Harrogate 2014

2014-07-18 23.10.44

Harrogate — or to give its proper name, Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival — is always full of shenanigans. Put a bunch of writers together at a vintage pub in a spa town in Yorkshire when it’s far too hot and well, what would you expect? While usually I’d call the cheeriest writers either romance writers or horror writers (yes, really and if you’ve sung showtunes at dawn on a Rhode Island beach, you’d know that) this is the year dubbed #happygate because there was no happier place to be (in your face, Disney).

A big part of that is due to the surprise proposal Scott made to Jo at the end of the “In Space, No-one Can Hear You Scream” panel — but the screams were all of joy. Sly boots all: a happy couple even before the surprise, and it was pulled off with aplomb, champagne arriving on cue and a speechless Jo quite overwhelmed. Since Scott made it the last question from the audience, I think people were looking expectant at the end of every panel when the moderators queried, “Are there any final questions?” Congratulations!

Just after la Tour

Just after la Tour

The panel itself was an interesting one, hosted by program chair Steve Mosby and discussing with Lauren Beukes, Sharon Bolton, James Smythe and Lavie Tidhar the mixing of other genres with crime, which always seems to get sneers — yet also seems to enliven the genre each time there’s another cross-genre hit (I may be biased here). Since we no longer have to face the tyranny of the genre bookshelf, why stick to one label?

The interview with Denise Mina had kicked off the morning. I never get tired of hearing her speak. She’s funny and frank, and so inspiring. I loved how she talked about the pull of politics as someone who adamantly fights for change, but also realising the cost of political work — and the horror of the people who are often drawn to that life. She called them men with “suits too expensive for their faces” which seemed perfect. Politics will eat artists alive.

Martyn Waites hosted a panel of folks who represented the range of publishing paths out there: James Oswald (without his coos), Mark Edwards, Mari Hannah and Mel Sherratt. The upshot of the discussion is what William Goldman wrote long ago: Nobody knows anything. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket because we’re still in the midst of change.

I went to see ‘Robert Galbraith’ better known as J. K. Rowling because I figured I’d not get another chance to see her in quite so intimate surroundings. Although the event was held ‘off campus’ the town hall was still rather small and I was in the 4th row. Val McDermid had us laughing from the start (as usual) by teasing her about the name and declaring she would call her Bob. Although Rowling seems quite polished these days, the eager enthusiasm remains plain. She loves what she does — and she loves her audience. And she says there’s no limit to the Galbraith books.

Although out late, I steeled myself to get up early to see Lynda La Plante and I am so very glad that I did. Like Rowling, here’s someone who’s had a lot of success and yet the thing that came through was how happy she is to know people read her and watch her stories. Her RADA training shows in her seasoned persona, though she made sure to play down her acting as “lots of prostitutes” and of course that appearance on Rentaghost. La Plante is a hoot and a half; if you get a chance to see her, do. Someone asked what she does when she procrastinates, but she said she can’t wait to write. I think she felt the air leave the room then, but before all the writers could faint she added that she knew herself to be in a very fortunate place where people were waiting on her words. “I keep a sign over my desk that reads ‘Rejection does not mean NO!'” Nobody knows anything: to seize luck, you have to be in a position to do so.

Mmmmm chips

Mmmmm chips

Sophie Hannah and S.J. Watson talked a lot about the mysteries that other people are to us (and we to them). The film of Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep looked rather good. The new blood panel with Val McDermid was fascinating to see just how different all the new stars she’d picked were — from a Chastity Flame-like secret assassin, to migrant workers in the UK to a novel on the Axeman murderer in New Orleans and a dead child in a Irish convent school (which won the Dundee prize).

As usual, most of the fest was spend wandering around and chatting, passing out promo things for my own books (the Extricate chocolates went very fast) and apparently missing more people than I found. Some of that may have to do with disappearing to eat and play with Adele, Vince, Kat and others because they had a flat across the road.

The town was still full of Tour de France decorations — everything rather yellow. Harrogate’s a pretty town. I think I saw more of it last time, at least the lovely gardens. I always mean to try the Turkish baths. I did have a quiet lunch at the pub where P. G. Wodehouse used to drink on my way out of town.

The only problem with going away is trying to catch up again with all the things. Bit by bit…

Happy Birthday, Fox Spirit Books!

