October Update: Bouchercon and Book News

Me with Jennifer Hillier
Me with Jennifer Hillier

Earlier this month, I travelled to Raleigh, North Carolina for my second US based crime festival of the year – Bouchercon. This was a whirlwind of panels, parties and mingling in the bar (of course) and it was great to meet up with lots of readers and fellow authors, spending time with old friends and new.

This is the biggest crime festival I’ve been to so far in terms of reader attendance – I have never seen so many crime fiction fans in one place… and books – the books!!! I was very pleased to sell out of my stock of Black Wood at McIntyre’s Books (I just wish I’d had time to go and visit their gorgeous book store).

I was part of the ‘Stiff Upper Lip – British Investigations are Murder’ panel on Thursday afternoon, along with Aly Monroe, Deborah Griffiths, Anne Cleeland and Elly Griffiths.What am I saying?

We were in a large room and there was a huge (and very responsive) audience, so although daunting, it was great fun.

Stiff Upper Lip - British Investigations are Murder (Aly Monroe, Deborah Crombie, Anne Cleeland, Elly Griffiths and me)
Aly Monroe, Deborah Crombie, Anne Cleeland, Elly Griffiths and me

My second event was a very early start on Saturday morning – the 7am Debut Authors’ Breakfast (sponsored by Crooked Lane Books).

This is where approximately 60 debut authors (except for the ones who slept in…) were invited to give a one minute pitch to try and tempt a room full of avid book-reading breakfasters to buy their book. I kept mine short and sweet, and the main comments I received afterwards in the lobby were “We’re going to buy your book because we just LOVE your accent!” 🙂

After the festival was over, my mum and I took off on a road trip to celebrate our joint 100th birthdays… we drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway, taking in the gorgeous fall scenery, and the towns of Blowing Rock and Asheville. You can see lots of photos here:

AND, as if that wasn’t enough for one month, one my return (while battling a horrible cold), the news of my second and third books was released via The Bookseller. You can see the announcement here… and you can look at my pinterest board to get a flavour of Willow Walk here – more info to follow in due course (I am currently working on the edits) 🙂

What else? Well I’ve read a few brilliant books recently – Mark Edwards and Louise Voss’s ‘The Blissfully Dead’, Steve Mosby’s ‘I Know Who Did It’, Jennifer Hillier’s ‘Wonderland’ and Alex Marwood’s ‘The Darkest Secret’… and one that you should be reading right now: Chris Ewan’s ‘Dark Tides’… here’s the creepy poem that children sing for Hop-tu-Naa (Manx Halloween):

Hop-tu-Naa,
My mother’s gone away,
And she wont be back until the morning.
Jinnie the Witch flew over the house,
To fetch the stick to lather the mouse.
Hop-tu-Naa
My mother’s gone away
And she wont be back until the morning
Hop-tu-Naa, Traa-la-laa.

…and now I’m off out to buy a pumpkin to carve to get prepped for this weekend.

Happy Halloween!

Harrogate Happenings 2014

The setting... tents at The Old Swan
The setting… tents at The Old Swan

In 2009, I went to Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival (aka ‘Harrogate’), for the first time. I didn’t have a blog, hence no record exists of what I got up to there (probably for the best…) What I do remember is that I was quite shy about approaching people, but I did meet my future agent, Phil Patterson, and future best-selling superstar author, James Oswald…

I returned in 2012, when I was writing a lot of short stories and attempting to finish a novel. I wrote about it here. Last year, I had just signed a contract with my agent and was buzzing about that – by then I had met loads of readers and writers on twitter and I wrote about it here.

This year, I went having just signed a deal for my debut novel, BLACK WOOD, and it was such a fantastic experience for me being congratulated by so many of the readers, writers and bloggers that I now consider friends… One of the big things that happened this year was when several people came up and introduced themselves to ME (rather than the other way around)… it made me feel very loved 🙂

As usual, the whole thing passed in a blur of words and drinks and laughter – just to reconfirm that crime writers and readers are some of the friendliest and most supportive people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. I can’t do a shout-out this year, because there were just SO many people, and I don’t want to miss anyone out. My only regret is that I didn’t have more time with some of the people that I only saw for fleeting moments, and that I completely missed seeing some people all together… but that’s what it’s like at the crime community’s biggest love-fest, and I wouldn’t expect it any other way 🙂

Memories of the festival include: the opening awards party where one of my favourite authors, Belinda Bauer, won the best novel award… lots of interesting panels… BEER… Val McDermid interviewing JK Rowling… meeting lots of new people and catching up with old friends… RAIN… a new fancy beer tent and some giant chairs… THUNDERBOLTS AND LIGHTNING… loads of great book recommendations – including The Girl on The Train (which I was lucky enough to get a SIGNED proof copy of and can’t wait to read)… us not winning the quiz again… some late night acoustic guitar… BEER… lots of random chat and lots of laughter…a marriage proposal during audience question time (yes – she said yes!)… and just for a change, nothing controversial happened and everyone was cheery, even when it RAINED (did I mention that it rained?)…

As promised, I got more than one photo this year, so here’s a little slideshow that sums up just a fraction of what went on in what has been unanimously described as ‘the best one yet’. Well done to Steve Mosby and the whole team for organising a memorable event 🙂

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As always, I came back exhausted, but inspired to write – and next year, I’ll return to The Old Swan as a published author… I don’t think that’s really sunk in yet, but as you can imagine – I can’t wait 🙂