Monday 15 May 2023

Celebrations and CrimeFest

CrimeFest was a wonderful weekend of celebrations and catching up with old friends as well as meeting some very pleasant new people. For me, it was an occasion of great good fortune, so much so that even a long and tortuous journey home felt pleasant and relaxing! The highlight was undoubtedly the banquet on Saturday evening, when The Life of Crime was awarded the CrimeFest H.R.F. Keating prize for best non-fiction book about the genre, but there were many other great moments.

Not long after checking in and registering, I moderated an Authors Remembered panel, with an excellent group of colleagues covering an eclectic mix of authors: John Lawton (on Stanley Ellin), Peter Guttridge (Donald Hamilton), David Beckler (Friedrich Durrenmatt) and Chris Curran (VeraCaspary) - my own choice was Margot Bennett. After a pub meal with Simon Brett and other friends, some of us got together as a team for the annual pub quiz (not held in a pub, but in the hotel), and after a recount we managed to win, by a narrow margin. So prizes of books and DVDs - very nice.

On Friday I took part in a panel moderated by the editor of The Life of Crime, the wonderfully cool David Brawn, along with Mark Billingham and Vaseem Khan; sadly, Covid meant that Janice Hallett couldn't join us, a real shame. In the evening, there was a very pleasant dinner hosted by the publishers Severn House, and talk about a possible book project. Before then, there had been a great moment when it was announced that The Life of Crime had been shortlisted for the Gold Dagger for non-fiction. The award has never been won by a book that isn't true crime, but it's great to see it in the list of finalists.

I was lucky to have three panels, concluding with one chaired by Maxim Jakubowski, and along with Mason Cross, Vaseem, Samantha Lee Howe, and Donna Moore we discussed our stories inspired by Cornell Woolrich for the Black is the Night anthology. On a sunny afternoon I enjoyed walking along the river with Jason Monaghan and Dea Parkin before the drinks reception which preceded the banquet and the great moment when I was presented with the award. After that I was quite happy to go along with others to watch the conclusion of Eurovision!

It was wonderful to see people again and also to catch up on some lovely reviews of Sepulchre Street on the blog tour. All the copies on sale in the book room were snapped up, which is always gratifying. As ever, huge thanks go to Donna and Adrian Muller for all their hard work in making CrimeFest such a great event. It was very memorable for me and I'm truly appreciative.