I did not manage to finish blogging about Friday’s programme;there is just so much going on here. So here’s the remainder of what I did on Friday and hopefully I will get to Saturday soon!
May the (Police) Force BeWith You
Sarah Ward, Mari Hannah and Thomas Enger made up the final panel session of Friday. They were discussing their protagonists.
D.I. Francis Sadler and D.C. Connie Childs are based in the Derbyshire Peaks. Sarah’s stories take place in a small community where her cases are not so much based on murders but on secrets – family secrets and simmering, open secrets. Sadler is erudite and Connie is more of an intuitive policewoman. Her father was a pharmacist and her mother an alcoholic.
Mari Hannah is just about to launch the first book in a new Policeseries. The Lost features CID officers Frankie Oliver who is a 3rd generation cop. There has been a Frank Oliver in the police force since 1966. Frankie has her own demons but she also finds herself covering for her colleague David Stone, newly transferred from The Met to Northumberland. Stone is a Geordie, drawn back to Northumberland, but he is running from something.
Thomas Enger’s 5 book series features Henning Juul, a journalist whose son was killed in a deliberately set fire at their home aged just six. Henning spent two years just staring at walls unable to do anything, but now he is searching for his son’s killer. Working cases brings back his sense of being human.
Each of these protagonists is drawn to the dark side. Connie chooses rubbish men and having a personal life in a small community does not make life easy. She is a woman who just goes for it; who is impulsive. She has a long relationship with her duvet when things go wrong.
Each protagonist has a calling, each is unable to leave their cases at work and rules can and will be broken when characters are pushed to the limit.
Asked whether changes in policing changed the nature of the crimes they were writing about, Mari was very vociferous about the damage that has been done by reducing police numbers and closing police stations, especially rural ones whom she felt were especially at risk.
My Friday night was rounded off with a terrific interview with Val McDermid. Val is always such good value, funny, entertaining and knowledgeable.
She discussed the genesis of the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. The Mermaids Singing was going to be a stand alone book, conceived because Val had noticed that no one in the UK was writing about profilers, because here we took a different approach and the police use clinical psychologists to consult with. The idea for the book came to her pretty much fully formed while she was driving down the M6; something that has never happened before or since.
Val talked about the way her characters have developed over the series which has spanned 22 years and the damage that they have had to negotiate their way through as a result of the cases they have taken on. Tony has great empathy and a fundamental understanding of other people, but he was a loner. Now he has a circle of friends. Carol has always been driven by her impetus to see justice done, it now she is less willing to trust people. Their relationship is full of unresolved emotional and sexual tension, but they both understand that relationship.
Readers will be pleased to hear that there will be another Tony and Carol book in 2020 and a Karen Pirie book later this year. Other areas of discussion included The Staunch Prize; why we love crime fiction, the Bloody Scotland presence at the Kolkata Festival and the connections between Scotland and India.