Events

Cheltenham Literature Festival – In Cold Blood: Scandi And Nordic Noir

I’m attending a few events at the Cheltenham Literature Festival this year and “In Cold Blood: Scandi And Nordic Noir” was the first. The billed panel was Barry Forshaw, Quentin Bates and Søren Sveistrup but there was a last minute change of programme and Søren was replaced by Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen. Who knows how the discussions would have played out with a different panel but Jakob offered a very informed and engaging insight into Scandinavian crime fiction.

The discussion took the audience on a whirlwind journey charting the rise in popularity of scandi / nordic crime fiction, both in print and on television.

The general consensus was that the publication of Peter Høeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow which, although a mix of literary and crime fiction, set the stage for other translated fiction to reach a wider audience in the UK. For crime fiction the real breakthrough was the Millennium series from Stieg Larsson when it became easy to spot people reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo when out and about. These weren’t the first translated fiction books to be available but series like that by Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall with the 10 novel sequence of Martin Beck / The Story of a Crime didn’t receive the same broad audience. Following the success of the Stieg Larsson series there has been the rise of the publishing ‘superstar’ in the success of Joe Nesbo and his books and subsequent films.

On the small screen the Wallander series led the way, especially when those averse to subtitles could watch the Brannagh version in English. The breakthrough for series broadcast in their original language but with subtitles was The Killing which opened up the opportunities for the success of series like The Bridge. As well as acceptance of the subtitles is also the audience exposure to series where the characters are taken on a longer journey than we might be used to.

There was much discussion about the content of the crime fiction – how the stories and themes can be used to demonstrate the mistreatment of women, the failures of the welfare state and how, in countries that faced occupation in the Second World War, incidents can often have their roots in behaviour or attitudes from that period.

It was an interesting and informative panel and we all stayed awake which was quite a feat considering how hot the room was! And the final consensus – that while there might have been a perceivable rise in the prevalence of ‘scandi noir’ it’s now an established part of the crime fiction landscape.

Barry Forshaw – reviews crime fiction for a number of national newspapers and is the author of a number of guides to crime fiction including Nordic Noir and Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction.

 

 

 

Quentin Bates – author of the Gunnhildur “Gunna” Gísladóttir series, set in Iceland and translator of Icelandic books into English including books by Ragnar Jonasson and Lilja Sigurdardottir. The lasted book in the series, Cold Breath, was published 11th October. 

 

 

 

Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen – a  Senior Lecturer in Scandinavian Literature in the School of European Languages, Culture and Society (SELCS) and acting Director of Comparative Literature at University College London and author of ‘Scandinavian Crime Fiction’ which is aimed at an audience with an interest in the rise of the this translated fiction.

 

 

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Crime fiction events in 2018

It’s time to put my 2018 events listing together. Remember this isn’t all literary events (there are plenty of lists of those and there must be hundreds of events) but it is a list of the main dedicated crime fiction events taking place in the UK.

I aim to maintain the list and update it as dates are confirmed so do let me know if there’s anything I should add.

As a few new events are already being announced for 2019 I’ve added a brief update at the bottom of this post. A whole 2019 listing to follow.

January

Nothing uncovered so far – perhaps we’re all busy reading!

February

23 – 25 February – Granite Noir – Aberdeen
This is the second year for this crime writing festival featuring some of the most celebrated talent from the Nordic Noir scene alongside Scotland’s own Tartan Noir authors.

24 February – Crime at the Castle, Glamis Castle, Angus, Scotland
This looks like a fascinating one-day event.

March

1 March – Noir at the Bar, Edinburgh
An evening event, number 7 in the series. Check the FB page for info on this and more events – https://www.facebook.com/NoirattheBarEd/ 

March – Deal Noir – Deal
TBC

April

6 – 8 April – Quais du Polar – Lyon
I can’t see yet that a programme has been published for 2018 – the festival is free, a short flight from the UK and much of the content accessible for English-speakers.

11- 15 April – Books by the Beach, Scarborough
Not a dedicated crime fiction event but this does get a good contribution from crime writers.

May

17 -20 May – Crimefest – Bristol
A four-day convention drawing top crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and reviewers from around the world, with headline appearances from Lee Child and Jeffrey Deaver.

June

1 – 2 June – Crime and Coffee Festival – Cardiff
A new event being organised by Cardiff libraries promoting Wales-based crime writers and stories set in Wales.

