Sunday, March 01, 2009

EAILF Opening and Peter James

Okay, here goes on the beginning of my notes for the EAILF. I have to say it was brilliant and I will confess to still being cross that one person came so close to messing it all up. ‘Nuff said on that. It was fabulous and I want to thank the organizers for the wonderful job that they did in pulling all together.

First location – it was held in Festival City which sits on the Creek in Dubai. You can stand on the beautiful walkways next to fabulous yachts and watch the ancient dhows being built across the creek. The contrast of new and old appeals to me and very much speaks of ‘my Dubai’.

I was torn at the start of the festival. I wanted to see the session on glittering prizes because I was curious if they felt these prizes did make a difference to writers and readers. Do you buy books because they have won a prize?

NOTE: Remember these are just my notes and as such rely on my memory ( which is dodgy these days - age!) and my notes. So apologize for mistakes and inaccuracies

However it clashed with Peter James’s Criminally Accurate. Now I don’t write crime and rarely read it (Lesley Cookman is the only exception however Dh and my dad love his work) so why did I choose crime over prizes? To be honest I hope to do both but the prizes began late and I have met Peter before as a friend of my bil. However I have never heard him speak about his writing process or research for that matter. Research is something I will come back at the end of the reports as it was a reoccurring topic.

Peter opened with - writing was an ego bruising business. He felt there were three important aspects to writing a novel:


He felt that the research was as important as the other two.

Before he went further on this subject he went through a brief summary of his career leading up to crime writing. His writing career began in Toronto when he was dogsbody on the set of the children’s programme Polka Door. One day the writer was ill and thus began his career – writing for fluffy puppets. He then moved to low budget horror film which by his own admission were truly terrible. However the film that he is most proud of his involvement was The Merchant of Venice starring Dustin Hoffman and Jeremy Irons.

His fascination with crime began at the age of twelve with Sherlock Holmes. He wanted to be able to create a detective that was as sharp as Holmes. He was also very wary of writing UK crime. He felt the weight of Agatha Cristie and others on him – in the country, big houses…. He said he had the best first line he had never used to cover all these angles (pls forgive me as I may not have all the words!)

“F**k me, he’s been shot,” said the vicar’s wife as Nicholas hit the library floor of Ponseby Towers.

He then went onto explain about the distinct culture of the world of Police. He said what to detectives do? Solve puzzles. Where did Roy Grace come from? How did the character arrive? He told us that the missing persons helpline ¼ of million people disappear every year. If they don’t return in 30 days then they probably never will. Those they leave behind have no closure. Grace’s wife disappeared when he was 30 and by then time he was 39 she had not reappeared… That colours everything that Grace does.

Peter spends on average one day a week with the police. Research is building block for his research.

He advised writers to make sure your characters evolve. He plans the first 20% and the end then he surprises himself. When stuck he finds inspiration comes with a vodka martini and music blaring. (Personally I really like the sound of this idea - maybe tonight?)

That's it for today. Tomorrow I will cover the session with Kate Mosse.


Jan Jones said...

Liz, hon, your 'notes' are other people's full reports!

Thank you :)

Debs said...

Thanks for the great report, Liz.

I have to say that I like his solution to finding inspiration.

Fiona said...

Thank you so much Liz, you are a journalist as well as a writer.

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Jan!

Debs - I'm with you on the inspiration :-)

Fiona - you are too kind!