Monday, April 27, 2009

The Rap Sheet's Crimefest Competition

Coming soon from Adrian Muller and Myles Alfrey is this summer’s Crimefest Convention to be held in Bristol England.

We’ve organised a competition at The Rap Sheet for three lucky winners to get weekend passes to the event – Click Here to enter

I’m looking forward to attending next month’s CrimeFest with Shots Editor-in-Chief Mike Stotter [pictured ©2006 Ayo Onatade]. Last year’s convention offered plenty of opportunities to mix with notable authors. It was also an excellent opportunity for organizers Adrian Muller and Myles Allfrey -- who had previously put together the one-off Left Coast Crime convention in Bristol in 2006--to show that the most populous city in South West England can become home to one of the world’s foremost annual gathering of crime-fiction enthusiasts.

Good luck and remember the competition closes Friday 1st May

More information about Crimefest available here

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

US vs. UK Thriller War

As an [associate] member of International Thriller Writers [ITW]; and judge for the ITW [2006, 2007 and reserve for 2008]; like my American colleague, the renowned critic David J Montgomery we have occasionally pondered upon the differences between American and British Thriller novels over beers. I’ve never considered either nation superior to the other in terms of thriller writing, but rather enjoyed the diversity and popularity the thriller genre enjoys.

At least two Thriller Critics [Photo from Thrillerfest 2006 Pheonix, Arizona] - David J Montgomery [US] and Ali Karim [UK] are available for a peace accord, as long as beer is provided.

As a renowned ‘Thriller enthusiast - I was asked to contribute an essay for the ITW ‘100 Best Thriller Novels’ book organised by David Morrell and Hank Wagner as well as writing extensively about Thriller Novels and Espionage Fiction for Barry Forshaw’s Greenwood Encyclopaedia of British Crime Fiction – So while taking a break at yesterday’s opening of The London Book Fair, I noticed a rather odd article in The Bookseller about a trio of British Thriller Writers who founded ‘The Curzon Group’ attacking American Thriller Novels –

Battle lines are being drawn across the Atlantic with the launch of a group designed to “end the reign of the production-line American thriller writers” and return the focus to domestic British authors. Authors Matt Lynn, Martin Baker and Alan Clements, who are respectively published by Headline, Pan Macmillan and Mainstream, are the founder members of the Curzon Group.

Jeffrey Archer will be advising the trio. Curzon’s manifesto specifically attacks American thriller writers—James Patterson, John Grisham and Dan Brown are all in the firing line. The group hopes to spark a debate, through TV chat shows, radio and national news media, about the "fantastic position" British thriller writing had in the past but which has declined in the past decade.

Lynn said: "Too many of the American thrillers are just being churned out to a rigid formula. The great British thrillers of the past had a quirkiness to them, an originality, and a passion for storytelling and writing that is absent from the market right now. All the writers in this group believe in bringing that back."

Archer said: "These were some of the greatest storytellers in the world. The flame has to be kept burning by a new generation."

The trio will draw on the tradition of writers such as The 39 Steps author John Buchan, Alistair MacLean, who wrote The Guns of Navarone, and the man responsible for the James Bond franchise, Ian Fleming, "reviving them for the 21st century".

Read More from The Bookseller

There has always been the old chestnuts of ‘What is a Thriller?’ as well as the ‘Why are Thrillers dominated by Male Writers?’ and now we have this new chestnut. Now healthy debate is useful in promoting literacy as long as it doesn’t get divisive.

‘The Curzon Group’ have also set-up a website to further promote the virtues of British Thriller Writing –

From Wilkie Collins to John Buchan, Eric Ambler to Hammond Innes, Ian Fleming to Alistair MacLean, and from Len Deighton to Frederick Forsyth, the British thriller is one of the richest traditions in world literature.

But in the last decade the British thriller has fallen into a sad decline. The market has been colonised by production line American thriller writers.

The Curzon Group is dedicated to reviving the traditions of Buchan, Fleming, MacLean and Forsyth, bringing the British thriller bursting back to life in the twenty-first century.

Read More from The Curzon Group

I wonder if these three writers attended James Patterson’s key-note address at yesterday’s LBF or if they’ve pre-ordered Dan Brown’s latest?

The cynical side of my nature considers this venture by ‘The Curzon Group’ as a method of promoting their own work; work which I am unfamiliar with. Personally speaking; the Thriller novel is split into many subgenres; and this UK vs. US debate from ‘The Curzon Group’ is a tad too jingoistic for my taste. Diversity is everything.

Incidentally Readers Digest have an interesting article on what they consider are the best of these thriller sub-genres Here and Here. The listing features both British as well as American landmarks of the Thriller Genre. The problem is where does British Born, American thriller writer Lee Child fit?

More Debate from Sarah Weinman here

Friday, April 17, 2009

2009 Hillerman Competition


From The Desk of Hector De Jean – PR Manager at Minotaur Books -

4/17/09 -- WORDHARVEST Writers Workshops and Thomas Dunne Books/ Minotaur Books announced today that updated guidelines for the Hillerman Mystery Competition are available online. The Tony Hillerman Prize is awarded annually to the best unpublished mystery set in the Southwest written by a first-time author.

Among the changes of note, the contest is now accepting stories set in Southern California, and the deadline is now June 1st, 2009 (it was previously announced at July 1st). Complete guidelines can be found here

Previous winners of the competition include Roy Chaney’s The Ragged End of Nowhere, coming out in the fall of 2009, and Christine Barber’s The Replacement Child, available in stores now.

