Events

The 2017 CWA Daggers

Just a short update to my earlier post on the 2017 Daggers. The winners were announced last week and the results are:

  • The CWA Gold Dagger – The Dry (Little, Brown) by Jane Harper
  • The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger – Spook Street (John Murray) by Mick Herron
  • The CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger – Tall Oaks (Twenty 7) by Chris Whittaker
  • The CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction – Close But No Cigar: A True Story of Prison Life in Castro’s Cuba (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) by Stephen Purvis
  • The CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger – A Rising Man (Harvill Secker) by Abir Mukherjee
  • The CWA International Dagger – The Dying Detective (Doubleday) by Leif G W Persson, Tr Neil Smith
  • The CWA Short Story Dagger – The Trials of Margaret by L C Tyler in Motives for Murder (Sphere) Edited by Martin Edwards
  • The CWA Debut Dagger – Sherry Rankin for Strange Fire

I’ve managed to miss reading any of these! Do you think they were well-deserved winners?

 

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The 2017 CWA Daggers

It’s been a while – let’s hope I can remember how to do this blogging thing…

After what seemed to be a change to the format last year for announcing the CWA Daggers they now seem to have settled on a process. Two Daggers have already been confirmed and the shortlists for the remainder were announced earlier this week. The winners of all the CWA Daggers will be announced at the Dagger Awards Dinner to be held on 26 October, when Ann Cleeves will be awarded the Diamond Dagger and Mari Hannah will be presented with the Dagger in the Library award.

Each year I think ‘this year I’ll read whole longlist shortlist’ but each year I seem to have read fewer and fewer of the books that find their way onto the lists. I am also always surprised about the proportion of books that I have never heard of – great coverage for these authors to get onto the long or short lists. But there are only two shortlisted books that I’ve read thus far and I’ve only reviewed one of these. So wishing William Ryan all the best with The Constant Soldier!

There are currently ten daggers awarded annually by the Crime Writer’s Association.

The Diamond Dagger – selected from nominations provided by CWA members – 2017 winner is Anne Cleeves and the award will be presented at the CWA Dagger Awards Dinner on 26 October.

The longlists for the following daggers (except the Dagger in the Library I believe) were announced during Crimefest and the shortlists (titles in bold) announced on 26 July.

Gold Dagger

The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer
Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin
The Girl Before by J P Delaney
Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith
Little Deaths by Emma Flint
The Dry by Jane Harper
Spook Street by Mick Herron
Sirens by Joseph Knox
Ashes of Berlin by Luke McCallin
The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Darktown by Thomas Mullen

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Kill the Next One by Frederico Axat
The Twenty Three by Linwood Barclay
The Killing Game by J S Carol
The Heat by Garry Disher
A Hero in France by Alan Furst
We Go Around in the Night Consumed By Fire by Jules Grant
Moskva by Jack Grimwood
The One Man by Andrew Gross
Redemption Road by John Hart
Spook Street by Mick Herron
Dark Asset by Adrian Magson
Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty
The Constant Soldier by William Ryan
The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong
Jericho’s War by Gerald Seymour
The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter
Broken Heart by Tim Weaver

 John Creasey (New Blood)

The Watcher by Ross Armstrong
The Pictures by Guy Bolton
What You Don’t Know by JoAnn Chaney
Ragdoll by Daniel Cole
Sunset City by Melissa Ginsburg
Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus
Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard
Himself by Jess Kidd
Sirens by Joseph Knox
Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land
The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy
Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker

International Dagger

A Cold Death by Antonio Manzini, Tr Antony Shugaar
A Fine Line by Gianrico Carofiglio, Tr Howard Curtis
A Voice In The Night by Andrea Camilleri, Tr Stephen Sartarelli
Blackout by Marc Elsberg, Tr Marshall Yarbrough
Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre, Tr Frank Wynne
Climate Of Fear by Fred Vargas, Tr Siân Reynolds
Death In The Tuscan Hills by Marco Vichi, Tr Stephen Sartarelli
The Bastards Of Pizzofalcone by Maurizio De Giovanni, Tr Antony Shugaar
The Dying Detective by Leif G W Persson, Tr Neil Smith
The Legacy Of The Bones by Dolores Redondo, Tr Nick Caister & Lorenza Garcia
When It Grows Dark by Jorn Lier Horst Tr Anne Bruce

Non-Fiction Dagger

A Dangerous Place by Simon Farquhar
Close But No Cigar: A True Story of Prison Life in Castro’s Cuba by Stephen Purvis
The Scholl Case: The Deadly End of a Marriage by Anja Reich-Osang
Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes by Michael Sims
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale
A Passing Fury: Searching for Justice at the End of World War II by A. T. Williams
The Ice Age: A Journey into Crystal-Meth Addiction by Luke Williams
Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

