Category Archives: Noir at the Bar


One week to go…



Noir at the Bar: an event for readers and writers.

Noir at the Bar NE 2

I got an email a couple of weeks ago from a lady who had seen my posts about Noir at the Bar. Although the lady in question wasn’t a writer, she was interested in the event and wanted to know if it would suitable for ‘non-writers’ to attend.

It took me no time at all to respond to this question: it is more than suitable for people who don’t write! Noir at the Bar isn’t just about giving a forum to writers to read their work – it’s about introducing readers to writers they may not have encountered before.

For example, this Wednesday, you might come to listen to Jay Stringer or Russel D. McLean but you’ll hear work from writers you may not have heard of before and I guarantee you will leave with at least one new writer whose work you’ll want to track down.

There is no set order of speakers so we ask members of the audience to pick names out of a hat – if you pick a name, you’ll get a signed book from that author (or the promise of one in the future). Free book just for picking a name out of a hat – and the opportunity to read someone you either love now or will love in the future.

For me, one of the many brilliant aspects of Noir at the Bar is that you will hear from a range of writers, from big names to people who haven’t yet had work published. If you attend Wednesday night, you’ll be able to say that you saw LP Mennock and Jon Wigglesworth before they made it big!

The joy of Noir at the Bar is that not only do you get to listen to awesome writers, you also get to interact with them. It’s encouraged that, during the break or at the end of the evening, you tell someone if you enjoyed their reading. Chatting about books is absolutely encouraged at Noir at the Bar!

And if you do fancy having a go at reading something you’ve written, you could always put your name down for the wild card round.

Noir at the Bar is meant to encourage interaction between writers as a community but also readers so if you’re a member of a book club or a solo reader, pop along. Entry is free and, if this Noir at the Bar is half as fun as the last one, you’re in for a cracking night.

Vic x

Guest post: Jackie Baldwin on Noir at the Bar’s wild card reading.

It’s one week until our second Noir at the Bar North East and today we have Jackie Baldwin, author of the forthcoming ‘Dead Man’s Prayer‘ which is out later this week, to talk to us about the wild card round.

Jackie’s name was picked out of the hat at the first Noir at the Bar and she gave a brilliant reading from her novel. I hope Jackie’s insight encourages you to put your name forward next week! 

Thanks for being involved, Jackie. Can’t wait to have you back at Noir at the Bar! 

Vic x

Jackie Baldwin


The Wild Card Round
By Jackie Baldwin.

Calling all crime writers! Have you been slogging away on a novel or are you about to be published? Are you brave enough to throw your name in the hat for The Wild Card Round? In my head, at least, also known as Russian roulette.

On 1st June, I travelled across to Newcastle from Dumfries for Noir in the Bar NE. I had stuck the prologue for my debut novel in my bag but had no real intention of entering the wild card round, being of a disposition that makes shrinking violets look bold and brazen. My friend and my husband accused me of being a wimp. It stung but I had to admit they were right. Craftily, I glanced into the hat. There were loads of names in there. Maybe I could redeem myself by putting my name in the hat and not have it pulled out? I was gambling heavily but decided to roll the dice and play the odds.

I met loads of lovely new people and was just starting to relax as the evening drew to a conclusion, having enjoyed listening to all those lovely, poised authors. Then the unthinkable happened. My name was pulled out. The bullet had slid into the chamber. Bang!

Dead Man's Prayer

I jerked to my feet like someone was pulling my strings, walked to the mike and started reading. My knees were knocking and my heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to burst out my chest and flop about the floor. I was aware of the irony that the heart of the character I was reading about was doing a very similar thing. I finished and apparently ran rather than walked back to my seat. It was over. My first public reading.

Everyone was very kind and encouraging. I did not, as I had feared, have to change my name and go into my own version of witness protection to escape the horror that had unfolded. In fact, since then I have read again and each time it gets easier. I am one of the speakers at the upcoming event on 7th September and this time, I am almost (steady on!) looking forward to it.

So, what I have to say to any writers out there contemplating throwing their name into the hat is: DO IT!! If someone like me can do it and come back for more then YOU have absolutely nothing to worry about! That first time is as much a rite of passage for a writer as the first rejection slip. The audience will be right behind you, cheering you on. And guess who will be clapping for you loudest of all? ME!

Noir at the Bar NE 2


Put it in your diaries…



Just so you know…


Noir at the Bar NE

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!

We had lots of entries for the wildcard round including Shelley Day, author of the forthcoming The Confession of Stella Moon, and Nicky Black, the duo behind the insanely popular novel, The Prodigal.

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?

Vic x