A Book Club and a Butterfly Festival

It’s been a busy week. Last Tuesday, I was invited to attend the book club supper of the nearby Broughton Book Club to discuss their read of An Unfamiliar Murder. I’ve said this many a time, but one of the nicest things about writing novels is the wonderful people you meet and this evening was no exception. I was treated to home-cooked food in the manner of Moussaka and Lasagne, accompanied by fresh salad and a selection of very yummy puddings.

It really was a lovely relaxed evening talking books and writing. I was honoured to be invited back to their next meeting at a nearby pub (it seems their meetings always involve food – the perfect accompaniment to books in my opinion!) in October to talk about their next selection, The Truth Will Out. Already, I am looking forward to another evening of the same.

On Saturday I travelled up to Harrogate for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival with my dear friend and partner-in-crime writing, Glyn Timmins. It’s a four day event, running from Thursday to Sunday, however personal and family commitments meant I could only manage the Saturday. One of my Twitter friends likened attending this festival to a butterfly: everybody flitting about, trying to see and do as much as possible and I certainly felt the pressure of squeezing lots into my one day.

So, after a two and a half hour drive, we arrived in time for our first panel entitled ‘New Blood’. Chaired by the effervescent and exceedingly competent, Val McDermid, this is where four ‘up and comings’ talk about their work. The panel introduced to the work of Helen Giltrow and Nicola White and I particularly enjoyed listening to Ray Celestin discuss the challenge of being a British writer and setting his novel in historic New Orleans. Eva Dolan also entertained us with her research techniques for her debut, Long Way Home. It was interesting to hear their inspirations and the ups and downs of their individual journeys to publication.

Later we caught the ‘New Wave of Forensics’ panel, chaired by the brilliant David Hewson. Here we heard from Elizabeth Haynes on the role of a police analyst; Paul Finch, a police officer turned writer talked about the changes in forensic evidence over the past twenty years, and there was also input from Dave Barclay and Tony Thompson on the accuracy and validity of forensic evidence and how it is used in crime fiction.

We managed to squeeze in a quick coffee and cake at Betty’s before it was back for the Murder Mystery Dinner where some of the cast of the TV adaptation of ‘Shetland’ read the parts of Anne Cleeves’ mystery and each table attempted to solve the crime during dinner. Our table was hosted by the lovely Steven Dunne, who it was great to finally meet, and although the heat in the dining room was oppressive and we didn’t manage to guess whodunit (sack the crime writers!), it was a very enjoyable evening.

As usual, I didn’t get to see as many as my online friends as I’d hoped – there simply wasn’t enough time. However, it was lovely to catch up, albeit briefly, with Susi Holliday, Lisa Cutts, Mel Sherratt, Mari Hannah, Annie Dyer and Dave Sivers – before, in the manner of a true butterfly, I flew off home as dusk fell.

This post is dedicated to fellow writer and dear friend, Glyn Timmins, for his lovely company on Saturday and for doing ALL the driving!

This week I will be doing a webchat at Noveltunity.com on Wednesday morning at 10am. Do join me there if you are able. Have a good week, all!


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