I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the digital revolution and how it might affect the world of books, as my publishers, together with the rest of them, rush to embrace the new technology. The new generation of e-readers has produced some extremely nifty devices, but will they ever really take off? Will the downloading of books ever become as influential as the downloading of songs?
Certainly, they can come in very handy. Just imagine this handy little gadget containing all the works of Bellow, Roth and Mailer. How useful would that would be for students of American literature? One loaded up with the novels of Philip. K. Dick and Arthur C Clarke for science fiction fans. Or one containing the collected works of Jeffrey Archer, for soldiers to hand out to inmates at Guantanamo Bay, now that water-boarding has been outlawed. I’m joking, obviously! This collection of metal, circuits and software could never replace the printed works of Mr Archer.
Well, it doesn’t burn nearly as well, does it?
Mark is a funny guy. (He better be! He once made his coin doing stand-up comedy!)
Here's something that doesn't happen to everyone:
“OH, MANCHESTER, SO MUCH TO ANSWER FOR…”
Those that recognise the Smiths’ lyric will know it comes from their moody masterpiece “Suffer Little Children” – a haunting song about the Moors Murders. These horrible killings, which cost the lives of five children in the mid-sixties still exert a powerful grip on the public imagination while the couple that carried them out, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, continue to loom large whenever ‘evil’ is discussed.
I have been filming a documentary about Brady and Hindley – one which concentrates on the two of them rather than the crimes they committed – in an effort to understand the twisted chemistry that caused this couple to do what they did. It has been a fascinating, if sobering experience, not least reading a letter which Ian Brady sent to me from the prison/hospital where he remains after forty-five years, waiting to die.
This is the first in a series of four programmes about couples who have killed and will go out on the History Channel’s ‘Crime & Investigation’ network sometime in October. I doubt that anything I see or hear during the making of the remaining programmes will make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up quite as much as the last words of Brady’s letter:
“The ball is yours…”
Read up on the Moors Murders via wikipedia.
Mark is one of those lucky writers whose books actually get TV ads:
Mark Billingham Death Message TV advert
That's for the latest in his series of crime novels featuring Detective Thorne.
For those who would rather sample Billingham without committing to an entire series first, he has a new standalone crime novel called In the Dark that hits the U.K. August 7th and the U.S. several months later. Visit his site for more details.
Mark Billingham: Writer, Crime Victim