Caro Ramsay, Neil Broadfoot and I seem to be taking a question very seriously during last year’s Death in Grantown festival. Matt Bendoris, far right, has a twinkly in his eye though. Something cheeky was coming I think.
Three years ago, if you’d asked me to stand in front of an audience and talk, I’d’ve died with my feet in the air.
Now, when I go to the fridge and the light comes on, I do a ten minute bit.
I wanted to be an actor when I was a slip of a lad (the lad in question being my father, the slip being me – thank you ‘Round the Horne’). I was never that outgoing – didn’t much like parties or socialising – but get me in front of an audience and I was off.
As I grew older I lost that ability to perform. It simply vanished. During my true crime years I made a number of TV radio appearances – still do – but that’s not the same as being up there with real people looking at you.
Then I had my first novel, ‘Blood City’, published and – gulp – I was expected to perform.
The first occasion was an event thrown by my publisher during the Edinburgh Festival and I was one of a number of authors asked to give a reading. I was one of the last called and the nervous sweat could’ve refloated the Titanic. The book was as yet unreleased so I was reading from a somewhat soggy typewritten sheet. It didn’t help that I’d forgotten my reading glasses.
I worked a little from memory and I think I may even have rewritten a section as I went along. At one point I found myself in a verbal tangle and paraphrased Harrison Ford to George Lucas when shooting the first Star Wars film – you can type this stuff, but you can’t say it. The audience laughed. They were on my side. I liked it.
Now whenever I do an event, as Donald O’Connor once sang, I like to make ‘em laugh.
Caro, Matt and myself celebrate a second great win the titanic East v West play-offs. The East Coast writers, including Neil Broadfoot, Doug Johnston and Frank TF Muir, lost despite having a home advantage and an greement ahead of time they were going to win. Craig Robertson was the impeccably fair chair.
Yes, my books can be dark but that doesn’t mean I have to be, at least in public. I do try to follow the sage advice of a seasoned bookseller to be windswept and interesting but my motto is take the work seriously but not myself.
I’m still no good at socialising, though, and in festival bars I’m usually the one trying to merge with the background.
Next up, though, is Carry on Sleuthing. What’s that? It’s a comedy-mystery radio play to be performed by four crime writers in a bookshop. Don’t say we don’t push the envelope.
You may have noticed it being mentioned on Facebook, Twitter and even this very site you are currently perusing. But in case you’ve been exploring regions of the Amazonian rain forest where the hand of man has never set foot, let me fill you in.
It’ll feature Caro Ramsay as amateur detective Letitia Luvibod who is asked to solve a perplexing mystery on board the SS Naughty Nigel.
Odious lawyer Hiram Grabbitt has been foully done to death and the suspects include bestselling author Dame Petunia Uppercrust, press baron Piggy Grunter, flapper Loxie McLovely and millionairess Colleen O’Blarney. Add in salty sea dog Captain Obadiah Trusspot, manservant Tremble and Inspector Bumble of the Yard and you have the recipe for a night of mystery and mirth.
Theresa Talbot, Michael J Malone and some eejit called Skelton will take out acting talents out for a spin as the entire supporting cast.
It’ll be fun but it is daunting.
I’m a bit of a limelighter now but I think I may have a drink beforehand. Or a Valium. Or both.
(Carry on Sleuthing can be seen for one night only in Waterstones Argyle Street on Friday April 8 at 7pm. Details in the Events section of this website)