8 – 10 June – Alibis in the Archives, Gladstone Library, Hawarden, Flintshire
An event run in association with the Crime Writers’ Association and The Detection Club.

16 June – Bodies from the Library – British Library, London
A one day conference with an exciting programme of discussions, presentations and panels on the Golden Age of Detective Fiction Writers.

28 – 30 June – Captivating Criminality, Bath
The fifth UK conference from the Captivating Criminality Network, ‘Crime Fiction: Insiders and Outsiders’, will examine the ways in which Crime Fiction as a genre is able to incorporate both traditional ideas and themes, as well as those from outside mainstream and/or dominant ways of thinking.

July

19 – 22 July – Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – Harrogate, Yorkshire
Four days of Europe’s biggest come writing event, this year Lee Child is the chair of the Programming Committee.

August

3 – 5 August – Bute Noir, Bute
The third year of this small but growing festival on the Isle of Bute.

17 – 19 August – St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Weekend – Oxford
The 25th year of this unique conference – https://www.sthildas.ox.ac.uk/content/2017-st-hildas-mystery-and-crime-conference 

September

15 September – International Agatha Christie Festival – Torquay, Devon
The festival is now a biennial event however there will be a one-day celebration of Agatha Christie’s birthday in Torbay on Saturday 15th September 2018. The next 5-day festival is scheduled for 11th-15th September 2019.

13 – 16 September – Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, Norwich, Norfolk
The Noirwich Crime Writing Festival is an annual celebration bringing together superstar crime authors, exciting new talent and fans of all things crime fiction.

21 – 23 September – Bloody Scotland – Stirling, Scotland
Scotland’s festival celebrating crime writing – bringing together leading Scottish and international writers, showcasing debut voices and encouraging new writers.

28 – 30th September – Margate Bookie, Margate
Moving to September this seaside literary festival usually features a session on crime fiction and this year it’s “Murder in the Dark”  on the evening of 29th.

29 – 30 September – Morecambe & Vice, Morecambe
The second year for this event, “there will be panels and talks & trials and debates as authors and guests from around the globe gather to converse, consider and confabulate over crime in all its many facets”.

October

October – NOIRELAND, Belfast
No confirmed date for 2018 yet

5 – 14 October – Cheltenham Literary Festival, Cheltenham
I wouldn’t normally include this festival as it’s so diverse and doesn’t have the same focus as most of the other events listed here but it’s worth a check of the programme. Specific crime fiction highlights include:

  • The Sunday Times Must Reads: Charles Cumming And Mick Herron
  • a creative writing workshop with Mark Billingham
  • Brookmyre And Billingham After-Hours
  • Agatha Christie: Queen Of Crime – featuring Sophie Hannah
  • Ambrose Parry
  • In Cold Blood: Scandi And Nordic Noir

21 October – Killer Weekend 2018, London
Full details anticipated mid-July

24 October – Crime Writing: Truth, Myth, Death and Mayhem at Darkfest, Portsmouth
Part of Darkfest – full details to be announced shortly.

November

16 – 18 November – Iceland Noir, Reykjavik
Two days of panels and readings, there will also be the Icelandic Crime Disco Night at IDNO on Saturday evening.

December

All busy shopping for books …

2019 Announcements

8 – 10 March – NOIRELAND International Crime Fiction Festival, Belfast
Check out https://www.noireland.com/news/ and more info due 16 November.

26 – 28 September – Capital Crime, London’s West End
You can sign up for the newsletter now at http://www.capitalcrime.org. The brains behind the event are David Headley, MD of  Goldsboro Books and organiser of the infamous ‘Crime in the Court’ and novelist and screenwriter Adam Hamdy so it has excellent credentials.

Looking forward to 2017

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Perhaps it’s the post-Iceland Noir blues but I’ve already started to think about the crime events to look forward to next year, so it seemed a good time to put my 2017 events listing together. Remember this isn’t all literary events (there are plenty of lists of those and there must be hundreds of events) but it is a list of the main dedicated crime fiction events taking place in the UK.

I aim to maintain the list and update it as dates are confirmed so do let me know if there’s anything I should add.

January

Nothing uncovered so far – perhaps we’re all busy reading!

February

24 – 26 February – Granite Noir – Aberdeen
This is a new crime writing festival featuring some of the most celebrated talent from the Nordic Noir scene alongside Scotland’s own Tartan Noir authors.

