Wednesday 21 May 2014

Crimewave hits Bristol - the Crimefest Report

Crimefest is one of several crime fiction conferences/conventions that take place every year in the UK - a gathering of writers and readers who spend a weekend talking about their favourite form of fiction. The kind with a crime in it. All sorts of different crime, as even a glimpse at the titles of the many panels on offer will confirm. It's the event that is located closest to me, and I've been to almost every one since it started as a supposedly one-off  - a version of the US Left Coast Crime convention, but held in the UK. First I went as a reader, now as a reader and published author. This year I only managed to visit on Saturday - but it was a great day. Fabulous discussions, meeting friends, lunch in my favourite fish and chip shop ...

Glorious blue sky 
I got up at a horrendous hour to make sure I was there for the very first panel at 9 am - the early morning balloons were still flying over Bristol when I walked up from the station.

Queen Square had sprouted what appeared to be a small forest of tee pees - apparently it was a food/music festival. Once I got to the Marriott hotel it was all go. I had a fabulous day.
Tents - and giant tulips?

Edited highlights and high spots? Sitting with Chris Longmuir in the first session and discovering that the panel I did last year had introduced her to my genre of romantic suspense and inspired her to included it in the guide to crime genres she examines in her non-fiction book Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution. I'm not sure I've ever been an inspiration before.

On a quick visit to the on-site bookshop - so many books, so little time (and unfortunately, money!) - I found my books on show, as an attending author, even though I wasn't participating in a panel this year. Much appreciated, Foyles.

Lunch - apart from the fish and chips, also included a visit to a frozen yogurt shop half way up the hill from College Green. I sat at the next table to one of the convention guests of honour, Mark Billingham. I have to admit that my pot of yogurt was twice the size of his. But I had a long train journey home at the end of the day - and didn't know when I'd next eat. (Well, that's my story.)

The after lunch sessions went in a flash. All the panels were fabulous but the one that really chimed with me was Secrets and Spies. I don't read much spy fiction as such, but I do love to write about secrets - and secret agents. And when one of the participants, Edward Wilson, declared his favourite spy writer to be William Shakespeare - or better still, Jacobean playwright John Webster - that was the icing on the cake. Or maybe the strawberries and chocolate drops on the frozen yogurt? I met friends, saw others only to wave across a crowded room, missed some completely. It was a spectacular day. Next year I hope to be able to make the whole weekend. I know already it will be fun.

NB The observant amongst you will notice there are no photos of any of the panel line ups. I did take them, but I have a genius for picking that exact moment when someone yawns, looks away, drops their pen and bends down to search for it ... I was determined to get a shot of Mark Billingham in his wonderful Country and Western inspired shirt, complete with skulls, and the matching ensemble also worn by his interviewer Martyn Waites. I had them lined up beautifully - and someone walked in front of the camera.
I did manage to take an excellent picture of the hotel carpet and one of my favourite pairs of shoes ...

The carpet is orange and the shoes are red, by the way ...

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