We are delighted to publish a guest post from writer, blogger and all-round literary fan Amy Lord of Ten Penny Dreams.
World Book Night came to Middlesbrough with a murderously good evening at Acklam Library, as two northern crime writers popped in to talk about their work with a crowd of enthusiastic readers.
AA Dhand and Kathleen McKay are currently touring the North of England as part of Read Regional, a scheme run by New Writing North to bring new books to readers across the region.
They shared extracts from their work and talked about their journey to publication, as well as discussing their novels in detail.
While Kathleen McKay’s novel, Hard Wired, was inspired by her sister’s work at a Newcastle bail hostel, AA Dhand writes about the Bradford community he grew up in.
Streets of Darkness is already a best-seller and is on its way to our screens, with the author currently working on the script for the BBC, alongside his day job as a pharmacist.
He spoke eloquently about his love for crime fiction and how it developed from childhood, when he used to sneak downstairs in his parents’ corner shop and watch the 18 certificate videos when they went out. It was an evening spent watching The Silence of the Lambs that so terrified him and made him want to pick up the book instead. From then on he was hooked on crime and became eager to write his own story.
But it took a decade of work to bring Streets of Darkness to readers, with an unenthusiastic agent, a competition win and a completely different novel all part of his fascinating journey.
Kathleen McKay had her own success in writing competitions, winning the Northern Crime Competition in 2015. When she submitted her entry, she hadn’t even finished writing the book. Despite having published poetry, short stories and another novel previously, this was her first foray into crime fiction.
Both authors were happy to answer questions from the audience, revealing more about their writing process and the ideas behind the books, before signing copies of their novels.
And as it was World Book Night, the audience were encouraged to bring along one of their own books to exchange for something new. It was an idea that was really well received, with the swap table full of interesting novels that had nearly all gone by the end of the night.
So not only did I get to chat to two incredibly interesting writers, I also got to add two new crime fiction novels to my to-read list.
More events for local book lovers are coming up as part of the Crossing the Tees festival in June.
Read more about the fab Read Regional project.