young man gave her a faintly reproving look.

Alice shrugged. “And a very good restaurant, too. I’ll try it. And did I spy a Black Forest cake on the sweets trolley?” when I came in that you’re now offering Black Forest Torte?”

“Yes, memsahib. I shall set aside a slice of the torte for you. And as for you?” The waiter turned to Perveen.

“No pudding today, thank you.” She had the urge to look at her watch. It felt like the day was being whiled away, when she had so much work trouble to think about.

The waiter recited the order, and when the ladies had nodded their assent, sped off to drop the bill at the next table.

 “How interesting that a German cake is appearing on the Taj’s menu so quickly after the war,” Alice said. “In any case, I’m excited to taste chocolate. It’s a rare treat in India.”

I let this last part stand, even though the point about chocolate's availability is no longer true! 

Sujata will be touring from July 10-August 4 as she launches The Mistress of Bhatia House. You can find the schedule on her website. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

A season of celebrations

At the torchlit parade in historic Stirling to open Bloody Scotland in 2018 (left to right): Craig, Val McDermid, Liam McIlvanney, and Denise Mina
Craig, every second Tuesday. 

Kia ora and gidday everyone.

I hope you're all doing well as we passed the summer solstice last week here in the northern hemisphere, and the winter one for my friends and family back home Down Under. As the seasons change we're entering a new season for crime writing too, as many awards are announcing their longlists and shortlists celebrating some terrific crime and thriller reads, and plenty of terrific crime writing festivals and events are also underway and on the way.

Tonight in London we have the launch celebration at Goldsboro Books for Capital Crime 2023, a wonderful festival being held again in London later this year (31 August-2 September), that was created by literary agent and bookseller David Headley and events star Lizzie Curle. I had the privilege of being involved in last year's festival, getting to chair a cool couple of panels on the Thursday afternoon before I had to fly to New Zealand on the Friday. It was wonderful, and knowing David and Lizzie, 2023 may be even better. Check it out here. 

2022 Capital Crime in Battersea Park, with Andreas Alambritis, BP Walter, AA Chaudhuri, SA Cosby, Ayo Onatade & Tariq Ashkanani

Definitely check out Capital Crime if you can this year; it's a newer event on the festival circuit compared to some longer-running crime writing conventions and festivals, but has already become a highlight of the year. 

Another of my favourite crime fiction events, Bloody Scotland, has its London launch tomorrow night, after announcing its programme in Stirling last week. I went to Bloody Scotland my very first weekend in the UK in 2014, and have returned every year since (well, I appeared 'onstage' online in the 2020 online-only version of the festival).

There's a host of amazing festivals and events coming up for crime fiction fans over the summer; along with Capital Crime and Bloody Scotland, I'm really looking forward to the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate next month, and Bute Noir in Scotland in early August. Later in the year Iceland Noir and Newcastle Noir - two festivals I've really enjoyed in past years - both return as well. Among others. Lots to look forward to.

With Aussie crime writer Chris Hammer in Harrogate last year;
celebrating Aussie & Kiwi crime in the bookshop

Of course we can't get to everything; I pick a handful of events each year and have to live with missing others. Some friends enjoyed the likes of Shetland Noir and Lyme Crime recently. I have them on my future to-visit list. 

But it's not just events celebrating all that's good and great about crime fiction lately. 

On Friday morning NZT (Thursday evening in the UK, Europe and the USA), the Ngaio Marsh Awards which I helped establish back in 2010 will announce their longlist for the 2023 prize for Best Novel (there are also Best First Novel and Best Non-Fiction categories; the finalists for all three categories will be announced in August). The Ngaios, as they're known, celebrate crime, thriller, and mystery writing by New Zealand authors and are of course named after one of the famed Queens of Crime of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, Dame Ngaio Marsh. 

Each year the Ngaios are presented in Christchurch, Dame Ngaios hometown. 

