Prepare to be shaken and stirred at this year’s Wordpool festival launch on Wednesday, 2 July. The venue is Stanley Park’s Art Deco Café, and the theme for the night is Murder, Mystery and Martinis as best-selling authors Ann Cleeves and Peter Robinson offer a fun-packed evening of crime writing revelations.
Ann Cleeves has a string of awards to her name. In 2006, she was the first winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award of the Crime Writers’ Association for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland Quartet. In 2012, Ann was admitted to the Crime Thriller Hall of Fame – alongside such literary luminaries as Colin Dexter, Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Not content with writing novels set in Shetland, Ann is also the creator of Vera Stanhope, the central character in a series set in the North East of England. Both sets of books have been turned into hugely successful TV dramas. Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez, is set to return for a third series in 2015, while the fourth series of Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn in the title role, was shown on ITV earlier this year.
Peter Robinson is one of the biggest names in British crime writing. He grew up in Yorkshire and now divides his time between Richmond, North Yorkshire and Toronto, Canada.
He is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed DCI Banks series of detective books, set in Yorkshire and featuring Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks – look out for number 22 in the series at the end of July! The books have garnered a new fanbase through an award-winning TV adaptation starring Stephen Tompkinson. A fourth series of DCI Banks aired earlier this year.
Peter’s novels have won numerous awards in Britain, the United States, Canada and Europe, and are published in translation all over the world.
Ann is looking forward to making a return trip to Blackpool for this year’s Wordpool: “I’ve only been to Blackpool once before and that was for Wordpool many years ago. I’m looking forward to meeting the readers again,” she said.
Both authors have seen their written creations made ‘real’ in TV dramas. I asked Ann how it had come about for her.
“Never in a million years did I think my work would be adapted for TV. That sort of thing only happened to other people. And it only came about by chance because Elaine Collins, who’s now executive producer on both shows, found one of my books in an Oxfam shop.
“I don’t actually feel that the characters belong to me. Every reader brings his own creativity, prejudice and history to the story and I’m sure each one sees the people in my books differently. Having actors portray them on screen is just an extension of that process. But in fact I think both Brenda and Dougie are remarkably close to the spirit of the characters they play.”
Seeing his work transferred to TV was an interesting experience for Peter too: “It’s probably a recurring fantasy with most writers of crime series, given the success of Morse, Frost and Poirot, but it wasn’t something I took at all seriously,” he recalled. “There had been options here and there over the years, but nothing came of them, so I suppose I resigned myself to failure in that area.
“Seeing Banks on TV for the first time was a learning experience,” Peter added. “I think I was aware enough to know that the TV series would not closely resemble the books, but I was surprised by ways in which it sometimes did. Some of the locations, for example, are perfect. I wouldn’t mind a bit more music, but rights are an expensive proposition. The real difference, to me, is not messing with the plots so much, but having to make the characters, especially Banks, express more emotion. In a book you can write about a character’s feelings, but on TV you have to show them. I never imagined Banks being quite so angry or frustrated as he often appears on TV, but I realise why it has to be that way.”
You can find out more about the writing process, and discover what inspires Ann and Peter to write, at the Wordpool launch. Tickets are £15, or £12 for library members, which includes cocktails and canapes – plus reduced price copies of the authors’ books which they will be happy to sign. Tickets are available in libraries or via Eventbrite. If you’re curious about what the festival has in store this year, the full Wordpool programme is now available to view online.
If you’d like to win a pair of tickets to this event, keep an eye on altBlackpool. More to follow next week…
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