As one of the participants of the Gwyl Crime Cymru Festival 2022, I’m delighted to be able to tell you that you still have time to catch up on the panels that took place this year, via the Crime Cymru You Tube channel, at absolutely NO COST – which is fantastic news…because, after all, who doesn’t enjoy a FREE festival!? (Link at the end of this article).
By way of background: the first Gwyl Crime Cymru Festival organized by Crime Cymru, the collective of Welsh crime writers, took place in 2021; it had always been planned as an online festival, and it was a great success, with over 4500 people watching the panels on the Crime Cymru You Tube channel over the past twelve months.
Thus, with the stated aim of promoting Wales, Welsh culture, and Welsh crime writing in particular, to the wider world, Crime Cymru diligently pressed ahead with plans for 2022, when the hopes were that an in-person festival would take place in Aberystwyth over four days during May. Maybe you can guess what comes next…yes, the decision (which had to be taken in February 2022, due to planning requirements) was taken to once again hold the event online, due to the uncertainties posed by the then-Omicron wave.
All the participants were on board with the decision, and the panels were planned to take place in the evenings when it was hoped as many people as possible would be able to watch them live, and thereby interact with the panel members. The long-term advantage of having the festival take place this way is that the panels have been archived so can now be enjoyed at your leisure. With a new format extending over several evenings, rather than over four days, the festival was still able to offer twelve sessions which it was hoped would draw folks to watch because of the participation of some Really Big Names…which would also allow the viewers to be introduced to writers who might be unknown to them.There was also an opportunity for even more members of Crime Cymru to read short passages from their work during the ‘Crime Close Ups’ which were integrated into the panel sessions – which proved exciting not just for those authors doing the readings, but also for the viewers. The tag line for the entire festival was: ‘Find your next favourite crime writer in Wales’, which led from this unique mix and approach. The planning was completed, the speakers primed, the volunteers who took on the task of reading the live comments and then posing questions to the panel members on behalf of viewers of the live feed were recruited…and the audience signed up in droves! One of the big attractions – other than the big names – was the fact that the entire festival was being offered without any payment being required, this thanks to the support, during difficult times, being offered by Literature Wales and Aberystwyth Town Council.
So, what was (and still is!) on offer? Well, due to some contractual obligations, the panel featuring Ann Cleeves cannot be shown on the Crime Cymru You Tube channel, so we’re sorry that one’s not available, but there are nine other English language panels, plus two in Welsh…which offer an extraordinarily rare opportunity for those who speak or understand the Welsh language to be able to enjoy a lively discussion in this way.
The events are listed below as they appear on the You Tube programming list (link at the end) so you can work out your own ‘running order’, and dive in, as you choose.
The Second Story: We all have Issues!Contemporary crime fiction has proven to be the perfect genre to explore many difficult issues that trouble society beyond law-breaking. Homelessness, dubious technology and deep-rooted traditions are just some of the subjects explored to great effect by the authors here.
Chair: Jacky Collins
Speakers: Trevor Wood, Awais Khan, Louise Mumford
Who killed Daniel Morgan?This panel discusses the infamous unsolved axe murder of Welsh private detective Daniel Morgan with journalist Peter Jukes and Alastair Morgan, Daniel’s brother.
Chair: Matt JohnsonSpeakers: Alistair Morgan, Peter Jukes
Women in Crime Fiction: Pursuers and Perpetrators
Gone are the days of gender stereotypes in crime fiction. These authors demonstrate how the agency afforded women in crime fiction has diverged considerably to the extent that the characters these authors have created are found on both sides of the law and are always to be reckoned with.
Chair: Jacky CollinsSpeakers: Mari Hannah, Elly Griffiths, Beverly Jones
How Much Fact, How Much Fiction: Using Historical Events in Crime Fiction
Crime Writers’ Association Historical Dagger winner, Vaseem Khan (Midnight at Malabar House) and Historical Writers’ Association gold crown winner, Chris Lloyd (The Unwanted Dead) discuss how they balance writing compelling fiction and giving readers an authentic taste of the historical events their characters are dealing with.
