Sunday 31 December 2023

2023 - People

I've had the chance to spend quality time with some wonderful people during the past twelve months. It's impossible to mention everyone, let alone create some kind of artificial hierarchy. So here, in no particular order, are some photos which serve as reminders of a fantastic year. And whether we've met in person or been in touch some other way, can I thank all of you who have contributed to my happiness this year. Here's to 2024!

The great Peter Lovesey. This picture recalls a lovely day spent with him and Jax in Shrewsbury.

I had a great time at Harrogate this year and one of many highlights was attending Alex Hawley's book launch.

A night to remember in New York City. Here's Jennifer Dee, with my Edgar, and Anthony Horowitz with his.

The Road Scholar gang, outside the Radcliffe Camera. A wonderful trip.

Pictures from Malice Domestic. I love that photo of Vaseem Khan, Ann Cleeves, Catriona McPherson and me in rain that made Washington DC seem like Manchester at its worst!

A glorious evening in Croatia with Helena, Kate Ellis, and Roger Bullock.

The CWA conference in York with Linda Stratmann, Michael Ridpath, Keith Miles, Judith Cutler and Vickie Goldie among others.

The Detection Club's summer lunch, with David Stuart Davies, Russell James, Kate Ellis, Ragnar Jonasson, Peter Lovesey, Simon Brett, and Kathryn White.

Magic moments from San Diego with some more delightful people, not least the gang from Sourcebooks, my American publishers. And speaking of magic moments, here's someone we lost in 2023 whom I never met but whose music continues to give me so much pleasure. Gone but not forgotten!

Saturday 30 December 2023

2023 - Places


One of many highlights in 2023 was a quick trip to New York City in April. A party hosted by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine preceded the Edgar Awards ceremony, where I met up with a number of old friends, including Robert Thorogood and Donna Moore (pictured above), and Otto Penzler, as well as meeting some delightful people such as Tom Straw and Joe Goodrich for the first time. With my publicist Jennifer, I was on the same table as Anthony Horowitz, and the moment when The Life of Crime was announced as the Edgar winner was one of the greatest of my career. The same trip also included a visit to Malice Domestic and a memorable dinner with a number of good friends including Jeffrey Marks, Michael Dirda, and Steve Steinbock.

Not long after that, I was back in New York City again, this time as a precursor to a lecture crossing on the Queen Mary 2, followed by five days with our lovely group of crime fans in Oxford. 

Speaking of Oxford, I had three other trips there. The first saw Team Balliol invited to a dinner by the Master, Dame Helen Ghosh, to celebrate becoming series champions in Christmas University Challenge. A truly memorable night. And so was the occasion of the Snell Dinner in the college, when we were guests of the Domestic Bursar and met such luminaries as the current head of MI5. Finally there was a Detection Club lunch in July which was blessed with wonderful weather and great company (can you spot Mick Herron, Ragnar Jonasson, Peter Lovesey, Len Tyler, Simon Brett, and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles amongst others in the photos below?)

There were festivals and conferences at places such as Gladstone's Library, the British Library, Berwick, and - very excitingly - Shetland, which I had the chance to visit and explore for the very first time - with Ann Cleeves doing some great work as tour guide and driver with lots of local knowledge!

I organised a month-long exhibition on crime fiction for Warrington Libraries, which went so well that there will be fresh versions of it at various venues in 2024. One of the other libraries I enjoyed visiting was Bromley House in Nottingham.

CrimeFest was fantastic as always. I took part in three panels with the likes of Mark Billingham, Vaseem Khan, and Simon Brett, and our team won the pub quiz. The icing on the cake came at the gala dinner when The Life of Crime won the HRF Keating award.

And then there was San Diego, which might just have become my favourite city in the United States. Bouchercon was unforgettable, not least because I received the Golden Derringer for my short fiction and the Anthony award for The Life of Crime. There were so many other good moments, both during the convention and when exploring the city and neighbouring La Jolla.

This year's CWA conference was held at York, one of my favourite cities in the UK, and as well as various events there was time for a boat trip on the Ouse. A few weeks earlier, I'd been interviewed in the city library to launch the local book festival, and during the conference both Blackstone Fell and The Life of Crime were announced as nominees for CWA Daggers.

Naturally, I focus on this blog on crime-writing-related stuff, but one especially relaxing holiday involved a yacht trip around the islands of Croatia in the company of Kate Ellis and her husband. And a great birthday sailing down the Thames to Greenwich in glorious sunshine. So many lovely places, so many happy occasions. Writing this post on a wet, rather miserable day in the depths of December has been a real tonic! And I suppose that's a key truth about this blog - I want it to please and entertain readers, but it also does me a lot of good too 😀😀