Friday, 16 May 2014

CrimeFest 2014 Day 1

So CrimeFest has officially started.  So far we have had wonderful weather I hope that it will remain that way.  If you have read my previous blog posts about CrimeFest then you will realise that they tend to be rather light-hearted and at times extremely effervescent.  I tend to write about not only the panels but also other things happening whether it is in the bar, outside or (and I have been known to do so) what I am going to wear for dinner. 

The 11:00am train from Paddington had quite a number of attendees on the train.  It was lovely to meet up with Nicci Praca and also bump into Vicki Mellor from Headline and her colleague, Kate Lyall- Grant from Severn House and also Patrick Easter.

Arriving at the hotel the first person I bumped into was Sophie Orme from Macmillan, swiftly followed by Sarah Hillary and Linda Wilson of Crime Review.  It has been wonderful seeing everybody.

I have to admit that I was rather surprised when I arrived at the hotel with Kirsty Long.  I was anticipating that I would be told that our room was not ready but to our surprise it was.

I did manage to attend one panel today and that was the Locked Room & Closed Locations: Writing Yourself into a Corner panel which featured Nev Fountain, Antonia Hodgson, Thomas Mogford, L C Tyler and Charles (Caroline) Todd who was a participating moderator.
© Ayo Onatade

The panellists discussed a number of issues surrounding locked room mysteries.  One of the points that came up was whether or not John Dickinson Carr’s The Hollow Man is the best-locked room mystery.  It was in fact voted the best-locked room mystery by the CWA.  It appears that the best-locked room mysteries are all short stories as there is something about a locked room mystery that is challenging.  Antonia Hodgson explained that she wanted to write about a period that she enjoyed hence she decided to set it in a prison.  Thomas Mogford on the other hand had to stretch his imagination to keep his main protagonist trapped in Gibraltar.  Len Tyler pointed out that in all his books he liked to play with conventions of crime.  Nev Fountain stated that he thinks he wrote (as in his books) The Da Vinci Code for atheists.

The panel were also asked what was the worst problem of the locked room mystery?  Thomas Mogford indicated that he felt that the solution seems to be a let down.  Furthermore people have a specific expectation as to what a locked room mystery should be.  According to Nev Fountain he felt that we should not make the locked room bit the only focus.  The locked room mystery according to Antonia Hodgson is perfect for the short story.  Each of the panel members were also asked if they would do a locked room mystery again?  Len Tyler stated that after thinking about it and being on the panel then he next book may just be a locked mystery.  His novel Herring on the Nile was a take on Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.  One of the other questions that were asked was whether or not it was fair for the victim to do away with oneself in a locked room mystery.

The panel members also discussed the enduring affection for locked room mysteries and it was agreed that if it is done well then it is extremely satisfying.  Furthermore, as the crossword puzzle and detective fiction came out at the same time the locked room mystery is seen as a cryptic crossword.  It was also thought that life, death, and cliff-hangers are important to locked room mysteries.  Thomas Mogford felt that humour also leant itself to locked room mysteries.  It was an extremely interesting panel and I thought that we could have easily spent a lot more time talking about looked room mysteries.

One of the good things about CrimeFest is always the pub quiz.  What made it even more interesting this year is that a few new rules were instituted which made me laugh a lot.  Due to their vast knowledge it was decided that my Shots colleagues Mike Stotter and Ali Karim were not allowed to be on the same team together.  Nor could Ali and Mike be on the same team with Martin Edwards.  If you know Martin Edwards then you will appreciate the fact that his knowledge is absolutely phenomenal.  Martin is the only crime writer to have won Criminal Mastermind three years in a row.  He is also the historian for the CWA.

Anyway, back to the quiz.  There were five rounds to the quiz with headings such as The Dear Departed, Dead & Alive, The Flickers, Set Up, and Denouement.  The winner of the pub quiz was table 12 calling themselves table 13 better known as the Faber table!  Congratulations to them.  The Defective Detectives team, which I was on which also included Mike Stotter, didn’t do too badly.  We came fourth out of twelve teams.  Peter Guttridge once again played quiz master.
© Ayo Onatade

As per usual after the pub quiz everyone converged in the bar to hang out.  Stupidly not remembering to get some food I had to nip out across the road to pick up a sandwich.  I shall certainly not be doing that again.

I was also very good and didn’t stay up too late, which surprised me.  I was actually in my room just before midnight.  However, I doubt that will be the case today.  Hopefully the bar will also stay open late and not close at midnight.  After all these years don’t they know that members of the crime fiction community whether they be readers, writers or critics like to stay up late!

Look out for tweets, as we will be using the Twitter handle CrimeFest14

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