Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Year for Remembering


2014 has been an intensely enjoyable year, one in which I've felt thankful that good health and several slices of luck enabled me to pack a good many magic moments into the space of twelve months. Once again, writing these blog posts has proved rewarding, and some of the information and guidance I've received from those who have got in touch has been invaluable in aiding my researches into the history of the Detection Club and the CWA. Only today, for instance, someone got in touch from Norway with some intriguing info of which I was wholly unaware.

Quite apart from the blog, I've done lots of writing, although you'd doubt this was true, if you judged by the fact that I haven't published a new novel. The Frozen Shroud did come out in paperback, however, and I've continued to have the excuse to explore the Lakes (the photo above is of Ravenglass in the evening) in the name of research. The New Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes appeared as an ebook (though the stories were written over a period of more than a decade.) I also edited the CWA anthology Guilty Parties, and contributed a short story to that collection, as well as to anthologies edited by Len Tyler and Ayo Onatade, and Hughes Schlueter.  The biggest moment for me as a writer, though, came at Crimefest, when I was awarded the CWA Margery Allingham prize for "Acknowledgments" (below) and the prize included ebook publication by Bloomsbury Reader, which also allowed two of my other, earlier stories to become available to readers for just a few pennies. I also shared vicariously in John Harvey's pleasure at winning a Dagger for the superb story he contributed to Deadly Pleasures.


On the non-fiction front, I contributed essays to three books, the subjects being Conan Doyle's short stories, Anthony Berkeley's short stories, and Gilbert Adair's Golden Age pastiches. Much of the year, though, was devoted to The Golden Age of Murder, and one very magical; moment came when my agent told me that Harper Collins had made an offer for it. The ideal publisher for that particular book. I've also loved becoming associated with the British Library. I began by writing intros for several of their republished crime classics, and ended up becoming series consultant, and agreeing to edit a total of five anthologies of short stories which will be published over the next two years. I also wrote an intro for the ebook reissue of Joel Townsley Rogers' The Red Right Hand and a Sherlockian compendium for Arcturus. Among crime writing get togethers, the CADS dinner in spring was attended by those great genre experts Doug Greene (see below, with Eddie Jones) Barry Pike, Tony Medawar and others.



In terms of events, I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a panellist at Crimefest, and giving a talk at St HIlda's, and I also had fun at the big festival at Harrogate in July. I hosted murder mystery evenings in the North East (where a trip to Hartlepool inspired the story "Lucky Liam") and Stoke-on-Trent. One truly unforgettable occasion was dinner at St Hilda's in the company of the great Colin  Dexter, who presented me with an inscribed script from Lewis, a very generous gesture and typical of the man. I was saddened by the death of P.D. James, whom I last saw in February, at the Detection Club AGM. I've spent time this year becoming involved with other members of the Club on a terrific new project, details of which will become public at a later date. I've also benefited from wonderful hospitality from friends who have put me up on my jaunts "down south" - this kindness seems to me typical of the crime writing community. This has been especially evident in the help I've been given by those on both sides of the Atlantic who generously volunteered their time to read and comment on the manuscript of The Golden Age of Murder.



When I was up in the Lake District researching for The Dungeon House, I also benefited from a lot of help from local people whose contribution will, I hope, help to make this the best Lake District Mystery yet. One fresh experience was my first ever school reunion: great fun, and rather nostalgic too. I don't forget that four of the six contemporaries to whom I was closest when growing up are no longer around. A reminder that "do it now" is a very good philosophy. Amongst other things, I've started going to more exhibitions (ranging from Piet Mondrian to Sherlock Holmes) and gained fresh insights into the mysterious closed communities of the Inns of Court..

I read a number of good new books this year, although in retrospect no one title stands head and shoulders above the others, together with plenty of older novels, which were more of a mixed bag, with some great finds and a few disappointments - occasionally, even I must admit, there's a reason why books are forgotten!.On TV, the best crime drama I saw, by a distance, was the brilliant Happy Valley. If Burt Bacharach's dazzling two-hour concert in Manchester (below) turns out to be the last time I see the maestro (and composer of Magic Moments!) in live performance, well, that evening left memories that will stay with me. So will the sight of the mass of poppies at the Tower of London (top photo.).

