he formal CrimeFest
proceedings got off to a smashing start, with a panel on psychological thrillers moderated by Margaret Murphy
and also including Jenni Mills
, Steve Mosby
, Sheila Quigley
and Claire Seeber
. One highlight might be useful to would-be authors: Each writer talked of an experience, small or large, that germinated into a book. In one case, it was repeated visits to a young relative in a mental hospital. In another, it was panic induced when confined in a narrow passage in a cave. Lesson: Use your imagination, and see where it takes you.
My question to Mosby about serial killers who act in the name of civilized virtues won me a bag of books for the cleverest question.A
panel on historical mysteries offered a practical answer to a question I'd only been able to formulate in theoretical terms: How does one remain faithful to one's historical setting while writing for an audience of one's own time? The panelists were Roger Hudson
, who sets his work in fifth-century B.C. Athens; Ruth Downie
and Jane Finnis
, each of whom sets her work in Roman Britain; and Roz Southey
, whose protagonist is an eighteenth-century musician. Moderator was Edward Marston
, whose sets work in several historical periods.
Finnis spoke of a character scarred by war, and of the difficulties writing about such a character without the psychological vocabulary that would be anachronistic to the first-century Roman world. The character suffered from what we would call post-traumatic stress syndrome, Finnis noted, but she could of course not use that term. Nor could she offer the insight that this is what happens to people exposed for a long period to war: "It just had to be left to the reader to make that deduction."
My question to Southey won me another bag of books, or would have had not a fellow attendee pointed out that I'd already won one. I was thus deprived of the opportunity to make a magnanimous gesture and voluntarily surrender the second bag.T
he panel on "The Lost Weekend: Eric Ambler and Who? — Forgotten Authors" could keep me talking and reading for months, and I'll likely read and post about some of these authors. Superbly moderated by Martin Edwards
, the discussion also included Mary Andrea Clarke
, Barry Forshaw
, Declan Hughes
and Sarah Rayne
The current authors praised their predecessors for streaks of humor and for gorgeous prose style, two elements I love that are rare these days. Hughes said of Margaret Millar
that "She's also, sentence-by-sentence, I think, one of the crime writers who can write. ... She's a great plotter without smacking the least of the Golden Age."
My question about why forgotten books are such a popular topic these days sparked a lively discussion among the panelists about nostalgia. Alas, I won no bag.N
ext: The pub quiz. As my teammate Ali Karim
would say, "Mental!!!"
Pub-quiz result: A tie for second place. The prize: A bag of books.© Peter Rozovsky 2009
Labels: Ali Karim, Barry Forshaw, conventions, Crimefest, CrimeFest 2009, Declan Hughes, Jane Finnis, Martin Edwards, Roger Hudson, Roz Southey, Sheila Quigley, Steve Mosby, what I did on my vacation