I've been to Sweden and it's hard to square such a pleasant country with the cascade of gloomy chunky jumper wearing detectives that invade our television and bookshops.
And given that every new scandinoir conjures up a seedy world of moral compromise, secret historical shame and the certainty that society is in a state of terminal decline just why, in survey after survey, do the people of the region vote themselves the happiest in the world.
Michael Booth who is both married to a Dane and living in Denmark sets out to examine the roots of this contradiction. He tackles each Nordic country in turn, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland in turn - providing a useful insight into their history, culture and idiosyncrasies.
The blurb, misleadingly, stresses the 'hidden dark side' of the Nordic utopia but the book is in fact much more balanced and nuanced than that. Less schadenfreude and more wry humour.
In the run up to this years City Read events I will be on stage with the following literary luminaries...
Sebastian Faulks, Gillian Slovo, Claire Tomalin, Louisa Young
To discuss the joys of setting your work in the greatest city in the world.
THE BRITISH LIBRARY
SATURDAY 7TH MAY
Chaired by Kamila Shamsie
Cityread London unites the capital every April by inviting the whole city to pick up the same book set in London and read it together. Cityread events erupt across Greater London in libraries and bookshops, cinemas and stations. This special event, chaired by the novelist Kamila Shamsie, celebrates Cityread’s first five years. It brings together all four living writers whose books have been Cityread’s choices to date. They discuss the joys and challenges of evoking our capital city – Sebastian Faulks with A Week in December, Louisa Young with My Dear, I wanted to tell you, Ben Aaronovitch with Rivers of London, and Gillian Slovo with this year’s Cityread, Ten Days. The first Cityread book, in 2012, was Oliver Twist, and for this the biographer Claire Tomalin speaks about Dickens’s London.
"And the Bastard grant us in our direst need, the smallest gifts: the nail of the horseshoe, the pin of the axle, the feather at the pivot point, the pebble at the mountain's peak, the kiss in despair, the one right word. In darkness, understanding."
These are the variant covers for all five issues of Night Witch. All bar the Ben Oliver cover for Issue #1 should be available to order at your friendly neighborhood comic store. The Ben Oliver cover is available at any Forbidden Planet Store or can be ordered directly online.
When you need to know which road your highwayman is working.
This site has a large collection of old maps online. Unlike other map images these are scaled large enough to be useful for a jobbing author if they want to know whether their character turns left or right to get where they want to go.
It's mostly London with some British regional maps and some of Australia (lots of Sydney) and I have a horrible feeling the site might be dead or in hiatus - so use it while you can and see if you can donate something if it proves useful.
So if you're writing steampunk from your college dorm in UC Berkeley or curious about how old the street you live on might be - this site is for you.