As is traditional, Bristol was bathed in gorgeous sunshine just in time for its annual international crime fiction convention, CrimeFest: lovely weather for a bit of murder and mayhem!
I arrived on Saturday because of work, so I missed a few of the panels I’d been looking forward to, but I thought the ones I did manage to see on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning were fantastic. Many intriguing insights into crime writing partnerships emerged from Maxim Jakubowski‘s interview with Nicci French and Lars Keplar. “Ideas for our books come out of our marriage…sometimes literally,” said Sean French of Nicci French, “When collaboration works, it’s a bit like folie à deux.”
I thought this was a wonderfully evocative (if somewhat scary) description of the collaborative writing process! We’ve long been fans of Nicci French’s stand-alones and were excited to hear more details of her/their series detective novels as well as Stalker, the latest offering in Lars Keplar’s Joona Linna series.
Martyn Waites‘ interview with Mark Billingham was an entertaining event, full of banter between the two former roommates and lively discussion of everything from police procedurals to seafood slaughterers and dachshund detectives. There was a good deal more easygoing banter mixed in with quantities of hard liquor as the evening progressed and it was lovely to get a chance to catch up with old friends and chat to writers I’ve read or known on social media but never met in the flesh before.
As hangovers abounded on Sunday morning (causing some writers to don their sunglasses indoors), I went to watch Kevin Wignall interview special guest author Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. Crimeculture are long-time fans of Kevin’s writing (both as a crime writer and as YA author K J Wignall), but neither of us had read Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s work before. I don’t know why, because it sounds brilliant and just our sort of thing. I hugely enjoyed this event – which careened from the bloodcurdling to the hilarious and back again – and was fascinated to hear about the influence of The Handbook of Infectious Tropical Diseases on Yrsa’s writing… not to mention Struwwelpeter, Father Christmas’s scary mother and “the charm of horrible things”.
I haven’t been to CrimeFest for a couple of years and was amazed at how much the convention has grown, with standing room only at many of the events. Despite the swell in numbers, I was happy to see that CrimeFest hadn’t lost the intimate, convivial atmosphere and easygoing vibe that made it such an enjoyable event when it first began.
We’ve entered a season of retro pulp nostalgia here at Crimeculture. Our three new series feature crime writers, reviewers, critics and publishers. If you’d like to take part, please drop us a line.
My Misspent Youth
A series of short reminiscences from crime writers based around a memento from their childhood – a favourite novel, photograph, poster, toy, baseball card and so on – that is connected to their writing life. Our featured writers will be talking about the memories associated with their memento, about how they first came to be a writer and about their current projects.
In this series, we’ll feature contributors’ favourite crime novel covers and their explanation of why it’s their favourite. If you would like to contribute a cover, please send us the name (and an image, if available) of your favourite pulp cover along with 150 words or so describing what it is you love about it.
Crimeculture contributors discuss their favourite bad girls, femmes fatales, female villains and noir heroines drawn from the annals of crime fiction, film, comics, graphic novels and true crime… If you are interested in contributing, send us the name (and an image, if available) of your favourite bad girl along with 300 words or so about her.
Summer 2014 offers some great conferences, festivals and crime-related events. There are, of course, two excellent annual events scheduled in Bristol and Harrogate, the Crimefest convention and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. In addition Crimeculture particularly recommends the Manchester ‘True Crime’ Conference (Call for Papers deadline 18th April), an inventive ‘Crime Story’ weekend in Newcastle, and, in Ohio, the Crime Studies Network’s ‘Evil Incarnate’ conference.
Now established as one of the best annual crime events, the international crime fiction convention, Crimefest, has a Programme that includes panels on locked rooms, women as victims, the modern thriller, the paranormal, political thrillers, the hired gun, Euro noir, psychotherapists and psychiatrists, plus interviews with Nicci French, Lars Kepler, Yrsa Sigurdardottir – and much else.
Spend a weekend getting under the skin of a fictional crime with top crime writers, criminologists, lawyers, police and forensics experts. See also the link on this page to the Northern Crime Competition.
David Schmid is the keynote speaker at this fascinating interdisciplinary conference which will explore the genre in its myriad incarnations. The programme is now online at http://www.hic-dragones.co.uk/true-crime-programme/
David McWilliam, who is presenting at and co-running True Crime: Fact, Fiction, Ideology, is interviewing Jean Murley on the Twisted Tales site. Jean Murley’s first book was The Rise of True Crime: 20th Century Murder and American Popular Culture and she is currently working on a book about wrongful conviction in America, tentatively titled Collateral Damage: The Outrage of Wrongful Conviction: Eight Families’ Stories.
Since the 1920s, women have been among the most prolific and influential authors of crime fiction. Some of the best-known heroes and anti-heroes of fiction are also women. This conference will address the relationship of gender and genre, past and present, and the known and the unknown. Keynote speakers: Val McDermid and Dr Lee Horsley.
The Crime Studies Network is a group devoted to the interdisciplinary study of representations of crime. In 2014, it is holding its first conference outside the UK. With keynote speakers from the disciplines of Religious Studies, Justice Administration and Film Studies, the conference asks what defines villainy and how villains are represented.
“For one long, sultry, summer weekend the temperature in Harrogate rises whatever the weather as the world’s hottest celebration of crime writing swings into town.” This year’s festival has a stellar line-up, including Ann Cleeves, Robert Galbraith, Sophie Hannah, John Harvey, Lynda LaPlante, Laura Lippman, Peter May, Val McDermid, Denise Mina and S. J. Watson.
Increasing numbers of contemporary books, articles and conference papers have been devoted to analysing crime and detective fiction within a wide variety of cross-cultural contexts. Critics focus on the diversity of the genre and on the manifold ways in which generic tropes are being transformed as they take on different cultural and national identities. Studies such as these shed light on one of the main reasons for the genre’s durability: as Kate Horsley writes in “Contemporary African Crime Fiction”, “Detective fiction has remained a resilient and versatile genre because of its capacity to raise difficult questions about corruption and moral failure. It represents the investigation of individual crimes but can also work to expose the failures, traumas and brutalities of political and social life.”
This Autumn Crimeculture is featuring some of the best of the 2012-13 publications on cross-culture crime and detective fiction. The following books and articles are reviewed and highly recommended:
Berit Åström, Katarina Gregersdotter and Tanya Horeck (eds), Rape in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and Beyond: Contemporary Scandinavian and Anglophone Crime Fiction, Palgrave Macmillan, October 2012