As a rule, I don’t tend to read crime fiction. But I always make exceptions for two of my favourite writers – Kate Atkinson and Christopher Brookmyre. Both writers have created characters who are lovable rogues and it’s hard to resist the charms of Jackson Brodie in Kate’s novels and Christopher’s protagonist Jack Parlabane.
I’ve read all of the books which feature Jack Parlabane but not all of Christopher’s novels as he’s dabbled in other genres such as sci-fi which I very rarely read (although I’ve just read Matt Haig‘s book The Humans which has an alien narrator and much to my surprise I enjoyed it). The character of Jack has been well rested and due a another adventure so it was great to hear that Christopher had written a new novel with the main man back in action.
I go to lots of author events and often after the event I feel that once is enough and I can cross them off my list of ‘must see’ writers. But I’ve been to hear Christopher talk several times as I’ve always come away inspired and entertained by his dry humour. So when I heard that Waterstone’s had organised a free local event to promote Dead Girl Walking then it was a no-brainer to get myself along to Behind the Wall in Falkirk with hubby in tow.
I had high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed, as on previous occasions, Christopher was his usual witty self. My hubby had never seen Christopher perform his work and was quite shocked to hear the ‘c’ word being used in his introduction. Christopher made no apology for the strong language, his style is not for the easily offended and along with every swear word I can think of I’m sure by the end of the event the ‘c’ word had been aired at least half a dozen times. But that’s what makes Christopher’s work so real, characters like Spammy couldn’t talk in any other way. Hearing this no holds barred reading gave me confidence to be just as authentic in my own work and to stop worrying about causing offence.
At times, although it was a book reading, it often felt that we were at a comedy night. Christopher has a quiet confidence in his dead-pan delivery and had the audience in stitches with his short story, ‘Puck Knows‘ about a group of teenagers at a performance of A Midsummer’s Night Dream in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow. He’s also happy to share cringe-worthy anecdotes like the time a member of the audience in Dundee used the Q and A session to tell Christopher he wasn’t a fan of his work, he was only there to get a book signed for his daughter and could he come up to the stage for it to be signed to save him waiting in the queue at the end! Of course, Christopher was able to laugh this off and proved that while he takes his writing seriously and is a well established Scottish literary figure, he isn’t big-headed at all and is one of the most entertaining writers I’ve had the pleasure to hear talk about his work.
Christopher’s anecdote reminded me of a question I was asked recently in my day job during a training session on Maths for primary school teaching staff. I primed myself for a tricky question on differentiation and the teaching of core numeracy. The question was, “Where did you get your shoes?” At least it was an easy one to answer!
Who’s the most entertaining writer you’ve heard at an event?