31 December 2012

We’re in the last moments of a fading two-thousand-and-twelve and there are plenty of us who might say it hasn’t been a great year. It has rained like hell, we’re in the throes of a double- (or triple-?)dip recession and so on. The world doesn’t appear to be a safer or more stable place than it was a year ago. So what will 2012 go down in history as the year of? It’ll most probably be remembered as the year of Princess Kate’s baps and Gangnam Style.

It’s unlikely to be remembered as the year that Cold Comfort was published in the UK (in paperback) and the US (in hardback), as well as in German (Kalter Trost) and in Dutch (Schrale Troost). Mongolian, Tagalog and Galician rights are still available, just in case anyone’s interested.


The book landed on the shelves in January (US), March (UK) and in July (Germany and Holland), and nobody really noticed. At least, not until the UK paperback got a short but glowing review from Marcel Berlins in the Times, no less. Bless him.

We humble mortals don’t pretend to understand the foibles of publishers, but presumably the kudos of a notice in the Thunderer helped C&R, my UK publisher, to make up their minds on a third Gunna book, which I was fortunately able to deliver pretty quickly. Unfortunately my editor wasn’t overly impressed, and I have to admit she was right. The book had been written without a deadline, it rambled and didn’t have enough dead people in it. It could have been salvaged, and the stark choice was to re-write or start something new. Something new seemed the better option and the old book was stuffed in a  drawer while a new Chilled to the Bone was rattled out in double-quick time.



Although I hate banging my head against a deadline, I have to admit that it worked. C2tB seems to have a buzz and an energy about it that comes from being written under some pressure. I’m not really qualified to say, but the publisher likes it, and hopefully so will readers and reviewers.

It was fun to write, in spite of (or because of) the pressure. Gunna gets the shock of her life, and it has a villain who was a ball to write. I gave him the virtually unpronounceable name of Hróbjartur Bjarnthórsson (otherwise known as Baddó), fully expecting my editor or the copy editor to protest and ask for the name to be changed to something more accessible. But they didn’t say a word, so he stays Hróbjartur.

It’s published in April 2013 in the UK, and as Soho have taken it as well, it’ll be out in hardback in the US as well. No news yet on Germany or Holland, but fingers crossed.

Apart from that magnificent review in the Times, Cold Comfort had a few decent reviews, as well as a few shitty ones, such as this one on Goodreads. I have to say I feel slightly sorry for this guy. He seems to spend a vast amount of time ploughing through books he doesn’t like.
The German and Dutch versions also attracted a few reviews, including a fairly reasonable 73° on Krimi-Couch.

One of the memorable parts of 2012 was taking part in a reading circle (Leserunde) on Around thirty copies of Kalter Trost were sent out to people who asked for them, many of them a little nervous about the Leserunde being in a mix of German and English, but it worked out beautifully. I love my German readers… They read the book, came up with comments and the best part was that they asked questions, plenty of questions; intelligent, interesting questions. Of course, the Leserunde has come to an end now as anyone who was going to read the book probably has by now, but it was an absolute pleasure to be in touch with genuinely enthusiastic and interested readers while it lasted and I’d love to do it again.

May was CrimeFest and I signed up too late to get a panel, which was galling. No such oversight for 2013 CrimeFest, as I signed up seconds after it ended and will be there in June for my brief chance to stand up on the hind legs. Despite not getting on a panel, it was a fun couple of days catching up with the rest of the world of crime writers. These people who spend their days dreaming up murder in a variety of colourful ways are in reality a jovial, friendly crowd who don’t tend to take themselves too seriously and the bar hums with them.

CrimeFest is also being taken out and pampered by one’s publisher, who rose to the occasion as my esteemed editor took a bunch of her authors out to dinner. Me and seven ladies – including Alison Bruce, Lynn Shepherd, Cath Staincliffe and Suzette A Hill – all in a Bristol restaurant that seemed to be full of nothing but hen parties in themed fancy dress. I suppose they must have thought we were another rather weird and staid hen party and the bloke with them must have been someone’s gay uncle.

August was Bodies in the Bookshop, a day out in Cambridge, interviewed by Barry Forshaw in the famous debating chamber, with the roles reversed half-way through when I took over the rather more comfortable interviewer’s role and lobbed Barry some slow balls about his latest tome, a thoroughly well-written and meticulously researched book about Scandinavian crime fiction.

Then there was the Orwell Brigade, put together by Christopher G Moore. I contribute to the International Crime Authors’ Reality Check blog, which Chris is the driving force behind, and it was great to be asked to come up with a chapter to a compilation of essays. Mine’s at the back, and it’s a little unnerving to be in such exalted company there with Ruth Dudley Edwards, Colin Cotterill, Barbara Nadel and others. Anyhow, it’s out, and it’s an interesting read, though I say so myself. 

On top of delivering C2tB a little after the original deadline in September, I was fool enough to suggest to C&R that it might be worth jumping on the bandwagon and producing an e-novella to ‘enhance’ Chilled to the Bone. I reckon they thought I already had it written, as the response was roughly that they wanted it right away and I had to backtrack. ‘It was just an idea… I haven’t written it yet…’

But the upshot is that there’s an e-novella called Winterlude, roughly a third of the size of a normal book that’s published sometime soon. It’s a 79p/$0.99 effort. It should be there on Amazon, but it isn't for some reason. Anyway, it's out in January.


That’s about it for 2012. It’s been a frantic, busy year that included a wedding, a house move and a few other events, not to mention there was only one trip to Iceland in 2012, sadly, just an Easter trip spending ten days in the peace and quiet of Húnavatnssysla. A second planned trip in the autumn didn’t work out what with deadlines, the pressures of the day job, etc. Hopefully there will be more than one trip northwards next year. It isn’t healthy to not travel.

There has also been the Killing and the discovery that I ought to watch more TV. I didn’t see the original series when it was first shown, and when the second series was shown I shied at the prospect of all those hours in front of the box just as the deadlines were closing in. But the third series I did see and I have to admit I’m hooked, just as it’s all over and Sarah Lund hangs up her Faroese sweater. So now I’m waiting impatiently for Borgen to start and hoping it’ll be as good. Then there have been new books by authors who had escaped me before, such as Dominique Manotti, Benjamin Black, Declan Burke and Damien Seaman, and many more out there as the to-be-read pile continues to climb towards the ceiling.

Looking back now, I’m staggered at just how busy a year 2012 has been…

There have been new friends in 2012, as well as the loss of a few old ones who have slipped away. There have been arguments and the odd tantrum, plus a few moments of joy and delight.
So here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2013 to all of you, and may you all enjoy every moment of it.

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