North East England, Norway: The Silent Room – Mari Hannah

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Why a booktrail?

2000s – A prisoner sprung from a van on a Newcastle road will lead to a trail of conspiracy reaching all the way to murder.

Story

A disgraced Special Branch officer sits in the back of a prison van on its way to Durham prison. No sooner has it set off then armed men storm the van and hijack the prisoner.

The prisoner, Jack Fenwick is the former boss of Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan who is immediately suspected of somehow being involved. He is suspended and so locked out of the manhunt.

However when the official investigation goes awry, Ryan is determined to find out what really is going on and so he goes ‘underground’ enlisting others to help him get to the truth.

The truth turns out to be  lot darker than Ryan or anyone else could have imagined and will take them to Norway in the grip of an international conspiracy that is by no means over yet.

Place and setting

map-of-mari-hannah

map-of-newcastle
Central Station The old Victorian pub where Ryan goes to meet someone is near to the Centre for Life where a car is tracked. Pitcher and Piano Quayside Several mentions of the Quayside including a drink where Grace and Ryan take time to chat about events Nuns Moor Road, Fenham Grace lives here and it’s where the Silent Room is located Newcastle Crown Court The prison van leaves here and crossed the Swing Bridge before being hijacked close to Durham

 

North East of England

Crown Court Newcastle. From the start as the prison van carrying Jack Fenwick leaves the court at Newcastle’s Quayside and makes its way across the Swing Bridge, making its way into Gateshead and towards Durham, you just know where this is going to happen and the impact when it does it by no means diminished. The hijacking is brutal and vivid, emotions raw and the hunt is on.

The aftermath takes you on a journey in and around Newcastle,  the inner workings of Northumbria police and the Professional Standards branch. The demands of the jobs are brutal and unforgiving, the dedication of the team clear yet there are some characters who seem hell bent on getting their own foot on the ladder and to heck with anyone else.

The team are made up of Eloise O’Neill – a no nonsense taking woman and DI Macguire who represents everything Ryan hates in a copper. The animosity and suspicion of the police of one of their own bristles and rankles with Ryan’s belief in the truth. Grace Ellis a retired officer who worked with Jack in the Serious Incident Squad creates a ‘silent room’ – a secret bunker style of incident room where a team kept out of the official investigation start their own.

The North East is a nice backdrop to the search – local colour is interspersed at regular intervals to place the action. From the small village of Dunstan Steads where Ryan lives to the inner city setting of Fenham where Grace lives and where the local news team headed by the real life presenter Ian Payne (as himself) comes to the fore blends local colour nicely with an author proud of her surroundings.

Norway

The investigation takes a new turn when it is discovered that the death of a Norwegian national could be linked to the case. That’s where this mention of Norway ends however as the events which take place here are central to the novel and so it’s on the booktrail map but you have to read the book to find out why.

Review

Well Mari, you certainly know how to ramp up the tension and create a police team that pulls no punches! With her paintbrush speckled with North East colour, she washes it over the gritty, punchy story, interspersed with action, fast moving events and a trail which leads to a very interesting and unique conclusion!

This is no Kate Daniels. Heck I’m sure she could work in the team but then I was rather afraid of O’Neill and Maguire myself so kudos if the three of them should ever meet. These are the tough guys – the hard men of Northumbria police. These guys mean business – violence, double dealing and a dark dark core makes this a thrilling, bumpy and dangerous ride.

I liked Ryan. He had guts and determination to find out what really happened and the premise of the silent room was intriguing. I shall now wander down Nuns Moor Road where Grace lived and wonder where this place could be…hmm and in quiet Fenham who would have guessed?

The splashes of local colour such as Ian Payne, mention of Gazza, the Quayside and the heritage of the old pub in Central station makes this a novel which stands proudly on the NE literary map.

This is a gritty read and it was a real surprise to see how events took them to Norway and a whole other area of intrigue. Being a language fan, it was great to read the smattering of Norwegian which added to the overall sense of place. The conspiracy unravelled and there were some unexpected and neatly done twists.

