Christina James

A publication date and a tribute to two very good friends…

Promotional postcard
In this blog, I try to write mostly about crime-related topics, people, places and things that interest me, aspects of writing and other writers and their work. It isn’t intended merely as a vehicle to promote my own work; this was a conscious decision that I made right at the start, because I quickly tire of blogs by authors who use them too blatantly for this purpose.

However, I hope that you will look upon today’s post indulgently, because I have to confess that it is indeed about promoting my next book, Almost Love, which will be published on June 15th 2013. It is a promotional piece with a difference, however, because it also celebrates a gift to me by my publisher, Chris Hamilton-Emery of Salt. Before In the Family was published, Chris designed a postcard based on the jacket; I sent this, with a short personal message, to as many people (friends, booksellers, librarians, colleagues) as I thought might be interested in it. I received some lovely replies; it may have helped to generate some interest in the book.

Today, Chris sent a similar promotional postcard for Almost Love. In fact, it features both the novels. I am delighted with it and I think that it is a thing of beauty. I’d like to share it with you; that is why it is the subject of today’s post.

I’d also like to say how much I appreciate Chris and Jen Hamilton-Emery, for their unfailing good-humour and encouragement and also for all their hard work on my behalf. Thank you, both!

Next Thursday, 2nd May 2013: An Evening with Christina James at Waterstones Gower Street

Gower Street May 2nd

Sam, the wonderful Events Manager at Waterstones Gower Street, has organised ‘An Evening with Christina James’ on Thursday 2nd May 2013. It will start at 6.30 p.m. and last for perhaps an hour. I shall be reading a short excerpt from In the Family and perhaps also one from Almost Love (which will be published in June), and offering a few tips, from a personal perspective, on how to get published. After this, there will be a short Q & A – and a glass of wine! The event is a sort of forerunner of a larger Salt crime event that will be hosted by Gower Street on 23rd May 2013.
I know that readers of the blog are scattered far and wide and that some of you don’t live in Europe. Wherever you are, I am very grateful to you for your interest and have been delighted to ‘meet’ you on these pages. For those of you who happen to be in London next Thursday or can travel there easily (and would like to, of course!), I should be delighted to have the opportunity to meet you in person.

It’s tomorrow! Making the most of the best of social networking…

Salt

 

Today’s post is a repeated ‘shout-out’ about tomorrow’s Salt Publishing seminar at this year’s London Book Fair, when there will be an opportunity to listen to Chris Hamilton-Emery, founding director of this world-renowned independent publisher, and three of its authors talk about how to use social networking to promote books and good writing.   There will be a question-and-answer session to develop discussion about the topic How to Build Social and Brand Equity on a ShoestringElaine Aldred, an independent online reviewer, will chair the occasion. 

Date:  Tuesday 16th April 2013

Time: 11.30-12.30

Place:  Cromwell Room, EC1, Earls Court

I’ll be joining Katy Evans-Bush, writer and editor, and Elizabeth Baines, novelist and short story writer, to offer some personal experiences of social networking as a means to achieving an online bookworld presence.   Readers of this blog will already guess from previous posts here about both Salt and social networking, how much I personally value the opportunities provided by the Internet to meet and mingle with booklovers across the world.  I have also made it very clear just how proud and privileged I am to be supported as a writer by Chris Hamilton-Emery and how exciting it is to be associated with an independent publisher with the finest of literary lists.

I hope to become real to at least some of my ethereal friends at the London Book Fair this year!

I’d kill for a slice of coffee and walnut cake…

Get stuck in to a good book...

Get stuck in to a good book…

On Thursday, I had a conversation with a librarian in Doncaster who would like me to take part in a literary festival that will be run in May by the Doncaster Library Service.  After further discussion, we decided that it would probably be more effective for everyone if, instead of participating in one of the library-based events, I were to run a couple of writers’ workshops, one at a local school and one at an open prison.  I warmed to this idea immediately; as a bookseller, I have supplied books to two open prisons; more recently, I have read the MS of a fascinating memoir written by a writer-in-residence who works in a prison in the North-East.  I shall be happy to work further with the prison community if I can be of use. I’ll write more about these two events nearer the time.