March

25 March – Deal Noir – Deal
An event over just one day, although quite an intimate event it’s punched above its weight with the calibre of authors participating in previous years. I’m looking forward to finding out who will be taking part in 2017.

31 March – 2nd April – Quais du Polar – Lyon
The theme for 2017 is due to be published shortly (December) – the festival is free, a short flight from the UK and much of the content accessible for English-speakers.

April

May

18-21st May – Crimefest – Bristol
A four-day convention drawing top crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and reviewers from around the world.

June

17 June – Bodies from the Library – British Library, London
A one day conference with an exciting programme of discussions, presentations and panels on the Golden Age of Detective Fiction Writers.

30 June – 2 July – RebusFest – Edinburgh
A three-day even celebrating thirty years of John Rebus.  A festival of arts, literature, music and film curated by Ian Rankin – your chance to step into Rebus’ world and explore the making of the iconic detective you love. More info to be announced on 17 March.

July

20 – 23rd July – Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – Harrogate, Yorkshire
Four days of Europe’s biggest come writing event, this year Peter James is the chair of the Programming Committee.

August

4 – 6th August – Bute Noir, Bute
The second year of this small festival on the Isle of Bute.

18 – 20th August – St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Weekend – Oxford
This looks like it may be getting a bit of a re-vamp in 2017 – https://www.sthildas.ox.ac.uk/content/2017-st-hildas-mystery-and-crime-conference 

August – Margate Bookie, Margate
There is a dedicated series of crime fiction sessions in their Crimewave (ha!) part of the programme date TBC.

September

8 – 10th September – Bloody Scotland – Stirling, Scotland
Scotland’s festival celebrating crime writing – bringing together leading Scottish and international writers, showcasing debut voices and encouraging new writers.

13 – 17th September – International Agatha Christie Festival – Torquay, Devon
Traditionally taking place in Torquay in the middle of September this festival features a range of events celebrating the life and work of Agatha Christie.

14 – 17th September – Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, Norwich, Norfolk
Taking place across four days, the festival takes place at the Norwich Arts Centre, the University of East Anglia and Jarrolds. Fringe events will run throughout the festival at locations around the city.

30 September – 1st October – Morecambe & Vice, Morecambe
A new event from the organisers of Deal Noir.

October

27-29 October 2017 – NOIRELAND, Belfast.
A new international crime fiction festival and a celebration of Ireland’s love of crime fiction. The weekend includes the best in local talent, guest appearances by international crime-writing stars, and in-depth conversations with some of the greatest screenwriters to put crime dramas on the screen.

28-29th October – Killer Weekend, London
All about becoming the next big thing in the crime fiction world this is a weekend of masterclasses, workshops and pitching sessions.

November

18-19th November – Hull Noir – Hull
An event filling the slot of the biennial Iceland Noir and part of the City of Culture celebrations.

December

All busy shopping for books …

HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown 2016

The HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown is a literary award for debut historical fiction awarded by the Historical Writers’ Association. With a prize of £1,000 the HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown for new Historical Fiction will be awarded to the what is, in the judges’ estimation, the best debut historical novel first published in the United Kingdom in the year in question

The shortlist for the award was announced by Andrew Taylor and comprises:

Death and Mr Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis, published by Jonathan Cape

The judges said: “A splendidly ambitious and tongue-in-cheek pastiche of the Victorian novel: The Pickwick Papers will never be the same again.”

Eden Gardens by Louise Brown, published by Headline

The judges said: “White trash in British India: a poignant mother-and-daughter story provides an unexpected perspective on the Raj.”

The Hoarse Oaths of Fife by Chris Moore, published by Uniform Press

The judges said: “From Fife in the 1960s to Loos in World War I: a wry and moving novel about fathers and sons that also meditates on war and race.

Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea, published by Scribe

The judges said: “The private lives of Marx and Engels are revealed as never before in this brilliant act of literary ventriloquism.”
Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye, published by Orion

Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye, published by Orion

The judges said: “A powerful and accomplished novel of love and loss that focuses on the plight of unwanted veterans and Florida’s disastrous 1935 hurricane.”

Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck, published by Hodder

The judges said: “Finnish settlers are immersed in a powerful, beautifully written gothic murder mystery in a remote area of eighteenth-century Lapland.”

The winner will be announced at the Harrogate History Festival which takes place between 21 & 23 October.

I have only read one of these (Wolf Winter, which I loved) so I’m not in much of a position to pick a winner. How’s your reading going, have you read more – do you have a tip for this year’s winner?