CWA Short Story Dagger

The Assassination by Leye Adenle in Sunshine Noir Edited by AnnaMaria Alfieri & Michael Stanley
Murder and its Motives by Martin Edwards in Motives for Murder Edited by Martin Edwards
Alive or Dead by Michael Jecks in Motives for Murder Edited by Martin Edwards
The Super Recogniser of Vik by Michael Ridpath in Motives for Murder Edited by Martin Edwards
What You Were Fighting For by James Sallis in The Highway Kind Edited by Patrick Millikin
The Trials of Margaret by LC Tyler in Motives for Murder Edited by Martin Edwards
Snakeskin by Ovidia Yu in Sunshine Noir Edited by AnnaMaria Alfieri & Michael Stanley

Debut Dagger (unpublished writers)

Camera Obscura by Richard McDowell
Strange Fire by Sherry Rankin
The Reincarnation of Himmat Gupte by Neeraj Shah
The Swankeeper’s Wife by Augusta Dwyer
Hardways by Catherine Hendricks
Lost Boys by Spike Dawkins
Victorianoir by Kat Clay
Red Haven by Mette McLeod
In the Shadow of the Tower by Clive Edwards
Broken by Victoria Slotover

Endeavour Historical Dagger

The Devil’s Feast by M.J. Carter
The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes
The Black Friar by S.G. MacLean
The Ashes of Berlin by Luke McCallin
The Long Drop by Denise Mina
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Darktown by Thomas Mullen
By Gaslight by Steven Price
The City in Darkness by Michael Russell
Dark Asylum by E.S. Thomson

 

Dagger in the Library longlist

Andrew Taylor
C J Sansom
James Oswald
Kate Ellis
Mari Hannah – Mari was announced as the winner in June 2017
Tana French

So how’s your reading going – will you have read enough to judge a category for yourself?

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 …

The 2016 CWA Dagger Shortlists

daggers-iconThere are currently ten daggers awarded annually by the Crime Writer’s Association but the timings of the long and shortlists for the awards and the presentation have changed a little this year. The longlists were announced at Crimefest in Bristol in May, the shortlists announced at the end of July and, according to the Crime Readers Association:

And this year you can be present when the winners are announced! The event, which will take place on 11 October 2016 at the Grange City Hotel in London, will be open to everyone. A glittering do attended by publishers, agents and of course hopeful authors, all ten of the CWA’s prestigious Dagger Awards will in 2016 be awarded at the one must-attend event.

The speaker will be James Runcie, author of The Grantchester Mysteries, as seen on TV.

Tickets are £99 for non-CWA members. Apply to admin@thecwa.co.uk for more information and see details which will shortly be up on both the CRA and CWA websites.

The ten Daggers are:

The Diamond Dagger – selected from nominations provided by CWA members – 2016 winner is Peter James and the award was presented during Crimefest this May.

The longlists for the following daggers were announced during Crimefest and the shortlists published today (28 July).

Goldsboro Gold shortlist

Dodgers by Bill Beverly
Black Widow by Christopher Brookmyre
Real Tigers by Mick Herron
Blood Salt Water by Denise Mina

Ian Fleming Steel shortlist

The Cartel by Don Winslow
The English Spy by Daniel Silva
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty
Real Tigers by Mick Herron
Make Me by Lee Child

 John Creasey (New Blood) shortlist

Fever City by Tim Baker
Dodgers by Bill Beverly
Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle 

International shortlist

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango translated by Imogen Taylor
The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaître translated by Frank Wynne
Icarus by Deon Meyer translated by K L Seegers
The Murderer in Ruins by Cay Rademacher translated by Peter Millar
Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama translated by Jonathan Lloyd-Davis

Non-Fiction shortlist

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
Sexy Beasts: The Hatton Garden Mob by Wensley Clarkson
You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat) by Andrew Hankinson
A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding
Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories by Thomas Grant
John le Carré: The Biography by Adam Sisman

Short Story longlist

As Alice Did by Andrea Camilleri from Montalbano’s First Cases
On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier by John Connolly from Nocturnes 2: Night Music
Holmes on the Range: A Tale of the Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository by John Connolly from Nocturnes 2: Night Music
Bryant & May and the Nameless Woman by Christopher Fowler from London’s Glory Bantam
Stray Bullets by Alberto Barrera from Tyszka Crimes
Rosenlaui by Conrad Williams  from The Adventures of Moriarty: The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’s Nemesis edited by Maxim Jakubowski 

Debut (unpublished writers) shortlist

Dark Valley by John Kennedy
The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins
A Reconstructed Man by Graham Brack
A State of Grace by Rita Catching
Wimmera by Mark Brandi 

Endeavour Historical shortlist

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby
The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr
A Book of Scars by William Shaw
The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith
Striking Murder by A. J. Wright
Stasi Child by David Young

Dagger in the Library shortlist

Tony Black
Alison Bruce
Elly Griffiths
Quintin Jardine

I had hoped that once the lists were whittled down to the shortlist, and with the final results not being announced until October, I might manage to read a whole category. Looking at the proportion of the shortlists that I have already read books in, however (just one title) I think it’s unlikely.

