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CrimeFest revisited - what's good about crime fiction

My first appearance at CrimeFest was in 2010 - was it really that long ago! - and my most recent was in 2014. I really must return, when the World gets back to some kind of normality after this dreadful Coronavirus pandemic that has put a hold on all live events. For those of you unaware of what CrimeFest is (and I am sure there are many of you) it is an annual gathering of crime writers and crime fiction and fact fans from around the globe, who meet up for a three day festival in Bristol, England. I've met some lovely people there and been a guest panelist on some very interesting panels. In the absence of a live event this year here is a brief look back at the CrimeFests I have had the pleasure of attending.

CrimeFest 2010

A boiling hot day in England and being closeted inside a stuffy Marriott Hotel in Bristol was not the best place to be but I was delighted to be asked to appear on a panel with other crime writers to talk about my crime novels and answer questions from the delegates.

I was also thrilled to meet the very accomplished actor, Brian Murphy. He's appeared many times on British television, including in the comedy series, George and Mildred and The Last of the Summer Wine. And I particularly liked him in Booze Crew with Martin Clunes, Neil Pearson and Ben Whishaw. What's more he was born at one of my favourite places, the Isle of Wight, and lived in Portsmouth, both of which are where my crime novels are set.

I met my fellow crime writers (from left to right) Linda Regan, Lindsey Davis, J.D. Goodhind, (me) and Neil White in the Green Room, a rather dark basement room in the hotel, prior to appearing on our panel. For a moment I thought I'd stepped into a murder mystery scene from Midsomer Murders and half expected Inspector Barnaby (John Nettles) to appear from the gloom. But there were no dead bodies’ only live and lively authors, and it was good to meet up and get to know one another a little before the public appearance.

I enjoyed participating in a panel discussion entitled No More Heroes: Today's Sleuths & Crime Solvers. (Apparently the title is a punk song, but that by-passed me). However, we quickly dismissed the title because all our main characters are heroes. I was asked why my hero is a man and not a woman, or rather why I write from the male point of view. No idea, it's just the way I write and all my crime novels are written with a male lead character.

CrimeFest 2010

CrimeFest 2011

After arriving in Bristol at 7.15 am after a very early start from the south coast of England, I was in good time to meet up with my fellow panel members for our panel event, the first one on the programme for that day 20 May called Operation Petticoat: Jobs For The Girls. I discovered that the title of all the programme events were named after some of Cary Grant's films, who, as Archibald Alexander Leach, hailed from Bristol. Cary Grant is one of my all time favourite stars along with Roger Moore and Humphrey Bogart. So while in Bristol I just had to say 'hello' to Cary.

He was just over six feet and I am just over five feet, so a pretty life sized statute, eh?

My fellow panelists were crime authors Linda Regan, Leigh Russell, Aline Templeton with the participating moderator: Ruth Dudley Edwards who did a fantastic job of keeping us all in check. We discussed many aspects of crime fiction, crime writing and our characters and the audience asked lots of great questions.

From left to right: Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Leigh Russell, Pauline Rowson, Linda Regan and Aline Templeton

I was delighted to meet DI Andy Horton fan, Stella Heyl from Connecticut USA

Also bumped into fellow crime author, Matt Hilton while having a coffee

And looking a little the worse for wear but we're both sober! Peter James and Pauline Rowson


It was great to also meet up again with crime author Leigh Russell

In addition, I met a lovely lady who had come all the way from Australia and who runs a blog Mysteries in Paradise dedicated to crime fiction, of course.

Kerrie Smith from Mysteries in Paradise with Pauline Rowson

CrimeFest 2012

I met my fellow crime writers; Mary Andrea Clarke, Frances Brody, Leigh Russell and our excellent moderator Adrian Magson in the Green Room, the dimly lit space in the basement of the hotel. It looked like a set from a murder mystery play. I half expected to trip over a dead body but there were none only very much alive authors. And here’s the photograph to prove it.

