Wednesday 18 August 2010

Needles, Pins and Jakubowski

Having spent a good deal of time sewing labels in the uniforms of my two girls, return to school imminent, I have a very highly developed understanding of why Needle is such a great title for a magazine.

It's lethal. The number of times I drew blood at the ends of my fingers or pricked my arms and legs unexpectedly, you wouldn't believe. Sharp, painful, crisp with a neat entry under the skin, I reckon all these things can be applied to Issue 2.

I put my order in last week as soon as it was available. Now I have to impatiently wait for it to find its way across the Atlantic.

Just like my sewing, I expect the ultimate experience to be hugely rewarding. Very much unlike my efforts, it will be full of craft and perfectly formed stories.

The line-up looks like this:

Ray Banks
Nolan Knight
John Stickney
Frank Bill
Julie Summerell
Nigel Bird
Sarah Weinman
Allan Leverone
Chris F. Holm
David Cranmer
Stephen Blackmoore
Mike Sheeter

Course I'm proud to be part of it. Pleased as punch. I'm amongst royalty here. You can get a copy via Lulu at:

I you're in the States, I believe typing in FREESHIP as a voucher code will get you discount. If you're in the UK, I'm afraid the postage seems high - given the low cost of a book of such high quality content, I'd recommend you go ahead anyway. There aren't many collections from the UK that are going to even come close.

One that will, however, is the 'Best British Crime Stories', practically an institution.

"The must-have annual anthology for every crime fiction fan – the year’s top new British short stories selected by leading crime critic Maxim Jakubowski.

This great annual covers the full range of mystery fiction, from noir and hardboiled crime to ingenious puzzles and amateur sleuthing. Packed with top names such as: Ian Rankin (including a new Rebus), Alexander McCall Smith, David Hewson, Christopher Brookmyre, Simon Kernick, A.L. Kennedy, Louise Walsh, Kate Atkinson, Colin Bateman, Stuart McBride and Andrew Taylor.

The full list of contributors is as follows: Sheila Quigley, Nigel Bird, Jay Stringer, Paul D. Brazill, Adrian Magson, Colin Bateman, Gerard Brennan, Matthew J. Elliott, Andrew Taylor, Lin Anderson, Christopher Brookmyre, Ray Banks, Declan Burke, Liza Cody, Simon Kernick, Stuart MacBride, Allan Guthrie, Ian Rankin (two stories, including a new Rebus), Nick Quantrill, Edward Marston, Nicholas Royle, Zoe Sharp, Robert Barnard, Simon Brett, Peter Lovesey, A.L. Kennedy, Roz Southey, Phil Lovesey, David Hewson, Amy Myers, Marilyn Todd, Peter Turnbull, Keith McCarthy, Alexander McCall Smith, Stephen Booth, Denise Mina, Mick Herron, Kate Atkinson and Louise Welsh."

You'll have a while to wait if you pre-order, but it'll be worth doing to make sure you don't forget when the time arrives in 2011.

If Needle's line-up is royalty, I'm not sure how to describe this bunch.

I take great pleasure from being amongst such a crew.

Pleasing for me is that even my wife, Isobel (and it's nice to use the word wife here), appreciates the company I'm keeping. Kate Atkinson and Ian Rankin are writers that she herself respects and loves (me too), so I've finally earned the right to be taken seriously (as a writer) by her.

I'm delighted about the whole crowd, but I take particular delight in being in the same book as Allan Guthrie. If you haven't checked out his work, then you really, really should. I'd lend you a copy, but I'm a bit nervous about doing so as 3 Guthrie's of mine are in the hands of friends and family and have been for some time (their liberation could be a crime story by themselves).

It might be that my writing career never reaches a higher level than this, after all it would be hard to top with anything but a major prize or a novel.

Though my dreams were higher my expectations weren't and if this is to be the pinnacle of my writing I'll be absolutely delighted with what I've achieved and cherish it for as long as I have memory.

'Needle' and 'Best British Crime' are so big it gives me altitude sickness just to think about it.

Thanks to Crimespree for first publishing 'An Arm And A Leg' and to 'The Drowning Machine' for choosing me as their 'Watery Grave' winner this year. Thanks also to Steve Weddle and John Hornor over at Needle, to Mr Gurthrie for making sure my story was seen and to Maxim Jakibowski for this and for his service to so many for so long.

And a post script.

If you see this in time and you're in the area, Christopher Brookmyre will be appearing at a free event in the Spiegeltent this evening at 9pm (I think). Have a look for details if you can go.