Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Ian Rankin @BCNegra 2010

Ian Rankin was in town a couple of weeks ago. He was here to receive the Pepe Carvalho prize. The prize, named after Manuel Vázquez Montalbán's detective, is awarded annually to a writer working in the crime genre in recognition of their career achievements. Established in 2005 previous winners include: Michael Connelly, P. D. James, Henning Mankell and Francisco González Ledesma.

The Prize giving, held at the City Hall in Barcelona, coincides with a week long festival of crime writing - BCNegra. And so it was that Ian Rankin took part in a round-table discussion at a former chapel in the Raval.

I went along with a friend, and fellow writer, to check it out.

Well, I went along to check it out but I also had another agenda. I'm still in search of a well-known writer to scan my novel After Goya and provide a suitably glowing endorsement for the cover. Who better, I thought, than Mr Rankin? Well read, well liked and well regarded creator of one of the UK's most popular fictional characters, surely his imprimatur would strike the right chord with a lot of potential, discerning readers?

I only have one heavily marked up and annotated proof copy at home so I printed off the first chapter and cover design and took them along. I could have ordered a clean version but I didn't want to weigh the man down. I thought if I could persuade him to take the first fifteen pages then, if he liked what he'd read, I would send him an ARC.

I bottled it.

Before the talk started I sat at a café terrace table immediately next to his, not intentionally, he just happened to be sitting at the next table to where my friend was sitting. He was with a group of four or five people. I wasn't nervous, or anything like, but I didn't want to crash his conversation. It didn't seem polite to interrupt his pre-stage quiet time. Maybe catch him afterwards I thought, congratulate him on the prize, and ask whether he was enjoying Barcelona. Not thinking, of course, there would be a very long line of readers all wanting him to sign copies of their books.

What a plonker. (Me! Not him!)

But, to be honest, I did feel a bit of a fraud. I've only read two of the man's books. And there I was, without a copy of his book to sign, contemplating asking him to read, and in a sense, sign, my book.

His talk was good, he gives good chat. It wasn't so much a round-table discussion, more that he was being prompted by a trio of writers and readers. Interesting and witty, though, as my friend noted, his chat was very much more aimed at readers rather than writers. Nonetheless it was an entertaining and pleasant way to spend an hour or so in the Raval (Montalbán's childhood barrio).

If you enjoy crime fiction, and if you ever get the chance, then do get yourself along to BCNegra. It really is a very good event, with a range of interesting discussions featuring some very interesting and talented writers from across the globe. Most events are simultaneously translated (and the translation is good) and all are free.

And I'm still left with the problems of who, and how, to approach a well-known writer to give me a good quote for my cover. Any ideas?

No comments:

Post a Comment