As I write romantic suspense – a genre that can have as a high a body count as a kiss-count – I sometimes get to play on the shady side of the street. Which is how I came to spend a recent weekend in the company of assorted serial killers, drug dealers, spymasters, global conspirators and all round bad lots, and the lovely people who create them. Yes, this was Crimefest, the Bristol crime writing convention that brings together criminal elements from all walks of life – and the sleuths who pursue them – from the cosy amateur, solving puzzles over tea and scones, to the adventurer on the trail of an ancient artifact with mystic powers, by way of the jaded cop with the bottle of whisky stashed in his desk drawer. It takes all sorts to make a crime wave.
When you attend an event like Crimefest you realize just how many varieties of fictional crime there are – and locations. Scandinavian and American authors are always in demand, but delegates set their mayhem in Africa, Alaska, Italy, the Greek Islands, Iceland, … the Isle of Wight. The on-site bookshop was bursting with titles from all round the globe, with the chance of having them signed by the author in attendance. And it’s not just exotic places, but also a variety of time periods – Roman Britain, the eighteenth century, the roaring twenties …
Panels looked at everything from the North/South divide, to mixing crime and comedy. There were discussions on writing about the cold war and authors who have become overlooked or forgotten, often unjustly. Fans of Dame Agatha squared up to those of Sir Arthur …
And all that was quite apart from the enthusiastic after-hours discussion that went on in the hotel bar.
The convention mixes writers and readers and everyone seemed to be in agreement that the panels this year were better than ever. I certainly enjoyed the ones I attended – even the one I was on. This year’s big coup was the appearance of Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue of TV Sherlock fame – currently filming the third series, working round the availability of two stars who have suddenly become big cinema box office and determinedly ducking all requests to explain exactly how Sherlock is coming back from the dead. It was a fun session, packed with enthusiastic fans – but I have to say that the personal convention high spot for me was the appearance of author Robert Goddard. He’s a great story teller. I’ve been a fan of his complex plotting for years. Fingers crossed that some of that complexity stuff may have rubbed off. I hope so, as there’s nothing I like better than a plot like a corkscrew.
It was a criminally enjoyable weekend.
6 thoughts on “Crimefest – A guest report from Evonne Wareham”
Romantic suspense! I wish there was an Amazon sub category for that! First time I’ve ever heard that phrase coined, one of the biggest headaches I’ve had as a writer is knowing how to allocate a category to Gunshot Glitter, I’m not sure that romantic suspense hits the nail on the head but it’s a step closer : ) I would love to attend an event like Crimefest sometime, I hear they’re opening the door to self-publishing writers next year.
Romantic Suspense is a much better known term in the United States than it is in the UK. You’ll probably find out more if you research some American authors. Hope you find what you are looking for.
This is on my list of things I must do – would love to attend CrimeFest so hopefully next year …
Thanks for the post, Evonne.
Hope to see you there next year, Sue. It is a great event if you enjoy all kinds of crime writing. And getting better all the time.
Seeing Robert Goddard speak was the high spot of CrimeFest for me too, Evonne. I’ve been a fan of his for years, but was surprised to discover how few people there had read him. I hope his appearance will put right that situation.
Like you, I’m a long term fan. I think he is a well kept secret – one that deserves to be better known.