Thursday, 20 May 2010

Shunned and overlooked

A few weeks back, I was in the audience at the Erin Arts Centre for Mannslaughter and Mayhem, which saw three leading Scottish crime novelists entertain a full house with plenty of insight (and no little wit) into the life of a writer.

Stuart MacBride, Donna Moore and Allan Guthrie were brought to the Isle of Man thanks to the efforts of Chris Ewan, Island resident and author of the Good Thief’s Guide novels, and the support of the Isle of Man Arts Council.

It was a fine night, despite the fact that I’d not read any of the authors’ books (something I’m in the process of remedying), but I don’t think it is essential for such an event anyway, particularly if you are as fascinated by writers talking about writing as I am. (This, of course, is not the same thing as a journalist turning up to interview an author and not having read any of his material, which should be a shooting offence)

First up, kudos to Chris (and his team of helpers) for pulling such an event together; it worked very well, particularly the nice touch of having the children’s crime writing award results on the same night, with the youngsters present. I’m not sure whether this is the kind of event Chris wants to repeat on a regular basis, but the full house at least showed the Manx public’s hunger for such events is there.

It’s a shame, then, that the Island’s literary scene is so poorly served. You can’t seem to swing a guitar around your head for fear of hitting a music festival, we have a thriving theatrical scene and artists have their exhibitions. Mainstream bands and singers are brought to the Island, along with a regular supply of comedians.

But when it comes to us lowly writers, there’s barely a ripple in the Manx literary scene, if indeed there is a scene in the first place. Maybe sitting listening to authors talk about writing and reading out extracts from their books isn’t considered sexy when compared with comedians forcing you to cough up a lung, or jumping up and down screaming and throwing your knickers at some heartthrob singer. But, hey, us fanatical readers – and writers – can get just as excited, in our own little way.

I can only hope the Manx literary scene is better served in the years to come. Hopefully, Mannslaughter and Mayhem will be just the beginning. I have one or two ideas of my own, but that's all they are for now, vague notions. But one day, by Manannan's mighty sword, we'll show 'em.