Saturday 29 May 2010

Convention reflections

For the last in my series of posts about Crimefest, I’d like to reflect on the appeal of crime fiction conventions, perhaps especially for the benefit of any readers of this blog who have not attended such a convention, and wonder whether they would enjoy such an event, or whether they would feel a bit isolated.

My first crime convention was 20 years ago this autumn – the Bouchercon that was held in London. At the time, I had not enjoyed any success whatsoever as a crime writer, although I had joined the Crime Writers’ Association on the strength of writing and reviewing about the genre. I knew a few of those who attended, but not many. However, it was an eye-opening experience. Among many others, I got to meet Patricia D. Cornwell, who had just published her first novel, Maxim Jakubowski, Geoff Bradley of CADS and the great Golden Age expert Tony Medawar. I’m still in regular contact with Maxim, Geoff and Tony – not Patsy Cornwell, though, alas!

The event was so much fun – even for someone who is not naturally very sociable, like me - that I was hooked, and since then I’ve attended conventions in various different parts of the UK, as well as at Toronto, Seattle, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Washington. I don’t claim that every event has been perfect, but each time I have met pleasant people for the first time, and had the chance to renew existing friendships. As well as to talk crime long into the night with like-minded people on countless occasions. Can’t be bad, can it?

And here are some photos from Crimefest featuring some of those people whose company I've shared with such pleasure. The first photo shows me with Mike Stotter, editor of that great online magazine Shots, followed by blogger Peter Rozovsky, top crime fiction guru and reviewer Ali Karim, and finally the Monkey Coalition pub quiz team: Carol, Ann, Karen, Cath, me and Rik. Photos courtesy of Ali, Mike and Karen.


Anonymous said...

Martin - These are lovely 'photos - thanks for sharing them. I'm glad you had such a good time.

Nigel said...

Thanks for an introduction to a field I know very little about. I should get involved, me thinks! :-D

aguja said...

Lovely to see the photos! It's great when you find something that is 'just right' and that you look forward to.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

These are wonderful pictures, Martin! Makes me feel like I was there.

Paul Beech said...

Hi Martin – interesting, your little aside about not being naturally very sociable. I suspect most authors and poets – despite appearances to the contrary in some cases! – have a central core of solitariness from which they observe and write. I also believe, though, that writers often have a capacity for deep, rewarding friendship. I can understand the appeal of conventions such as Crimefest. You are lucky to have such good friends in the crime writing fraternity, and they are lucky to have you.

I like the pics too – those arms around shoulders!

Regards, Paul

Janet O'Kane said...

I’d like to add to your comments by recommending conventions from a reader’s point of view (though there are also lots of us who dream of being up there on stage too). I’ve been going to the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (aka just ‘Harrogate’) since its inception. The great thing about this event is that it makes you realise you’re perfectly normal in your enthusiasm for the crime genre, that loads of other folk share it too.
I always attend on my own, and it’s a very friendly environment where you can easily strike up conversations with people you don’t know, or not interact at all with anyone else if you so wish. I’ve made several new friends who I keep in touch with during the rest of the year.
You can also meet your literary heroes (or, if you’re like me, watch them from afar because you’re too shy to go up to them, although you know they’ll be kind!) and gain some new ones.

Mike Gerrard said...

I went to Harrogate last year for the first time and it was a fantastic event. I booked up for this year's the moment I had chance, and look forward to it enormously. I'll go to more if I have the time and the money! They're both social and stimulating, great speakers, you'll be introduced to new authors and buy so many books you'll feel guilty.

Martin Edwards said...

Thank you all for these comments.
Paul - yes, the camaraderie is terrific.
Janet and Mike - I hope our paths cross at Harrogate or elsewhere one of these days! I can recommend both of you to Crimefest, which is very enjoyable.