May means one thing in the crime writing calendar. CrimeFest. On the 15th I made my way down to Bristol with my other half in tow (for reasons that will become clear later). We gave a lift to my fellow author (and Murder Squad Member) Martin Edwards so, with a lot of catching up to do and much crime writing gossip to exchange, the long journey passed quickly.
As usual CrimeFest was held in the comfortable surroundings of the Bristol Marriot Royal Hotel next to Bristol Cathedral and I regard my stay there as an annual treat (especially going for a swim in the lovely Roman-themed pool – before breakfast). This year I attended the convention while my husband went off to explore Bristol and on the Saturday I found myself moderating a panel for the first time. I was a bit nervous about this but the subject was right up my street – Archaeologists and Academics – Digging up the past with a spade or a pen. Of course I was helped by having four lovely and erudite panellists – Martin Edwards, Elly Griffiths, Tom Harper and Luca Veste – who made my new experience really enjoyable. In the evenings drinks were drunk, old friends met and new ones made. It’s always lovely to chat to fans and there were certainly a lot there this year, many from the USA.
Sunday saw me taking part in the Criminal Mastermind competition. Last year I was in the audience and I guessed the result which meant I won a free place for two at this year’s CrimeFest (this is why my husband came with me). However, the penalty was that I had to take part in the Mastermind myself. There is a black chair (just like on TV) and Maxim Jakubowski took the part of inquisitor. My specialist subject was Josephine Tey (one of my favourite authors of all time) and my main aim was not to win but to avoid making a complete idiot of myself. I don’t know how it happened but I ended up coming second (behind the ultra-knowledgeable Paul Johnstone) so things worked out far better than I expected! I don’t think I’d like to sit in that daunting black chair again but I returned home happy that I had survived with my dignity intact!!
The following week I spoke at the Bollington Festival in Cheshire with another fellow Murder Squad member, Margaret Murphy (who now writes as A D Garrett). Margaret and I did an event back in April at Tickhill Library near Doncaster which was very successful and I think our contrasting styles of writing (my books feature a lot of history and Margaret’s concentrate on forensic science) complement each other well.
In June the paperback of THE SHROUD MAKER will be out and I’ll be travelling down to Devon to take part in three events to celebrate its publication (and celebrate National Crime Reading Month at the same time). There’s a Murder Mystery evening in Kingsbridge, a book signing in Paignton and a talk in Totnes. Then later in the month I’ll be signing books in Waterstones in Stockport and taking part at a Crime Writers’ Barbecue in Formby (see my events page for details). I do hope I’ll see some of you there.