Monday, October 11, 2010

See you all in San Francisco

Not much to say, except thanks to Roger RJ Ellory, twisting my arm at Harrogate following his winning the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Award for Crime Novel of the Year this summer [‘A Simple Act of Violence’], our bags are packed for the long journey to Bouchercon San Francisco.

Bouchercon is a great place to meet up with our friends; only a few are pictured above , so if you are around – then please say hello as we arrive early hours of Thursday Morning and fly out Monday.

So let’s leave the last word to John Fogerty and Willie and the Poor Boys of CCR -

We’ll have plenty to say on our return, so until then, why not explore Roger’s latest ‘SAINTS OF NEW YORK’.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Big Hand to Henriksson & Forsyth

Despite my badly injuring my right hand this week, [hence the bandages and white protective glove]; I thoroughly enjoyed the Specsavers CWA Dagger Awards in London on Friday. Due to my hand injury, I can only type rather slowly hence a very short piece about the event.

As a true fan-boy there were too many people there to comment and write about, however I must admit that my first ever meetings with Frederick Forsyth and Swedish actor Krister Henriksson, who plays Inspector Kurt Wallander were memorable, truly memorable. I somehow managed to remain coherent despite my inner fanboy tendencies. I did discover that Henriksson is good friends with author Henning Mankell. I also had a fascinating chat with Fredrick Forsyth. I later learned from Forsyth’s publisher Selina Walker of Transworld that when Forsyth’s debut 'The Day of The Jackal' was submitted for publication, it was rejected by all and sundry, apart from one publisher. This publisher decided to take a gamble as he liked the book, but commented it broke the 3 golden rules of thrillers [at that time] so he decided, ‘let’s take a punt’ –

# The Novel was filled with ‘matter of fact’ tradecraft ‘ - that was totally unheard of at the time [which now is a staple of thriller fiction]

# The writing style was totally ‘different’ to thrillers of that time; filled with a style that was excessively descriptive and very ‘matter of fact’.

# The novel was based around true life events, and everyone knew that the Jackal failed in the assassination attempt, hence the climax already known.

The rest, Selina Walker said ‘was history’. I admire people who take risks.

I also admire Frederick Forsyth, as when we had a chat about his work, especially his short stories from his collection No Comebacks which I read while at University; he was interested in one of his stories that still resonates in me for obvious reasons –

There Are No Snakes In Ireland is about an Indian medical student in Ireland who is bullied by the foreman at a construction site where he is trying to earn his tuition. Things go too far and the student decides to take his revenge.

There was some drama, very late in the bar, when I attempted to help Krister Henriksson try and find his CWA Dagger that he mislaid in his goodie bag. I thought ‘surreal!’; me helping Inspector Kurt Wallander on a case. When I told my wife, she rolled her eyes to heaven and said, “You do realize that he’s an actor and not really a policeman….”

There were so many key figures from the Crime and Mystery genre, to list them all would be too hard with just one hand, though special thanks go to my Editor at Shots, Mike Stotter - a true friend who helped me with my bandages.

Now I have to look after my damaged hand, for my trip to Bouchercon next week; so if you trap me in the bar, I’ll tell you more - as typing with one hand is proving a nightmare, but I do like to talk a lot about the genre!

Also - I must thank Dan Wagner for his kind words about the Book Reviewing panel that happens on Thursday, and of course check out The Rap Sheet for details on the Friday Panel entitled Inferno, and see you all next week in San Francisco!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Three Seconds and Three Book Videos

I am getting very excited for my trip with Roger Ellory to Bouchercon San Francisco next week, though there is a lot of work behind the scenes for the trip, especially as I have a couple of panels to moderate, parties to attend and generally meeting my friends and colleagues in the Crime and Thriller Genre –

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED - our favorite books
Ali Karim (M) - Chris Aldrich, Sarah Byrne, Janet Rudolph, Andi Shechter
Thursday Oct 14th 10:00am in Seacliff A

I am as ever flattered to be moderating the book reviewing panel where we will discuss our favourite books, past present and future with key critics of the genre. Remember it was at Bouchercon that word about Stieg Larsson travelled from Europe to America, so you may well discover what the critics reckon will become the big books of 2010.

