Monday, 19 May 2014
Crimefest - and a magic moment...
Crimefest at Bristol, always so enjoyable, was especially memorable for me this year,as I was awarded the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham short story prize for my story "Acknowledgments". Moments of this kind don't come along very often in a writer's life - well, not in my writing life, anyway - and are something to cherish. The announcement was made by Julia Jones, Allingham's biographer, whom I'd had the pleasure of meeting for the first time the previous day. She kept the secret very well - I had no idea whatsoever that my name would be read out. Thanks to Ali Karim, as ever, for the photo above, as well as these, taken at a party to celebrate Severn House's 40 years of publishing. There's me with Jake Kerridge, the crime critic from The Daily Telegraph, a group shot, and Ali's daughter Sophia, Susan Moody, Felix Francis (son of Dick), me, bookseller Richard Reynolds, and Mike Stotter of Shots.
In the lead-up to the prize giving, I'd been absorbed by a wonderfully witty one-man show by Simon Brett, this year's CWA Diamond Dagger winner. On the subject of short stories, I was also delighted that the stories John Harvey and Cath Staincliffe contributed to Deadly Pleasures have been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, to be announced at the end of June.
On Thursday, I again moderated the Forgotten Authors panel. Martin Walker, Jessica Mann, Stephen Booth and Christine Poulson shared their enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, a terrific range of writers, including Bruce Graeme, Mavis Doriel Hay, Dilwyn Rees and Harry Kemelman. With such a group, moderating was easy - the only challenge, as usual, was that the time whizzed by all too quickly, There is always so much more that we would like to say about our chosen authors.
On Saturday Kate Ellis moderated a panel about archaeology and history in which I took part, along with Tom Harper, and two writers I was meeting for the first time, Luca Veste, whose first novel has made a big hit, and Elly Griffiths, one of the most successful detectuve novelists to have emerged in recent years.Kate had never moderated before, but she did a fine job, and she later took part in the Mastermind, coming second only to Paul Johnston, who has won the quiz previously. I was given a lift to and from Bristol with Kate and her husband Roger and as always they were great company.
So too were many writers and readers with whom I enjoyed spending time over the week-end. One particular pleasure is catching up with fellow writers whom I haven't seen for a few years. This time, that list included Hilary Bonner, a former CWA chair who hasn't been working in the crime field for about a decade - it's great to see her back - Linda Regan and her husband, the actor Brian Murphy, Rob Gittins and Mick Herron, who was last year's CWA Gold Dagger winner. Mick reminded me that the last time we met, I won the CWA Short Story Dagger,so with that track record, I hope to run into him more often in future! There were also various interesting conversations about some good things to come. These include a guest blog by Susan Moody and, I hope, a couple of other talented writers,, a Golden Age project mooted by Mike Linane, a new CWA venture, and a possible new direction for the CWA anthology amongst other things.
The feelgood atmosphere of a convention like this is always the result of a vast amount of hard work by a small group of volunteers. Adrian, Donna, Myles, Liz and their team do a remarkable job. They must be absolutely exhausted now, but at least they have the satisfaction of knowing the whole event was another real success. And believe me, I'll remember it with pleasure for a long, long time.