Noir at the Bar hit Newcastle last night and showcased a huge range of crime fiction from North East authors.
Noir at the Bar, which is organised by the wonderful Vic Watson and Jacky Collins, offers published and burgeoning authors the opportunity to read their books and works in progress to a live audience.
That audience was packed (it was very busy) into the basement of The Town Wall pub, which perfectly set the tone for the noir readings. The dimmed lights, exposed brickwork and steel heating pipes and girders give this event a gritty, underground feel that implies you’re part of something deliciously dark and clandestine.
Eleven authors read their work and proved the extent of narratives contained within the noir genre. The styles, tones and formats varied, and it was fascinating to hear how the writers’ own voices brought each of their works to life. It’s always such a treat to hear an author read their words in the way they intended them to be heard.
Noir at the Bar is dominated by North East writers but also attracts authors from further afield. Alison Baillie came over from Switzerland, while Wendy H Jones journeyed from Dundee to be there. The event is certainly growing its reputation as one of the most successful Noir at Bar showcases in the country. In fact, the audience members were equally high profile, with LJ Ross keenly listening from the front row.
Performance highlights for me included Sarah Wray, whose new crime thriller is out in July (watch out for more about that on Book and Brew soon), and Matt Wesolowski reading from his complex mystery Six Stories. I was also impressed by Iain Rowan’s reading and got to take home a copy of his book after I picked his name out of a hat to read next – Jacky insists on audience participation to select the line-up.
I came away having huge respect for the authors who performed their works – it must be terrifying to wait to hear your name drawn from a hat! – and a renewed appreciation for the nuances of noir fiction.
Follow Vic Watson for more information about the next Noir at the Bar event.
And, if you need more noir now, why not head to this weekend’s Newcastle Noir festival?