Saturday, 31 December 2011
Looking back on 2011
So, today we say goodbye to 2011, and for me it’s been an immeasurably better year than the previous two. Events on the day job front dominated, above all negotiating and helping to implement my firm’s merger, and as a result of that, I’ve done much less fiction writing than usual. A pity, but a price worth paying, as I am now hopeful that I will have more time to devote to fiction in the future, reducing from full time working in the not too distant future. The photo was taken on a research trip around Ullswater and I hope the memories of that lovely day will inspire me to write more next year.
In publication terms, it was a productive year, though largely because of work I’d done in 2010. The Hanging Wood was published, and earned terrific coverage in The Times, The Guardian, The Literary Review and elsewhere. I was really gratified about that. Reviews are bound to be subjective, but they do matter to any writer (as well to his or her publisher.) And I also edited two anthologies, Guilty Consciences and Best Eaten Cold.
I was lucky enough to be directly involved in some great events, including no fewer than six festivals of different kinds – The Wordsworth Festival, the Newcastle Winter Books Festival, the Lymm Festival, Crimefest, the Harrogate Theakston’s Festival, and St Hilda’s Crime and Mystery Week-end. I wrote a new murder mystery event set in the 1920s, gave a range of talks, and was awarded a Red Herring for services to the CWA. So perhaps I was busier on the literary front than I realised at the time.
I was also very fortunate to spend a delightful week-end on the Isle of Man, much of it spent in the company of that fine writer Chris Ewan and his wife, as well as going on four trips overseas – all of which provided me with background material for future short stories.
I’ve read excellent novels by friends such as Peter Lovesey, Ann Cleeves and Kate Ellis, and the most impressive contemporary American book I read this year was The End of Everything by Megan Abbott. I also continued my research into the Golden Age and read some excellent books from the past. For me, the highlight among the latter was The Pursued by C.S. Forester, a remarkable discovery. I've also enjoyed discovering Jessica Mann's early work, and some classics by John Dickson Carr, Henry Wade, J.J. Connington, C.Daly King and others.
One area where I have been remiss is in keeping up with other people’s blogs. I’ve spent much less time on this than I’d have wished, but I must say that the quality of some of the crime-related blogs, many of which are listed on the blogroll, is quite splendid. And it seems to keep improving. An interesting feature is the increase in the number of blogs dealing with Golden Age books - very pleasing to see this trend.
I do feel very grateful for the interest taken in this blog by so many people, and when I get the chance to meet some of you in person (for instance, this year I’ve had the very welcome opportunity to chat with Dorte, Kerrie, Karen and Paul Beech among others) I find it an enormously enriching experience.
So – thanks for all your support and generosity in 2011 and let’s hope that 2012 is a good year for the crime fiction community, and (is this too much to hope for, given the economic climate?) is a better year for the world as a whole.