Behind the scenes – a Q & A with the organisers of Crimefest

This is the first in a series of interviews with some of the people without whom we wouldn’t have our favourite crime fiction books or events but who don’t normally get their share of the limelight.

First up is the team who organise Crimefest each year (Adrian, Donna and Myles) and with just a few months to go I really appreciate them sparing time for this.

What makes CrimeFest stand out amongst the many UK crime fiction events?

Adrian: CrimeFest came about after we organised the one-off visit of the US Left Coast Crime convention in Bristol on 2006. As a result we still follow the American crime fiction convention model where everyone pays to attend and any commercially UK published author who registers in time is offered a minimum of one panel appearance. If I am not mistaken, we are still the only convention in Britain that is not by invitation only and as a result we are able to offer many authors the opportunity to appear at a major event when they would be unlikely to do so elsewhere. Possibly more important is the fact that we encourage delegates to attend for the duration of the convention and, because it is held in one location, everybody socialises in the tea room and bar between panels and in the evening. Everybody is equal, authors aren’t whisked away after their panel, and it is common for a readers to be chatting to their favourite authors in a very relaxed environment. The social aspect is key at CrimeFest.

Donna: Adrian’s totally right about the social aspect. Over the years, many people have commented that CrimeFest is one of the friendliest conventions and festivals they attend, and that’s why people come back year after year. For me, it’s the one weekend in the year where I get to catch up with loads of lovely people who I only see once a year, and meet new people who I then look forward to seeing the next year! Also, we give newer authors the opportunity of being on a panel with household names. There’s no hierarchy – if you sign up early enough you get a panel, and you could end up on that panel with anyone.

Do you think Bristol is important in the feel of the event?
Adrian: Originally we purposely did not incorporate Bristol into the name of CrimeFest in case we wanted to move it around the UK, and depending on the costs of hosting the convention in Bristol we may still have to consider this. However, with its international airport, two train stations and access by motorway it is relatively easy to get to Bristol. Also, the feedback on the hotel is overwhelmingly positive, as it is in the centre of the city and is close to shops and restaurants. So, all of that, together with the fact that one of us lives here – which makes things easy – means that there would have to be compelling reasons to move.

When do you start and how do you approach the planning and programming?
Adrian: In some form or other we usually are already planning the following year’s CrimeFest before the current one has begun. With regard to programming, Donna is largely responsible for that and she does an amazing job, so over to you…

Donna: I love doing the programming. It’s basically the focus of every second of spare time I have from my day job and university studies between October and February (Christmas Day is often partially spent poring over a hot spreadsheet). It’s a really daunting task at first – a long list of authors that you need to wrangle onto a set number of panels, making sure that everyone has at least one. And you have to make sure each panel has a suitable topic. The topics need to be varied and the panellists need to ‘fit’ but, to be honest, it’s the panellists and moderators that make the panels work. You could give five different panels the same topic and each one would come up with different discussions. That’s one of the absolute joys of CrimeFest – no matter how many times I’ve scheduled a particularly themed panel, the discussion always takes a new and interesting course. Hang on…I think my job has just become simpler…I’m just going to call panels ‘Panel 1’, ‘Panel 2’, ‘Panel 45’ from now on… One of the side benefits of doing the programming is that I get to find out about new to me authors. In order to try and put authors on suitable panels I check out every single author’s website and books, see what their latest book is, what sub-genres they write in, what their interests are etc. I’ve discovered several authors that way whose books I’ve immediately gone out and bought.

How big is the team that organises the event?
Myles (smiles): Adrian and Donna organise the convention, and I run it…

Adrian (laughs): That’s not even completely untrue! We three are the core of the team. Donna, as I mentioned, does the programming; Myles, is in charge of set up, audio-visual, the practicalities of running the convention, coordinating the front of house and technical staff, and smoothing any ruffled feathers; and I do the all the other stuff, like contacting the publishers, contact the moderators and panellists, organise the awards, etc, etc. Having said that, we have incredible support from Jen, my wife, who designs the programme book; Liz, who is the ‘face’ of CrimeFest and who, with help of friends, greets delegates at the registration desk, and also proofs the text for the programme; and Sue, our wonderful website mistress.
Did any of you ever dream that you would be involved in something on this scale?
All chuckle!
Adrian: We only ever intended to organise the one off 2006 visit of the US Left Coast Crime convention. However, following that convention we were approached by publishers, asking us to continue because they could sign up most of their crime list for what they would pay for one of their authors to appear elsewhere. Authors were eager for us to carry on because we offered them a platform they were unlikely to get elsewhere, and readers loved the fact that they could discover new authors and meet favourites and socialise with them between and after panels.