Mari I am now going to rest a little, my heart thumping as it is. I need to lie down somewhere quiet although maybe not in the silent room that you write about.

Author Info:

Twitter: @mariwriter

Web: marihannah.com

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World Book Day and World Book Night 2015

World Book Night in the UK is a smart, fun way to give away books and spread the joy of reading.

We love Harold Fry so are sharing his story with people we want to encourage to read more…

It’s a well loved tail…….we’ve put bows on and put them in pretty envelopes…

Bear

Harold is on his journey. First Devon….

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Then he’s going to head on up the UK giving books out as he goes…. no Harold no posting! Or where would your story have ended up if you’d posted that letter in the first place!?

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Happy reading everyone! We’d love to hear about what you are doing today and which book you’re giving out. Hop over to Facebook as we’re following Harold on his bookgiving journey all the way from Devon to Berwick upon Tweed!

https://www.facebook.com/thebooktrail

Go on Harold!

Killing for Keeps – Newcastle, Glasgow, Rojales – Mari Hannah

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Killing for Keeps is the fifth instalment in the Kate Daniels series – set in and around the North East – in this instance Newcastle and Blanchland. This is a hard-hitting and chilling case for Northumbria Police, the worst torture case they’ve ever seen.

Mari Hannah has raised the stakes this time – the prologue sets the scene for what will follow. And the first chapter (six weeks later) opens the door to a thrilling narrative when we see just what has taken place and what Kate and her team are up against.

The Tyne Bridge with the Sage in the Background
Kate Daniels is back – with a vengeance

Story in a nutshell

Two brothers from a well-known criminal family are found dead within a few miles of each other – tortured to death.

Ripples start to spread across the city – associates of the men are uneasy and witnesses scared. Kate has to break some rules, putting herself and her career in jeopardy. But there is someone out there who lives by his own rules and is prepared to remove anyone who gets in his way.

This is one investigation that Kate and the team will never forget.

Place and setting – the booktrail of Kate Daniels’ Newcastle.

Market Street - police station and Kate Daniels HQ. Mosley Street - where Newcastle’s club scene is centered. Byker Bridge - where a meeting takes place with a informant. RVI - one of two incidents takes place here. Silverlink Industrial Estate - the first of two cases takes place here. Exhibition Park - Kate passes here on her way to meet a witness in Paddy Freeman’s park (Heaton Road)
Market Street – police station and Kate Daniels HQ.
Mosley Street – where Newcastle’s club scene is centered.
Byker Bridge – where a meeting takes place with a informant.
RVI – one of two incidents takes place here.
Silverlink Industrial Estate – the first of two cases takes place here.
Exhibition Park – Kate passes here on her way to meet a witness in Paddy Freeman’s park (Heaton Road)

Kate Daniels, working at the city’s incident room in Market Street, has a lot on her plate. She is called to two crime scenes within a short space of time – Silverlink and the RVI. Two inconspicuous places, but ones that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Investigations take the team deep in to the heart of Newcastle – to ‘Club Land’ in and around Mosley street – to find witnesses and links to the crimes.

Kate has her work cut out. Under pressure to solve this case and to raise the flagging morale of her team, she’s battling tensions from all sides. Kate Daniels backed into a corner? She fights and then she fights some more. This is no ordinary case and she is keen to protect witnesses as she gets to the truth.

Blanchland. Silverlink, Newcastle. Glasgow. Rojales.
Blanchland.
Silverlink, Newcastle.
Glasgow.
Rojales.

As the investigation continues, she heads up to Blanchland – “the exquisitely tranquil village . . . at the heart of Catherine Cookson country . . . built from the stone of a twelfth-century abbey, the village hadn’t changed in centuries.”        http://www.blanchland.org/news.php

Blanchland
Blanchland 

Visiting a local beauty spot as part of such a brutal investigation – as was the case when Whitby flagged up as a place of interest – is in direct contrast to the reasons why she is there. Remote, rural and for Kate, dangerous too.

