Visit Blood On The Page on

Share and Syndicate

AddThis Feed Button

Our Newsletter

Subscribe to the Blood On The Page newsletter. We'll let you know when new titles are posted.

Recent Posts

Personal note from John Verdon to BOTP members

61 HOURS by Lee Child


June 2010
April 2010
March 2010
January 2010
November 2009
October 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009


2 in the hat 61 hours A Season for the Dead abandoned Achilles in Vietnam advanced copy advice Afghanistan Africa Agent Cooper al roker Alfred Hitchcock Andrew Bacevich Atlanta audiobook author author tours award winners awesome Bad Luck and Trouble bantam Bantam Dell Barry Eisler Berlin Berton Roueche Best Swedish Crime Novel Award bestseller bibliophile blly blessing Blood and Ice blood on the page blood ties body Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference book release 2.0 Book Review botp breathless Brett Battles buzz balls & hype Caravaggio characters cody mcfadyen contests cops crime crime fiction crimewav d.d. warren Dante Dante's Numbers Darth Vader Dave Gurney David Grossman David Hewson David Hunter David Kilcullen David Rollins dead dead trees is a dead model dean koontz Death Trust debut deception detainees detective Dick Cheney Divine Comedy drugs dyslexia e-books Edgar Allen Poe Awards eight in the box Emery episode Europe evolution of the book Faith Mitchell Fault Line Fear the Worst fear the worst Fear the Worst Blood on the Page Feral fiction Fragment free chapters free download free ebook GBI Genesis Georgia giveaways Gone Tomorrow Grant County Guantanamo guns Hadrian Hammett hard boiled Harvey Keitel Harwood henders island history Hitchcock homicide hook hospital Illegal International ipod Ireland Jack Palms Jack Reacher Jack Wakes Up Jake Wakes Up Jean Reno Johan Theorin John Verdon Jonathan Quinn Jonathan Shay Karen Maitland Karin Slaughter kay hooper kellerman La Femme Nikita lee child Lee Child Linwood Barclay linwood barclay Lisa Gardner lisa gardner M.J. Rose Maltese falcon military Mission Dolores morning show murders mystery mystery-thrillers never look away new release new york New York Times Nic Costa No Time for Goodbye no time for goodbye noir Old Peculier Crime Novel Award On Killing Palace of Fine Arts Pantheon Papercuts Paul Callaway Paul Levine pdf Persuader playlist Podcast podcast podcasts publication day Pulp Fiction raffi yessayan Rain Fall Reader reviews readings relentless Robert Masello Safer safer San Francisco Sara Linton Scott Horton Sean Doolittle sequel serial series Seth Harwood sex Shadow of Betrayal Shadow Season short story Simon Beckett Singapore sixty one hours sixty-one hours Spy suspense terror suspects The Accidental Guerilla The Cleaner The Cleanup The Cold Spot The Coldest Mile The Darkest Room The Death Trust The Deceived The Garden of Evil The Glass Key Award The Lizard's Bite the morning show murders The Neighbor the neighbor The Owl Killers The Sacred Cut The Seventh Sacrament The Villa of Mysteries Think of a Number thriller Thriller thrilling today show Tom Piccirilli too close to home tour trailer two in the hat UK Undone Vertigo video videos Vietnam wake up america wake up with al Warren Fahy webisode Whispers of the Dead Will Trent Writers' Workshop writing writing process Yoda

October 12, 2009

Karen Maitland on Where were you when you read…

On Saturday I had the privilege of giving author talks at Wordplay, a “Library Readers Day with a difference,” arranged by Derbyshire County Council. The difference was that instead of seperate sessions for children and adults, all ages joined in all the sessions from author talks to song writing, and creating manga to writing poetry. Between sessions everyone got the chance to leave their mark on the graffiti wall, play fantasy board games and word games, and even get a henna tattoo of their favourite word. One of the competitions running through the day was - guess how many words are in the classic novel War and Peace. And someone asked me if I could remember where I was when I read it.

I read it when I was in my teens, on a dismally wet summer holiday in Wales with my family, in a caravan the size of shoe box. It was impossible to find anywhere to be alone, something that is desperately important for teenagers, but I discovered that by immersing myself in the longest book I could find, I could escape into another world and even better, that the characters in the novel were having a worse time of it than I was. That question about War and Peace got me thinking about how much where and when we read a novel can affect our enjoyment of it.

Would I have loved Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children so much if I had not had the luxury of being able to read such wonderful concentrated prose uninterrupted for hours at a time whilst on a gloriously hot beach in Crete? (The pages are still crinkled from salt water and stained with watermelon juice.) Would I have been so frightened or had so much empathy with the heroine in Sarah Rayne spine-chilling Spiderlight had I not been reading it alone in an isolated cottage on a dark winter’s night?

I always set my novels, or at least base them, on real locations, so that I can visit the places, watch them, listen to them, touch them and smell them. In COMPANY OF LIARS key chapters are set in a chantry chapel built on a bridge over a river. I spent time alone in just such a medieval chapel, lying on the cold flag stones, listening to the water thundering below me and imagining what it would have been like to sleep in the dark in that chamber, where the ancient stones seemed to suck very marrow from your bones.

One reader was kind enough to comment that the village of Ulewic (the place of the owl) in THE OWL KILLERS feels like a character in the novel. I was delighted by that, because I think certain places do having a living soul or spirit. In some locations it is a gentle green magic, in others a far more sinister presence broods over a village, a church or a hill. I believe our ancestors felt it too and you can see that reflected in the kinds of folk stories and legends that are associated with a particular lake or rock.

Location is vital to me as a writer, but this weekend I’ve been asking myself whether where I read a novel influences what I get out of it. Do I love a book more when it lets me escape from a miserable time I’m having, or when I associate it with a really happy time in my life? I’m still thinking about that one. What about you?

Comments (0) | Permalink