Another week, another set of crime authors at Waterstones Nottingham, and unfortunately another set of traffic problems. We weren't quite as horrendously late this time but the two authors had taken to the 'stage' and were introducing themselves and their books. The standard pattern of events is to follow this by readings from the authors' latest novels, but last night the authors had 'rebelled' and refused. MJ Arlidge said instead he'd treat us to some of his worst reviews - which certainly raised some laughs from the audience, although to be honest if they were aimed at something I'd written, I'd have been devastated.
Both authors are 'new to me', but not newcomers to the genre - Tim Weaver's What Remains is the sixth book of his series 'starring' investigator David Raker, while MJ Arlidge and his detective DI Helen Brace have reached book 4, Liar Liar. While Arlidge writes about serial killers - some actually based on real life mass-murderers - Weaver's series seems a little unusual amongst crime novels for featuring not gruesome murders but disappearances - his characters will get into a tube train or go out into the garden...and simply vanish!
The questions from the audience brought up some interesting answers - both authors have come to writing as a 'second career' - Tim Weaver was previously a magazine journalist writing mainly about games, so it was probably quite logical that one audience question was how his novels would translate as a game; MJ Arlidge came to writing via TV - starting out as a screen-writer for Eastenders and Monarch of the Glen, and moving on to crime series, in both writing and producing capacities/roles.
Although both favour working to fairly strict 9 to 5 routines, their approach to writing differs - Arlidge prefers to plan meticulously - knowing
what will happen in each chapter and crucially how things will end,
before starting to flesh things out. Weaver prefers a more 'winging it' plan of
attack - starts with the disappearance, preferably something striking to
grab the reader, and maybe knowing the why and how things will end,
but otherwise happy to let events unfold as he writes.
The answers at times strayed beyond what was strictly being asked but this informality and spontaneity is something I love about author events, and why I'll happily go along and see an author several times.