The programming chair for the Festival was Ann Cleeves, and she is such an efficient person that it was predictable that the whole week-end would be very well organised. And it was. Ann would be the first to give much credit to the very professional team that handles all the arrangements. It all seemed to me to run like clockwork. As usual, there was much socialising in the bar and elsewhere, and I took the opportunity to have a number of meetings, not least with my agent, with whom I was discussing my future writing plans. The good news is that he is happy with them!
I enjoyed the hospitality of Harper Collins at a dinner on the Friday evening, and met a number of fascinating people, including a new author, Ben McPherson; I sense that his debut novel will be well worth looking out for. Later on, Ann introduced me to Brenda Blethyn, the extremely pleasant star of Vera, and I finished up having a long chat with an old friend, that very fine writer Peter Robinson. The following night, I hosted a table at the Sicilian-themed murder mystery dinner masterminded by Kate Ellis. Great fun.
On Sunday, I took part in a panel celebrating the life and work of Patricia Highsmith. The moderator was Andrew Taylor and my colleagues were Peter James, Perer Swanson, and Sarah Hilary. Sarah had just won the Theakstons Prize for best crime novel of the year, and this gave me special pleasure as some years ago I included an early short story of hers in one of my anthologies for the CWA. She is a real star.
One questioner in the audience raised the issue of the relative significance of the author's life and the author's work. And this is my question to you - how interested, if at all, are you in the biography of a writer? Do you think it's relevant to their books?
My own views on this have shifted over the years. I used to think that the books were overwhelmingly more important than the life. Now, I take much more interest in the biographical material. In fact, I now think that you can't fully appreciate Highsmith (who, admittedly, had an extraordinary life) without knowing something of her life. But I'm sure that plenty of readers would take a different view. So - do let me know your opinion, and why you hold it..