While I was busy capping off my 63 hour ‘week of death’ with a series of 12 hour night shifts, Hull crime writer Nick Quantrill, headed off to Newcastle, for the return of Newcastle Noir. This weekend marked the second outing for the event, expanded to cover two days from its original single day format. Here Nick has taken time out to tell LifeOfCri.me about his experiences of the weekend….
Starting a new festival is a leap of faith, a challenge and a lot of hard work. It was all on display this weekend at Newcastle Noir, but aided with some grant funding from a handful of sources including an anonymous French screw-making company, it felt like something quite special happened in the amazing Lit & Phil building.
I was fortunate enough to be attending the festival as an author, and even more honoured to take part in the opening panel, “Northern Landscapes”. Chaired admirably by Luca Veste, myself, Craig Robertson, Howard Linskey and David Mark were coaxed into talking some sense about the post-industrial north of England and Craig’s ‘north north’ novel set in the Faroe Islands. It’s fair to say we all enjoyed ourselves and our cheap gags raised some laughs.
The second panel of the day, examining writers in prison, saw a change of pace. This was a debate about the power of literature to rehabilitate and transform. The choice of panellists was superb – Mari Hannah worked for many years as a Probation Officer, Alexandra Sokoloff shed light on the American penal system and Russ Litten talked about his job working with offenders via his role as writer in residence. Interesting and thought provoking, the panel was an education.
The third panel saw Mark Billingham and Martyn Waites in conversation, though it was more like watching a well-oiled comedy act deliver their greatest hits. As you’d expect, both writers offered up great anecdotes and stories, but away from the comedy, plenty of insight into the craft of writing crime novels was there to be hovered up.
The need to eat (and drink) as well as an early train home on the Sunday only allowed me the opportunity to see one panel, “Crime in Translation”, chaired by the festival’s driving force, Jacky Collins. As well as reading in their native tongues, Dominique Mannotti and Ragnar Jonasson were joined by their translators, Roz Schwartz and Quentin Bates to discuss the intricacies of such a rich relationship. I don’t read a lot of translated crime, but left with a deeper appreciation of such work.
As ever, I didn’t see as much as I wanted to, but who does at festivals when there are so many people to catch up with? In short, with its superb range of panels, fine setting and warm welcome for all, Newcastle Noir is a huge amount of fun and will rapidly establish itself on the crime writing festival circuit.
Nick Quantrill was born and raised in Hull, and his Joe Geraghty crime novels, “Broken Dreams”, “The Late Greats” and “The Crooked Beat” are published by Caffeine Nights.