Monday, June 6, 2016

Crimefest UK 2016 - A Newbie's View

Crimefest is a crime fiction fan convention held in Bristol, UK every year and author extraordinaire, Cathy Ace has just returned home. But before she unpacked, she sent us this report. You won't want to miss her Crimefest tales -- including a special encounter with Poirot's favorite sidekick. You may remember seeing one of Cathy's fabulous Drinks with Reads posts. Before we get started, I'd like to thank Cathy, Ali Karim, Severn House Publishers and Detectives Beyond Borders for the use of the photos.  

I’ve attended Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, and Malice Domestic before now, but this year was my first chance to attend the UK’s CrimeFest  – and it was quite an experience. Held at the Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel, the comfy lounges, grand marbled bar and delightful Palm Court made for a delightful setting for this event which takes place each May. The first event was held in 2006 as a Left Coast Crime convention, which was then taken to the heart of the British crime-writing fraternity and has run each year since 2008. It’s an informal way for authors, readers, reviewers, publishers and agents to get together and discuss their favourite topic – CRIME!

Even before I arrived in Bristol I enjoyed a super evening at Morgan’s Hotel in Swansea where I was the honoured guest of a wonderful tour of 23 visitors from the US who’d been on a week-long tour of my homeland, Wales, visiting sites of interest to all, and especially those who like places connected with crime fiction. I was able to talk to them about how Dylan Thomas (from Swansea, like me) inspired me to write and was delighted to see so many familiar faces, including Bill and Toby Gottfried as well as Caroline Todd, in the group. 

Photo by Cathy Ace

CrimeFest itself was Busy (yes, with a capital B!) I was fortunate to appear on one panel where my moderator was James Runcie (who writes the Sidney Chambers books upon which the TV series Grantchester is based) and another where I shared the panel with the hilarious Ragnar Jonasson (he writes dark, Icelandic closed circle mysteries) and Dick Francis’ son Felix, who carries his father’s writing torch with great aplomb. 

My UK publisher, Severn House Publishers, hosted a dinner for almost a dozen of their authors, and I really enjoyed getting to know Delores Gordon-Smith, who writes super Golden Age mysteries.
Photo courtesy of Severn House Publishers

The table taking sign-ups for Bouchercon 2017, which will be held in Toronto (come on…you know you want to attend!) was delightfully busy. Thanks to Helen Nelson, Janet Costello and Chris Aldridge for their hours of sitting and telling folks all about the great time we’ll be having in Canada next year (here with Ali Karim). 

Photo courtesy of Ali Karim

Peter Davison (who not only played Doctor Who and Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small, but also Marjorie Allingham’s Albert Campion in the TV series based upon her work) presented the Marjory Allingham short story award to Peter Guttridge in the stunning Palm Court room.  

Photo courtesy of Ali Karim

Ian Rankin gave an excellent interview: he finds characters names the same way I do…find a surname and first name that work well for the character, then check it out on google in case anyone with that name pops up as being well-known or powerful enough to bother with a lawsuit, and, if there isn’t anyone, go for it! 

Photo courtesy of Peter Rozovsky of Detectives Beyond Borders

The final banquet on Saturday night was hosted by actor Hugh Fraser, known to most of us as Captain Hastings from the wonderful series of Poirot adaptations. Unable to find anywhere to store his belongings when he arrived I came to the rescue and offered my room – so, yes, Captain Hastings has been in my hotel room – twice! Beat that for a conference tidbit! 
Hugh Fraser (Captain Hastings on Poirot) with Cathy Ace, photo: Miranda Burfield

Cathy Ace is the author of The Cait Morgan Mysteries (TouchWood Editions) and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (Severn House Publishers). You can find Cathy on 
Facebook and Twitter: @AceCathy.


  1. Sounds like you had lots of fun. I remember "All Creatures Great and Small," and would have enjoyed seeing 'Tristan' present an award.

  2. Great pictures, and what a minx you are, having Captain Hastings in your hotel room--twice!