Donna: Yes, Adrian promised me it would be a one-off…

Myles: Adrian promises me every year that it will be a one-off…

Every CrimeFest I’ve attended has seemed to go smoothly, is that how it feels for you? If something has gone disastrously wrong would you mind sharing?
Adrian: Knock on wood, nothing has gone disastrously wrong so far. We’ve had one last minute cancellation of a featured guest author, but we were lucky that someone gracefully stepped in in time. And if things appear to be running smoothly, then that’s because Myles and I are running around trying to keep all the plates spinning! Donna’s pretty much done all of her work by the time the convention is in full swing, but she instantly and effortlessly finds a replacement if there is a hiccup with one of the panellists.

Donna: As Adrian’s mentioned, I’ve mostly done all my work by the Thursday lunchtime that CrimeFest starts. So, while Adrian and Myles dash around looking red, frazzled and sweaty, I get to swan around, checking authors and moderators in the Green Room are happy and hugging people.

Myles: If you see me sitting at the front desk, looking asleep, then everything’s going well.
Do you get much opportunity to attend the panels?
Adrian: I occasionally do but not often. Donna does, but that is mostly to ensure how the panels are running. We try to record the panels, so I listen to them afterwards, and we have put quite a few of them up on the site. Which reminds me that we’re running behind on doing so for the last year or two. Must work on that.

Donna: I try and pop into all of the panels to see how they’re going. Sadly, I don’t often get to stay for a full panel, because I need to check the others that are happening at the same time, or go down to the Green Room to check things there, but sometimes I get so drawn into the discussions that I have to stay until the end!

Myles: I haven’t sat through a full panel for years. I have to pop in and out to check sound levels and quality and that they are running on time. However, sometimes I get caught up with an interesting discussion and have to drag myself away.

Who (living or dead) would be on your dream panel?
Adrian: I’ll go for the obvious: Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, and Dashiell Hammett as the Participating Moderator? Other than that, we’ve been very fortunate with our headliners and loyal regulars, and having P.D. James, and Lee Child interviewing Maj Sjöwall (the Godmother of Scandinavian crime fiction), it doesn’t get much better than that…

Donna: I love film noir and pulp fiction, so I’m going to go for Richard S Prather (who wrote the hilarious pulpy novels about Private Investigator Shell Scott who wisecracked his way through over 30 novels in the 1950s and 60s. In each one of them Shell manages to solve crimes despite being beaten up, shot and whacked over the head and still had time to sleep with a blonde, a brunette and a redhead before dinner time); Dorothy B Hughes (who, amongst other things, wrote the brilliant novel In A Lonely Place which was made into a great film noir featuring Humphrey Bogart. The film is good, but the book is even better); Margaret Millar (who should be far better known than she is (primarily for being Ross Macdonald’s wife) and who wrote loads of great books including one of my all time favourites – Beast In View – a real heart-stopper of a psychological thriller); and William Lindsay Gresham (who wrote the 1946 stunner Nightmare Alley – another book which was made into a film noir, this time with Tyrone Power. Like In A Lonely Place, the book is far, far darker than the film). The panel would be brilliantly moderated by Eddie Muller – one of my favourite authors and the Czar of Noir. He organises Film Noir festivals and is also the author of two wonderful noir San Francisco set novels The Distance and Shadow Boxer.

(Adrian: Sadly Eddie and I are not related, but he is a good friend.)

What has been the most contentious panel discussion you can recall?
Adrian: The only contentious panel that immediately springs to mind is one where the moderator cheerfully announced at the start at the panel that, despite having three months to prepare, she only did so one or two days before the convention with material her child had managed to find on the internet. Needless to say we… I think someone just kicked me in order to shut me up! We try to celebrate crime fiction at CrimeFest rather than create contention. Instead we try to encourage panellists and (participating) moderators to meet socially before a panel so that they are comfortable enough for the panel to become a conversation where they (politely) interrupt and/or disagree.
2016 will be the ninth year – how has the event changed since you started?
Adrian: Well, it’s become more popular and the attendance has grown – which is great. I don’t think it has become easier to organise. I’m sure Donna will confirm that with regard to the programming. Also, as much as we love the hotel and working with the regulars, they have increased their prices which makes things harder. This is another area where support from friends of CrimeFest comes in, especially Edwin Buckhalter from Severn House who has negotiated the hotel contracts and kept things relatively affordable. He and David Headley from Goldsboro Books have provided invaluable advice and support. I don’t think we would still be hosting CrimeFest if it hadn’t been for their input. I can’t immediately think of anything else other than that the main constant has been to celebrate crime fiction in a very social atmosphere…

