Well, what can I say? Crimefest this year was THE BEST YET! Actually the same was said last year, and not just by me. And with good reason. Bristol was warm and sunny, the delegates were even warmer and sunnier, and the panels were run like well-oiled machines (a bit like some of the guests after a visit to the bar, only different). If you were a keen reader, you had access to enough books and authors to give yourself a fuzzy glow for days afterwards, and if you were a writer, you could only be enthused by the authors on display, and their stories and views.
Furthermore, laughter was in strong evidence throughout, especially on the interview panel run by Nev Fountain, talking to 'Sherlock' creators Sue Vertue, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.
I was fortunate to be moderating the opening panel – Diverse Characters in Crime – with Mary Andrea Clarke, Roz Southey, Chris Longmuir and Nev Fountain.
Then I was a panelist on the Forgotten Authors panel, moderated with smooth skill by Martin Edwards, along with JohnCurran, Ruth Dudley Edwards and Zoe Sharp. I was remembering Peter ‘Modesty Blaise’ O’Donnell and James ‘Callan’ Munro (aka James ‘ When the Boat Comes in’ Mitchell) – both of whom had a strong influence on my desire to become a crime and thriller writer.
I was also lucky to be invited onto Natives & Outsiders, commanded briskly by Jake Kerridge and with a crew of MJMcGrath and Dana Stabenow (talking Alaska) and Pierre Lemaitre plus his translator Frank Wynne, and myself (talking France). This discussed the approach by writers within the country and those, like Melanie McGrath and me, with a more detached connection. Pierre (who got more laughs than anyone else in spite of claiming he couldn’t speak much English) made the interesting suggestion that my France was probably more real than his. He wasn’t saying I was more accurate, simply that he was writing for an audience which knew the setting, whereas I needed more detail.
I met so many friends, old and new, and had such a good time, you had to be there to see it. Of course, there are those who might say that, like London in the 60s, if you can remember it, you weren't there...
But now you've been warned, there's always next year...