With the publication of Frank's Wild Years in March this year, I've had a dozen or so opportunities to take the book on the road, for readings, book groups, libraries and in the last couple of months literary festivals. Usually on the fringes, but pretty much without exception a welcoming and enthusiastic audience, eager to hear new writing and interested in the how? and why? of what it takes to make half a living from writing.
Hull author, Nick Quantrill and myself have developed a series of self-contained presentations - of our own work, of short films by the brilliant Hull film maker, Dave Lee and of talks that, for example, make the links between the Dickens' social realist stories and modern crime writing. Look at the themes, the characters and the underlying story of Oliver Twist. Would it be marketed as a crime novel if it were published today?
Recently, as part of North East Lincolnshire's Filter Festival we teamed up with another Hull author, Russ Litten for an event at Cleethorpes Library. We were hoping to repeat the event at Caistor's 28 Plough Hill last Friday. It didn't come off, but for the good people of Caistor and anyone unable to get to the events, Dave Lee's films are available to view on Youtube.
The first is a short film based on the opening of Nick Quantrill's first Joe Geraghty novel, Broken Dreams. The film, made for this year's Humber Mouth festival, takes the theme of Hard Times and Great Expecations; Hull is on the cusp of change and the film superbly evokes the city and its docks, the would-be, might-be and never-could-be of life by the Humber.
The second film, The Last Job of the Night, is an extract from Russ Litten's 2011 novel Scream If You Want To Go Faster. Set in 2007 in the aftermath of the floods that made great swathes of the city's population homeless (including Nick Quantrill), the novel creates a finely judged narrative from a tapestry of interconnected characters. It has an Altmanesque sense of the passing relationships of people sharing the same space at the same time: the last weekend of Hull Fair. The language is direct; these are people you recognise, people you know. Last Job of the Night is based on a true story - Litten's words and the reading of Jon Strickland tell it far better than I can.
Nick Quantrill's Joe Geraghty novels Broken Dreams and The Late Greats are published by Caffeine Nights, available on Amazon. Scream If You Want To Go Faster is available online and from most decent bookshops. Litten's second novel, Swear Down is published by Tindall Street early in 2013. (Judging by the extract he read in Cleethorpes, it'll be high on the post-Xmas wanted list.) Finally, Frank's Wild Years is still available from the usual places or by contacting me directly.