Myles: A lot of the day-to-day event management has become easier and smoother both through our gained experience and the long-term cooperation of Marriott hotels in knowing what our requirements are and just being in the right place at the right time. From having no idea what we were doing, or letting ourselves in for, we have progressed to surrounding ourselves with a great team ranging from young sound engineers through dedicated volunteer receptionists to the coffee lady (who – despite being promoted – has it written into her Marriott contract that she will work at CrimeFest no matter what).

What has been your highlight?
Adrian: Getting to personally know more authors, and people like Edwin and David; the headliners for our 5th anniversary – Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, Frederick Forsyth, Sue Grafton, P.D.James and more – wasn’t something to sneeze at; having the BBC’s Sherlock team was a treat; and again: Lee Child interviewing Maj Sjöwall…

Donna: Each year, CrimeFest gets bigger and better. My own highlights are just getting to spend time with people I love to bits, talk about and celebrate crime fiction, discover new to me authors, have fun and buy books.

Myles: To me, the highlights are the very human aspects, from Jeffery Deaver explaining how his dog set off the fire alarm to Jasper Fforde giving an impromptu comedy turn for the entertainment of those on reception.
What are you reading at the moment?
Adrian: I’m reading James Laws’ Tenacity. James has been a CrimeFest regular, attended Crime Writing Day, and Pitch-an-Agent as well. Following the latter I know that various agents were interested in representing him and that multiple publishers made offers for the book. Reading the book seemed like a minor way in reciprocating his support, and so far it has been a compelling read…

Donna: Apart from an academic text about the plight of women in mid-nineteenth-century Victorian factories I have two great books on the go – David Young’s Stasi Child (one of the new-to-me authors discovered while I was programming) and Mignon Eberhart’s Never Look Back (part of my pulp fiction kick). Both highly recommended.

Myles: Because I’m a judge, all my spare time is being taken up by reading the 150-plus books submitted for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger award for the best crime novel of the year, the longlist of which is announced at CrimeFest in May.

What would you say to someone thinking of attending for the first time?
Adrian: CrimeFest is a party, come and join the fun. Read the Frequently Asked Questions on the website, and, if you still have queries, we’re here to answer them.

Donna: If there’s an author you’d love to speak to – do it. Everyone is really friendly and, in my experience, just loves to talk! And please come up and say hello. I’ll be the organiser who looks calm and unruffled!

Myles: This is an event organised by people who are not part of the publishing industry. We are primarily readers and fans (although multi-talented Donna has gone and become an author in the meantime). I agree with both Adrian and Donna: this is a very social event where all the back-stabbing is done on the page. Do come and say hello, don’t be nervous I only shout at Adrian!

If that’s whetted your appetite you can check out all the details and the full event programme on the Crimefest website or catch them on Twitter or Facebook.

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The Crime Museum Uncovered – an exhibition at the Museum of London

Whether a crime fiction aficionado or a someone with only a passing interest, you will still no doubt have heard of the Metropolitan Police’s “Black Museum”. This collection of macabre exhibits has been used to teach Police officers about crimes and criminals and has been in existence in one form or another since the mid-1870s. For the first time a selection of exhibits have been put on display giving members of the general public an opportunity to learn from them too. “The Crime Museum Uncovered” is at The Museum of London and ends in April 2016.

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There has obviously been a lot of consideration given to what should and shouldn’t be put on display and efforts taken to avoid sensationalism and respect those who have been victims of crime. To that end the items have been curated to avoid more recent crimes where there may be victims or their families who might be distressed.

