I did warn you this was coming – a ‘quick’ round up of my time in Bristol at this year’s CrimeFest. I have been to the past three events now and each one has given me something new, even if it is just a list of another dozen or so authors I want to check out and a big pile of books, both physical and virtual.
This year I took Mandie with me, who is fast becoming used to being dragged off to some bookish event or another. She pretends to protest but in truth she is happy that a) it is books and b) it is a weekend away from her husband and son who would otherwise drive her batty (true story). We arrived at the Marriott, also our home for the weekend, just around lunchtime on the Thursday. First task of the day was collect our passes and goody bags – second task lunch. Thankfully, being so close to the waterfront there are no end of places to quench our thirst and subdue our hunger pangs but we settled for Las Iguanas, long a favourite of ours.
The drinks pictured are completely non-alcoholic and on two for one. Who were we to complain?
My first panel of the day was Book ‘Em Danno: Writing the Police Procedural with MW Craven, Paul Finch, Leigh Russell and Robert Scragg, all overseen by the lovely Elly Griffiths. Some great discussion on the protagonists in their novels, all Detectives, and how they started their series. A great panel, and as someone who is looking to maybe, perhaps, possibly, write a police procedural, all very useful stuff. I certainly know the people to approach for advice now.
Meanwhile, Mandie chose to play it cool, joining the other panel at that hour, Climate Change: Cool Crimes and Hot Homicides featuring Quentin Bates, Kjell Ola Dahl, Lilja Sigurdardottir and Robert Wilson and presided over by Stan Trollip of Michael Stanley. I am reliably informed that she thoroughly enjoyed it.
Next up we hit the panel on Darkness and Light: Are you cosy or noir? Not literally obviously as that wouldn’t have been fair but you get my meaning. This panel consisted of Delores Gordon-Smith, Rosie Claverton, Jane Corry and Chris Curran and was moderated by Cathy Ace. All I can say is that these may look like lovely, kind and caring women but hearing some of them speak … well, appearances can be deceptive. Some of them have dark, dark minds. A really fun panel with as many giggles as serious discussions.
Our final panel of the day was Love Can Be Deadly with Christi Daugherty, Caroline England, Michael J Malone, Jane Robins and moderator Linda Stratmann. This panel examined the darker side of relationships and posed some really interesting questions. I may have ended up buying a book or two on my kindle during the session. ;D
After this it was off to the pub with Mandie, fellow blogger Jacob Collins and author Abbie (Abigail) Osborne who, for whatever reason, seemed to want to strangle me … I may also have indulged in something less non-alcoholic. Back to the bar later for some great discussion and a quick catch up with a few folk. Good times.
Friday morning we made the most of the beautiful weather with a walk around Bristol. We took a leisurely stroll around the quayside which I really would recommend. It is stunning. There is even a statue of one of Bristol’s most famous sons, Cary Grant. Love it.
Walkies over, it was back to ‘the office’ for another day packed full of bookish loveliness – aka more panels. My first panel of the day was the one called Special (Dis)Abilities featuring Ross Armstrong, Will Dean, Andreas Pflüger and Charles Todd and moderator Jeffery Deaver. This focused on protagonists who all had a disability of some kind but who did not let it stop them from catching their man. From deafness to PTSD this was a very interesting discussion panel and may have led to a few book purchases … (Looking a the picture, the water seems to be highly suspect …)
Mandie did her own thing again, joining the panel called The Victorians: From Industrial Revolution To Covering Piano Legs featuring Diana Bretherick, Nick Rennison, Linda Stratmann and William Sutton with moderator Kate Griffin.
Next up was Dial 999 (any guesses as to where my writing may be leading?) with Sarah Hilary, John Harvey, Alison Bruce and Anja de Jager with moderator Andrew Taylor, a fascinating discussion on police procedurals and the characters they have created.
We decided that it was the best time then to take a break, stretch our legs and take in the best of Bristol’s cuisine. Yes it was time for coffee and cake … Suitably refreshed we headed for the panel called Families Can Be Murder something we could both identify with … This panel saw Caroline England, Sam Carrington, Amanda Jennings, Louise Candlish and moderator Amanda Robson talking about the role family plays in their thrillers.
Always an interesting discussion point, Hot Of the Press: Journalists in Crime Fiction saw Anne Coates, Rod Reynolds, Thomas Enger and Christi Daugherty discuss an alternative to the standard detective in crime investigation with Matt Wesolowski. I can neither confirm nor deny the purchasing of more e-books during this event…
Last, but my no means least on Friday was the panel Small Town, Big City with Vaseem Khan, Michael Ridpath, Sarah Hilary and Chris Whitaker talking to Peter Guttridge about the merits of the sprawling urban landscapes verses small town culture in their settings.