As the case progresses, the investigation takes her and DS Hank Gormley north of the border to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Links with one criminal family have a bearing on the entire Newcastle case. Yet the ‘fish out of water’ works well for Hank’s wit to shine through here – regarding the ‘funny money’ that the Scots use and the notion of ‘Geordistan’. And the lesser-known and rather less fashionable meaning behind D & G.

“Edinburgh was as grey as Glasgow had been – only prettier. If she hadn’t been such a fan of her home city, this was the one place Kate would choose to live.”

When the net widens and the investigation takes Kate across to the Continent, to the Rojales region of mainland Spain, near Alicante, the book races to a thrilling finale. But we’ll stop there since to say anymore would be to spoil the surprises shocks in store. And there are plenty. Believe us.

Killing for Keeps is dangerous, chilling and skillfully plotted. Mari’s best yet. Recently, the series has been optioned for television and she has been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library award proving, beyond doubt, that she is a crime writer we’re going to hear a lot more about. We’re proud to say that she’s a local author and has put the North East region firmly on the literary map.

Hidden Depths – Northumberland and Newcastle – Ann Cleeves

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Set in the North East of England, this is a lovely guide to the region as it features quite a few known and lesser known landmarks and takes us right up the coast and even to Northumberland with a dabbling in the academic world with Newcastle University and Morpeth library mentioned.

What’s it all about?

The discovery of a young man’s body in a bathtub  is something that starts a nightmare for Vera. This is a highly stylized murder and is very strange indeed. His mum Julie discovers him –

Julie stared at him, submerged beneath the bath water, his hair rising like fronds of seaweed towards the surface. She couldn’t see his body because of the flowers.

When a second body is discovered in a similar way in a rock pool at the coast,Vera is keen to find a link between the two murders. Not to mention to explore the group of friends who have discovered the second body. There’s something not quite right about them..

So what does Vera do? Gets straight on the case and starts to investigate taking herself all around the region in the meantime. So -let’s take the Ann Cleeves/Vera tour…

The region really is well drawn and evoked here and is particularly enhanced by Ann’s obvious love and care of the Northumberland coast line. Certainly the acerbic wit of her character Vera is a good accompaniment on any booktrail……as Vera might say 

“Come on pet, get a move on. We haven’t got all day you know.”

Hope you like Fish and chips as the book takes your around the region where the best ones are found –

The Vera tour of Hidden Depths - Geordie accent optional ;)
The Vera tour of Hidden Depths – Geordie accent optional 😉

NORTH SHIELDS

North Shields where Peter Calvert has a flat –

His flat wasn’t far away, in North Shields, an attic overlooking Northumberland Park. Two elderly sister lived in the rest of the house.

And where Tom Sharp has his ‘accident’ – aah the fish quay – (some of THE best fish and chips here – get some covered in salt and vinegar, sit beside the giant buoys on the pier and enjoy. Mind the sea gulls though – they’ll have their eye on you when eating)

The Fish Quay at North Shields where Tom Sharp had the accident? There’s that sheltered bit of the water where the boats tie up. That’s busy until the early hours. Bars, restaurants, people living in those smart and apartments they’ve put up.

SEATON SLUICE (Seaton in the novel)

Where some of the characters live and much of the action centres around this village.

An ex-pit village on the coast.

It would be a good place to live. Not too far from the coast when the wind tuned east and the migrants came in. Not too far from the coast when the wind turned east and the migrants came in.Not to far from the tower for sea watching.

The rock pools at the coast – where  poor Lily is found stylised in a similar style murder –

……the watch tower, which stood on the seaward side of the lighthouse. Once it had been a coastguard  lookout. Now birdwatchers used it to look for seabirds.

