by Radmila May
Held online 26 April –3 May 2021
Although this is not the first crime fiction festival to be held in Wales,
see the report on the
Cardiff Crime and Coffee Festival,
this online event was on a much larger scale and organised through a wide number of bookshop venues in different Welsh towns and cities. It was sponsored by Aberystwyth Town Council while individual events were partnered by local bookshops from which books by appearing guests could be purchased online.
How Do You Like Your Crime?
was the title of the first session, the partner bookshop was
Cover to Cover, Mumbles.
It was introduced by Crime Cymru Associate Member
The Speakers were:
Cathy Ace, G B Williams, Martin Edwards
, who would describe herself as a ‘cosy crime’ writer, has two series. One being a series of traditional mysteries featuring Cait Morgan who travels to various interesting locations and finds herself solving mysterious deaths, the other featuring the women of the WISE enquiry agency, their members being from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England who are called upon to inquire into events at various rather grand locations. Cathy has also recently published a one-off, The Wrong Boy. When asked how she came to love crime, she replied that, having begun with Nancy Drew and the Famous Five, at her mother’s instigation, she then progressed to Agatha Christie and so forth. She is currently working on another Cait Morgan; when asked whether she was a ‘planner’ or apantser’, she told us she is definitely a planner, working everything out beforehand from the method of murder to the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ and from there to detailed plotting before starting to write.
It’s Personal: When Character Becomes Plot.
This session, the partner bookshop being
was introduced by Alis Hawkins.
The other speakers were Emma Kavanagh, Mari Hannah and
a former police psychologist, is interested in discovering how people survive a ‘worst situation’. She had begun writing standalone psychological thrillers but has now turned to series. Not only is she a ‘plotter’ but sets everything out on a spreadsheet! For her, stories begin with characters.
Mari Hannahhas won many awards. Before she took to writing she was a probation officer but, after an assault, turned to writing. She has several series, one of which features DCI Kate Daniels, the latest being Without a Trace, in which a plane en route from London to New York disappears. Kate’s lover was on that flight but the disaster is outside her jurisdiction and she is not allowed to enquire further. But that is not something she is prepared to put up with. And that is dangerous for her. She is also a ‘plotter’ but has not advanced to spreadsheets.
Adapting The Works And Characters Of
Jane Austen For Crime Fiction.
From time to time Jane Austen’s novels have been adapted, most notably by P D James (Death Comes to Pemberley), although I actually preferred Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd who also wrote several other stories in which her series detective, Charles Maddox, solved mysteries connected with other famous 19th century writers such as Bram Stoker (Dracula), Charles Dickens (Tom-All-Alone’s; The Solitary House) and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein). In this session, partnered with
Gwisgo Bookworm, Aberaeron,
introduced by Amy Williams, debut author Annette Purdey Pugh talked with fellow historical writer, Lindsay Ashford, about her recently published novel, A Murder at Rosings, Rosings of course being the home of one of the most dislikeable of the characters in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the victim being another particularly dislikeable character. Although A Murder at Rosings is Annette’s first published book, she had been writing for many years, winning prizes for short stories and poetry at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.
Welsh Language Crime Fiction.
Although this session was partnered with
Penrallt Gallery Bookshop, Machynlleth,
it was conducted in Welsh, two of the three writers, Myfanwy Alexander and Gwen Parrott, who spoke have titles also available in English.
has written a three-volume series featuring school teacher Della Arthur and set in the 1940s: Dead White. Red Haze on the Horizon, Beyond the Pale. Two of Myfanwy’s novels are available in English, Bloody Eisteddfod and Burning Issue, both featuring series detective Daf Dafis. Her novels are set in Montgomeryshire where she grew up.
Why Look Back? Historical Crime Fiction.
Three well-known prize-winning authors who write in this field took part in this session: Katherine Stansfield, who has written several novels set in Cornwall in the 1840s (with elements of the otherworldly) and herself is from Cornwall but now lives in Cardiff, introduced Elly Griffiths and Shona (S G) Maclean. Books by all three
authors have been reviewed in Mystery People. This session was partnered by
Browsers Bookshop, Portmadog.
The Plot’s The Thing.
In this session, partnered with
Penrallt Gallery Bookshop. Machynlleth,
Mark Ellis talked with Vaseem Khan, Sam Blake and
R.G. (Robyn) Adams.
Series, Standalones And Beyond
Jacky Collins (Dr. Noir), founder of the Newcastle Noir Festival), formerly a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria
University, who is currently based at Stirling University and an experienced interviewer, talked with three
well-established crime writers – Peter James, whose phenomenally popular Roy Grace series, set in Brighton, is now being adapted as a TV series; Icelander Ragnar Jonasson, and Chris Lloyd who, although born in Wales, has spent many years living in Spain but has now moved back to Wales. The interviews were partnered by
The Great Oak Bookshop, Llanidloes.
Crime Scenery – Can Setting Ever Be A ‘Silent Character’?
This session was also conducted by Jacky Collins. It was partnered by
Browsers Bookshop, Portmadog.
She talked with Icelandic writer Yrsa Sigurdardottir and with Welsh crime writer Alis Hawkins, a leading member of Crime Cymru.
Thriller Killer Women.
This session which was conducted by Amy Williams was partnered with
Book-ish Bookshop, Crickhowell,
and featured two writers of thrillers for women,
Clare Mackintosh and B E (Bev) Jones,
each with police connections.
While neither writer would recycle a real life case, their work experiences has given them an insight into society which few other people have. And on one matter they both firmly agreed: the classic fiction/TV scenario in which one ultra-smart police officer, assisted by a sidekick, is quite wrong. The investigation of a complex crime includes the participation of numerous officers and others and is often very laborious.
Horrible Histories – Gothic Crime Fiction.
This session, partnered by
Great Oaks Books, Llanidloes,
was led by the author Thorne Moore with authors E S Thompson and Sarah Ward who also writes as Rhiannon Ward. All three authors discussed what they meant by ‘Gothic’ when applied to crime fiction. It could, and often does, evoke a big old house in a remote country setting, often with a colourful and probably rather gruesome past indications of which have seeped into the atmosphere of the house. The central character is often a woman in jeopardy but who is prepared to take matters into her own hands.
How Much Fact – How Much Fiction?
In this last session of the Festival, partnered with
Gwisgo Bookworm, Aberaeron,
Alis Hawkins talked with two very successful writers, M W (Mike) Craven¸ author of the Cumbria-set series featuring Washington Poe of the Serious Crime Agency and IT expert Tilly Bradshaw, and Imran Mahmood, whose outstanding first novel, You Don’t Know Me, was published a few years ago and is currently being adapted for BBC novelnovel TV and whose next, I Know What I Saw, features a homeless man who witnesses a murder. The topic these two writers discussed was to what extent should expertise in a particular subject be revealed in a work of fiction aimed at a general readership.
Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.