Thursday 6 August 2009

Time to Revamp?

I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that I’m not updating the CSNI blog anywhere near as often as I did this time last year. A number of factors contribute to this that range from family life to a greater focus on my own writing. Another difference is that this time last year I was still actively seeking out writers for interviews and the like. At this point, there aren’t many crime writers from the North or South of Ireland left to contact. However, after maintaining it for so long, I’d hate to see CSNI go by the wayside.

I’ve thought of a few solutions:

Expand beyond the crime fiction genre – Not a bad idea, as there are a number of science fiction, fantasy and literary writers from the North and beyond that I haven’t contacted. Also, I do read beyond the crime fiction genre, so it’d still be interesting to me. And there’s the strange fact that of the three novels I’ve sent to Allan Guthrie, my agent, none are straight crime fiction... I know! It came as a shock to me too. I’m not sure what I write. My whole belief system is at odds. I don’t think novels are literary; it’s more like... Wait, no. This is a topic for another self-indulgent post. No doubt I’ll write it some time in the near future.

But there’s something that niggles about that idea. The site is called Crime Scene NI, after all. It should really do what it says on the tin.

Expand beyond fiction – Yeah, why not comment on news items? There are enough of them, and in the post-Troubles climate, they’re certainly more varied. I could point out an article from the BBC NI website, on the days when I have nothing book-related to write about, and rattle out a paragraph or two surmising my personal thoughts.

But that seems a little ghoulish to me. Using real crime as filler. Plus there are enough websites out there that write about local news and the politics. Plus I don’t want to turn into an internet ranter. All self-righteous and shit. It’s not really me. And at the end of the day, people are perfectly capable of keeping up with the news on the BBC NI website without me pointing the way for them.

Expand beyond form – There are other forms out there, aren’t there? Big screen, little screen, stage play, radio play... I could get in touch with many a talented and worthy writer who works in either of these areas. And they’ll have interesting thoughts and insights of their own. What’s the problem with that, eh?

Well, I don’t get to go to the theatre or cinema as often as I used to, so I wouldn’t exactly be cutting edge. And I sacrifice a lot of TV time in order to get a few words down on the screen. The programmes I do take the time to follow, such as The Sopranos or The Wire, don’t really need the help of some little guy from Northern Ireland in order to reach a slightly larger audience. So why devote the time?

So, I’m wondering... how can I shake things up a bit and breathe some new life into the aul blog?

Suggestions welcome, folks.


Tony Bailie said...

Gerard, I take your point about the name being crimesceneni, but I still think you could keep that as the main theme and expand in to other areas. Although there is clearly an audience for the crime fiction I think most people who bother to pick up a book and read it are open to other genres. Besides I think the whole idea of a genre is limiting... does a book tell a good stroy, make you want to sit up to 3am to find out what happens next and has an occasional turn of phrase or image to kick you up the 'tóin' and think I wish I'd written that.
I'd love to see your take on sci-fi for example.

marco said...

Your boy Ian McDonald has a novella in the Hugo shortlist this year, Ger.

v-word: macho

seana graham said...

I actually think your general observations aboutliving in Northern Ireland today would be quite interesting, in between, shall we say, crime sprees. I understand abou not wanting to make this too diffuse, but I think if you manage to keep crime and writing as the central aim, you won't go too far astray.

Personally, I read blogs for the voice of the writer--subject matter is strictly secondary. But I might be in a minority when it comes to that.

Gerard Brennan said...

Tony - Fair play to you, sir. You've me convinced on the genre thing. I'll make a point of veering off the crime fiction once in a while, then. Maybe start with Ian McDonald?

Marco - Thank you for the heads up. I'd missed that. Last time he'd a novella up for a Hugo they published it online to increase its readership. If they do that, I'll maybe make it my first SF review.

Seana - So more general day-to-day stuff would be welcome? Funny thing, I never even really thought of that. The cogs are spinning now. Cheers!


David Todd said...

I'd suggest keeping it as it is, but also start another blog. Maybe a blog on the literary scene in Northern Ireland, using a similar format to this one.Don't be afraid to double up on posts on both blogs.I had a blog back in 05 set up before archives from local papers were saved online to show a snippet of what was happening here in N.I. in the literary world.It's interesting to look back at occasionly.

seana graham said...

Just don't go out robbing banks or anything to try and make your posts conform to your crime scene theme...

d@Ve may be right about the two blogs, although I'm not sure I would break my own up in the way I have if I had it to do over. But then, I'm not sure what I'd do if I was starting again.

Michael Stone said...

I'd be happy to see you diversify, so long as the blog's core stayed faithful to Irish crime fiction.

Gordon Harries said...

Well, you could invite other contributors.

you could look at American Fiction that deals with Irish heritage. (or Irish genre fiction that looks to America, a 'special relationship' of it's own.)

All sorts, really.

Gerard Brennan said...

I've had a great response to this post, both in the comments section here and by email. Thanks a million, guys.


Gerard Brennan said...

Dave and Seana - I don't know if I'm disciplined enough to run another blog. I've played with the idea, and I even have a live journal account for my own thoughts and writing news that's still technically alive though it hasn't been updated in two months... I think I'm better off focussing on this one. But never say never, right?


Gerard Brennan said...

Mike - Yeah, that seems to be what most people are getting at. Kind of go off topic from time to time, but keep the majority of info based on Irish crime fiction. That could work.


Gerard Brennan said...

Gordon - Um... didn't I extend an invitation to you?

No rush or anything.

*check watch*


Gordon Harries said...


You did --yes. I keep falling behind schedule. (just moved house and that, it's not conjucive to being a work horse.)

Will email tommorow to sort out a timeframe.