Sunday, 13 May 2018

'Short and Sweet' Interview with Jacky 'Dr. Noir' Collins (Founder of Newcastle Noir crime writers festival)

 #1: What was the inspiration behind Newcastle Noir? Were you trying to recreate festivals you’d already been to or were you trying to do something in your own vision?

I’ve worked at Northumbria University (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) some 25 years now and in 2010 I moved from the Modern Languages department to concentrate on studies in Film and TV. I was keen to look more at crime fiction from Europe and the Scandinavian countries in particular. As part of this study, I set up the European Crime Fiction book club at Newcastle City Library and was tasked with creating two final year student modules in European Crime Fiction in Translation and European Crime Fiction in Film and TV.

In November 2013 I went to Reykjavik to attend the inaugural Iceland Noir festival and there met the amazing Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Queen of Icelandic crime fiction. A year or so before that I’d invited her to speak about her work in Newcastle, but ultimately was unable to host the event. Graciously Yrsa promised that when the time was right she would indeed come to Newcastle. At that first Iceland Noir, Ann Cleeves introduced me to Yrsa and before I knew it, she and I were plotting something similar to Icelandic Noir for the North East!

Six months later, thanks to the support of Kay Easson at Newcastle's Lit and Phil Society Library, Newcastle Noir came into being on May 4th 2014, when we held a crime fiction afternoon there. There were only three panels with a total of 9 authors, but when we asked the audience if they wanted to come to a similar event again, there was a resounding yes. Newcastle Noir was born in both name and spirit!

#2: What was your greatest challenge in getting the festival started?

Getting the festival started wasn't too difficult. However, it has proved more tricky as it's grown over the years to ensure that we can accommodate as many authors as possible on the programme and also to secure the finance to pay each author a small fee for their appearance, whilst still maintaining ticket prices that are accessible to all.

#3: You’re going to be coming to Rotorua Noir and helping us out by moderating a couple of panels. What are you looking forward to the most about coming over to New Zealand and taking part in our first ever crime writing festival?

I am thrilled at the chance to visit a country I have never seen before and I am keen to gain insight into NZ crime writing to know as many authors as possible. I'm even hoping to tempt some of them over for Newcastle Noir 2019!

#4: I’ve seen footage of the most recent Newcastle Noir including what appeared to be a bunch of crime writers singing a Rolling Stones song on stage. Out of all the criminally talented writers you managed to assemble this year who has the best voice?

If you're talking musically, I would have to say Christopher Brookmyre. If we're talking speaking voice, for me it was Lilja Sigurđadóttir. As you can probably imagine, I am very fond of the Nordic accents and Lilja's Icelandic lilt combined with her knowledge, wit & humour make her one one most engaging crime writers on the festival circuit. I know the NZ audience will love her.

#5: If you could wish for one thing to happen to you at Rotorua Noir what would it be?

As I mentioned earlier, having never been in that part if the world before, I'm looking forward to experiencing as much of the culture as possible. However, if I have to pick just one thing from the festival, I hope to return home with fresh inspiration for Newcastle Noir 2019.

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