Friday, 1 October 2010


I am taking a break from talking about Tales of Terror from the Black Ship to talk about my trip to Amsterdam where the Dutch edition of that book has just been awarded a Vlag & Wimpel by the Griffel jury of the CPNB - an organisation for the promotion of books in the Netherlands.

I was incredibly well looked after by my publisher Pimento and by Geri Brandjes, who was great, organising my whole schedule of interviews during the course of the two days. I stayed in the lovely Ambassade Hotel on Herengracht, a hotel that is famous for accommodating writers and which has a library filled with books signed by the visiting authors. I am very pleased to say that my book has now joined them.

I flew over very early on Wednesday and after doing some interviews - with VPRO (a TV station) and Kidsweek (a children's newspaper) - and having lunch with Geri, I wandered round Amsterdam in the lovely autumn sunshine. In the evening I was picked up from the hotel by my editor Hannerlie Modderman and publisher Mariska Budding, and off we went to the awards dinner where I also met Jochem Bouwens of Pimento and my translator Ellis Post Uiteweer. I was really struck by how articulate, charming and funny everyone seemed, speaking in a foreign language. There are times when I am not that fluent in my own language!

I was the only English person there, and I understand very little Dutch, so I was reduced to clapping when everyone else did during the speeches. Everyone at my table spoke perfect English and were so friendly that I enjoyed myself immensely. The organisers had gone to a lot of trouble - authors and translators had napkins with their books printed on them and I was given a translation of the speech given to introduce my book. A big thank you to the CPNB for the award and the invite to the dinner, to Pimento for treating me so well, and to Ellis for doing such a great job on the translation.

I was very proud to go forward and pick up my rather beautifully designed award certificate for De Verschrikkelijke Verhalen Van Het Zwarte Schip. I can only hope that the jury like De Verschrikkelijke Verhalen Van De Vrouw In Het Wit as much. That is Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth, but it has been retitled Tales of Terror from the Woman in White in the Dutch edition.

The next day I did another couple of interviews, with Nataszia Tardio of Ezzulia and with Marije Tol, and did a photo shoot for VPRO with a photographer called Merlijn - Merlin in English - Doomernik. What a great name!

I went for lunch with Minck Oosterveer, a very talented Dutch comic book artist, whom I had only previously had contact with in the online world. It was great to finally meet him in the 'real' world. We ate pancakes and talked about work and family. It felt very easy and relaxed. But then I did not have to speak in a foreign language the whole time!

I can't wait for an excuse to go back and I am already thinking that Amsterdam is one of those places I mentioned in a previous post - a place that is inherently creepy. That is not to say that it is not beautiful - it certainly is - but then so is Venice, another creepy city. The dark water of the canals, the distorted reflections - they do share many features. But there is something about the northern light (or gloom) of Amsterdam. . .

Autumn or winter in Amsterdam would certainly make a very good setting for a novel.


  1. Gosh! It sounds like you had a wonderful time.

  2. Wow that's great Chris, congrats! It's so awesome that you get to travel around the world. Can't for Dead of Winter to come out in bookstores! :)

  3. Not too far around the world - but still very nice. Amsterdam is so close that I did not have time to drink a coffee before we landed. If you are in the UK, the The Dead of Winter is out now - I saw it in bookshops yesterday here in Cambridge.

  4. And Thomas - I really did. I was made to feel very welcome indeed and Amsterdam is a very special city.