And talking about Stieg Larsson [some people indicate I talk about nothing else…], I am also delighted to be moderating a truly international panel where we will discuss crime fiction set against the backdrops of Iceland, Sweden and the Middle East.

INFERNO : Where will the next great idea come from?
Ali Karim (M), Zoë Ferraris, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Anders Roslund, Börge Hellström, Joshua Sobol
Fri, Oct 15 11:30AM-12:30PM in Grand Ballroom C

Next week The Rap Sheet in a pre-Bouchercon special will be featuring an exclusive 2 part interview with the Swedish crime-writing duo Roslund and Hellström. As I was talking earlier this week about Book Videos, I am delighted to show you three videos revolving around the Swedish Prison Psycho-Drama that is ‘Three Seconds’ –

Video I

Video II

Video III

I hope to see you in San Francisco next week, and those of you who can’t make it, check out The Rap Sheet next week as the exclusive Roslund and Hellström interview goes live on Wednesday and Thursday, during which they tackle the dark subjects that make their fiction so scary, so challenging. Trust me, when I say that they push crime fiction into the very darkest corners of the human condition, making you reflect upon your own value system.

Photo of Roslund and Hellström (c) 2010 Magnus Jönsson

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Making of Mankell

I look forward to meeting Swedish actor Krister Henriksson on Friday at the CWA Specsavers Dagger Awards in London, where he is nominated for an award for his portrayal of melancholic detective Kurt Wallander. I see that the BBC Series featuring Kenneth Branagh as the depressively troubled inspector has its second series currently airing on US TV. Personally I prefer the original Swedish version from YellowBird Productons featuring Henriksson.

Meanwhile The Independent has a lengthy feature with Geoffrey Macnab including an interview with Henning Mankell, the creator of Kurt Wallander –

Speaking from Sweden, where he has been attending the Gothenburg Book Fair, Mankell ponders the reasons for the extraordinary global popularity of Nordic detectives. "Naturally, I've been thinking about it," he tells me. "One [reason] must be pure coincidence. The second is that I guess I worked as a locomotive in some ways. My success has been an inspiration for others. You remember the tennis player Björn Borg? Before that, Sweden had very few good tennis players. After that, we suddenly had a hell of a lot. Maybe that is one kind of explanation."

The main subject of my interview isn't
Larsson or Björn Borg. Nor is it the psychology and unlikely appeal of the morose Detective Kurt Wallander. It is Mankell's ongoing attempts to make an ambitious TV drama and feature film about his father-in-law, Ingmar Bergman – a project interrupted in surreal fashion by the Israeli army.

Earlier this summer, Mankell was aboard the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that was attacked by Israeli forces. To his consternation, part of the screenplay for his new film about Bergman was confiscated by the Israeli soldiers.

"Whatever I do, I am always working on something," says Mankell, explaining how he happened to have the Bergman screenplay in his possession at the same time as he was taking part in a mission to bring aid supplies to Gaza in defiance of the Israeli blockade. "When everything was stolen and confiscated, they [the Israeli troops] also took the manuscript," he recalls. "What the hell are they supposed to do with that?"

Four months later, the Israelis still haven't returned Mankell's screenplay. He jokes that the Israelis must have thought the screenplay – called Crisis in deference to Bergman's directorial debut – was written in code. Mankell very much doubts that the young commando soldiers who took the screenplay even knew who Bergman was.

