Sunday, November 23, 2014

New Kiwi crime: Introducing Grant Nicol

It seems Kiwi crime writing is flourishing everywhere!

I'm in Reykjavik this weekend, attending the Iceland Noir crime festival, and I ran into Grant Nicol, a New Zealand author living here, who has recently published his first crime novel. Over the course of the weekend I've been thinking there are several similarities between Iceland and New Zealand - island nations with ruggedly majestic scenery, volcanic landscapes, remote and sparsely populated outside of the main centres, fantastic fresh produce, and adventurous and active spirit etc.

I can see why people who enjoy the vibe of New Zealand would also like the vibe of Iceland (and vice versa). I'll be sharing more about Iceland Noir soon, but for now I thought I would flag up Nicol and his debut crime thriller, ON A SMALL ISLAND. Here's the blurb:

"In the space of just a few short days, Ylfa Einarsdóttir sees her peaceful existence in downtown Reykjavík turned on its head. Some unexpected news from one of her sisters and a brutal murder that’s far too close to home for comfort leave her wondering why life has turned on her so suddenly.   
When the police fail to take her seriously, her hands-on approach to the investigation soon lands her in hot water. Following a string of biblical messages left behind by a mysterious nemesis she stumbles upon a dark secret that has finally come home to roost. As she is about to find out, on a small island, what goes around, comes around."

Nicol said he wrote the novel while he was in Ireland. He now lives in Reykjavik, having visited several times over the years while based in Europe. Unlike many crime novels, ON A SMALL ISLAND doesn't have a cop, journalist, private eye, lawyer or other professionally investigative person as the hero.  Instead, it is a family member who finds themselves trying to unravel the mystery.

Nicol's debut is available on Amazon Kindle, and his second thriller has been accepted by a London-based publisher, and will be released in early 2015. You can check out ON A SMALL ISLAND here.

Have you read any novels set in Iceland? What do you think of Nordic Noir?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Leaving, on a jet plane.... for Reykjavik

While many of my fellow crime fiction afficianados have been basking in the sunshine of California recently, at the massive Bouchercon event, later this afternoon I'm taking an opposite kind of tack, heading for the cold wintery-ness of Reykjavik, which is hosting the second-ever Icealand Noir festival of crime writing.

I became aware of Iceland Noir when I met and interviewed Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurdardottir onstage at the recent Christchurch Writers Festival. I then met others involved with the festival, including honorary Icelander Quentin Bates - a key part of the organising team - and young Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson at Bloody Scotland in late September. Their passion and enthusiasm for the new event was infectious, and I found myself booking tickets to Reykjavik, even though I wouldn't be involved onstage myself this year.

There are some great authors appearing at the festival, including internationals such as Peter James, James Oswald, Craig Robertson, Alex Sokoloff, and Johan Theorin. I'm very much looking forward to catching up with some old friends, and making some new ones, this weekend, as well as exploring Reykjavik.

I'll be sharing some photos and thoughts from the festival in the coming days, but in the meantime, you can check out more information at its website here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Luther to return.... revamped, in America?

Five years ago, in my very first author-interview feature, I spoke to Wellington-based crime writer Neil Cross about his then-latest book BURIAL, and his writing career. At the time a couple of the major accolades on his CV were a Man Booker longlisting for ALWAYS THE SUN, and praise for penning episodes of acclaimed British TV spy drama, Spooks after he added screenwriting to his skill-set.

In the five years since, Cross has become something of a storytelling juggernaut, as he's churned out movies, a variety of television dramas, and novels - all of which have tickled the fancy of awards judges, critics, and readers/audiences all over the world. He's been nominated for Emmy Awards, won the Edgar Award and the Ngaio Marsh Award, written for Doctor Who, launched a pirate drama with John Malkovich, and much much more.

Looking back on that interview in 2009, it makes me smile to think of Neil and my conversation about one of the projects he was working on at the time - a TV series idea for the BBC which would star a different kind of detective that meshed the Poirot/Holmesian intellect and insight of the classic British quirky cerebral investigator with the hands-on, physical quality, and passions of American hardboiled antiheroes.

That series became Luther, one of the finest television dramas in recent memory.

After three seasons (which garnered eight Emmy nominations), and an exceptional prequel novel (LUTHER: THE CALLING), fans still want more of Neil's writing and Idris Elba's acting.

There have been talks of a Luther movie. And hopes for a fourth television series. But in a surprising bit of news today, it seems fans will see more of Luther, just in a completely unexpected way: it has been announced that Neil will write and produce a US remake of the show (with Idris Elba also producing).

You can read a little more about this announcement on Deadline or the Stuff website. There will be more announcements soon. Big news on the crime fiction front - what do you think of the idea of a US Luther?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ben Sanders wins 2014 Sir Peter Blake Trophy

BREAKING NEWS: Young New Zealand crime writer Ben Sanders has been announced as the winner of the 2014 Sir Peter Blake Trophy at the AIMES Awards gala dinner event held in Auckland. 

Sanders, 25, has written three acclaimed crime thrillers set in his hometown of Auckland, New Zealand, and has also had his first US-set thriller, AMERICAN BLOOD (due for publication in 2015) optioned for film adaptation by Warner Bros.

The AIMES Awards have been running for 20 years, and have given out over $1.5 million of scholarship grants to talented young people in that time. Each year the North Harbour Club and Charitable Trust awards scholarships to young people in the community who have shown outstanding ability or potential in the fields of the arts, science and innovation, education, sports, music, and service to the community. Previous winners of the Supreme Award, the Sir Peter Blake Trophy, in recent years include chart-topping musician Lorde and star LPGA golfer Lydia Ko.

There has been no official press release or comments yet from the 2014 Awards, but some photos of the gala dinner have been released (see Sanders with his Supreme Award trophy above). It is great to see a talented New Zealand writer, on the cusp of even greater international stardom, recognised in this way.

Sanders is a previous finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, and also received an Emerging Talent Award at the 2012 Aimes Awards. For more information about Sanders, read here: 
Congratulations to Sanders, who is an outstanding young writing talent.