Photo Diary

Archive for July, 2007

Theakston’s Old Peculier

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

This was it! The final we’d all been waiting for. The great prize that most authors in the crime writing market covet. Not because of the prize money. Well, not alone. If you’re a brewer like me, you also want a look at the ceremonial barrel. A great evening, though. I was up there on the stage – see me on the second from the right? Natasha Cooper stood in superbly when she heard that Jenni Murray was unwell and couldn’t moderate the panel for us. Hope she’s soon better. Natasha is a marvellous chair of a panel, though, and almost kept us all under control. “And moving swiftly on . . .” was her catchphrase of the evening!
Thanks to Sam Atkinson for the photo.

TOP Award Michael Jecks 014.jpg

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

As you can see, I was pretty relaxed as the panel started discussing matters of great import. Goats came into it big time, I recall. And other things. Here was me discussing how it was that most of my coroners seem to come to sticky ends. In fact De Welles will last quite some time, I’ve decided. He’s too pleasant, and very funny to write. Even Publisher’s Weekly has decided they rather liked him . . . at least, they seem to appreciate the books he’s in! This was a great evening, though. And the photographer from Theakston’s was excellent. What did astonish me was, bearing in mind I’m a cheapskate semi-professional, he didn’t use a flash gun at all during the panel discussion. This and the other pictures were taken ‘au naturelle’. I think mine would have worked at ISO 1600, but the red cast would be so powerful it’d be hard to recognise me!
Thanks again to Sam Atkinson for the photo.

TOP Award Allan Guthrie Simon Theakston044.jpg

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

And then the winner was announced . . . and I have to admit to a moment’s regret that it wasn’t me. The car’s dying and so is my computer . . . still, Allan was a worthy winner. His first novel is excellent, taut, gripping and extremely funny, and it is very good to see someone new(ish) to the business getting the accolades. But in truth , I was pleased to know that this extremely pleasant, affable character had won for another reason. Six years ago he had tried his hand at writing with the first draft of “Two-Way Split”, and sent his entry off to the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. And the Organiser, so he told me, gave him so positive a write up, and was so helpful with his suggestions for improvement, that the book ended up here. And the helpful Organiser?
Blast. If I’d been ruder, I might have won the prize myself!
There is one other thing I have to point out. If you ever look at a picture of a man who’s just been given the death penalty, I think you’ll find that the expression is remarkably similar to Allan’s at this moment!
Thanks again to Sam Atkinson for the photo.

TOP Award Michael Jecks055.jpg

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Thanks to Sam Atkinson for this picture.
As you can see, the immediate result of not winning wasn’t actually a desire to cut both wrists. It is always really nice (I imagine) to win literary prizes – but it’s not the thing that really counts. The money helps, naturally, especially when you are a modern mid-lister, but the great thing about the Theakston’s is, it’s a prize in which the short list is selected by the public. Not by a clique of judges in a darkened room, but by real, genuine readers out there in the real world. That means that all of us who got to the short list were very happy that night. I certainly was, as you may be able to tell. Well, they did keep giving us pints of Old Peculier!


Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Dscf0006.jpg, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Thanks to Roger Cornwell (prince among website designers) for this picture. It shows a slightly hung-over Jecks, having bought a fresh copy of Allan’s book Two-Way Split, and getting the poor devil to sign it. If you look carefully, you’ll see that Allan was a man who was very happy, and somewhat more relaxed than the night before!

The Dog on the Table

Monday, July 16th, 2007

DSC_0014.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

I keep being told that my book titles are a little – well, weird, really. This should work, though? Don’t know how I’d get the plot running . . . maybe a man gets home, finds his family’s missing, but the family’s dog is there, on the table, dead . . .

It’s not the sort of thing I’d want to see happen to the Ridgie, no. She’s a gorgeous girl, and I adore her. However, I’ve just got back from the doctor. This Ridgie ran into me what – five, six weeks ago? And my ankle is still the pits. No Morris dancing, no walking or moor-walking. I’m hoping to get out on the pushbike again this week when I get a moment (between squalls, that is), but beyond that, the ankle is taking a hell of a time to get better.

