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Sunday, 3 June 2012

CrimeFest 2012

Chris - In the Spotlight - talking about 'Tartan Noir: following in the footsteps of Jekyll & Hyde

A lot of you will have guessed by now that I rather enjoy literary conferences, conventions, events or whatever. I find the company of like-minded people, stimulating. I love to listen to writers presenting talks or appearing on panels, and live in hope I will learn something from them: even if it’s only how to present myself in similar situations.

My usual round of these events can include writers’ appearances at local events, but the conferences, festivals and conventions, usually include the Scottish Association of Writers’ conference at Erskine Bridge, and the Harrogate Crime Festival. This year, however, I decided to stretch my wings and go to CrimeFest, billed as the International Crime Fiction Convention, in Bristol. And later on in the year there will be the very first Bloody Scotland festival at Stirling. That’s a must go event as well.
So before I could change my mind I submitted my booking for CrimeFest, and what a convention that turned out to be. I went early to Bristol because I have relatives there and also because I was drawn to two of the literary tours arranged in conjunction with the convention. The first of these was a guided tour to Oxford, followed by tea and scones with Colin Dexter, the creator of Morse. I’d met Colin Dexter on a previous occasion when he came north to a conference arranged by Angus Writers’ Circle, so I looked forward to meeting him again. But the thing that really drew me to this trip was Oxford. I’d never been there and thought I would like to see it.

The tour set off and I soon discovered I was the only Brit on the coach. The others were Canadian, American and Australian. There were fifteen of us so it didn’t take the group long to gel, and I made some really good friends.
Wednesday was a family visit day, and I caught up with relatives I hadn’t seen for many years.
Soon it was Thursday and the start of the convention. I got my tickets, programme and goody bag. Some lovely books in the bag, I couldn’t help but think about the added weight to my suitcase! And of course, one of my pals, Michael Malone was launching his first book, Blood Tears, at the convention, so I would have to buy that as well – more weight!
I quickly scanned the programme, which also held photos and brief bios of all the speakers, including my photo. It’s always a bit of a thrill when you spot yourself in one of these. Then I fished my tickets out of their envelope, as well as several small sheets of paper with a list of shortlisted authors for the edunnit awards, the audible awards etc. Apparently this was a competition with prizes for the entry which guessed the winner correctly and was subsequently drawn out of a lucky dip. More about that later.
The afternoon was taken up with panels, and after the panel discussion there was a prize of a bag of books for the person who asked the best question. I didn't ask any questions because I dreaded adding more weight to my suitcase! Then Peter Guttridge interviewed Frederick Forsyth. I hadn’t heard Frederick speak before, because the year he was scheduled for Harrogate was the year of the floods and he didn’t get through. So that was a treat.
Panel on 'International Cops' 
Moderator Caro Ramsay with Anders Roslund, Michael Stanley(Michael Sears), David Jackson, & David Hewson

Oh, and I can’t forget the CrimeFest Pub Quiz night. I had a lamb curry I wished I hadn’t ordered (say no more), and we didn’t come bottom in the quiz, we were somewhere near the middle, so that was okay.
Up at the crack of dawn on Friday, and lots more panels to attend, plus I was sweating (sorry, ladies don’t sweat, they glow!), because I had my speaking slot at four o’clock. It was a twenty minute slot listed in the programme as ‘In the Spotlight’. Four o’clock came round all too soon and it was time to deliver my talk Tartan Noir: in the footsteps of Jekyll and Hyde, but it went well, and four of the attendees declared they were my fan club. It was awfully nice to think I had a fan club.
So now my slot was over I could settle down to enjoy myself, oh, I forgot to say, my favourite crime author, Jeffery Deaver, was the last speaker of the day. However, the day wasn’t finished, there was the Crime Writers’ Association’s Dagger Shortlist Announcement Reception. After that I went out for a lovely meal with Caro Ramsay and her partner. A lovely end to a lovely day.
Saturday was hectic with panels, as well as top notch speakers in Lee Child and PD James. They are always popular. Then later on we had David Hewson and a cast member (sorry can’t remember his name) of The Killing being interviewed by Barry Forshaw.
Later there was a reception for Million for a Morgue, presented by Professor Sue Black, Jeffery Deaver, Peter James and Lee Child. Million for a Morgue is a fundraising project to raise funds for a new morgue, or as it is known in Scotland, mortuary at Dundee University. Everyone who donates gets to vote for the crime author they would like to have the morgue named after. Lee Child reckoned that Jeffery Deaver should have the morgue named after him because he was the only one who looked like an undertaker!
We went straight from this reception into the Gala Dinner. I was dreading it in a way because of my experience with the lamb curry the previous night. However, the meal was excellent and the company great. Oh, and you remember those slips of paper which were entries to a competition, well mine was the first out of the hat and I won an MP4 player plus a bagload of audiobooks. How I got them home I will never know because the bag was so heavy.
Sunday morning and the pace seemed a little less hectic, just as well because we were all flagging by that time. Two lots of panels and a session of Criminal Mastermind, and that was it. CrimeFest was over. So the afternoon was left clear for another family visit.
But I’m not finished yet, because my second tour was scheduled for Monday. And that was an Agatha Christie tour, with coffee in the Grand Hotel, Torquay, where she spent her honeymoon. Then off to Torquay Museum which has an Agatha Christie room, no photographs allowed for copyright reasons. We finally wound up at Greenways, Agatha Christies home, overlooking the River Dart. Again no photographs inside the house for the same reason. Our guide was John Curran, an expert on Agatha Christie, who researched her notebooks and wrote Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks.
A wonderful end to a wonderful literary event. Will I go to CrimeFest next year? You bet your bottom dollar I will.


Sheryl said...

I hope you had a wheelie suitcase, Chris! Sounds like you had a fabulous time. So glad your talk went well. I'm still at the nervous stage, I'm afraid. :) xx

Chris Longmuir said...

Yes, I had a wheelie suitcase, plus 2 bags slung from my shoulders. I now look like the hunchback of Notre Dame! Ouch!

myraduffy said...

Sounds like a really great weekend,Chris -it's very tempting to think about attending next year!

Melanie said...

I'm exhausted just reading about it! Wow! What a trip!

Janice Horton said...

Oh wow - I'm exahusted and panting for breath after reading about your Crimefest Weeekend, Chris!

Can't wait to see you at the Summer Audience event on 16th June in Tetbury, Glos - it's been so long since we saw each other and caught up properly, hasn't it?!

Janice xx

Rosemary Gemmell said...

What a brilliant few days you had, Chris. Well done on the talk. Can just imagine you trying to get those books home!

Chris Longmuir said...

Sorry for tiring you all out, I'm still recovering and only getting my tweeting finger back in operation after neglecting Twitter since the start of Crimefest. I'm not clever enough to tweet as I go! Looking forward to catching up with you at Tetbury, Janice.

CallyPhillips said...

Any chance of a transcript of your tartan noir talk?

Chris Longmuir said...

Cally, I do all my talks from the top of my head. I wing it, the same way I write my books. I'm a pantster. However I have sent you my mindmap memory jogs in case they are of any help.

Susan Russo Anderson said...

Oh I'm so jealous, Chris! It sounds like an invigorating event!

Linn B Halton said...

Well, that was a rather grand tour attached to the festival - how fabulous! Love the photo of you by the way .. can't wait to meet you in person very soon.