Crime events can be a bit like buses – you can go for weeks without one and suddenly three come along at the same time! On Tuesday I was able to meet author Julia Heaberlin during a whirlwind trip to the UK from her home in Texas. Julia was here to promote the forthcoming publication in August of her new psychological thriller ‘Black Eyed Susans’, “A chilling new thriller that gets into the heart and mind of the killer, and the victim . . .” It was lovely to get the chance to chat to Julia, and find out more about the book. She has carried out some fascinating research for the book and it will be interesting to see how this translates into the plot.
Black Eyed Susans is published by Penguin on 13th August 2015.
On Wednesday I was thrilled to be invited to the launch of ‘Killer Women‘, a new collective formed in London by a group of like-minded female crime fiction authors. The group of 15 writers aims to “Provide innovative events, debates, talks, interviews and workshops to libraries, bookshops, festivals, book groups, literary and arts organisations, clubs and academia.”
The authors cover a range of sub-genres – including thrillers (Helen Giltrow), psychological thrillers (Colette McBeth, Louise Millar) and police procedurals (Jane Casey, Laura Wilson). There have already been a number of appearances of KW, with a debate ‘Deadlier than the Male?’ at the Trouble Club and a spotlight session at this weekend’s Crimefest in Bristol.
Last but by no means least was this year’s Crimefest event. The annual convention for lovers of criminally good writing. Taking place over a long weekend the convention consists of multiple author panels, spotlight events and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to meet and chat in a relaxed atmosphere (the bar) with the many authors in attendance.
The headline events for the weekend included Lee Child interviewing Maj Sjöwall and Jake Kerridge interviewing Catherine Aird and James Runcie (although not at the same time I hasten to add).
Highlights for me, however, were to be found in the more run of the mill panels which offered the opportunity to discover new authors and find out more about those I’ve been reading.
On the Friday one of the most entertaining panels was “Playing God With Your Characters” which was discussed by Amanda Jennings, David Mark, Linda Regan, Stav Sherez and moderated by Christine Poulson. The participants had some quite different perspectives on the ‘lives’ of their characters and this led to an animated debate. It’s much more interesting for the audience to see authors with differing points of view!
It’s difficult to choose between two of the panels I attended on the Saturday – Thrillers: Brains Or Brawn, Who Kicks Best Ass – with Lee Child, Chris Ewan, Zoë Sharp and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir moderated by Tom Harper, or Things That Go Bump with A.K. Benedict, Oscar de Muriel, J.F. Penn, Mark Roberts and moderated by Kevin Wignall.
It was a packed room for the panel featuring Lee Child and the discussions did tackle some issues beyond the brains vs. brawn one. This included the difficulties in actually writing an action sequence and the realism of TV and film action compared with the written descriptions. I was particularly interested in the views on the difference between crime fiction and thrillers, the consensus being that crime fiction starts with a bad situation and is about discovering its cause (who, why etc) whereas thrillers are about preventing a bad situation happening. The shorter comparison was ‘ticking clock versus whodunnit’!
In my view, however, any panel which has Kevin Wignall as its moderator is not to be missed, and this panel considering the use of the supernatural in crime fiction didn’t disappoint. With discussions ranging from the links between supernatural and religion to chocolate or cake the session lived up to my expectations.
But of course the real highlight is all the new friends I’ve made. So now I’ve unpacked my bags, squeezed my new books onto their shelves and caught up on some sleep. Until the next time!