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Crime Beat

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Crime Beat: Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip report from Crimefest

michael searsstanley trollipMichael Sears (left) and Stanley Trollip (right) – better known to SA crime fiction fans as Michael Stanley – have been flying the flag at the recent (like last weekend) Crimefest convention in Bristol. It seems that apart from the heavy stuff of talking crime thrillers at the many panel discussions they also did a fair amount of noshing and imbibing. But then they’re hardy lads and well able to keep the pace. They sent Crime Beat this exclusive along with some merry photographs.

Last month Stanley and I attended the Crimefest convention in Bristol. It was a very enjoyable three days and nights of panel discussions about books and writing, chatting to other authors, reviewers and mystery enthusiasts, and eating and drinking. Especially drinking. It was my first experience of a mystery book convention, and I had lots to digest as I staggered to bed each night.

There were plenty of highlights. Colin Dexter, the creator of the beloved Inspector Morse – one of the most watched detective television series ever made – attended on Saturday and chatted to Maxim Jakubowski in a plenary session. Colin turns eighty this year, but still writes and is extremely witty. He attributes his best writing to large quantities of whisky, and impishly claimed that he had cleaned out the bookmakers at the time of the great controversy of what Morse’s first name actually was. (Endeavour, if you didn’t already know.)

A similar session featured Tonino Benacquista – an icon of French mystery literature with an Italian name. Speaking through an interpreter, he charmed the audience with his stories of how he became a writer and surviving along the way by being a cocktail party gatecrasher in Paris. He said it was terrible: all that champagne!

michael sears Caption: Clockwise from front left:
Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Stanley Trollip, Claire Seeber, Dan Wadell, Cara Black, Michael Sears, Jake Kerridge

Then there was the cocktail party hosted by the Crime Writers Association for the announcement of the shortlists for several of their prestigious Dagger awards. If you enjoy short stories, get your hands on a copy of Thriller 2 edited by Clive Cussler – six of the seven shortlisted entries are from it. The big one for us was the CWA International Dagger shortlist, and we were thrilled when Deon Meyer’s great new book Thirteen Hours made the cut. There’s tough competition though. Tonino Benacquista’s Badfellas, Andrea Camilleri’s August Heat, Arnaldur Indridason’s Hypothermia, Johan Theorin’s The Darkest Room, and, inevitably, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. I guess we all know who wrote that.

There were lots of interesting panels. Stanley and I talked about collaboration (Personality Crisis panel) and writing in a country in which we don’t live (Holiday in the Sun panel). In addition Stan talked about the African mystery novels of two earlier authors – James McClure and Elspeth Huxley (I Remember You panel).

michael searsCaption: Michael, Cara, Stanley, Dan, Yrsa

It was great fun getting together with three of our fellow Murder Is Everywhere bloggers, Dan Wadell (England), Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland), and Cara Black (France). Unfortunately the other two – Leighton Gage (Brazil) and Tim Hallinan (Thailand) – couldn’t make it. On the work front, Dan participated in a panel, I Fought the Law, for writers who write both fiction and non-fiction. Yrsa was on a panel discussing translated fiction (Ca Plane Pour Moi) as well as on one titled, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, which needs no description. Cara was also in the spotlight, discussing Research in Paris: It’s a Tough Job but Someone’s Got To Do It. Right!

The gala banquet on Saturday evening was emceed by Gyles Brandreth, an outstanding speaker with a wonderful sense of humour. The audience was entertained once again by short speeches by Dexter and Benacquista.

CrimeFest ended on Sunday at lunchtime with a Mastermind-like quiz. Stanley and I together would have totalled three correct answers out of the hundred or so asked. We felt very ignorant! Martin Edwards (a prolific author with a series of mysteries set in the Lake District) blew away all the competitors by a big margin. He has been banned from future competitions as he has now won three in a row. For those who stayed on for Sunday night, Simon Brett read one of his very clever and witty TV mystery plots all in verse. He said he aimed to hit every single possible cliché, and, indeed, he did.

We had a great time. The authors and readers were welcoming and friendly, and the whole event was extremely well organized by Myles Allfrey and Adrian Muller. We would recommend a visit next year if you are in the UK from May 19 to 22, 2011. For more details go to CrimeFest 2010.

Michael Stanley’s most recent krimi is last year’s A Deadly Trade.


Recent comments:

  • jenniferp
    October 6th, 2010 @07:58 #

    Many crime fiction authors have recently chosen Thailand as the setting for their novels. The country has a distinct culture and notorious seediness that make it an interesting choice of location. Authors Christopher G. Moore and John Burdett are some names that come to mind. Moore’s Vincent Calvino is a">private detective in Thailand who must investigate crimes despite cultural barriers and foreign politics. Perhaps the best written crime fiction novels set in Thailand are penned by authors who have lived in the country long enough to understand its complex social structure, customs, and superstitions. Crime fiction is an exciting genre which becomes even more intriguing when set in an exotic locale.

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    October 6th, 2010 @08:15 #

    What say, BOOK chatters - thumbs up or thumbs down on jenniferp?

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Mike Nicol</a>
    Mike Nicol
    October 6th, 2010 @10:41 #

    See Crime Beat tomorrow for an interview with the author of Zulu, Caryl Ferey, about setting your krimi in a foreign country. Then we can talk about exotic.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Margie</a>
    October 6th, 2010 @11:03 #

    New York's pretty exotic. to me. But I am going to try my hand at Japan - Kyoto I think. Maybe Tokyo too...a Yakuza interlude could be fun

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    October 6th, 2010 @13:18 #

    Yakuza video game reviewed by real Japanese gangsters:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    October 6th, 2010 @15:01 #

    I'm inclined to be merciful, Ben-E, unless that link takes you somewhere non-literary...


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