Mankell, now 62, has spent many years living and working in Africa. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was a political activist, campaigning against apartheid in South Africa and the US war in Vietnam. Being aboard the Gaza flotilla didn't scare him at all. "I am not an afraid person," he blithely states. "In all the years I have lived in Africa, I have had some quite terrible experiences. What I still think about today is how very stupidly they [the Israeli army] behaved. If they really had had the ambition just to stop the flotilla, they should have done something with the rudder and propellers," he reflects on the incident, which left nine flotilla members dead, saw him arrested and provoked a huge international row.

The crime writer's outspoken opinions about the Middle East have been well chronicled. He likens the plight of the Palestinians to that of black South Africans in the apartheid era and expresses his confidence that the Gaza blockade will eventually be broken. He has no intention of letting up on his activism. "I am a very dangerous man because I know that we managed to crush the apartheid system in South Africa without violence. This is also the idea here. Sooner or later, people in Israel must understand that this is an unbearable situation."

Read the full feature here

A Plum Job on American Dragon Tattoo

The news from the US production team behind David Fincher’s interpretation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo thriller just gets better and better. We reported about Daniel Craig joining the cast, now we hear Christopher Plummer has signed up to play Henrik Vanger. Former action star Sven-Bertil Taube played the role of Henrik Vanger in the Swedish language original. Though I’m not usually too excited about Hollywood remakes of European originals, but after viewing ‘Let Me In’ last week, my opinion has changed.

Though it’s not all good news as the production currently in Sweden has had a set back as Rooney Mara, who is cast as Salander has been reported [but not confirmed] as injured in Stockholm last week -

25-year-old Mara seriously injured her shoulder, according to the Aftonbladet daily, while preparing for the role of Salander in the Hollywood version of the first of Larsson's Millennium trilogy books. Filming has now been delayed for several days while the actress works to recover from her injury sustained while training for the role.

Mara has been in Stockholm for several weeks preparing for the task of playing the gothic hacker heroine Salander, including learning to ride a motorbike, fight and to build up her muscle strength. She has furthermore been undergoing classes to learn how to speak English with a Swedish accent.
Mara has been spotted undergoing rehab training at the private Sophiahemmet hospital in Stockholm to recover from her unfortunate mishap, according to Aftonbladet."She injured herself during the preparations for the role so seriously that she is unable to record any scenes at the moment," said an unnamed person who had seen the actress at the hospital to the newspaper. However, Malte Forssell, the project leader for filming in Sweden told the newspaper he had no knowledge of the injury. In addition, a representative for Sony Pictures told US entertainment programme Access Hollywood that the reports of Mara's injury were "not true". The US film team have identified a number of locations around central-eastern Sweden for the film. Södermalm on Stockholm will featured strongly, with the production using Mariatorget as a base.

Sweden is all a-go-go with the Hollywood Team landing to film their version of Larsson’s internationally lauded crime thriller –

So far, sites in central Stockholm and the nearby archipelago have been confirmed, as have locations in Uppsala in eastern Sweden, according to the TT Spektra news service."They're going to remake building facades and streets on parts of Drottninggatan. It's supposed to look like it did in the 1960s. Therefore, we've given permits to place work trucks and such on the street," Karin Åkerström of the Uppsala police told TT. The filming is likely to cause some traffic headaches for Uppsala residents, with bus service on Drottninggatan set to be rerouted for at least a month. In addition, an estate outside the town of Katrineholm, located about 140 kilometres southwest of Stockholm, is a likely location for filming scenes in the Hollywood remake of the first installment of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy.
According to the Katrineholms-Kuriren, the Hofsta säteri estate, with roots back to the 1300s, will serve as character Henrik Vanger's compound on the outskirts of the fictional town of Hedestad in "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.""We're preparing for filming to start in October, but it's not 100 percent finished," Malte Forssell, the film's Swedish producer, told the newspaper.Film crews are also set to descend on locations in Hälsingland province in eastern Sweden, including Bollnäs, as well as Gävle and Söderhamn. A number of scenes will also be shot in central Stockholm and at three locations in the city's archipelago.

