Spent the weekend in Ireland at the 2006 Crime Writers' Association conference. The vent was based at the Grand Hotel in Malahide, a coastal town not far from Dublin. Flew in on Friday afternoon and got a surprisingly cheap taxi from the airport. I say surprisingly cheap because not much else about the Emerald Isle is cheap. Had a gawk in the windows of an estate agency and staggered back, gasping at the prices for a two-bedroom apartment. Food, drink and most other things seem remarkably costly across the water.
The only thing that is cheap in Eire is life, judging by what one of our guest speakers had to say. We had a fascinating cross-section of talks during the weekend, the last of which was investigative journalist Paul Williams. He filled most of the delegates with horror at his talk of gangland slayings, Glock 9s and the millions of euros in drug money sluicing around Ireland. Bear in mind, this is a roomful of people who make their living imagining crime and murder on a daily basis. Fiction is one thing, but brutal reality is quite another. The cosy world of crime prose is far removed from the harsh life and death that is organised crime.
Coming back from these events is the worst part, as you just want to be home. Instead I got to spend five hours hanging around the hotel lobby and another four killing time at Dublin airport. The latter was nice enough, but there's nothing inviting or homely about airport terminals. The clue is probably in the word terminal - you feel your life slowly draining away as you wait for the call to be flung into the sky. Finally got home at midnight, grabbed five and a bit hours of sleep and then got up to go running. Now knackered, knackered and knackered some more.
Back to college on Thursday this week, so need to knuckle down and get some paying work done in the next three days. Some more Fiends of the Eastern Front in Stalingrad comic scripts would be useful, but more pressing is the need for a Phantom script [based on a plot by artist Hans Lindahl] and a plot synopsis for a Phantom prose story - both of which are due by the end of the week. Deadlines - the motivation that keeps on giving [stress].