A while ago I purchased a weekend ticket to this event. But this has turned out to be an emotionally charged weekend with my son returning from Nicaragua after a three month trip.

Here he is arriving at Heathrow yesterday – a beautiful boy turned into a wonderful young man who has learned a lot of South American Spanish, how to milk cows, chop wood, make water filters and teach about sustainability.

cometh the young man

So I have only got to a couple of the panels this weekend.

Brit Noir with Barry Forshaw compering the panel and promoting his new book on Brit Noir. On the panel were Helen Cadbury, Susi Holliday, Amanda Jennings and Sarah Ward.

brit noir

Helen has written two books in the Sean Denton series – To Catch a Rabbit and Bones in the Nest.

Susi has written Black Wood, set in a small fictional town called Banktoun, in Scotland and has another in the series, due for release on 5th May called Willow Walk.

Amanda has written a number of standalone psychological thrillers, including the recently released In Her Wake.

Sarah is writing a series of crime stories investigated by Inspector Francis Sadler and set in Derbyshire in the Peak District. The first, In Bitter Chill was released in 2015 and the second, A Deadly Thaw, will be published in September 2016.

Discussion centred around:

  • The role of women in crime fiction – from women as writers and readers (apparently 80% of crime fiction readers are women), to women as protagonists and also antagonists or perpetrators within different crime subgenres such as domestic noir.
  • The importance of titles and the fact that certain words should be in crime titles e.g. bones, death etc.
  • New genres appearing e.g. grip lit. When Barry asked the panel what that meant, Amanda quipped that it means the book is really slippery and you have to grip onto it hard to read it.
  • Whether genres were helpful or not – to writers, to readers or to marketeers.

During the course of this panel, the general agreement was that crime fiction is getting slicker and more sophisticated than ever before and it is great to be a part of that.

Nordic Noir with Dr Jacky Collins of Northumbria University (and chair of the organising committee of Newcastle Noir ) compering the panel of guests – Gunnar Staalesen, Mari Hannah, Kati Hiekkapelto and Jónína Leosdóttir.

Nordic Noir panel

Gunnar’s novels are set in Bergen and feature a private detective called Varg Veum. The most recently available in the UK, We shall inherit the wind is an investigation into the disappearance of a wind farm inspector.

Mari has written a series of detective novels set in Newcastle upon Tyne, featuring DCI Kate Daniels, but most recently began a new series with The Silent Room which features an investigation in Norway into corporate greed.

Kati’s third in a series about immigration and refugees, The Exiled, is due out in August 2016.

Jónína’s novels are not yet available in English although this will hopefully be rectified soon.

Discussion revolved around:

  • Crime fiction and social commentary.
  • The importance of running and relaxation in the life of a creative writer.
  • That rather than there be separate style of British crime writing and Scandinavian crime writing, rather there is now more of a European style of crime writing to which we all lean.

I love going to crime writing conferences as I usually meet up with some of my favourite authors. Today I met up with Lucy Cameron, whose debut novel Night is Watching is due out in November 2016. I also met up with Janet O’Kane and Alison Taylor-Baillie. Here’s a photo of the three of us, from left-to-right Janet, Alison, and myself.

three

Janet has written two novels – No Stranger to Death and Too Soon a Death – set in the fictional town of Westerlea, in the Scottish Borders and Alison has written Sewing the Shadows Together, set in Portobello and in Edinburgh.

So despite being a short visit to the festival, as usual I’ve come away supercharged with lots more ideas and more books queued on my kindle!

I write novels - standalone and series - in a number of genres. My main aims are to present strong, developing central characters and to set their stories within realistic other worlds into which you can escape. I hope you enjoy.

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