Sunday, 2 June 2013

CrimeFest 2013: The Aftermath

Years ago, I booked a one-to-one appointment at the Winchester Writers Conference with author and critic Peter Guttridge. When we met, for our appointed fifteen minutes, he apologised and told me that, due to a mix-up, he hadn’t received my sample chapters, and was unable to offer me any helpful feedback. However, he did tell me that if I emailed the material to him directly, he’d take a look and get back to me when he could.

He never did.

Fast-forward to the present, and CrimeFest 2013. This was to be my first ever literary festival, and I was fortunate enough to be on two different panels. One was for debut authors, entitled Fresh Blood, moderated by the lovely Rhian Davies. The other, entitled The Power Of The Author, was to be moderated by me, and the panellists included... Peter Guttridge!

In a novel, this might have led to murder in the Green Room, and a conference-wide search for the missing writer, but in reality Peter and his fellow panellists Ruth Downie, Andrew Pepper, and John Matthews were all great fun and delivered an entertaining discussion for the audience.

It was a fabulous four days. CrimeFest takes place at the Marriott in Bristol, just across the road from the Watershed cafe where I often go to write, and it was hugely enjoyable to wander around in the midst of so many famous authors. There was Julia Crouch walking along the corridor, Ann Cleeves sitting at the next table in the bar. I chatted with George Mann while we waited for our drinks, and popped out for the odd cigarette with Sophie Hannah and Stav Sherez. It was as though my Twitter feed had come to life and been transported en masse to Bristol.

There were some excellent panels, leading to deep discussions in the courtyard afterwards, especially once the drinks started flowing. There was Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue giving a talk on Sherlock. And there was blazing sunshine throughout.

Above all though, it was great to meet so many lovely people, particularly the readers who were kind enough to take a chance on buying "Eye Contact". I’m glad I had the chance to talk to them about it, I hope they enjoy reading it, and I hope they can make out what I scrawled in the copies I signed!

I wish the weekend could have lasted longer. Too soon, it was time to make for Bristol Temple Meads and the train home. Funnily enough, Julia Crouch sat two seats away from us on the way back but, as the last thing I read by her involved a quiet woman murdering an irritating fellow rail passenger, I thought it best to leave her in peace.

Roll on CrimeFest 2014!

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