Monday 27th July – Part 2
Latitude Festival Review
I went to the Latitude festival thinking that it might be my last, as the line up was a little light on guitar bands for me, but I had such a good time there it’s almost a certainty that I’ll be back again next year. The fact that the numbers are kept below 30,000 means it’s a cinch to get around, and there was so much space in the campsite I could have put up a 2-bed semi if I’d had the time, inclination, or building skills. There’s just enough good music on offer to keep me interested, and the late night entertainment is second to none – Guilty Pleasures deserves a particular mention at this point, as after a hard days drinking there’s nothing more entertaining than some classic eighties tracks (although I have to admit to be troubled by just how much Wham I seem to know).
Here, in no particular order, are my top five acts at Latitude:
Black Joe Lewis
Black Joe Lewis was the first band I saw at the festival, and they set the bar high for everyone that followed. Coming on like a cross between James Brown, Howlin’ Wolf, and Booker T, they’re an old style soul band with a dash of blues and a healthy side order of electric guitar, and they got proceedings off to a lively start, getting a great reaction from the large crowd they’d drawn at the Sunrise Arena – in fact I challenge anyone to watch them without tapping their foot. Given the dearth of quality soul music at the mainstream festivals these days, these guys were a real treat, and I’d recommend them to anyone interested in the genre or open something a little bit different, as Black Joe Lewis make a righteous sound!
I chose to see Spiritualized over Grace Jones on the main stage (bit of a no brainer really), and it’s fair to say that I’d forgotten how good they are. They put together one of the best conceived sets I’ve ever witnessed, opening with a cover of Amazing Grace, the hymn given the full orchestral treatment, which was typical of the next few songs, and as the set progressed the guitars gradually came more and more to the fore and the sound got heavier and heavier, building to a crescendo of almost two minutes of virtual white noise as a finale. Magnificent stuff, heart warming, stirring, uplifting – and best of all it rocked.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Despite the fact that Nick Cave has been critically and commercially acclaimed for years, I’d somehow managed to avoid ever hearing any of his stuff, so my decision to close the festival in his company was based more on my friends’ recommendations than any great love on my part. Well I may not have been a fan at the start of his set, but I sure as hell was by the end – old-style rock ‘n’ roll with a sleazy grandeur, Cave and the Bad Seeds were hugely impressive, and I shall be working my way through their back catalogue over the coming months.
My wife had first told me about White Lies after their debut appearance at Latitude in ’08 (I was otherwise engaged at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival), and since then they’ve become a firm favourite in our household. They’re from the raft of modern bands that have been influenced by Manchester gloom merchants Joy Division, but their driving use of guitar helps elevate them from the throng. Their performance at this year’s Latitude was the best I’ve seen them give, as they seemed a little more self-assured than before, while the vocals were noticeably stronger.
The Gaslight Anthem
In the space of a year, The Gaslight Anthem have fast become one of my all time favourite bands. They’re blue-collar American rockers in the truest sense, taking their lead from Springsteen but rocking that little bit harder. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and make music that is real, emotional, and uplifting, and the sight of everyone around me singing along to every word confirmed my belief that this band are going to be massive. It was also the first time I’ve ever seen a crowd start spontaneously clapping along to a drum beat (at the end of ‘Great Expectations’). Hands down my highlight of the weekend, and I can’t wait until I catch them again at this years Reading Festival.
What’s Steve been listening go this week?
Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is – by Black Joe Lewis
Blood Mountain – by Mastodon
The ’59 Sound – by The Gaslight Anthem
Monday 27th July - Part 1
Lots of stuff to report this week – so much that I’m going to split the blog into two in fact – the first part will cover Blood Law related news, while the second will be a review of the Latitude Festival (the festival review will be posted tomorrow).
Blood Law News
In support of the release of Blood Law, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be doing a book signing at the Norwich branch of Waterstones (Castle Street) on Saturday 15th August at 12 noon. If you’re in the area, please come along to grab a personalised copy of what’s sure to be one of the summer’s most action-packed reads! The last time I had a signing in my hometown the support from the local populace was humbling, and I hope to see a few familiar faces and make a few new friends this time around also.
And while we’re on the subject of signings, I’d like to extend my thanks to Richard Reynolds of Heffers bookshop in Cambridge, who hosted the annual ‘Bodies in the Bookshop’ event at the store last week. The event was a very informal affair that allowed crime fiction fans to mingle with forty or so writers while partaking of the odd glass of wine – as you can no doubt surmise, I enjoyed myself enormously.
Thanks also to esteemed author Martin Edwards, who gave Blood Law a plug in his blog posting on Tuesday 21st July. I first met Martin at the CrimeFest convention in Bristol earlier this year where he was moderating one of the panels that I appeared on, and since then he’s proven himself to be an incredibly nice guy. This is the second time he’s given me a lengthy mention in his blog, and his continued support is much appreciated. You can check out what Martin had to say here:
The initial reviews for Blood Law have now started to appear on line, and I’m pleased to report that the first came from the excellent Sons of Spade website, one of my favourite crime sites on the web. Last year they voted Zac Hunter the best new PI in crime fiction, so I’ve been eagerly waiting to find out what they made of my main man’s continued adventures. The good news is they’re still fans, describing Blood Law as ‘even more action packed then Justice For All’, and saying that one of the new characters to appear is ‘so impressive you get the feeling he deserves a novel of his own.’ Please click here to read the full review:
A further review has appeared on the Love Reading website, and as this one is short and sweet, I’ll reprint it in full here:
Zac Hunter is back in his second outing as the ex-cop, now Private Investigator. This thriller sees him drawn in to the gangland world of LA and it’s just as gritty and hard hitting as his previous novel, Justice for All. Urban noir with the cool, collected and very dangerous Zac Hunter.
