Yesterday I made the three and a half hour round trip to Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire. Quite a long way to go for a lunch (and if the traffic is bad, it can be a five-hour plus trip) but definitely worth while. For this was the autumn lunch of the Northern Chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association, and the venue was the Crown Hotel, where I attended the Chapter’s inaugural lunch, more than twenty years ago.
At that time, I didn’t know any crime writers, but I was immediately made to feel at home by the convenor Peter Walker, who was there again yesterday. Peter is best known these days as author of the books on which the massively successful TV series ‘Heartbeat’ is based. He was one of three people at the lunch who have chaired the CWA – Lesley Horton and Margaret Murphy being the others.
Among those attending that inaugural lunch were Peter and Margaret Lewis, two academics who have written successful non-fiction books about the genre, as well as some good fiction. They have also set up that much-acclaimed small press, Flambard Press, publisher of Dancing for the Hangman. The three of us dined at the same table, accompanied (among others) by Roger and Jean from Cornwell Internet, who are responsible for the CWA’s website, and those of many leading crime writers.
There is always a ‘feelgood’ factor about these lunches, and this continues with Roger Forsdyke as convenor in succession to Peter Walker. Roger has just published a novel which benefits from his many years of experience in the police. There was an excellent turn-out of 37 people, a sure sign, as Roger said, that the Northern Chapter is the best supported of all the regional branches of the CWA. I enjoyed meeting up with friends old and new (the latter group includes Frances Brody and the historical novelist Karen Maitland). And on the drive back home, I reflected on how very glad I am that I accepted Peter’s original invitation to the Crown, all those years ago.