I’ve been spending a lot of time in the National Library recently. It’s a completely different place to work to the Criminal Courts of Justice and the work I’ve been doing has been different too. The courts are all about immediacy, making sure you get the quotes right and into a cohesive article that’ll read fresh when people flick through the paper over their breakfasts. In the library I’m dealing with old, dry facts, digging through brittle pages to find that glint of a story. It’s proper old fashioned research and I’m loving it.
The National Library itself is a wonderful place to work. Quite apart from the fact it’s an incredible resource with a dedicated and helpful staff, it’s also one of the most stunning buildings in the country. Coming into work every day and going through the iron gate, climbing the steps to the colonnade that surround the entrance, walking across the wonderful mosaic floor. Even the toilets are like something out of a more civilised, genteel time. Have I mentioned that I’m loving the work?
But I’m not giving up on my genre in the least. I’ll be back down to the courts in a few weeks, business as usual, and later this week I’m going to be taking part in a panel on True Crime as part of the Dublin Book Festival. It’s on Thursday March 3rd at the lovely Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar and should be a good night – it’s also free, so if you’re in Dublin, come along. It should be a good night.
It’ll be great to talk about True Crime with my colleagues. It’s a fascinating genre, strong stories, strong emotions, all the ingredients to make a compelling story. It’s also one of those genres that people tend to have strong opinions about. Some people love reading the stories I tell, other people don’t like me digging into other people’s pain. I’m fascinated by the different perceptions of what I do, just as I’m fascinated by the trials I cover. Some people think it’s seedy, some think there’s a kind of glamour there…personally I tread the middle ground. The courts are too starchily academic to be one hundred per cent seedy, but it’s hardly glamorous either. I tell people’s stories, that’s all. I try to tell them as vividly and compellingly because I’m not a lawyer or a garda, I’m a writer and telling stories is what I do. But it all makes for a lively discussion so roll on Thursday, it should be fun.