During the 2011 Festival, journalist Sonia Kilvington caught up with Mark Billingham. Here’s what he had to say about his experience of the Festival and his new book…  

Mark Billingham takes questions at the Dennis Lehane event

Which events are you involved in?

I did the Dragons Pen and I am hosting the quiz on the Saturday night, which everybody takes very seriously. It’s a real festival tradition that we have this big quiz on Saturday night and there is a cup, a trophy, which is presented to the winning team. Everyone takes it seriously – it’s very hard fought!  And then I am doing the special guest interview on Sunday morning with Dennis Lehane.

Are you looking forward to that?

I am a big fan of Dennis. He is a lovely guy and a great writer so that should be fun.

Next year you’re chairing the festival?

Yes, for the second time. The last time was at this hotel. It was back in 2004, I think, I chaired it last. I am thrilled to host it again. It’s just like hosting a party and inviting your favourite guests. There is a committee involved, but as the chair I have already got three special guests involved, John Connelly, Harlan Coben, Charlaine Harris. We are already thinking a year ahead. The festival is a real professional operation. So we are already well into the planning of next year.

It must take a huge amount of organisation?

We have several big meetings, three or four times a year. We are all in touch for the rest of the year – batting ideas back and forward. We talk to publishers and to writers. The reason the chair is always a writer is because they have connections with other writers and are friends with other writers. Last time I chaired George Pelecanos and Ian Rankin. You have that personal approach, writer to writer, which is often better than writers being approached by publishers.

You have your next Thorne book coming out soon?

Yes, Good As Dead, which is out on 18th August, which I am very excited about. I just got texted the first early review from The Daily Express, which was a goody, thankfully.  It’s always a fairly worrying period when you are waiting for reviews to come in.

You still worry about them?

God yes, the day you stop worrying about that stuff you should probably knock it on the head. The day you take it for granted. The day you don’t get excited about seeing your book in the shop.  I still get hugely excited about seeing the book in the shop; my mum still goes into shops, turns them round and puts them at the front of the shop!

Is there anything you can tell me about the book without giving too much away too much away?

It’s quite a different book. It’s a Thorne novel, but the other major character in it is a woman called Helen Weeks who featured in a stand-alone novel I wrote a couple of years ago, called In The Dark. I had a lot of correspondence from readers asking when I was going to write about her again. And I wanted to write about her again, so I now have a book with the two of them in, but for reasons I cannot mention they are never in the same room at the same time until the very end of the book. It’s a siege novel, a race against time novel. It all happens very quickly over three days. There is a very new look to the book as well, the jacket design is very different; all the books are being redesigned. It has to happen every couple of years – so I am very excited.

Any more plans for TV?

We are adapting three more at the moment – that will be nine hours. We are adapting the next three books in the series which are Lazy Bones, The Burning Girl and Lifeless.  They are being written right now; but we  probably won’t be filming till the beginning of next year as the screen plays have to be written and David Morrissey who plays Thorne is very busy. Three more in the pipeline though…

As Good As Dead by Mark Billingham is available now

Interview by Sonia Kilvington