I’m really pleased to have been invited to Oxford, to speak at the St Hilda’s College Crime and Mystery week-end in August. This is an event which I’ve attended two or three times before, although not for a few years. St Hilda's was, until recently, a college exclusively for female students. Val McDermid is an alumna, and in fact she and I were contemporaries at the university, though our paths did not cross until many years later.
My previous visits to the St Hilda's week-end have been pretty memorable – I met Anne Perry and Susanna Gregory here for the first time, for instance, and remember a hugely enjoyable visit to an Inspector Morse exhibition with the likes of Colin Dexter and Andrew Taylor, as well as a delightful lunch with a retired tutor from my old college.
The two principal organisers are Kate Charles, a former chairman of the CWA and a much under-rated writer, and Eileen Roberts, who spent a good many years at St Hilda’s and retains her connection with the event, which is especially popular with American crime fans, as well as members of Mystery Women. It was at St Hilda’s that I was encouraged by those great crime enthusiasts Lizzie Hayes and Ayo Onatade to follow Andrew Taylor’s lead and become an honorary Mystery Woman. Which I remain to this day!
The topic for the week-end (at which the speakers deliver papers with a unifying theme) is ‘the wages of sin’, and in due course I’ll have to think about an interesting way of addressing the subject. Any suggestions of an angle that readers of this blog would find appealing will be gladly received!