Crime Waves 2020 presents the launch of Craig Robertson’s Watch Him Die, which was released on 11th June 2020. Robertson catches up with Luca Veste with some special guests tagging along the way!
Craig Robertson sat with fellow friends (and authors) to discuss his new novel, Watch Him Die, hosted by Crime Waves‘ Luca Veste. His gritty crime novels are set on the mean streets of contemporary Glasgow. His first novel, Random, was shortlisted for the 2010 CWA New Blood Dagger, longlisted for the 2011 Crime Novel of the Year and was a Sunday Times bestseller. This zoom gathering was initially for Craig to promote his book but it turns out as a huge catch up, promo session with a quiz, conversation and giveaways. Besides their laddish banter (you guys are hilarious), the launch couldn’t have gone better for Craig Robertson considering the times we are currently in…
Robertson starts off by introducing his latest novel plot. The series are normally all set in Glasgow. However, this one remains only half in Glasgow and then end up in L.A. A man died of natural causes but things don’t seem as though they should be. Both detectives on either side of the Atlantic both find videos of a young man that is dying online. There are no traces of who this person is or where to find him. The killer makes it impossible for the detectives to find out the information they need to know to solve the case and the only way they are able to get a clue is to Watch Him Die. There are quite a lot of Easter eggs hidden throughout this book that you may remember from his other novels. This book was written as though it stands alone so you shouldn’t feel the need to read the rest, unless you enjoy his work then continue!
Robertson had said “it was tricky to write some parts of this book because of the two separate settings”. Although he lives on either side of the Atlantic, he found that the different detectives had different voices, opinions, backgrounds and locations. In order to separate the two in the book to show the narrative transition, he had to colour code certain chapters that showed a different place. There was also Americanisms to put into place but in the style of Robertson’s writing. “There was no initial starting point with the book or inspiration. I just wanted something different that had contrast and wasn’t in my usual style of writing. I included a female and male character. He is instinctive and she has reasoning. There were a lot of times where I would write something and re-write it because of the way these two characters spoke in my mind had to make sense to the reader” he told Luca. Robertson wanted to encourage his audience that it is plausible to write something in this style, adding two locations with two time zones and two different characters that are completely different in every aspect. “It has been done by other authors and it proves that it pays off on the final edit” Robertson said.
Next to join the launch was Steve Cavanagh, author of Thirteen, who jokingly holds up Robertson’s book as if to promote it. Luca and Veste are to run their own Crime Fiction festival in July 2020 called The Locked Up. It is a virtual opportunity for crime authors to promote their books, give talks and for the audience to raise money for the Trussell Trust.
“Festivals will take place online”
Veste raised the point that festivals are bound to take place virtually now that we are not able to attend them. Waterstones has publicised the event on their website with exclusive 20% discounts on the books of authors (left). Tickets are available on Eventbrite and only cost £20 each. There are only 1,000 tickets available but over half have been sold already. This is fantastic news! BookPub will be attending the event and will be uploading highlights of the weekend.
Robertson had added that Bloody Scotland will be taking some form of presence throughout the summer (probably the time it is normally on) but it is too soon for them to say plans yet.
The next guest to be introduced to the chat is Mark Billingham. Mark Billingham is one of the UK’s most acclaimed, popular crime writers. A former actor, television writer and stand-up comedian, his series of novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has twice won him the Crime Novel Of The Year Award. He also won Sherlock Award for Best British Detective.
After another chat about their lockdown beard appearance, the lads crack back into the discussion Watch Him Die. “The title of the book actually came up before the whole book” Robertson said to us Zoom-ers. “The title was originally called Just To Let Him Die“. It was all from the inspiration of Mark Billingham singing Johnny Cash song which led Roberston to slate Billingham’s singing voice. This is just the glimpse of the lad’s banter that was on the chat. It was funny yet entertaining but also gave you an insight their creative humour and how they all bounce off of each other. Robertson commented that the world of social media can sometimes give you a sense of claustrophobia which is where a theme in the book came into it.
Next to last was Susi Holliday! Holliday was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize and “The Last Resort” and “Substitute” are due out from Thomas & Mercer late 2020 and summer 2021.
The gang joked about the rubbish “waiting room” that they had to wait in where there was a blue box stating “you can’t come in” (according to Billingham) and “no crisps” (according to Holliday). The pros and cons of virtual book chats… Holiday was proud to announce that she was one of the first people to read the book. She read out her review on Amazon, “Devilishly clever . . . This might be his best yet”. Once again, they all then held up the book again. We must admit this was sweet and funny.
Lastly, Robertson’s wife, Alexandra Sokoloff (Alex), joined us. Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-nominated, Amazon bestselling Huntress FBI thriller series (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon). The New York Times Book Review has called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”
Robertson asked what would normally happen in an American book launch. Sokoloff replied, “it’s all about ‘me”. There are generally a lot of publicity with give-aways and stacks of books. Everything is always extra. She praised Robertson for writing about L.A really well but it was more the language which was different. “There was also the travelling between places. Some travelling would take alot longer than a day” they laughed together. All the authors highlighted the lifestyle and remienised about their travels to L.A which gave you an idea on what Robertson’s vibes are like throughout the book.
