Jacqui Beadling, Freda Brown and Beth Oates from the Book Club today attended a literary lunch with Val McDermid (writer of Wire in the Blood) at the Filini Restaurant at Radisson Blu Hotel in Durham – part of the Durham Book Festival 2012.  It was an excellent location by the river and a beautiful uplifting sunny day.  I understood it was the Fellini restaurant after the Italian film director but no, it’s the Filini – matchstick thin pasta apparently.   There was a 125 cc scooter outside the restaurant (inside the hotel) which interested Jacqui and me.  Maybe they do take-aways and that’s how they deliver the meals in the suitcases that were loaded on the back.

The format for the event was an introduction to Val, followed by a first course of poached salmon with a tasty sauce; Val read the first chapter of her latest stand-alone book “The Vanishing Point” and we then had dessert, a fabulous treacle tart with ice cream.  Val then delivered her talk explaining how she had been thinking about it and working on it for years, and her inspiration for the book.  It starts with a child abduction and then reverts to five years previously when Stephanie, a ghost-writer for a TV reality star begins her story.  Val explained that she had been interested in the background and motivation of someone who, through having no particular opportunities or choices available to them, might be the sort of person who resorted to reality TV as a way out.  She is interested in the formation of modern family groups, which are more likely nowadays to tend towards logical rather than biological units, and their subsequent bonds.

She noted that she has been asked to do a reworking of a Jane Austen novel, Northanger Abbey, and was looking at modern-day parallels and extremes, e.g. a carriage ride involving two carriages, with criticisms and general grumbling of the characters in the other carriage, reminded her of Jeremy Clarkson in Top Gear.

Her latest book is a stand-alone one, although her next one is to include Tony Hill and Carol Jordan of the Wire in the Blood series, which seemed popular amongst those present today.  She added that she likes her books to be realistic: none of the “you just wouldn’t do that!” type of comment from her readers, like locking up without first making sure the intruder isn’t inside the house first!

Val said that the book she would like to take to a desert island would be “Treasure Island” by Robert L Stevenson, a book which she believes has everything you could possibly want.

This was a great day, with a lovely lunch and other Book Group members missed a treat.  The event ended with coffee and a quick perusal of the books on sale.  I decided not to go for the hard back edition at over £16 and will wait for the cheaper version!