I’m often charged with appearing as an aggressive sort. I’m a big guy, I shave my head and I tend to frown a lot. Why? I’ve grown into that shape, I enjoy the freedom of having no hair and I do a lot of thinking while I’m walking. That fact this gets translated into “this guy looks like a violent son of a bitch” isn’t really my fault, but one thing I’ve noticed is that during August, the frowning tends to decrease.
I became aware of it yesterday on my way to work. A woman stopped me in the street by waving at me. I was lost in thought but she had no problem flailing her arms in my face to ask me the time. Not a normal thing to happen on any level, but it was then that it occurred to me my usual frown wasn’t there. Why so? I think it’s down to the calming and fulfilling effect the Edinburgh Book Festival has on me; I relax more to my surroundings, ergo, no frown. I wonder how long it will be before my wife notices?
Another thing I’ve come to realise about this year’s book festival is how much more I’m getting out of it due to the presence of social media. Twittering to a show that was happening inside a tent while I was standing outside it on Sunday is one example of the fun and interaction achievable, but on a more meaningful level, I’ve been making contact with other readers and writers through the medium of Twitter, podcasts, Audio boos and all other forms of media available.
Also good, is that my aim to stay away from the “higher profile” authors and events has opened me up to writers and people I might not have gone to see at first pass. I’ve already been surprised and delighted—the magic that happens in Charlotte Square never ceases to amaze me—but I’ve also been opened to a lot of new thinking and points of view. And this is only after the first three days!
Last night I attended a crime writing event with authors, Gillian Galbraith and Craig Robertson. Robertson was standing in for local crime writer, Tony Black, who had to cancel, and who had also been the reason I bought the ticket in the first place. Oh well, it was rather thrilling to see the name “Galbraith” up on the stage backdrop for the first time. 🙂
It was an easy hour with both authors reading from their novels and then answering questions. Roy Wood who was chairing made a schoolboy’s error, when with 35 minutes still go, and having exhausted himself of the questions he’d brought with him, turned the mike on the crowd. This would be fine in a larger, fuller hall with higher profile authors, but this was the Peppers Theatre and it was half empty. Result: several embarrassing silences as Wood struggled for questions and the audience felt pity for the authors.
Between them, though, Galbraith and Robertson pulled the event out of the hat and made it enjoyable and entertaining. Galbraith, an ex-lawyer and well spoken resident of Edinburgh, promoted the latest in her series of Alice Rice detective novels (DYING OF THE LIGHT), and Robertson, a journalist for The Sunday Post, with his gritty and violent view of Glasgow from a serials killer’s point of view (RANDOM).
It was a stark contrast in writing and authors, for despite Robertson’s obvious benefit of being an active journalist he came across as very nervous and shaky about the whole thing. Galbraith on the other hand, took to the stage with much ease and slickness, her years as an Advocate standing her in good stead. Forget the two protagonists of their books, these two made just an interesting couple to watch bantering on stage as you could hope for.
The discussion got me thinking about two of my own books. SLICK has just come back from its latest round of submissions and was written from the criminal’s view point but BLOOD TIES, as yet unfinished, is my first attempt at detective fiction. Both books sit firmly in the crime genre but both from different ends of the spectrum.
I compared these books to some of my others that are non-crime specific and then asked myself if that makes me a crime writer? I couldn’t really answer. Possibly. It’s a genre that excites me and I enjoy writing so I reckon I’m split on the issue. I suppose it may all depend on the first one that gets published. Some have said HUNTING JACK is a low-brow crime novel, being set against the back drop of the Glasgow Ice Cream War, but then it could also class as a YA book. Fogginess abounds.
Someone’s been Googling the following query: “When’s Colin Galbraith’s birthday”. I spotted it in my website stats. When I entered it into Google to test it out, it came up with the correct answer! Weird, but hopefully it means I’m in line for something nice come September.
My book festival events for today :
Louise Rennison (YA author – I’m taking my daughter)
Alan Bissett & Lars Husum
Finally, it appears some of you may be thinking I paid 1800 quid for a bottle of wine. Not the case – that was just the most expensive one – ours cost £22 🙂
One thing I’ve learned when I chair events is to have a “second string” of questions ready in case we get through all the material, and, when I’m on a panel, to keep a store of extra anecdotes and conversation starters for when the presenter runs out of presentation.
Sounds like you’re having lots of fun at the festival, though.
It’s already one of my best book festivals yet. Wish you were here to taste the atmosphere in Charlotte Square – it’s amazing!