June is a big month for Co. Armagh author Stuart Neville. Not only will he launch his latest novel at Belfast’s No Alibis bookstore, he will also play a set at the legendary Glastonbury festival with his band of fellow novelists, the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers.
Before Glastonbury, however, Stuart has to attend to his day job by launching his latest crime novel, LOST YOU, at Belfast’s famous No Alibis Bookstore. LOST YOU is Stuart’s second novel published under the pen name of Haylen Beck, and his ninth published book in total. It will be released almost ten years to the day since his debut, THE TWELVE, launched his career. Stuart’s writing has been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger and MWA Edgar awards, and his first novel won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His fourth novel, RATLINES, is currently in development for television, and his first Haylen Beck outing, HERE AND GONE, is in development for a movie adaptation.
The band, the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers comprises best-selling and award-winning crime and thriller authors Mark Billingham (vocals/guitar), Chris Brookmyre (vocals/guitar), Doug Johnstone (drums), Val McDermid (vocals), and Luca Veste (bass). Stuart completes the line-up on lead guitar, harmonica, and vocals. The genesis of the band was an impromptu jam session between Doug, Mark and Stuart that brought the house down at the 2016 World Mystery Convention in New Orleans.
Word quickly spread, and they were offered a show at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2017. Chris, Luca, and Val were soon recruited, and their debut performance filled the festival’s Spiegeltent to capacity. The show was such a success that the band have since been asked to play at book festivals all over Britain and Ireland, and as far away as Iceland.
The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers setlist features songs by everyone from Johnny Cash to the Clash, and from Hank Williams to Jimi Hendrix, but they all have one theme in common: crime. With numbers like I Fought the Law, Folsom Prison Blues, Watching the Detectives, and Psycho Killer, the band’s motto makes perfect sense: Murdering Songs for Fun.
The bandmates were thrilled to be invited to play a set at this year’s Glastonbury festival, taking place from the 26th to the 30th of June, headlined by Stormzy, The Killers, and The Cure. The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers will play the Acoustic Stage on the afternoon of Saturday 29th, sharing the bill with Marti Pellow, Keane, and Hawkwind.
Stuart said, “I’ve been a musician all my life, as well as a writer, but I never thought I’d get to play at one of the biggest music festivals in the world. To say I’m excited is a massive understatement!”
Mark Billingham is equally thrilled. “The six of us love hanging out and playing together, and if the audience have even a fraction of the fun we have on stage, then they’ll be having a great time,” he said.
Val McDermid agrees. “All six of us have the time of our lives making music together, and audiences seem to catch the vibe from us. Surfing that appreciation is an amazing feeling -- we may never be the same again after feeling the Glasto love.”
The Glastonbury appearance kicks off a string of gigs through the rest of 2019, including sharing a bill with The Beach Boys at the Cornbury festival, then headline shows at the Theakstons Crime Festival in Harrogate, a third appearance at the Edinburgh International Festival of Books, and more.
LOST YOU begins with a nightmare scenario: a single mother’s young son goes missing in a holiday resort, and she knows she isn’t the only one searching for him. If she doesn’t find him first, years of lies will finally catch up with her. The American publishing trade magazine gave LOST YOU a starred review, describing it as “unspooling tension to an almost unbearable breaking point. An adrenaline-pumping, anxiety-inducing thriller built around a core so sentimental it just might make you cry.” Publishers Weekly said it was “an engrossing psychological thriller … a richly complicated story about two desperate women and the reality of surrogacy in America.”
Bestselling thriller writer Steve Cavanagh will interview Stuart at the launch in No Alibis on Botanic Avenue, on Wednesday 26th June at 6:30pm. LOST YOU is published by Harvill Secker in the UK and Ireland on 27th June, and by Crown in North America on 6th August.