An Afternoon With Mark Billingham And Jackie Kay

An Afternoon With Mark Billingham And Jackie Kay
Image: Edinburgh Guide

I had another half day yesterday but this time with an early start, so my hours spent in the day job office weren’t as short as they were on Monday. With work building up around my ears, though, that probably wasn’t a bad thing.

I had my lunch in work before leaving then headed off to Corstorphine to pick up some new computer parts I’d promised my wife—a brand new computer in fact. It’s a high performance PC, built with gaming in mind so it runs very fast and can handle a lot of heavy graphics. This was the best option I figured she had available given she doesn’t want move to a Mac, not just yet anyway, not until I’ve gone there first and figured it all out.

By the time I got the new PC home I only had time left to get changed and head out to the book fest for my afternoon event with Mark Billingham. Billingham used to be a stand-up comic so his readings are always very funny.

Billingham writes crime fiction and I’ve greatly enjoyed his Tom Thorne series of novels, so it was with much delight when we were treated to an exclusive showing of footage for the TV adaptation of some of his previous novels. Sleepyhead was the trailer we got to see and it looks fantastic when it will shown on Sky1HD. He also read from his latest, as yet untitled novel, due out next year.

On the state of crime fiction in the UK Billingham is pretty much in agreement with most of his peers, in that it is in a very healthy state. Although when asked about the trend of crime fiction to stick with large cities, he argued that every time he thinks of crime in the countryside he “can’t get the theme tune to The Archers out of my head.”

After the event I headed home and began building Gail’s new PC. Backups, recovery disks, software, etc. it all had to go back on and be set up for her to get back to work and get the business moving again. I’d done half of it before I had to leave for my next book fest event, although getting there was a bit of a stress.

The bus was late and if it hadn’t been for a friend who passed in her car and gave me a lift to Leith Walk, I may never have made it. As it happened, I got to Princes Street and ran like the wind, arriving at the RBS Main Tent to find it almost full and the practically gone. I found my seat and settled down for Jackie Kay.

Kay was an absolute treat. She read from her latest book, and autobiography called Red Dust Road, which also acts as a form of sequel to her first poetry collection, The Adoption Papers. She read from passages that described the moment she met her birth father in Nigeria for the first time, which was as hilarious as it was emotional, and she did it with the most amazing warmth and bravery.

The subject of her sexuality came through strongly in the readings and later discussion, but what came through more than anything else was her love for her adoptive parents, her “real mum and dad”, not just through the book’s reading, but through her talking about them. To have them in the audience with her along with her son, made it quite the family affair.

Although there was much laughter through the event one could also sense a strong feeling of warm empathy towards Kay and it was left to the Director of the Scottish Poetry Library to sum up what the audience were already thinking: “We’re proud to claim Jackie as being Scottish and part of us,” to which Kay received a standing ovation.

Back home again and I completed building Gail’s PC. At around 1am I finally finished and got myself to bed.

Today at the book festival: nothing! I’m off to Glasgow for a gig shortly and then I have a wedding on Saturday. I won’t be back at Charlotte Square until Sunday for Joyce Carol Oates and Katharine Hibbert & Sheena Iyangor.

Until then—peace, out!

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About Colin Galbraith

Thriller author, music fan, St Mirren fan, fluff chucker, rabbit tamer, outstanding fake faller. Loves cannoli.
This entry was posted in Books, Day Job, Edinburgh, Fiction, I.T., Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to An Afternoon With Mark Billingham And Jackie Kay

  1. So glad to hear such great things about Jackie Kay!

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