Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Orenda Roadshow - An Evening of International Crime Fiction at Waterstones Piccadilly



After finishing work yesterday (when I discovered a small girl actually believed I was 106 years old!), I didn't go home and curl up with a book - or google the latest anti-ageing treatments... Instead  I took the train to Waterloo and after a few hours of enjoying the rainy streets of London, I made my way to Waterstones Piccadilly for the Orenda Roadshow - An Evening of International Crime Fiction. I've made no secret on this blog of my admiration for Orenda Books, Karen Sullivan is a brilliantly astute publisher who specialises in crime fiction from around the world. The opportunity to attend an event where you could see fifteen of the brilliant Team Orenda authors talk about their books and read an excerpt from them was too good to miss. I've read several already of course, and with the others all on my bookish radar, I knew I wouldn't be coming away empty handed.

Johana Gustawsson talking about Block 46

The evening began with an offer to try aquavit, three of the authors attending (Gunnar Staalesen, Thomas Enger and Kjell Ola Dahl) are Norwegian and it was also the Norwegian Constitution Day yesterday so only right we helped them celebrate. It felt especially apt for me as I'd been reading Gunnar Staalesen's new book, Wolves in the Dark on the train - although admittedly Varg Veum drinks rather more than a shot glass of the drink! Once we were all seated Karen introduced each of her authors in turn and then they told us a little about themselves and their most recent book. We learned that there used to be just one television station in Iceland, it didn't broadcast on Thursdays or at all in July which might explain why they're a nation of readers, Johana Gustawsson is a Swede killer, Thomas Enger is co-leader because of his bag carrying prowess but has a serious rival for the position in Antti Tuomainen and some of the authors turned to crime (fiction) because there's no money in historical fiction, poetry or farming!

Paul E. Hardisty captivating the audience with an extract from Reconciliation for the Dead

Karen then asked each author to read an excerpt from their latest book. This was a real goosebumps moment for me: whether hearing the words of a book I already know and love, or listening to an extract from a story I'm looking forward to reading, there's always something very special about having the author read their own words. I can honestly say I was enthralled and again blown away by the calibre of writers published by Orenda, each and every book published is an absorbing read and always beautifully written. There was then time for a short Q&A session when we learned more about the research some of the authors have done before writing their books, and how it feels to write some of the darker, more horrific scenes (and now I'm looking forward to what Matt Wesolowski has up his sleeve because it sounds intriguing - and disturbing...)
Matt Wesolowski reading from the gripping Six Stories

We then had the chance to mingle with the authors over a drink and a slice of chocolate cake, and to have our books signed. There was also a table of temptation, laden with Orenda books to buy. I selected three but could easily have picked more, if only I had a Thomas Enger or Antti Tuomainen to carry my books! I was delighted to have the opportunity to talk to Johana Gustawsson, whose Block 46 is one of my books of the year, I will be reviewing it soon for the current blog tour, and Paul E. Hardisty, author of the very first Orenda book I ever read, The Abrupt Physics of Dying and whose subsequent novels, The Evolution of Fear, and Reconciliation for the Dead have cemented my belief that he is one of the most exciting and intelligent writers of action thrillers around today. It was also lovely to be able to meet two of the authors I've not read yet, Michael Malone and Louise Beech. I'm looking forward to reading A Suitable Lie, and The Mountain in My Shoe soon and even more delighted to be a recipient of Louise's breasts...

 Karen is clearly and justifiably proud of each of her novelists, I came away from the evening even more convinced that she is a true force for good within publishing; the support she gives to her authors, and the relationship she has developed with book bloggers is inspiring a growing number of loyal readers.
It was only when I finally left the warmth of Waterstones and headed back into the rain that I realised it was almost nine o'clock and I had to run to catch my train. It was probably just as well I'd only bought those three books - I just hope somebody figures out a way to clone the bag carriers for next time (please be a next time!) because I know there are even more fabulous stories to come from Team Orenda!

I'm going to need a bookshelf dedicated to Orenda soon

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