Read More

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lee Child No 1 with a Bullet

It’s Groundhog Day again; Lee Child releases a new book and it hits No 1 in the UK. The interesting factor is that ‘Worth Dying For’ is Lee’s second Jack Reacher novel as earlier this year we had ’61 Hours’ which rocked the house.

So as Jack Reacher escapes the perils of winter in 61 Hours……..

There's deadly trouble in the wilds of Nebraska...and Reacher walks right into it.First he falls foul of the Duncans, a local clan that has terrified an entire county into submission. But it's the unsolved case of a missing eight-year-old girl, already decades-old, that Reacher can't let go.The Duncans want Reacher gone - or dead. And it's not just past secrets they're trying to hide. They're awaiting a secret shipment that's already late - and they have the kind of customers no one can afford to annoy. For as dangerous as the Duncans are, they're just the bottom of a criminal food chain stretching halfway around the world.

Click Here to read the first chapter and Click Here to download to Kindle

If you planning to come to Bouchercon San Francisco next week remember Lee is to be honored with the Distinguished Contribution to the Genre Award. Spotlight event: Lee in conversation with Robert Crais!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chris Fowler’s Cause Celeb

I know many of you enjoy the work of Christopher Fowler as much as I do. I am always amazed at his prolific work ethic, with novels, short stories, anthology editing, films, and reviewing, well it looks now he’s branching out onto the stage.

For those who haven’t sampled his work - Fowler won the British Fantasy Society [BFS] Best Short Story Of The Year 1998, for Wageslaves. In 2004, The Water Room was nominated for the CWA People’s Choice Award, Full Dark House won the BFS August Derleth Novel Of The Year Award 2004, and American Waitress won the BFS Best Short Story Of The Year 2004. His novella Breathe won BFS Best Novella 2005. His short story The Master Builder became a CBS movie starring Tippi Hedren and Marg Helgenberger entitled Through The Eyes Of A Killer, while Left Hand Drive, won Best British Short Film of 1993.

His fiction details urban decay, and is usually classed as horror, or [dark] general fiction with some science fiction / fantasy elements. Fowler's first four novels set his backdrop of London as the source of his storytelling. He debuted in 1988 with the novel Roofworld, which details a story of rival gangs who live on the rooftops of London, fighting arcane battles while the city sleeps. His second novel, Rune, tells the tale of a disparate group of Londoners who band together to prevent the devil's return to earth via modern technology. Red Bride chronicles a modern marriage made hell by a couple who cannot trust each other - even though their lives finally come to depend on it. While Darkest Day is the story of the occult which was later re-worked in his ongoing Bryant and May Detective series.

I was delighted to have lunch with him a few weeks ago at a literary function when he let me know about his branching out onto the stage -

'Celebrity' by Christopher Fowler
Starring Victoria Jeffrey, Neil Burgess, Mark Martin & Lucy Clements.

Nov 23 - Dec 4 (Nightly 7:30pm, Matinees Sat 4:00pm, No perfs Sun, Mon)
The Phoenix Artist Club,1 Phoenix Street, London, WC2H 0DT. (Off Charing Cross Road next to the Phoenix Theatre) Tickets: £10
To book telephone 020 7836 1077 or email:
(+50p CC bookings) Tickets are limited so book today!

‘Celebrity’ is part of the London Fringe Festival

Once there were stars. Now everyone wants to be a celebrity - how did we get from Cary Grant to Jedward?

It’s 1968. Helena runs Albion PR in London’s Wardour Street, looking after ‘difficult’ stars. She hires 19 year-old Billy to teach him the secrets of the business. Saving the reputations of her clients involves an outrageous amount of lying and cheating, but neither Helena nor Billy realize this innocent era is about to come crashing to an end…

‘Celebrity’ is based on the life of a real London PR agent. Only the names of scandal-struck celebrities will be changed to protect us from libel!

I admire Fowler, as I really enjoyed his memoir about growing up with books in ‘The Paperboy’, though I wonder what Bryant and May would think about his new venture in the West End….