Saturday, September 11, 2010

RJ Ellory - Oh how the sparks flew...

Dunedin has had a veritable feast of visiting crime writers in recent weeks. Yesterday it was the turn of British crime writer RJ Ellory. Roger is a writer I've only recently become aware of with his novel A Simple Act of Violence winning the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel Award. He was in Dunedin promoting his novel Saints of New York.

A cosy crowd turned out to hear him talk at the Dunedin City Library, and I have to say it was a real treat to listen to him. Roger is a natural storyteller, and he held everyone captivated with his entertaining and generous answers to our questions. His story of how he came to be published was one of sheer exasperation and pig-headed determination. I think he wins the award for the most rejections received by an author, which means nowadays when he's making a living out of doing what he loves, he gets to have the last laugh. I think that is one of the main things I came away with from the night was his sheer passion and enjoyment of writing.

He said he writes about human drama, and wants his novels to resonate and stay with the reader well after they've finished. He wants his characters to be memorable, real. He certainly achieved that in Saints of New York, a novel I loved and haven't been able to get out of my head.

Naturally I had to get my shameless groupie shot with the author and my book autographed, but I also had the pleasure of getting to pre-record a radio interview with him for the Write On Radio Show. And that is where the sparks flew...

I bowled up to his hotel at 9.00am this morning, armed with Toroa Radio's mini-disc recorder (it's a high tech station, really!) I got it all set up at a table in a quiet corner of the hotel restaurant, Roger rocked up, looking very tolerant for someone who had to get up for an interview at 9.00am on a Saturday morning. I went to hit record...and nothing. Hmmm, it was working a few moments ago, but no, the display had disappeared, and for all intents and purposes the minidisc recorder appeared dead.

I pushed a few buttons;


I gave it a few cautious taps.


Minor humiliation and panic start to set in.

I gave it a hearty slap.

Still nothing.

Mr Ellory looked amused.

Then we started to smell the acrid tang of smoke.


I pick up the power transformer and watched in fascination as pretty electrical arcs spark across the exposed wires where they connected with the box.

At this point self-preservation set in and I pulled the plug out of the wall and looked nervously up at the sprinklers above the table. Thanks god the smoke detectors didn't go off.

Mr Ellory looked very amused at this point.

So alas, no interview. But I did get to have a lovely informal chat about the virtues of Facebook, among other things.

There you go. I now go down in history as the person who did her jolly best to electrocute RJ Ellory!


Anonymous said...

Vanda - I'm so sorry to hear about the mishap, but...what a story!! Thanks for sharing, and I am jealous that you got to meet RJ Ellory!

TK Roxborogh said...

you never will live a quiet life, I fear. No wonder you are a crime writer.

So sorry love. Hope you got to enjoy the moment. To hell with technology.
My verification word is 'movals' which sound appropriate for such a moment.

BTW Facebook calls.....

Kiwicraig said...

Lovely pic and what a great story Vanda. I really enjoyed meeting Roger in Auckland on Wednesday night - unfortunately I'd triple-booked myself that night so couldn't head along to his library session as well, which was a shame. He seems a great guy, and I'm really looking forward to reading SAINTS OF NEW YORK.

Oh, and on the mishap front - my camera died just as Gemma was taking a photo of us... so it's not just you and technology, haha!

Anonymous said...

Hi Vanda,

I just learned a little about you through some fans of yours on amazon.

I was surprised to see a blog with RJ Ellory. He's a great guy and an awesome writer.

A Quiet Belief in Angels is another amazing book by RJ Ellory that will stay on your mind long after you've read it.

I'm going to see what your books are about.

Great blog.


Erin (Homemade Cards by Erin) said...

Chuckle chuckle... sparks indeed! Glad you're alright. As always, pleasure to see you folks IRL (did you know that stands for In Real Life? Had to ask a blogging pal that one). And again, many thanks for your donation to the Wanaka Playgroup raffle :)

Vanda Symon said...

Thanks everyone. Roger was very sporting about it all, and our post-oops chat was great. It's even tipped me over the brink into considering Facebook!

Lovely to hear from you Susie, I'm going to have to add A Quiet Belief in Angels to my TBR mountain.