South Wales is a part of the UK that I hardly know at all, but I'm just back from a week-end in Kidwelly, a small and rather charming town in Carmarthenshire. It's a place with a notable history, and an excellent castle that I very much enjoyed exploring on Saturday morning. The main reason for the trip, however, was that I was one of the authors invited to take part in the UK's first e-book Festival, which was held at the new and very well appointed racecourse just outside the town.
Because Kidwelly is a long way from home, I wanted to make the most of the trip,and on the way, on Friday afternoon, I called on an old friend, Bob Adey, who lives near Great Malvern, and is the world's greatest expert on locked room mysteries. Bob has collected crime fiction for many years and I could have spent days just looking at his massive and deeply impressive collection, which includes - just by way of example - a number of first editions signed by John Dickson Carr. Fascinating.
Next stop after leaving Bob was Kidwelly, where at the Red Lion Inn in the nearby village of Llandyfaelog we met up with Tim Heald, the creator of Simon Bognor - a televised detective of some years back - and a more recent series featuring Dr Tudor Cornwall. On Friday evening we also met up with Julian Ruck, his wife and Matthew, a young and enthusiastic intern who had been working on the Festival for some months. Julian Ruck is a lawyer turned writer who had come up with the idea of an ebook festival in his home town, and devised a very ambitious programme indeed. During the course of the week-end, I also met Anthony, in charge of Festival publicity, who turned out to have been a journalist who interviewed me a few years ago when he was working on The Northwich Chronicle. It's a small world.
Although Tim and I were the only two crime writers at the Festival (Edna Jones, aka Clare Dawson, was there as a visitor), there were a good many other authors working in fact and fiction, covering a wide range of subjects and genres, who were also in attendance over the week-end. Among them,it was a particular pleasure to meet the prolific children's author Adele Geras, who also happens to be the mother of best-selling crime writer Sophie Hannah. Tim and I did joint events on both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. The picture of Tim was taken in the sunny back garden of the Red Lion before we had a meal together on Saturday night. And suffice to say that there was plenty of opportunity for entertaining conversations during the course of a truly memorable week-end.