The trouble with book festivals …

… is that they can be very expensive. Now I’m not talking about attending them. No matter which one I have been to I think they have offered great value for money and have been thoroughly entertaining. But for someone with absolutely no will power, and an addiction to books, it can be a nightmare. Or for Amazon, a bit of a goldmine (other book retailers are available).

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So. Yesterday I attended the inaugural Killer Women Crime Writing Festival at Shoreditch Town Hall. Although only 1 day long, it was a brilliant event with such a jam packed schedule my only real problem was not being able to fit in as much as I wanted to. I’ll be honest and say that my picture taking skills were lacking too, so this is more, tell than show.

I started off the day with the ‘History and Mystery’ panel which was a look at writing crime fiction set in history and the issues of research and authenticity verses the need for entertainment. This was a great panel, some great insight from all of the authors. One of highlights was cultural historian, Fern Riddell, who also works as a consultant on the TV series ‘Ripper Street.’ Her job is to make sure of the historical accuracy in the scripts and one of her greatest delights was introducing swear words to the dialogue. My kind of historian :).

Next up, I stayed on for the ‘Fresh Blood’ panel chaired by Sarah Hilary. Of the panelists, I was already aware of Agnes Ravatn, whose highly praised novel, ‘The Bird Tribunal‘ has just been released by Orenda Books, and Michelle Davies, whose book, ‘Gone Astray‘ is based around the fairly unique perspective of a Family Liaison Officer, rather than the typical investigating Detective. Michelle’s story was inspired by talking with Kerry Needham about the impact finally having been provided an FLO had upon her and her family. Next up was Chris Whitaker, who talked about his inspiration for writing ‘Tall Oaks.’ All I can say is bloody hell… That was some story. Rounding off the panel was Paul Burston, author of ‘The Black Path‘ whose description of Bridgend really made me smile. I travel there a lot on business and his descriptions were pretty accurate. The panel was great, debating the use of social media for publicity purposes. In most cases the authors agreed it was invaluable, with the notable exception of Agnes Ravatn. As a self confessed procrastinator she stays well away, preferring to be motivated by big Norwegian spiders and leaving the publicity to her excellent publisher, the wonderful Karen Sullivan at Orenda.

Next up I plumped for the panel, ‘Inside the Killers Head.’ Somewhat disturbing, authors Jane Casey, Tammy Cohen, Emma Kavanagh and Kate Medina talked to us about what inspired them to write psychological thrillers and what they like best about getting into the heads of their killers. Hannibal Lecter was a key favourite when it came to dark protagonists. A brilliant, if somewhat worrying panel to attend. After it was straight to the panel on ‘How to solve a Murder’. In this session former detective, David Swindle, Detective Chief Superintendent, Dr Jackie Sebire, along with presenter Louise Millar took us through the steps of investigating a murder. It was one of the best panels of the day and it was sobering thinking about some of the real life cases the pair of them have actually worked on. Some very chilling stuff.

My last session was the ‘Silver Scream’ session where Erin Kelly discussed the journey from publication to optioning for screen with S.J. Watson, Alex Marwood, Paula Hawkins and Louise Doughty. Which is better? The book or the film?

Rounding off the day was the murder mystery, penned by Erin Kelly and presented by Helen Smith. In this session, the audience were invited to solve the mystery of who killed Eddie Glass and why. My sister and I had a go, and if we hadn’t second guessed ourselves, we’d have been okay. Two possible options, we went with the second (although I still think it would have been funnier if it had been a keystone cops moment where he had managed to knock himself out with the rake before drowning.)

Needless to say, despite buying books at the event itself, I still bought more on the kindle when I got home. Well I couldn’t get them all there (had to carry them home), and my books were all lovely and signed and I don’t want them to get creased now do I.(That’s my excuse for spending all the families inheritance and I’m sticking with it. Basically a great day was had by both me and my sister. I got to say hi to super publisher, Karen Sullivan, blogger and book lover extraordinaire Liz Barnes and the lovely Chris Curran, whose book, ‘Her Turn to Cry‘ has been one of my favourite reads this year.

Some of my book haul from the festival

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Thanks to all at Killer Women for organising the event. It was brilliant. Can’t wait for the next one. I’m on a book festival detox now until CrimeFest next May. How will I cope?

It was also e-pub day for Steph Broadribb, whose debut thriller with Orenda, ‘Deep Down Dead‘ downloaded onto my kindle at midnight. I was lucky enough to get a sampler in my goody bag yesterday too and after reading just the prologue, I can’t wait to get stuck in to the rest of it. You can always trust Orenda for quality and this looks like another winner.

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On top of these lovelies, I have been busy reading and snaffling new books to read via NetGalley. My haul this week has been huge and I am go grateful to the publishers for entrusting me with their books. I know a lot of people want to read them and not everyone can, so getting a yes on these beauties put a smile on my face.

Meanwhile, it’s back to the books for me. Currently reading ‘Love You to Death‘ by Caroline Mitchell. I’m lucky enough to be on the blog tour so you have to wait for my review but at the half way point I am loving every minute of it. Ooh. That Lucy!

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