Chair: Alis HawkinsSpeakers: Vaseem Khan, Chris Lloyd
Gwaed ar y Dudalen
Mae’r Cymry yn hoff o drioedd felly yn y sesiwn yma bydd Jon Gower yn trafod tri o hanfodion sgrifennu trosedd gyda’r awduron profiadol a phoblogaidd Gwen Parrott ac Alun Davies – lleoliad, plot a chymeriadu.
Chair: Jon GowerSpeakers: Alun Davies, Gwen Parrott
It’s all in your head: writing psychological crime fiction
Do authors need to get into their readers’ heads as well as those of their characters’ to write compelling, bestselling and prizewinning fiction? Clare Mackintosh and Katherine Stansfield talk about playing with perception, plot and people in this fascinating discussion.
Chair: Katherine StansfieldSpeaker: Clare Mackintosh
Ex-forces cops – hard men or soft centres?
Craven’s Washington Poe and Johnson’s Robert Finlay both have pasts in the military, and the life-or-death situations they faced in uniform mean that they bring a particular ‘who gives a f***?’ attitude towards some aspects of policing. But does policing also require emotional intelligence? Barry Forshaw explores Craven and Johnson’s differing views.
Chair: Barry ForshawSpeaker: MW Craven, Matt Johnson
35 Diwrnod a Bang – y ddrama drosedd rhyngwladolYn y blynyddoedd diwethaf mae sioeau trosedd o Gymru wedi plesio cynulleidfaoedd yng Nghymru ac ar draws y byd. Bydd Jon Gower yn trafod y llwyddiant yma gyda dau sydd wedi disgleirio wrth lunio cyfresi treiddgar, cyflym a gwaedlyd, sef Fflur Dafydd a Roger Williams.
Chair: Jon Gower
Speakers: Fflur Dafydd, Roger Williams
Where, When or Who? Which is the most important question in crime fiction?Billingham, Jones and Ellis are all crime authors but they set their fiction in the past and the present, in Britain and Venice, featuring police officers and amateur sleuths. What unites their books under the crime banner? What common factors do they share? And why might their work appeal to different kinds of readers?
Chair: Barry ForshawSpeakers: Mark Billingham, Mark Ellis, Philip Gwynne Jones
The Truth, The Whole Truth and The Historical Truth
With dogged detectives who refuse to settle until the truth is revealed, the authors on this panel have successfully shown how constructing fiction around historical fact blends perfectly with crime and mystery and provides
wonderful insight into times gone by and faraway places.
Chair: Jacky CollinsSpeakers: Abir Mukherjee, Alis Hawkins
Strong Women, Strong SettingCosy crime meets gritty as Cathy Ace pits her Cait Morgan and WISE Detective Agency series against GB Williams’ Branwen Jones (The Chair) and Ariadne Teddington (Locked series). How do the settings of these books influence their protagonists’ approach to the crimes they find themselves tangled up in?
Chair: Alis HawkinsSpeakers: Cathy Ace, GB Williams
During the festival itself, almost 2500 viewers watched the live feed panels – which is something of which Crime Cymru is rightly very proud. Crime Cymru exists to bring the work of its members to the attention of the world – so 2500 people is a great start! But we’re aiming to add to that number, and that’s why I’m writing this, here…because we want to invite YOU to enjoy what’s on offer online, and consider the idea of discovering your next favourite crime writer…in Wales.
By going to the You Tube channel, you can view all the panels – then you can visit the Crime Cymru website itself to find out more about our members: they each have an entry on our website, where you can link to their
individual websites…so you can delve deeper into their backlists, or even contact them with your own questions and queries.
The You Tube address (where you’ll find the full running list and al the videos) is:
The Crime Cymru website is here: https://crime.cymru/
You can follow Crime Cymru on social media, too, so you don’t miss a thing:
We hope you enjoy this festival…and maybe you’ll even consider joining us in Aberystwyth in 2023, when the plans are to ‘finally’ have that in-person event we’ve been hoping for!