Today I have Sandra Ireland popping by with a guest post all about ‘Noir’. Only one sleep till the BIG event in Dundee. If you are heading that way tomorrow, please say hello to me. Enjoy,
Noir By Sandra Ireland
With just a days to go before Noir @ the Bar hits downtown (or maybe uptown) Dundee, I thought I would begin my blog post with a definition.
What is noir?
My Google search led me into a rabbit warren of fascinating discussions, and as any writer will recognise – give me Google and I will give you a blank page. However, I have managed to struggle back from the murky depths of the ether to bring one or two interesting facts to the (bar) table.
Post-war American exports were dubbed ‘black (noir) films’ by the French, because they were in such contrast to the typical Hollywood film of the Thirties. This new cinema was edgy and disturbing, riddled with crime and corruption. The lead was generally a rough-around -the-edges anti-hero, who appeared to have slept in his overcoat, rather than a squeaky-clean matinee idol in a pressed shirt.
The mood was pessimistic, menacing and morally ambiguous. We liked this mood so much, we have dubbed our literature ‘noir’, and now we have a whole family: American noir, Mediterranean noir, Tartan noir, Scandi-noir and so on. Urban noir, predictably, suggests dark deeds in even darker alleyways.
To a writer, anything can become noir. My work-in-progress is set in a scrapyard. I’m going to call it car noir.
This brings me neatly round to the Gothic, which is at the heart of all of the above. In Gothic literature, the setting reflects the mind. Long before Elmore Leonard and Raymond Chandler, we had Sir Henry Walpole (The Castle of Otranto) and a woman called Mrs Radcliffe, who made a very good living from darkness and decay, at a time when good livings were definitely not for girls. Readers of my debut novel Beneath the Skin will know that I favour noirish settings and shadows, creaky staircases and nightmarish basements, but with a nod to the Gothic, my characters are on a dark and winding road of their own. Not so much the perpetrators of crime, but the victims of it.
I was thrilled to discover that Noir @ the Bar, Dundee, will take place in a basement (Braes below, Perth Road). How fitting! If you dare to join us there, we will guarantee you an evening of menace, pessimism and moral ambiguity!
A taxidermist with a secret. A soldier with nothing left to fight for. A mother determined to protect her young son. Together, can they fight the past that doesn’t want to let them go?
Taking a job in the studio of an Edinburgh taxidermist is probably not Walt’s wisest move. Already suffering from combat stress, and struggling to outrun the horrors of his time on the front line, he finds himself confronted by the undead on a daily basis.
His boss Alys and her sister Mouse are sharing a secret that is threatening to destroy them. When Mouse’s eight-year-old son disappears, can Walt find the strength for one more battle and finally lay the past to rest?
This compelling thriller peels back the skin of one modern family to reveal the wounds no one wants to see. It deals with the effects of trauma, and explores how facing up to vulnerability is sometimes the only way to let go of the past.
To order and also have a sneak peek, click the handy links below.
Before you go please check out an interview we did with Claire MacLearly last month, Click to read.
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