We were thrilled to host David Heska Wanbli Weiden for Simon and Schuster’s UK launch of Winter Counts – the multi award winning tale of Virgil Wounded Horse-the local enforcer on the Rosebud Native American Reservation, in his first outing.
You can see the video (well, actually we had such a fun evening we had to split the show into two parts) below.
In Part 1 you can see David interviewed by our very own Vic Watson, read the opening chapter of the book, and answer questions from guest authors Robert Scragg, Rob Reynolds, James Delargy and SA Cosby.
In Part 2 we just opened things up and let the five authors ask each other questions and take a few queries from the audience. So find out here what they think the ‘line’ is when writing violence, whether they’re plotters or pantsers, how important character and location is in their work and who their favourite authors are…plus lots more.
It was one of the most popular nights we’ve ever had at Bay Tales – take a look now to see why many viewers on Social Media was saying it was the best virutal event they’ve been to!
And remember to check out our other events – both future, and recordings via our Events page here
I was lucky enough to be given an advance copy of David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s Winter Counts (advance for the UK – in the US the book has been out a while and has already won a wealth of award nominations) by Simon and Schuster at Harrogate Crime Festival this year.
Weiden’s debut fiction novel concerns Virgil Wounded Horse and the community of the Rosebud Native American Reservation in South Dakota. Virgil is the local ‘enforcer’ – the man who carries out vengeance for wrong-doings when the authorities – either the American legal system or the tribal council aren’t interested.
Virgil is, by his own admission, far from a traditional hero. He’s got his own demons, is barely scratching a living and takes a little too much pleasure in some of his enforcing on those who made his life a misery back in school. Virgil is a conflicted character – conflicted about his heritage, local values and beliefs, and his place in the world looking after his teenage nephew, Nathan, following the death years ago of his sister. When his young nephew takes a drug overdose, Virgil sets out to find the man responsible for bringing Heroin onto the reservation. But as Nathan recovers and Virgil’s ex-girlfriend insists on helping him with his mission, things begin to get even more personal.
Winter Counts has a lot going on – narratively and thematically. You can read it as a straightforward crime novel; it certainly does a fine job of that with an original protagonist and a modern problem. There’s a lot of social comment in there as well. The insights into life on a reservation and the changes in attitude and beliefs of the different generations living on it are fascinating.
I confess that I have difficulty understanding the supposed division between ‘literature’ and ‘crime fiction’. There are just too many examples out there that effortlessly cross the line. The idea that crime fiction has little to nothing to say about society is ridiculously naïve. The idea that crime writing cannot be ‘quality’ writing equally so. Winter Counts is a good example of a book that straddles any simple classification.
The book may have a crime plot that any fan of the genre will devour and race through, but the ‘insider’ observations pull you up (but never out) as you read. And then there’s the writing. It’s not overly fancy: at times the style and protagonist descriptions reminded me of the works of Richard Stark or James Crumley, while always being unique to the author. And then there are lines that really stand out. Lines like:
“Sadness is like an abandoned car left out in a field for good — it changes a little over the years, but doesn’t ever disappear. You may forget about it for a while, but it’s still there, rusting away, until you notice it again.”
There’s some quality writing going on here, and it’s easy to see why the book has done so well in the US . as well as being an Amazon bestseller, it’s a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and was named one of the Best Books of 2020 by NPR, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Amazon, Sun Sentinel, LitReactor, CrimeReads, Deadly Pleasures, Air Mail, MysteryPeople, and BOLO Books.
Full disclosure, we at Bay Tales are going to be helping the publisher with the UK live launch of the book featuring the author, David Heska Wanbli Weiden as well as some amazing guest authors including SA Crosby, James Delargy, Rob Scragg and Rod Reynolds. If you’d like to attend, it’s free and you can register at tinyurl.com/wintercounts
On Bay Tales Live #8 Vic and Simon talked about three books each they’d read or were looking forward to followed by James Routledge from bound bookshop reviewing A Line To Kill by Anthony Horowitz
We were then thrilled to be joined by Joanne Harris who read from her forthcoming novel A Narrow Door.
You can find all this in Part 1 below.
Our main interview saw Vic talking to Olivia Kiernan and James Delargy – talking location, character, plotting and a whole lot more. And as a bonus we were joined by Steve Cavanagh, reading excerpts from his soon-to-be-released book The Devil’s Advocate. You can see the extended interview in Part 2 here.