From left to right: Pauline Rowson, Frances Brody, Adrian Magson, Mary Andrea Clarke, Leigh Russell

Our brief was to explore Genres and Sub Genres but as in most of these panels we ended up talking about many different aspects of crime writing and our crime novels.

The panel line up: Adrian Magson, Mary Andrea Clarke, Pauline Rowson, Frances Brody, Leigh Russell

Pauline Rowson talking about her crime novels

I met some lovely people after the panel and had a chance to chat to them about what they like about crime fiction: a puzzle to solve, great characters, atmospheric settings, action packed novels were some of the answers, which varied as much as the genre does itself, and that’s what’s so exciting and fascinating about both writing and reading crime fiction. There’s something for everyone.

CrimeFest 2013

CrimeFest 13 was buzzing as usual. CrimeFest 13 Panel Pauline Rowson, J. C. Martin, Ann Cleeves, Kerry WilkinsonThe panel session on Friday morning was well received by a lively audience and my In the Spotlight Session later the same morning where I talked about "The Perfect System for Writing a Crime Novel" it was standing room only.

The panel session was chaired by Ann Cleeves and appearing with me were crime authors; J. C. Martin, Kate Ellis and Kerry Wilkinson. We discussed many aspects of crime writing and our novels, including why we chose to set them where we did, why we chose to feature cops, how we research our crime novels and who our favourite fictional detectives are.

Pauline Rowson taking a question CrimeFest 13Not surprisingly we have all chosen to set our crime novels in an area we know, J. C Martin in London, Kerry Wilkinson in Manchester and mine in the Solent area on the South Coast of England, particularly in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. But we all agreed that the areas we chose have contrasts between rich and poor, providing a great canvas for crime novels. I also mentioned that the contrast between the urban environment of Portsmouth and the rural one of the Isle of Wight with an ever changing sea separating the two provides me with another great element for creating atmospheric crime novels

Pauline Rowson at CrimeFest 13
Not one of us has a police background so why did we choose to write about cops? I think the consensus was that it wasn't so much we all deliberately set out to choose to write about cops but somehow found ourselves doing so.

Pauline Rowson talking about her crime novels at CrimeFest 13It was a very enjoyable panel followed by a great In the Spotlight Session where I talked about 'The Perfect System for Writing a Crime Novel'.

CrimeFest 2014

My annual appearance at CrimeFest 2014 on Friday 15 May, coincided with the celebrations for Somaliland Independence Day on the College Green at Bristol. Not that I was aware of that when arriving at the Royal Marriott Hotel, Bristol where CrimeFest is held.

The hotel faces onto College Green and here I was met by a crowd of men, women and children decked out in white, green and red, music playing, people talking on loud speakers and everyone having a really good time, and helping to raise money to build and improve Somaliland’s national road system as they celebrated Somaliland Independence Day.

My panel appearance was later Friday afternoon. I spent some time catching up with some of my fellow crime writers and my publisher before taking tea and a delicious slice of Bara Brith Cake (a welsh fruit loaf made with tea) in the cafe in Bristol Library where I chatted to the librarians, delighted to hear that my crime novels are very popular with their readers. After fortifying myself with Bara Brith and freshly squeezed orange juice it was time to head for the Green Room in the hotel in preparation for the panel.

Elizabeth Haynes, Pauline Rowson, Lesley Thomson, Chris Longmuir

I briefed the panel about the format and before we knew it we were on stage.

Crimefest 2014 from left to right: Felix Francis, Elizabeth Haynes, Pauline Rowson, Lesley Thomson, Chris Longmuir

It was the last panel of the day and a fantastic audience. I was acting as participating moderator, so got to ask the questions. The title of the panel was, 'So what's good about crime?' We discussed how and why we got into crime writing, the importance of authenticity in our novels, the entertainment value of reading a good mystery and how our own experiences have influenced our writing.

The audience attending the panel - CrimeFest 2014 - What's so good about crime?

The answer, a lot, in crime fiction.

So that's it for now CrimeFest revisited

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MAY 14TH, 2021 @ 6:40:59 BST

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