Still, today was the first good run which Berry and Dori had on the flat, and it was some compensation to see the two glorious monsters rushing about enjoying themselves. Shocking to think that only four or five months ago we were told the Ridgie has a spinal problem which could leave her paraplegic.

No sign of that now. Now the brute just takes over the garden table, or the chaise-longue in my office, or the floor under my desk, or the space in front of the sink when I want to wash something, or . . .

Seven stones of Ridgie can get in the way a little!

All best


Death Ship of Dartmouth

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Death Ship of Dartmouth, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Yup – this is the week. I’m off to Harrogate on Thursday to visit the opening of the Harrogate Crime Festival, and learn who has won the Theakston’s Prize for the best crime novel of 2006. A very strange feeling. Have to admit, I cannot believe I could win this. The prize tends to be won by those who write unremittingly modern books, and ideally the sort in which there is gore spattered all over the place from page one – the kind in which you almost expect to hear an agent of the Devil appear, sniggering nastily, on a tide of ectoplasm on about page 400, and only the spiffing skills of the psychic detective . . . oh, hang on. No, think I’ve wandered a bit here.
Anyway, it’s amazing to think that I’ve been put up for this prize, and still more incredible that readers have voted for me to get to the short list.
It’s actually a bit more astonishing to me that it may appear. The thing is, this is my 21st novel, the 21st in the series. As it came out, I was chortling to myself over finally having come of age as a writer, and then what happens? It gets put up for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Book of the Year. When I heard, my immediate thought was, that I’d partaken a little too liberally of the whisky. I have a feeling I may do something similar on Thursday night, no matter who wins.
Because the great thing is, I feel chuffed enough just to have been shortlisted. I’ve said this before, but I don’t know how many will believe it: the Theakston’s prize is one of the most prestigious for me. It’s not so big as, say, the CWA Gold Dagger, neither in cash terms nor in press acceptance – but it’s the only prize which is picked by the folk that matter – the readers. All the other prizes are chosen by the folks who criticise books, by reviewers and other members of the ‘Great and the Good’. Nothing wrong with that (I’m judging the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the third year myself!) but for my money, it’s better to win a prize which is picked by readers.
At the end of the day, they’re the only ones who count.

So, to all those who voted for me – many thanks! To all those who didn’t, there’s still time! For now though, just keep your fingers crossed that for just this once a medieval story by the marvellous chap Jecks may win something!

All best


Old Leat

Monday, July 16th, 2007

DSC_0008.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Well, this is one thing I’ve seen a lot of this year. Ruddy water! Seems as though as soon as one storm is over, the next one’s beginning. Since the London to Brighton bike ride, I’ve not found an hour’s dry weather to get on the bike myself.

It’s not only the rain, of course. Work also gets in the way. A couple of weeks ago I was commissioned for the next four books in the series, and almost immediately, while I was thinking of new plots, I received a thick wodge of paper through the post. The proofs of the paperback of Dispensation of Death. And a couple of days later, what should appear but the copy edit of The Templar, The Queen and Her Lover. All told, five hundred pages of close-typed text I had to read through and absorb carefully.

And that’s not the end to it, of course. There is all the work I have to do with Medieval Murderers (another story due – luckily now I have an idea for it!) and then the new book, number 25, too.

The sad truth is, though, that I am still non-Morrissing. My ankle is hors de combat since the blasted pup ran into me. She’s perky as heck, of course. Eleven months, beautiful, and growing into a fabulous companion already. But she hasn’t got this wound affecting her walking speed, and all I can say is, it’s enormously lucky that she is relatively obedient – because I sure as heck can’t run after her to catch her!

All best


Thoughtful old man

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Thoughtful old man, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

You can always tell an author who’s thinking about the next story rather too close to deadline. There’s that slightly wan look, the cheeks sunken, the hair whiter, the eyes vacant. Oh, and when things are really bad, he’ll sit and play with the ruddy camera instead of getting on with his work. That is the real proof of an author who’s hard up for an idea!
Luckily after four or five hours of gazing into the middle distance, an idea did occur, and the large expanse of emptiness behind me (my whiteboard) started to fill with some speed! With any luck this will lead to Medieval Murderers IV, my part at least, being completed in a week or two. And then all I have to do is write book 25 in the Templar series.