And then they find something in the rock pools –

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Whitely Bay –

The cemetery and the high school get a  mention. There is a decent butcher’s in nearby Monkseaton and this is so close to Seaton Sluice and St Mary’s Light house that is a good place to soak up the coastal atmosphere and get  a sense of location by sitting on a park bench in view of the sea and sampling a local portion of fish and chips (helps get into the spirit of the locale hehe)

St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitely Bay/Seaton Sluice
St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitely Bay/Seaton Sluice

NORTHUMBERLAND – then its a little way up the coast to see where the little local library is –

Morpeth

Where Samuel  works in the library and who Vera talks to regarding the investigation –

“I was working on friday afternoon in the library in Morpeth.”

NEWCASTLE

The Sage, Gateshead
The Sage, Gateshead

Finally don’t forget to visit Newcastle (Vera’s stomping ground  – often referred to as ‘the big city’. Peter works at the university there and Gary Wright works at the Sage –

I’ve been doing quite a lot of work at the Sage music centre, Gateshead and now they’ve offered me a permanent job.

We get a sort of guided tour thanks to Julie –

'The Blinking Eye' Bridge aka The Millennium Bridge
‘The Blinking Eye’ Bridge aka The Millennium Bridge

On an impulse, she walked across the new Millennium footbridge from Gateshead to Newcastle, she‘d never done that before either. She stood in the centre and looked up at the arcs and towers of the other bridges, the Tyne, the High Level, the Redheugh, landmarks seen in a completely different light.

You’ll see Newcastle and Northumberland in a different light after reading Hidden Depths as it shows some of the lovely costal areas of the region. See it all through Vera’s eyes…….

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Aye Pet,  I see everything me. Don’t miss a thing.

Hope you’ve enjoyed me tour. Leave Joe a tip won’t ye? He appreciates that kinda thing.

A chat over tea with Mari Hannah and me

Mondays are always difficult when you head back to work after a lovely weekend, so I’ve decided to post this charming interview chat I had recently with Mari Hannah to cheer you all up! Sit back with a cup of tea and relax….

Hello Mari!

Mari Hannah - author of the Kate Daniels series of books - Murder Wall being the first
Mari Hannah – author of the Kate Daniels series of books – Murder Wall being the first

Right, kettle on, fancy a piece of cake? Thanks for stopping by to chat with me.

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1. Well, I must start with congratulating you on your wonderful nomination on being shortlisted for the Polari First Book prize http://www.polariliterarysalon.co.uk/Polari/Polari_First_Book_Prize.html How do you feel about this recognition?

Thank you. I was completely blown away when I found out. The Polari First Book Prize is a very big deal for me, validation after years of hard work and for having written a lesbian in a lead role. Kate is the character I always wanted to write about but I did wonder how she’d be received. The shortlisting is my answer.

2. When does the final result get announced and what would it mean for you to win?

The winner will be announced on 13th November at the Polari Literary Salon in the Southbank Centre. I’m hoping to be there in person to meet the other four contenders – any one of them would be a worthy winner. I’m so grateful to have come this far but it would be amazing to go all the way, so fingers crossed.

3. The Murder Wall was the feature of one of my book trails   https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/booktrail-around-newcastle-mari-hannahs-the-murder-wall/     where I travelled to the major settings and places in the novel. Do you agree setting is important in a novel and why did you set it in the North East?

A sense of place is vital in any novel. It plays a major role in all my books. I write about the North East because, even though I wasn’t born here, it’s where I live and where my heart is. I’m lucky because Kate is a detective in Northumbria Police, one of the biggest forces in the country. That means I’m able to ring the changes as far as locations go. It keeps the books fresh, taking my readers to new destinations every time.

 4. You showcase the region well. In particular the area of Jesmond where Kate Daniels lives. What is your connection to the area if any?

Before I moved to the Tyne Valley in 1996, I used to live on the edge of Jesmond Dene. I still visit as often as I can. I use real street names where possible, although I would rename a key building if I had – for example if anything awful was to happen. I’ve not left any dead bodies there . . . yet! Many Jesmond shops, bars and cafés make an appearance in the books.

A screenwriter friend of mine recently put together a presentation of writers and their connection to Jesmond. If memory serves, you were also there when it was delivered. I can’t tell you how proud I was when he included me. Can you spot my flag on his map?