And finally’ I’d like to draw your attention to an article I wrote for CrimeTime concerning gangland culture, a subject I researched heavily in the course of writing Blood Law. The article was meant to be around 400 words long, but I got a bit carried away and it ended up coming in at almost 1400 words. I’m pretty pleased with the final piece, and I think it makes an important comparison between what’s happening in the UK right now, and what’s been happening in LA for decades. Please click here to give it the once over:
So that’s it for today, but keep an eye out for my Latitude Festival review tomorrow!
What’s Steve been listening go this week?
Sink Or Swim – by The Gaslight Anthem
Day And Age – by The Killers
To Lose My Life – by White Lies
Monday 20th July
No blog this week as I've been busy celebrating the release of Blood Law at the Latitude Festival. Tune in next week for lots of news.
Monday 13th July
So here it is – the new look website! My designer, Christine, has been working her socks off and I think she’s done a fantastic job. On the new site you’ll find tons of information about the second novel in the Zac Hunter series, Blood Law (cool title or what!), including a synopsis, introductions to all the major players, the prologue, a hard-hitting excerpt, musical references – basically all you’ll need to whet your appetite ahead of the book’s official release of 17th July. We’d love to know what you think of the site – please use the ‘Contact Steven’ link at the bottom of the page to get in touch. Being an author is a lonely business and I crave human contact!
For all you Facebook aficionados out there, I’ve set up a Steve Hague – Author page where you can become a fan and sign up for news updates. Please join me and help spread the word – forward the link to your friends, advertise it on your own Facebook page, hire a sandwich board and walk the streets – in fact, just do anything that you can think of! I need all the help I can get right now, and the more people that know about me and my novels the better. Every time I pass 100 new fans I’ll randomly choose one of them to receive a free, signed copy of Blood Law - so please sign up, you might get lucky. Join the movement and help make Blood Law an internet phenomenon – this is just how the Arctic Monkeys started out and things have gone okay for them! Anything you can do to help me to continue to live out my boyhood dream would be much appreciated. The Facebook page can be found at the following link:
To celebrate the launch of Blood Law next Friday, I’m heading off to the Latitude Festival to spend three days drunk in a field with a smile on my face. If you should notice my towering quiff on the horizon, come say high – but cut me some slack if the sun has gone down, as my celebrations will have reached an advanced stage by then!
What’s Steve been listening go this week?
The Bronx 3 – by The Bronx
Frengers – by Mew
The Back Room – by Editors
Monday 6th July
As the eagle-eyed amongst you will have no doubt realised, the blog has been on hiatus for a couple of weeks as Chris (my uber-talented web designer) and myself have been working on a number of site updates ahead of the launch of my second novel, Blood Law. Without wishing to give too much away ahead of the grand unveiling, the look of the site will be updated to tie in more closely with Blood Law’s excellent cover, while the content will be expanded to showcase the plot, characters, and music of the new novel. Please bear with us a little while longer, as all shall soon be revealed.
And on the subject of patience, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to bear with me once again, as the rest of this blog will largely comprise of me telling you about what I’ve been up to without actually showing you any of it. With the publicity push now beginning to ramp up ahead of Blood Law’s release, review copies of the novel have been sent out to the nation’s critics and I’ve carried out a number of interviews for influential websites and bloggers, as well as writing a lengthy article on gang culture. The choice of topic for the article was heavily influenced by Blood Law’s content, as in my second novel Hunter gets embroiled in the dangerous world of LA street gangs. Researching gang culture was really fascinating, as learning about the stark realities of an urban war fought mostly by children in one of the world’s most glamorous cities was an eye opener to say the least. As these interviews and articles are published in the coming weeks I’ll let you know where you can find them, but until then, I’m going to have to leave you hanging!
Now, a quick word about Blood Law’s scheduled release date of the 17th July. As I discovered when Justice For All was released, official release dates for authors of my stature aren’t exactly written in stone. If a store gets their copies of the books in a couple of weeks early, and if they’ve got shelf space to fill, then those books go out on the shelf (the converse is also true, meaning that books don’t show up on some shelves until well after the release date). As a result, I’ve already had reports of sightings of Blood Law on the nation’s bookshelves – kudos and muchas gracias to Mr. Paul Warman of Norwich for being the first person to buy a copy (that I’m aware of) from the princely surroundings of Sheffield train station – although he’s yet to start reading it as his wife nabbed it off him as soon as he got home! If anyone else has any confirmed Blood Law sightings then please let me know, and maybe I’ll dream up some sort of competition with an exclusive prize!
And finally, a belated thanks to one of the aforementioned influential bloggers, Rafe McGregor, who’s done me a solid my posting a teaser ad for Blood Law ahead of an interview I’ve done with him (check out the ad at www.rafemcgregor.blogspot.com). Rafe is a published author himself, having written the critically acclaimed historical crime novel, The Architect of Murder, and a general all-round nice guy. Thanks Rafe, you’re a top man.
What’s Steve been listening go this week?
The 59 Sound – by The Gaslight Anthem
Some Cities – by Doves
West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum - Kasabian