The first panel at Crimefest was Arsenic and Old Lace: How Cosy are Cosies. This was very well moderated by Lauren Henderson with the panelists being Frances Brody, Dolores Gordon-Smith, Carola Dunn and Deryn Lake. One of the questions that was asked was whether or not the panelists books were actually cosies? It was agreed that they were not the ones that thought up the name "cosies" and that they did not consider their books to be cosies. As Carola Dunn explained, her latest book Anthem of Youth is her darkest yet and that she certainly did not see it as a cosy. However, it was also agreed that there are a lot of people that will not pick up what is considered to be a cosy novel. As Dolores-Gordon-Smith pointed out here it is seen as an insult. I am not actually sure that I agree with this though I can see her point. It was pointed out that none of the panelists characters were set in the present day. But why? It was also agreed that there was room for all different types of books and that other elements made up cosies. Amongst some of the other questions that were asked were whether or not cosies explored a particular part of society and also did the day job affect their writing? All the panelists agreed that cosies did explore a different part of socity and also the day job did affect their writing!
Bringing Up Baby: : Creating Believable Sleuths was the second panel of the day and featured authors Paul Johnson, Christopher Wakling, L C Tyler and Anne Zouroudi with the participating moderator being Zoe Sharp. The panelists were asked if their characters were flawed narrators. LC Tyler felt that his were. There is a lot of conflict between his two main characters. It was felt that flaws made them interesting and not one dimensional. Christopher Wakling explained that his character was addicted to coffee which made him interesting but still mundane. It felt that it added to the story. It was also felt however that the flaw did not have to be in the character and that it could be external as well as internal. Various other questions were asked of the panelists about their characters and it was agreed that they did in fact evolve organically. As Anne Zouroudi pointed out, if there is no conflict then there is no story. One of the most interesting questions that the panelists were asked was what annoyed them in characters. Paul Johnston started off by saying that he disliked Dorothy L Sayers character Lord Peter Sayers because of his snobbery and general behaviour. Chris Wakling said that he disliked the novel American Psycho. He said that he really did not like the character Patrick Bateman and that the bit where they are comparing the thickness and style of their business cards is the bit that annoys him the most. For Len Tyler it was rather surprisingly Miss Marple! Anne Zouroudi said that for her it was not a particular character per se, but implausible police officers. As she explained police officers were not likely to welcome a member of the public helping them solve a crime. The police officers that she had met were at times rather arrogant and would certainly not want a member of the public anywhere near their crime scene. Zoe Sharp said that for her as well it was not really a specific character but it was when the character rather plainly got things wrong. This is of course more to do with the author than anything else. Her example was Dan Brown as she said, it was clear in one of the books that he had never ridden a Land Rover across a field before as there was various mistakes in what he had written.
The final panel of the day was on Forgotten Authors and it was moderated by the excellent Martin Edwards! What happened on the panel will be part of my next post as I am off to have some food and to join my fellow quiz members which will include Lauren Henderson and Maxim Jakubowski! Wish me luck!