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CrimeFest 2018 – Reflections of a Debut Panellist – Part Two


Part Two (for part one click here)

On law versus justice in crime novels: William McIntyre (Last Will) quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes ‘I don’t preside over a court of justice; I preside over a court of law.’ Peter Murphy (Judge Walden Back in session), who was defence counsel at the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, reminded us that ‘one man’s war criminal is another’s freedom fighter’. Yrsa Sigurdardottir (The Reckoning) explained that there is no jury system in Iceland, trials take one afternoon and there is only one sentence for murder: 16 years.

On equality/feminism. Cathy Ace (Wise Enquiries Agency stories) says that ‘four women with jobs making a life for themselves (her fictional PIs working out of a converted barn in Wales) is not feminism.’ Louise Candlish (Our House) expressed sympathy for middle-aged men, like her protagonist, Bram, currently ‘walking on eggs shells’ whereas Elodie Harper (The Binding Song) thinks life for young men has never been so good.

On weird props: B A Parris (Behind Closed Doors) includes a set of Russian dolls in her story but we will have to read it to found out why.

On flawed characters: Iain Maitland (Sweet William) has a ‘flawed and damaged character’; a father, who escapes from a psychiatric hospital, with the aim of kidnapping his son and heading for a new life in France, at the centre of his story.

On setting: Antonia Hodgson (Death at Fountains Abbey) visited Fountains Abbey and found it ‘beautiful and atmospheric with three places to buy scones.’ SS Mausoof (The Warehouse) set his book in Waziristan, where ‘beauty and humanity survives’ despite the very difficult circumstances. Peter Beck (Damnation) chose the Swiss mountains for his fast-paced thriller. Will Dean (Dark Pines) and Michelle Sacks (You Were Made for This) both set their debut novels in remote Swedish towns. Will wanted a claustrophobic atmosphere; ‘I want you to feel that you [the reader] want to get out, but I won’t let you!’

On truth being stranger than fiction: Dirk Kurbjuweit (Fear) experienced a real-life stalker, living in his basement. ‘What happened to him?’ we asked. ‘He’s dead!’ he said.

On the future of books: Lee Child (Jack Reacher) says ‘everything is a story’ and he is not concerned about the end of stories, but accepts the way they are delivered might change.

On tips for writers: Jeffery Deaver; ‘One word-READ!’. Vaseem Khan (Murder at the Grand Raj Palace) ‘when I had my book rejected I thought I would ease an elephant in.’ ‘Don’t wait for a muse – sit down and make writing a habit’ says Michelle Sacks. ‘You might live in many houses, doesn’t mean you know how to build one’ says Roz Watkins (The Devil’s Dice), who advocates taking time out to learn how to write. ‘Get people to read your work’; Peter Beck (Damnation) was thrilled to hear that his first 40 page effort ‘read like a real book’.

On ebooks: Lee Child says these are ‘tiny tubes of toothpaste, essential for travel but no one is using them at home.’

On what would I be if I wasn’t a writer: Martina Cole: a bank robber; Peter James: a police man.

And now for my Awards:

Most dated plot line: beating up 3 people with a laptop (Mason Cross: Carter Blake series) [Think about it]

Silliest quote:  Felix Francis (Pulse) ‘If you have supraventricular tachycardia I’m your man’

King of the Double Entendre: Simon Brett (A Deadly Habit) asking humorous crime writers ‘who is your biggest butt?’

Scariest real life parent: Dirk Kurbjuweit. His father was a marksman, hunter and collector of weapons, who ‘never went out without a gun’

Most creative use of a foreign word by an English speaker: ‘zeitgeisty’ (used by Louise Candlish as an adjective and questioned by Dirk Kurbjuweit, a native German speaker)

Best use of an English word by a non-native English speaker: ‘irascible’ (used by Dirk Kurbjuweit, to describe his weapon-toting father) and commended on his wide vocabulary by Kate Rhodes (Ruin Beach)

Biggest audience gasp of the weekend: When David Penny (The Inquisitor) admitted ‘I hadn’t [until recently] heard of Josephine Tey’

Least known fact: Agatha Christie wrote six (not crime!) novels as Mary Westmacott


Published inInspiration