The 57 books entered for the 2023 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel

While I'm not part of the international judging panel for the Ngaios anymore - I just manage the process/wrangle the judges who are all crime fiction experts from Australia, New Zealand, UK, South Africa, and USA - I am very curious to see who emerges from the diverse array of stories and styles to win this year's awards. 

Recently I had the privilege of being involved in a wee way with another Crime Novel of the Year Award, the McIlvanney Prize for best Scottish crime writing. The prize was renamed for the legendary author William McIlvanney back in 2016, following the passing of the man considered 'the Godfather of Tartan Noir'. Each year its presented on the opening night of the Bloody Scotland festival, with past winners leading the torchlit parade.

Like with New Zealand's crime writing prize, the Ngaios, the McIlvanney Prize has grown significantly in entries year on year, and now gets several dozen entries - which is terrific from a smaller country (5 million population) - with lots of good and great reads that make it hard for the judges to narrow down longlists, finalists, and winners. 

The dozen books longlisted for the 2023 McIlvanney Prize showcase a great range of Scottish crime writing, with 'writing royalty' like Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, and Denise Mina joined by past winners Craig Russell and Robbie Morrison (Best Debut), some fresh newer voices like Kate Foster, Callum McSorley, Mark Leggatt, and Heather Darwent, and recognition for terrific historical mysteries authors SG MacLean, Douglas Skelton, and DV Bishop. 

Lots of great reads to enjoy there! It's going to be tough for the judges to choose finalists and a winner. 

In the last fortnight, the shortlist for the 2023 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, celebrating the best in British and Irish crime writing, was also announced. Six fascinating finalists. You can have your say here

And next week, on Thursday 6 July, the Crime Writers' Association will be hosting its annual Dagger Awards dinner and celebration in London. Among the various 'best of the year' awards for Crime Novel (Gold Dagger), Thriller (Steel Dagger), first novel (New Blood Dagger), etc, it will also be an historic night as legendary US crime writer Walter Mosley (author of the Easy Rawlins mysteries, among many others) will be presented with the prestigious Diamond Dagger for "a lifetime contribution to crime writing". As the CWA says on its website:

"The Diamond Dagger recognises authors whose crime-writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre. It is the most prestigious UK lifetime award awarded to a crime writer."

Mosley certainly qualifies. I had the privilege of interviewing him recently for a profile feature in the New Zealand Listener magazine, out this week. He was thrilled to be receiving the Diamond Dagger, which along with the MWA Grand Master honour he received from the US Mystery Writer's Association in 2016, he sees as the two highest potential honours in crime writing in the English language. It's been a long, fascinating journey for Mosley over the past 30+ years, from when he was originally told no one wanted to read about black male heroes, to now. 

Next Thursday he'll become to my understanding the first crime writer of colour to receive the Diamond Dagger. Fittingly, one of the authors he influenced, Vaseem Khan, has recently been voted as the new chair of the Crime Writers Association. Talking about Mosley with Vas recently (for the article), Vas said: 

"Walter Mosley took the genre and bent it to his whim like Superman bending an iron bar around his neck; in his Easy Rawlins novels, he centred a black protagonist at a time when that was all but unthinkable, and in so doing inspired legions of crime writers of colour, including myself."

"This year I was elected the first non-white chair of the the 70-year-old UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA). There’s something surreal to me about the fact that, in 2023, the CWA will be awarding Walter our highest accolade, the CWA Diamond Dagger. Walter kicked down doors so that writers like myself could follow. Crime fiction owes him a debt." 

So from Daggers to Ngaios, Theakston Barrels to Capital Crime to Bloody Scotland, plus more, there's lots and lots to enjoy and celebrate across the crime and thriller writing world in the coming months. Good books, great authors, superb events. We're living in a new golden age of the genre, for sure. 

Or maybe a diamond one.

Until next time. Ka kite anō.

Whakataukī of the fortnight: 

Inspired by Zoe and her 'word of the week', I'll be ending my posts by sharing a whakataukī (Māori proverb), a pithy and poetic thought to mull on as we go through life.

Whaowhia te kete mātauranga

(Fill the basket of knowledge)