Spot the streets where Kate Daniels would walk down
Spot Mari’s flag on the Jesmond map of honour

5. I loved the character of Kate Daniels. And I hear she’s off to the US! Congrats on that too! If her books were made into a movie, do you have an idea as to who would play the characters?

I’m thrilled that The Murder Wall, Settled Blood & Deadly Deceit have been acquired by Witness Impulse, an imprint of William Morrow/Harper Collins, a major US publisher. I can’t wait for 15th October when the first title goes live.

If a movie was made (I assume you mean a feature film in the US, not the UK) I’d rather not speculate. I don’t think I’d have any say in picking the leads and we all interpret characters differently. It would be interesting to see which actors the producers came up with.

People often tell me that my books would make a great crime series for television. In fact, The Murder Wall was written for TV as part of the BBC Drama Development Scheme long before I adapted it. I hope they make it to the small (or big) screen one day. If a TV series was commissioned in the UK, I’ve been touting Jill Halfpenny to play Kate. She home-grown Geordie talent and I think she’d be terrific.

6. Another congrats is due (phew!) on the inclusion in Diva magazine where you say you had a struggle to get Kate’s story heard due to her sexuality. Are you proud to think that now she is leading the way for strong female leads?

Oh yes, proud that my Diva article The Birth of a Crime Series was one of the magazines ‘most viewed stories’ in June, and delighted that Kate is viewed in such positive terms.

7. Can you tell us about your next book? 

Monument to Murder will be published by Pan Macmillan on 21st November 2013, five months ahead of schedule, and will be launched by Forum Books in Corbridge on the evening of 20th. I have a mini North East book tour scheduled throughout the month of December.

The intriguing title of Mari's new book
The intriguing title of Mari’s new book

8.  And your upcoming events?

In mid-November, I’m in Bedlington Community Centre duelling with fellow Pan Mac author, Dave Jackson, whose wonderful novels are set in New York. That should be a lot of fun.

At the end of November/beginning of December I’m appearing on consecutive days at Newcastle Central Library’s Books on Tyne Festival. I’ll be in conversation with bestselling author Ann Cleeves and Gail-Nina Anderson on 30th November, and on 1st December, I’m appearing with romantic novelist, Hazel Osmond.

Details of all events area available here: http://www.marihannah.com/events

9.How do you go about plotting your novels? Do you have a system?

This is a question I get asked a lot. Once I have an idea, I tend to flesh out it out in an elongated synopsis to make sure it has legs. It’s the way I was taught screenwriting and it stuck with me. Having said that, I’m using a card system for the book I’m currently writing, the obvious advantage being that I can move them around at will, altering the position of scenes or even whole chapters. Then I add them to my murder wall, just as a detective would solve the puzzle of a real murder case, and try and make sense of them. I’ve yet to find two writers who use exactly the same method.

10. What is the best thing about being a writer.

There are so many upsides: doing what I love, working from home, meeting readers who have enjoyed my writing, knowing I have what it takes to entertain. There’s no other job I’d rather have.

Thanks Mari for taking the time to chat with me. Can’t wait for the next installment of the Kate Daniels series!

You can find Mari at: http://www.marihannah.com and on Twitter: @mariwriter

Booktrail around Newcastle – Mari Hannah’s The Murder Wall

mari hannah book

The Murder Wall by Mari Hannah is a debut police procedural set in the North East of England.

Living in the North East made me really really want to read this novel especially so I could see and visit the places where it is set. Now granted, this may sound a bit strange for a crime novel but it is a great book so it was not a hard decision. I admit that I haven’t read much crime fiction due to the often brutal content but I can tell you that this book (and the two further books in the series) has made me change my mind. It’s clever and more CSI than simply a book about murder. It’s about the real people involved in an investigation and the hard and brutal challenges they face.

I admit I was shocked at the opening chapter. It certainly makes you sit up and take notice! But it didn’t put me off – I just didn’t read much of it at night!