Talking of travelling, the gang decided to move on to the talk about Covid-19. Holliday had mentioned she wasn’t sure about travelling. Alot of the authors across the board have a mixed opinion about what they think is the best way to travel because going to different cities are a way for them to gather inspiration. She then mentioned her new book being released next year which has to have an element of a disease in the book. “It is hard to know what to write now because in six months time this might be different” she explained. People don’t really want to visit this lockdown experience whereas others have said they might visit it in the future but that’s in the distant future when it becomes more of a historical point in history. “It is also hard to predict what will happen in the future so I think I might have to backwards track on the idea. Also at this point in time I don’t want to write about it because it is the only subject in conversations and in the news” she said. Billingham agreed with her point of view. He said he also had a book that is coming out next year and has referenced the outbreak but not to the point where if we were in another lock down this time next year then he would have to take it out. “Authors will be writing about it but the best advice is to write about something like this as if the reader is in a single point of view but not in an exact time frame like July 2020” he explained. Robertson said, “it’s great because there is a lot of time to get writing down and I’ve done so much over the past few weeks on projects for the future”. Cavanagh and Veste disagreed and said they would rather forget about this current situation because no-one can assess the future so there is no point dwelling on it. The important thing to take from these points of view is that it changes the way we promote books, publish them and write them. There will be more influenced books about lockdown but also psycological themed books in all fiction could be a thing of the future.
We head to the Q&A now:
Q: Are there any places you haven’t written about yet?
M.B: Oh, yes of course. Hundreds of places. I tend to stick with places I know because it’s a little easier. If there is a place I haven’t been to, I can’t sit on Google to find inspiration so I have to visit them myself. It’s about finding out what the place smells like, sounds like and all that which you can’t get when your hiding in your office. You wan’t somewhere that is atmospheric and noir-ish.
S.H: I want to write about loads of places. That’s my goal at the moment.
A.S: My last book I set in a bunch of the national parks in the U.S. I have ideas that I would like to set in Matchu Pichu so I might head there when we are allowed to.
Q: If you had to ad a comedic twist, what would you add?
C.R: Oh, uhhh .. Zombies. They would come back alive and die agin, and again, and again!
Q: What has been your favourite festival?
S.H: All of them. New Orleans was a really good festival! [They went on about a joke where Craig dressed as a fairy but it was actually Cinderalla and Prince Charming]
M.B: Brute is a small event but they all have so much atmosphere. I think Bute is the only one where people tend to feel more relaxed and weird things happen there. It’s more just the festival feel that you get at these events which make you want more.
A.S: Let’s not forget Iceland Noir!
C.R: That’s a fabulous and impressionable place to visit. It’s in November so it might be safe by then but it’s long place to walk if you don’t want to take the place.
Q: What famous author would you have a pint with?
C.R: Jack the Ripper and Barack Obama. It’s okay, I would look after Barack and make sure it’s safe! He’s got to have some good chat, let’s face it.
S.C: Elmore Leonard. You’ve had a pint with him Mr Billingham.
M.B: I have. He was a delightful fella. It would be nice to have a pint with Chandler.
S.H: I thought about Billy Connolly. Can we get him to come to one of the shows some time?
L.V: I would choose Stephen King for obvious reasons. Also, Anthony Lewis Bellew. Just based on Bellew’s history. He appeared in the Creed movie. He’s a fascinating guy. He’s very complex and has alot to chat about.
A.S: It’s always the same answer for me, Shakespeare. The way of their life back then and what he wrote about is so inpsiring and always spoken about.
Q: Are you worried you will every run about of stories and things to talk about?C.R: No. I’ve always got things queued up. I’ve got about 5 waiting to be written. Normally you have no time to write but at the moment there is enough of that.
L.V: I think that’s the common thing with writers. You always have something stored away. It might only be single idea but you can dig that out and turn that into something.
M.B: No. I was wondering if Craig wanted to sell something. Once I finish a book that’s it. I have nothing at the moment.
S.H: I got a load of ideas. The other day I tried to wipe them out of my brain to let new ones in but it wouldn’t work! It’s abit of a strange problem to have.
S.C: I always think whats the next one but have to come up with it. I do have a folder through.
L.C: I have one liners stored away and re-visit them sometimes. I got more books that I’ve started to write but then write another book instead. I use those as safety nets just in case. it’s always about being in the right head space too.
S.H: I have written ideas and started books but then realised it’s not the time to write them. Now I have found that it is the right time.
Veste’s daughter chose the winners of the good questions: Sharon, Amy, Loraine and Pauline.
Watch Him Die is currently out on Amazon, in bookstores and everywhere for you to buy!
It has 100% 5 star rating on Amazon and BookPub can’t wait to read it!