The exhibition is split into two main areas. In the first the focus is on crimes and criminals from the 1880s and the 1900s. Laid out in two rooms they are inspired by illustrations of the Crime Museum, or the Police Museum as it was then known. There are a vast array of exhibits, with death masks, courtroom illustrations and weapons. There is a free guide to these rooms, providing some background to the crimes, many of which were notorious at the time but are less well known now. There are also some strange items included, like the sampler cushion made by Annie Parker who embroidered it with her own hair. Possibly the most sobering in this section are the execution ropes, although one of the displays I found most interesting was the case (Execution box No.9 from Wandsworth Prison) used by the hangman and sent around the country to wherever an execution was to take place.

The second half of the exhibition features 20 displays dedicated to specific cases, some which demonstrated a leap forward in methods of detection, such as the 1905 “Mask Murders” the first occasion when fingerprint evidence was used to secure a conviction. The are also some more well known cases included, such as Dr Crippen, The Krays, Ruth Ellis and the Great Train Robbery. While it’s inevitable that there is a gruesome fascination with some of the items, it also serves to demonstrate some determined action on the part of the police in investigating these crimes.

There are also some specific displays relating to particular areas of policing such as counterfeiting, espionage (which I found fascinating) and terrorism.

If you went to the “Forensics: The anatomy of crime” exhibition at the Wellcome Collection this event is bound to interest you and despite the entry fee it’s a fascinating glimpse into crime, criminals, but most of all the dogged detectives who have gone to enormous lengths to get their man (or woman).

The Crime Museum Uncovered

Looking forward to getting out and about in 2016

calendar-867753_1280It may seem a little premature but I’m already putting dates in my diary for crime fiction events in 2016 and there seem to be plenty to choose from. So I thought a I would put together a list of the main dedicated crime fiction events taking place in the UK. This is already quite a long list and I’m sure others will be able to add to it, and of course there will be many crime fiction author panels taking place as part of broader literary festivals.

I aim to maintain the list and update it as dates are confirmed so do let me know if there’s anything I should add to the list.

January

Nothing uncovered so far – perhaps we’re all busy reading!

February

2nd February – Dark brilliance: Agatha Christie, poisonous plants and murder mysteries – Chelsea Physic Garden
An evening event with lively discussion and debate and an expert panel of speakers featuring authors and poisons specialists.

March

5th March – CSI Portsmouth – Portsmouth, Hampshire
A one-day event mixing crime fiction authors with real-life police and forensic experts.

April

2nd April – Deal Noir – Deal, Kent
Now confirmed for early April this is the second year of this Kent-based event mixing local, national and (rumour has it) international authors.

30th April – 1st May – Newcastle Noir – Newcastle
A two day event dedicated to promoting top-class crime writing in the region and as a celebration of this intriguing and increasingly diverse genre.

May

19-22 May – Crimefest – Bristol
A four-day convention drawing top crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and reviewers from around the world.

June

TBC (updating in May and this seems less likely to be weeks away) – Nordicana, London

11th June – Bodies from the Library – British Library, London
A one-day conference focussing on ‘Golden Age Detective Fiction’.

18 – 19th June- Slaughter in Southwold, Southwold, Suffolk

July

21 – 24th July – Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – Harrogate, Yorkshire
Four days of Europe’s biggest come writing event, this year Peter James is the chair of the Programming Committee.

August

19 – 21st August – St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Weekend, Oxford
An extremely long-standing event this is a formal conference with papers relevant to the theme and the choice of speakers matched to the topic which this year is ‘The Question of Genre: What is Crime Fiction?’. For more information contact Eileen Roberts.

20 -21st August – Margate Bookie, Margate
There is a dedicated series of crime fiction sessions in their Crimewave (ha!) part of the programme.

September

9 – 11th September – Bloody Scotland – Stirling, Scotland
Scotland’s festival celebrating crime writing – bringing together leading Scottish and international writers, showcasing debut voices and encouraging new writers.

15th September – International Agatha Christie Festival – Torquay, Devon
Traditionally taking pace in Torquay in the middle of September this festival features a range of events celebrating the life and work of Agatha Christie. Changing to a biennial event in 2017 there will be a celebration on 15th Sept.

15 – 18th September – Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, Norwich, Norfolk

October

TBC – Death in Grantown, Grantown on Spey, Scotland

15 October – Killer Women Crime Writing Festival, Shoreditch, London

November

TBC – Dark and Stormy, Brighton

17 – 20th November – Iceland Noir, Reykjavik, Iceland
OK, not strictly a UK event – but how could I leave this off the list?! The Icelanders take their crime fiction seriously – so where better to discuss it over two-and-a-half days of interviews and panels.

December

All busy shopping for books …