I've just returned from Crimefest 2013 in Bristol, a terrific event as usual. In fact, I feel that Crimefest is getting better each year. I know a number of people who told me they wanted to attend but were too late to book a place, and this is a sign of the convention's increasing popularity. It really does strike a nice balance between providing opportunities to socialise and providing panels, interviews and other events of genuine interest. There was a lot going on, and not for the first time I found myself, on leaving, amazed that I'd been so busy yet had still not managed to have a chat with a number of friends and fellow attendees. Next time!
I was lucky enough to be involved with three separate panels, two of them as participating moderator, and the first of these was Forgotten Authors, an event which is now a regular feature of the first afternoon of Crimefest. My fellow panellists were all very knowledgable and enthusiastic about books of the past. Moderating a group comprising John Curran (who chose two of my favourites, Dorothy Bowers and Patrick Quentin, to talk about) , Ruth Dudley Edwards (who chose two more, Cyril Hare and Edmund Crispin), Zoe Sharp and Adrian Magson was the easiest job in the world. The only snag with Forgotten Authors is that there is so much to talk about, we really need several hours. But the room was packed out, and people left with many suggestions about old books to seek out. There's always a feelgood factor about this panel, a sign of the rise in appreciation of books that vanished from the shelves years ago which remain worth reading to this day. I'm pleased to say the organisers have asked me to moderate the same panel again next year.
After a short break it was time for the annual pub quiz. I joined a team which included John, Zoe, Kate Ellis and my former editor at Hodder, Kate Lyall Grant. But it's also good to meet people for the first time, and these included the highly successful American author, Dorothy Cannell, with whom I was also due to be on another panel (at which she came up with an idea which fascinated me, and which I'll talk about in another Crimefest post.) We lost that knowledgeable crime fan Mike Linane to Ali Karim's team on the next table, but also joining us was Alexandra Benedict. There are two novelists called Alexandra Benedict, and so our colleague is published as A.K. Benedict. It turned out she is not only a Cambridge graduate who has written a highly successful debut, but also a composer of music for film and television, a singer and an expert on the ghost story. One website bio says she "writes words and music in a red-walled room filled with mannequins, teapots and the severed head of a ventriloquist's dummy." So really she ought to be a character in a book as well.
Anyway, it was an extremely convivial group and we called ourselves the Forgetful Authors. (In a surreal twist, this anticipated my forgetting the following day to post a Friday Forgotten Book for the first time in ages - you did notice, didn't you?) The quiz was closely contested and we finished up tying with Ali's team. The first tiebreaker question didn't separate the teams, but the next one enabled us to win the day, and collect some very nice prizes, including box sets of Sherlock, about which more soon.) Great fun, and I'll continue the Crimefest Chronicles tomorrow. If I don't forget, that is....