So how’s your reading going – will you have read enough to judge a category? I see both Dodgers and Real Tigers appear on two lists – I’m not sure if that points to potential winners. I’ve heard good things about Mick Herron’s book but nothing about Dodgers.

Do you think there are any surprises here?

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?

The 2016 CWA Daggers

I have to say that I find the CWA Daggers process to be a little confusing. There are currently ten daggers awarded annually by the Crime Writer’s Association but the timings of the long and shortlists for the awards and the presentation seems to be unclear. Last year shortlists were announced in early June and the awards presented at their dinner at the end of June. This year the dinner will be at the end of September…

UPDATE: There was an update on the Daggers process  in an email circulated by the CRA (the Crime Readers Association) to say that, with the exception for the Diamond Daggers, shortlists will be announced on the CWA website on July 28.

The email continued to say that:

And this year you can be present when the winners are announced! The event, which will take place on 11 October 2016 at the Grange City Hotel in London, will be open to everyone. A glittering do attended by publishers, agents and of course hopeful authors, all ten of the CWA’s prestigious Dagger Awards will in 2016 be awarded at the one must-attend event.

The speaker will be James Runcie, author of The Grantchester Mysteries, as seen on TV.

Tickets are £99 for non-CWA members. Apply to admin@thecwa.co.uk for more information and see details which will shortly be up on both the CRA and CWA websites.

Nevertheless – the ten Daggers are:

The Diamond Dagger – selected from nominations provided by CWA members – 2016 winner is Peter James and the award was presented during Crimefest this May.

The longlists for the following daggers were announced during Crimefest.

In the early days of my blog I had some hopes of reading all the titles in one of the CWA Dagger lists but unless I already have read a few when the lists are announced I stand very little chance of getting through them in time. I have also found in previous years that some of the books are actually quite difficult to get hold of! Looking at the lists below I’m unlikely to get a whole one read. Maybe next year…

Goldsboro Gold longlist

Dodgers by Bill Beverly
Black Widow by Christopher Brookmyre
After You Die by Eva Dolan
Real Tigers by Mick Herron
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Dead Pretty by David Mark
Blood Salt Water by Denise Mina
She Died Young by Elizabeth Wilson

Ian Fleming Steel longlist

The Cartel by Don Winslow
The English Spy by Daniel Silva
Bone by Bone Sanjida Kay
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty
Real Tigers by Mick Herron
The Hot Countries by Timothy Hallinan
Black Eyed Susans by Julia Hearberlin
Make Me by Lee Child
Spy Games by Adam Brookes
The American by Nadia Dalbuono

 John Creasey (New Blood) longlist

Fever City by Tim Baker
Dodgers by Bill Beverly
Mr Miller by Charles Den Tex
The Teacher by Katerina Diamond
Wicked Game by Matt Johnson
Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds
The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle 

International longlist

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango translated by Imogen Taylor
The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaître translated by Frank Wynne
Icarus by Deon Meyer translated by K L Seegers
The Sword of Justice by Leif G.W. Person translated by Neil Smith
The Murderer in Ruins by Cay Rademacher translated by Peter Millar
The Father by Anton Svensson translated by Elizabeth Clark Wessel
The Voices Beyond by Johan Theorin translated by Marlaine Delargy
Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama translated by Jonathan Lloyd-Davis

Non-Fiction longlist

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
Sexy Beasts: The Hatton Garden Mob by Wensley Clarkson
You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat) by Andrew Hankinson
A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding
Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories by Thomas Grant
John le Carré: The Biography by Adam Sisman

Short Story longlist

As Alice Did by Andrea Camilleri from Montalbano’s First Cases
On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier by John Connolly from Nocturnes 2: Night Music
Holmes on the Range: A Tale of the Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository by John Connolly from Nocturnes 2: Night Music
Bryant & May and the Nameless Woman by Christopher Fowler from London’s Glory Bantam
Stray Bullets by Alberto Barrera from Tyszka Crimes
Rosenlaui by Conrad Williams  from The Adventures of Moriarty: The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’s Nemesis edited by Maxim Jakubowski 

Debut (unpublished writers) longlist

Dark Valley by John Kennedy
Death by Dangerous by Oliver Jarvis
The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins
Hard ways by Catherine Hendricks
Let’s Pretend by Sue Williams
Misconception Jack Burns
A Reconstructed Man by Graham Brack
A State of Grace by Rita Catching
The Tattoo Killer  by Joe West
Wimmera by Mark Brandi 

Endeavour Historical longlist

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby
A Death in the Dales by Frances Brody
A Man of Some Repute and A Question of Inheritance by Elizabeth Edmondson
Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths
The Last Confessions of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson
The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr
A Book of Scars by William Shaw
The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith
Striking Murder by A. J. Wright
Stasi Child by David Young

Dagger in the Library longlist

RC Bridgestock
Tony Black
Alison Bruce
Angela Clarke
Charlie Flowers
Elly Griffiths
Keith Houghton
Quintin Jardine
Louise Phillips
Joe Stein

So how’s your reading going – will you have read enough to judge a category?

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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