Before we decided on this plan of action, when the idea was still that I should participate in a library-focused event, our chat had been about what sort of writer we should choose to present with me.  To my initial surprise, she suggested a cookery writer, but, the more I thought about it, the more appropriate I thought that this was.  Aside from the interest in food (among many other subjects) that both this blog and the many other crime-writing blogs to which it has been introduced (and introduced itself) have expressed, now that I’ve thought about it, I think that a crime writer and a cookery writer have a lot in common.

The similarities are there if you look for them.  Firstly, and of most importance, we are both genuinely interested in the craft of writing: although the crime writer’s main purpose is to devise an interesting plot peopled with intriguing characters and the cookery writer’s is to develop practical recipes that people really want to try out, the means, for both of us, is as important as the end.  In a certain sense, we are both genre writers, but the style and standard of the writing is important to us; mostly we don’t deserve to have the word ‘genre’ applied to us in a condescending or pejorative way (though we have both suffered from this).  I don’t deny that there is huge variation in the quality of writing accomplished by both crime writers and cookery writers, but at our best we produce classics.  When my friend Sally gave me How to Eat and The Domestic Goddess as a very generous birthday present ten years ago, I was both amazed and entranced by Nigella Lawson’s wonderfully fresh and funny prose style.  You may gorge yourself upon her books both literally and metaphorically, delighting in the sensual language and wonderful photographs even as you assemble the ingredients for a luscious cake and anticipate eating it later.  The best crime novels are like this, too: each page not to be gobbled down quickly because it gets you a little closer to the denouement, but lingered over and savoured for the pleasure that the words bring of themselves.

Similarly, a well-set-out recipe is like a well-crafted short story.  It tells a tale, from the beginning, when there might be a note on some kind of utensil – a springform cake tin, for example, or a coeur à la crème ramekin – to the afterword, which might offer serving suggestions or other tips once the culinary masterpiece has been completed.  Conversely, a poorly-conceived recipe, one which perhaps is not clear about quantities or method, disappoints and exasperates just as much as a badly-written thriller.  And, whilst I don’t think that it is possible to ‘learn’ writing step-by-step in quite the way in which you follow a recipe, writers can certainly give others pointers to how their writing can be developed – hence the workshop idea.  Conversely, an inspired cook will add some special twist or variation to a recipe to make it more delicious and uniquely his or her own.

There is one point on which we will always be at opposite poles, however: cookery-writing is about celebrating life and that which sustains it.  Food and the sharing of food is a civilising influence.  Almost every great nation has developed its own cuisine.  Crime writing, on the other hand, is about what threatens a civilised existence, sometimes including life itself: a sobering thought, yet, as I’ve said before, the end of a crime novel usually brings with it some kind of catharsis and a feeling that all is right with the world again.  And along the way, both heroes and villains can enjoy some excellent food.  From the Victorian victuals described by Wilkie Collins to DI Banks’ pub lunches and Paola Brunetti’s elegant meals en famille, crime-writing owes a lot to cookery.  I’d better not embark upon a consideration of how cookery-writing might be indebted to crime; otherwise my imagination might run riot!

 

Putting a person to a name… Waterstones Gower Street

gowerstreetposter.indd

As readers of this blog have often kindly expressed an interest in my books, I thought you might like to know that an event has generously been organised for me by Sam, the wonderful Events Manager at Waterstones Gower Street, on Thursday 21st March 2013. It will start at 6.30 p.m. and last for perhaps an hour. I shall be reading a short excerpt from In the Family and perhaps also one from Almost Love (which will be published in June), and offering a few tips, from a personal perspective, on how to get published. After this, there will be a short Q & A – and a glass of wine! The event is a sort of forerunner of a larger Salt crime event that will be hosted by Gower Street on 23rd May 2013.
I know that readers of the blog are scattered far and wide and that some of you don’t live in Europe. Wherever you are, I am very grateful to you for your interest and have been delighted to ‘meet’ you on these pages. For those of you who happen to be in London next Thursday or can travel there easily (and would like to, of course!), I should be delighted to have the opportunity to meet you in person.

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