Two deaths at the beginning of the book happen in a church and a year later they remain unsolved much to the chagrin of Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels. Now she is called upon to investigate the murder of Alan Stephens on the Quayside who she recognises but is reluctant to reveal for reasons that become clear later on.

The Quayside
The Quayside

It soon becomes apparent that there is a serial killer stalking victims in and around the North-East of England.

I really felt as if I was central witness sitting in the same room in front of the Murder Wall – the wall where all information and photographs of the crime scene are displayed. I was there sat beside Kate and feeling her frustration and vulnerability. Kate had an interesting backstory and personal story which enhanced the novel as it was so different to other ‘detective’ stories I’ve read.

You only get as much information as the police uncover, with the exception of passages from the killer’s point of view. Very very clever…..

So I decided to walk in Kate’s footsteps and see her investigate the crime through her eyes…

1. The iconic Newcastle Quayside where the murder of Alan Stephens takes place  and the Exhibition park where we first meet Jo Soulsby in Chapter two:

The Sage
The Sage
The Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge

The quayside was buzzing with energy. On the south side of the river, the Sage music centre sat like a silver bubble gleaming in the moonlight.  To the left of it, the gateshead millennium bridge…page 12

2. Exhibition park….

The entrance to Exhibition Park
The entrance to Exhibition Park
Getting a taxi outside of the park as Jo Soulsby would have done
Getting a taxi outside of the park as Jo Soulsby would have done

Jo Soulsby looked down at her feet, hoping the two young women hurrying from the northern exit of Exhibition Park hadn’t noticed her.

Hauling herself from the bench, she moved unsteadily toward the perimeter fence…

Almost immediately, a taxi pulled to the kerb – page 18,19

3. Swan house roundabout

55 Degrees North
55 Degrees North
Looking at the Tyne Bridge from 55Degrees North
Looking at the Tyne Bridge from 55Degrees North

Daniels was stationary at the North end of the Tyne bridge , waiting to gain access to the Swan House roundabout. In the centre of the island, looming  high above the city, was a former government block converted to apartments  and renamed 55 o North. She stared up at it, wondering why anyone would want to live above  a traffic nightmare. – page 58

 3. Jesmond – where Kate Daniels lives

Holly Avenue where Kate Daniels lives
Holly Avenue where Kate Daniels lives
Holly Avenue  - the home of DCI Kate Daniels
Holly Avenue – which is the home of DCI Kate Daniels?
Kate's view of her street on her way home?
Kate’s view of her street on her way home?

The leafy suburb of Jesmond was a cosmopolitan area with good shops, hotels, restaurants and trendy bars. Although it was different to the rural area where Daniels had spent her childhood, she liked the fact that it still retained a villagely feel. – page 58

 4. Dene’s deli in Jesmond

The leafy streets of Jesmond
The leafy streets of Jesmond
Dene's Deli - the home of the perfect sandwich
Dene’s Deli – the home of the perfect sandwich

‘The best sandwiches around as far as Daniels was concerned.” – 119

I second that. I mean where else can you get a baguette stuffed with bacon and hot mango sauce! I ate this in one hand with my novel in the other. Food for all the senses hehe

 5. The Baltic on Newcastle’s Quayside:

The Baltic
The Baltic

Daniels walked to the window and  looked out at the Millennium Bridge; a giant  curved structure known locally as the ‘blinking eye’. Her won eyes  followed a large party of students  making their way across the river to the Baltic, a converted flour mill,  now a centre of contemporary art, the largest gallery of its type in the world. – page 162

 6. The living room on Grey street where she meets her colleague Ron Naylor..

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Always the policeman, she knew he’d sit facing facing the door, careful never to turn his back on potential trouble. – 181

Murder Wall is the first in the series of  cases for DCI Kate Daniels and I can’t wait to read them next. They are not only fascinating and brilliant insights into police procedures and a well-developed female protagonist but a great way of exploring some lovely areas of Newcastle.

