Traffic was light, so the 140 miles or so flew by, and we arrived in time to grab a quick coffee and slice of toast at the cafe across the road.
Following registration – where we didn’t get cool CrimeFest lanyards (clearly reserved for full weekend attendees!) but rather, second class green badges :o( – the first panel we attended was Got Demons: Does A Crime Fiction Protagonist Need To Have Added Angst? with panellists, Matthew Frank, Dolores Gordon-Smith, Sarah Hilary, Fergus McNeill, and participating moderator, David Mark.
I know Sarah (although only online) so it was nice to finally meet and get her to sign my copy of No Other Darkness (which I reviewed back in January). A few of the panelists were very complimentary of Matthew Frank, so I’ll have to add his name to my TBR pile.
Before we headed for the next panel, I spotted a photo opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. And here it is in two words: Lee Child.
Next up was the Mean Streets and Small Towns: Crime In City Or Countryside panel, with Paul Finch, S.J.I. Holliday, Ragnar Jónasson, Jake Woodhouse and participating moderator, Craig Robertson.
It was great to support a friend, Susi (I reviewed her debut, Black Wood, in March), and to also be introduced to Icelandic author, Ragnar, who is a really interesting and likeable guy. We were both quick to buy his book, Snow Blind, and get it signed!
Next up for us was Gritty or Gratuitous? with Helen Fitzgerald, Nev Fountain, Felix Francis, Steve Mosby and participating moderator, Andrew Taylor. I went to see Twitter and FB friend, Steve Mosby (and thanks for signing The Murder Code for me, Steve!), but this was an odd mix of panel, and I can’t help think that Steve and Helen must have been a little bemused by it. Jane and I were!
Next we saw Maj Sjöwall interviewed by Lee Child. If you don’t know who Maj is, have a read of this Guardian article. Lee was clearly a fan, and Maj was both funny and lovely.
Final panel of the day was Writing the Thrills, with Dean Crawford, Felix Francis, Sheila Quigley, Manda Scott and participating moderator, Michael Ridpath.
Afterwards we went to the bar and caught up with friends, including Susi Holliday and her hubby, Louise Voss and her partner, Joanna Penn, and I managed a brief hello to Luca Veste.
All-in-all we had a great day, meeting some online friends, including Vicky Newham and Janet O’Kane, and me making some new ones, including Alison Gray and Dave Sivers.
And the 140-mile journey home? Well, that was interesting. Jane plugged her iPod into the car stereo and quizzed me on music from the eighties for pretty much the whole journey! I wasn’t quite as rubbish as I thought I’d be.
Thanks for a great day, Jane. And CrimeFest too!