Anne Hillerman, Tony Hillerman’s daughter, launched the first Tony Hillerman Writers Conference: Focus on Mystery in 2003 through the business which she co-founded (with Jean Schaumberg), WORDHARVEST Writers Workshops. The conference highlights writing by Southwestern authors.

Tony Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee mysteries, set on the Navajo reservation, were the first “regional” mysteries to become national bestsellers. His work has been praised by reviewers and the Navajo Nation for its ability to combine Navajo traditions and beliefs with a well-told mystery story. Hillerman’s writing reflects his appreciation for the natural wonders and stark beauty of the American Southwest and its people, particularly the Navajo. His books have been translated into many languages and frequently make the New York Times bestseller list. At age 83, Hillerman passed away on October 26, 2008.

Thomas Dunne Books and Minotaur Books are imprints of St. Martin’s Press, which is a subsidiary of Macmillan.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Last from Michael Crichton

I was very sad last year when I heard the terrible news about Micheal Crichton’s passing. As a reader of his work since adolescence, as well as a follower of his cinematic work, I heard today that he has left a couple or novels for us to enjoy, reports the New York Times

Michael Crichton, the best-selling author of technological thrillers like “The Andromeda Strain” and “Jurassic Park” who died of cancer in November, left behind at least one finished novel and about one-third of a second. Both will be released over the next year and a half, his publisher said.

HarperCollins, Mr. Crichton’s publisher for his previous three books, will release “Pirate Latitudes,” an adventure story set in Jamaica in the 17th century, on Nov. 24. The company also plans to publish a technological thriller in the fall of 2010, a novel that Mr. Crichton was working on when he died. Jonathan Burnham, publisher of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, said Mr. Crichton evidently wrote “Pirate Latitudes” at the same time that he wrote “Next,” his last published novel.

The new novel, discovered by Mr. Crichton’s assistant in the writer’s computer files after his death, features a pirate named Hunter and the governor of Jamaica, and their plan to raid a Spanish treasure galleon. “It’s eminently and deeply and thoroughly researched,” Mr. Burnham said. “It’s packed through with great detail about navigation and how pirates operated, and links between the New World and the Caribbean and Spain.”

The novel represents a departure from Mr. Crichton’s longtime fictional preoccupation with the moral and social ramifications of science and technology. But Mr. Burnham pointed out that “Pirate Latitudes” also harks back to the kind of historical yarn that Mr. Crichton wrote in the “The Great Train Robbery,” first published in 1975. Mr. Burnham said that the book needed little editing and that Harper planned a first printing of 1 million copies.

At the time of Mr. Crichton’s death he was under contract for the second of a two-book deal that began with “Next.” He had begun that second novel, a technological thriller, but was only about a third of the way through. Mr. Burnham said that the publisher would work with Lynn Nesbit, Mr. Crichton’s agent of 40 years, and his estate to select a co-writer who would finish the book, working from Mr. Crichton’s notes.

“We want a high-level thriller writer, somebody who understands Michael’s work,” Mr. Burnham said. “From what I gather, there are notes and indications of which direction the novel was going, so the writer has material to work from apart from the actual material that was finished.”

Neither Mr. Burnham nor Ms. Nesbit has seen the unfinished novel. Ms. Nesbit said that Mr. Crichton was “the most private of all authors that I have ever met in my life,” and that he never showed his agent or his editor any material before he had a complete draft. She said that other than the general category of technological thriller, she had no idea what the incomplete novel was about.

Read More and if you are Thriller Writer looking for a gig, there can be nothing more impressive than speaking to HarperCollins USA to enquire about finishing Crichton’s last work.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Stieg Larsson's Millennium Vol III

I was fortunate to be invited by Christopher MacLehose and Quercus Publishing to a private gathering to celebrate Stieg Larsson’s nomination at the Galaxy Book Awards, which Incidentally won the Crime Thriller of The Year Award.

I have a report at The Rap Sheet Here which may help explain my fascination with Larsson’s work in a somewhat surreal twist.

Legendry British PublishersChristopher MacLehose is very protective of the Manuscript for Stieg Larsson's Millennium Vol III as this photo indicates. The UK release date has been brought forward to October 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kenzie Gennaro Investigations Return

I finally finished the transcription of my Dennis Lehane interview for The Rap Sheet during which Dennis kindly signed my monster collection of his work.

Dennis was in very good form even when I pumped him about the new Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro novel he’s working on -

AK: You once made it sound as if you’d never go back to the Patrick and Angie P.I. series. But it has now been widely reported that you are indeed returning to their fictional world. Why the switch?

DL: I don’t want to say too much at this stage. Just, “Hey, they’re back,” and that’s it. In fact, I won’t say any more until the book comes out.

AK: I’m still going to pump you. … Boston seems to be a familiar location as a backdrop for your work. So will Patrick and Angie operate in Boston in the new book?

DL: [Laughs] To answer your question, “Yes.” Yes, they will. I took them once to Florida in Sacred (1997). That was fun, but as a reader I always hated reading a P.I. novel [in which] the P.I. and sidekick head to L.A. to hunt down a missing actress, and this was because all the writers were out in L.A. working on movie deals. So I decided that I’ll never do that; hence, Patrick and Angie will operate on their home turf of Boston. OK, if there was a reason to take them to Dublin, I’d do that. No West Coast travel, though.

AK: Will the next Patrick and Angie novel carry on immediately after the events contained in Prayers for Rain [1999]? Or will some time have elapsed? After all, it’s been a decade since that last novel appeared.

DL: I know there will be gap, but it won’t be a full 10 years. I don’t see them in a pre-9/11 America. A lot has happened in the last decade. It would be ridiculous to take them back in time, if you follow me.

Read the full interview here

Part II will feature an interview with Tess Gerritsen