Take the book. Take the bus to Jesmond. Eat at Dene’s Deli and spend time with Kate Daniels on the Quayside. Get into the heart of the story and experience the city that Mari Hannah showcases so well.

Secrets in Corbridge…

In a sleepy Northumbrian village, the evening sun glistened on the windows of the nearby houses

Everything seemed calm. Apart from a dog barking, there were no other noises. No-one in sight.  Yet, something was different. something was very different. The empty square was in complete contrast to the sea of cars which flooded the main square. Suddenly, an outsider, a lone car passed by the village bookstore. Its driver peered out the window and then quickly drove past and around the corner out of sight. Minutes passed. There was no other movement and the car didn’t come back.

A woman however had made the decision to slip out of the house that night. She had told her flatmate that  she was just going to ‘see a friend’  but she knew she was going somewhere else. She nodded to herself as she saw the cars dotted along the street, leading all the way to the square and she quickened her pace. The two people who she recognised from the car made their way ahead of her. Were they going to the same place in such a hurry she thought?

Five minutes later, she’d arrived. The door in front of her opened and a man came to greet her. Hi he said. Come on in. Would you like a glass of wine?

She nodded in agreement and stepped inside. A sea of faces greeted her and she started to mingle, glass in hand with the men and woman chatting happily inside. She hadn’t told her flatmate about tonight as she wanted this moment all to herself. She knew she had an addiction  – her flatmate told her often enough but she wouldn’t understand she needed just one more fix. At least she was amongst friends this evening. People that understood what it was like.

She took her seat. There were three stools at the end of the room. The three men on them looked nervous. But once they’d stood up and introduced themselves to the crowded room, their faces visibly relaxed. Everyone understood why they were here. And more importantly why these men were here. They had written books they said. They wanted to talk about their stories to inspire and entertain. They hoped their stories would bring enjoyment to people’s lives.

The first man, Gavin,  told his story about an unlikely friendship and an improbable journey. His words were endearing and heartbreaking in equal measure. He nodded at the applause and then the second man, Matt,  took the stand. His story involved not only humans but aliens. A few gasps around the room were heard and the sound of more nods of agreement and giggles. Glasses chinked but were smothered with tears of laughter and outbursts of applause.

The night was going well. Obsessions were celebrated here.

Well if this were a book about obsessions, literary obsessions in particular, this is how I imagine it would begin. As some people think I am a bit obsessed about books and reading and meeting authors. But then I guess I am.

Here I was, sitting in the Tea and Tipple cafe in Corbridge, to meet Gavin Extence, writer of The Universe versus Alex Woods and Matt Haig, author of The Humans. I’d read the first book but had heard so much about the second, I just had to come and see them both. And I mean had to. A whizz up the motorway and I was there. Once I’d found a parking space, I felt a bit calmer. I mean I wouldn’t want to miss this would I?

Our host for the evening from Forum Books, Gavin Extence and Matt Haig
Our host for the evening from Forum Books, Gavin Extence and Matt Haig

I chatted, I had a glass of wine and I ate a meteorite (If you haven’t read The Universe versus Alex Woods then I won’t mention why this made me laugh). The wonderful people at Corbridge’s independent bookshop FORUM BOOKS had made this all possible. Thank you FORUM BOOKS:

Forum Books
Forum Books

and thank you to two great writers:

Reading, laughing  and crying all at once
Reading, laughing and crying all at once
The Humans by Matt Haig
The Humans by Matt Haig

For the fantastic literary setting, thanks to the brilliantly named TEA AND TIPPLE:

Have a tea and tipple in Corbridge
Have a tea and tipple in Corbridge

Thank you also to all the people who came to this event. Fellow book obsessives. I chatted to a lot of you and we had a great evening. May there be many more like it! I started reading The Humans in the car on the way home. I didn’t get to sleep until 3am. I mean seriously, books this funny and enjoyable should come with a health warning that they prevent you from going to bed and as for sleeping. PAH! I’d forget it.

My name is literary imprint and I am a bookaholic. And very proud of it I am too.