Authors, authors! Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards, and Stuart Pawson

September 26, 2007 at 8:09 pm (Mystery fiction, To Britain and back, September '07, Travel)

p1000939.JPG In the evening of our second day in Harrogate (Thursday September 13), we were treated to a panel of three authors: Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards, and Stuart Pawson. I hadn’t know that we were to meet Martin Edwards until just before we left for England. This was excellent news; I had read all three of the novels in the Daniel Kind/Hannah Scarlet series, set in the Lake District, and enjoyed them a great deal. Of course, a vivid setting is a major plus for any novel, but the other crucial aspects of fiction, especially character and plot, must also be fully developed inorder for the novel to succeed. In my opinion, Edwards handles all of these elements superbly well; the books in this series just get better and better. [In the photo above, left to right: Stuart Pawson, Ann Cleeves, and Martin Edwards]

As to Ann Cleeves, her books had not been published in the U.S. until Raven Black came out – finally – in May of this year. (Cleeves’s cause was helped by the fact that last year, Raven Black won the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award – previously called the CWA Gold Dagger.) I quite simply loved this novel! Like Martin Edwards, Cleeves has chosen a very evocative setting for this particular series: the Shetland Islands, off the coast of Scotland, are remote, exotic, and fascinating. Raven Black is the first in the projected Shetland Quartet. I eagerly await the second in the series, entitled White Nights and scheduled for publication in the U.K. in April 2008.

Although I had read good reviews of Stuart Pawson’s mysteries, I had not previously read any of them. The library had not purchased them, as they had not been published in the U.S. I bought the 2006 entry in the Charlie Priest series, Shooting Elvis; it looks like it should be quite entertaining. Mr. Pawson appeared to be a rather reserved gentleman who would have preferred to be elsewhere rather than in front of our group. I don’t think it was anything personal – some people are simply ill at ease in these situations. That evening all three authors dined with us. There were three tables, and they changed tables after each course, an experience which cannot have greatly aided digestion. Still, they were the soul of graciousness, including Stuart Pawson, who struck me as someone with whom it would probably be great fun to share a pint at the local pub.

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In the July issue of Literary Review, author Kathryn Hughes wrote an amusing piece about events such as the above entitled “Festival Frolics.” She admitted that while she tries to sound spontaneous when speaking in such settings, she actaully spends quite a bit of time practicing what she intends to say. Why? “I once did a whole hour’s talk on my first book, The Victorian Governess, in which I managed to use the phrase ‘male member’ half a dozen times before realising that I should really find a happier way of describing the men who happened to live in the same households as my governess-heroines.”


[Ann Cleeves and Martin Edwards signing their books. That’s me on the left, talking to Ann Cleeves.]


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