Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crimefest 2008: more or less recovered now

I think even I can justify only, to adapt Maxine Clark's elegant phrase, a triphasal recovery.  I've been interested by Declan Burke's take on Crimefest.  I've some sympathy with his views on the panels, though I don't really agree with his view that such conventions are primarily about the business of marketing.  I suspect that only the bigger names and the terminally optimistic would approach Crimefest mainly as a marketing opportunity.  While I'm never averse to shifting a unit or two of product, for me Crimefest was essentially an opportunity to meet like-minded readers and fellow-writers and to engage in some friendly interchange on the subject of crime-fiction.  With the odd glass of wine or beer.  Or two.

I've more sympathy with Declan's view that writers talking about writing isn't very interesting.  If the panels discussions simply focus on promoting individual books/authors, they rapidly can become uninteresting.  The most successful panels, in my view, were the ones that, by accident or design, ended up discussing some more general topic or ranging across a number of authors.  Peter Rozovsky points out, in a comment on Declan's posting, that one of Declan's own panels ended up debating some important aspects of copyright and intellectual property (and, personally, I was also much taken by Declan's citing of Enid Blyton as a literary influence - you and me both, Declan).  In a similar vein, I very much enjoyed the final day's panel, chaired by Martin Edwards, with Steve Hague, M R Hall, Brian McGilloway and Caro Ramsay, which ended up discussing various aspects of authorial technique - plotting, point of view and so on.  I found it fascinating, both as a writer and as a reader. 

There's a lot more I could talk about , even just from my own panels - Leighton Gage discussing Brazil,  Yrsa Sigardordottir discussing Iceland, Stephen Booth pointing out that a realistic police procedural would comprise 250 pages of paperwork before a member of the public phones in to identify the culprit...

But I've recovered now, so I can start thinking about next year.


1. Maxine said...

Nice post, Michael. And I agree, it was lovely to meet you and others who, until last week, were merely words in the aether. I enjoyed the panel you mention very much, too. The Coroner by M. R. Hall is one of the best books I've read this year so far, though I accept this might be because I have a certain affinity to the protagonist.

2. Michael Walters said...

Thanks, Maxine. Yes - it was very enjoyable finally to put faces to names. Must give 'The Coroner' a try - I've heard good things about it from various sources.

3. Declan Burke said...

Hi Michael - Much obliged for the mention, sir ... You're right that I was being harsh about the 'marketing' aspect of things - I wasn't criticising Crimefest specifically. Plus, I was talking about 'marketing' via my blog, which is all about 'marketing' when it all boils down ... I'll be addressing the hypocrisy in a post over the next few days. Meantime, if you fancy doing a Q&A for CAP, please drop me a line, I'd love to host you. Cheers, Dec

4. Michael Walters said...

Hi Declan - well, I got the impression that your tongue was lightly lodged in your cheek. But I agree that the hard sell can get pretty tiresome - which is one reason why your blog works so well. It may be marketing, but it's a good read as well. And I'd be delighted to do a Q&A. Anything to shift a few more units...

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