Dundee’s central library hosted “An Evening with Chris Brookmyre” in support of his new novel Flesh Wounds. I ran into Russel D. McLean before the event, part of the Waterstone’s pop up bookstore on hand. He said the good thing about Brookmyre was that he could just hand things over to him and know he’d be entertaining. It was certainly true.
Brookmyre had the crowd laughing at once, even before he kicked off a reading of his one star reviews on Amazon. Curious about how the Scottish ambiance of the stories was getting across to American readers, he sifted through the .com reviews and found people appalled at the language, although more than the “British” nature of it, it was the vocabulary — one reader slammed the book down after the first word (“Jesus”) and thus was spared the second (“fuck”); another immediately removed it from his Kindle as if it would somehow infect the rest of the library.
Brookmyre imagined if genre or writer fans had their own chants like football fans, offering his ideas of what Ian Rankin’s fans chants would be (arrogant and dismissive of other writers’ fans) or Val McDermid’s — or how the scariest chants would be from Patricia Cornwell’s fans (impossible to reproduce but spot on).
He read from the opening chapter — judiciously editing out bits so you couldn’t just skip the first chapter, he explained. It had the audience riveted, which as Brookmyre pointed out was impossible to tell from having the audience bored. Laughter at least suggested a good response; he mentioned Alexei Sayles commenting that book event crowds were so much more friendly and encouraging than comedy crowds.
The Q&A covered a broad swath of topics, from writing (he writes only one book at a time) and editing (good to hear a shout out for the importance of editors and publishers in shaping your career) to Scottish independence (he seemed cagey at first as if reluctant to tip his hand “other people get the privacy of a voting booth” but said he supported it) and even his thoughts on the new Doctor (he doesn’t really watch it, but thinks Capaldi is always good).
A busy man, Brookmyre had just flown up to Dundee from Brighton where he was testing out the video game based on the Bedlam books; the BBC is developing Where the Bodies are Buried for a television series. Good stuff.