Go West!

It looks as though last year’s foray into crime writing conventions didn’t put me off, as I’ve just returned from another trip to Crimefest in Bristol. Too much procrastinating meant that I was only able to get a ticket for the Saturday, but to be honest that was probably enough!

Fresh bloodThe first panel was one of two “Fresh Blood” panels, moderated by Rhian Davies, which proved to be an interesting introduction to four writers that I hadn’t come across before. I was particularly intrigued with the outline of the books by Fergus McNeill and Tom Vowler.

GenresThe next panel I picked  was “Crime & Crossover: Different Genres, Different Audience?” which was an excellent decision, even if I do say so myself. This was by far the most entertaining panel of the day. Credit must go to Kevin Wignall for this as the moderator, but the panel of Colin Cotterill, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Dana Stabenow and Evonne Wareham all rose to the occasion. I never expected to be crying with laughter at a crime panel! I’m not sure that the panel reached much in the way of a conclusion other than – e-books offer the reader a chance to browse books regardless of the shelf a physical store might pigeonhole them on, and publishers don’t necessarily trust readers to understand that an author can write different genres.

The last panel before escaping for lunch (and it’s sad that you have to choose between a panel or eating) was “Crime Fiction & Universal Truth: Whose Truth Is It Anyway?” which touched on both the veracity of the information authors use, but also how much information the reader should have in crime fiction and when or indeed whether they should be able to figure out “whodunit”. And this reminded me that I still haven’t read anything by Sophie Hannah.

I think for most people the main event of the day came early in the afternoon with the “Creating Sherlock” session.  Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue were interviewed by Nev Fountain about all things “Sherlock”. It’s fair to say that this was an audience of admirers who were hanging on every word from the panel. Of course what we didn’t realise was that there was a huge piece of Dr Who news that was about to be released.

The next session was the one that had finally persuaded me to go to Crimefest – “Dick Francis & Ariana Franklin: Keeping the Legacy Alive” with Felix Francis and Samantha Norman. As a huge Dick Francis fan I was looking forward to finding out more about how Felix has carried on the work his father started. He  had already been involved in his father’s work to a limited extent as his manager, but when the publisher wanted a new book and Dick Francis didn’t want to write one, it was suggested that Felix should make a start. He had the benefit of some input from his father, although it didn’t sound like a large contribution. For Norman, although a journalist, her task is perhaps more difficult as she is trying to complete a book which her mother was part way through and possibly write a book to finish off a series – all without any idea of how things were intended to pan out. Francis was an extremely engaging speaker and I liked his analogy about managing characters in a book being like spinning plates.

My final panel was “The Changing Face of London” and perhaps it wasn’t just me that was flagging, because somehow the panel didn’t really get to grips with what had the potential to be an interesting discussion. There were some differences of opinion on the panel which seemed to provide more friction than discussion.

This was another excellent event, well-organised, interesting panels and a friendly atmosphere. It’s certainly a great opportunity to meet authors, bloggers and twitterers and chat over a few drinks in the bar.

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