2014 was the year I realised my ambition of stepping away from life as a partner in a law firm so as to devote more time to fun stuff - I still enjoy the legal work I do as a consultant, but it's a joy not to have that dreaded daily commute, and I feel at least ten years younger as a result  even though I don't look it. A reduced working week gave more time for writing and researching, and for trips away, including to Guernsey, for a CWA conference superbly organised by Jason Monaghan, when at long last I managed to make the journey to Alderney: a lovely island, though I've still not written up the short story I mean to set there.


Further afield, I saw the Northern Lights from a Norwegian ship, visited the North Cape, and found that it's possible to delight in  a place even when you are colder than you've ever been in your life. I recovered in the Caribbean, visiting places like Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire, and later went to another very sunny part of the world, the wonderful island of Sicily. Again, I have a Sicilian story idea just waiting to be written.






A few days in Paris reacquainted me with many of its great sights, while a week in Berlin supplied a poignant experience. I strolled through the Brandenburg Gate, which I'd last seen from a distance, when it was part of Communist East Germany, and inaccessible to people from the west. The reunification of Berlin is one of Europe's great stories of the past fifty years, and the city is one of the most exciting I've ever visited.




My final foreign trip memory concerns Malice Domestic, held in Washington D.C. I had the unexpected honour of representing the late Reg Hill, who was the subject of Malice Remembers, and the Malice community proved incredibly generous. I met old friends like Joni Langevoort, Doug Greene, and Tom Schantz, and met some lovely people for the first time, including Josh Pachter and his wife, Verena Rose, Joan Hess, Les Blatt, and Art Taylor. I recorded a podcast of "No Flowers", and had brunch with Janet Hutchings of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and dinner with Steve Steinbock, Melodie Johnson Howe, Kathryn Leigh Scott (below) Doug Greene and others. Steve it was who interviewed me on stage about Reg - one of the best British crime writers.

I can't end the year without saying another big thank you to those of you who read this blog, and comment and email so interestingly and constructively. When I started out in 2007, I never imagined that writing a blog would enrich my life in the way that it has. It can become self-indulgent to look back too much, but life is short, and I'm convinced that it's important to remember the good things that happen, and make the most of them while one can. Yes, for me 2014 has been a lucky year - no question! And tomorrow, I shall start looking to the future.








12 comments:

Joni said...

What a wonderful year you had! I was so glad to be a tiny part of it at Malice, and I'm looking forward to the next one! And to the Golden Age book!

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Joni. Those days at Bethesda really were special. All the best for 2015 - and see you before long.

Margot Kinberg said...

So very glad you had a good year, Martin. I wish for you and yours all the very best for 2015!!!

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Margot,and the same to you. And thanks too for your wonderful blog - consistently as impressive as any I've ever read.

jiescribano said...

I'm glad you had such a great year, Martin. All the best to you and yours for 2015!

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Heartiest congratulations on what really does seem to have been a splendid year Martin - I hope you manage to top it in 2015!

Martin Edwards said...

Jose Ignacio, warmly reciprocated!

Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks, Sergio.It's been good to meet you in cyberspace in 2014 and who knows, we may meet in person next year.

R.T. said...

You offer up an interesting morsel by mentioning Colin Dexter's inscribed gift. Does Dexter have an active role in the Lewis series?

Now, before I get distracted by this evening college football games, I must quickly but warmly say, "Happy New Year!" As we used to say when I was in the Navy (25 years of it), may you encounter only fair winds and following seas in the days ahead of you.

lyn said...

Happy New Year Martin. I always enjoy your blog & am only amazed that you've had time to write it with all that you packed into the year. Leaving fulltime work almost always seems to be a positive decision if I go by the experiences of friends who have done as you have. I'm looking forward to reading the Golden Age & more BL classics (I'm halfway through Mystery in White at the moment)& the new Lake District book whenever it's published.

Doug Greene said...

My photo shows me, characteristically, with my mouth open. The peerson sitting next to me is not Barry Pike but eddie Jones.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Doug!