Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reading matters

Two Scottish writers with Craig as their first name. Craig Robertson's first novel, Random, was published just over a year ago. After working as a journalist for twenty years he explains taking up the challenge of fiction in the following excerpt from a newspaper interview...

Craig is part of the new 'Tartan Noir' generation. That Scottish crime-writing conveyer belt is showing no signs of slowing down. "I'm sure that ability to reach the darker side of the human psyche is in all of us but Scots do seem to be better at doing it than most," he says. "We live in what is a relatively violent and aggressive culture fuelled by alcohol, ginger genes and too much rain and the obvious thing is to write about what's around you. Many Scots also have a fondness for black humour that lends itself well to crime writing."

He puts it quite clearly... "to write about what's around you". As I mentioned in my previous post under this heading, I am beginning to wonder if I should do exactly that in my own writing, setting my narratives in Germany rather than in places of fond but increasingly distant memory like the Languedoc-Roussillon, Paris or, yes, Scotland. Robertson's tales are set in a gritty, contemporary Glasgow and I look forward to reading of DS Rachel Narey's future cases.

The other Craig, Craig Russel is far from a newcomer. One of his series also takes Glasgow as its setting but sets the action in the nineteen-fifties. (Which I should also find telling, given that it was in 1955 that we emigrated as a family from Scotland.) But my introduction to Russel's writing was when I doscovered the first of his books featuring the Hamburg policeman Jan Fabel. Ironic, I find, A Scot writing dark police procedurals set in northern Germany so cuccessfully. How successfully? 

The first television adaptation of a Jan Fabel novel, broadcast on German national broadcaster ARD1, attracted an audience of six million viewers. Two more Fabel novels, Blood Eagle and Eternal, are being made into TV movies for German state broadcaster ARD by Tivioli Films.

The trailer for the first film, adapted from Russell's Brother Grimm, is embedded below as is a video covering the writer's visit to the shooting in Hamburg. In the reportage it is touching to see how a writer as well established as he is can reveal his huge delight at seeing the characters he has imagined 'come to life', played by actors of the calibre of the excellent Peter Lohmeyer.

The takeaway from this post? I may well consider giving my own storytelling a German context. But I will cling firmly onto my belief that transmediality is the way forward, with stories not just limited to the printed word between the covers of books. Henry Jenkins reminds us of the potential of... radical intertextuality (that is, the complex interweaving of texts through the exchange of story-related information) and multimodality (that is, the mixing of different media and their affordances in the unfolding of the story).

With the 'world' Craig Russel is creating with Jan Fabel at its centre there is significant multimodality potential in this franchise.

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