Late May was Crimefest in Bristol. Among the highlights for me was listening to Sue Grafton interviewed by Maxim Jakubowski about her life of crime. She was by turns witty, insightful, intelligent and warm. It was also a delight to listen to James Sallis (whose books I love for their language and sense of humanity) debating on panels with other great writers like Andrew Taylor and Sophie Hannah.
A very special event was the discussion hosted by Barry Forshaw between Søren Sveistrup and David Hewson about The Killing – the TV series and David’s recent novel. We learnt a lot about the process of creating the groundbreaking show as well as the challenges for an author writing a book that both honoured the film and stayed true to the demands of a piece of fiction. Elements from the TV did not work as prose and David had early agreement that where the demands of the book required he would alter elements of the story.
One aspect that particularly intrigued me was hearing Søren talk about the differences between series 1 and series 2. Not only was series 2 half the length (at 10 episodes) but there was a conscious decision to do something different each time. Søren spoke of how the first series was very emotional in its depiction of a loving family torn apart by their loss and he did not want to cover the same emotional territory in the second series. So series 2 was deliberately less emotionally moving. I’ve already talked with friends about how I found series 1 much more compelling and suddenly those reactions make sense. I’m a sucker for a good weep! Although I was still hooked as a viewer, I didn’t care about the characters in the second series nearly as much. Søren says he’ll be going somewhere new again with series 3.
Meanwhile David’s novel, one of three he will do, is getting rave reviews. He spoke of having to radically change his writing style to find something that fit the tone and style of The Killing and of having two screens at his computer, one playing the DVDs and one where he typed up his interpretation of the story. Apparently the ending is different from the TV version. I’m writing the Scott and Bailey novels and the business of writing characters that other people have created interests me a lot. You want to get it right but you also want to bring your own skills to bear on depicting them in action. One thing is clear, the two media are very different and in order to enter these sorts of projects everyone needs to be happy embracing those differences.