Monday, 31 December 2012
Goodbye to 2012
So another year draws to a close. I'm sorry to see the end of 2012, which for me was an extremely enjoyable year for a whole range of reasons. I didn't have a new novel published, or a new anthology out, but both these omissions should be put right next year. And there was, in fact, a lot of activity on the book front, with six Harry Devlins coming back in from the cold as ebooks, with added features, including introductions from various writers more eminent than me. The reappearance of my debut novel, All the Lonely People, as an Arcturus Crime Classic, also gave me a real thrill.
This was the year when I made a start on improving my work-life balance, or at least the balance between the time I spend on writing and the time I spend as a lawyer. I'm still some way from getting the most out of the change, but things are definitely moving in the right direction. Who knows, I may finally get going properly with Twitter before too long.
I read some marvellous books over the 12 month period, but I'm going to wimp out of making a list of the better ones. Of new or newish books, I'm tempted to nominate Finders Keepers by Belinda Bauer as, if not "the best" of the bunch, then certainly one that has lingered long im my memory. Among novels by friends of mine, it's almost impossible to choose, but Ann Cleeves' The Glass Room was a very enjoyable homage to the Golden Age.Which leads me on to older books,and here again,selecting one out of many seems invidious. Two obscure titles, The Grindle Nightmare by Q. Patrick (thanks to John Norris for supplying my copy) and Nightmare by Lynn Brock were, in their different ways, unexpected and excellent.
The most fascinating non-fiction book I read was Curt Evans' book about the so-called "Humdrum" writers; his diligent research has certainly helped me a great deal in my own researches, and his enthusiasm for previously under-valued writers like John Rhode is noteworthy. Geoff Bradley and Arthur Vidro continue to edit excellent fan magazines on either side of the Atlantic, and I contributed a couple of articles to Mystery Scene, a really terrific crime magazine which is sadly hard to find in the UK, but well worth seeking out.
Best film just had to be Skyfall, which I've only just seen. Expect a rave review shortly. Best TV crime show - Sherlock, quite outstanding. I enjoyed the CWA conference in Southampton, the Northern CWA's 25th anniversary shindig in Pickering, Crimefest and Harrogate, as well as a trip to Agatha Christie's former home at Greenway along with Christie expert John Curran (whose recommendations of good books and films have led to a lot of enjoyment.) The Kidwelly e-festival was also very memorable, though for rather different reasons.
Quite apart from trips on research to the Lakes, I visited new places as different as Ely, Madeira, Almeria and Kotor, at least one of which will be featuring a short story before long. The picture at the top of the post was taken in Gibraltar, the one beneath it at a street party that was very enjoyable but as close as I got to any real involvement with the Diamond Jubilee, let alone the Olympics (for me, it was a great sporting year for other reasons, because Manchester City and Derbyshire County Cricket Club for once found out how to win a championship!). In addition, I had the great pleasure of staying with a crime fan and his wife for a couple of days in a house with the most stunning collection of rare Golden Age books that I've ever seen. He's even loaned to me some of the rarities I've reviewed, a kindness I much appreciate.
Each year always has its sadnesses as well as its joys. The loss of Reginald Hill and Margaret Yorke was extremely sad, as was the recent death of Maxine Clarke. All three were generous people and Reg had a significant influence on my career. And that matter of generosity prompts my final reflection of 2012. Maxine is one of quite a number of people I've been lucky enough to get to know as a result of writing this blog, and I've gained a great deal from those of you who read my posts - and not just those of you I've met in person. Your feedback and support has given me a great deal of pleasure, and I hope to return the compliment by coming up with some interesting topics for you to chew over in 2013. May it be another memorable year for all the right reasons.