Troubled Blood: Rowling and the Crime Writers’ Association

Professor Granger has previously posted that J.K. Rowling was shortlisted for two awards by the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) the British club for writers of both fiction and non-fiction crime. She was on this occasion unsuccessful in both the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award for Thriller Fiction, and the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Fiction.

The Steel Dagger was won by Michael Robotham for When She Was GoodMr Robotham has had quite a run at the CWA awards, first being shortlisted in 2007 for Night Ferry, before winning his first Gold Dagger 2015 with Life or Death. 2015 was also the last time J.K. Rowling was shortlisted for the awards with Silkworm as a contender for the Golden Dagger. 

  • Crime Writers’ Association (UK), Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, 2007: shortlisted for The Night Ferry
  • Crime Writers’ Association (UK), The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, Best Thriller, 2008: shortlisted for Shatter
  • Crime Writers’ Association (UK), The CWA Gold Dagger, Best Crime Novel, 2013: shortlisted for Say You’re Sorry
  • Crime Writers’ Association (UK), The CWA Gold Dagger, Best Crime Novel, 2015: winner for Life or Death
  • Crime Writers’ Association (UK), The CWA Gold Dagger, Best Crime Novel, 2020: winner for Good Girl Bad Girl
  • Crime Writers Association (UK), Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, 2021: winner for When She Was Good

The 2021 CWA Gold Dagger was won by Christ Whitaker for We begin at the End who also won the CWA New Blood Dagger for Tall Oaks in 2017.

 

 

Rowling-Galbraith: On Denmark Street

“Denmark Street fits Strike like a glove, because, obviously, his parentage. He comes from in some ways from Rock n Roll Royalty but he’s never lived that life, and yet he’s gravitated to Denmark Street. And Robin might be calling him on that at some point in the future.

“It is an iconic street. And it is a place clearly that he feels at home, though I’m not sure he’s ever thought that through. Because he grew up being dragged around concerts by a passionate Rock fan and a groupie.  So to operate out of a place where the buskers are constantly playing is, so this is home to him, yeah.

“But I love Denmark Street. I know it of old and used to live quite near there and it’s just one of those iconic places that I hope is not about to disappear though I fear for its future.”

Beatrice Groves, in her exegesis of Rowling’s choice of Charing Cross Road, has pointed out the importance of Denmark Street to Robin rather than Strike, that is to her what the Leaky Cauldron was to Harry Potter, and to The Presence herself as well:

More recently Rowling has spoken of how setting Strike’s offices on Denmark St was not a random choice, any more than was the placing of the Leaky Cauldron in Charing Cross Road. For Rowling, like Robin, once temped in Denmark Street: ‘I was sent to an office in Denmark Street years ago, and I was only there a week, and I loosely based Strike’s offices on that place where I temped.’ This was the first time that Rowling has mentioned her personal connection with this area of London and it makes sense that this might have been the time in her life when she got to know, via perusal in her lunch breaks, the bookshops of Charing Cross Road….

In sending Robin to temp in the office where she herself once temped, Rowling is doing something more than simply using a location which is familiar to her. For Strike’s office is to Robin what the Leaky Cauldron was to Harry: it is her portal of transformation. It will take her from the loveless, conventional life by which she feels stifled, and into her dream career. Matthew shares with the Dursleys both his obsession with the gaze of others, and in the desire to quash anything unconventional, anything of which those others might disapprove, out of the person whose behaviour might reflect badly on him. Matthew’s attempt to keep Robin away from the job for which she longs precisely echoes the Dursleys’ attempt to crush the magic out of Harry. It seems likely that it is no mere coincidence that the place that transports Harry from the Muggle to the magical world should be next-door to the place that transports Robin into the life she has always wanted. 

Wordsworth writes that ‘there are in our existence spots of time,/ That with distinct pre-eminence retain/ A renovating virtue.’ I can’t help wondering whether Rowling has placed the gateways into her heroes’ dreams at precisely this location because she connects that particular ‘spot of time’ in her life, that time when she was temping in London the late 1980s, with the fulfilment of her own dreams. My hunch is that Rowling connects that time, and place, in her life with the crystallising of her own transformative dream to become a writer. 

Rowling in today’s short comment talks about the Strike connection to Denmark Street, a side street to Charing Cross famous for its guitar stores and past clubs, the latter all closed (Strike’s address was in the not so distant past a notable one; see my post about dropping by Strike’s premises and favorite pub in 2016). The most exciting part of her asides here, I think, for Serious Strikers is the near confirmation in them that our prediction that the Agency will be forced to move from Denmark Street in Strike6 (and that Joe North’s home would be a perfect fit).

The eviction and search for new digs would be the perfect occasion for Robin to explore with Strike why he chose Denmark Street in the first place — and to suggest, when he neglects the obvious connection, that it was because an avenue that was Rock n Roll heaven at the time of his parents’ meeting felt like home to the recently demobbed soldier. My choice for the place for them to have this conversation is one closer than even Charing Cross Road or the Tottenham pub, namely the Church of St Giles in the Fields, the remarkable and beautiful building and grounds of which, though never mentioned in the books, are only a few steps and just across the street from the Agency’s entrance.

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Michael Ward on CSL’s ‘Abolition of Man’

Fr Michael Ward’s book Planet Narnia, a book which explores the astrological artistry of C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, has been the subject of several HogwartsProfessor posts and the inspiration of many more. He has written a new book, this one an ancillary text to Lewis’ Abolition of Man, Ward’s book being titled After Humanity.

I confess that I have not yet read it. I have no doubt, nonetheless, that Fr Michael’s gloss on one of if not the most important of Lewis’s books is an invaluable guide to that work’s historical context, its meaning, and its continuing relevance today.

Chris Calderon sent me these helpful links to sites and online events that Lewis and Ward fans will enjoy:

Help Save Tolkien’s Northmoor Home

Project Northmoor Overview from Brian Boyd on Vimeo.

Go to ProjectNorthmoor.org for more information about the effort to create a Tolkien landmark site and museum and how you can help.

Hat tip to Karen!

Hidden (and obvious) Treasures on the Robert Galbraith Website

One of the great benefits of the sales numbers of the Strike novels, including Troubled Blood, is that there are some nice resources available for both casual fans and serious readers. And one of the wonderful aspects of the “old days” of Harry Potter excitement was the delightful Rowling website where we discovered her inspiration sketches and outtakes by watering virtual plants or making calls on a The Cuckoo's Calling readalongvirtual flip phone and where forthcoming books titles were revealed in Christmas decorations. While the “grown-up” Robert Galbraith website does not have quite as many (literal) bells and whistles (really, I tried my best to make those R and G type pieces spin or turn into something else), it does have some nice little tidbits that are both fun and useful for our serious reading adventures. If you have not already, you can sign up for the newsletter here as well. Join me after the jump for a review of some of the site features as well as a few wishes for forthcoming offerings at the online home of our Denmark heroes and their pseudonym-wielding creator.

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