Monday, July 15, 2013

Bullet Points: Bastille Day Edition

• Sixty-one titles are vying for half a dozen Davitt Awards this year, those prizes honoring “the best crime books by Australian women” and given out by Sisters in Crime Australia. “There are a staggering 37 adult novels in contention, which is the largest number ever--up 16, from last year,” says Tanya King-Carmichael, the “Davitt judges’ wrangler.” “Clearly the muse was providing female crime writers with a lot of inspiration in 2012!” Among the longlist of nominees in the Adult Fiction category are: Kerry Greenwood’s Unnatural Habits (Allen & Unwin); Tara Moss’ Assassin (HarperCollins); and Bridgette Powell’s Reflection of Evil (MBS Press). There are also categories for Children’s/Young Adult, True Crime, Debut Book, and Reader’s Choice. What’s more, the members of Sisters in Crime Australia will be polled to decide who should receive the organization’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. A shortlist of Davitt nominees will be publicized in late July. The eventual winners will be declared and their honors presented during a dinner to be held on August 31 at the Thornbury Theatre in Melbourne. (Hat tip to Mysteries in Paradise.)

• Meanwhile, the Australian Crime Writers Association (ACWA) has issued its longlist of nominees for the 2013 Ned Kelly Awards. The winners in four categories--Best Fiction, Best First Fiction, True Crime, and the Sandra Harvey Short Story Award--are to be announced during the Brisbane Writers Festival, September 4-8.

• And I neglected to mention that North Carolina writer Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind Than Home (Morrow) won the 2013 Southern Independent Booksellers Association Award for fiction. You’ll find a full rundown of the SIBA prize results here.

• Well, it’s about time! An e-note today from Robert J. Randisi, founder of the Private Eye Writers of America, explains that the PWA has launched a new Web site. “We’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century thanks to member and Web guru Kevin Burton Smith. It’s still under construction, but it already rocks.” Smith, you probably realize, is also a contributor to The Rap Sheet and the creator-editor of The Thrilling Detective Web Site. The PWA’s easily negotiated new site presumably replaces the PWA News and Views blog, which hasn’t been updated since January 2011.

• Speaking of Bob Randisi, his fellow author, Bill Crider, posted an interview with him late last week. In it, Crider asks Randisi about his delightful Rat Pack novels, his character-developing techniques, his employment of pseudonyms, and his creation of both the PWA and (with novelist Ed Gorman) Mystery Scene magazine.

• Another interview worth your reading: In a post on the Mulholland Books site, Richard Lange (Angel Baby) and George Pelecanos (The Double) discuss “empathy, prisons, the writing process, and why vets make ideal detectives.”

• Novelist and criminal law professor Alafair Burke (If You Were Here) shares her thoughts on the George Zimmerman verdict.

AltaVista is dead? Too bad. I remember when it was the only Web search engine I used ... though I haven’t used it a long time.

• Good news for all bookworms like me:
... new research suggests the secret to preserving mental agility may lie in simply cracking open a book.

The findings, published online today in
Neurology, suggest that reading books, writing, and engaging in other similar brain-stimulating activities slows down cognitive decline in old age, independent of common age-related neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, people who participated in mentally stimulating activities over their lifetimes, both in young, middle and old age, had a slower rate of decline in memory and other mental capacities than those who did not.
You can read more about the research here.

R.I.P., Chuck Foley, who invented the game Twister.

• The Spring 2013 edition of Plots with Guns has finally been released. Contributors include Patti Abbott, E.E. Barnes, and Matthew C. Funk. Note also that the PWG contents page sports a banner dedicating this issue “in memory of Cort McMeel,” while Gonzolo Baeza offers a tribute to that late Murdaland editor.

• I finally have some genuine news to share about the as-yet-untitled 24th entry in the James Bond film series. Double O Section reports that the picture “will open in the United Kingdom on October 23, 2015, and in the USA on November 6. Once again, 007's homeland gets a significant advantage (two whole, unbearable weeks!) on America. As previously speculated, Skyfall director Sam Mendes will return to direct the next Bond adventure, becoming the first director to helm two in a row since John Glen departed the series following Licence to Kill in 1989.” Rumors disseminated recently by Britain’s Sun newspaper, that this movie will be based on Sebastian Faulks’ 2008 Bond novel, Devil May Care, are apparently false.

• Clifford E. Landers champions Brazilian crime fiction.

• I’m pleased to see that Leslie Gilbert Elman, who did such a fine job of covering the Masterpiece Mystery! series Inspector Lewis during its run. has now taken up the task of reviewing Endeavour, the prequel to both Lewis and the earlier Inspector Morse. Elman’s write-up about “Fugue,” Endeavour’s second episode (which I thought was far superior to its confusing predecessor), can be enjoyed here. Two additional installments of Endeavour remain to be broadcast on PBS.

• As Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported over the weekend, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling has been “unmasked” as the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, a more-or-less classic-style private-eye novel released in April by Mulholland Books. The work had been touted as a debut effort by the pseudonymous Robert Galbraith, whose credentials are presented thusly on “After several years with the Royal Military Police, Robert Galbraith was attached to the SIB (Special Investigative Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for [P.I.] Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who returned to the civilian world.” Readers taken in by this publishing deception might now reassess their reaction to The Cuckoo’s Calling. For her own part, Rowling regrets that her cover was blown so quickly. In a statement quoted by January Magazine, the best-selling author said, “I hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name.”

• I like this quote from Damien Walter, who wrote a piece in The Guardian yesterday about why today’s technology has done little to enhance the experience of reading a novel:
A book is an app written in the raw language of the mind that interfaces the reader with the powerful imagination of a great writer. That reader-writer relationship is interactive in the truest sense--the pure interaction of one imagination with another. But it's also hard work. You have to learn to read and you have to read a lot. It doesn't happen if you just sit and twiddle your thumbs, unlike video games.

All the bells and whistles of digital interactivity do is get in the way of the language. Stopping the reader to ask what they want to do is about as enhancing as barging into a darkened cinema with a flashlight. When it comes to novels, the only job of an iPad is to provide a convenient platform to read on, then get the hell out of the way and let the language do its work.
• Author Ronald Tierney is looking for reader input to a survey he hopes will identify the “‘top’ five or ten movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock.” More information is available here.

Yikes! The original Ronald McDonald.

• Crime fiction inspires a real crime: “A woman who took offence to a passage in a book written by Val McDermid nearly 30 years ago was convicted of common assault on Tuesday for throwing ink over the writer at a book signing. ... Sandra Botham, of Hendon, had harboured a grudge against the best-selling author McDermid over a paragraph in the 1985 novel A Suitable Job for a Woman, which refers to a woman called Sandra who was shaped ‘like a Michelin Man.’” More here.

• And if I were in Los Angeles, I’d definitely want to tour the new Becoming L.A. exhibit hall at the Natural History Museum.

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