HB Fox Spirit

A big happy birthday to Fox Spirit Books! Two years old already and so many many books out there, including several I wrote, edited or contributed to in some way. Under the insightful guidance of the fearless Adele Wearing, the Muse who Kicks You in the Face®, the collection that kicked things off — Tales of the Nun and Dragon — has been followed by a wealth of gorgeous, genre-ending volumes that have in common both the little fox head logo and a commitment to excellence — from the hand-picked list of authors, through the rigorous editing process (we love you, Daz, even when we’re cursing ;-)), through the detailed process of formatting by the wonderful Handebooks, until at last they are wrapped in the beautiful covers designed by fabulous artists like S. L. Johnson, Sarah Langton, Daniele Serra and Vince Holland-Keene.

So raise a glass, look back to see how far we’ve come — and jump into the future!

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
           ~ Arthur O’Shaughnessy

 Be sure to sign up for the Fox Spirit Books newsletter to keep abreast of things and drop by the Facebook page or follow Aunty Fox on Twitter today for the celebrations and give me something to sing about!

All the Fox Spirit titles I’ve been part of so far (click on the image to go shopping) — more soon!

Cheap Thrills

To steal a line from Dolly Levi, “Money, if you’ll pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.” Here are some things you ought to be encouraging to grow this spring:


Exiles is a collection of 26 short stories from a stellar group of authors, all featuring the common theme of ‘outsiders’. Dedicated to Jeff Luke and Colin Graham. All proceeds go to the Marfan Foundation, in aid of people suffering from Marfan syndrome. See the stories behind the stories over at Mr B’s blog.

For a limited time, this one’s going to be FREE. That’s right: free. Beginning whenever it is that they start those promos. All it will cost you is the effort of a click. Is that so much to ask? There’s another cheap deal coming June 1st. Tell you about that later.

This one‘s not free, but hey! For about the same price as a lousy cup of designer coffee, you could have a reading experience that lasts for hours instead of a coffee that will be gone in minutes. Your choice.

EXTRICATE is a twisty- turny noir tale of dishonor amongst thieves that is skewered with hot lust and cold blooded murder.’

And did you see the Crime Fiction Lover’s review of White Rabbit? Talk about chuffed: “…it’s time to take a step out of your comfort zone and into the madcap brain of author KA Laity who has written a book unlike any crime novel I’ve read before.” Adding to the good words out there. You should probably get this so you’re not the last one in town to read it. I’m just looking out for you.

White Rabbit advert 2

White Rabbit Hops

I’ve been a bit off kilter of late, but slowly catching up with things. Here are some links to places I have been flogging my latest book with all my puny might (have to work on that upper body strength).

Guest Posts

I’m over at Richard Godwin’s for a Quick Fire at the Slaugherhouse where I talk about the genesis of White Rabbit, a bit about Extricate/Throw the Bones and the forthcoming Drag Noir collection that features Richard and a host of fine writers. Richard’s also got a really lovely remembrance of AJ Hayes over at All Due Respect.

Mollie Cox Bryan had me visit and yammer on a bit about ‘What is Noir?’

I talked about the history of Spiritualism, Fakes and Table Rapping — topics that figure in the novel — over at Charlene Raddon’s blog.

I was also in the spotlight over at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, where I talked about all kinds of things. Drop by and see for yourself.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 12.30.23 PM

Reviews

Heh, and he gave me a lovely and extremely flattering review, too:

White Rabbit is a marvelous and potent cocktail of crime fiction, screwball comedy and the supernatural. A cracking yarn choc full of brilliant lines that reminds you of Wodehouse, Preston Sturges and the Coen Brothers and yet is like nothing you’ve ever read before. Fantastic stuff. More please!

Mr B is aces. And a fine one also from the QoE: “White Rabbit” is a fun, intriguing story that sucked me in, took me on a corkscrew ride and never let go until the end. A wonderful blend of magical, gritty noir fresh from K.A. Laity’s literary cauldron.

I know, you may think she’s prejudiced because she designed that superb cover, but look here at this review over at Tony’s Thoughts that recognises what a wonderful job she did:

I love this cover. It screams Art Deco like a bakelite phone (there is one mentioned in this book). Did I mention how much I love this cover? This needs to be a poster, with shell shaped up-lighters.

