Wednesday, 13 June 2012

CrimeFest 2012

RIP Maillie
It’s a sad fact that we’ll always remember exactly when Maillie, our beloved geriatric, insomniac cocker spaniel had to be put to sleep: the night before CrimeFest 2012. As a result, bystanders on Berwick station the next morning must have thought I was leaving my husband for at least a year when I tearfully said goodbye to him before climbing onto the Bristol train. I was still puffy-eyed by the time I got off at the other end, but by that time elation had also kicked in.

I took advantage of an early-bird offer to buy my 2012 ticket at the 2011 event, so that weekend had been a long time coming. And I wasn’t the only one getting excited. On Thursday 24th May, Twitter was buzzing with people converging by various modes of transport on southwest England. (One morning in the lift down to breakfast I met a lady whose flight from Canada had taken less time than my train journey!)

I remembered to pack my camera but failed miserably to take more than a handful of pictures. None of which recorded any of these highlights: 
- Sharing a taxi to the hotel with Steve Mosby, who seemed surprised I recognised him by his tattoos. He’s far less frightening than his books. You can read Steve’s take on CrimeFest on his blog, although, strangely, he doesn’t mention his encounter with a seagull.

- Meeting lots of people I’d never met before but, thanks to Twitter, being greeted by them as a friend and spending hardly a waking moment alone all weekend. I’m bound to leave someone out, so I won’t even try to list them. You know who you are and thanks for making me feel like I belonged. Although I must mention, apropos of my earlier blog post which asked if Dave Jackson could possibly be as nice as he claims: yes, he is!

- Staying up way past my bedtime every night. I proved this to my husband by texting him at one in the morning, although he claims my message made little sense. Can’t think why.

- Being charmed and inspired by featured guest author, Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Milhone ‘Alphabet’ series. This was Sue’s first visit to the UK since 1995 and she came across as a genuinely warm and generous lady (although I wouldn’t have wanted to be her ex-husband!).

- Picking up my prize in person from organiser Sarah Hilary for being runner-up in the FlashBang writing competition, The CWA Anthology M.O. (edited by Martin Edwards).

- Seeing Penny Grubb’s The Doll Makers and buying a copy on the strength of the amazing cover alone.

- Realising at the Thursday night quiz just how poor my knowledge of crime and thriller novels is compared with that of Rhian Davies (who blogs at It’s a crime (Or a mystery …), Martin Edwards and, well, everyone else in our team. But having a great time anyway.

- Talking to Jeffery Deaver about black pudding and Peter James showing me photos on his mobile of his racing car.

- Glorious weather that made eating a delicious Italian meal outside on Saturday evening feel like I was holidaying at a Mediterranean resort.

Charming Scotsman

- Being able to tell the difference between Craig Robertson and Michael J Malone. Okay, so they’re both charming baldy-heided Scotsmen but I still can’t believe people mix them up. I met Craig a couple of years at Harrogate and commend his book Random as one of the best crime fiction debuts I’ve ever read. Michael was at CrimeFest to launch his first book, Blood Tears, and I’ve come home with a copy of that as well.

A different charming Scotsman

 - Getting Tanya Byrne’s Heart-Shaped Bruise in my goody-bag when I was planning to buy it. 

- Hearing Liverpudlian writer Cath Bore so lovingly describe her home city that she made me ache to visit it.

- Attending Professor Sue Black's passionate presentation of the Million for a Morgue appeal. Her backing group - Jeffery Deaver, Peter James and Lee Child - wasn't bad either.

- Being able to tell everyone who’d listen that up here in Scotland we’re having a crime writing festival too: Bloody Scotland, 14-16 September in Stirling.

- Winning a rather fetching Bristol blue glass vase in the gala dinner raffle.

And to cap it all, since I got back I’ve wangled another weekend away in July, so will be attending Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate too. I’m not sure if it’s dignified for a middle-aged woman to get this excited . .