Rounded off with the CWA Dagger announcements, this was a very tidy Friday. More moderately less than none alcoholic beverages (just the one) consumed and bed sometime after midnight then back up and raring to go at seven for breakfast and walkies. We are slaves to routine. Or something. We wandered a little further this time and saw hot air balloons, a cheeky swan and also managed to sneak a valley view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the early morning light. Tidy.
Saturday was another busy one. First up for me was It’s All In The Mind: Psychology, Obsession and Paranoia with Louise Candlish, Elodie Harper, Dirk Kurbjuweit and B.A. Paris who talked psychological chills and thrills with author Kate Rhodes. Easily one of the funniest moderators of the weekend. Mandie joined the panel Century Of Change: 20th Century Crime Fiction with Dolores Gordon Smith, Janet Laurence, Gunnar Staalesen, Nicola Upson and moderator Rod Reynolds.
After this we both headed to the big event of the morning – Jake Kerridge in conversation with Lee Child and Jeffery Deaver. Such a brilliant, funny and insightful panel although I’d take Jeffery Deaver’s advice on how to be come a writer – read – over Lee Child’s – quit your job and give all your money away – any day.
After this, I took a short break to have a chat with lovely blogger extraordinaire, Jo Robertson of My Chestnut Reading Tree fame. Nice to have a chill and natter and nice latte. Mandie meanwhile attended the panel Historical Noir: Can Historical Fiction Be Noir? with M.J. Carter, Kate Ellis, Alis Hawkins, Abir Mukherjee and moderator Barry Forshaw.
Time for another break, and today, as a treat, we had booked into Meow&You, Bristol’s Cat Cafe. Now for those who aren’t aware, my cat passed away earlier in the week so this was a kind of bittersweet therapy for me. 13 rescue cats living the high life, with plenty of toys and love, and some fantastic coffee and cake to boot. I had the White Chocolate Meowcha and Mandie had a Catte. Lush. Definitely worth a visit if you can make it.
I may have gone a bit cat photo happy (this is a CrimeFest post afterall) but they were soooooooooooooo cute. Love it.
Back to the books and our final event of the day, Peter Guttridge in conversation with Peter James and Martina Cole. Brilliant discussion and so funny. A great way to round of a fantastic day.
Sunday saw us take things a little easier. No grand walk today (we are getting on you know) but a nice long latte in the bar before joining our first panel of the morning (and final panel of the weekend) which saw Barry Forshaw in conversation with Yrsa Sigurdardottir and Gunnar Staalesen. I am a big fan of both authors and it is always a pleasure to hear Yrsa discussing her books so this was a big treat for me. If you haven’t read either of them yet, you really must. Gunnar’s Varg Veum series is brilliant and Yrsa’s latest Children’s House series is unbelievably good. Chills and thrills in abundance and both series so wonderfully translated. Top stuff.
So there you have it. Our CrimeFest weekend in a not so small nutshell. I’d love to tell you more about each individual panel but to be honest, I was too busy enjoying myself to take notes and if you want to know what happens at these festivals … well you should attend for yourself. It really is worth it. Do check out your local areas as there are crime and literary festivals of one variety or another all year round and all are well worth a visit.
My big thanks to everyone who put up with me at the weekend – mainly Mandie, Jo, Jacob, Abbie and also Gabriela Harding and Sharon Wilden. It was great to catch up with you all again (apart from Mandie – I see her all the time) and look forward to Harrogate when I will see you all again. (Or in Mandie’s case – no later than next week when we bugger off up to Stirling for the launch of Bloody Scotland – yay).
There were so many people it was lovely to see again, that there are too many to mention (without it sounding like a who died this year roll call at the Oscars), and it was nice meeting new friends too. But my absolute highlight of the weekend has to be finally getting to meet Rachel Amphlett. I am a massive, massive (okay teeny tiny – you’ll see what I mean in a minute) fan of her Dan Taylor and Kay Hunter series. I was introduced to her work after hearing her talk on panel at CrimeFest two years ago and we have since spoken many times over social media but this is the first time meeting in the flesh and I was more than a little excited. And yes … she really is tall and I really am short. Here (thanks to Rachel and Nick) is the evidence ………….
Can anyone spot the Lilliputian? Ah well.
If you are still with me after all of this then have a brilliant week of reading all. I’m off to enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend. See you on the other side.