I’ve lived in Leeds (well just outside) for over 15 years and I’ve never set foot in The Leeds Library…until last night. But this is no ordinary council run public library, no siree. It was founded in 1768 as a proprietary subscription library and is now the oldest surviving example of this sort of library in the British Isles. And it’s not to be confused with the Leeds Central Library, your a-typical library up on the Headrow (for those of you who know Leeds).
Nestled between a branch of the Cooperative Bank and Paperchase, you’d walk past it if you didn’t know it was there. But once you’re inside and upstairs, it’s like a treasure trove for book lovers! Walls and walls of books, walkways above your head with even more! Before I went, Liz Mistry told me to think “Howgarts” and she’s not far off the mark with that description! It’s a rabbit warren of book lined rooms hidden above a busy street of shops!
So last night, I braved the bitter sleet and heading out to the Leeds Library for a double book launch for Leeds authors June Taylor and Ali Harper hosted by the lovely Liz Mistry!
The trio of fabulous female writers settled into their seats for an evening of chat about books and writing. I haven’t captured all the discussion but these were some of the highlights for me!
Liz asked June and Ali why they used Leeds as a backdrop for their books. Ali talked about there being great history in Leeds for crime writers with The Yorkshire Ripper and Jimmy Saville. This history gives the city a dark edge. When she moved to Leeds as a university student, Ali felt it was a beguiling place. “There is something about Leeds“.
June said she’s Leeds born and bred, growing up in Armley and moving onto Headingley later in life. She grew up with the Yorkshire Ripper and LUFC hooligans. She was once told on submission of a book set “up north”, it would better if it was set in London. June wanted to be proud of her home town.
Liz injected in to serious chat a little bit of light hearted fun by way of Snog, Marry Avoid – crime fiction style! She had a tub of names associated with crime fiction, (characters and authors) and Ali and June had to select at random three names to snog marry and avoid …Ali picked:
Snog – Charlie’s Angels – she loved them growing up and she always wanted to be them!
Marry – Sherlock Holmes – he’s a cerebral gentleman and she likes the smell of a pipe!
Avoid – Jo Nesbo – Ali read The Leopard, which involves gruesome torture weapons and chamber -a step too far for her. It forced her to remove the Nesbo children’s book from her kids’ rooms.
June’s choices were….
Snog – Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with A Dragon Tattoo) – this is an interesting character and June would love to spend time with her and get into her head.
Marry – Luther – For purely superficial reasons – he’s a handsome man but June never watched the programme!!
Avoid – Agatha Christie – more of a default, June wouldn’t want to snog or marry Ms Christie so she’d take her for tea and cake and run
Liz also asked the age old writing question – plotter or pantser…
June defined herself as a plotter but a chaotic plotter. She writes notes in random things (post-its, scraps of paper “back of a fag packet”) and then pulls them together in a folder. Once she starts to feel there is a story, June starts to plan chapters. But there is an element of fluidity as she knows the characters will want to do their own thing at times.
Ali in contrast goes “seat and pants”. She finds it exciting and terrifying to not know where it goes. Ali can’t beat the idea of knowing how it’s going to end. In awe of people who can plot each scene before writing.
Liz Mistry interjected that a writer need to work out what works for them.
The evening ended with a book signing from the three lovely Yorkshire ladies which was an opportunity to mingle with other book lovers and chatter.
The three ladies had a great rapport and the discussion was fluid with Ali and June giving some great answers to Liz’s (and the audience’s) questions. A fabulous evening in an amazing venue!
Keep Your Friends Close – The Blurb
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer…
An addictive and shocking psychological thriller, full of twists you won’t see coming, perfect for fans of FRIEND REQUEST by Laura Marshall.
A friend who won’t let you escape.
When Karin is taken on a romantic break by her loving partner Aaron, she can’t wait for him to propose. But her surprise weekend quickly becomes a nightmare from which she may never escape.
Who wants everything you have.
They are staying by the beach at the Midland – a grand hotel where Karin used to work. And where Karin’s dangerous and obsessive ex, whom she has been trying to leave behind for years, is waiting patiently for her to return.
Who won’t stop until your life is in ruins.
Now all of Karin’s darkest secrets are being dragged into the light and her friends are turning against her. When one of them is murdered, Karin begins to realise just how treacherous relationships can be…
Who Is June Taylor?
June Taylor was a TV promotions writer and producer for many years before turning to writing plays and fiction. She was runner-up in the 2011 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition with Young Adult novel Lovely me, Lovely You. Keep Your Friends Close is her second psychological thriller. June is active in the Yorkshire writing scene, including serving on the board of Script Yorkshire and taking part in Leeds Big bookend.
The Disappeared – The Blurb
YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME…
A twisty, compelling, characterful crime thriller from a major new talent
NOT TO BE MISSED!
A distraught mother…
When Susan Wilkins walks into No Stone Unturned, Leeds’s newest private detective agency, owners Lee and Jo are thrilled. Their first client is the kind of person they always hoped to help―a kind woman desperately worried about her son, Jack.
A missing son…
The case seems simple―kid starts college, takes up with the wrong crowd, forgets to ring his mother. But very quickly, Lee and Jo suspect they’re not being told the whole truth.
A case which could prove deadly…
Their office is ransacked, everyone who knows Jack refuses to talk to them and they feel like they’re being followed…it’s clear Lee and Jo have stumbled into something bigger, and far more dangerous, than they ever expected. Will they find Jack, or will their first case silence them both for good?
Who Is Ali Harper?
Ali Harper writes feminist crime fiction. The Disappeared is her first novel and is published by Harper Collins as part of their Killer Reads series. An option for TV and film rights has also just been signed with Yorkshire-based Duck Soup Films.
Ali lives in Leeds, where she teaches creative writing, has just completed a PhD on Chick Noir, and plays netball badly.
Who Is Liz Mistry?
Liz writes crime fiction books set in Bradford, West Yorkshire. The DI Gus McGuire series is gritty Northern noir with a bit of Scottish thrown in. She is currently researching for a Ph. D in creative writing at Leeds Trinity University. As part of her Ph.D she is researching how the teen killer’s voice is portrayed in the adult crime fiction novel with specific reference to the influence of teen social media usage, with a view to writing a crime fiction novel around these issues.
Liz also teaches creative writing, specialising in crime fiction and is a regular panellist at literary festivals throughout the UK. She enjoys reading her work at Open Mic and Noir at the Bar events. She was chosen to be one of the spotlighted authors at the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival in 2016. She is the lead blogger for the well renowned crime fiction blog The Crime Warp which reviews contemporary, mainly UK based, crime fiction, comments on current issues around the genre and creative writing in general and interviews authors on a regular basis.