For the first evening of Crimefest, it was off to the pub, for a meal, plenty of wine, and a crime quiz. I met Len Tyler for the first time – he wrote that excellent novel The Herring-Seller’s Apprentice – and it was also good to have a chat with fellow blogger Rafe McGregor. I wangled my way into a good quiz team – the Euromonkeys! – and when we came out on top, we were given a bag of books and DVDs of our own to share around. Lots of fun, and there are even pictures of the Euromonkeys on Karen Meek’s Eurocrime blog…
Among the varied events of Friday and Saturday, I was impressed by the fluency and charm of one of the guests of honour, Hakan Nesser, about whom I’ll post more in a future blog. Suffice to say that he does not conform at all to the stereotype of the gloomy Scandinavian crime novelist. Along with a group including Barry Forshaw, Ann Cleeves (whose interview of Hakan skilfully brought out his personality, as well as much information), and Elizabeth Saccente, who was short-listed for the CWA Debut Dagger, I was on Hakan’s table for the Gala Dinner on Saturday evening, which followed immediately after a party for all Crimefest delegates given by publishers Constable & Robinson.
A highlight twenty-four hours earlier was another publishers’ party, held by Crème de la Crime to celebrate the publication of the anthology Criminal Tendencies, which I’ve talked about on this blog in the past. A raffle was held for a special signed copy, and my pact with Beelzebub resulted in my number coming up when Mark Billingham made the draw. Much credit goes to Lynn Patrick of Crème for the money she has raised for breast cancer charities.
I was glad to meet up again with Caroline Schiach, a new writer who won a competition to contribute to Criminal Tendencies. There were quite a few people at the convention who, like her and Elizabeth, are working hard on their debut novel, and it is good to see that the crime genre attracts continuing enthusiasm and commitment from those who are keen to become involved. They deserve every encouragement – it’s not always easy for them in the current market, but maybe their number includes the next Ruth Rendell and the next Reginald Hill.