Monday, July 28, 2008

Crime and Justice Festival pt.2

Gee, life and school did catch up with me in a big way this last week.
Only now getting around to part 2 of the C & J Festival.

A Conversation with Peter Temple

What a great way to kick off the 2nd day of the Festival. Peter Temple is modest and his humour largely self-deprecating. He talked about his writing process. Not for him 17 drafts. He couldn't understand that. He writes and re-writes and does it again until he's happy with it. Somehow I got the impression that he's probably never really happy with it and perhaps the manuscript has to be wrenched from his fingers to cries of "wait, I haven't finished with it yet."

He spoke about getting published - his first Jack Irish novel. In it he had Irish learning cabinet making,he loves football and has a fondness for horse racing. His first experience was being told that they loved the book, but perhaps remove the cabinet making, the football and the horse racing. Fortunately wiser heads prevailed and Jack was allowed to keep these interests.

He was asked about writing for television. Recently the tv movie VALENTINE'S DAY was screened. Temple's experience with this wasn't a particularly happy one. He was wined and dined and fussed over and his screenplay raved over.... but.... just a few minor changes herfe and there. He claimed there isn't much left of his original work.

I'm not so sure. I saw Temple's hand in the emotionally closed off and uncommunicative character of Ben Valentine. Regardless of how Temple feels about the end product. I enjoyed it a great deal.

Matters of Procedure
P.D. Martin, Garry Disher and Barry Maitland, with participating chair, Marshall Browne discussed researching and writing police procedurals. Phillipa spoke about getting started in this genre and brought along some books she found valuable in her research (I was furiously making notes at this stage). She also talked about a forensic text book she purchased from the U.S.A. She had tried to gain permission to witness an autopsy but failed. After seeing the images in the text book, she professed to be somewhat relieved that she didn't succeed. She said it gave her new sympathy for the victims and their families.

Garry Disher lives in a small community and knows the police officers who police that community so he said for him, it's a matter of a trip to the pub and buying a few beers, asking questions and perhaps organising a tour of this or that police station. Barry Maitland told a similar story.

Writing From Life
Crime writers - like any other writer - often use elements of their own life and the lives of
those around them in their fictionLeigh Redhead, Angela Savage, Dorothy Johnston ; discussed borrowing from life and the blurred line that divides fact from fiction .

It turned out to be a highly entertaining panel discussion as both Leigh Redhead and Dorothy Johnston had both worked in the sex industry at some stage. Leigh admitted that the character of Chloe in her book is her best friend. Her friend often rings her and says "So what's Chloe up to today." She also claims her friend only reads the bits of the book with Chloe in them.
Redhead also spoke of the different atmospheres in brothels in different states. Terms like "massage with hand relief" were used. The most difficult she claimed was a two person massage with hand relief. She said the most important thing is not to catch the eye of the other girl. Otherwise you're gone in fits of giggles.

Angela Savage's life experiences are very different - yet in some ways similar. Angela works for the United Nations and Non-Government Agencies in setting up Aids/HIV awareness and treatment programmse in Asian countries. She is currently living in Vietnam (as is Leigh Redhead)

It would be difficult to pick 3 more interesting authors to discuss writing from life experiences than these.

Nigel Latta's Darklands

The true surprise of the festival. I chose it because I wasn't really interested in the session the others had booked into. I didn't fancy waiting around in the cold outside and this sounded like it might be of some interest. Boy was I wrong. It was fascinating. The rest of the group ended up in this session as well when the other one was cancelled.

Nigel Latta is a clinical psychologist - a New Zealander who specialises in treating sex offenders and victims. Nigel is outspoken, profane ("I swear because I enjoy it and it get's my guys' attention"). and hugely entertaining. Surprising when you consider the subject matter.
His book INTO THE DARKLANDS is a fascanating read and Nigel has made a documentary series based around the book. We learned that apparently this series has been bought by an Australian tv network. (Fingers crossed that it is not shown in the wee small hours in some unpublicised time slot).

Trivia Quiz
A large box of books was on offer. And we were the only ones who signed up for the quiz. We did offer Simon the opportunity to cancel the quiz given there were only 4 of us but he insisted we go ahead anyway. What was odd was that at the end of the day Helen, Karen and I all ended up on the same number of points - I thank knowing the theme tune to Bergerac for that piece of good fortune and we all shared the booty when we got home.

We all left very happy and vowed to make the Crime and Justice Festival our number 1 priority next year.

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