I’ve just returned from a wonderful weekend spent at the annual Crime Writers’ Association conference.  This year was rather special as it’s the 60th anniversary of the founding of the CWA by the renowned and prolific author John Creasy.  John Creasy was a man guaranteed to make authors like me (with my mere 2,000 words a day) feel like an idle slacker as rumour has it that his daily word count approached 26,000…all that and founding the CWA too.  What a man!  Our fantastic conference certainly honoured him in style with fascinating speakers, good food (and drink) and congenial company.

BelsfieldThis significant anniversary in the CWA’s history was celebrated at the lovely Belsfield Hotel on the shore of Lake Windermere and a great time was had by all.  The hotel itself has spectacular views and it was quite an experience to wine and dine overlooking the beauty of the lake and the mountains beyond.  And we didn’t only look at all that water.  When we arrived on the Friday night we were taken on a cruise around the lake and on Saturday afternoon I managed to do something I’ve never had the opportunity to do before – I went sailing.

Research is vital to my books and even though they’re set in a location where yachts are almost as common as cars, I’ve never really included sailing in the stories.  But that couldn’t last for ever.  Sooner or later I’d have to include a scene on board one of those yachts parked (sorry, moored) in Tradmouth harbour and, in the interests of accuracy, I’d have to discover what sailing felt like for myself.

SailingFive of us boarded a 35 foot yacht and set sail under the command of experienced skipper, Neil.  Once the sails were raised we each took a turn at the wheel.  After a while I got used to the way the wind affected the vessel and was soon steering her.  We also learned to tack, the skipper assuring us that however much the boat leaned, she wouldn’t capsize.  Then we went below for a well earned cup of tea before the engine took over and we chugged back to the jetty.  It was great fun and I hope the research will add a touch of authenticity to the book I’m working on now, THE SHROUD MAKER.

I returned home on Sunday, looking forward to meeting up with my writing friends again at CRIMEFEST in Bristol in late May…and I very much hope to meet a lot of my readers there as well.  If you’re a crime fiction fan, CRIMEFEST is highly recommended.

After a busy weekend I put my feet up last night and watched ENDEAVOUR.  I think it’s brilliant…almost as good as the original MORSE.