Where do I start?
My first task is to thank everyone. Whether you came to read, or to listen – thank you. I know people came from far and wide to attend the first Noir at the Bar NE last night and it was wonderful that they made the effort. But whether you live around the corner or a million miles away, your presence truly was appreciated.
I guess you’d like to know what happened in Newcastle last night as Noir at the Bar made its first appearance in the North East of England.
Well, the fantastic Queen of Newcastle Noir, Jacky Collins, introduced the evening. I then waffled on a bit and introduced our first reader of the night, Janet O’Kane. Janet read the very compelling opening to her début novel No Stranger to Death, the first book in her Borders Mysteries series. I first met Janet at Mari Hannah’s book launch in 2011 and we have been firm friends ever since. I don’t think either of us would have believed if, on that night in 2011, you’d have told us that we’d be taking part in such a fantastic event together. It was an honour to have Janet open the show.
Eileen Wharton read from her novel Blanket of Blood and drew an audible gasp from the audience. I have to say that Eileen does a mean cockney accent, too. Again, I met Eileen many years ago at a Byker Books event and it’s been a pleasure seeing her develop as a writer.
Danielle Ramsay has been on my radar for many years but, before yesterday, we hadn’t been properly introduced. Danielle is not only a fantastic writer but a lovely lady – and I look forward to meeting her again soon. Danielle’s reading from The Puppet Maker made me shiver, no wonder she is so popular! I’m looking forward to reading more DI Jack Brady books!
Northumberland-based writer Martyn Taylor read from his novel Whitechapel. I was really intrigued by the excerpt that Martyn read out and I’m dying to know what happens next. Another book to be added to the to-be-read pile!
G.J. Brown read a chilling short story – entitled ebgdea – that will be included in the Bouchercon anthology, Blood on the Bayou, later this year. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Gordon until yesterday but he’s a true gent. He’d launched Bloody Scotland earlier in the day yesterday then driven all the way from Stirling to appear at Noir at the Bar NE. And, boy, were we pleased he did!
Graham Smith, who has been a champion of mine over the years, read a short story called All A Broad. Graham was instrumental in me setting up the north east chapter of Noir at the Bar and, as the organiser of the Carlisle branch, Graham came to pass on the torch.
The fantastic Noelle Holten of Crime Book Junkie picked out Patrick Welsh’s story Her Voice in the Rain as one of the top reads in Blood from the Quill. Last night, Patrick’s visceral excerpt about an exam, a ‘haunted’ painting and the lengths some students will go to had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. One audience member told me: “if that was a book that was available now, I’d be rushing out to buy it.”
Sheila Quigley is a great champion of North-East writers and it would have been remiss of us not to have her at Noir at the Bar. Sheila’s excellent at bringing people together and championing the work of others. Sheila read from her latest novel, The Sound of Silence.
My good friend Zoe Sharp – author of the incredibly popular Charlie Fox series – had not been billed for N@tB NE but she did tweet yesterday morning saying she was hoping to get picked for the wildcard. However, when our mutual friend Tess Makovesky got in touch to say that she had been involved in an accident, I knew exactly who’d step into the breach.
Zoe was at pains throughout the day to tell folks she had not been involved in Tess’s “accident” and she took my frequent jokes about it in good humour. However, after listening to Zoe’s chilling short story, Risk Assessment, I wouldn’t put anything past her! Zoe is a brilliant writer and I am thrilled that she agreed to read for us.
I would like to say, though, that Tess Makovesky was missed and we hope she gets well soon! Tess, you are welcome at Noir at the Bar NE anytime!
It was Jackie Baldwin, though, whose name was drawn from the hat. Jackie, who had travelled all the way from Dumfries for the event, later confessed that she wasn’t even going to enter the wildcard round until her friend, writer L.P. Mennock encouraged her to! Jackie read from her novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, which is due to be published later this year. It was a fantastic ending to what was – for me, at least – a brilliant night.
Again, I’d like to thank everyone who came to the Town Wall last night. Thank you for your attention, your time and your kindness.
Now, when’s the next one?