He also goes on to say a lot of nice things about the insides of the book, too 🙂 I’m pleased to see interest slowly building. Small publishing lives in the long tail.

Just so this isn’t all about me, here’s a picture of Charlotte bouncing on a trampoline: cute as a button, isn’t she?

2014-05-18 14.01.10

 

A Winner and Other News

2014-04-26 12.27.18

Dundee Sprite

There were too many good (and bad!) jokes to choose from so I used the random number generator to choose the winner of the White Rabbit joke contest. The winner is:

Tess Makovesky

Hope you enjoy: I’ll send you an email to get your details. I hope folks will consider picking up the book if they didn’t win it. The Kindle version has gone live now, too.

 

NEWS — AKA Things I may have neglected to mention:

  • A new episode in the serial, Airships & Alchemy, Spill the Wine — we’re getting closer to the big race.
  • A new section of Hávamál up at Witches & Pagans. Get your viking wisdom!
  • Wednesday is Walpurgisnacht, the night of bonfires when witches fly to the mountains for their celebrations. I have a story set on that night which you can read for free.
  • I am off to Switzerland on Walpurgisnacht (draw your own conclusions on the timing). I will meet up with the Rev and her husband and Miss Maudie. It’s research you know, as Chastity Flame spent her formative childhood years there. I’m sure there will be tales to tell.
  • It looks like I will be attending the Leicester Comicon in June. I’ll have to see if I can knock together something Jane Quiet-related just for that, though I’m currently busy as a one-armed paper-hanger and ignoring my to-do list’s primary edict, ‘NO NEW PROJECTS!’ >_<
  • Which reminds me: did I mention my proposal for The Fall’s EXTRICATE making the first cut over at 33-1/3? Not sure how much of a chance it has for the final cut, but hey —
  • Meanwhile, I’m trying to finish going through the galleys for Extricate/Throw the Bones by Graham Wynd, which is always a challenge. I’m the worst at copyediting, so I’m glad we have such a fab team at Fox Spirit. They make me look good!
  • Speaking of the skulk, I’ve just about got the Drag Noir table of contents set. I had no idea what I would get, and it was hard to choose, but I am very happy with the results.

Pulpy Pulchritude!

Extricate Throw the Bones Dual Cover

How about that? That’s the wraparound cover by Sarah Anne Langton for the Fox Spirit print edition of Extricate which will be joined by another novella Throw the Bones, plus a dozen short stories of various lengths and vintages. Yes, more titles inspired by The Fall. You can bet I will be posting the news everywhere when it’s available. In the meantime I’ll just keep stroking the shiny cover on my computer screen.

Tony Lane interviewed me about all the craziness of impersonating Graham Wynd and other personas, editing, the fate of short stories and more. Drop by and say hi to Tony.

Chuffed to find more five star reviews of Rook Chant, thanks to Gareth Spark mentioning he was enjoying reading it. I just love seeing stars!

I’ll leave you with some inspirational music while I get back to opening boxes and figuring out where things go —


Out Now: EXTRICATE, noir novella

extricate ebook 72ppiExtricate

by Graham Wynd

Love hurts…but that’s the way she likes it.

EXTRICATE is a violent tale of sexual obsession, unfolding on the dark streets of a nowhere town. Peter falls for Judy the instant he lights her cigarette, but she’s his best mate’s girl — and he’s already married. He decides to begin removing obstacles — starting with his wife. How far will he be willing to go? How far does lifelong friendship go when he finally meets the woman of his peculiar dreams?

‘EXTRICATE is a twisty- turny noir tale of dishonor amongst thieves that is skewered with hot lust and cold blooded murder.’

Paul D. Brazill, author of Guns Of Brixton and Gumshoe

‘Crime meets erotica in a fevered novella. Graham Wynd has written a fluid and tight story with vivid characters in situations that are inextricably charged with a sexuality from which you will find it hard to extricate yourself.’

Richard Godwin, author of One Lost SummerApostle Rising and Mr Glamour

[possible triggers]

Cover art by Sarah Langton
Published by Fox Spirit Books
Visit the Graham Wynd site & hit ‘like’ on Facebook! Click the image to buy at Amazon: