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Sunday, 5 June 2016

My first experience of Crimefest!

I've taken a while to write this post. Mainly because it took me a while to recover from Crimefest!

Crimefest is an annual International Crime Fiction Convention held in Bristol, where readers, bloggers, writers, agents and publishers all gather (mostly in the bar I found out) to enjoy four days of brilliant panels, interviews and award presentations.

Being a newbie I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but was excited to be going (and surprisingly nervous). I knew a fair few virtual friends from my Facebook and Twitter would be there, and I spent a lot of time with my eyes down, checking out people's names and madly shouting 'ooh, it's you!'

I had met up with my lovely friend and fellow writer, Libby for this experience, and together we navigated the hotel floors (badly sometimes) to reach the panels we wanted to see.

A surprise lift companion caused an 'oh my God' moment and I'm not sure I recovered from that for a while. But, Ian Rankin was delightful, and helpful as it turned out - and was also happy to have a picture with Libby. I wasn't brave enough to ask for another picture - it was my first few hours of being there - I hadn't had a drink yet! His interview the following day was a real treat too - as he read the first pages of his brand new, yet-to-be-published book!

The panels we attended were extremely well organised, spot-on with their timings and well moderated to give each author a chance to participate in the discussions. It was difficult to choose which panels to go to as there were two or three happening at any one time. There was a lot of scooting between rooms and floors and even though it was simply laid out, I still managed to become disorientated and wasn't sure where I was half the time.

We managed to meet some of the authors following their panels and get some books signed - I wanted to get far more books than I did, however, I did come away with some corkers and had some fab ones in my goody bag! I also have a great list of new-to-me authors, and actual-new authors to try, which is really exciting.

I also need to thank a lovely lady who gave me one of her books so that I could swap it for what appeared to be the last available proof copy of Anna Mazzola's 'The Unseeing' - she obviously sensed my desperation... I didn't get her name in my excitement - but THANK YOU! I had enjoyed the Deadly Dames panel with Anna Mazzola, Chris Curran, Caroline Kepnes and Janet Laurence with Quentin Bates moderating, so much, and the way Anna talked about her research for her debut historical crime novel, The Unseeing, was so fascinating I just had to have it!

Other highlights of my Crimefest experience include: meeting the wonderful Susi Holliday (SJI Holliday) and getting a quick pic :)

Meeting author Caroline Mitchell and having a chat during the CWA Dagger announcement ceremony. I have to thank her for her patience during the many attempts at getting the 'right' photo! I went for the somber look in the end - thank goodness there was wine.

Also the brilliant Making A Murderer -  a case for and against. This was entertaining and fascinating, the excellent defence - Steve Cavanagh, and prosecution - Neil White, were clever and witty, as was the amazing Judge - Sophie Hannah. And I sat next to the author David Jackson - lovely to meet him in the flesh! 

I really enjoyed the audible panel - very interesting how authors and narrators approach their roles. Fascinating to hear that Mark Billingham, who now narrates his own novels, alters some of the story to fit the audio version - a great discussion ensued about the pitfalls of certain narratives being extremely challenging in this format.

Oh, and I finally found some courage to ask for a picture with Mark - woop-woop!

Dark hearts, troubled souls - this was a fascinating panel with an amazing line-up of authors: Ann Cleeves, Ann Holt, Paul Hardisty and Kati Hiekkapelto - moderated expertly by Tim Adler. A real delight to be in such talented company, and the insights to what an author's responsibility may, or may not be, was a lively discussion and resulted in some great questions from the audience. 
And I managed a sneaky group photo at the end of this panel:

Haha! How great is this? :) 

Another great panel - and one that made me laugh the most, was Sending Shivers Down the Spine - absolutely brilliant and I felt the audience found out a lot about each of the author's personal fears - clowns being one, well - except for Alexandra (A K Benedict) who delighted in freaking everyone out with the things she loves - hysterical. The other panellists were the lovely, and very funny Jenny Blackhurst, clown-hating Mason Cross and the delightful Kate Ellis

I can't begin to cover all that happened, each panel, each wonderful person I met - but I will say - the crime writing community is bloody amazing and I hope I'll meet more of the talented authors and the inspiring bloggers who work tremendously hard, in the future. Great to finally meet Liz Barnsley, Liz Loves Books too, as well as other fab bloggers - I aim to join you all in the bar next time because you rock it! (According to all the stories and photographic evidence).

I had a thoroughly fantastic time, very tiring - but brilliant. I only did two days this time (I know - what a lightweight!), but will most definitely be doing the full four next year.

Here are some more pictures of the panels to leave you with:

Will look forward to next year!