On Bay Tales Live #7 Vic and Simon talked about three books each they’d read or were looking forward to followed by DV Bishop reviewing Edge of the Grave by Robbie Morrison
We were then joined by Chris McDonald who gave us a sneak preview of his new Stonebridge Mystery.
You can find all this in Part 1 below.
Our main interview saw Vic speaking to MJ Arlidge and Helene Flood. They talked about research, learnings from writing, keeping a series fresh, as well as their background and personal approaches to writing. You can see the extended interview in Part 2 here.
Last September when lockdown was lifted and travel was allowed I visited Harrogate (always one of my favourite places) and popped into indie bookshop ‘Imagined Things’, where purely on the recommendation of shop owner Georgia I picked up a copy of Jackson Ford’s ’The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind’. After finally getting around to reading it what can I say except ‘thank you Georgia you were absolutely right’!
I’m a sucker for series like Heroes (and X- Men), indeed anything with a superhero coming to terms with their powers and trying to fit into society knowing their ability if used will make them stick out like a sore thumb. Then throw in a ‘24’ scenario with events happening within a short period, and crikey Moses, you’ve got a cracking well paced story with twists, cliffhangers and edge of your seat storylines!
‘Let me tell you a little something about psychokinesis. Everyone has these ideas about what you can actually do with it..Plenty of people online claim they have psychokinesis…[but] if they could really move things with their minds, they’d either be dead or in the same government program I’m in. It’s just me.’
That’s Teagan Frost, living in LA, working for a removals company, which is really a cover for a small group tasked with gathering information and getting in and out of places without being observed. But when a body is discovered on the site of their last job and cameras have captured the team in action, Teagan is given 24 hours to clear her name which turns out not so be so easy when you’re also fighting a villain who can cause hurricanes and move organic objects.
Having now read (and loved) books 2 and 3 in the series: ‘Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air’ and ‘Eye of the Sh*t Storm’, where Teagan deals with children who have the ability to cause earthquakes and control electricity I can confirm that the author matches the suspense and action delivered in the first book.
Woven into the storylines are the realities of homelessness and drug addictions; white privilege is brilliantly addressed in book 3 and disability is a recurring theme throughout the books.
A novel based on a true crime which happened in 1935 is, to be perfectly honest, not a book I would normally go for. Yet, after a recent online talk by the author about the events which inspired it, I was intrigued enough to buy a copy and I’m really pleased I did.
It’s no spoiler to say that the life of Marjory Fenwick is irrevocably changed one August evening when her sweetheart Danny Kerrigan is shot and she is attacked as they stroll along Cuddies Strip, a local Lovers Lane in Perth, Scotland. What follows is not just attempts by Police to bring the culprit to justice but also a look into the world of early forensic science techniques along with insights into the truly horrifying and inhumane way Marjory – the victim of a serious sexual assault – is viewed and treated by many of the police officers, members of the medical profession, the courts and the public she encounters following the crime. Her perceived morals, previous relationship history, honesty and most importantly whether her virginity was intact prior to the assault, all prove to be great talking points for those concerned in the investigation and subsequent trial. As I read on I felt outraged at attitudes directed toward Marjory, then tried to comfort myself thinking how much we have moved on in society, then remembering……perhaps not.
Something else which hasn’t changed much is the desire by some members of the public to hoover up each and every salacious detail and make clear their own views on all aspects of a crime, the victims and the perpetrator. Those who so choose may be able to hide behind their keyboards and social media accounts nowadays, back then the public picnicked at crime scenes or gravesites, they carried out their own searches looking for clues, they made comment in person directly to the families involved and of course they queued in their droves to attend the trial and pored over every detail in the newspapers.
Cuddies Strip is a fascinating read on so many levels. It is packed with historical detail and interest yet wears its research lightly. I highly recommend it.
For our sixth show we had an extended interview with the great Martin Edwards, guest reviewer Sharon Bairden reviewing Anna Smith’s book ‘Trapped‘ and a reading from Martin Walker reading from his Dordogne Mysteries. Plus bonus mystery guest reader Derek Farrell giving us a sneak preview from his new Danny Bird novel.
To make things easier we’ve split the show into two.
Vic and Simon give us a preview of six books coming soon they’re looking forward to.
Sharon Bairden reviews ‘Trapped‘
Martin Walker reads from his new novel The Coldest Case
Vic has an extended chat with Martin Edwards about his novel and short story writing, being a member of the Murder Squad collective of crime writers, the Detection Club and much more.
And finally, as an additional little treat, we have Derek Farrell giving us a sneak preview of his forthcoming novel Death at Duke’s Halt.
