Last Saturday I made the long and arduous journey east from rainy Shropshire to slightly less rainy Derby. When I say arduous, I had to get up early (ish) and drive to Stafford for the train to Tamworth – where I had to change trains!!! (I know – the sacrifices I make for books) – and get on another, entirely different, train to Derby.
Okay so perhaps it wasn’t that arduous, but it was a weekend and I am used to driving which means I basically go from point A to point B with little or no interruption and definitely no changing of vehicles. This is a big thing for me. 😉 The reason for this huge level of commitment? (Did I mention this was on a Saturday morning?) The Horror Writers Association’s Partners In Crime event at the Derby Quad.Now this was quite an intimate gathering as we were small in number but the venue was brilliant for it and we had quite an impressive group of authors in attendance: Jo Jakeman, Roz Watkins, Steph Broadribb, Fiona Cummins, Barry Forshaw, Stuart MacBride, Susi Holliday, AK Benedict, Paul Finch and David Mark. All absolutely perfectly placed to talk about crime and psychological thrillers with a perhaps an occasional dark or horror/supernatural edge.
First event of the day was the panel on Making a Killing: why write crime fiction and current trends. Moderator Jo Jakeman (Sticks and Stones) put fellow authors Roz Watkins (The Devil’s Dice), Steph Broadribb (My Little Eye/Deep Blue Trouble) and Fiona Cummins (The Collector) through their paces, questioning why they took the move into crime fiction in the first place, research and injecting realism into the story.
The second panel of the day, and quite a treat for me as I’m a huge fan, was Barry Forshaw in discussion with Stuart MacBride. (Sorry Barry – you are lovely but I did mean Stuart there…) Stuart’s latest books, A Dark so Deadly and Now We Are Dead both featured in my top reads of 2017 and I personally cannot wait for the next Logan McRae book, The Blood Road, which is out in June. Stuart spoke openly about why he injects a little humour into his novels, the darker side of his fiction in the Ash Henderson novels – which was his attempt at writing a Shakespearean tragedy – and why he chose to create a fictional city for Ash to police, and all novels and plot lines he has written and created which will never see the light of day. Clearly something Stuart said tickled Barry at one point …
This concluded the morning session, the event starting up again after lunch.
First up in the possibly most appropriate post-lunch graveyard slot was Where’s The Evidence? Is There A Place for The Supernatural in Crime Fiction? This panel saw moderator Barry Forshaw interrogate AK Benedict (Jonathan Dark of The Evidence of Ghosts), SJI Holliday (The Damselfly), Roz Watkins and David Mark (Dark Winter) on the subject of the supernatural and other wordly in their novels. Discussion centred around the use of superstition and dark terrors in their novels, whether we can and should use the supernatural in crime literature, and wound up with the authors sharing the real life spooky encounters which make them question whether there really is something out there …
Second panel after lunch was I, Monster. Has the serial killer replaced the monster in dark literature? Here moderator AK Benedict grilled authors Steph Broadribb, Fiona Cummins and Paul Finch (Shadows, Kiss of Death) on serial killers in literature and how real life can often inspire stories by being far darker and scarier than any fiction.
The penultimate panel of the day was moderated by SJI Holliday who asked about Taboo! How Dark Is Too Dark. In this panel we hear authors Jo Jakeman, Paul Finch, Stuart MacBride and David Mark discuss just how far they would go with their writing and about the subjects which just would not make the cut both for them personally and for publishers and readers in general including terrorism and child abuse. That and don’t kill the pets! This concluded with a rather interesting game of lucky dip putting the authors on the spot with saying yes or no to writing some rather unusual, taboo or unsavoury subjects.
Our final panel was a discussion by Barry Forshaw on Crossovers – Horror in Crime Literature. This included a look at some of the best representations of horror in both literature and film and a discussion on some of the top true crime books that are available, proving that the darkness exists and horror and crime really aren’t a million miles apart.
Mood lighting on that last panel really did make the session quite atmospheric.
All in all this was a great day out with some really interesting panels. I certainly hope that we see another cross over of Horror and Crime writers in the near future, The Derby Quad was a very intimate venue which worked well for the event and I left that evening with a few more ideas for my own writing. Top stuff.