Wednesday 26 April 2023

The Crime Cymru Festival

 A little late with the post this week - since travelling back from Aberystwyth on Monday it's been one of those days - twice. But I'm here now. 

I had a really great weekend. The Crime Cymru Festival finally happened, in person. Panels, social events, author spotlights - the festival had it all in a friendly and inclusive atmosphere. 

Aberystwyth is a lovely town. I used to travel there a lot in the dim and distant past, for work. It really hasn't changed too much The journey is long and trains were crowded, but I made it there and back without mishap. And it was worth it.  The sea was grey/blue and I had a view of it from my window. There were all sorts of events including trips around the archives, appearances from such authors as C L Taylor, Ben Arronovitch, Belinda Bauer and an on-line event with American mega star David Baldacci  . I concentrated on talks and panels that considered writing and Wales as I have thoughts of a new series set in my home country. The general opinion seemed to be that Wales was arriving in literary terms. No more requests to relocate your book to Cornwall or Scotland? We can hope.

The action was centred on the town library - a posh building with a modern interior - and the Museum which is housed in a beautiful Edwardian theatre. On Friday night that was the setting for a cabaret style quiz and a performance of a murder mystery written by Crime Cymru members Louise Mumford and Chris Lynch and played with aplomb - there is no other word for it - by the Warden players. The cast's impromptu promenade through the audience, ad libbing responses to tables full of crime writers and readers asking awkward questions was a high spot. It was all a great deal of good natured fun. 

On Saturday - fortified by fish and chips - the high spot of the evening was Claire Mackintosh and Phillip Gwynne Jones in conversation with Katherine Stansfield. I've read all Phil's books set in Venice and had the pleasure of reading Claire's The Last Party as a proof copy from my goody bag at the CWA conference in Torquay, so it was lovely to hear from both of them about their writing.  

On Sunday I had my own time in the spotlight - reading from Masquerade on the Riviera before the cosy crime panel when Jacky Collins - the famous Dr Noir herself - chatted with Cathy Ace and Rod Green, who took over the mantle  of MC Beaton after her death to carry on with the popular Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series. One of the most impressive things about the festival, alongside the friendly atmosphere and the ever helpful volunteers - many of whom were local residents -was the knowledge and preparation that the interviewers had put into the panels they were chairing. It makes such a difference when speakers are guided by perceptive questions. 

The organisation was seamless - or it looked that way from outside. I imagine the committee are now all lying down in darkened rooms to recover. Well deserved. 

It was over too soon, but I really had a great time. If you are a crime fan make a note - the next festival will be in 2025 - with an on line event next year. 

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