Tiffany Pak Valenzuela killed her third martini, secured her shoplifted Burberry sunglasses and sauntered into the spangled sunlight on her way to a local A.A. meeting. Her cheetah-patterned ankle-boots clacked a south Brooklyn Avenue, a thin overcoat swishing at her sturdy hips, clinging to her narrow torso, the Verrazzano Bridge in the smoky distance behind, and the Statue of Liberty clear as day down each cross street. She pivoted up a low-slung block on a steep slope.
In an idling Range Rover aside a corner apartment building, adjacent to a lofted and august cemetery, Jesse Green accepted an envelope of $100 bills from his older brother.
“Why does your wife insist on paying me to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings when I’m not an alcoholic?”
“She thinks you are.”
“Look, Ted,” Jesse said with a coy smile. “I’m sorry about Thanksgiving. I truly am.”
“It’s getting old, brother. And I can’t keep covering for you.”
“Covering for me? You’re the one invited me up to New York. Offered me the garden apartment of your brownstone house. Said I could come and go as I please.”
Ted turned his head and looked out the window as a stunning woman of color in oversized sunglasses and cheetah-patterned ankle boots eased up the block and entered the building where the A.A. meeting was being held.
“Get a load of her,” he said to himself and clucked his tongue.
“Ted!” Jesse called to get his brother’s attention. “I’m a musician. Right? And a bartender. I play music and I hang out in bars. That’s what I do.”
“Doesn’t mean you have to get drunk every damn night.”
“So fucking what if I do? Jesus Christ. When did you become such a puritan?”
Ted nodded, looking at his baby brother in torn jeans and duck-taped boots, his shoulder length hair and angular face that conjured so much mercy from women, starting with their mother.
“Marcie believes that you drink in order to cope with your insecurities.”
“And what insecurities are those?”
“The fact that you grew up poor, in the American south, no less. That you can’t make a living as a musician…”
“No one can make a living as a musician!”
“I know that, little brother, but Marcie doesn’t understand, and she’s trying to inspire you to get your shit together.”
“You know a better motivation than money?”
Jesse huffed and shook his head in disbelief. “She might be on to something.”
“Worked for me,” Ted said and rubbed the walnut console of his luxury SUV.
Jesse smacked the envelope and tucked it inside the lapel of his worn leather jacket. “Thanks, brother,” he said and shook Ted’s hand.
“See you next week,” Ted called before the door closed.
Jesse bound up the stairs and entered the vestibule heavy with cigarette smoke. The last door down the dark hall was open, leaking light and voices. Jesse sat in the back, in a metal folding chair, next to a stylish, young woman with almond eyes, tawny skin and crow black hair pulled into a pony tail. They looked at each other but didn’t speak until Jesse lowered his eyes and leaned askance in Tiffany’s direction.
“I got a thousand dollars in my pocket,” he whispered. “Wanna spend it with me?”
Tiffany put on her sunglasses, took Jesse by the hand and walked him out the door.
After two days of combustible sex in Tiffany’s apartment, Jesse went for provisions. When he returned with a case of booze, two packs of cigarettes, and a bag of food, Tiffany was in the kitchen in a silk, unfastened black robe, standing over a stocky, black man face down on the linoleum. A sap hung from her right hand.
“He’s not dead, is he?” Jesse asked.
“Who is he?”
“Emenike. He’s Nigerian.”
“OK,” Jesse said, thinking how much he loved New York City. He put the provisions on the small counter and came closer.
“He’s my parole officer,” Tiffany said, leaning down to strip Emenike’s pockets.
“Better than your boyfriend,” Jessie said with a shrug. “I guess.”
“Well,” she said. “He was, at one point.”
Jesse took a step back.
Tiffany stood up with the fallen man’s wallet and fob.
“You know how to drive?” she asked him.
She threw him the fob and went into the bedroom to pack.
“Anyplace in particular you’d like to go?” Jesse called.
Anna Bailey was born in Bristol in 1995 and studied Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.
She moved to the US hoping to become a journalist, but ended up working as a Starbucks barista in the Rocky Mountains.
In 2018 she returned to the UK and enrolled on a writing course with Curtis Brown Creative, where she completed her first novel Tall Bones, a literary thriller about the disappearance of a teenage girl from an oppressive religious town in rural Colorado, inspired by Anna’s experiences in America.
She now lives in Bordeaux, France, and is working on her second novel.
You can watch an extended interview with Anna and SJ Watson on Bay Tales Live #5 here