Monday 31 December 2018

2018: People

Over the past couple of days, I've indulged myself with reflections on this year's writings and travels, but it remains true that people matter more than publications and places. And today I'd like to mention (inevitably in a highly selective way) some of the people who have, in various ways, made this such a lovely literary year for me. The photo above, taken in Reykjavik after an excellent dinner, and including colleagues from Germany, Russia and the US, reflects the international cameraderie of crime.

From the day when I started this blog, I've endeavoured to spread the word that writing can give great enjoyment in all sorts of ways, whether you are an author or a fan or (like me) both. Over the years, I've become increasingly conscious of the ways in which writing and reading can be extremely valuable in therapeutic terms. But I'm also acutely aware that the writing life can be a tough one. I've not talked much on this blog about my role as CWA Chair, but I can say that one thing I'm especially pleased about is the work we've begun within the CWA, and in collaboration with other organisations, to try to support writers facing mental health challenges. 

This work wouldn't be possible without the contribution of many good people. The CWA Board members and staff do a great deal for fellow writers, and it's a privilege to work alongside them. The CWA Daggers Dinner was, as I've said before, memorable for me personally, but it was also a chance to socialise with some wonderful men and women who play a key part in CWA activities; some of their photographs illustrate this post. Back in February, the northern chapter of the CWA celebrated its 30th anniversary with lunch in the Crown Hotel, Boroughbridge, where it all began with Peter Walker, Reg Hill, Bob Barnard et al.

The same's true of friends in the Detection Club, whose company makes our dinners so pleasurable. I've also enjoyed working with some lovely people in publishing: David Brawn at Harper Collins, the team at the British Library and that at Head of Zeus as well as my agent James Wills and the Watson, Little folk. I talked about libraries yesterday, and my admiration for the librarians I work with is unbounded. I must make special mention of Louisa Yates and the team at Gladstone's Library, who look after the British Crime Writing Archives on behalf of the CWA and the Detection Club, and ensure that Alibis in the Archives is as smoothly organised as it is convivial.

Now that I'm no longer a full-time lawyer, I've had the chance to catch up with people from my school and university days, and this has been a source of delight this year. I mentioned Tim Benson yesterday, and the fact that two guys I last saw at Oxford more than forty years ago took the trouble to turn up at the launch of Gallows Court was a real treat.

One of the crime festivals I most enjoy is Malice Domestic, and over the past few years it's been great to become good friends with the Board members who do such a fine job: Verena, Joni, Shawn, Tonia, and the rest of the crew. I won't be able to make it in 2019 (though I have a good excuse, more of which another day!) but I'll be there in spirit.

Bouchercon takes place in a different venue, with different organisers, each year, but it's a great opportunity to catch up with people from various parts of the world, as well as fellow Brits. These things are always a whirl, but at St Petersburg I had the chance to have meals with some terrific writers, the likes of Art Taylor, Bruce Coffin, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Shelly Dickson Carr, Gigi Pandian, Paul Charles, Elly Griffiths, and Ragnar Jonasson, and a host of other good companions, as well as wandering around the town with Kathy Boon Reel.  Moments to treasure. 

Speaking of Ragnar, I'm so glad he persuaded me to visit Iceland. The photograph at the top of this post was taken there following a get-together of the International Association of Crime Writers. Naturally, I can't resist including a photograph of the only Prime Minister I'm ever likely to share a panel with, Katrin Jakobsdottir. And yes, that was her own copy of The Golden Age of Murder

Last but certainly not least, can I say that, for all the downsides of technology, and for all the failings of social media, blogging and connecting with people across the world who share my love of crime writing has been an absolute blessing. Through this blog, I've been able to get to know a great many people I'd never otherwise have come across, and that's been wonderful. Some of you I'll never manage to meet in person, but the positive messages that you send really are a boost to my morale. And all writers need morale boosts. So - thank you!

As I say, this is a time of year when I feel a bit of self-indulgence is in order, and I'm fortunate to have pleasant memories to look back on. For me, 2018 has been a very happy and lucky year, something I don't take for granted. Tomorrow, a new year begins, and who knows what ups and downs it will bring? But I look forward to it with hope. And sometimes, hopes are fulfilled. On that note, here's a picture taken of me, waiting for the announcement of the CWA Dagger in the Library!


Art Taylor said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Martin. Great seeing you too so often—both in person and online too. Cheers for a great 2019 ahead.

Kathy Reel said...

Martin, walking with you around St. Pete was definitely one of the highlights of my year! As I sadly ended this year with the death of my sister, it's memories like that walk that comfort me and keep me grounded in the positive.

Clothes In Books said...

Really enjoying your round-ups of the year Martin. Happy New Year to you and yours.