Tomorrow I set off for Bristol, and CrimeFest, which this year is celebrating its tenth anniversary. I've attended every single one, and they are always great fun. So I was delighted when, a couple of years ago, the organisers approached me and asked if I'd like to help them to put together an anthology to celebrate CrimeFest, and also raise money for a very worthwhile cause, the RNIB Talking Books Library.
The result of our endeavours has just seen the light of day. Ten Year Stretch, edited by myself and Adrian Muller of CrimeFest, is published by No Exit Press. The list of contributors is quite glittering: it includes such luminaries as Lee Child, Ann Cleeves, Jeffrey Deaver, Sophie Hannah, Mick Herron, Ian Rankin, Yrsa Sigurdadottir, and Andrew Taylor. There is also a story from the legendary Maj Sjowall which has been freshly translated from the Swedish by Catherine Edwards, journalist, editor, linguist - and daughter of the co-editor!
I've always believed that diversity of content is the hallmark of a great anthology, and we certainly have that in abundance in Ten Year Stretch. Ann, for instance, has written a "locked tent mystery" set in Africa, and hers is not the only variation on the classic "locked room" theme: I really hope that the new character she introduces will return in future. As for my own story, "Strangers in a Pub", it too introduces a sleuthing odd couple who may well return at some future date. I enjoyed writing about them and would like to explore their continuing relationship in fresh adventures.
It was both a pleasure and a privilege to read the stories as they came in, one by one, over the course of time. Getting the chance of a sneak preview of a new Child, Rankin, or Deaver is a hugely enjoyable treat for any crime fan. Over the weekend, among other things, I'll be taking part in a panel with Lee, Ian, and Yrsa, and every delegate will receive a free copy of our book, thanks to the generous support of Jane Burfield, to whom we have dedicated the anthology. It should be yet another wonderful convention.