Thursday 21 May 2009

Edge of Doom

Last Sunday morning at Crimefest, I moderated a panel given the tag-line ‘Edge of Doom’ – in effect, about suspense and pushing characters as far as you dare. The four panellists were authors who have published with great success, but not for that many years, and (apart from a brief chat with Caro Ramsay a year back), I’d never met them before this week-end.

When you are moderating a panel discussion, you want to make sure that everyone gets their chance to speak, and also that the conversation is both informative and informal – so that the audience feels that they like, and are interested in, the people who are talking, and might therefore be inclined to like their books. Usually, I know at least one or two of the panellists when I’m moderating, but on this occasion I wasn’t at all sure in advance how things would go. One option would have been to draw up a fairly rigid framework, but that doesn’t seem appealing to me, and the panellists expressed a similar view when we exchanged emails in advance of the week-end.

As things turned out, I needn’t have worried. Caro, Brian McGilloway (like Len Tyler and Aliya Whiteley, a product of the excellent Macmillan New Writing project), M.R.Hall and Steven Hague interacted extremely well with each other and each of them had plenty of interest to say. They were a diverse group, and I felt this added to the pleasure of the morning. A special word for Steven, who has published just one novel so far, and who had never participated in a crime panel before that Sunday (when he did it twice!). He contributed with the assurance of a seasoned performer. I was impressed.


Rod Duncan said...

Sounds like a really interesting topic. Some writers really seem to have the nack of hitting the perfect ballance between putting their characters in peril and allowing them control over their fate.

Maxine Clarke said...

Me too, I attended the panel mainly for Brian McGilloway and M. R. Hall, both of whom I have read and admire but have not heard speaking before- and you of course Martin! I thought it was a very interesting discussion and agree that Steve was a natural (the fact that he is a fan of Andrew Vachss did him no harm in my eyes).

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments, Rod and Maxine. I must admit I've never got very far with Andrew Vachss.