Tuesday 31 December 2019

2019: People

I've enjoyed the company of some marvellous people this past year. A single blog post simply isn't sufficient to express my appreciation of everyone who has contributed to my 2019, but I would like to take the opportunity to mention some of those who have played a part in my writing life this year, helping to make it both memorable and very happy.

Let me start with my colleagues in the CWA. The Windermere conference in April was, for me, the perfect way to say goodbye as Chair of the Association and return to the ranks. In my time as Chair I benefited hugely from a very supportive set of Board members, and special mention has to be made of Dea Parkin, the Secretary, and Linda Stratmann and Maxim Jakubowski, my two Vice Chairs. At Windermere there was also the chance to take part in panels with such friends and fellow writers as Peter Lovesey, Christine Poulson, Marsali Taylor, Mike Craven, and Kate Jackson.

Alibis in the Archive was a lot of fun, with a roster of wonderful speakers, and the weather was so good on the Saturday evening we were out in the gardens until well after ten o'clock. The weekend raises funds for the CWA and also the Detection Club, which continues to flourish; I spent a good chunk of the year liaising with members over the compilation of Howdunit, a book you will hear much more about in 2020. One of the contributors to Howdunit is Peter Robinson. Because Peter spends half the year in Canada, sometimes I see very little of him, but this year was a pleasant exception; we had breakfast together at Gladstone's Library, lunch in Toronto, and a Detection Club dinner at the Garrick Club (not all on the same day...) The guest speaker at the annual dinner of the Club at the Ritz was David Brawn of HarperCollins, whose company I enjoyed on numerous occasions, not least at Bodies from the Library, where it's always a pleasure to chat to the likes of John Curran and his hard-working team of organisers, Tony Medawar, Dolores Gordon Smith, Kate Jackson, Moira Redmond, and Nigel Moss. I want to make particular mention of Nigel, whose support and encouragement for me in my various endeavours has been of great value in recent years.  Kate, Chrissie Poulson, Moira and Brad Friedmann and I had tea in the Courtauld the day before - photo below.

I'm also very appreciative of the support of my agent, James Wills and my various publishers here and overseas, including David Brawn and the team at Head of Zeus, who kindly invited me to join them at the CWA Daggers Dinner in October. It was great fun to meet the PPP and Sourcebooks team in Scottsdale and Dallas and as the year comes to a close, I'm thrilled that two more book deals with them are in the course of being concluded. As for my American writer friends, I want to say a special if necessarily very selective thank you to Verena and Shawn of Malice Domestic, Shelly Dickson Carr and her brother Wooda, and Kathy Boon Reel, all of whom have shown me numerous kindnesses.

I've often said, and I'll keep on saying, how much we owe, as book lovers, to librarians. Quite apart from Jan Macartney in Douglas who hosted my 1920s murder mystery (the photo shows me with the cast), Louisa Yates and the team at Gladstone's Library, and Rebecca, John, Jonny, Maria and Abbie at the British Library, I've enjoyed meeting a host of people working hard in libraries up and down the country in the hope of knitting communities together and spreading the joys of the written word.

Murder Squad, founded by Margaret Murphy, continues to go from strength to strength. We had a great time in the north east in the spring and next year sees the twentieth anniversary of the group. We've planned quite a few events to celebrate and who knows, the celebrations may spill over into 21st celebrations as well! It's great to see fellow Squaddies doing so well in their writing careers and I was thrilled when Kate Ellis won the Dagger in the Library. The holiday we had with Kate and her husband Roger in Puglia was thoroughly enjoyable and a return to Italy is on the cards for next year...

Then there were the whodunit fans I met on two trips on the Queen Mary 2 and in Oxford and the readers I came across at events here and overseas. To say nothing of the amazingly enthusiastic young mystery fans of Shanghai. As I say, these reminiscences are bound to be selective, but to everyone who has played a positive part in my year, and in particular to my loyal readers and family, I say a heartfelt thank you. 


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