I went, I saw and, no, I didn’t conquer, but more importantly, came back in one piece. Restrained beyond belief, only one glass of Prosecco passed my lips after I’d done my final stint, and very good it was too. Not that I feel smug. I was so wired on Friday night, I slept the patchy sleep of the inebriated – something to do with the strange alchemy that takes place when a collection of writers get together. And this, for me, is the big plus of an event like Crimefest.
It’s such a smashing occasion to catch up with old friends, meet new ones and generally put faces to people you might only have conversed with on Twitter, Facebook or through email. It’s the one time you can stop being a loner and hang out with others who also spend the majority of their time travelling around inside their own heads. Writing is, for the most part, a solitary activity. It can become slightly obsessive and alienating so it’s good to chat with those who ‘get it’ because they suffer from it too.
But I wasn’t there simply to natter. The ‘Shades of Grey’ panel, with moderator (and surely, stand-up comedian) Kevin Wignall, and panellists Hugh Fraser, Emma Kavanagh and Coline Winette, had to rate as the most surreal of experiences. It went down a storm with the standing room only crowd and I was still receiving comments about it over breakfast the next morning. Probably the least said about my risqué contribution, the better.
The ‘Obsession’ panel with Tim Weaver, Caroline Kepnes, Aga Lesiewicz, on which I moderated for the first time, was as tough as I expected it to be, which only goes to prove the incredible skill of those moderators who make it look dead easy. Fortunately, a terrific panel of highly intelligent writers came to the rescue as did the audience with a host of interesting questions.
So yesterday afternoon, punch-drunk with enthusiasm and conversation, I boarded the train to head back home. Did I feel tired? Absolutely. Did I have fun? You bet.
I’ve been gabbing about it ever since…