There weren’t any 2019 reviews on this blog but I’m sure you’ll all forgive me as I became a mum in 2019 and just didn’t have the wherewithal to arrange and schedule 31 end of year reviews! This year isn’t much better but you’re getting 200% more than last year – one from Simon Bewick and here’s mine!
OK, so it’s fair to say that 2020 wasn’t the year any of us expected. I think we’ve all had enough of bad news this year so I’m going to try and keep this light-hearted.
Top moment for me professionally this year?
I’ve been really lucky in 2020 – not only did I interview Ann Cleeves to celebrate the launch of her latest Vera book – The Darkest Evening – but I got to host Virtual Noir at the Bar every week for twenty-two straight weeks.
When the UK went into lockdown in March, I asked if anyone would be interested in a virtual Noir at the Bar – the response was phenomenal. I had expected to run it for a few weeks – the same way I expected lockdown to last about a month – but it ran from 1st April to 26 August. We hosted over 220 writers at various stages of their careers: from unpublished all the way through to the biggest names in crime fiction. It’s been so special working with such wonderful writers, connecting readers from all over the world and making a group of friends that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Hearing from The Bookseller magazine that Virtual Noir at the Bar was shortlisted for Event of the Year at the FutureBook awards was pretty special. Simon and I worked very hard every week to ensure that viewers had a show to watch and it was amazing to be recognised alongside major industry players.
Launching Bay Tales has been an extremely exciting time for Simon and I. With a number of exclusive articles and short stories from some of our favourite writers, alongside discounts for Forum Books, Writing Magazine and Scrivener among others, we’re confident that Bay Tales can continue the good work that we started with VNatB.
I’ve also loved being part of Blood Brothers podcast. It’s a real pleasure to work with Rob Parker, Chris McDonald and Sean Coleman and be their Blood Sister. I laugh so much when I spend time with these guys.
Top moment personally? Seeing my little boy grow and flourish.
I’m struggling to think of my top TV show as I feel like I haven’t watched a lot of TV this year! I was, like everyone else, really into ‘Tiger King’ earlier this year and recently watched ‘Don’t F with Cats’. Of course, I blitzed season 4 of ‘The Crown’ when that came out. Genuinely struggling to think of anything else! I have rewatched all of ‘30 Rock‘ which is one of my favourite shows of all time. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend that you rectify that immediately.
I think the songs that have really stood out for me this year are ones that Simon introduced me to at Virtual Noir at the Bar. After being told that the free music was grating on some folk, Simon went out and asked some of his favourite musicians if we could use their music to start the show. We’ve featured Martin Stephenson, The Hold Steady, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Nils Lofgren. Billy Bragg started our Christmas show and was featured during our break and his song ‘Can’t Be There Today‘ is a real tearjerker. I must also mention Jason Isaacs who allowed us to use his music week in and week out – and I am now obsessed with his big band covers.
Not even going to mention downsides – I think we all know what has been sacrificed this year and difficulties people have faced. I think I got off lightly.
For 2021, I don’t have resolutions as such and I think my hopes are echoed the world over. Be kind to each other – and yourselves, it’s been a tough one.