Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Crimefest - Fairy wings, Seagulls and George Clooney

It's always a sign of a good conference when I come home and sleep for ten hours. This year's Crimefest, in Bristol, was no exception. What began as an overseas excursion for the American crime convention, West Coast Crime, has matured into an event with it's own international personality, thanks to the organising of Adrian, Myles and Donna and the hard work of their team of helpers.

This year was special for me - my first as a published author. I got quite emotional, seeing copies of Never Coming Home on the book stall, alongside novels from the likes of Leigh Russell and Andrew Taylor.
And there I was too, in the programme, with my own speaking slot - twenty minutes as one of the 'Author Spotlights'  That particular strand is one of my favourites - authors giving their party pieces - which this year included Caro Ramsay on forensics, Meg Gardiner on getting into trouble while researching thrillers and Matt Hilton demonstrating unarmed combat.
And me. Talking about mixing crime and romance. I'm unusual in being a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and  the Crime Writers Association, writing romantic suspense. I had a lively audience, and we enjoyed trying to decide why it is not as prevalent a genre in the UK as it is in the US. No definitive conclusions, but some interesting discussion. And yes, the story of my trip to a romance convention in Pittsburgh was part of it, which involved me transporting a set of fairy wings across the Atlantic, and the fun I had wearing them.

The 'weekend' (Thursday to Sunday) was packed with panels, receptions, quizzes, the gala dinner - the only meal in sight. Most days you don't even get an official lunch break. Awards were given out and prizes won. I met and talked to a lot of interesting people, which is part of what makes the conference so enjoyable. In the sunshine, the bar terrace was packed. Several of the delegates had a close and messy encounter with a seagull, including Lee Child, who was very funny when talking about it afterwards, and about his brushes with Hollywood - taking telephone calls with George Clooney while on his local commuter train. Will there ever be a chance of me talking to Johnny Depp on the train from Barry Island to Caerphilly? P D James spoke about her excursion into Jane Austen territory with Death Comes to Pemberly. An all female panel, meant to be exploring psychological thrillers, descended into laughter and a discussion on bed linen, and still managed to delve into a lot of creepy stuff.
I had a really good time.

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