Monday, 17 March 2008

Northern Crime

Twenty years ago last autumn, I attended the inaugural meeting of the Northern Chapter of the Crime Writers Association at Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire. It was a small gathering in those days, but it was my introduction to the likes of Peter Walker (aka Nicholas Rhea, creator of that massively successful series ‘Heartbeat’), Reginald Hill and Robert Barnard. And in the intervening years, they have become friends, as have a good many other fellow northern writers – including my fellow members of Murder Squad: Margaret Murphy, Chaz Brenchley, Ann Cleeves, John Baker, Cath Staincliffe and Stuart Pawson.

Thanks to the organisational genius of Peter Walker (top picture), and the calm efficiency of his wife Rhoda, the Northern Chapter has flourished over the years and the twentieth anniversary prompted a splendid celebration at the original venue, the Crown Hotel. After a period of illness, Peter stood down as convenor, to be replaced by Roger Forsdyke (like Peter, a very experienced police officer.) And yesterday I went back to Boroughbridge again, to the first event of the next twenty years of the Northern Chapter’s life.

As always, it was fun to catch up with friends, as well as to meet the newest recruit to the group, Diane James. Everyone was delighted to see Peter Walker in great form, and those attending included Lesley Horton, who is due to take over as Chair of the CWA next month, Peter and Margaret Lewis of Flambard Press (of whom more in a future post), Sherlockian expert David Stuart Davies and his wife Kathryn, and Ken McCoy (more about him soon too.)

Stuart (lower picture) was there as well and I managed to get him to sign my copy of Grief Encounter. I’ve mentioned this book with its wonderful title before; it’s the latest Charlie Priest, and the good news for Stuart’s fans is that he’s currently working on a new entry in his long-running series.

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