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Wednesday 26 October 2011

Goldsboro, Guildford and Period Teeth

Last Friday morning I travelled down from Edinburgh to London by train. Waverley Station in Edinburgh is being revamped – black tunnels for passengers enlivened I suppose by a large hen party wearing small green antlers. Kings Cross has been a work in progress for so long I can’t remember when it wasn’t.

I had lunch with my lovely editor Kate Parkin from John Murray near Leicester Square because I had to go on to Goldsboro bookshop in Cecil Court. Great as always to see David Headley, who sat me down at one end of a table (the other end was occupied by R.J. Ellory who was signing copies of his latest book) and gave me a big pile of copies of Icelight, which are now all signed and dated and some lined.

Next stop was Guildford Festival on Saturday at the Electric Theatre. The Electric part comes from the previous use of the building, now converted into a friendly public space. I am never that keen to be on a stage in an armchair – too static and too far from the audience – but the session went very well. Peter Guttridge was the moderator, as always exceptionally well prepared and skilled. I’d met Peter before as he’d chaired a panel I was on at Crimefest a couple of years ago.

This was the first time I’d met Laura Wilson, winner of the Ellis Peters award a couple of years ago, who has recently published A Capital Crime. We had been put together because we had both used the post-war years of austerity and rationing as background.

Our conversation was easy and enjoyable. To a degree both of us write to show how we are where we are now because of reactions and actions then. It’s a living link.

We had lots of common points to discuss, including the use of real situations and real people, that both of us had characters who developed over a number of books, that we had both used childhood memories to inform our most recent novels, that we both used and valued films of the time and that we had both talked to people with a connection to what we were describing.

At the end, someone asked how we would feel about having our books adapted for television or film, and which actor we would like to play the part of our main characters. Neither of us came up with a name. Laura said any candidates she could think of were long dead, and she had a problem with perfect Hollywood white teeth for a D.I. in the nineteen forties.

As we talked of the possibilities of period dentistry, I remembered that after Washington Shadow came out, a reader wrote to tell me that in his mind, Katherine was played by Scarlett Johansonn. If only.

After the weekend, I found an appreciative email from a reader in Lancaster who had read the first two books and was about to start Icelight. He said he was awaiting the film version with Ralph Fiennes as Peter Cotton.

I did point out Cotton is 28 in 1947 and Ralph is a little older. Back in Guildford my sister told me the event had gone well. I believed her. She had bought Laura’s Stratton’s War.

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