Okay so far this morning I have managed to attend a number of panels, not as many as I would have liked but this is only because it has been standing room only in the spotlight panel. The first of the spotlight panels was JG Goodhind talking about Sex and the Story. This was a look at how sex is portrayed in crime novels and how she (i.e. the author) portrays sex in her series along with whether or not sex should actually be put in crime novels. As JG Goodhind revealed to the audience she had no problem about writing sex scenes in her novels as under the name Georgina Brown she was one of the original Black Lace authors.
This was followed by Ruth Dudley Edwards talking about Making Fun of Islam: Should Crime Writers Fear to Offend or go for the Jugular. Those of you that know Ruth will be aware of her humor. Some people like it some people don't. But then again it is about taste. I found this a rather interesting talk for various reasons. You may or may not agree with Ruth's views and she was entitled to put them across. Basically what Ruth was saying was that we should stop being afraid to offend and allowing those who practise Islam intimidate us from free speech. The fear that is put across means that we are unwilling to stand up to Muslims who take offence every time Islam is joked about. Why? Using South Park as an example who have on more than one occasion have said that they are an equal opportunists when it comes to making fun of religion Ruth pointed out that there should not be a different set of rules for Islam, freedom of expression should not be curtailed and that crime writers had a duty to go for the jugular and not be afraid. This was a talk that could have gone on for ages, but rather sadly Ruth only had 20 mins. What made me do a double take was the fact that after stepping out of the room and as I was talking to someone I got approached by two American ladies who were at the conference for the day. They wanted me to know that they had been rather upset by Ruth's comments. I did actually look a bit bemused and said something along the lines that aside from Ruth being a crime writer that she is a very good journalist and that one does not always agree with her comments. However, that was not the reason why they were upset. The reason was because there had been a woman of "colour" in the room (aka me) and they felt offended on my behalf to some of Ruth's comments about Muslims. To say that I was nonplussed was putting it mildly. I could not understand why they felt that I would be upset. I think that they must have looked at me rather strangely when I said that I was used to Ruth and that there was nothing that she had said that had offended me. I think (and you may say that I was wrong) that I was more upset about their perceived reaction on my behalf. As lovely as these ladies may have been and I am sure that they meant well but I did not know them from Adam and found it rather strange that they should be upset on my behalf. I think I am fully capable of being upset myself when I want to be and since they did not know me it was rather patronising. I did suggest that they might want to go and have a talk with Ruth. As to whether they did or not I am not sure.
My favourite spotlight panel was Zoe Sharp's You Can't Run in High Heels: Self Defence Demonstration. Zoe ably assisted by Helen Fitzgerald gave a rather humorous but serious series of mini demonstrations about the art of self defence. However, joking apart the best thing that Zoe said was not to put yourself in the position in the first place.
I did have to miss a number of the other spotlight slots but one of the two final ones that I attended was Chris Carter's Serial Killers: The Bad, The Ugly and the Evil which was an interesting talk on serial killers and what makes them commit the offences they do. It was certainly not for the squeamish but it did give you an insight into the way their mind works. The other panel was Neil White's The Idiot's Guide to the Crown Prosecution Service. This again was a rather interesting look at the Crown Prosecution Service and the way it works. Neil explained the reasons why sometimes no matter what the public might think they have to be careful when deciding whether or not to prosecute as they have to be certain about obtaining a conviction. So despite the fact that the public might think that a prosecution should take place it does not always work that way.
So what else has happened? The Theakstons Old Peculier Longlist has been announced. Please do vote. The list of books can be found here.
This evening a number of awards are being give out. These are the The eDunnit Award for the best crime fiction ebook first published in the UK in 2009. The Last Laugh Award for the best humorous crime novel first published in the British Isles in 2009. The Sounds of Crime Awards for the best abridged and unabridged crime audiobooks first published in the UK in 2009.
Watch this space for the results!
I am now off to get dressed up for the gala dinner.